Sunday, 23 September 2012

Line 0 Error in Internet Explorer

Quite a few people seem to be getting this error when starting Internet Explorer








Most people getting this error seem to be using iGoogle as their homepage. It’s possible that a malfunctioning gadget (application box) on your iGoogle page is causing the error.
Should I Be Worried? This error doesn’t seem to pose a security risk, but it should be dealt with in order to avoid other problems with Internet Explorer.
What Do I Need to Do? It seems that in most cases, this error can be resolved by removing the malfunctioning gadget from your iGoogle page:
• In the top-right corner of the gadget you’d like to delete, click the down arrow.
• Select Delete this gadget.
If you continue to experience problems, or you can’t determine which gadget is causing the issue, you can find more troubleshooting steps at the iGoogle help center.

MS Office Removal Tool

Having trouble removing or uninstalling Microsoft Office, there is a removal tool
which can be found here.

Word 2007 and 2010 losing spaces in a document

Apparently there are incompatabilities between Word 2007 and 2010 which result in spaces being randomly dropped in a document.

There's an article here, which tells you how to sort it.

Fix an unmountable boot volume

How to troubleshoot "unmountable boot volume" in XP.

If you are unable to start Windows and get an error message saying you have an "unmountable boot volume," this can be caused by a corrupt boot.ini file or by a defective hard drive.

To troubleshoot the problem, do the following:

Boot into the recovery console at startup, using your Windows XP CD.

In the recovery console, type chkdsk /p If disk errors are discovered, you may need to replace the hard drive.
If no disk errors are discovered, reboot the computer and go back into the recovery console.
Type the following command at the command prompt:

bootcfg /rebuild

The bootcfg utility will scan the drive and display the results.

When the prompt asks if you want to add installation to the boot list (Yes/No/All), type Y and press ENTER.

When asked to "Enter Load Identifier," type the name of the operating system (for example, Windows XP Professional) and press ENTER.

When the prompt says "Enter OS Load options," type Fastdetect and press ENTER.

Remove the Windows XP installation CD from the drive and type Exit.

Reboot the computer. Windows XP should start normally.

Windows 7 password expiry time

Had a Windows 7 machine which forced the customer to change the password every 90 days and unlike older versions of Windows, there was no option to change this in Administrative Tools.
So it's back to the command line, run this as administrator:
net accounts /MaxPWAge:Unlimited
That means you won't need to change it again.

XP Pro Firewall Greyed Out

If you find that your XP Professional Firewall settings are greyed out, open up regedit and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft \ WindowsFirewall
You may see entries for Domain and Standar, inside these is a Dword "EnableFirewall", double click on it and change the value to 1, reboot the computer and the Firewall should be back up and running.



How to backup ITunes

Most online tutorials make use of iTunes’ ability to burn data disk for music backup jobs. This requires that you have a CD burner and available blank media. This short tutorial requires that you either a.) have an external HD (or iPod) or b.) a second computer to use as temporary storage. If you decide to use an external HD, make sure that it is large enough to store your whole music library. Following this tutorial will allow you to transfer your Window iTunes collection to another computer while retaining your playlists, smart playlists, song ratings, play counts, and last played dates.
Right off the bat I’m going to say that this particular tutorial will be most useful for Windows users that allow iTunes to keep their libraries organized. It was written under the assumption that your iTunes preferences “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” & “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” are checked under the Edit > Preferences > Advanced tab.
The first step is deciding whether you wish to use an external HD or a second computer as a temporary host for your music collection.
If you’re going to use your iPod as your external HD, plug it into your computer and wait for iTunes to startup. You need to enable iPod disk mode if it isn’t already enabled.
In order to keep this tutorial short I’m going to assume your Google skills can help you to get your computers networks. Hint: ICS (Internet connection sharing).
Create a new folder on your external HD or in the Shared folder on your second computer. Name it something like ‘iTunes Backup’. Next, go into ‘My Documents’ > ‘My Music’. Inside the ‘My Music’ folder you’ll find the iTunes folder. All you have to do is copy that whole iTunes folder to your external HD or Shared folder. The iTunes folder contains your complete music library as well as two important files: iTunes Library.itl and iTunes Music Library.xml
.
This next step is optional. If you would like to backup your iTunes preferences, which would eliminate the initial setup questions after a new iTunes install, follow these next steps:
Right-click on the Start button and select ‘Explore’. In the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Folder Options’. Select the ‘View’ tab. Under the ‘Advanced Settings:’ tick ‘Show hidden files and folders’. Click ‘Apply’ and ‘OK’ at the bottom of the window.
Use the left column to navigate to Documents and Settings > Your Username > Application Data > Apple Computer > iTunes. In the iTunes folder you should see a ‘iTunes Plug-in’ folder and a ‘iTunes.pref’ file. This .pref file contains all your preference settings for iTunes which is what you want to copy.

That’s all there is to it. The only thing left to do is to install a fresh copy of iTunes. Download your copy from here and run the installer. At the end of the installation run iTunes once ignoring the import wizard and close it. Then drop the iTunes folder and files exactly where you initially found them. When you fire up iTunes the second time your playlists, smart playlists, ratings, play counts, and last played dates will be right where they’re supposed to be.

MS Exchange and it's BadMail folder

If you're using MS Exchange you may notice that the drive that exchange is stored on is slowly getting fuller and fuller. There's a good chance that the BadMail folder is filling up. This is normally in the exchange server folder under mailroot somewhere on your server.
Exchange SP1 is supposed to have disabled this but I have noticed in some installations that it is still enabled and being honest there is no reason for it.
So with a bit of registry tweaking you can either stop it filling up or limit it's size.
Run up regedit and go to the following
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\SMTPSVC

Next, right click on the SMTPSVC and create a new key called Queuing as shown below.
In this key create a DWORD entry called MaxBadMailFolderSize and specify the maximum size of the Badmail folder in KB (as Decimal), then create another DWORD entry called BadMailSyncPeriod and specify, in minutes, how long the system should wait before checking the size of the Badmail folder (again, as Decimal).
In the image shown below the sync period is 15 mins and the size is 10Mb, set the size to zero and it stays empty which is now the default behaviour.



Don't try to open the folder in explorer as it's normally so full of stuff that it will take forever, it's best to right click on it and rename it to BadMailOld and create a new folder in it's place. You can then right click on the folder and select delete.

If you want to keep the BadMail folder going, there is some information from Microsoft, you can get it by clicking here.

Change the default RDP port in Windows

Remote desktop protocol (RDP) is the de facto administrative console access, and it may be necessary to make it even more secure by changing the TCP port used for the network access. RDP transports on TCP 3389 by default for all supported versions of Windows; if you want to change the port, it requires a quick change in the Windows registry.
(Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before saving any changes.)
The following hive has the specific TCP port used for RDP:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp]
In this hive, the PortNumber value contains the configured port that Windows will listen for RDP connections. The default port assignment is represented as D3D in hexadecimal or 3389 in binary. For this example, I will change the port to 53389. Figure A shows this change being made on a test server.
Figure A



It may require a reboot to make the port assignment take effect (my Windows Server 2008 R2 test system did). Once the system is listening on the new port, connections need to specify the new port in the RDP client properties, as shown in Figure B.
Figure B



The Windows Server system will now listen on the new port with the Svchost.exe process, visible in task manager by entering Netstat  -a -n -o to view the current processes and list the associated executable.

Have you had to change your RDP port to another port or possibly change it back? If so, share your thoughts about the experience in the discussion.


Copying data from a corrupt user profile

Occasionally user profiles become corrupt.
You can copy data from your old profile to a new one, to preserve your settings, preferences and documents.
Here's how:

First create a new profile by logging on with administrative credentials and clicking Start | Control Panel | User Accounts

1. Under "Pick a Task," click "Create a new account," enter a name, and click Next.
2. Select the account type and click "Create account."
3. Now log on with an account that is not the one you're copying the files from or to.
4. Right click Start, select Windows Explorer, and click Folder Options.
5. On the View tab, check "Show hidden files and folders," uncheck "Hide Protected Operating System files," and click OK.
6. Navigate to 
7. Press and hold the CTRL key to click every subfolder and file in this folder except: Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log, and Ntuser.ini.
8. Click Edit | Copy or press CTRL+C or right click and select Copy.
9. Navigate to the :\Documents and Settings folder again and find the folder with the user name of the new profile. Open that folder.
10. Click Edit | Paste or press CTRL+V or right click and select Paste.
11. Log off and then log on with the new user account. This will transfer your preferences (wallpaper, desktop icons), settings and documents from the My Documents folder. This will not import your email messages to the new profile.

IE Content Advisor Password

Some people occasionally find that the Content Manager in Internet Explorer is turned on. And when they go to turn it off realise that they have either forgotten the password or don't remember putting one in there.
If you find yourself in this situation then this is what to do:
Fire up Regedit and go to :
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Ratings
Then right click on the entry marked key and delete it.



You should now find that the password has been removed and you can either put a new one in or disable the content advisor.

How to remove programs from the "open with" menu

Windows XP tries to be helpful. If you open a file with a particular extension using a certain program, it will add that program to the "Open with" right click menu options forever after when you click "Open with." What if you have programs in that menu that you would like to get rid of? Maybe you tried to open a file with the wrong program, and now there it is, stuck in the "Open with" options. Here's how to fix that:First, log on as an administrator and open the registry editor.

Back up the registry key you're going to edit, using the Export command in the file menu.
Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts
This will display a list of all the file extensions that are registered, shown as folders in the left pane.
Scroll down and find the file extension that you want to edit.
Click the white arrow beside it to expand the subfolders.
Select the subfolder labeled OpenWithList
In the right pane, you'll see the names of programs in the Data column. Right click the name of the program you want to remove from the list.
Click Delete.
At the "Are you sure?" prompt, click Yes.
Do this for all programs that you want to remove from the list for this file extension. Close the registry editor.
Now the extra programs shouldn't show up when you click the Open With menu.

The Geek Squad Files

At one time I worked in the wonderfully named Covert Ops department of the Geek Squad, our team were called The Night Watch and we helped people sort out their computer problems overnight.
Occasionally a problem came up which needed passing on, if I found the remedy I would email it out but embelish it a little.

Here is a record of these files.

T-Mobile Broadband Dongles and Sending Emails

Once more a big hello from The Night Watch, Guardians of the secrets of The Pyramids, watcher of the Turtle, milk monitors at the classroom of life.
A further update on the port 25 issue, I received a panic call today from a friend with a T-Mobile connection that was indicating an inability to send emails
I immediately thought I had entered a temporal loop or become involved in a sort of Lancashire Groundhog Day, I even suspected that our Stargate had become disconnected from the rest and we had become entrapped in a sort of a time bubble.
Extensive research revealed an all time low in sunspot activity so it was possible that we were getting losses due to a weakened ionosphere, but I tested this with a signal broadcast by my Van Der Graaf generator and found no problem.
There was no sign of excessive graviton particles so a black hole was not the problem.
Once again it looked like an smtp server issue and using the address smtp.t-email.co.uk seems to have solved the problem.
Please remember, using the ninth chevron could alert the Wraith to our presence, extreme caution is required.

Regards,

Next week we will show you an easy way to become an astronaut with the use of some tent pegs, some heavy duty fishing line and a geostationary satellite
Agent Holt

The Night Watch

Three Mobile Broadband Dongles and Sending Emails

Greetings from the Night Watch, keepers of the Eternal Flame, guardians of the Green Lantern, watchers over the twilight hours.
Over the last week or so it has come to my attention that several people I know who use a Three mobile broadband connection have been unable to send emails using their own domains. There has been no problem in the past and these people have managed to send emails for quite some time.
Having examined the situation I initially suspected that increased sunspot activity had created an inversion layer in the ionosphere creating a tropospheric duct and the packets were arriving out of phase at the recipients end, I broadcast a sinewave and on my oscilloscope  had no problem displaying a perfect lissajous figure so this was not the issue.
I then suspected some possible sporadic E reception with some of the data arriving twice but this was not the case.
My tachyon detector was showing a blank so there were no trans dimensional warp conduits active and as a further check I connected some new flux capacitors to my orgone accumulator, powered up my anomalous chronographic particle detector, this failed to show any rifts or tears in the space time continuum.
It looked like the problem was going to be even more sinister than that.
A quick telnet check revealed that Three appear to be starting to block access to smtp servers on port 25 and 587, I attempted to reroute the data through a wormhole in Spiral Galaxy 28958, invert it's phase and then reapply it via the reflective surface of Phobos with no success.
There was only one course of action left, I opened up Outlook and used Three's SMTP server as the outgoing mail server.
The address of this server is:
smtp-mbb.three.co.uk
You do not need to use the ninth chevron and no authentication is required.

I hope you find this if use.

Next week we will show you how to make an Ion Propulsion system using an old cigarette lighter, a 6v battery and a Champion N7Y spark plug.

Changing the number of rings before going to voicemail on 02

Greetings once more to you from the Night Watch, care takers of the multiverse, guider of the great turtle, lighters of the lamps of eternity

It came to pass that a client called in and said "watcha mate, how do I make my Sony Xperia ring more times before it goes to voicemail?"
After some research I initially suggested that a transmorphic reasonator aimed at the outer edge of the rings of Saturn would introduce a sufficient delay. Unfortunately the local hardware store was out of these and so some more research was needed.
I thought that If we made a delay line using some piezo electric crystal and fed the signal back in on itself with a phaseshift of 90 degrees then took the resultant signal and fed it through a demodulator onto a tape loop then using a single sidband supressed carrier signal we could bounce it off the e-layer recover the signal and then digitise it once more before sending it back out through the network this might do the trick, I set about creating that apparatus but to be honest I couldn't be bothered.
Then a sudden burst of inspiration came up on me, it was either that or heartburn.
Why not enter the following code onto the handset
**61*901*11*NN# SEND
Where NN is the number of seconds before the call goes to the voice mail thingy.
Apparenly this will work on any 02 device, please do not use it on any other network as this could cause a huge positive feedback loop and create a wormhole into the dungeon dimension.


Next time we will show you how to make a half wave dipole using some scaffolding poles, some self tapping screws a length of wood and some sticky back plastic and we will be asking the question :-
If it says on a box of eggs, "Warning, this product may contain eggs", does this mean that occasionally it may contain something else and if so what?

Have fun and due to a temporal anomaly I'll see you again previously

Agent Holt,

The Night Watch

Open Office and M$ Office Compatability and a WebBook update

Up here at T'Mill, the Night Watch, guardians of the tusks of the 4 great elephants, groomers of Binky and feeders of Gaspode the Wonder Dog have been made aware of some strange goings on in the world of electrickery and technology.
We initially though that there may be a Quantum Singularity causing the problem and so we instructed Corporal Clegg to power up the mighty Eclipse, engage the Insterstellar Overdrive and Set the Controls for The Heart of The Sun. He asked if he could have a Psychedelic Breakfast from Alan before we started but I told him that at the Heart of the Atom there was the Mother of all problems about to hit us.
We went On The Run to the bridge and took off with the Echoes of our passage through the atmosphere behind us, we were soon high in the sky and Obscured By Clouds and the life support system kicked in so we could Breathe In The Air.
But in the end we found nothing, not a sausage, very little in fact, except the solution to some of the problems.
The first of these concerns Office 2007 and the Open Document Format.
Microsoft have adopted version 1.1 of the format while just about the rest of the entire known multiverse has adopted version 1.2, saving documents in ODF format in Office 2007 can cause data corruption when re-opened in Open Office, the best and safest option is to save the documents in Word or Excel format.
And now back to the world of the Elonex WebBook, I don't know if we still have any Linux ones out there but if there are and they have just updated the OS to version 9.04, you may find that the screen resolution is not quite right. Apparently the Elonex BIOS reports some incorrect information back to the operating system so having discussed this with the head librarian he advised me "Ook".
So this is what you need to do:
You should be able to click on Applications, then Accessories and then terminal.
Then type in sudo bash and enter the password.
Then cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.original  This backs up the config file in case we make a mistake
Next you type nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf
And amend the file to read the following
Section “Device”
Identifier “Configured Video Device”

Driver “openchrome”

Option “PanelSize” “1024×600

EndSection

That's all that should be in there, once you've done that press CTRL and O to save the file and CTRL and X to quit the editor.
Restart the machine and all should be well
An update to Evolution has also stopped links in emails opening up FireFox, to rectify this get all the latest updates and install a package called gvfs
Restart Evolution and the problem should now have gone away and Bob is your parents sister.

That's enough for tonight, next week we will go to Wimbledon common and with the help of a mecano set and some lego will make the worlds first bionic Womble.

And remember "My Hovercraft is Full of Eels"

Matrox Dual Head 2 Go Adaptor

Greetings to you from the Night Watch, guardians of Bifrost The Rainbow Bridge, maintainers of the Avo 8 of destiny, dylithium recrystalisation our speciality.
Last night I was biding my time, and while walking down the beach listening to the echoes of a different time come willowing across the land, I came across several species of small furry animals who were gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict, they asked me if I could solve a problem for them.
The problem was that they could not get their "Matrox Dual Head 2 Go" to display a different desktop on each monitor while using an Intel graphics chipset..
I got on my bike which I can ride if I like and cycled passed a field with a scarecrow in it. I could see my friend chopping down trees so I shouted out, "careful with that Axe Eugene" as I remembered a day when I went to the seaside to watch my niece Emily play.
When I returned home I realised that I still did not have an answer to the problem, so I called up my friend Arnold Layne who reckoned he could fix it for some money, he was saving up for a holiday in San Tropez but was currently a bit short as he had received a large vets bill for his dog Seamus.
Apparently this is not an uncommon problem and it took the dogs of war to get the information out of the suppliers. I said "it would be so nice" if he could tell me how to fix it and he did.
Get the latest drivers from here:
http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/support/gxm/software/?os=2&product=56

Uninstall the old ones, reboot and then install the new ones and once complete using the normal windows display utility change the resolution to double the normal horizontal resolution. For instance if it was set to 1024x768 you would pick 2048 x 768, this will just look like a stretched desktop in an LMI session but should display as two separate desktops on the clients machine.

Having got this information I went to the park and played on a see saw, in the distance I could hear a band playing some Jugband Blues.
I decided to go home again as I like to be there when I can.

Next week we will tell how hot to resublimate Thiotimoline to enhance it's endochronic properties.

And yet another competition to spot the Pink Floyd tracks, points will be given for each correct answer and you know what points make.
Points make it possible to convert a dc supply from a 12 volt battery into an alternating current which can be passed through a coil to generate a high voltage and ignite the fuel in your combustion chamber.
Todays prize is just the thing for the dog loving handyman, it's a set of adjustable spaniels

Agent Holt
The Night Watch
We know what we like in your wardrobe

Kindles

I've been a fan of books for ages now and despite being a technical savy person and a sefl confessed "Geek" I always though that the Kindle was a bit of a gimmick. That was until I had the chance to start playing with one. That's when I realised how really good this bit of kit is. Battery life is brilliant, it works in the daylight and sunlight unlike my tablet and you can carry loads of books with you.
Then I came across a short coming in one, one of the books I had was in PDF format and although the Kindle can read these, it was unable to change the size of the text without zooming into the whole page. And of course I had some E-Books in formats that the Kindle couldn't recognise. After a bit of searching, I came across a bit of software calle Calibre. You can download it by going to the creators website at http://www.calibre-ebook.com/
Quite simply, it will catalogue all your ebooks, convert from all sorts of formats to whatever format your book reader uses and you can download the covers and bits of information to help you decided if you really want to keep the book. It's available for Windows, Macs and of course Linux, there's even a portable version available for a memory stick.
Just get hold of it and give it a try out.

Here's it's facebook page

Friday, 14 September 2012

And we're back

Just over 12 months ago we were abandoned in Rotherham when Best Buy decided that they could not sustain their UK operation any longer. A;most 10 months of travelling to Newark took their toll on our car which had to be replaced and now we have escaped and moved back to South Wales to the small town of Pontarddulais.

I now have a 20 mile trip to work, car insurance and house insurance is less, there are rissolles available in the chip shop, DOuble Dragon is served in the pub and I can get Joe's Ice Cream again.

What more could a grown man want?

I will miss some things about Rotherham, the people I worked with in Best Buy were generally pretty good with the exception of one or two. The flat was warm-ish, quiet and fairly comfortable and then there was the shower, that was incredibly awesome and one day I hope to have one like it again.

I won't miss the roads and the daily commute to Newark but the latter was my choice to be fair and wasn't helped by the lack of a certain company to pay the wages they promised but you Know How that goes.

The new job seems quite good so far even though we are only in training, but the people working there seem a happy bunch so fingers crossed this could be good.


And so for now that's it, more ramblings will follow.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ubuntu and how I've come to almost love it

Don't get me wrong, my little server will still be running PCLinuxOS as this is incredibly stable, easy to setup and uses very little resources.
What it doesn't do is run Evolution properly at the moment, the 64bit version doesn't run Wine (I need this for a few things) and there are one or two other little issues but for a person who just wants a normal desktop, go for PCLinuxOS every time as generally it just works.

And now for Ubuntu 12.04, I won't go through the installation process as it is quite simple and if you can't manage to follow the on screen instructions then you shouldn't be doing any the things I'm about to talk about.

Most people recommend that you use a separate home partition when installing Linux, I've done this before and run out of space somewhere so I generally used the whole drive. But this time I've done something different.

You see my desktop has a 1TB hard drive, so I've given half of it to the OS and mounted it at "/". The other half of the drive is mounted at "/mnt/homeback" and I'll tell you why later.

Once the installation is completed, the first thing to do is update it, it's surprising how many little issues this resolves.

So hit Alt+F2 on the keyboard and type xterm into the box and you should then be able to open up a terminal session so you can get things done a bit quicker, in PCLinuxOS this is all done in a GUI.

In the terminal window, type in:

sudo apt-get update

and then press enter, enter your password and off it goes fetching a list of updates
.
Once it's done, type:

sudo apt-get upgrade

Press enter, put your password in if it asks you and let it get on with things.

Once this has completed, reboot the computer before carrying on with the next steps.


You may like Unity which is the default desktop on Ubuntu, I've tried desperately to like it and get used to it but I can't. So I'm going to install Gnome Classic which suits me better.

Lets hit ALT+F2 again, type in xterm and let's get a terminal session open. Then type in the following line:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Press enter, do the password bit and so on and let it get on with things.

Once it's finished it's time for a reboot again, but this time when we get back to the login screen, there's something different to do.

If you clock on the little circle thing just above the password you should be able to select a different desktop.



I'm going for Gnome Classic, there's no fancy frills in this option and it's a but faster.



And that's it, you're back into that old familiar Gnome desktop, now we can get on with some more bits and pieces





Monday, 30 July 2012

First an apology to Mr Jeremy Clarkson, he would probably disagree with me but he's wrong. I've bought a Chevrolet Aveo, it's made in Korea and it's a damn good car.
Admitedly, it doesn't have the benefits of styling from some of the big names but it's not a bad looking car, it goes well, it has a Vauxhall Corsa engine, it's small and nimble, it's economical, easy to drive and it's fun.
So far it's done about 8,000 miles completely trouble free and on long runs gives me over 50 miles to the gallon, it's toured round Southern Ireland and managed to go all the way from Rotherham to Killarney in quite good comfort, probably more comfortable than the BWM 523 I used to have in which I used to get pains in the back of my leg.

It will happily cruise at motorway speeds without too much noise, the stereo works and will play music from a USB stick, it's got wipers, a horn, headlights and good air con and I like it.
 
It's got a paid service coming up shortly, I'm going to see about getting it dealer serviced to keep the 3 year warranty valid so I'll update this with the servicing costs and dealer review when it happens.

Keep coming back for more about the little blue monster.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Photography and backing up

What is it about photography that I like? I suppose this is best answered by giving some examples.
Photography is the magical act of taking a snapshot of time and freezing it, using a small box. The subject matter can be anything from a solar eclipse to a small drop of rain on a rose petal.


So now let me ramble on a bit about photography and cameras and hopefully give you an idea of why I like the hobby so much and hopefully I can inspire you a bit too.


A long long time ago in a town far far away, there was and in fact still is a place called the Severn Valley Railway, here majestic steam engines still run and take passengers on rides. One day a father and son came to visit, the son was allowed to stand in the drivers cab and look out of the window, the train was almost ready to leave and steam and smoke billowed out of it and the boys face was lit with a huge smile. This to him at the time was heaven, things could get no better, the sad part of the story is that the father had no camera and the moment is now lost in the mists of time.


As for myself, I have been fortunate to do many things, one of these was to take a balloon ride of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The balloon took off just before dawn and as the Sun rose over the mountains, I took many pictures and can look back at these any time and recall the silence as we drifted over the ground below.


This is what photography is about, capturing a tiny portion of time in a magic box, so that you can see it whenever you want.


These days, most amateur photography is carried out by digital means, which is great as you can snap away all you want and then delete the rubbish pictures without paying for development. But in my opinion this could come at a price. 
At home you probably have old prints of your parents, your grand parents and even great grand parents stuck in an old shoe box somewhere. But as long as the shoebox finds it's way down the generations, the pictures will still be there and the names of the people will live on. 

In this digital age, how many of our pictures will remain after we are gone? Will our children keep them safe in a digital shoebox and pass them on to their children?


Digital photography for the masses is still in it's infancy so time will have to tell this story.


In the meantime, lets go back to the pictures you have taken, the picture taken of your first child minutes after he or she is born, their christening, their wedding, the first holiday. You will probably take these pictures and keep them on your home computer or laptop. I urge you to back them up, £50 may sound like a lot for an external hard drive, but those pictures are priceless, they will never happen again and once the hard drive breaks and it will, they are gone forever.


The trick is to make sure that the backup is not where the computer is, keep the backup drive in your car or at a relatives house and do the same for them with their backups. If your house is broken into or catches fire then your backup is lost.


Now lets get onto the cameras, these magical time freezing boxes. In the back of the camera is something that captures the light that hits it, the technical term for this is a “light capturing thingy”.
To get a prefect picture, you need to let just the right amount of light onto it, too much and the picture appears washed out, too little and it will be too dark, you can compensate with software but information will have been lost, so try and get it right in the camera.


There are two ways to adjust the amount of light onto the “thingy”, one is to either speed up or slow down the length of time the shutter is open, the other is to make the hole that the light comes in bigger or smaller. Taking an average scene as your subject there are many settings which will give a good result but as you increase the length of time or exposure, you need to make less light come in by making the hole or apeture smaller.


Opening the hole longer means it takes longer to capture the image and things that move will become more and more blurred the longer you take. By making the hole bigger and letting more light in, less and less of the picture remains in focus. This is called depth of field and basic cameras that have no adjustment rely on this depth of field trick so that any picture that's taken appears sharp.


Why, I hear you ask wouldn't you want all of a picture to appear sharp?


Well, quite often you do, but sometimes you may just want to snap a portrait of someone or a bird in a tree and ensure that the only thing that people see in the picture is the subject. By using a shallow depth of field or making the hole bigger, the bird or persons face will be the only thing in focus, any distraction in the background will just be a blur.


Hopefully, this little ramble will give you some idea as to why I like taking pictures and why you should always back up your data. if you don't, once it's gone, it's never coming back.