2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 27,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Should you fear QR Codes?

QR Code
Would you scan it?

Quick Response (QR) Codes allow you to scan a square image which resembles a bar-code to open web pages on a compatible device.  This means retailers can direct you to their websites without you having to type a long URL.  The trend to include QR codes on advertisements within magazines is pretty standard. Read more


Software Disconnect

The other day I attended a half-day (three hour) seminar on Practical Project Management. Although the seminar was very good the events of the day surrounding the seminar made me shake my head in disbelief. The disbelief came from my tendency to analyse and pick fault with computer systems: I am a computer programmer after all! Read more

BIOS Problems

BIOS gremlins

After fifteen years in the IT industry I find I’m always learning.  A year ago I was asked by a friend to look at his laptop as it would no longer power on.  Our course I accepted and I started to investigate.  The laptop was only three weeks out of warranty and as described did not work.  On powering the unit on the power LED lit, an internal fan spun and then nothing!  No beeps, nothing on the screen, and no clue to what could be the cause of the problem.  Screw driver at the ready I swung into action.  I removed the memory, wireless card, DVD-drive, battery and anything else that moved.  The laptop still would not function.  Thus, I assume the problem must be with the motherboard.  So, I told my friend the bad news and reassembled the laptop and place it in a draw.

Last week, I opened the draw for the first time in ages and spotted the laptop.  The demon’s in me could not resist giving it another go.  To my surprise the the laptop booted!  A week or two before this, I had fixed a PC with a similar problem by popping the CMOS battery.  And, before that I’d had to re-flash the BIOS on my own PC after it became corrupted.  Therefore, I can only assume the gremlins in my friends laptop were related to the BIOS, as when I powered it on I received a message from the BIOS that the factory defaults would be loaded and the time needed setting.  I can only conclude the problem was BIOS related.

Whenever I attempt to diagnose a computer fault in the future I’m always going to remove the BIOS battery: you never know it might just work!

Software bugs – here to stay?

Great Little Computer!Being a software developer I’m pretty ophey with the term ‘bug’. In fact, I do believe the term is used daily within my day job. Historically this term had an entirely different meaning outside of software development. However, in parallel with the app explosion the term has made it into the mainstream. An even more disturbing trend is that consumers now seem to accept that software has bugs. I am not convinced this was always the case! I remember spending hours of my youth bashing away on my Amstrad CPC464 attempting to conquer the latest 2D game. I do not remember these crashing or the need for me to upgrade to version 1.x and beyond. Does this mean that software programmers of yesterday were a smarter animal than today’s crop?

Read more

Great Balls of Gravity – HTML5 Canvas

Continuing with the Physics posts my second post on the subject involves mimicking the gravity effect on a medicine, basket, football and tennis balls.   A working version can be viewed here. The completed project is depicted below:

Falling balls effect in HTML5's canvas

The example above uses the Canvas element which is available in most of the major browsers as part of HTML5. The mark up of the above follows: Continue reading “Great Balls of Gravity – HTML5 Canvas”

HTML5’s Canvas – A physics’ Race

Cars in motion HTML5I fancied stepping into the unknown with my next HTML5 and canvas project. I’ve always been fascinated by the laws of physics and the programmatic approach one would take to manage this within a software project. As my knowledge on this subject only extends to my education at school, I decided to attempt to carry out the basics of a car race animation using the basic equation for a particle in motion e.g. x = x0 + (v0 * t) + (1/2 * a * t^2). Continue reading “HTML5’s Canvas – A physics’ Race”

Tips for securing SSH

SSH is the preferred method for providing remote shell services such as command execution.   Designed as a replacement for the old-school insecure Telnet protocol SSH provides an encrypted secure connection between client and server.  Although, far more secure than its for-farther, there are some extra steps you can take to increase out-of-the-box setting to increase the level of security.

The following assumes a fresh installation of CentOS 6.  By default the SSH service is not enabled.  To enabled the service you need to start the service.  To do this run the following command as the root user within a terminal:

service sshd start

To configure the system to start the SSH service at start-up you can run the following:

chkconfig sshd on

The service will now accept connections from clients. The configuration of the service is controlled by the contents of a configuration file called ‘sshd_config’ located within the folder ‘/etc/sshd/’. Open this file using the editor of your choice. Read more

Managing code quality

It’s fair to say that the quality of your code has a direct correlation to the success of your product.   Products crafted to a high quality using proven techniques and industry accepted standards have a better chance of succeeding.  This applies to any field; be it. car production, joinery and  most certainly software development. Read more

Bug tracking system – A must feature

It’s an open question, “What makes a good bug tracking system good?”, and one’s answer may well depend on your software life-cycle’s requirements. In this post I’ll outline one of the ‘must have’ features I recommend. This recommendation comes from my experience from working in both an open source and business driven development environment. Continue reading “Bug tracking system – A must feature”