Saturday 28 May 2011

Things that annoyed me, week ending 15th May 2011

Super Injunctions

Well I would tell you if I could!

Ok, I can! Super Injunctions are a subject that I just can not understand and whilst I do not have a law qualification, I believe from everything I do know that they are incompatible with UK law.

The fact is, under UK law, you need to knowingly commit a crime, a good write up is here - this was the big basis of the trial I sat whilst on Jury Service, the man who was accused admitted to doing the crime but not knowing what he was actually doing - an actual very interesting subject.

Now, I just want to say, how stupid is it, and how can anyone be in contempt of court for saying something that they have no way of checking is actually under an injunction?

People can ask genuine questions to friends such as "Have you heard xxx is with yyy?" and suddenly, they are a criminal in contempt of a court order!

I just think the whole thing is ludicrous - and whilst I do believe everyone deserves privacy, I also think that if they cheat behind the backs of their family, they deserve what they get - we are meant to have free speech and I will truly loose what little faith I have left in this country if people start getting "nicked" for speaking freely.

Probably my hero of the whole situation [this article is written after the week!] is John Hemming who is the official Super Injunction Buster, who uses parlimentary privilege to effectively be above the law! Video 1, Video 2.

Things that annoyed me, week ending 8th May 2011

I originally started this blog as a place to write interesting things and also... an outlet of anger - somewhere to write my rants and reflect on them in years time and laugh!

It didn't exactly turn out the way I planned, but, I decided to start a weekly post that I was going to originally call "Things that pi$$ed me off this week", but instead, I am calling it "Things that annoyed me".

Starting a few weeks back in a week when I took my brother down to Weston-Super-Mare for a performance in a show - overall it was really good... but...

Petrol Stations

I wanted to fill up before the long journey (My longest drive!), there was a long queue for paying, so I thought I would save some time and use the "Pay at pump" option. I stick in the card (It was either my Amex or Mastercard) and it flashes "Card not accepted for pay at pump, please pay at Kiosk", and then all throughout filling up, it kept flashing on the screen "You can save a lot of time when you next need to fill up, just select Pay at Pump"

Charity Shops & Minimum credit card fees

A little thing I do which I just can't help myself... If I go to a place I haven't been before, I always pop in to the local charity shop - I don't know what it is, but almost every other one seems to have Westie statues!

I am completely addicted to Westies and buy them when ever I see them! So... I see that the Heart Foundation in Weston-Super-Mare had about 6 or 7 statues and... I bought the lot!

Now, I hardly ever carry cash with me - I pay for nearly everything on card and I did that here - no problems, but then, just after I finished paying, the woman says that there is another statue around the back if I wanted it... It looked alright and I said "sure!"

After a nice talk, she put the statue through the till and it cost £3.50, I wanted to pay on the card and she said that they only take credit cards for over £5.

I did not have the money and there was nothing else I wanted so I asked her why they have that policy and she just said that it is because they charge too much.

I don't know if anyone is aware but, the real fees are anything from a maximum of around 4% down to around 1%, some charge a transaction fee on top of between 5p-30p, others don't.... Now, a chain as big as The British Heart Foundation, especially being a charity probably pay the minimum, Baring this in mind, and the fact I wanted the statue, I offered to pay 50p which should of more than covered their costs (if they only pay a percentage, it makes no difference how many transactions anyway!).

The lady said she did not want to do this as she couldn't accept it. I really did not fancy having an argument over something so small, but, it is annoying!

To add to this, whilst I was going out, I said in a jokey way "Can I have a refund for what I bought, and then buy them all together"... and... the lady said "YES"! Now, to anyone who doesn't know - credit card refunds can cost just as much as the initial fees - I said it was ok and I left!

By far, they are not the only ones who do it - If you look around there are so many high street chains that have a minimum transaction limit, and, if you did not know, this is not actually allowed in the merchant terms and conditions that they have to agree with (many cards also forbid small order extras). I am in no way going to complain about a charity shop, but, minimum transaction amounts/fees are one thing that has been annoying me for years!

My brother

Practically all the way back from Weston-Super-Mare, he kept asking "If I had heard?" and singing "Bird is the word"

And, that's it! This series isn't going to be a huge rant, it is just a bit of fun for me to get things off my chest... I am no good at keeping a diary as things happen, so I hope this will be a record that will be around for a long while!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Getting Tamper Data to work in Firefox 4

If you are having problems with Tamper Data working in Firefox 4, it is a simple problem that you will kick yourself over!

Simply press "Alt" once to bring up the menu bar, then go to the "Tools" menu and you should see "Tamper Data" listed.

Saturday 7 May 2011

"Failed to generate a user instance of SQL Server due to a failure in starting the process for the user instance. The connection will be closed."

After my fun with trying to get VS, SQL and Phone Tools all working together, I had the following error trying to mount databases:

"Failed to generate a user instance of SQL Server due to a failure in starting the process for the user instance. The connection will be closed."

If you get that error message, the solution that worked for me was to clear the SQL Express user instance data store, located at:

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server Data\SQLEXPRESS
(or full path)

C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server Data\SQLEXPRESS

Hope this helps someone!

Visual Studio 2010, SQL 2008 R2, Windows Phone Tools and MVC 3 Install order

One of the blog posts I made which received a lot of hits was the Visual Studio 2008 install order. So, after having a few problems myself with Visual Studio 2010 and management studio, I have made a new guide to help people.

I have been having so many problems with SQL 2008 R2 Management Studio and have spent a while reinstalling from scratch. I am not 100% sure that this is the most efficient, but I can confirm it makes everything work well, which is the important thing!

1. Install Windows 7
2. Install Windows 7 SP1
3. Install Visual Studio 2010 - Custom install and remove SQL 2008 Express
*4. Install SQL 2008 R2 Express - Do not choose the advanced services edition unless you need the extra components. I believe it was the BI Suite which caused some of my issues.
5 a. (Extra if you wish) - Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools.
5 b. (Extra) Download Windows Phone Tools Update.
5 c. (Extra) Download Windows Phone Tools fix.
*6. Download Visual Studio 2010 SP1
*7. Download MVC 3 Tools

Please note, for steps with a *, you can use the Microsoft Web Platform Installer rather than hunting around for additional downloads!

Friday 6 May 2011

Recommend against Intel Core i7-2600k internal graphics

After about a month of searching the internet and chats direct with Intel, I have come to the conclusion that the 2600k internal graphics (Intel HD 3000) are flawed and I personally through my company will not be using this configuration and I recommend others do the same.

Recently, I have purchased a few systems with a combination of H67 boards and I3-2120/i7-2600k processors.

All the 2120's have been completely flawless, however I wish I could say the same with the 2600k systems.

On the boards I have tested it on (Mainly Asrock H67DE3, but also a few others), I have seen random hangs and crashes (Started thread on Intel Forums), the default drivers from manufacturer and Intel direct fail, with some making the machine pretty unusable.

For all my clients with I7-2600k systems, I have purchased discrete graphics cards and this has beaten the problem.

I am still not 100% sure if it is a(nother) chipset/board issue or simply a driver issue, but my experience tells me that this is most likely down to drivers.

Looking on the Intel Support forums and just searching around trying to beat this problem has shown me that many other people are having similar issues. As for why it is not more mainstream/reported elsewhere, my guess is simply that as the I7-2600k is a high end chip, the vast majority of people with it are using p67/other boards along with discrete graphics cards.

The Intel HD Graphics 3000 are powerful (when working) and an equivalent discrete card costs in the region of £40-£50, along with the additional power draw (around 15w idle - 60w+ peak), meaning that the processor is very good value for people wanting raw horsepower but are not big gamers.

As for buying advice, for my clients I am switching to the I7-2600 (non K) and am still using the H67 boards with discrete graphics since the reason for getting the K variant was the 3000 instead of 2000 graphics as overclocking is not high on the priority list.... If you have people wanting to overclock, the 2600k + p67 + discrete graphics is safe.