Tag Archives: Computers


Last night I downloaded and installed a Linux distribution called Ubuntu(v10.10) in what was my first adventure (I’m not counting using Knoppix to fix Windows problems) into using an OS that hasn’t been written by Microsoft.

UbuntuLet’s go back in time

In my, almost, 20 years of computing I’ve used everything from Windows 3.1 up to Windows 7 and a couple of the server editions.

And back to the future

I have to say, I’m well impressed with Ubuntu! It’s easy to install, easy to use and packed full of functionality!

In fact I’d even go as far as saying that if I didn’t already own Windows 7 I wouldn’t bother buying it but would use Ubuntu instead!

Installation was absolutely painless!

I downloaded the Ubuntu disc image from the Official Ubuntu website, burned it to a cd before restarting my pc and booting from that cd.

The Ubuntu installation disc also allows you to run a ‘Live OS’, in other words, you can run the OS straight from the disc with no need for installation. Which is great for evaluation purposed and to make sure you like the OS before installing it.

After booting from the disc I was presented with two options: Try Ubuntu or Install it. I chose to install.

I chose to install Ubuntu alongside my Windows 7 installation, again this was something made very easy by the Ubuntu installer.

All I had to do was choose how much disk space to give Ubuntu, choose a username and password and click go! Ubuntu took care of the rest.

Now that Ubuntu is installed I get an option on bootup asking whether I want to load Ubuntu or Windows 7.

My initial impressions of Ubuntu are that Ubuntu is quick, clean and well organised. So far it has done everything I’ve asked it to.

A couple of minor drawbacks  I’ve found so far are that spotify and Virtual Pool 3 aren’t available native to linux, however, they both run fine under WINE.

GIMPThe main drawback is that Photoshop won’t run on Linux, in this case GIMP will be more than enough for the work that I’ll need to do and it’s free!

I have Eclipse for web development, GIMP for graphics, Spotify and VP3 run under WINE, a great email client, an equivalent to Windows Live Messenger, media players, what more could I need? Everything I use my Windows PC for can be done just as well running Ubuntu.

And when you throw in the fact that this software is all completely free you know you’re onto a winner!

MODX – “The developer’s CMS”

For those of you who are looking for an alternative CMS (content management system) to something like Joomla, Mambo, Drupal and the numerous others then I urge you to check out a CMS called MODX.

MODXMODX is open source, written in PHP and MySQL and very, very easy to develop on and customise whether it be front or back end functionality.

MODX has become the CMS of choice at work for content managed websites.

This is mainly due to the cost (MODX is free!), functionality, ease of use for the web master  and ease of,  and therefore speed, of development.

It allows you to plugin your own PHP scripts almost seamlessly and embed them into content with a simple ‘snippet’ call.

You can get MODX from here:  http://modx.com/

If any of you MODX users come across this page and need a little help then be sure to drop me an email or a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Spambots & Prevention

As you may know from reading other blog posts or pages on this site I’m a web developer. This is my job and I also do some at home.

Whitley WarriorsYou may also know that I used to play ice hockey for the Whitley Warriors until I was forced to retire after suffering a DVT.

When playing for the Warriors and studying HND computing at college I created a website dedicated to the Whitley Warriors ice hockey team. Eventually this site became the Official Whitley Warriors website.

The site is powered by a custom CMS (Content Management System) written by myself using PHP and MySQL and makes use of the ZEND Framework.

SpambotsRecently we’ve been getting a lot of spambots registering on the site forums (powered by SMF), making a mess and forcing me to spend hours removing post and spam users (I’ve removed about 2500 users up to date).

We are running CAPTCHA images but the spambots have managed to bypass this allowing them to sign up.

So I’ve recently added a few fields to the sign up form and database to help track new users and try to prevent the registration of spambots. Without the correct answers the registration will fail.

So what have I tried?

I’ve added a couple of dropdowns: Are you human? Are you a spambot?

Pick the wrong answer here and the registration attempt will be rejected.

I’ve attempted to catch spambots out here – if they change both answers they’ll fail, if they leave both answers on the default value they’ll also fail. They must choose the right question to change the answer in order to be successful.

Spambots also like to try to answer every question in the form – so I’ve added a box which must be left blank in order for the registration process to be successful.

The final measure in this attempt to prevent the registration of spambots is to ensure that the form has been posted from the correct page on my site. A lot of spambots submit their own form from a remote site, so, by checking the referrer we can see if the user has registered from the correct site and reject any remote registrations.

These measure seems to be working so far, but, if any of you can think of any other measures, whether it be actual code or just theories, which could be introduced or have any comments on the steps I’ve taken so far then please leave a comment.


I’ve been doing a lot of reading on networks / networking over the past few days.

NetworkingAs well as being interesting, this reading has also helped to refresh my knowledge of how networks operate – why we use this switch instead of that hub and other things most people wouldn’t know, or want to know, about.

The last time I really did any reading about networks was at college, 6 years ago, no wonder I’d forgotten a lot of it.

This refresher has meant that, although I’m working with networks a lot of the time at work, I now feel much more confident as to why the network is working in the way it is rather than knowing it just works.

How to connect to a printer on another PC

Something I come across quite often at work is people needing to (re)connect to to a printer which is connected to another PC on their network via a USB cable.

This is actually a very simple task –  to complete it you need to:

  1. share the printer on the ‘host’ pc
  2. find out the IP address of the ‘host’ computer
  3. connect to the printer from the PC other pc

Sharing a Printer

This needs to be done on the Host PC.

To share a printer go to ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Printers’. Right click on ‘Sharing’ (if sharing does not appear click ‘Properties’ and then go to the ‘Sharing’ Tab.

Tick the box that says ‘Share this printer’ and give it a name. Something like ‘Printer on StephenPC’ is useful as it makes it easily identified.

Finding the IP address of the host PC

This needs to be done on the Host PC.

To find the IP address of the host PC (the PC with the printer attached) you need to open the ‘Command Prompt’. To do this go to ‘Run’ in the ‘Start Menu’, type CMD and click ‘OK’ (on XP – if using Vista / Win 7 type ‘CMD’ in the Start Menu search box).

In this Command Prompt window we need to make use of the ‘ipconfig’ command. This will show us information about our network settings. Type ‘ipconfig’ into the Command Prompt and press ‘Enter’. Now make a note of the number next to  ‘IP Address’. Right now my IP address is so I’ll use that as an example.

Connect to the printer

This needs to be done on the PC on which you wish to connect the printer, in other words the ‘Client’ PC.

Go to the ‘Start Menu’ and click ‘Run’. In this box enter in the IP address of the Host PC. See above. You should be presented with an explorer window showing a shared folder and the shared printer.

You need to ‘Right Click’ on the printer and click ‘Connect’. This will connect to the printer and copy any drivers needed from the Host PC (as long as they are installed on the Host PC.

So there you go – you can now connect to a printer on another computer in under a minute.