Jan 122013

I’m now about 6 months into my diet and fitness challenge and I’m continuing to make good progress!

Since starting on July 23rd 2012, I’ve lost about 25kg, my weight at the start was 95kg, I’m now 69.6kg. My body fat percentage when I started was >33%, it’s now 18.6%.

On the fitness side, things are better too. When I started the diet, I could only run for 2 or 3 minutes on the treadmill before my calves would tighten and I had to stop (although I could use the elliptical trainer for 20-30 minutes with a bit of effort).

I started the Couch to 5k program near the end of September 2012 and managed to work through it without any serious injuries, finishing my last session on 26th December. At that time I was running about 5.8km in the 30 minute session. As an incentive, I signed up for the Bupa Great Winter Run which was held in Holyrood park on 5th January. I completed the 5k in 25:14, although I had a PR of 24:24 during training on a flatter course. I raised £650 for Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland at the same time.

I’m continuing to do runs, every 2 or 3 nights at the moment, and did a 10k last night in a time of 56:44 – still a long way of my teenage PR of 43′, but I’ll get closer! I managed to draw a giant shark, too.

I’ve also signed up for the Edinburgh Spartan Sprint which happens in September, it’s a 5k with obstacles and should be a fun challenge!


Jan 082013

Adobe have kindly made Creative Suite 2 (CS2) available to download for free – you can download it at http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html – however, there are a couple of tricks to getting it to run successfully on Windows 7 64-bit

Step 1 Download the required files

Download the following files from the link above:


Step 2 Extract the files

Error when creating folder

Error message when trying to create folder

The Disk1, Disk2 and Disk3 files contain a compressed version of the files which originally came on CDs, the Disk1 file also contains the installer which will run automatically after extracting.

Run the CreativeSuiteCS2Disc2.exe, CreativeSuiteCS2Disc3.exe and CS_2.0_WWE_Extras_1.exe files and allow them to extract to their default locations. Do not run Disk 1 yet.

If you get an error “Unable to create the specified output folder!”, click ‘OK’ and retry – it should work the second time.

You now need to extract the files from CreativeSuiteCS2Disc1.exe, but cancel before the installer tries to install the applications.

Run CreativeSuiteCS2Disc1.exe and let it extract the files to C:\Creative Suite CS2\, but when the white ‘Welcome’ window appears, click ‘Cancel’ then ‘Quit’.

Step 3 Move the files to the required locations

After the files have extracted, you will find that Disk 2 has extracted to C:\Creative Suite\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\

Disk1 and Disk3 have extracted to C:\Creative Suite CS2\

Extras has extracted to C:\CS_2.0_WWE_Extras_2

You must now move both folders from C:\Creative Suite\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 to C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\ – you can then delete C:\Creative Suite\

Check: C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\ should now look like:

CS2 Install File list

The required installation files after extracting and moving them.

If you do not move these files, you will be prompted to “Insert Disc 2” during the install and it will fail.

Step 4 Check the installation path

When you run the installer in the next step, it will default to install in C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe but the installer does not like the space in the file name and will fail. If you choose another folder (e.g. C:\ProgramFiles\Adobe), Photoshop will not start successfully and will show an error “‘Your Adobe Photoshop user name, organisation, or serial number is missing or invalid. The application cannot continue and must now exit.”

Open a command window (Start button,  type CMD, press enter)

Type “CD \” to change to the root of your c: drive

Type “DIR /X” to see what the DOS name for your Program Files (x86) directory is. It is likely to be PROGRA~2 – Make a note of this, you need it in the next step.

CMD Window

The highlighted section is the part you need to take note of

Step 5 Run the installer

Navigate to C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 and run Setup. This will run the installer which you cancelled in step 2.

Read and agree to the license, enter your name, company and the serial number which can be found on the download page.

When you are prompted for the install location, amend it to read c:\PROGRA~2\Adobe (where PROGRA~2 is the name you found in step 4) If the ‘Next’ button does not become active, press ‘Tab’ and it should become available.

Choose which components you want to install (probably ‘Entire suite’) and step through the rest of the wizard.

Register the software if you want to at the end, and check for updates.

Bonus: If you register, you will receive an email from Adobe which offers you a complimentary benefit – choose from:

Garamond Premier Pro
A new Adobe original typeface family, complete with optical sizes designed by Robert Slimbach.

2 issues of Photoshop® User
An award-winning, cutting-edge “how-to” magazine, packed with tutorials, cool tips and insider information.

2 issues of Layers® magazine
This magazine highlights hidden shortcuts and tutorials, with a more creative look into Adobe products.

Once the install completes, you should have a working CS2 installation! Try running Photoshop to confirm it starts correctly.

Let me know in the comments how you get on!

Update: Thanks to a couple of commenters spotting an error in step 3, I have uninstalled and reinstalled from scratch to make sure I get the steps all correct. Now with added screenshots!



Dec 182012
Instagram logo

Instagram logo

Today, 18th December 2012, Instagram announced that they would be changing their Terms of Service effective 16th January 2013. After that date, Instagram will be able to repackage any photo submitted to the service and sell it for advertising purposes without informing the photographer. This means that your photo could be used to advertise any product – even ones you are opposed to. Further, if there are any legal claims about the content of the images used for advertising purposes, the liability will lie with the photographer, not Instagram.

The only way to opt out of the new rules, is to delete your Instagram account (however, the new TOS will only apply to photos uploaded after the new TOS becomes active) – by logging in either using the mobile app, or the web page confirms your acceptance of the new rules.

This change in the TOS has angered a number of photographers online and they have been venting on Twitter and Facebook. The Anonymous hacker collective has urged Instagram users to boycott the service (see the hashtag #boycottInstagram).

Instagram is a fabulous tool which allows photos to be taken and instantly uploaded – If you want to, you can add a variety of filters and frames with a couple of clicks. This makes it a very immediate medium for sharing thoughts and breaking news as it happens.

Flickr Logo

Flickr Logo

There is, however, an alternative in the newly released Flickr Mobile App which is available for Android and iOS.

The Flickr App is very similar to Instagram in that it allows you to take a photo and add one of a number of filters to the image. I don’t see an option in the Flickr App to add frames, but I rarely use them anyway. The Flickr App does not restrict the image to being square, and the image is much higher resolution. The Flickr Terms of Service are much more agreeable to photographers too.

But, what if you already have photos on Instagram which you would like to migrate to Flickr?

The best method I have found, is to use the free service at OpenPhoto.me which allows you to download photos from Flickr, Facebook or Instagram in bulk. Signing up is free, and you can choose to save your photos to a Dropbox account which is also free. If you would like a larger-than-normal Dropbox account, please sign up using my affiliate link: http://db.tt/7Gg69v4h

Note: OpenPhoto.me is currently undergoing an upgrade, but if you sign up now, they will let you know when the service is available – you have until January 16th 2013 before the new Instagram TOS becomes active.

Let me know your thoughts on the new TOS and the Flickr App!

UPDATE: [22:00GMT 18 Dec 2012] Instagram have issued a clarification of what they meant by the new TOS – http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening U-turn or genuine mistake?

Nov 182012

10 weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about my diet progress.

I am now 16 weeks into my diet and have made great progress.

I have continued to use the myFitnessPal Android application which I can’t say enough good things about – it has let me monitor how many calories I am eating each day and how many calories I’m burning through exercise. It also lets me compare foods so I can decide what to eat each day. I don’t feel like I’m skimping on food – last night, I went out for a meal with my girlfriend and had a delicious ribeye steak and a dessert. As long as you balance what you are eating, you don’t need to skimp or only eat rabbit food…

I decided to try to get fit as well as losing weight, so I enrolled in the Couch to 5k (C25K) programme which is a structured training program which takes you from doing no exercise to running 5km (30 minutes) in 9 weeks doing 3 runs per week. I’m currently at the start of Week 6 and did a 4km (20 minute) run a couple of nights ago – that’s the furthest I’ve run since high school. To help with the training, I have been using the Rundouble Android application which has been excellent – it tells you when to run and when to walk, it tracks your speed and distance via GPS and gives you a map of your run and statistics about your pace and distance at the end. While the NHS podcasts are good, I prefer the extra features offered by Rundouble. I also bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS Sportswatch with Heart Rate Monitor which gives me more information including my heartrate – this satisfies my inner geek. You can see how I’m doing on my Garmin Connect profile.

I’m so confident that I will be running 5k soon, I have signed up for the Bupa Great Winter Run on January 5th 2013. This is a 5km run through Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, around the base of Arthur’s Seat. Although it’s not a long run, it is hilly and it’ll be very cold!

To give my self more incentive to keep training, I’m asking for sponsorship from friends and family at JustGiving – all the money I raise will go to Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland who do some great work.

So, in the past 16 weeks, I’ve lost 19kg (42lbs) – exactly 20% of my original bodyweight and it’s been easy!

If you doubt you can lose weight and get fit, don’t – get out there and do something about it – it’s not hard. If you’re not going to do that, ease your conscience by sponsoring me  at JustGiving *g*

Created by MyFitnessPal – Nutrition Facts For Foods

Nov 172012

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Microsoft released 6 security bulletins in their regular ‘Patch Tuesdy’. After installing the bulletins and rebooting my Acer V3-571 laptop which is running Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) I found that I no longer had a wireless connection to my network. The Wireless Network Adapter in this laptop is an  Atheros AR5BWB222.

The device manager showed that the device was having a problem:

Device Manager

The Windows 8 Device manager showing an exclamation mark against the wireless adapter.

Further, the properties of the device showed that the device was unable to start. Attempting to update the driver reported that the latest driver was already installed – even connecting to a wired network and allowing the Device Manger to search the internet for a better driver was unsuccessful.

The solution is to visit the Acer website at www.acer.com, go to the  support section and choose driver downloads. Enter either your computer model number (in my case V3-571), or the serial number from the sticker which you will find on your machine.

Choose the ‘drivers’ tab and locate the driver for the Atheros Wireless LAN  (see the screenshot below)

Acer driver download

The driver download page on the Acer website, www.acer.com

Device properties

The properties of the wireless device show that it is unable to start.










The driver is 37Mb in size and comes as a zip file. Save it to your hard drive and, once the download is complete, extract the zip file to a folder.

(It may be a good idea to download all the drivers for your computer and store them in case you need them when you don’t have access to the internet)

Back in the device properties window, choose the ‘Driver’ tab and click the ‘Update Driver’ button.

When you are prompted ‘How do you want to search for driver software?’choose ‘Browse my computer for driver software’ and navigate to the folder into which you extracted the zip file. Follow the wizard to completion and the driver will be installed.

Check the device manager and you should now no longer see the exclamation mark against the wireless adapter.

Open up the network connections screen and enable the wireless device if necessary. Reconnect to the wireless network as normal (you will need to enter your wireless password when prompted).

You should now have wireless access to your network and the internet.

I hope this helps you get back online – let me know in the comments how you get on!

Nov 112012

When you’re running, it’s really easy to lose enthusiasm and run out of energy. I’ve put together some tunes which help me stay motivated – most of the running albums are full of techno music which is fine, but gets a bit boring. I think these tunes are good for running to – there’s a mix of tempos and styles. Be aware though that some of the songs feature explicit lyrics.

Let me know in the comments what you think of these choices – and let me know if you have any suggestions – what music do you run to?

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
Sep 252012

So, you have ripped an audiobook from CD and imported it into iTunes, but it’s showing up as an album in amongst your music – how do you move it into the books section?

The problem with having them amongst your music is that your iPod doesn’t necessarily remember where in the track you were – this means that you end up listening to the first part of the file again if you take a break from the book. Luckily, the solution is simple.

  1. Open iTunes and, in the music section, highlight all the files which make up your book.
  2. Right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) one of the highlighted files and choose ‘Get Info’
  3. Choose ‘Yes’ when it asks if you want to get information for multiple items
  4. In the ‘Info’ tab, choose an appropriate genre – maybe ‘Audiobook’, or ‘Nonfiction’
  5. Click the ‘Options’ tab and make these changes:
    • Media kind: Audiobook
    • Remember position: Yes
    • Skip when shuffling: Yes
    • Gapless album: Yes
  6. Click ‘OK’ and wait for iTunes to process all the files

Your book will now show up under the Books section of iTunes – Sync your iPod and everything should be as you want it.

Sep 042012

When I was a teenager, I was slim and sporty – I was a keen member of my local swimming club and swam at Scottish Schools level, I ran cross country and track at lunchtimes and evenings, I played squash for a while and competed in a few biathalons. When I was 18, I went to university and bought a flat right round the corner from “Scotland‘s Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 1989, 1990, 1993″.

After going undercover as a fattie for nearly 20 years, I’ve decided it is time to remove my disguise.

I’ve tried dieting before, but I’ve never stuck with them for very long. This time it’s been different, I signed up with myFitnessPal and downloaded the mobile application for my phone. During the sign-up process, you give various information about yourself; your age, sex, weight, height etc. and it gives you recommendations of what your ideal weight is, and how many calories you should be eating in order to lose the excess. The mobile application lets you track everything you are eating and drinking so you always know whether you are on target or not. If you are eating prepackaged food, you can scan the barcode and all the nutritional information is automatically recorded for you – I haven’t found many items which are not in their database.

I’ve only been on the diet for 6 weeks, but I have found it really easy to stay within my calorie target each day and have seen great results.

Before I started watching the calories, an average day would have consisted of:


  • Bacon roll with back pudding and brown sauce (at the weekend I might have a fry up)
  • Small bottle of fresh orange (gotta be healthy!)


  • Fish and chips or Lasagne or whatever was on in the canteen
  • Bottle of diet coke


  • Macaroni cheese or Pizza or some other microwave meal
  • Bottle of diet coke


  • Chocolate bar or crisps or biscuits

It’s no wonder I was overweight.

My diet now is much better, and I don’t feel hungry as I have with other diets. I also don’t feel guilty about anything I am eating because I know how many calories it has and can ‘budget’.


  • Small bowl of All Bran or Bran Flakes with Skimmed Milk


  • Salad or Soup
  • Bottle of sparkling water


  • Low calorie microwave meal / Steamed chicken & vegetables
  • Bottle of sparkling water


  • Fresh fruit or Cereal with skimmed milk

6 weeks ago, I weighed 95kg (209lbs), this morning I was 87.6kg (193lbs) so that’s 8kg(18.5lbs) lost so far. This tracker should show any progress which I have made since making this post.

Created by MyFitnessPal – Nutrition Facts For Foods

 Even though this is not a huge amout of weight lost so far, I have noticed huge changes to how I look and feel.

The first thing I noticed was that my face, neck and arms were slimmer. I didn’t initially see any difference in my waist size, but it is now comfortably 2 inches smaller than it was and I have bought new trousers as the 0ld ones were just too loose.

It’s not just my size which has changed. When I tried jogging recently, I found I could only run for a few minutes before my calves cramped up – I actually tore the muscle due to this – I wasn’t tired or particularly out of breath when this happened, I just couldn’t run longer than a few minutes. Even if I walked briskly, I found my legs getting tight and sore. Now I have none of these problems and I am enjoying walking 40 minutes or so fairly briskly to get home from work each night and have no pain in my legs. I used to get regular headaches too, but since changing my diet I have had none – I can only assume that they were caused by the foods I was eating, or a lack of water (I am now drinking much more water).

So, if you are a bit overweight, or unfit, give MyFitnessPal a try for a few weeks – dieting isn’t as difficult as everyone makes out and I have had real results in only a few weeks. Let me know in the comments how much you like the new you!



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Aug 012012

As you may have seen from some of my recent posts, I have been doing some research into ways of storing passwords securely. I was recently followed on twitter by an account called my1login whose tagline is “The only login you’ll have to remember from now on.” – that sounded intriguing, so I thought I’d find out more.

They kindly sent me a free pro account trial which I signed up for.


my1login is currently in beta, and I found a few small glitches during sign-up, but the concept seems good. The site stores bookmarks to all the sites you have an account on, along with your username and password. The information is encrypted, and my1login claim even they do not have access to the unencrypted data.

When you want to log into a site, you click the bookmark to take you to the login screen, then click the ((( my1click ))) bookmark in your browser to automatically enter your login details and log you in to the site. This worked smoothly when I tried it with a test account. This is a password safe which is accessible from any computer on the internet.

Sign-up Process

Sign up for the service was fairly pain-free. When I used the promotional link they sent me, I was offered a free trial of the pro account for one month. The screen suggested that the pro account will cost $2/month, although clicking on the ‘more info’ shows the pro account is £1.50/month (about $2.32).


After entering my email address, choosing a password and confirming my email address by clicking a link in the registration message, I was prompted to log in to the system. This was the first annoyance.


Logging in requires the use of a ‘Partial Password’ . That is, you need to enter, say, the 5th, 13th and 17th characters of your password. This would be fine if you could type them in, but you have to choose them from dropdown boxes. This means that you have to scroll down a long list of characters to enter your password. It also explains the restrictions on the characters you can use in your password.

“Password must be between 8 and 20 characters and must contain at least 1 number. Only these non alphanumeric characters are allowed: ! @ $ % ^ & * ( )”.

Once I was logged in, the interface is light and airy and not at all intimidating for non-techies. I was given a nice clear list of steps to follow to complete the setup.

The first step is to create a security key phrase. This is the passphrase which is used to encrypt the password entries (256 bit AES), and there are some good examples of memorable phrases to give you an idea of what a passphrase should look like, and has an onscreen keyboard if you are worried about keyloggers. I suspect that malware would still be able to capture what you type so, as always, it’s important to keep your anti-virus up to date.

I checked the help system at this point but, disappointingly, I got an error – this might be enough to put some users off.

I continued on anyway to see what the interface would look like after I completed the setup, and later on, clicking help did work and gave some useful information and support contacts.


The next step is to set up the ‘my1click’ bookmarklet. Adding this to your browser is just a case of dragging the bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar. It would have been useful to have instructions on how to display the toolbar if you don’t already see it. (In Firefox, click the Firefox menu, choose ‘options’ and check ‘Bookmark toolbar’).

Clicking the bookmarklet will automatically enter your login details into the site you are currently visiting.

The final step is to enter your first bookmark details. This is nicely done. You enter the web address of the login page of your site, and it automatically suggests a title. For example, entering http://planetmediocrity.com resulted in a suggestion of ‘PlanetMediocrity’ for the title. A nice touch. You then enter your username and password (which is hidden as you type it). There is an option to display the password if you want to check it, and you get an indication of how strong the password is.

You can then add some notes about the login. The notes are also encrypted when you save the entry.

Another nice touch is the option of adding tags to the entry to assist with finding entries once you have a lot of them in your bookmark list.

There is an integrated password generator if you don’t want to choose a password yourself. It allows you to choose the length of the password and what characters it should contain: Upper case, Lower case, Numbers, and Symbols.

When I clicked save after creating a new bookmark, I briefly saw the encrypted values before the screen refreshed – I don’t know if that could be a security risk or not.

The bookmarks are displayed in a list and there are tabs for ‘personal’, ‘work’ and ‘other’ to help you organise them.

Clicking around, I found an option to share entries with contacts. The person you share the entry with will need to sign up for an account with my1login before they can access the password, but there is the free option if they don’t want a pro account.

There are a few interface glitches, for example the image problem with the password display shown to the left, but nothing that stops this being a very useful service.

If you already have bookmarks saved, my1login will allow you to import from Passpack, keypass, roboform and clipperz, as well as from a spreadsheet or a csv file.

There are no plugins required, so this should work with any browser. There is a workaround to allow the service to work with an iPhone or iPad and an iOS application is planed for Summer 2012. I couldn’t find any mention of an Android client or workaround.


Overall, this seems like a very useful service, the login to sites was nice and smooth for me. I am not keen on the Partial Password login to the site, but the explanation for this is to stop keylogging software from capturing your password, and to stop screen grabbing malware from capturing your full password.

My only concern, and this applies to any site of this type, is how do you know you can trust the people who run the site – you are, after all, potentially handing over all your login details to them.

You can get your own free account, with a free pro trial using this link. my1.co/Vm?S5

Update: my1login contacted me about some of the points in this review and clarified a few things. I will be updating this later to include their comments. I’m very impressed with their customer service!

 Posted by at 9:55 pm
Jul 152012

I’m sure you’ve seen reports in the news recently of all the online services which have been hacked causing their users’ passwords to be exposed. Assuming the website has followed best practice and only stored password hashes, this shouldn’t be a big deal as it will take the hackers some time to decode the password and in that time you can log on and change your password. However, a lot of people will use the same password on multiple services. This means that, if a hacker gets access to one password, he may be able to log into lots of other services using your account.

The Security industry is constantly reminding people not to use the same password for multiple services, but this is an almost impossible task. I recently spent a couple of days tracking down all my online accounts and setting secure passwords on all of them – I found 78 different accounts – there is no way I could remember 78 unique passwords without some sort of reminder.

A few years ago I came up with one solution, but I think I now have a better one.

My original solution was to come up with a password which I would be able to remember – I used a line from a book, taking the first letter of each letter to make up the password.

For example, if I chose the line “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”, my password would be IwabcdiA,atcws13. That’s not a bad starting point as it’s easily memorable, 17 characters long, it has upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. But, we now need some way to make it unique to each site.

I added the consonants from the site name to the middle of the password. For example, www.google.com would become “Ggl” and my password would be IwabcdiA,Gglatcws13. My twitter password would be IwabcdiA,Twttratcws13.The problem with this system is that an attacker who finds one of your passwords might recognise the string “Twttr” as being related to Twitter and be able to guess your other passwords.

I realised that it would be more secure to have completely unique passwords for every site, and tried to find a way of performing some sort of hashing algorithm on the domain name with and appended salt mentally to produce a unique password. It turns out this is pretty difficult to do. I came up with the following system which will allow you to work out your password with a pen and paper – I think this is better than having your passwords written down, and does not rely on having access to a password manager (although I have a solution to that too!)

Ok, bare with me – this gets a bit complicated, but after you have done it a couple of times it becomes easier.

I’m not a cryptographer, so I can’t vouch for this being at all secure, use it at your own risk. In my opinion, though, it must be more secure than using the same password in multiple places.

  1. Firstly, choose a secret number, say 5 numbers long. I’ll use 35187 as an example – this is used for every password
  2. Next, take the domain name – example.com
  3. Use RotX on each of the numbers where X is a digit of your secret number. RotX just means to count X letters through the alphabet from your starting letter. So, C Rot5 would become H (count in your head “C,d,e,f,g,H”) We will change our domain name e+3, x+5, a+1, m+8, p+7 (then repeat your number as necessary) l+3, e+5, .+1 (I’ll come back to the dot in a second), c+ 8, o+7, m+3
  4. We now have hcbuwoj.kvp
  5. Where there is punctuation, count the number of characters before the symbol and use [shift]+number to create a symbol. In this case, hcbuwoj has 7 characters, and [shift]+7 gives an & symbol.
  6. We now have hcbuwoj&kvp
  7. Transpose (swap) each pair of characters – this becomes chubow&jvkp
  8. Capitalise all characters which are on the left side of the keyboard – this becomes ChuBoW&jkp
  9. Before each group of capital letters, enter the number of preceding lower case letters – we now have 0Chu2Bo1W&jkp
  10. Before each number insert [shift]+[n+1], that is, increase the number by one and insert the symbol which you get by typing shift and the number. On a UK keyboard, this gives !0Chu£2Bo”1W&jkp which is your final password.

You can, of course, come up with your own set of steps and customise to suit your own taste. The idea is to come up with a password which looks as random as possible and does not obviously relate to the original domain name.

This system may be useful where you are travelling across borders and do not want to transport passwords which could be intercepted by the authorities.

You can make some changes to the above steps to speed up the generation process – for example step 8 can be done at the same time as step 3.

Do you have any better systems, or see any holes in the system? Let me know in the comments!