Having a house clearout? I highly recommend HIPPOBAG..

Rather than hiring an expensive metal skip (which also requires a permit from the local council), I’ve been using HIPPOBAG from Hippowaste over the past couple of months to help clear out junk from my house.  A courier delivers the bag all nicely folded up a couple of days after ordering.  You just place the bag somewhere where their lorry can collect, submit a request for them to pick up, and the job’s done.

What’s great about a HIPPOBAG is that I can place it away from the shared drive, so my neighbour doesn’t lose their parking space.  Both the medium and large size bags will fit my front “garden”.

The service comes highly recommended by me.  So if you’re thinking of having a bit of a clearout, I’d recommend getting a HIPPOBAG.

Having a house clearout? I highly recommend HIPPOBAG..

Memset win Best Dedicated Hosting in the 2016 ISPA Awards!

We won, in part, due to my superb support team.  Couldn’t ask for a better bunch.  Always striving to be the best and fastest (response) for support in the industry.

ISPA Award Winners 2016

Best Dedicated Hosting winner: Memset

Memset’s response times, technical support options and resilience impressed the judges, as did having IPv6 as standard and their commitment to being carbon neutral.

Memset win Best Dedicated Hosting in the 2016 ISPA Awards!

Back to the Windows (Future): Part Two

Settling in reasonably well with Windows 10.  Next month we’ll all be getting the Anniversary Update which will make some changes to the Start menu (which I think is for the better based on my experience from the preview builds I’ve been testing with at work) as well as a few other bits and bobs.

Windows as a Service (WaaS) is the way forward.  There will no Windows 11.  And depending on how technically adventurous you are, you can switch to using Insider Builds which provide you with the latest and greatest new features and bug fixes before they’re unleashed on the public.  Even so, I still stick with the regular builds at home.  I only use the Insider Builds on virtual machines that I run at work.

One thing that had been bugging me over the past couple of weeks was finding a local backup utility to store copies of my files on my local NAS (network attached storage), a WD MyCloud (6Tb) which sits on my gigabit switch hooked up to the Sky Q Hub.  I tried Crashplan which also backs up to its own servers, but found it to be too slow (and Crashplan’s high-resolution support isn’t great).  I also tried Acronis TrueImage 2016, but found that to be far too slow as well – and found that it didn’t recover very well if the backup was interrupted – the UI froze a lot.

I then remembered that I had a product I used way back when I was using Windows before the great migration to the Mac, SyncBack Pro.  But, alas, it has the worst high-resolution display support of any of the backup products and I have to remove it.  I mentioned this to the developers who told me I could create a file that would help improve that – but I’d have to re-create it with each new update.  Why this couldn’t be handled via the UI I don’t know.  So I gave up on that one.

It turns out that I had the solution under my nose all the time!  Kaspersky’s Total Security 2016.  I bought a multiple device license – one for my Android device and the other for the Windows desktop.  It’s very good indeed and I hadn’t realised that it comes with a backup/restore function.  So I’ve been backing up to the NAS using something I had.

For online backups I still use Backblaze.  Provides unlimited backups, but versioning only up to 30 days.  So if you delete a file and try to retrieve it after 30 days, you’ll probably be out of luck.  Hence the local backups.  I’d have preferred to use Crashplan which allows for unlimited versioning across any number of days, weeks and months, but as I’ve said, the main thing that’s holding me back is the lack of high-resolution display support.

I do hope Microsoft consider doing more work to improve high-resolution display scaling.  If Apple can do it successfully with OS X (or MacOS as it will be called), I can’t see why Microsoft can’t.  It’s time to ditch legacy and look to the future of Windows.  It can’t be too longer before 5K monitors and beyond will be the norm.  Windows  need to be ready for this along with all Windows developers.

Meanwhile, I’m selling my Xbox One in preparation for the Xbox One S.  Ultra HD Blu Ray support PLUS the ability to game (stream to a PC) and PC integration (controller can be used with a PC for gaming via Bluetooth) for less than £350?  Yes please.  The Xbox One (S) is effectively running its own version of Windows 10, so that’ll be getting the Anniversary Update too.

Back to the Windows (Future): Part Two

Book ’em Danno!

Okay, but my name’s not Danno (it’s Raymond Luxury Yacht)..

I’ve taken the first step in getting my full driving license – booked the theory test via the Government services site.  Ironically the tests are administered by Pearson Vue, an American company.  But they drive on the other side of the road!

August 2, 8am – just before I head to work.  That gives me a little over a month and a bit to revise and make sure I understand all the major signs and to brush up on my hazard awareness.  Mind you, if I’m learning on the job during the practical lessons, I’m doing it wrong.  And speaking of the practical lessons – they’re a mixed bag.  On one hand I’ve nearly had a head-on collision when checking my mirrors parking outside my house – the other time was not letting a van exit the roundabout (“the roundabout’s MINE – ALL MINE!”).  And let’s not forgetting almost flattening a cyclist when I “guessed” how far behind he was when overtaking rather than using my mirrors.

Sigh.  Roll on autonomous cars..

Book ’em Danno!

For my 40th birthday..

.. (which was yesterday, BTW), I was stuck indoors having had a chest infection for the past two weeks.  During that time I’ve been on holiday and off-work, and have had my ex-wife come by to help sort out her stuff at the house.  But as the coughing/vomiting wasn’t getting any better, I went along to the docs on Tuesday to get some antibiotics – which is working, more or less.

During the time I was sick, I started to run out of food.  So I gave Amazon Prime Now a chance.  It’s pretty good – two hour, same day delivery window.  It doesn’t have as much selection as a proper supermarket, but it does cover the basics.  So I bought bread milk, cheese, mineral water and other bits and bobs.  As I was getting a bit bored, I also bought a 7 disc X-Men movie collection.  Due to an error in the checkout process, the promotional £10 off a £30 spend didn’t work.  So I called Prime Now support who credited me £10.  It was then I discovered that the £10 promo HAD been applied and in fact got £20 off the shop.  Effectively I paid for the movie, and got the food for free.  As I spend a lot of Amazon anyway, I don’t feel too guilty about getting an extra £10 off.

I also bought a few other Blu-Rays during the week: The Lady in the Van, Bridge of Spies, Room, The Hateful Eight, and Steve Jobs.  I’d already seen Steve Jobs before and deem it to be a most excellent film (interestingly for those looking for the excitement of product announcements, forget it – this is very much a human drama about his relationship with his daughter, Lisa).

I’ve never been too fond of westerns before my colleague Dave at work introduced me to some classics, but I really got into Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.  Shot in the good old Ultra Panavision (65mm, projected at 70mm) with lenses that came from the old cameras back in the 60s, this is a wonderfully tense western almost entirely set in a single location – a cabin caught in a dreadful blizzard.  As the drama unfolds, you’re treated to violence that would make Game of Thrones look like the Teletubbies.

The Lady in the Van was a pleasant surprise.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it when it hit the cinema (and had avoided it), but I’m very glad to have bought the Blu-Ray.  As you’d expect, Dame Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd is wonderfully cantankerous.  She really did live in Alan Bennett’s drive for 15 years, and his interactions with her are comedic and yet heartfelt.  The ending is fantastic (both figuratively and literally).

Perhaps the best of all was Bridge of Spies.  Directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by the Coen Brothers and Matt Chapman, this film is inspired by true events.  In 1957, the FBI captures Rudolf Abel, a suspected spy for Russia.  Tom Hanks stars as James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer with criminal law experience who is asked to represent Abel in court.  When the US sends a pilot in an experimental plane to spy on Russian territory which goes horribly wrong, Donovan is sent to East Berlin to negotiate the release of the American – in exchange for Abel.  The entire story is riveting from start to finish, and one of the best Cold War thrillers I’ve seen.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’ve not seen Room yet – probably will get a chance to do so this week.

So that was it.  My 40th birthday.  Two more years until the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.

For my 40th birthday..