Sep 22 2010

[Insert Geek Joke Here]

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 2:17 pm

OK, it is time I start clearing out some of the bookmarks I have spread across three different browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer), and three different operating systems (Windows 7, XP and Vista, if you choose to honour that with the title of an OS!). Over the last 19 months, since Anna was born, I have not had as much time to blog about the things I used to. However, I have tried to Ctrl+D whenever I read something of interest, in the hope that one day I’d be able to write about them.
These posts will be in no particular order, and I’ve discovered that quite a few of the articles/sites have either been removed or become totally irrelevant. I also need to go through a few hundred favourited tweets that, again, I’ve wanted to write about, but not found the time.
First up we have a Castle/Tower Defence type of game based on the TV series IT Crowd. You may well need to be a fan of the series, and remember computer systems from the 80s and 90s to get some of the humour in the game, but if you run out of things to do in your next lunchtime, give this a shot! I’ve recently got back into this genre of games, with Azgard Defence getting the most time on my main PC (Plants and Zombies gets a bit repetitive once you have completed it a few times), and Tower Wars: Time Guardian on my phone. I wish someone would answer my previous post – I’m still stuck on the American War Of Independence Level 🙁 .

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Sep 15 2010

Alexa Toolbar Comes To Chrome

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 11:10 pm

The title for this post probably doesn’t require a great deal of clarification, but just in case…

Chrome – This is an internet browser made by Google. Like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera or even Safari. (There are others of course, but as people using them make up less than 2.5% of this site’s visitors, I’m happy to gloss over them for now).

Alexa Toolbar – This is some code that will tell you how popular a website is when you visit it. The lower the number, the better, so if your site had an Alexa ranking of 1, you would (theoretically) own the most visited site in the world. Until recently, only Internet Explorer and Firefox users had access to the official Alexa toolbar, and I believe it was only this one that actually registered visits to the sites you frequent, within Alexa’s system. (Other toolbars/extensions exist that will tell you the rank, but they do not tell Alexa to +1 to the number of visitors for a website on any given day.)

Comes to – It now exists 🙂 See their blog post here, or if it is down again and you don’t fancy checking Google’s cache of the page, head on over to here directly for the download link.

I should point out that some people (and anti-malware programs) will report this toolbar as something that needs to be removed. It does, after all, meet most definitions of spyware – a company records details of every site you visit. However, if you decide to locate the download, and then initiate the installation procedure yourself, I’m assuming you know what it does and are happy with this system.

Finally, many people make the argument that Alexa’s stats are not reliable (they only count people with the toolbar installed) and are easily gamed. So don’t go losing sleep if your site slips down in the rankings, or assume you’ll be able to sel your site for a 5 figure sum, just because you make it into the top 1000.

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Sep 08 2010

PockeTwit Fixed!

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 1:53 am

If you happen to use PockeTwit to read and write your tweets, you should start the application and make sure check for updates is ticked with the options. Re-start if necessary.
Alternatively, head on over to here to grab version 0.82a . If you prefer, just grab the CAB to copy to your device and install from here.

Because of the changes Twitter made to their authentication and application verification system, namely OAuth being the only acceptable method, we had to wait for the writer of this (FREE!!!) program to update his code. This took a while, but TBH, the program is free, works like a dream again, and matches 98% of my tweeting needs. If it had YouTube access for video uploads (like TinyTwitter that I tried to use temporarily, but also had OAuth problems with) or possibly TwitVid, I could finally dump Qik. I just checked over at PockeTwit’s User Voice Page, and someone had already requested that enhancement. Added my vote.

Anyway, once the update is installed, start up PockeTwit, goto the Settings menu on the left, and select Accounts. Assuming it is already showing your Twitter account, click on Edit Selected, and follow the on screen instructions. One other person reported a problem with OAuth verification, it might be worth temporarily changing your phone’s default browser to Pocket Internet Explorer if this occurs. No reason I can think of that this would be the issue, but worth a shot. On an unrelated note, if you get general application errors, make sure your .NET CF is up to date. (Basically 3.5 or 3.7).

Now I just need to see how easy the program will be to operate on a device without a D-Pad, like the HTC Touch Pro 2 soon to be arriving.

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Jun 03 2010

Step By Step New Hotmail Account Guide

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:41 am

If you are Roger (Dad’s next door neighbour), this post if for YOU! If you aren’t him, and are just reading this blog post because it is on the front page, feel free to keep reading if you need a step by step guide to starting a new Hotmail account. If I was in Evesham right now, I’d probably try and convince Roger that a GMail address might be a better idea, but that would take too long using Dad as a message relayer 🙂

Anyway, onto the guide.

1) Turn on the PC. Start your preferred internet browser (likely to be Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome)

Start Your Internet Browser

Start Your Internet Browser

2) Enter in the address bar, and press Return or Enter on the keyboard

Enter The Address

Enter The Address

Press Return Or Enter (Thanks Wikimedia)

Press Return Or Enter

3) Click the Sign Up button located in the lower left of the screen
(Hoping a screen shot isn’t necessary here 🙂 )

4) Decide whether you want a or a address. It makes NO differences, other than personal preference. If hotmail is your choice, proceed to step 5. If you want, click the first drop down box and click on

5) Pick an address you want to use. It makes sense to choose something that is difficult to mis-spell, easy to remember, and finally, something someone else will not have already registered. Bad choice examples: , , . All of those are either easy for other people to spell incorrectly, or will most likely have been registered already.

6) Enter your chosen e-mail address in the first text entry box. Click the check availability button. Swear loudly as you discover someone else already has the exact address you want. If it isn’t free, Microsoft will ask for your name and some relevant interests and suggest available e-mail addresses you might like. Either follow their steps, or click on the little X in the Windows Live ID advanced search box and type in a new e-mail address. Again click the check availability button. Repeat these step until you are informed that your chosen address is available. (If possible, try not to select an alternative address they offer that has a number on the end. Again, easy for other people to mis-type/remember it).

7) Select a password that you want to use to sign into this e-mail account. If possible, choose something you do NOT use anywhere else online. It needs to be six characters long, and if you use a mixture of lower and UPPER case letters, numbers and special characters (£${ etc. etc.) it will be harder for other people to guess your password and hack in. It will also make it more difficult for you to remember, so try and find a balance 🙂 Type this same password into the retype password box.

8) If you have now selected an e-mail address and password that Microsoft isn’t complaining about WRITE THEM DOWN NOW. TWICE. Keep each piece of paper in a different room, so if you ever forget your address or password, and can’t find the 1st piece of paper with the details recorded on, you have a second chance.

9) If you already have a different e-mail address that you can still access, enter it in the Alternate e-mail address box. This is the address that Microsoft will use if you ever ask to reset your password if you’ve forgotten it (and lost both pieces of paper). If you don’t already have an e-mail account, click the “Or choose a security question for password reset” link. If you clicked the link, select a question you won’t ever forget the answer to, and enter that answer in the Secret Answer box.

10) Fill in the rest of the boxes down to Birth Year with your relevant information.

Fill In Other Boxes. ZIP=Post Code

Fill In Other Boxes. ZIP=Post Code

11) In the text box below Birth Year, you need to type the eight characters shown in the image just above it. This is Microsoft’s attempt to make sure you are a real human asking for an e-mail address. They apparently had problems with hamsters and motorbikes pretending to be humanoid and asking for addresses. Or it could have been people using automatic systems for spamming. I can never remember which.

Capcha Code

Capcha Code

12) Untick the “Send me e-mail with promotional … ….” box. Double check all the boxes on the page are correctly filled in.

13) Click I accept. If all information has been entered correctly, you will now be logged into your e-mail account. The first time you send an e-mail, you may be asked to enter another eight letters from a strange looking image. Again, another anti-spam step.

14) In the future, visit, and if you see your e-mail account on the right hand side, click sign in. Then enter your password, and click sign in. If you are on a different computer or internet browser, you will also need to enter your e-mail address.

15) Ideally, repeat steps 1-13 and create a second e-mail address that you will use when signing up for other accounts online. Why? Your first e-mail address is for friends, family and people who you trust to send you real e-mails. The second account you create can be given to anyone/any company online. This way, if these companies spam you, it won’t interfere with your personal e-mail account, and if the spam ever gets too bad, you can just create a new second account, and not have to tell all your friends to use a new e-mail address.

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Dec 14 2009

Alma TV Initial Report

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 5:23 am

As promised, here are my first impressions of Alma TV’s cable service here in Astana.

I’ll lay out the details first – we asked for and got the digital service (apparently not available in all areas just yet), didn’t get their internet service (not available in our location), and already had all the cabling in place for them. Our flat has already had a normal TV aerial wired in from the roof, as well as a large sat dish pointed at the Hotbird satellite. Not wanting to lose the satellite channels, we opted to use the standard aerial leads to feed the cable signal into the flat. As this lead is already split to feed a socket by the TV and also by the PC, this means we can watch two different cables channels at the same time. As long as one is Russian language – more on that later.

So, we went for the Prestige package, which basically means all of the channels except for three or four extra sports ones are included.

The channels that are mainly in English are as follows

    Discovery Channel
    Discovery Science
    Discovery World
    Discovery Travel & Living
    AXN Sci Fi Ru
    Sci Fi Channel
    Fox Life
    Fox Crime
    Universal Channel Russia
    SET Russia
    TV-1000 Action
    National Geographic
    National Geographic Wild
    Animal Planet
    Zone Reality
    Viasat Explorer
    Viasat History
    BBC World
    Cartoon Network / Turner Classic Movies
    VH-1 Europe
    World Fashion
    Fashion TV
    Luxe TV

The following channels are either in Russian or another language, but might still be of interest…

    Sport 1
    Sport 2
    Russian Extreme – different extreme or unusual sports
    Drive – Motor related programs
    Box – Fight channel, different disciplines covered
    Play TV (seems to be KZ KZSport1)
    MCM – French music channel
    MTV Russia – You can probably guess from the name 🙂
    A-One – Another Russian music channel
    Mus TV – Another Russian music channel
    Hit TV – Not sure yet about which country this channels originates from
    Music Pervogo – Another Russian music channel
    Mezzo – Classical/Jazz/Non-pop music channel

English audio doesn’t actually mean that all programs will have English speech. If you have a program that involves interviewing people from other countries, their speech is left intact – the English dubbing you’d get from watching the same channel in Britain is lost. Also adverts are mostly in Russian – no great loss there 🙂

Some channels have their EPG (Electronic Program Guide) two hours off – that is to say if you want to find out what is on now or next, you’ll need to check what the cable box thought was on two hours ago. Not all channels are like this, and I’m fairly certain it would be simple for Alma TV to correct this mistake.

The program names are mostly in Russian, but if you can at least read the Cyrillic alphabet, then you can just say the words out loud, and normally guess what it might be about. Channels that are specifically themed (SciFi, Discovery channels and sports for example) are normally easy to guess.

The interface menu for the cable STB (set top box) was originally in Russian, but can be changed to English. Our installers knew Russian wasn’t my first language, so they swapped the language for us (Menu, 1, Left until you see English, OK and then a few Exits), and also altered the relevant channels from Russian to English audio. Though not all of them, which is why I’ve listed all the ones I could find above, in case you ever find yourself using a digital set top box post-install time.

The box has both composite video and S-Video outputs, but obviously no component, HDMI or VGA. The audio is covered with both analogue RCA stereo output, and digital.

If your area isn’t yet covered by the digital service, you can still get most (all?) of those channels, but only with Russian audio (BBC/CNN excepted).

The ANNUAL rental for the box is around 750 Tenge (that is around 3 UK pounds, or $5!), and the monthly charge depends on which channel package you go for. I’ll have to double check with Irina, but I think the Prestige package (as DanD rightly pointed out, Kazakhstan HAD to have a channel package called that!) costs around 4000 Tenge per month.

I’ll try to post more information as it arises.

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Oct 23 2009

Step Away From The CD

Category: FriendsChrisM @ 2:09 am

One of the computers I previously mentioned had a few problems, which is why a friend bought it over to the flat for me to take a look at. It was slow to start up, even slower at starting Internet Explorer for the first time, and kept displaying dubious warnings about infections. Basically, she had some malware that tried to convince her to buy some software to remove some non-existent problems.
An IT guy had taken a look at it, and advised her to reinstall Windows. The better solution was to remove all the un-necessary start up items, disable the plethora of unwanted IE addons loaded, suggest increasing the RAM from 512Mb to one or two Gb, and to remove the silly program. It was designed pretty well, to the point that even specialist removal tools were automatically shut down at the point of cleaning it, though not at the detection stage. Anyway, all sorted now, and whilst it doesn’t fly along, it should keep her going until she gets some more RAM. Reinstalling Windows is sometimes necessary, but to be honest I was surprised that the IT guy hadn’t fixed any of the obvious problems or suggested more useful solutions.

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Aug 30 2009

RT @140pedia » Internet Explo…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 2:06 pm

RT @140pedia » Internet Explorer (Application) 140pedia – Everything you need to know in 140 characters or less.

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Jan 28 2009

Midwife Post

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 3:10 pm

As we sit here waiting for what may possibly be our last pre-natalmidwife appointment, I decided to see how Opera (a browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox) handled the admin interface (dashboard in WordPress’ case) on my phone.
Other than a small issue with occasional graphical corruption when the on-screen keyboard vanishes, and a small issue with text entry alignment, all seems well. Until I swapped to an Orange 3G SIM card, and bought an ‘unlimited’ data bundle, it didn’t seem worth the effort normally.

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Nov 28 2008

Entrecard And Firefox Issues?

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 11:05 pm

To any fellow droppers who pop in, can I ask you to leave a comment if you are currently encountering problems with viewing the entrecard on the right? Recently, I’ve had time outs occur a lot more often (so a “The requested site did not respond to a connection” error message appears, outside the viewable area of the widget). I now find that (in FireFox, but not Internet Explorer) when the widget does load, the image jumps around its original position, very quickly. Anyone suffering the same issues here/elsewhere?

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Oct 03 2008

Izea’s RealRank Security Flaw

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 1:32 am

Perhaps security flaw is over-dramatising the situation, however there is definitely a problem with supposedly private data being easily revealed

1) To any Izea/SocialSpark/PayPerPost staff reading this post – I am happy working for you, and DO NOT wish my blog to be removed from your schemes
2) To everyone else, especially those concerned with the way this information is being revealed, I have raised the issue via the Izea support ticket system. However, despite two separate assurances that the problem either didn’t exist, or had been fixed, the issue remains

People who have the ITK code in their sites are able to have their ‘RealRank’ calculated. In essence, this ranking system is designed to replace the (apparently) easily gamed Alexa ranking system. Average visits, pageviews and also relevant inbound links are all proportionately weighed into the final score, with 1 being the best rank, and the higher your rank, the less popular your blog is effectively considered.
The raw data that goes into Izea’s equation can be marked as private, so that only IzeaRank and other already public information is revealed when you look a blog/blogger up.
Or at least that is supposed to be the situation. However, not all pages correctly ‘hide’ this info.
I will use my own blog as an example, as I do not wish to directly publicise other blogger’s info where they wish it be kept private.

Visit – this is the blog specific page at Izea’s SocialSpark scheme. Note the (correct) label of ‘Private’ applied to the Daily Average Views and Visitors.
Now visit – this is the blogger specific page at Izea’s SocialSpark scheme. Here, both Daily Average Views and Visitors are incorrectly displayed.
Originally, the analytics page for blogs ( for example) also gave access to the private data.

Should it be required, I’ve obviously kept a screenshot of the problem. I have also tested this problem in both Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 7, with cleared caches and ensuring I was logged out at the time.

I have made the decision to publicise this problem, in the hope it will finally speed up the remedial action required to ensure that private data is kept that way.

[edit added after first comment was recvd.]
I have added a little more information about the actual two way exchange of information that occurred via the Support Ticket system.

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