Holidays Over, Work Again

July 14, 2009
The Cowgate, where Hibs were formed in 1875
Image via Wikipedia

Well as of today my 2 weeks of summer holidays are over 🙁 . It was great though having those past few weeks off. I just really enjoyed relaxing about the house and not having to get up really early in the morning to go to work.

Now though I have been given a semi good week of hours. I do get this Saturday and Sunday off work so that is great! I never get a full weekend off work and could not believe that I am getting this weekend off 😀 . Also I have a few early shifts this week, beginning at 7 in the morning. I always hate having work that early and also I like it in a way. First of all I hate the fact that when I go to sleep I know I have to be getting up really early and go to work, so I usually sit there worrying that I will not hear the alarm and end up sleeping in, so in turn that makes me lose sleep and then I usually sleep really lightly so that I will hear the alarm go off.

The reason I actually like having that really early shift is that I will be beginning it at 7 and finishing work at 12! Like who would complain of only having to work for 5 hours! So I get up really early when I usually sleep, and then I finish at noon which is usually the time I get up at in the morning, so I will have the full day to myself to enjoy 😀 .

During my holiday weeks I went away for 5 days to Edinburgh. That was a great trip, I went with all my friends and we also celebrated two of their birthdays while we were over there. That was the main reason we went anyway. We all booked into a hostel, so that made the accommodation really cheap, it was roughly £50 for the four nights that we booked in. The hostel we stayed in was called the Cowgate Hostel. It was in a really good location, everything you wanted was just a 5 minute walk from the hostel.

Another note on Edinburgh is that drink and food were very reasonable in price, drink worked out at about £2 – £3.50 in most places, but would cost more for more fancy drinks such as cocktails. Cocktails are something that I had never had before and one of the nights we were out we went to a cocktail bar, it was great, we bought them in pitchers that worked out at about £8 so even then drink was still not expensive. When comparing it to home here (Ireland) you were saving a killing 🙂 .

I also went and done a lot of the touristy things such as visiting Edinburgh Dungeons and Mary kings Close, Edinburgh Dungeons was good enough, nothing special, there is also one in London and other places but the one in Edinburgh had a lot more Scottish orientated stories. It was good fun since we went with a large group.

449px-DrraeThe other place we visited was Mary kings Close, this was basically a bit of a history tour of the real old Edinburgh City Underground, it was really interesting and showed the harsh living conditions of how people lived years ago and how the plague affected them. I would definitely recommend going to see both these locations if you ever go there 😀 .

On my last day in Edinburgh we decided to go to the airport early so that we would not be rushing. But when we arrived at the airport there was a bloody bomb scare! So everyone had to leave the airport and sit outside for a few hours, our flight ended up being delayed. I thought the experience was good though, the atmosphere seemed to be really good 😀

So in the end I thought my 2 weeks of holidays off work were great and I definitely am looking forward to my next week off in September 😀 .

The Sims 3 Problems

June 29, 2009
SIMS 3 (LES) -- Fond (JeuxVideo.com)
Image by Flickr@GOD_Team.fra via Flickr

I ordered myself a copy of the Sims 3 for when it was going to be released. I got it about 5 days after its release, which was pretty fast so that was good. Then I did not get around to installing the game until about another week or so since I did not have the time to do it.

I decided to install it onto my main desktop PC, it met all the requirements for the game and so I popped in the disc, and then the problems just began from there. It was fine for about 75% of the install until it ran into a crc error, then I kept retrying it and had no luck whatsoever. I then tried to ignore the error and it would finish the installation, but then when you went to play the game it would not load, obviously the file I skipped was important!

I started to look online to see if anyone else had run into a problem like mine and to my surprise a lot of people had the exact same problem! 😀 Not just me! So they all had no idea what was wrong, some people suggested that the crc error would of occurred due to a corrupt disc, but there are only so many corrupt disc’s per batch created and it was unlikely that we all happened to get them!

After about 2 hours of trying to find a decent solution to my problem online I decided to take a break and try it again myself. I also own a laptop so I decided to see if it would install on it, and what do you know it did! It actually worked for some reason! 😮 The laptop is not as good as my PC in any way, so it was very strange that it worked at all! I came to the assumption that the disc drive on the laptop was newer than that of the PC so it would be a better quality one, that could be the only reason for it working.

The file that the crc error always stopped (FullBuild1.package) on seemed to be one of the biggest files on the disc so I thought that the disc drive on my PC must struggle with reading large files. So I decided to copy the entire disc’s content onto my PC’s hard drive, excluding the file it had problems with, and then I put the disc back into my laptop and copied the large file to a memory stick and the put the memory stick into my PC and added it into the right place along with all the other installation files.

You can always install a game by copying the disc’s content to your hard drive; you just can’t play it from the hard drive. So after having all the files on my hard drive, this took about 40 minutes, I started the installation and it worked perfectly! No errors, no problems, it was great. Then I decided to start playing the game and no problems at all occurred. If you have the crc error, then chances are if you try this method you should have no problem with getting the game working.

So that was the problem out of the way and then I found another! I started to play the game and created my first family in it, then bought a house, began to decorate it and then BOOM! Screen flashes blue then black and no amount of buttons would get it back up! The bloody PC crashed! I had to restart the PC then I found out what the error was and it was an error regarding my graphics card. I quickly checked my graphics cards specs and compared them to the back of the games case, and they were better than the box! So there should be no problem with it, and it is even in the list of supported graphic cards provided on the Sims website!

I had no idea how to fix this so I tried all the usual updating the graphics card driver and no joy, it still would not work :(. I then went over to the Sims 3 support page and filled in the tech problem form and sent it off along with a direct x information file that they request, it contains all the specs of you system. I got a response from them the next day. They told me my graphics card needed to be updated and gave me a link to a page with it, and when I went to install it, my bloody PC crashed again, and again every time I tried it. So I just gave up.

At the moment I am playing it on my laptop, it is a bit slow but it is better than nothing, I will at some stage try to get back around to having a look at it and try to get it working again.

It Has A Mind Of Its Own

June 27, 2009
Wi-Fi logo
Image via Wikipedia

For the past week i have been having trouble with my wireless card on my laptop. Usually i would just use my desktop PC however the rest of my family use the laptop a lot.

They recently started telling me that the wireless was cutting off a lot and also sometimes it would not pick up the broadband signal at all, even if they sat right next to the router!

I spent hours trying to figure out why the wireless card refused to work, and i had no useful result 🙁 I tried many things such as resetting my routers wireless settings, unblocking firewalls, also removing all existing connections on the laptop and then just added back in the wireless internet connection, and unfortunately none of these worked.

I also tried to update the wireless cards driver, also i removed and reinstalled the driver for the wireless card and that also did not work. Then i just became really confused on how it used to work and then suddenly stopped.

I then restored my pc back to an earlier date, to around the beginning of the year, and then suddenly it was back working perfectly. Then about a week later the same thing would happen again and i would have to keep doing the same thing.

It was not worth restoring the PC back to an earlier date all the time, so i just decided to completely wipe the laptop and start fresh again, and it has worked perfectly. Now there is nothing wrong, and the wireless card is working perfectly now 😀

I still have no idea what caused the wireless card to stop working, i did not install anything that would of interfered with it. the only change to the system was the widows updates that would automatically install. So although i did not figure out what was wrong, i am glad to finally have it working again, but it would be great to know what caused it in the first place, in case it happens again in the future!

Facebook Usernames

June 14, 2009

Last Friday, June 12th, Facebook launched a new way of allowing there users to share links to their pages that would be easier to remember, in the form of a username. The launch in Ireland would have been at 5am GMT so I decided I was not that eager to get a username so I decided not to stay up 😀

However the next day I got up and tried to get my name as my username but I couldn’t so I settled for leateds! so instead of having a easily long url to give out to people so they can find my page, usually people will end up misspelling url’s that are long, now all they have to do is go to a really short url: www.facebook.com/leateds , its much simpler.

So the idea of being able to finally get a username seemed a big hit with everyone on facebook, so within the first 3 minutes of facebook beginning to issue username, over 200,000 were registered, that is just mental :o.

facebook-warroom

And then when the first hour of username registration passed over a 1,000,000 had been issued! The biggest worry that facebook engineers had was how they were going to prevent there site from crashing with the most likely sudden burst of visitor traffic, so they made a lot of modifications on ways they can improve the quality of the site and reduce server load requests. And they ended up being successful because there site did not go down, which is amazing considering the amount of traffic they received.

Here are some more figures (from mashable) on username registration on the launch of username registration:

– It took 3 minutes to reach 200,000 usernames registered. That’s an astounding 1111+ registered per second during the first minutes of the feature release.

– After 15 minutes, the number of usernames jumped to 500,000. The pace slowed down, but there is no laughing at 555.5 usernames or so taken per second. How many other websites could handle that type of load?

– By 10:01 PM PT, a full hour after release, around one million custom URLs had been claimed. That’s an average of 278 usernames per minute or so.

– Where do Facebook usernames stand now? Well, as of 2:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT, over 3 million usernames have been taken. That’s 3,000,000 custom URLs during a Friday night.

So basically a lot of usernames have been registered since the launch. I wonder why facebook waited this long to release usernames, most social networks had them from when they started out, and considering that facebook is one of the biggest sites in the world, you would think they would of had usernames by now! Anyway for more info on username registration, check out the blog post over on mashable.com

You can get yourself a username by going here, before they are all gone ;), well not all of them, but all the good ones!

Increasing My Blogs Load Speed

June 14, 2009
Category:Wikipedians who use WordPress
Image via Wikipedia

A problem that I have always found on my blog is the speed that it loads at. It takes far too long for my content to display fully and although in reality it only takes a few seconds, it will frustrate people because most people are used to the content displaying instantly ( maybe they never experienced dial-up before, so they cannot be grateful for the speed difference) ;).

Anyway my blog is of course powered by the open-source platform: WordPress. In my opinion the best platform for blogging. So yesterday I spent a lot of time trying to find different ways on how I could increase the performance of my blogs load speed, and it has definitely been successful.

So first off I went around a variety of different blog posts reading the different methods people used and also reading a lot of tips on how to go about improving load speed/time. So the first thing is that my blog used to take approximately 2.5 seconds to load, of course this speed varies from page to page, but on average the load time would be 2.5 seconds. It’s not too bad, however there is always room for improvement and I hate having to wait for my blog to load, so that means if it annoys me it will definitely annoy others 😀 and also if people have to wait for a page to load they will generally give up and go elsewhere and you will now have lost out on a new visitor :(.

So here are the few steps that I took to increase my blogs performance. Before you do any of this I always recommend backing up your database and export a copy of your blog posts (Just incase 😉 ). So apparently when you install plugins and then remove them and save and edit your blog posts and pages it will cause a lot of inconsistencies within your blogs database. By having all of these inconsistencies it can contribute to your database being very complex and will in turn cause the site to slow down, and that is what we do not want. So the solution I used to fix this was a simple plugin that is called: ‘Fix Database‘. It will add a page to your admin backend under the settings section called fix database, so once you click into it there is only one button in it saying fix database, once that is clicked it runs through the database fixing and optimizing your database by updating table information.

The next thing I done was to add a cache system to my site, this will save a copy of the page for a set amount of time so that when you next visit the site the page will be loaded from the cache and will cause less communication to be needed to your server so page will load quicker :D. The plugin I used for this cache in my site is called WP Super Cache, this is probably the most popular cache plugin used on wordpress. By going though the various setting in the WP Super Cache plugin you can set when and how long a page will be cached for, for example you might want the cache page to load until a new post is added and then have the cache cleared so visitors can see the new post you have added. Also you can turn on compression so that less space is used by the cache pages. Having a cache on your blog is a must and especially if your traffic is very high.

The final plugin I added is called WP-DBmanager, this is another plugin for maintaining your database and it does contain a lot of complex settings that I do not bother messing with. However there are a lot of useful things such as being able to repair and edit your database and also you can make queries into your database, I would not really make many queries into my database but it is always helpful to be able to do this. Also you can make back-ups of your database and download them or have them e-mailed to your e-mail address. Also you can set your blog to automatically send a backup daily to your site so if your blog goes down you won’t lose anything and also you can set it to automatically optimize the database on a regular bases so that your site will be in a great performance state.

So after doing all of this the new page load speed on average now is about 0.777 seconds, that is now less than a third of the original load speed (2.5 seconds) before I added all of these plugins. So I am happy at the moment on my blogs performance 😀

Also in terms of administration I have increased speed in the back-end of the site by upgrading to wordpress 2.8, it has helped a lot but the speed in the back-end never really annoyed me too much 😀

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