A couple of months back I needed to get quick data transfer for video streaming between my Server (in the loft) and my PS3 (in my front room). Wifi was set up and had enough speed but with up to 6 other devices all connected and transferring data there simply was not the bandwidth for HQ video. I had tried to use wifi and it did work wonderfully – when there were no computers on the network. The next logical option was to go hard wired! But running new network cables around the house ended up being costly, timely an ineffective!

I can imagine many people are faced with this problem, or a similar problem and the next best choice is to use PowerLine Ethernet. In theory this sounded fantastic, but I didn’t know anyone with them and was uncertain of how effective they could really be. The only way to know for sure was to buy and test it!

A generic photo of the adaptor that I purchased

A generic photo of the adaptor that I purchased

I went onto eBay and went for the cheapest PowerLine Ethernet kit I could find that would serve my need. I ended up buying 4 Advent Powerline 200Mbps Ethernet Adaptors for a reasonable £85 (approximately). To me this seemed like a good price, especially as Advent was not one of these unknown companies making the products; with that in mind, I had high expectations of these devices!

When they arrived I quickly got them out the box (sorry know un-boxing videos or photos because at the time I didn’t have this blog :P). There were two identical kits (both with 2 adapters). Each had 2 adaptors, 2 Ethernet cables, the instruction manual (which never left the box :P), the CD with the set-up software and 6 universal adaptors.

The 6 universal adaptors were 2 for the US, 2 for Europe and 2 for the UK; this was quite handy and meant you could use them anywhere in Europe and the USA. The 6 adaptors could slide in and out of the main adaptor and clip in plushly (wow this would be easier to explain with a picture).  I hope that made sense.

Setting up was a bit fiddley to begin with but after you get used to it, it seemed to work okay. You needed to install the software on one computer (so a computer is required to set-up – do not buy if you have no computers and just want to share internet to a games console unless you can get hold of a computer to set up) and connected one of the adaptors to the computer and mains. Within the software you then had to give the MAC address and password of another adaptor that you wished to be connected. I would recommend writing this down for each then having all of them plugged in and setting it up like that for 2 reasons:

  1. It is quicker – You will not have to keep going back and forth to the socket reading the information off and will allow you to set up all the adaptors consecutively.
  2. It will be more reliable – If you read the info straight from the adaptor then plug it back in the wall and end up clicking “OK” before the adaptor has booted up, the adaptor connected to the computer will not be able to find it and will display an error and make you re-enter the information.

After all of them had been set up, I dotted them around the house in the best locations. One of the adaptors needs to be connected to a router so I popped one with my wireless router, one with my server and one with my PS3 (leaving me with one spare). These adaptors had actually solved another problem in my household; the wireless router is in my parent’s bed room (as it is one of the 3 places in the house with coaxial for my DSL modem and out of the 3 is the most central) and the only way of getting hard wired network in my loft was to run a wire from the cupboard with the router up to the loft. This wire was starting to annoy my parent’s as they could not close their door properly and it was quite an eyesore. By using the adaptor I could use PowerLine to get network up to my loft! Brilliant!

When testing it out the first thing I did was test the connection between my router and loft server. As far as I remember there were a few intermittent problems but after it was working, it remained pretty stable!

I then tested the PS3’s connection to the router; I was able to browse the internet just as I was before on Wifi! 🙂 Oh wait…. I forgot to turn off the Wifi…. I was using Wifi to browse the web! 😛

After eventually setting the PS3 to wired LAN only and configuring all the settings, I tested again and it seemed to work fine! I was able to get onto most websites that I could think of and everything seemed to work well!

Then it was now time for the real test – Video Playback! I was confident when I saw that my Server was showing up on the PS3 as a Media Server just like it would normally and I then navigated to a film which I had ripped off a DVD. It worked amazingly!!! I could fast forward, rewind, jump around the video and actually watch it with no difficulty at all! No stuttering! No freezing! And no audio lag!

Everything was going so well that I thought I would try something I had no idea whether would work, and would have no right to complain if it didn’t! I took the remaining adaptor and my laptop out across the garden and into my garage! I was confident that this would work but i plugged in and what do you know? It worked!!!

Over the following week, I intensely tested this network! Watching film after film, TV programme after TV programme and was shocked when one day… it just stopped working! I had no idea what happened but after inspecting all the adaptors I realised the adaptor at the router (the core of the network) was making a ticking noise! I suspected something was wrong with it and replaced it with the adaptor that was in the garage (that was just connected to my A3 printer). It worked. After testing the other adaptor a few time with a few methods, it was clear it had burnt out!

I carried on using the network it for another week or so and then the same thing happened again! This was the last straw… I contacted the eBayer, sent the item back and got a refund! I was not at all impressed. :@

Advantages:

  • Quite simple to set up
  • Gets good speeds
  • Work great for High Definition video
  • Compatible with pretty much any Ethernet device
  • They work over quite long distances

Disadvantages:

  • Can get very hot
  • Can burn out in extreme temperatures (especially if excessive use)
  • Requires a computer for initial set-up
  • Can sometimes give intermittent communication problems
  • Surge protectors cause allot of interference (I did discover this when testing with my PS3 but I forgot to write about it in the blog 🙂

My overall summary is that the concept is fantastic and definitely works and that these devices are very good for moderate use, but if you need allot of data to e transferred allot of the time, you may want to find a more reliable alternative! I will eventually be buying another brand of these and will test them out and do a full blog like this but with photos and maybe even videos! 🙂

[cb]Advent[/cb]


After installing the second Hard Drive onto my computer I then had the task of installing Ubuntu 9.04!

The first part of installing Ubuntu was downloading Ubuntu. Very simple and easy to do, just go to the Ubuntu site and download! So simple! While I was there I checked on the status of Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device (MID) Edition and discovered Moblin, which I also downloaded for my little laptop, which I am posting this blog from now….

This was very easy and took very little time; I will soon be posting a tutorial on Installing Ubuntu  which I will make a link to here! One thing about Ubuntu is that the last percent of the install is the percent that takes the longest!

When Ubuntu was installed I had a little browse around then closed it down so I could make one minor hardware change; I replaced all the screws with some thumbscrews that I bought off of eBay.


This is really late as I did this almost 2 weeks ago, but I made notes and here is what I did to my new computer! The next thing I wanted to do after having a successful (but painful) first day was next to Dual Boot!

To start dual booting I decided to have each type of OS on a separate HDD, I would have one drive for Windows. The first step in this was clearly to install a second hard drive! Surely that would be easy enough? Just get another drive, install it and go! 🙂

I wish… First of all I need another IDE hard drive so I rummaged around until I found a 120GB hard drive and a 160GB hard drive. Out of the 2 it was the obvious choice to go with the 160GB hard drive! So i popped it in, hooked it up and booted the computer, but as the BIOS tried to detect the drives it came to a total halt a froze up! At first I thought that I may have set both to Master or both to Slave… That was not the case… They were individually set, one to master and one to slave… there should have been no problem!

Since this event was so long ago my memory is a bit foggy but, I do know that after about 30 minutes of playing and reconfiguration, that the hard drive I was trying to use was broken! About a year ago, I was using it in an external HDD enclosure and accidentally put the socket in upside down. 5V went where 12V should have been going and 12V went where 5V should have been going! I had short-circuited the drive!

I then used the 120GB (which I knew for a fact was operational). It would have worked had I set the jumpers correctly before hand but I didn’t! I had to take it out, change the jumpers and put it back in! Everything seemed to be working okay 🙂

Next step was to install Ubuntu….

[cb]Seagate[/cb] [cb]Western Digital[/cb]


Before I went on my summer holidays, I looked out in the garden to see this:


Unfortunately, I scared them off before being able to take some decent photos, but my mum says that this happens quite often so next time I am gonna try taking the photos from my loft 🙂


This blog is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1) – Booting

After all this the install of windows did complete and there was a happy ending to the story. Well that part at least… There is more mayhem to come but I think I will save the crazy antics of Day 2 for another blog post!

You will probably glad to hear that the rest of this story is just about a few more successes I had and about some of the plans for the future :)! This is not one of those sarcastic sentences whereby I am lying to you just so that I can tell you in the next sentence that you would be stupid to believe anything bad was yet to happen. I had done what I wanted to do for Day 1 and so the rest is just other additional bits and bobs which I did to upgrade hardware!

After using the windows XP computer for about an hour (I hadn’t played with Windows XP in so long… well not one that I was an administrator on :P), I looked at the specifications for the computer and thought about what other upgrade I could make. I then remembered about some DDR400 RAM that I had bought about 2 years ago and never used (pretty much still in the packet). I ripped open the computer, checked the specifications of the motherboard and what do you know? Not only would I be increasing the Ram to 2GB but I would also be improving the speed of the RAM. For some reason there was DDR333 RAM installed in a computer that could support up to DDR400? :S

This upgrade was simple and was done quickly enough to a good level of satisfaction! Would have been nice if I had another stick of RAM as the 2x 1GB sticks I put in only filled 2 of the 3 slots. Before any of you smart-arses say, “Why don’t you put in one of those old 256MB modules?” there was a very good reason not to. Not only is 256MB not really worth it but the older modules were DDR333 and since all 3 of the RAM slots where on the same channel that would result in the 2 DDR400 having to run at a 333Mhz bus speed.

The final upgrade I made on day one was replace that old NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 with a nicer (but not amazing by any stretch of the imagination) ATI Radeon 9250!

All that was left to do now was plan what I would do next.

[cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb] [cb]NVIDIA[/cb] [cb]ATI[/cb]


This is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1) – Case Modding

After I had done all the superficial bits of putting in the lights, it was time to get down to business! I first had to get the computer to successfully boot! Without that, the computer could do nothing (that is debatable to be honest… I mean you could sit there staring at the BIOS for a few hours… Yeah, that sounds like fun :P)!

The problem when booting was that the computer would complain about some .ini file being missing. To me the simple solution to this was to re-install windows… well… supposedly, that would be an easy option! I put in the Windows XP disk, turned on the computer, waited and was ended up back in the same position. I then presumed that the boot order was different to how I normally have PCs set-up (which is with HDD as the last thing to boot) so I manually selected the CD Drive as the drive to boot. I got exactly the same thing. This baffled me… From previous installs of XP, the screen should have blacked out and a message saying something along the lines of, “Press any key to boot from CD/DVD…” You would then press any key and the installation would start. From what I could see, this was not happening so my next presumption was that the CD drive was not working.

I thought to myself when deciding to swap but the drives, “If it is the drives then we have hit 2 birds with one stone and if not, I was going to have to replace the drives anyway because beige and silver, really do not go!”. I knew I had one drive that had interchangeable faceplates of which I had the faceplates store in a box in my loft and I thought that the drive matching these faceplates was in an old Asus barebones PC that I bought a couple of years back! This however was not the case; when I got downstairs with the faceplates and the drive I discovered that the drive was not the one that went with the faceplates.

At first my thought were, “Oh no!” as I had already gone to the effort of removing drives but after returning to my loft, digging around and finding the correct drive, I was quite please and I now had 2 drives to put in! I changed the faceplate on the soon to be silver drive and slid it in; the perfect colour! I now knew that when I get round to buying the BD drive I want for this PC that it would have to be silver. The black drive didn’t fit in so well but it was satisfactory for my needs which was to get the computer going again!

After all this I was almost certain it would work but if you are catching the trend in this blog you will realise nothing is ever that simple! I was getting the exact same problem… but then… I noticed something!!! The message I had been looking for that goes something along the lines of, “Press any key to boot from CD/DVD…” was appearing, but just not on its own page! It was appearing on the second page of the BIOS boot screens. Quickly I hit the “m” key (well I dunno which letter it was for sure but you get the idea; I pressed the first key i could get to).

Was this it? Had I finally got the Windows XP CD to boot up?

No… of course not! I tried this again, and again! It must have been at least 7 times that I tried  and nothing was happening. My thought process at the time was this:

  1. I can use the keyboard on the first page of the boot and in the BIOS settings as well as the boot selector so it cannot be a problem with the keyboard.
  2. The only thing that has changed on the second page is that the system has detected the the Hard Drives and is about to try and boot it
  3. So it must be some sort of issue with the Hard Drive!!!

I then had a little think and remembered about another 120GB (well this one was 122.9GB for some stupid reason) that I had in my bedroom! It was being used in my Media Player (which I rarely use anyway) so I went and got that, swapped over the drives and prayed it would work. Once again the same thing :(! At this point I was getting quite frustrated with the computer and was nearing the point where I would give up for the night when I went back and looked at the thought process I had used and tried to work out where I could have gone wrong!

Then suddenly it clicked! I made a big mistake by ruling out the keyboard as a problem in part 1 of my thought process! The keyboard I was using was USB and for some reason the system could regonise it on the first part of the boot but no on the second :S. All I had to do then to correct this was go and get a PS/2 keyboard! How hard could that be? Right?

Very hard actually! I spent 20 minutes searching for one that was not being used when I gave up and decided to nick (if you want to get all technical about it, it was borrowed because the keyboard has now been returned) the one from my loft sever! I gave the server my roll-up keyboard (which I recently discover was also inflatable) and stole the PS/2 keyboard.

Was that the solution I had been looking for? Yes! It worked, hooray :D! Well, it was clearly plain sailing from there onwards. If you beleived that last sentence I really do not think you have been paying attention to the sarcastic tone of this blog post where nothing can go right or be simple!

I followed the installation and it all looked like it was going well. Windows copied the files extremely quickly and efficiently and then restarted with no trouble at all! 🙂 The next part of the automated installation also went surprisingly well. But then, from out of nowhere, like a brick wall hitting me in the face I reached the product serial page. If you have ever installed windows or any other software that uses these sort of serials, you will know how easy it is to make mistakes. I read the code of the faded sticker, and typed slowly, “ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PQRST-UVWXY” (what? you think I would actually give you my real serial? haha!). Quite pleased with the progress I had made I click next.

Then the computer said, “The serial you have entered is not valid!”

I tried again and as you may have guessed the computer said, “The serial you have entered is not valid!”

It took nearly 45 minutes to work out the serial and enter it and in the end it was all down to the letter “Q” – that bit isn’t actually made up, it was definitely “Q” causing the issues as I had typed it an “O” – I had been playing with ever other letter for the last 45 minutes except for this one “Q”! I even restarted the install twice thinking that was the problem.

After this I continued the install and go to the networking section of the install. I naturally chose for the computer to be part of a domain, entered all the information then realised, “I have no network connected to this computer, how will it find the server?” Doh! I am such a wally (or “pleb” as my good friend @MelissaAmbrose_ would say)! To be honest this was not a major problem, just an inconvenience. I carried on the install without a domain but set-up so that I would have to add one later (or just use the system-based Administrator account).

If you are wondering why I had no network it was due to the fact that I was working in my front room (I know… the front room has always been the best workshop) and that I live in a home where hard wiring is impossible and I blown 4 Advent Powerline Ethernet adapter a few months before, but that is another story (the thing you have to remember is that I blew all 4 within a week of them arriving :S).

This blog continues with the the Final Modifications

[cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb]


This is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1)

When I started working on this, the first thing that had to be done was kind of obvious… You cannot have a glass window without some cold-cathode strips (which I had conveniently bought months ago with the plan of getting a computer with a glass window). I had an assortment of colours but I did not want to pick anything too garish as that was not the look I was going for. Instead I went for a pale purple. It took me a bit of time to work out the best position (especially when my dad did not like my initial idea) but after an hour, I put the strips in the place I had originally planned for them to go! One strip on the top and one on the bottom of the glass side window, hidden behind solid part of the casing. The effect of these, can be seen in the photos which are further down in this blog.

Attaching these lights actually became more of a problem than I expected. The reason it took so long was because my dad said that he thought I should try and attach the lights, inside the case so when the side panel is removed it is not attached to the main computer through a wire leading the PSU. I looked at every conceivable possibility and there was no way of doing it to get the effect I wanted!

The next problem I encountered with the positioning was where to put the inverter. The location of the inverter, to me this was obvious; there was a is a section of the window where it dips in so that a handle could be put on for sliding the panel open and closed. I instinctively went to put this here but once again, my dad made a comment about the location. Don’t get me wrong, my dad’s suggestions were valid but there was no way of logistically being able to fulfil them and they ended up wasting time.

The final problem I had with the cold-cathode lights was how I would attach them and the inverter. The actual strips of cathode came with little bits of double sided sponge on them, but as a soon found out, the glue that was on these bits of sponge was not the best glue. I resolved this issue by simply putting small cuttings of double sided tape on the bit of sponge. Next I had to attach the inverted in its chose place and this was done, once again using double sided tape, however without the aid of the sponge, the inverter would not stick, until my dad came up with a good idea! By using 6 layers of the double sided tape, I was able to create a little cushion/sponge to allow for movement and moulding of the glue around the shape of the inverter!

After I had done this i booted up and watched the lights come on with a small smile on my face. Unfortunately my sister decided to go out with her friends on this Friday night and she also decided to steal my camera so the only 2 photos I could get at the time I took on my phone and uploaded to Yfrog. Here they are:

A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights on (links to the Yfrog page)
A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights off
A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights off (links to the Yfrog page)

My dad gave one last suggestion which I have no idea if it will help at all, but I have still done it because in theory, it kind of makes sense. There are two fans on the back of the computer which were both running in the same direction (dragging air out of the case) but my dad suggested that one should be reversed so there is an inward flow and outward flow.

Phase one of the build – Complete! The next step now was to get the computer to boot.


No, this is not a blog post about the Sugababes Single, Hole in the Head! This, to be honest, is just a rant about what an awful mother I have!

The story begins about 15 years ago, when I was just a little baby. My mother was out shopping with me in a well know store, named Tescos, when as she was leaving something quite awful, horrific and traumatising happened; something on the ground – be it a loose paving slab or maybe a pen that a selfish, unruly passer-by had dropped – that made my poor mother buckle, loose her balance and fall to the ground while still holding me tight within her arms.

My mother was barely injured and I looked as though I was fine so my mum carried on with her day! By the time we got home, I had fallen asleep in the car so before putting the shopping away my mum, took me to her room, laid me in my cot and left me to sleep!

Several hours later, my mother came back to check on me! The hood of my jacket (which my mother had not removed as to not wake me up) had fallen off my head and to my mother’s surprise and horror! There was blood everywhere. To this day, that experience haunts her and every time I have my hair cut their is a lasting memory of what happened on that fateful day!

Very blurry and extremely zoomed in photo (my mum's photography is not the best in the world :P), but if you look on the right you can see the bald patch I know have thanks to my mother!

Very blurry and extremely zoomed in photo (my mum's photography is not the best in the world :P), but if you look on the right you can see the bald patch I know have thanks to my mother!

Ahhh... That's better! I got her to stand a bit further back when taking this photo!

Ahhh... That's better! I got her to stand a bit further back when taking this photo!


Last Friday, I started to build my new computer (which if you follow me on twitter, you would know). However, I was not able to write a blog as my hosting account had been suspended (which you would have already known, if you follow me on twitter or tried to get on any of the FTTGroup’s sites which are hosted on Server 1). So I finally bring to you, my most amazing blog about Day 1 on working on my new PC!

To start of with I will explain what I was working with to start off with! I had inherited an old computer from my Aunt. She was no longer using the PC due to issues with overheating and a corrupted OS but knowing that this could be fixed and that some of the hardware that I would get with the PC could be very useful, I happily accepted the computer. The basic spec of the PC to begin with was as follows:

  • An AMD 3000+ Processor (with a poxy looking little heat sync)
  • 120GB Hard Disk Drive
  • 512MB of DDR333 Ram (2x 256MB)
  • An NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 (64-bit, 128MB DDR and a TV out)
  • A Dial-Up Modem (How hi-tech :P)
  • A Corrupted XP Operating System
  • A cheap motherboard and PSU
  • Some basic DVD-Rom drives (Beige)
  • A boring old floppy drive (Beige again)
  • A half decent looking case
  • 2 Tri-Coulor Led Fans

The rest of this blog has now been split into the following sections:

  1. Case Modding
  2. Booting
  3. Final Modifications
  4. What Next?

[cb]AMD[/cb] [cb]NVIDIA[/cb] [cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb]


I am not human?

I am not human?

I was at school about 2 weeks back using Firefox (which I installed by bypassing the .exe file restrictions in the Active Directory) and whenever I did a Google search from the search bar, this page came up! It was getting extremely annoying at the time. Every search i had to do that stupid re-captcha thing! I reckon my schools proxy had been black listed but have you ever seen this error before?