Netflix Idea

3rd February 2013

netflix idea

I just think it’d be nice to be able to express an opinion on which shows should be included for Netflix streaming in my region.

The Cracker Fairy

24th December 2012

Growing up, my family didn’t just have Santa, we had an extra little thing, something that I didn’t know until I was quite a bit older, was unique to my family.  We also had, The Cracker Fairy.

In Great Britain and some members of the common wealth, crackers are a traditional part of Christmas.  You have a decorated tube with a handle at each end and a strip of paper through the middle. Two people will hold onto the cracker, one at each side and pull it open.  A small bit of black powder inside makes a loud cracking sound and some treats fall out.  Traditionally, these are a little party hat, a very bad joke and a little toy or trinket of some kind.

Well normally most families buy these crackers at the shop but in my family, we make them, the children will collect old toilet roll tubes in the run up to Christmas and then we decorate them together, put it together but here’s the sneaky thing, we don’t put any toys inside.  This is the magic part, the children put empty crackers on the tree put when Santa comes, the cracker fairy comes too.  The cracker fairy then puts little toys inside all the crackers ready to be pulled open at Christmas dinner!  I’ve never seen her but she has never failed to come.

Well, I’ve just told all the kids staying with us this year about the cracker fairy and we’ve made our crackers.  Now they’re off to bed and sleeping, waiting to morning to see what Father Christmas and The Cracker Fairy have brought in the night!

 

My own finished cracker!

First we decorate the paper, when I was a kid we just used wrapping paper but our tradition has evolved a little bit :)

You take an old toilet roll tube and put a joke, a party hat and of course a snapper inside.

Roll it up

and scrunch up the ends!

Finally put it on the tree waiting for The Cracker Fairy to put little presents inside!

My Christmas helpers this year :)

NME Radio Player

18th October 2012

My brother’s complaining that he can’t listen to NME Radio. I’m wondering if this might be because they’re trying to use an overly fancy radio player on their site.

In case that’s the case, here’s a basic HTML5 NME radio player:

Update: Confirmed, he is able to listen now.
Update2: It’s also suspected that NME’s flash player is blocking access to its station in the USA where my brother is at the moment. Are you in the USA? Is this the case for you too?

Graduation Garden Party

7th July 2012

I graduated recently, here’s a photo taken from the balcony of the school of computing.  Nine exposures are used in this picture and its resolution is 76.06 megapixels.

Damn you Valentines Day

14th February 2012

In recent years, I have developed quite the gift for destroying a relationship shortly before Valentines Day, as such, you can imagine my feelings when I woke up this morning. In the past, I can happily claim the joy I’ve taken in indulging in this, the most romantic …revolting of holidays.

I’ve always taken the time to prepare carefully for Valentines Day, custom hand picked bouquets of flowers, gifts, beds covered in rose petals, romantic meals, perhaps made by myself, perhaps at a restaurant. Well, with this being another year where I appear single on this day I had resigned myself with the statement, “Fuck girls! Fuck them all!” (Ironically, this also remains one of my life goals).

As you can imagine, I prepared myself for the day this morning in depression and preemptive disgust at the romantic events I would no doubt witness throughout the day. I showered and I dressed and put loud music in my ear and opened my door, my path was blocked!

I observed in front of me something I instantly recognised, a box. No not just any box but a delivery box for flowers! Sitting just outside my door was a large box of flowers! Dismissing the oddity of someone giving a man some flowers, all my feelings of disgust and depression melted away, some secret admirer had bought ME flowers for valentines day.

Or were they a secret admirer? Perhaps not, I leaned over to investigate the label, perhaps a return address, that’s when I saw it, there, written under the field of Recipient… my flatmate’s name.  The delivery guy had put the box outside the wrong door.

So as of today, everyone at the University of Dundee has had their email switched from Groupwise to the brand new Office 365.  Well, if you’re like me, you want those brand new Emails and/or Calendar and/or Address Books being synced with your phone or computer.

The good news is, they’re using Microsoft Exchange Active Sync which means instant emails, calendar and contact syncing directly to your phone. There’s also IMAP if your phone or computer doesn’t want to do Exchange.

On Android
These settings should also work on iPhone but I haven’t had a chance to try them out on one yet so will update this blog post when I do :)

  1. Go to Settings, Accounts & Sync, Add Account, Exchange ActiveSync, Manual Setup
  2. Enter settings like so:
  3. Email Address apbarratt@dundee.ac.uk
    Server Address pod51014.outlook.com
    Domain dundee.ac.uk
    Username apbarratt@dundee.ac.uk
    Password This is the password you use for all things uni.
    This server requires an encrypted SSL connection Yes
  4. Now you’ll be asked what you want to sync, I’ve chosen to sync my Mail, Contacts and Calendar though I’m sure many people will only want their mail.
  5. You’ll also be asked how you want your mail to arrive. If you choose Push, your mail will be pushed onto your phone the moment it arrives on the server, this is the most convenient but may not be good for your phone’s battery life. You can also choose to have your phone check every 15 minutes or indeed, only check when you ask it to.
  6. You’ll be asked for an account name, you can call it anything you want, I called mine “University.”

Windows (Outlook) and Apple Mac Mail
I know what you’re thinking, why would I group these two computers in the same place? Because, setting them up is identical!

  1. On Windows, open “Control Panel”, on Mac, open “System Preferences”.
  2. On Windows, choose “Mail”, on Mac, choose “Mail, Contacts and Calendars”.
  3. On Windows, choose “Mail Accounts” then “New…” and click Next, on Mac, click the + button and choose “Microsoft Exchange.”
  4. Guess what, Macs and Windows are equally clever, just type your email address and password, it’ll figure out the rest, YAY!

Everything Else (including Blackberry) – IMAP Settings
Many devices and programs do not support Microsoft Exchange, but don’t worry, you can still use IMAP settings, this is the same system that the old Groupwise system used except, because it’s run by microsoft, it should be more reliable.

So in what ever you’re setting up on, choose to create your new account and when prompted for the account type, choose imap, you could also choose POP but I do not recommend POP, I’ll explain why further down.

Email Address apbarratt@dundee.ac.uk
IMAP (Incoming) Server pod51014.outlook.com
Username apbarratt@dundee.ac.uk
Password This is the password you use for all things uni.
Incoming Server uses SSL Yes
Incoming Port 993 (often detected automatically)
Choose to login using clear (plain) text authentication.
SMTP (Outgoing) Server pod51014.outlook.com
Outgoing Server Requires Authentication Yes
Ougoing Server uses TLS Yes, use SSL if TLS not available.
Outgoing Port 587 (often detected automatically)

And that’s it, enjoy.

If your phone was slightly different, leave a comment below to let others know.

Why not POP???
I said further up to not to use POP, why not though? After all, most email addresses you get from companies like Tiscali will use POP. Well, POP is designed for getting your emails at home, on your computer. But once you download your emails, they are deleted from the server, meaning you can only get them on one device, once. So you download your emails on your phone, you can’t get them on your computer. Which ever device downloads the emails first, that’s the one those emails are on. That even means you couldn’t see them on the web mail website once you download them on something else.

IMAP and Exchange are a different matter, the emails stay on the server meaning no matter what device downloads them, other devices can look at them too, even on the website, see why that is better? If not, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can make it clearer :)

You may have noticed a slight change to this site and for that I hate you, for this slight change was a shit load of work!

As I’ve mentioned before, this entire site has actually been two sites; the blog and the main site, they just looked identical.  To be honest, this was partly due to a sense of not wanting to part ways from having a site that was completely controlled and designed by myself.  But of course, a while ago, to make my blog fit in properly with the design of the main site I ended up create an entirely self written theme for wordpress.

Well, I got sick of having two separate sites that appeared as one and required changes done to them separately and in different ways to keep them looking the same and there really was no good reason for it, especially seeing as the blog part was the part that anyone actually looked at.

So last night I set to work copying the content from each of the pages on the main site into wordpress pages on my blog and changing the links at the top of the site to link to these new pages.  Once finished I copied all the files of the blog to the main site’s hosting space and created a duplicate of the database on this server.

After all this I killed off the old blog subdomain by removing the old database and files.  Now I discovered to my horror that all the images were killed off too.  The new copy of the blog didn’t have relative links to the images but in fact fully urls.  A quick find and replace throughout the database changed all references to the old domain name to the new one.

Now that all this was done, I had to include a 301 page redirect on the old subdomain so that all references to blog.andybarratt would permanently redirect here.  This was a must as Google is filled with links to the old version.  This was trickier than the standard redirect as I couldn’t just put a redirect to the new blog as if a url ended with something like “page321″ then I would have to make sure that the redirect would reflect that.  Luckily Apache servers have the ability to cope with this.

So it took a while but the entire site is now moved and from now on, this site will be centred on my blog.  When you go to www.andybarratt.co.uk you will land on the articles page, not a home page saying who I am.  For that, just click “About” at the top and you can read about the wonderous intellectual badass (A term we at the Dundee School of Computing have learnt to use instead of the terms Geek or Nerd) that I am.  Welcome, to the new www.andybarratt.co.uk.

This WordPress has been failing to send email notifications of your comments to myself for some time now, the issue has been solved, let me explain how and probably more importantly, explain what was causing the issue.

First of all, I’ve fixed it using Callum Macdonald’s WP Mail SMTP plugin. This basically allows you to enter your own SMTP settings for sending mail rather than using the php mail() function.

Now I was unsure about using a third party plugin to do this but let me explain why it was necessary.

Like many people, I use Google Apps to host my emails, rather than my web hoster. This means that the MX records for the domain andybarratt.co.uk point to Gmail.

The problem I had was quite simple, everytime wordpress sent an email to my email address, it tried to send it through my web hoster. Well the server, trying to be a clever little server saw my domain name and immediately took that as meaning it didn’t need to leave the server, so it checked for my email address on the server, couldn’t find it and gave up. Now I have Macdonald’s Mail SMTP plugin to direct outgoing emails through Gmail’s server. Problem solved.

Hopefully this will help you, even though many had found this fix, I hadn’t seen many discuss this explanation, even though I could tell that many were using Google Apps for their emails.

Hector for Cassandra

27th February 2011

The following image is a screen shot depicting my thoughts of Hector for Cassandra databases.

I very, very much welcome comments if you know how to actually do what I’m trying to do.

Photos Page Added

3rd January 2011

Nothing special really, just a brief introduction to my photography, a couple of photos and a link to the flickr page.

Also, i’ve noticed that it’s not exactly obvious how to register an account on this blog to leave comments, I’ll get on that before starting on the videos page. Though… right now, I’m hungry, I’m off to McDonald’s.