Toshiba laptop update

Just an update to my previous post about the Toshiba Laptop, I’ve been thinking about reinstalling the Toshiba laptop with Ubuntu, but before I do that, I want a backup. Luckily, I still have the original 500GB hdd spare, I just need a USB caddy. Luckily my local Curry’s had a USB3.0 one (PNY SSD and 2.5″ Hard Drive Enclosure and Upgrade Kit), before anyone comments about how I could of got one cheaper off eBay, just remember, I was able to get it same day and it included Acronis.

Before I swapped the HDD out for a SSD, I ran a simple PowerShell script to get a list of installed applications, you can see the list here.

Internet Explorer (Homepage)
HDD Warning

One of the problems with traditional HDD is the fact they have moving parts, if your moving your laptop around and you bang it, it can get damage, Toshiba have implemented a safely feature where when movement is detected it moved the HDD file header to a safe position. It make sound a little bit extreme, but when your talking about a disc that spins at over 4000 RPM and is wafer thin, you kinda get why they’ve add the feature. Personally, SSD is a better fix. No moving parts :)

Technical debt

I was talking to a colleague about one of our suppliers and the progress they were making on a new product they were developing. He was surprised to hear how little progress they appear to have made, they had previously been making huge steps in very little time with very few developers, especially surprising when they have been scaling up the development team over the past few months. I explained they are burning some of the technical debt they have collected whilst they still can. This of course then led to me explaining what I meant by using a common product, which then later prompted this tweet (which irony Capita hit the favourite button on)

For secondary schools who use SIMS .net – which is most schools in the UK – this can be simply be explained by Nova-T. Nova-T6 is a perfect example. Technically, it should be written in C#/.NET, however, there is a no business case, so it’s still a Delphi program. From a end-user perspective if they re-wrote it, they would gain nothing. Personally however, this still doesn’t mean it should be ruled out. It’s easier to maintain C# code when you have a small army of C# developers vs only a hand full of aging Delphi coders. Not to mention the advantage of C# over Delphi. The longer Capita leaves it, the more the interest costs them. Just look at some of the technical problems SIMS customers have had, it can all be tracked back to that technical debt. That debt that Capita needs to pay before the interest becomes to high.

Toshiba R50-B-12Q

UPDATE: I’ve detailed the Toshiba default build a bit here

At the beginning of the month I order a new laptop, for the past few weeks I’ve been wanting something more mobile then my desktop, at first I was toying with the idea of selling my desktop and picking up a new Surface. The new Surface 3 which starts at £419 seemed like a good idea what with its sexy full hd touchscreen, however when you scratch the surface (ha ha) it doesn’t look so go

  • Atom processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB storage

Not really something beefy enough to be a main computer, add the fact my Blu-ray player is SATA and currently housed in my desktop means I’d need to buy either a caddy or get a whole new external drive.  So I’m now looking at £700 for a half decent laptop, to get something to match my desktop, I’m looking at around £1200. So as you might have guessed. I ruled that out.

I end up looking at cheap laptops, ideally I was after something that was upgradable – I had a spare solid state drive and I wanted to be able to upgrade the RAM later if needed. Ideally I would like a Full HD (1920 x 1280) screen, unfortunately no-one seems to pack a nice screen on a cheap laptop, unless you want a Chromebook like Toshiba Chromebook 2. In the end it came down to the Lenovo ThinkPad E555 and the Toshiba Satellite Pro R50-B-12Q. In the end I let cost decide, the Lenovo was £50 more expensive (after the £50 cash back), so I went for the Toshiba. The Toshiba was just under £200 from Dabs. I also ordered a 4GB stick of RAM (Crucial part code: CT51264BF160BJ, Dabs quick: 8PQFWS00).

The laptop came with a Windows 8.1 Pro license, which is about £100 for a OEM license. It comes with Windows 7 Pro installed and pretty clean build. There was a annoying bits, like a unregistered evaluation copy of WinZip and some annoying favourite websites but nothing as bad as what Lenovo has been installing by default. All the drivers appears to have been loaded via Windows Updates, I then created a installable USB pen drive as there is a no DVD drive on the laptop. You can download the Windows 8.1 installation media direct from Microsoft for free. Once you’ve download it, it will turn a USB pen drive into installation media.

Opening the laptop was simple, they are standard cross screws. This particular model doesn’t have a optical drive.


I’ve removed the hdd, I could buy a caddy to use the empty optical drive space, but I’m not a fan of the old traditional spindle hdd, so it had to go, plus I might add a optical drive later. Its nice to had options.


The hdd wasn’t actually screwed in place. Its just wedged in, I guess they call this shock absorbing technology. Seems to work pretty well.

One thing I will say is to be careful re-assembling it. I stupidly over tighten the screws and now have a few bumps under the keyboard.

Version Control

I’ve been thinking lately about the adoption of version control. One of the common fears of using version control is that its permanent. All mistakes are visible and are in fact, highlight. Originals are updated with new commits which detail only the change and a nice comment. There is no hiding mistakes. The thing is

Mistakes are what make us human.

Everyone makes mistakes, we need to accept that fact. In doing so we can move forward faster.

Keyboard mapping [SQL 2014]

I’ve been working on SQL Server 2014 lately and one of the annoying problems I’ve stumbled across using SSMS is that F5 no longer means execute the SQL query, it now means Debug. Which brings up an annoying popup (least for me) about configuring my Windows Firewall.

This can be changed in SSMS by going Tools > Customize… > Keyboard…

The default is:

Debug.Start (F5 (Global))

And the traditional is:


You can also do it by setting it to Visual Studio 2010 Compatible

4th Anniversary of contributing to Rosetta@Home

Tomorrow, Sunday the 7th December 2014, I will be celebrating 4 years of contributing wasted CPU cycles to the excellent Rosetta@Home project.


Rosetta@home project is determining the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins through research, that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s. The project is lead by Dr David Baker at the Univerity of Washington.

You can find out more about the Rosetta@Home project on their website –

Not only will this be my 4th year contributing, I have also surpased the



credits mark. I think in part this is because of my new i5 CPU I got for my birthday this year.



Technical Analysis on Schools websites in England

So in my last blog post I asked, are you ready for IPv6? The post came about when I was looking at Schools MIS data, which Graham, Joshua and myself have being look at to see who are the big movers and shakers in the Schools administration software (MIS) arena. Data is collected by what software suppliers a school uses to submit the School Census (in England) which is requested under the Freedom of Information (FOI) from Department of Education(DfE) (saving having to FOI every individual school). In order to enhance this data I was joining the data onto the general schools data that can be extract from EduBase. Looking at the data I notice that the website addresses listed in the extract was of extremely poor quality. A number even had email addresses listed!

This got me thinking, are schools ready for IPv6? If Sky are running out of IPv4 addresses and offer IPv6 only connections at a lower price, how many parents are going to jump on the deal only to find out they can’t access their child’s school website later on. After a bit of scripting and a support call to Mythic-Beasts to enable a response in JSON that I could automate, I had the results. It wasn’t good.

Still, no-ones ready for IPv6 are they, sure they’ll be ready in time. Won’t they?

We can only judge the future from what we have suffered in the past

Themistocles , 300: Rise of an Empire

To this effect, I’ve gathered data to look at:

  • šDomain registration correctness
  • šContent management systems
  • šDocument type definition
  • šRaw HTML homepage size
  • šGoogle Analytics
  • šIPv6 readiness

At the moment I’m still creating the presentation detailing my findings, but you can download the raw data from:

Are you ready for IPv6?

For a long while now it has been known that IPv4 will run out of available publicly assignable IP addresses. IPv4 address are 32 bits wide and quite simply can’t cope with the demand of the modern world – despite NAT’ing. IPv6 looks to resolve this by have not only more digits, but also using hexadecimal.

For example, an IPv4 address looks like this

192 . 168 . 0 . 1

4 parts each running from 0 – 255.

Now lets look at Facebook IPv6 record:

2a03 : 2880 : 2110 : df07 : face : b00c : 0 : 1

Now that’s 8 blocks, each one being 4 hexadecimals – so that’s 0 – 9 then a – f (so 16), so that’s 16 x 16 x 16 x 16 – so 65,536 in a block vs IPv4 255, and there are 8 blocks… that’s 128 bits, starting to see how massive the IPv6 range is?

Because of the massive IP range, you in effect get to bypass the IPv4 tax – in fact Mythic-Beasts has already started offering IPv6 only servers without the IPv4 tax. That’s not the only thing, NAT becomes obsolete which means gaming on the XBOX One becomes faster as you don’t have to setup port forwarding and put extra load on your router – also new Microsoft devices (Windows PCs and XBOX One) have a preference for IPv6 over IPv4, this could be because IPv6 has cleaner routing? IPv6 has been designed for the future, security has been account for and isn’t just tacked on.

When is IPv6 coming out? Well, it’s actually out, and it’s been out for a long while. RIPE, who are responsible for issuing IP addresses (both IPv4 and IPv6) in Europe has been doing it since 1999 and World IPv6 Day was back in 2011.

So, are you IPv6 ready?

You can check if your ISP has setup IPv6 so you can access those IPv6 servers from your computer by going to:

And you can check if your website is IPv6 ready by going to:

I’m guessing the answer is no.

Thankfully, you’re not alone, but it’s something to think about, especially as all the major ISP in the UK are gearing up – and