Blog Posts

Today Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13 was released!

If you want to see it in action, go and take a look at the videos on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRFp5KqXtQ6yJRx8esYuJNuLunQtprO8a.

A few of the main new features are:-

  • Brand new interface
  • 15% faster than Dragon 12
  • Enhanced voice commands and full text control in webmail like Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo! Mail in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  • Use the inbuilt microphone on your laptop as an input source.

Read more: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Released

A new project on to Kickstarter is the LILA and although the headline feature is security, it is really multifunctional. With the appropriate sensors questions such as "did I remember to shut that window?" or "did I remember to turn the iron off?", can easily be answered with most iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0.

Read more: LILA - Bluetooth Home Security

Ever had a problem deleting, moving, or renaming a file only to get a message box with an error saying something like "The file is in use by another program or user" or that access is denied or a sharing violation has occurred?

To work out what program or process has already claimed ownership of the file you can use Microsoft's Process Explorer program. Process Explorer was written by Mark Russinovich in his Winternals days, but then subsumed in to Microsoft when that company was taken over. The program is regularly updated and available from technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx.

Read more: Windows Process Explorer

Run on over to www.joomla.org/announcements/release-news/5546-joomla-3-3-0-released.html, and you'll see the latest version of Joomla has been released.

After a brief run through it would seem that although there are some really nice headline features such as a shift to JQuery and a greater focus on Microdata; this release is more a case of releasing code in to the core rather than usable functionality.

A YouTube video going viral at the moment is "The Expert", and no wonder...

I'm pretty sure anybody with any technical capabilities, myself included, have been "The Expert" in meetings like this...

What's new in Joomla 3.3 - An infographic by the team at JoomlArt.com

Just love this new project on Kickstarter for a neat little tablet stand. In it's travel state it's no bigger than an iPhone, but will expand out with a little flick to fit pretty much any tablet that is currently available on the market.

It has multiple angles it can be set at and rubberised feet so it doesn't slip around - ingenious bit of kit.

Read more: Plinth Tablet Stand

IFTTT is a web service that I use a lot and in fact often determines whether other gadgets are worth purchasing or not, such is it's capabilities!

The guys at IFTTT say it's supposed to be pronounced IFT as in GIFT, but most users affectionately tend to call it IF TUH TUH TUH... But why is it called this anyway? Quite simply it's because it's named after what it does - IF This Then That. So if this happens then go off and do that.

Read more: IFTTT

Microsoft have just released Project Siena, which looks like Microsoft's first big push to encourage app development for Windows 8 and RT.

Siena is targeted at “business experts, business analysts, consultants and other app imagineers”, to create apps that work “well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services”.

Read more: Microsoft Project Siena

Another recent acquisition was the WeMo switch from Belkin. In essence this switch allows you to turn on or off anything plugged into it from anywhere in the world.

There is a free app available for Google or Apple devices on which you can set up various timebased rules to switch the device on or off. There is of course an override switch on the device itself, so that if you really feel the need to get up and turn it off manually then you can do that as well…

Read more: WeMo Switch

The chaps over at JoomlArt have created this rather neat infographic about the 10 major new features in the recently released Joomla 3.2.

Recently have become interested in bitcoin's, and will probably write further about it in future posts. However the thought for today is "what the hell is going on with the bitcoin price?!".

My interest started only about three weeks ago, when the price was about £90 for one bitcoin, today it is very likely to hit £180! I thought the route forward might have been bitcoin mining, but I wish I had now bought into the currency a few weeks back and just did a bit of currency trading…

Read more: BitCoin price

So today sees the release of Joomla 3.2. Whilst this is still a point release, Joomla 3.2 is one of the Joomla foundations largest release ever, because of the sheer number of bug fixes and new features. There have been over 1000 commits made to the code, with 50 different people contributing to the project.

Whilst bug fixes are incredibly important there are some incredible new features. More information is available in the release notes.

Read more: Joomla 3.2 released

My latest bit of kit is the Logitech T650, and I've been so impressed with it I thought I'd better write a short review.

This device is a trackpad intended primarily for Windows 8, but can be used with Windows 7. However the full value of the product comes out when you use it with Windows 8, because of all the other gestures that have been introduced to this version of Microsoft's operating system. Of course Windows 8.1 is supported as well.

Read more: Logitech T650 Wireless Touchpad review

So Microsoft had an about face as regards releasing 8.1 early to TechNet and MSDN subscribers and made it available for download on 9th September.

I've now downloaded it and nuked my work PC so that I can get some out of the box impressions, rather than try the update route for my existing Windows 8 installation. Initial impressions are that the interface is a little more cohesive, but I'm not entirely sure that those that have been complaining about Win 8 will really be any happier.

There's the much talked about return of the start button, but this really doesn't do anything of note as it just returns you back to the 'Metro' interface. This was what happened anyway if you clicked in that region of the screen, so no real change there.

Read more: Windows 8.1 Initial Thoughts

So Microsoft have finally announced the release date for Windows 8.1, (formerly known as Windows Blue), and they confirmed that Windows 8.1 will be launched at 4am PDT (12 noon GMT) on the 17 October and will be available through the Windows Store as a free download.

The bigger surprise is that they are not allowing an early release to the soon to be discontinued TechNet and to MSDN, which in all honesty is a rather baffling move...
In the course of work, I keep meeting people who have recently had computers replaced with new Windows 8 machines, and generally speaking most people seem to hate it! This is basically a fear of something that is different, and also due to the fact that most people didn't use a lot of features that were already available in Windows 7. For instance I was always one for using the Windows 7 feature whereby you pressed the Windows key and then start typing the program name I want to start, and then when the name appears, press the enter key to start it. This is rather than searching for it through all the menus. Most people didn't use this feature previously! This works the same in Windows 8, but you get thrown back into the metro/modern interface whilst you type. This in itself can be quite unnerving for some, but keep on typing and the effect is the same.

Read more: Windows 8 'gripes' and a fix...

So, I've had my latest toy delivered and it's called the Leap Motion.

What is the Leap? In the words of the manufacturer "With a wave of a hand or lift of a finger, you’re about to use your computer in a whole new way. The Leap Motion Controller senses how you move your hands the way you naturally move them. So you can point, wave, reach, and grab. Even pick something up and put it down. Just like in real life. It’s an amazing device for the things you do every day and for things you never thought you could do."

Basically, think of the film "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise interacts with a large screen by gesturing in front of it. That's kind of the gist of the device.

Read more: Leap Motion

I've had the pebble for a couple of months now and I reckon I'm overdue writing up a short review, so here goes.

Like many other people who purchased the pebble, I haven't actually bought worn a watch for years. However because the watch is so closely integrated with my iPhone, it has become a useful second screen for the phone. What do I mean by this? For those of you not familiar with the pebble, not only does it tell the time, but also allows various notifications from the iPhone to be displayed on the watch screen. The most obvious thing that it can do is show you the phone number of any incoming calls and the text of any SMS messages that come in on the phone.

Read more: The Pebble

Ever wanted to add extra dictation sources to your copy of Dragon? Well here's how!

Well.... It's finally here - obviously my earlier bleat was not required; it was obviously already in transit.

It doesn't make that post any less relevant as the delays were dreadful, but hey ho, it's another day and the Pebble has landed.

No doubt I'll write a proper review of it in the next week or so once I've had a chance to play with it a bit.

[* Updated 17 May 2013]

I decided to write this post because I've been playing a long-term waiting game for the pebble watch, and I really don’t want to take up half of a review with my views on the delivery process when it eventually arrives. Just to remind you the pebble is a smart watch where the greater percentage of the intelligence is in a Bluetooth connected smartphone whether that be an iOS or android device. However, the watch would allow you to interact with various bits of software on the phone without ever removing it from your pocket; oh and of course allow you to read the time! It turned out to be a hugely popular kickstarter campaign as they ended up with 68,929 backers and $10,266,845 of their original $100,000 goal.

Read more: Pebble – a waiting game…

As someone who works in IT and therefore spends a lot of time in front of a computer screen, I'd long realised that it's very easy to get distracted. One of the other areas that concerned me was the fact that because of the highly accessible nature of information, are we, (am I?!), losing the ability to learn?

Read more: What the Internet is doing to our brains...

I started blogging occasionally some years back, circa 2008 I guess; and it's been pretty on and off since then. However it's been on a couple of platforms like wordpress and blogspot etc. Over the coming weeks I'm going to try and gather up some of those old articles and republish them here. However I'm going to republish them with their original publication date, so that this site has some sense of chronological order. Please excuse the mess in the meantime, and perhaps enjoy some of these old musings. I will also tag them with the tag "old blog".

I won't move across all articles, probably leaving behind anything that is just opinion, is very dated or just lacks any real relevance. If you really want to see it, most of it's at garyquigley.wordpress.com.

For years one of the tools I used a lot was Microsofts Live Mesh tool. This tool made syncing files across multiple computers absolute childs play. You just set up the folders on all the required machines and the software just kept everything in sync.

However a year or so ago, Microsoft decided in their infinite wisdom to replace it with SkyDrive. The problem is that although SkyDrive does a great job to a degree it has 2 major issues as far as I'm concerned. 1) The folders must all be located under one parent folder and 2) there is total storage size limit and an individual file size limit of 2GB. This was particularly an issue when wanting to sync ISO images or large movies.

Read more: PC Syncing - BitTorrent Sync and AeroFS

Joomla 3.1 has been released and is available for download at the Joomla website here.

Read more: Joomla 3.1 released

If you ever need to prototype an application that your are creating for the PC/Mac, the web or mobile devices, there is a free tool available from Infragistics.

Indigo Studio lets you quickly create functional, animated UI prototypes.

Read more: Application Prototyping

Run a website and ever wanted to create your own favicon but not sure how? Do you even know what a favicon is??

Read more: Favicon

Look's like I've always been keen on the idea of blogging, but as per now, not very good at doing it on a regular basis...

Why do I say that - I've literally just falling across a blog that I started back in 2004 and had completely forgotten about!

See my pointless ramblings at http://cheekie.blogspot.co.uk/!

Here's a quick way of creating a macro in Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional that will allow you to navigate a word document quickly.

You will probably have to view this fullscreen unless you have fantastic eyes!

These days we all like to use our smartphones for many different tasks and in my case a few of those tasks are in my car. I have the ubiquitous iPhone and in my car I use it as my SatNav, (using the fantastic and free CoPilot GPS app), and obviously as a music player.

Read more: Dashboard mounting your phone

For those that have started dabbling with Visual Studio 2012, you may be interested to learn that there is already an update available for this IDE.

Available from http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads#d-visual-studio-2012-update.

Recently I came across Barlow's Manifesto which was written by John Perry Barlow. 

The manifesto was written as a direct criticism of the Communications Decency Act in 1996. Barlow and others saw this act as a threat to the "independence and sovereignty of cyberspace". 

I find it a fascinating read as this was a time when the Internet was barely visible to most of society, yet John Barlow, (who was also a lyricist for the Grateful Dead), could see that any level of governance could have huge ramifications on the growth and scope of "the net". Barlow was clearly an early visionary of what cyberspace would become, and it's interesting how much of what he said back in 1996 is still relevant today.

Read more: Barlow's Manifesto

If you ever fancied learning how to program, why not take a look over at Channel 9 where there is a series of "how to" videos dedicated to doing just this.

Most of the videos are by Bob Tabor from LearnVisualStudio.net which generally is a paid for resource, but Microsoft have obviously seen the value and quality of his training and have obviously sponsored him to create content for the Channel 9 website.

Read more: Learning Programming Languages from Scratch

The new releases continue to flow! According to http://www.itpro.co.uk/643489/microsoft-releases-office-2013-to-manufacturers Office 2013 has now been released to manufacturers, which means general availability should be sometime in Spring.

No news yet for Technet, MSDN and MAPs subscribers.

Microsoft have finally released Microsoft server 2012 essentials, the spiritual heir to Windows Home Server, (WHS), according to http://redmondmag.com/articles/2012/10/09/essentials-released-to-manufacturers.aspx.

I will be heading over to TechNet shortly to download my copy to evaluate on my HP N40L mini server.

Although this is the direct replacement for WHS, it is likely that most WHS 2011 users won't move across, simply because of the associated cost of a server operating system. Previous versions of WHS, were hugely discounted because of the intended home market. However, this product is primarily intended for small and medium-sized businesses, although it does have most of the functionality of the previous WHS product, but unfortunately not the cost…There is little doubt it will succeed in its intended market, but whether the average home user will upgrade remains to be seen.

The Joomla! project has released version 3.0.1 which is a security release for the newly released Joomla! 3. As there was a small error in the update code, you will need to install a patch before doing the update to Joomla! 3.0.1. There are more details available at http://www.joomla.org/announcements/release-news/5468-joomla-3-0-1-released.html.

Joomla 3 has been released!

This is the latest version of my favourite Content Management System, and promises a whole raft of new features as detailed at http://www.joomla.org/3/

The general recommendation seems to be that if you have an existing Joomla 2.5 site that is working, stick with it. However, if you want to create a new site without a great need for extensions, then it's probably worth a look.

At the moment there aren't many extensions available, but this will definitely change as time moves on.

Having run my my main home PC as a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine for a while, primarily so that I could make use of it's Hyper-V capabilities to run various other OS's; I was really pleased to see that Windows 8 was going to have Hyper-V built in.

However, having nuked the installation, (yes I have an image saved away should I want to go back!), and installed Win 8 I was surprised to find out I can't in fact run Hyper-V because my processor lacks SLAT.

Apparently SLAT is "Second Level Address Translation", and is only supported in Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, and guess what I don't have!

Read more: Windows 8 Hyper-V and SLAT

Have been released!

Why is this of any consequence to anyone? Because they are both very cool products, and I am the UK technical manager…!

One thing that can make a huge difference to the look and feel of a website are the fonts used within the site. It's very easy to get locked into the idea that you should restrict yourself to the "web safe fonts" such as those defined at W3 schools.

Read more: Web Fonts

I just can't resist a gadget and here's one that I'm looking forward to getting when they ship in September 2012. [*Update It's now April 2013, and I've just received my shipping notification!]

In their own words:- Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century. It's infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watchfaces and useful internet-connected apps. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life

Read more: Pebble Watch

As someone who works on computers on a daily basis, (PCs mainly, but I do have access to a Mac as well), I just thought I would share with you some of the tools that I use on a regular basis.

Read more: Useful PC Tools - 1

I came across a blog post this morning* that really opened my eyes about charity giving. The post is titled “5 things charities secretly spend your money on“.

I’m naturally quite a cynical person, (“oh really”, shout my friends…!), and always felt things aren’t quite as they appear when it comes to charity walks and specifically all of the “easy” ways of giving. But the level of fees paid to event management companies and other subcontracted firms is shocking. To my mind when I hand over my contribution, I like to think the greater percentage has gone to the cause, not to some other hanger on.

Read more: It's all for charity...

Not that you particularly asked to be kept updated, but I've now had confirmation that my Raspberry Pi is confirmed for delivery on 28th May - just can't wait to start playing with this little beastie! 

In preparation for the big day, I've rounded up these extra bits and bobs. 

  • SD Card - 8Gb
  • Power supply- AKA an old Blackberry charger - 3 pin UK plug to USB
  • HDMI to VGA cable (because all my computer monitors have VGA but not HDMI connections, and I don't just want to use it on my HDMI capable TVs)
  • USB Keyboard and Mouse
  • Python tutorials

And I'm probably going to need to source a case for it soon as these early Pis get supplied without a case, but there seems to be a good candidate at http://www.modmypi.com/

According to the rumours the much talked about Raspberry Pi looks set to launch this week.

The Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. Rather than reiterate all the details that can be found on their website, pop on over Raspberry Pi at http://www.raspberrypi.org/.

I'm looking forward to getting one of these little beasties as it really harks back to the days of the ZX Spectrum in the early 80s, when kids like me learnt how to program, which then set us up for later careers in IT. Don't expect a fully fledged Windows PC, this is very much a hobbyist Linux platform, but that is perfect to start your programming education.

So those of you who are geeks like me or have kids, it may just be time to take a look back to the future!

Joomla 2.5 launches tomorrow, so I thought I'd point those of you who are interested in this content management system to an article about the new features at http://community.joomla.org/blogs/community/1533-new-features-in-joomla-25.html by Andrea Tarr.

Read more: Joomla! 2.5 Launch

Sent this to the #stargazing programme, as I created it, and they said Brian Cox was up for putting it on the show tonight - whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but made me laugh!

img 0959

One of the frustrating things of running a blog, is that you actually have to write stuff occasionally! I suppose nobody actually makes you do a blog, and it's questionable as to whether anybody is actually reading it anyway!

However, there is something in my head that says it's a good thing to do, not least because it can bring some level of catharsis to you. Actually, I needed to check the word catharsis, as I was more inclined to use the word cathartic. Of course, what I am trying to say is that a blog can be a cleansing experience of all those things that are rattling around your head.

Read more: Catharsis or Cathartic

As a long-time fan of Formula One, I must admit that I've had wavering opinions about Bernie Ecclestone over the years.

It's true that he managed to grow the sport from something that was little more than a well off gentleman's club, into something that is a worldwide sport over the course of the last 30 years or so.

Needless to say he has made a lot of money out of this venture. He's gone from a car dealer playing with motorsport on the side into a multi-billionaire businessmen with fingers in a lot of pies most of which have benefited the growth of Formula One and his personal income.

Read more: Bernie Bleedin' Ecclestone...

Have you ever wanted to convert a Microsoft Access database to MySQL?

A quick and easy way of doing this is with the excellent Bullzip Access to MySQL tool available from http://www.bullzip.com/products/a2m/info.php. You can either transfer directly into a MySQL database or you can create a dump file instead.

Best thing about it is the fact that it is highly configurable and free! There is a commercial version available if the free version doesn’t have the features that you need.

Also if you need to split a SQL dump into multiple parts because of file size restrictions of any kind, you may want to look out for SQLDumpSplitter 2 by Philip Lehmann-Bohm, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.philiplb.de).

I’ve been a long term fan of the Windows Home Server, (WHS), environment and have run both WHS and WHS 2011 machines.

I started with a physical machine for WHS, but then migrated this to a virtual machine, and then continued with the virtual route for WHS 2011. Virtualisation offered a simple answer to the ever increasing number of computers at home, so perhaps a topic for a future post? However, I wanted to write a quick post about Disk Extender, (DE), technology.

Read more: WHS 2011 and Disk Extenders

In the process of rebuilding my website at cheekie.net with the beta version of Joomla 1.7, I kept running into an issue whenever I added any custom HTML code into the site. Whenever I created a module to add the custom code required to use StatCounter or other custom modifications, the code would be mangled or deleted completely every time the module was saved.

To overcome this you need to modify 2 things in Joomla.

Read more: Joomla mangling your HTML code?

Just recently I attended one of Microsoft's TechEd roadshows on virtualisation. And it must be said that these guys really know how to do an educational show. This particular session was headed by James O'Neill, whose blog you can read here.

I did have a degree of understanding of virtualisation before, simply by playing around with VMWare's server and workstation products. Today I have always used them for 2 basic uses:- to create an isolated PC environment to test a new bit of software, or to evaluate a new operating system such as Ubuntu Linux.

The line that came out of the day that described virtualisation the best was this -- "Virtualisation is about abstracting one layer on the technology stack from the next layer". Makes sense to me!

However what I hadn't really considered before was the various different types of virtualisation. In essence there are 4 different types...

Read more: Virtualisation

Ever wanted to create a website but don't know how to create one?

You could write your site in HTML from scratch.  HTML is the acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language - the 'script' behind the greater percentage of websites. HTML is very easy to learn and write and is really quite intuitive.  Why not read more about it at the World Wide Web Consortium, (W3C), website.

Read more: Webpages, HTML and Content Management

Ever wanted to affect the future feature set of a product - here's your chance!

Quoted from http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/contact/feature-request.asp:

James Senior has published a new post on mesh here describing using Live Mesh with different kinds of devices.

Mesh Endpoints

In essence there are four types of devices available - Creators, Consumers, Rich End-Points and Processors.

Creators are devices that create content and put it into the mesh for synchronization to devices. Sot this could be a digital camera that is connected by an eye-Fi SD card to the Mesh.

Consumers would be devices that can consume information synchronized in Live Mesh, which could be a picture or a mp3 player.

Rich End-points are the computers and devices that want to do more than create or consume content.

Processors are devices that might carry out a service behind the scenes for the user or their devices in their Mesh. An example of a processor might be online backup where your data can be backed up in the background to a storage device outside of your existing Mesh.

When you view Mesh in this context, it really seems that they sky is the limit!

Anyway pop over to James' blog and read about it in more detail.

This afternoon I thought I was going to have a coronary! Watching the last Formula 1 race of the year and watching Lewis win the F1 world championship on the last corner..... wow! The last time I got so emotional about a race was when Damon Hill won in 1996 - I didn't sit down for the last half-hour of the race, and when Vettel passed I though it was all over - but to see Glock slip-slide out of the way because of a gamble on tyre choice at the end...!

WOW!

Well done Lewis you deserve it and well done Massa, you did all you possibly could have - you were a great opponent in the end!  Roll on Melbourne 2009!

McLaren HQ Congratulations Sign

Part of the day job is to offer pre-sales consultancy on a product called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. 

This is speech recognition software and as such allows you you to write emails, documents by speaking through a headset to your computer.  You can also control the Windows interface just by voice - so you can open windows, close windows, minimise, mouse left click, right click etc, and also do natural language command web searches.

Read more: Dragon NaturallySpeaking

What a day at PDC, (Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference)!

A number of new technologies have either been launched or previewed - all of which look pretty interesting.

Read more: PDC 2008 - What a Day!

I have to admit right up front that I am a huge fan of Microsofts Windows Home Server.

Much as it's name implies it's a server for the home - all clear? no? Let me explain!!

Generally in an office environment there is a computer dedicated to providing services of one kind or another to any number of users at the same time within that networked environment. These services could be just to provide storage space so that users can store data of any kind in an area other than on their own machine - for backups of their machine for instance, or as a store for less frequently used files, so as not to clog up their own PC's hard disk with little used files. This computer is generally called a file server or just a server for short.

Read more: Windows Home Server

So the topic for today is Cloud computing... like most of the subject matter I cover with this blog I am by no means an expert, but I think that it's an area that is going to become far more prevalent very quickly, so I wanted to give a view on it in the vague hope that someone out there is listening!. If nothing else this works as a cathartic exercise to get these technologies that I "understand" into a written form which helps to solidify the idea in my head...

Read more: Cloud Computing

I wanted to talk about the new web browser by Google, namely "Chrome". If you are interested in taking a look at this you can download it from here.

It could be argued that we really don't need any more browsers out there what with Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera and so on. However, I always felt that it was inevitable that Google would want to create a browser that it could control. I think that the rest of these are pretty much very similar, a feature appears in one and then the next release of the others have features that are comparable. On this front Chrome isn't actually a lot different, but somehow you know that Google will end up taking a large market share of the browser market.

Read more: Chrome

So I guess any blog has to start with a post of some kind, and obviously this is going to be mine… There you go; my first statement of the obvious!

In principle I don’t actually get blogs… Now there’s a good statement to start a blog with. Why don’t I get them? Well who’s interested in what I have to say?! I guess, in principle no-one is and everyone is at the same time – it just depends on what you have to say. I did start one a number of years ago, but  I didn’t do it for very long.

Read more: The first post!

Gary Quigley

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