Andy’s Techie Blog

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  • Trend Micro – Can’t Uninstall AVG

    Posted on November 10th, 2017 Andy Parkes No comments

    What’s this? A technical post?

    Quick and easy one.

    I was trying to install the Trend Micro Worry Free Business Advanced client on a PC and I got the following message

    Unable to Remove Incompatible Software

    Installation unsuccessful. The installer could not uninstall AVG 2012 x64 automatically

    Manually uninstall this product and retry.

    Trend Remove

    Now a message like this isn’t massively uncommon. If you already have an anti-virus product the Trend installer will try to remove it. If it’s unsuccessful that’s the message you’ll see

    However, I’d already removed the existing anti-virus which in this case had been Avast (who own AVG?). So something must have been left behind after that.

    AVG do have a removal tool on their utilities page. Unfortunately this didn’t do make any difference

    Luckily the fix was pretty easy

    * The usual “I’m not responsible for breaking your registry” warnings apply here *

    Open Regedit

    Locate the following key

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\AVG

    Delete it

    That’s it.
    Once I’d done that the program installed fine.

    This will highly likely work for other programs. Just be sure said program is definitely removed before you do it.

  • Tile Mate

    Posted on October 30th, 2017 Andy Parkes No comments

    TileLogoI’m always forgetting where I’ve put things

    Keys, phone and wallet are the usual suspects but I’ll frequently pick something up, then put it down and then have no idea where it’s gone.

    So when I first came across Tile Mate it seemed to have been made just for me!

    Tile Mate is a little device that attaches to your key ring primarily. Though it could attach to a bag or anything really.

    TileMate1Then you register it with an app on your phone and between Bluetooth and GPS it’ll help you locate the approximate area where the device is located.

    If you still can’t find it then you can “ring” it. A little speaker plays a ringtone (there are four to choose from)

    If you still can’t find it after that (as in you’ve genuinely lost it) then you can also call on the Tile community to help find it. Once your mark something as lost if your tile comes within proximity of someone else’s app it’ll let them know.

    As well as the key ring form factor they have Tile Slim which is credit card sized. Perfect for wallets!

    In additional there are various accessories used for helping you to attach to different items. It’s not just for bags and keys.

    There are also a couple of extra features that are pretty useful.

    If you can’t find your phone. Double tap the button on the front of the Tile and if it’s within Bluetooth range it’ll make the phone ring. It’s like the “find my phone” features most phones have.

    You can also share the location of a Tile with someone. The website says that’s useful for “shared cars, keys or bags” (though I’m not really sure about that one!)  

    As well as the “classic tile mate” and the “slim” there is a Pro series

    This is made up of the “sport” version, which is a little more rugged. You could attach this to a sports bag which usually gets throw around a bit more.

    TileSport 

    And the “style version” which is for attaching to purses and handbags. (clichéd?)

    TileStyle

    So, any downsides?

    Price

    A single Tile classic is between £20-£25 depending on where you shop. You can buy them in multi-packs which makes them a little cheaper.

    The Pro series are around £30

    Slim is between £25 and £35

    I have mixed feelings on this. Your own opinion will vary but that’s a little but more expensive than I was initially willing to pay for one of these. However, having since received one as a gift I will likely get the slim version for my wallet!

    Battery

    The devices aren’t user serviceable. Once the battery dies that’s it.

    Tile will guarantee it’ll last for a full year but after that it lasts as long as it lasts. That could be a day, or even another year!

    They do have a “reTile” program. You send the tile back and they’ll sell you another one at a discount.

    Couple of ways to look at this really.

    You need the Tile to work. No point attaching it to your keys and then the one time you actually, totally lose your keys you need to know the Tile is in perfect working order. So I understand the need for them to have some control over how long it’s used for.

    But you could also argue it’s a good way to get some money out of you every 12 months. If you buy several of these the total amount you pay out starts to add up over the years

    In summary

    It’s a really good bit of kit and I’ve certainly benefited from having it.

    I know that I’m focussing on the price quite a bit. Primarily it’s due it being an ongoing cost. I think it it lasted two years instead of one

    Could you use one of these?

  • Birmingham Marathon 2017

    Posted on October 18th, 2017 Andy Parkes No comments

    As mentioned previously…running is a thing now.

    Back in 2016 I ran the London Marathon.

    I got in by pure luck through the ballot, had an amazing time and thought that would be my one and only marathon.

    But I’ve ended up running a lot more since then (and actually enjoying it) so when I heard Birmingham were planning on hosting a marathon for the first time in over 30 years I had to sign up.

    So on Sunday I ran my second Marathon

    I knocked 27 minutes off my London time and just squeezed under 4 hours with a finishing time of 03:59:06

    BrumFin

    I’m really pleased with that!

    Having a had a couple of days to take it all in I wanted to share some thoughts on Birmingham’s brand new marathon!

    The Course

    A bit of a mixed bag

    IMAG1541

    The course started at Alexander Stadium on the outskirts of the city, into and around parts of the city centre, through Canon Hill Park, around Edgbaston Cricket Ground towards Bourneville and then presumably so they didn’t have to shut Birmingham down totally back towards the park again to do it all over again. There is basically a big chunk of it you do twice.

    20x30-GBMH1652

    I wouldn’t have a problem with this generally but there were some really tough climbs in there so knowing you had to do them twice was hard going.

    There were two hills in Bourneville in particular that nearly finished me off

    For comparison, according to my tracking app (Strava) my total elevation gain from London was 449 feet. Birmingham was 1,140 feet!

    Elevation1

    The last mile itself had two or three uphill sections that were really the last thing you needed at that point!

    A lot of the marketing messaging around the event talked about it being a fast course. There were sections of it that certainly were quick and for an experienced marathon runner it would have been a good challenge. But for the more casual runner, who Great Run will need to attract if they want to keep running the event, the loop and those tough climbs won’t have those people rushing to sign up again. A lot of first time marathon runners may not come back because of it. I saw a lot of Facebook comments on the Great Run pages that would seem to back that up

    The Birmingham Half Marathon that has been around for years famously had a killer hill at the end (and it is a killer. I ran up it with a torn ankle ligament last year!)

    That hill was taken out, presumably in recognition that it wouldn’t be a good way to end the marathon. 

    It’s a shame as there are some really good things about the course

    Starting in the Stadium was great, running through the park was beautiful and we got to see a wide variety of different parts of Birmingham. 

    The event itself

    I’ve run a few events put on by “Great Run” now and by and large it’s a well oiled machine.

    I don’t have much to complain about. The communication and information in the lead up to the event was good. The Great Run app is fantastic, especially as it allows friends and family to track runners.

    Water stations on the course felt well placed. The lack of a sports drink stop towards the end was commented on by some other runners. My guess is this will have been to do with the mix of marathon and half marathon runners. Gels were offered but I declined them as they were not a brand I’d seen before and I really didn’t want to go for something unknown in the middle of the marathon.

    A tiny gripe was at the finish. It would have been nice to have been given the medal instead of having to fish it out of the bottom of the goodie bag.

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion about having the half marathon on the same day and the loop causing problems with runners of different pace coming together. I didn’t suffer with that too much. The pace I ran at meant that I didn’t have too much of a problem, the timings meant I only came across really fast runners from the wave before me but I can definitely see the faster runners and slower runners coming together and getting in each others way.

    Fast half marathon runners could very easily catch the tail of the slower marathon runners.

    The support from the side lines was great. Though there were big stretches that were devoid of people. There lots of reasons why this would be the case. Time of day, length of the event, some parts were totally impractical for spectators (flyover into the city) but where there were people they made themselves heard.

    My Race

    When I ran at London it wasn’t with any specific goal in mind other than “get over the finish line”

    This time though I really wanted to set myself the goal to try and get under four hours, even though I knew it meant a big step up.

    But I worked really hard to train for it and I was right on course at the half way point and felt really good.

    That was when the hills nearly did me in! The road from the cricket ground to Bourneville is very long and straight but is an incline all the way. Then when you reach the end you turn right and immediately hit a steep hill. I didn’t really notice that incline on the first time through but the second time round it really sapped my strength and the two big climbs just after that were torture.

    My pace dropped off significantly and those internal personal arguments that happen inside every runners head were trying to chip away at me

    “Just walk this bit, and this bit, and this bit”

    “Stop for a little while, it’ll be fine”

    “So what if you don’t quite make 4 hours”

    “You’re never running again”

    As my watch beeped for the end of mile 23 I knew I was getting a lot slower. Even if I kept the same pace that sub four hour mark wasn’t going to happen.

    I had a moment to “have a word with myself” and I gave it everything for the last two miles.

    What was also a massive help was the sight of my eldest daughter running toward me at mile 25. Bryony and Alice had come into Birmingham to cheer me on and instead of waiting at the finish line they’d ventured down the course to try and find me.

    It was a massive help. Alice even ran alongside to shout her encouragement!  

    AliceRun

    Then there was the small matter of the final climb to the finish and I just about managed to get a bit of a sprint on towards the line. BrumMedalWithAlice

    On the whole I had a really great day.

    I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the run as much as I have others. I really suffered in the latter parts of the race but the feeling of crossing the finishing line having managed to hit the time I wanted helps to put that to the back of the mind!

    I’m not sure I’ll be back for the same event next year. Maybe the half marathon. Never say never though. 

    But it won’t be my last marathon.

    I’ve got a new time to beat.

  • Testing, Testing (2017 version..)

    Posted on October 13th, 2017 Andy Parkes 4 comments

    Is this thing on?

    The last thing I wrote about was my 10 year “Blogiversary”

    After writing a few paragraphs marvelling at myself for writing for so long I then proceeded to not write anything for a whole year

    Yay me!

    So it is literally a year…today is the 11th anniversary of my first blog post.

    With this landmark approaching it got me thinking into why my output is significantly different to what it was 10 years ago

    It’s not that difficult though. My life is totally different to what it is was 10 years ago.

    My job has totally changed. I do less front line technical work and more management work.

    My family has totally changed. We had a four month old baby when I started here. I’ve now got 8 year old and 11 year old daughters!

    My hobbies and interests have totally changed. Running is a thing now….

    The Internet is different. Social media gives me a wide variety of places to empty my random thoughts into.

    I don’t even look the same!

    (hilarious…)

    All of these have different demands on my time.

    It would be really easy at this point to say

    “I don’t have the time anymore”

    That phrase is a bug bear of mine as it’s rarely totally true for most people.

    What I actually mean is there are other things that are currently more important to me than writing blog posts.

    These three mainly…

    That’s simplifying it little but it covers most of it.

    But I do miss writing here, so I’m going to get back into the habit.

    The other main reason is that I’d forgotten who I was writing for.

    Too many times I’d half write something then abandon it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested

    That doesn’t really matter as my core audience is all that matter

    Me…This is for me

    If anyone else reads it then that’s great (hello!)

    So lets see if I can actually make it to two posts for the next twelve months

    Smile

  • 10 Year Blogiversary

    Posted on October 14th, 2016 Andy Parkes No comments

    Today marks 10 years of this blog!

    This is post number 151

    My output has lowered in recent times, for a variety of reasons but it’s something I still enjoy doing, however often that may be.

    When I first started the whole main idea was just for myself. A personal knowledgebase if you will, as well as somewhere to get various thoughts out of my head.

    What I didn’t realise is where else that would take me. Starting the blog ultimately introduced me to lots of people, both online and offline who I’ve been able to learn from as well as have some fun along the way!

    It’s been an event filled and interesting 10 years that would have been entirely different if I hadn’t decide to carve out my own corner of the Internet

    So if you’ve ever read anything on here, shared it, commented on it, met me in person, or emailed me I just wanted to a thank you!

    And what better way to celebrate than with some decade old clip art! clipart-birthday-RcAbGMecL

  • Command Prompt and the Clipboard

    Posted on September 13th, 2016 Andy Parkes 4 comments

    Filed under “I didn’t know you could do that”.

    Something I discovered recently I thought it was one of those things I’d just missed over the years but after a conversation I had in the office I thought it might be worth sharing here too.

    Normally when working with the command prompt if you want to copy some output you have to switch from the keyboard to the mouse.

    Command

    Which is fine, but if you’re working with the keyboard (because you know, command prompt!) switching between that and the mouse can break your flow, well it does for me.

    Turns out you can redirect generic for ativan pill identification output straight to the clipboard by piping to clip.exe

    e.g

    Ping google.com | clip

    The output goes to the clipboard ready for pasting elsewhere.

    This is also particularly useful if the output is long and fills the visible area of the screen.

    This is the output from “DriverQuery”, you’d have hard time copying all of that with the mouse

    Command 2

    Useful thing to know!

    This works in PowerShell too and it’s where I use it most.

  • Hello Kindle Voyage

    Posted on August 30th, 2016 Andy Parkes No comments

    Way back at the beginning of 2011 I agonised over the decision to purchase a Kindle

    I eventually did, loved it and have used it pretty much daily ever since.

    I picked up my second Kindle after my first was stolen and the post I wrote at the time looked at the different models available and went down pretty well.

    Moving onto present day and I was very lucky to receive a Kindle Voyage for my recent birthday.

    My previous device was three and half years old and while it was a little weathered from the constant use, including a couple of dead pixels from an unfortunate “dropping” incident, it was still perfectly usable. However, given how long I had it, and how much I use it, an upgrade was very welcome. It was the birthday gift for me!

    The current range is made up of (in order of price)

    Kindle

    Kindle-Front,-Page---Black

    Kindle Paperwhite

    paperwhite

    Kindle Voyage

    Kindle-Voyage s

    Kindle Oasis

    Kindle_Oasis_device_only_US_Page1_00F_RGB

    The bottom two in the range are perfectly fine devices. The PaperWhite is Amazon’s best selling model and after seeing some of those features that weren’t on my old Kindle it’s not hard to see why.

    The Voyage is a refinement of the Paperwhite with the Oasis the newest model, turning everything up to 11 (as well as the price!)

    So what features make this better than my previous Kindle?

    Screen resolution

    I thought the screen on my old Kindle was decent enough but i was shocked by how much better the newer screen actually is.

    The entry model Kindle is 167ppi whereas all the other models are 300ppi. It makes for a much sharper reading experience and it shows this off really well in the library and the Kindle Store where cover art is is displayed instead of just the titles as it did on my old Kindle.

    Backlight

    The PaperWhite introduced a subtle light for the screen to help with reading in reduced light.

    I didn’t think I’d be too bothered about this. I read with my bedside lamp on and thought that would be the only time I’d really need to make use of it.

    I think I’d underestimated how many different levels of light I read in and it’s made everything much easier to read. What I like is that the light shines on the page, not into your eyes as your phone or tablet lights up. The page sort of “glows” and it looks more like the paper is whiter than it would normally be (the name PaperWhite isn’t a coincidence…)

    The Voyage is the only model that also has an adaptive light which changes depending on the current conditions. Seems useful at the moment! You can turn it off if you want to set a level.

    Page turns

    When I was making the decision last time around I said I wasn’t sure about touching the screen for turning pages and I was happier with the physical buttons on the side of the device.

    While I do miss those buttons a little the touchscreen is perfectly fine, even though I do occasionally swipe the wrong way by mistake or sometimes don’t touch the screen hard enough and I need a second attempt. This will be fine once I’ve gotten used to it though (I had a similar thing with the smaller buttons on the last Kindle)

    The Voyage also has PagePress. A little area on the of device that you just give a gentle squeeze for a page turn. You get a nice bit of haptic feedback along with it.

    It’s a nice addition. One I’m not massively using at the moment but it’s something extra the Voyage has none of the other models do.

    GoodReads

    This is something I have been yearning for.

    I’ve been a member of GoodReads for years. It’s Facebook for book readers and I love seeing what other people are reading as well as finding lots of interesting new books to read as well as interacting with authors who are on there.

    So when Amazon announced the purchase of GoodReads I couldn’t wait until it made it’s away to Kindle. Unfortunately my generation of Kindle didn’t get the software update for it.

    It’s standard across the whole range now and it’s working out great for me.

    Unless you’re a GoodReads user it’s not a massive feature but previously I was juggling lists of books across Amazon and GoodReads and switching between Kindle and my phone/computer for posting progress updates, reviews and adding books.

    I’m much happier now!

    Touch Screen

    Also standard across the range now. The five way controller on my old model was fine for selecting books but anything more than that was a chore. Searching for books on the Kindle and in the store or connecting to WiFi were the biggest examples of this. I missed the keyboard from my first Kindle loads when I moved to the second device but the touchscreen makes everything easier.

    Appearance

    The Voyage is a physically sleeker device than the PaperWhite. The actual features between the PaperWhite, Voyage and Oasis are pretty much identical so it’s the case and it’s other physical attributes that are the biggest difference between them

    The Voyage is thinner than the standard model and the PaperWhite with only the Oasis beating it on that front.

    It’s lighter than the PaperWhite and marginally heavier than the standard model with the Oasis trumping all of them.

    The Voyage has a magnesium body in comparison to the plastic of the PaperWhite to which it owes the slimmer body.

    If you stick it in a case though some of this will be negated so the PaperWhite may work just fine (I have similar thing with phones. We spend a fortune on a shiny sleek pretty device only to stick it in a massive cover so it doesn’t get damaged)

    The Oasis is a different beast altogether on this front and looks physically different for an apparently better hand holding experience. http://www.ourhealthissues.com. It also comes with a leather case that doubles up as an extra battery – not that the others do to bad on the charging front. (weeks at a time!)

    There are a ton of other features that are common across the range (X-Ray, time to end of chapter, wikipedia integration, etc) but this post is long enough!

    So in very quick summary

    If you’re on a budget go for the standard model.

    The Paperwhite is the going to be perfect for just about most people

    The Voyage is for those heavy users who don’t mind investing a little more for that refined look and feel (or getting it as a gift!)

    The Oasis….hard to say. It’s a big jump in price but if you’re a Kindle fan and want the “premium” experience then it’s certainly that

    All in all I was very happy when I received it and I’m looking forward to spending many hours with it.

  • Hello World June 2016.0

    Posted on June 2nd, 2016 Andy Parkes 2 comments

    How are we almost halfway through the year?!

    Just realised I haven’t written anything since the end of January.

    This wasn’t intentional!

    It’s been a particularly manic start to the year and something I learnt long ago is that sometimes you have to stop doing one thing if you want to doing something else.

    But I do miss writing so this is me just trying to flex that muscle again.

    So in terms of big events in the first half of the year…

    We’ve moved house (and I never want to do it again!)

     Capturemove

    I ran the London Marathon (4 hours 26 minutes – raised over £1000 for Meningitis Now)

    MeningitisNowPic

    and my brother got married! (this is us though…obviously. It was an amazing weekend!)

    Capturewed

    And all the other usual comings and goings

    So this is just me putting something http://www.mentalhealthupdate.com back on the page/screen (how do people of a certain age adjust their vocabulary?)

    Carry on….

  • Top 5 Books From 2015

    Posted on January 29th, 2016 Andy Parkes No comments

    I’ve been asked for book recommendations a few times recently so thought I’d share them here too.

    I read some really great books last year but here are 5 that really stood out for me.

    In no particular order…

    Masters Of Doom: How two guys created an empire and transformed pop culture – David Kushner

    I’ve read quite a few books recently about the back story of classic games but was the best of the lot.

    Doom is the most definitely a classic and hearing how the team that put it together came into being as well as the highs and the lows and their eventual split was fascinating. I received this as a gift and could not put it down.

    This was also a real trip down memory lane as like a lot people my age I sunk a lot of hours into playing ID games! If you’ve spent any period of time playing Doom this is certainly a recommendation.

     

     

    Nexus (The Nexus Trilogy Book 1)  – Ramez Naam

    In this story taking a pill can install an operating system into the super computer that is your brain! Imagine the applications you could run, especially if you could network with other people.

    All of this could also be used for much more sinister purposes by shady government agencies and the like.

    What I loved about this is that the story is based on actual research. Technology that may be in the not too distant future.

    The end of book also has a nice section on some of the research that provided the author with inspiration.

    This is the first of the three books and I raced through all of them.

     

    Static Push (The Push Series Book 1) – Richard Horsley

    A decent British Sci-Fi book!

    With a story that covers aliens destroying the earth with some great comedic writing it’d be easy to mistake this as a Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy clone but it’s certainly more than that.

    It also has a great set of characters who really come off the page. I can’t wait for the next one!

     

     

     

     

    Beacon 23 – Hugh Howey

    I think this was my favourite thing from last year. It’s a basically a lighthouse story in space. It’s only short as it was originally released as series of Kindle Singles but it packs so much into it and goes over a whole range of emotions. I loved reading it and when I got to the end I was really disappointed there was no more!

    I recommended it to anyone asked me if I’d read anything decent recently and it’s highly likely I’m go back and read it again.

    I’m a big Hugh Howey fan and can also recommend pretty much everything else he writes!

    Check it out.

     

    The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

    A Zombie road trip story.

    It’s difficult to talk about this one without spoiling it but underneath it’s a fascinating story about people and relationships http://www.ourhealthissues.com/product/strattera/ and how their moral viewpoints may or may not change when it’s the end of the world.

    The ending also wasn’t quite what you’d normally expect to see either but it made a refreshing change to do something different.

    It’s pretty brutal in parts but this is zombie-fiction so kind of needs to be.

  • 2015, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

    Posted on January 16th, 2016 Andy Parkes 1 comment

    We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and as with previous years (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011) looking back on the previous 12 months is something I really enjoy doing.

    Especially when you have a memory as terrible as mine!

    As always spending as much time as possible with these three girls is my biggest priority!

    10953743_732248196907380_1623217299_n

    As with last year we tried to make sure we filled it with plently of fun and spending time with people who are really important.

    Some of the highlights included…

    Starting the year at Centre Parcs

    Center Parcs

    Eating chocolate!

    10957331_1573093346270098_1613882688_n

    Trying something new

    10958171_990232511006879_1733490016_n10948765_334745273378716_1162343633_n

    Got a certificate in something or other . (move along…nothing to see here)

    Apple

    Got muddy

    avalanche-15_1099308

    Went to a cup final generic ativan not working (it’s the taking part that counts right?)

    11084700_382160591978603_1191336990_n

    Visited Harry Potter World (again..)

    11024154_1374683596193023_317762838_n10706873_715525818565099_1623209613_n

    Evie won a prize for writing a poem!

    Evie Poem

    Alice won a singing competiion!

    Alice

    Doctor Who Symphony Orchesta

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    Visited Arbury Hall

    arbury

    Got covered in paint

    Colour Run

    Wolf Run with this lot

    wolf

    School Talent Show

    talent

    Trip to Copenhagen

    11313336_487382841412900_803416164_n

    Introduced the girls to Mud Runs!

    mini

    The Just So Festival

    just

    Summer Holiday in Portugal

    port

    More mud runs…

    Finish1

    twilight-0915_1707092 (1)

    wild

    Finish Photo Halloween

    halowe2halowe1

    Walk Off The Earth in Nottingham

    12135193_513288848830248_230747828_n12107426_988979271154883_1087830661_n

    Catch up with these guys!

    karl

    Retro gaming (swiped from Richard!)

    retro

    A very brief visit to Centre Parcs…again!ALice and Evie

    Seeing the new year in

    new

    You get the idea Smile

    2015 was pretty awesome and I’m really fortunate to have some great people in my life.

    2016 has just started and there is loads to look forward to.

    Bring it on!