Sunday, 19 July 2009

3Mb Barrier Smashed!

Following on from my Cheapest way to faster broadband?!? post in May...

Things seemed a bit r-r-rapido this morning, so a quick look around settings /

3776?!?! What the.....?

PN seems to agree!

2.78Mb/s - not bad

335kB/Sec - Corr blimey Guv'nor!

I've seen the BT Openreach vans buzzing around recently. No idea what they have been up to, but they can keep it up!

- Chris

Friday, 17 July 2009

Ashford Lightning

Taken with my own fair hand during last night's storm over Ashford:

OK, Lets get one thing straight off the bat here -

  1. My first attempt
  2. I'm no David Bailey
  3. I'm using a camera that's probably not up to the job - Canon A60
  4. By the time I had worked out how to take lightning shots and then worked out how to setup my camera, the storm was pretty much over
  5. These four represent about 10% of the total pictures taken

But ho-hum I'm dead chuffed!

- Chris

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

VMware ESX 3.5 Update to Build Number

Simple bit of info, often hard to find:

ESX 3.5.0 Update 1 = Build 64607
ESX 3.5.0 Update 2 = Build 110268
ESX 3.5.0 Update 3 = Build 123630
ESX 3.5.0 Update 4 = Build 153875
ESX 3.5.0 Update 5 = Build 207095
ESX 3.5.0 June 2011 Rollup = Build 391406

An easy way to find build numbers without logging into the VI Client is to run:
vmware -v

See here for VMware ESX 4.0 Update to Build Number.

- Chris

Monday, 6 July 2009

Free Foot / Rugby / Tennis Balls

This summer Mars is giving away 100,000 balls at this promotional website

All you need to do is enter a promotional code into the site and click "CHECK CODE". You instantly know if you have won or lost.

What is not widely known is that no purchase is necessary to have a go at winning a ball. Using the "No purchase necessary" link on the site, Mars will email you a code to have a try.

Couple this with a quick disposable email address from Mailinator (my personal favourite) and you are off and running. Mars say that you can only try one email code per 24 hours.

However, given the ease that you can set up an email address on the Mailinator site (basically just use
[anything you like], I'll let you work the rest out for yourselves.

My ball should be turning up soon.

- Chris

Mobile Broadband Unlocked to Any Network + Free Internet Access

How about a mobile phone internet dongle that works with any mobile phone provider? (Obviously an internet enabled SIM would be required)

How about free mobile internet access on that dongle? Access internet / work / home / whatever anywhere?

How?? Here's how:

  • The Dongle - goto These usually cost £29.99, but using this website you only need to pay for postage and packing of the dongle - £4.95
  • The unlocking software - RapidShare
  • Network Connection Manager Software (optional) - DVD Forums
  • The free Internet access (optional) - O2 iphone SIM with free internet and WIFI - ebay OR - your existing mobile SIM

The Dongle:
A nice little unit. Has a slot for a mobile SIM card plus a MicroSD slot for data storage. The LED (just above the eyelet in the above picture) kind of shows what the dongle is up to:
  • Green - acting as USB storage
  • Red - no drivers loaded
  • Blue - connected to network

It also has a retaining plastic "string" so that the cap won't get lost (handy). All in all not bad for £4.95.

The Unlocking:
The major appeal to me of this unit is that it can, with the correct software, be unlocked so it will work with any mobile phone network. Here is how to unlock the dongle. (Some of this next piece is taken from the pdf included in the RapidShare download - most is from the unlocking of my dongle).

Use a PC running Windows XP. Vista (and possibly Win 7) can cause the unlocker tool to fail.
  1. Extract the RapidShare download.
  2. Make sure there is no SIM card inserted into the dongle.
  3. Plug the dongle into a port directly attached to the system board of your PC / Laptop - so no extender cables etc etc
  4. The driver auto run install process should start resulting in an installshield application ato starting.
  5. If the auto run software on the dongle doesn't start the install process, open "My Computer". You should notice you have an additional CD-ROM drive listed. Double click the autorun.exe.
  6. Install the software (don't worry we are not keeping this) so that the dongle drivers also get installed.
  7. Finish the installer. Open device manager. You should now have a "ZTE Proprietary USB Modem" installed as shown below:
  8. From the folder where you extracted the RaidShare download, run FlashUpdate.exe. You should be greeted with the following dialogue:
  9. Once the flash software detects the dongle, the "DOWNLOAD" button will appear.
  10. Click "DOWNLOAD" to start the flash process. Usual flashing procedures apply. DON'T turn PC off mid process, DON'T interrupt the flash mid process, JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!
  11. My dongle took 26 minutes to complete. Once complete you are greeted with the following dialogue:

Network Connection Manager (aka dash):
Now that we can use the dongle with any network (depending on our SIM), lets install the software that will make it easy for us to use the dongle with our preferred network provider!

We have a choice here. We can either go for the 3 branded software as provided by the DVD forums link above, or go for the generic Globe Connection manager provided as part of the dongle flash download from RapidShare.

I opted to go for the connection manager software from the RapidShare download. I'm not planning to use the 3 network anytime as I'm planning to use either an iPhone O2 SIM or a Vodafone SIM. Also, I'm not into branding.
  1. Uninstall the 3 branded connection manager software installed in step 6 above. Once complete, unplug the dongle
  2. Install either the updated 3 branded software from the DVD Forums link or insert the dongle and repeat steps 4 to 7 above using the updated software flashed onto the dongle
  3. Once complete (either software) replace the NetConfig.ini with the one provided on the DVD Forums. This file contains the connection details for each UK mobile phone provider
The Globe Connection Manager:
As stated earlier, I wanted get away from the 3 branded software and stick with something generic. Works for me!

Currently I'm testing with the 3 SIM provided with the dongle. Connection looks good:

OK, we are not talking about blistering high speed setting the world on fire broadband internet access here. This is reflected in the speed test results:
As the 3 coverage can best be described as "dire" in my neighbourhood, I'm hoping this may improve when I pick up my O2 SIM tomorrow.

More about this tomorrow.

Kudos to Tim! AGAIN!!
As usual, Thanks should go once again to Tim who spotted this and put me (and others!) on to it. Another quality find!

Cheers Tim!

- Chris

Sunday, 5 July 2009

ChrisControl is not dead, it's just been resting

A long time ago in a galaxy [you know the rest], I created a small program that allowed you to connect to a remote Windows based PC or server and remotely administer it.

From my original blurb at the time of release:

ChrisControl works by scanning the remote system to see if either RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol aka Terminal Services) or VNC (Virtual Network Computing) servers are installed and running.

  • If RDP is found then the ChrisControl connects to the remote system via RDP client
  • If VNC is found then the ChrisControl connects to the remote system via VNC client
  • If neither are found then (here is the clever bit!) ChrisControl will prompt the user to remotely install VNC Server onto the remote system.

ChrisControl will then install VNC server, start and connect to the remote system via VNC. ChrisControl has two further tickbox options:

  • The option of un-installing VNC server when finished
  • The option of connecting to the console session of the remote system (only supported by Windows 2003 and XP)

Whats more is that ChrisControl ships as one convenient file - no other files are required!

As with most of my batch files / visual basic scripts / autoit programs (such as ChrisControl), I write them to help me out. I'm writing something to make my life simpler (coz I'm lazy? Yep almost certainly). If they help others out then, sure, I'm over the moon that I can help someone else out.

Boy did I under-estimate this little bit of CH time saving software.. It's popularity has just grown and grown and grown.. It's all over the place!!!

I had occasion to look on pendrive apps the other day - it's there! It's included on a rescue CD here been blogged about here and here it's even made it onto digg with it's own posting here ... It's used all over the world, for example here in Spain, I've had countless emails from various users all over the world. It's been offered as a solution to a problem on experts-exchange (search for reply by JoeZ430)...

OK I think we get the picture.

With this popularity and the release of Vista, (yea now you start to get a feel for how long ago I wrote it) the imminent release of Windows 7 (ChrisControl checks the O/S it's running on so it knows what switches to send RDP client mstsc.exe) and many newer versions of UltraVNC now available, I really ought to spend some time updating and releasing a new version.

So, ChrisControl is not dead... yet... It's just been resting. New versions coming soon

- Chris

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Well that's it then. I'm a fully paid up leader now. Time to start behaving I suppose!!

Thank-yous should go to all that helped me get here, especially:

  • Andrea - for suggesting it an knowing me better than myself sometimes

  • Anita, Judy and Ann - for having me

  • All those in the Ashford district for welcoming me in

The only slight problem is that I'm already older than the Chief Scout... Ho Hum

- Chris

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