Todays Adventure

So I decided that it was time to upgrade from my Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE to the new shiny Galaxy S6 which may I add, is totally amazing as it has a decent amount of internal memory so hopefully won’t keep telling me it is running low!

Anyways, I decided that as my S4 was still of value, I would see if anyone was interested in the purchase. To my luck someone was but they didn’t have an O2 sim card and didn’t know how much it would cost to unlock the phone.

As some of you may have picked up from my previous blogs, I sometimes class myself as a tech person and if something can be done, I want to know how to do it rather than paying money for someone else to do it for me.

So I went online and read a few tutorials about unlocking a phone, specifically the S4 I9505 LTE. It said that if I was to dial *#0011# then it would come up with a service menu, which it did. It then said that if I was to use the menu and select the key input “1” then it would take me to a different menu – Sadly this did not happen. So I then went down the path of downloading some flash software called ODIN and some software so I could root the phone. I had never done this before so it did seem a little scary but I thought I would give it a try nonetheless.

I managed to root the phone. I was even able to find the setting for the second menu as a root Super User and change it from hidden to not hidden, not that it made any different as it was still not allowing me to get to the menu that I needed to change in the first place to unlock this handset to allow access for sims on alternative carriers.

So I looked into things further and downloaded software that would back up my existing ROM on the phone (REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BACKUP). I then transferred this backup data from my SD card to my laptop to allow space for a custom rom on the SD card as this was how I wanted to install it.

As I was using the wiping software I was very sure I wanted to wipe the cache as well as the System as this is what all my helpful websites that I read had told me to do. So when I went to then install my custom ROM, which failed in seconds, I was in a bit of a panic as I now had no OS on my phone so it wouldn’t boot into anything and the backup ROM that I made was on my laptop and I couldn’t even get the laptop to recognise the phone or the SD card as a mass storage device.

At this point I had two options: to either cry in a corner and admit defeat or try and find a stock ROM that I could then flash to the device. I managed to find such ROM and it flashed fine, optimized all my 200 something apps and then I was able to root it again.

The phone now is back to how it was previously although I haven’t got the right size sim to test it at the moment but I will do tomorrow when it isn’t 2am in the morning.

It certainly has been a learning curve and I am quite sure it wont be my last experience with mobile phones as these are the things that will be in our future for quite some time.

Once I have established a way to unlock this phone without having to pay, of course I will share this knowledge with my readers.

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Officially Summer

suncartoon

So I get told by Facebook yesterday that it is officially Summer. I am glad I needed to be informed about this as I open my curtains and was greeted by the usual British weather – rain!

I am happy to confirm that my Summer has officially started. I have completed my Computing – Access to Higher Education Diploma and managed to achieve 27 distinctions and 9 merits.

This is more than what I needed so I am now just waiting for a letter from Hull University to say welcome, that will be £9,000 please…

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Ooops my bad (2)!

So sadly it didn’t take long at all for episode 2 of Ooops my bad!

I treated myself to an android smart watch and I was really impressed that you could sync it to your mobile phone via Bluetooth and send/receive calls as well as texts and you could even add a micro SD card and a SIM card and it would work as a standalone device and make calls and texts without the phone connected. It even had a 3g connection so although slow, I could still use data. The downside was that although it had a Facebook and WhatsApp icon, they were in fact just shortcuts to a webpage and the built in browser was pretty lame (yeah I know you can’t expect too much from a cheap gadget).

So my idea was to “hack it”. I wanted to get into the watch, seeing as it didn’t have a play store or a simple way to install new apps, even when I tried to download an APK file directly from my cloud storage it didn’t know what to do with it.

So I searched online and realised that I could use a flash tool which I have never had the pleasure of using before. All I had to do was install the drivers for the watch first and then I could set the flash tool so that it backs up a copy of the ROM, then lets me alter it and then it on to the watch.

This is where it all went horribly wrong…
First of all I was using Windows 10 which, in the device manager, did not show the ports section so I couldn’t setup and distinguish which COM port was my USB in the flash tool software.

I did try installing the drivers by using the legacy hardware option but then when they did show up they had an exclamation mark against them. I was getting absolutely nowhere and Microsoft were telling me that its a manufacturer issue as its drivers needed for their MOBO (Motherboard) and HP were telling me that this laptop, which I had only purchased in 2014, hasn’t been tested with Windows 10 and basically couldn’t be bothered to provide any updated drivers for it and I went between the two for about 3 days.

It concluded that I would just have to take the hit and recover back to Windows 8 which HP do provide the drivers for. The problem with this is that since my upgrade, I decided to clear the previous version files to save space. All HP could then tell me is that I needed a recovery kit and it would cost just shy of £35.

I went to Microsoft online support chat again and got someone to remote into my laptop who set off 2 downloads – one being software to burn a bootable ISO to a flash drive or DVD and the other was an ISO for Windows 8. He actually stated that they not longer had the Windows 8 available to download from Microsoft so I assume that he must have got the ISO file from a 3rd party site, which I am sure hasn’t been tested and for the paranoid out there, who would agree that getting Operating Systems from a 3rd party source or places like torrent sites can also install a virus in the background, a Trojan or key logger software so it is ALWAYS recommended to use genuine software from a reliable source.

As I went into the BIOS to change the boot sequence I faced another struggle – as my SSD it classed as a flash drive and so was the flash drive with the ISO on, the bios could not distinguish between the 2 and that wasn’t going to work.
I then decided to burn the ISO to a bootable DVD and try and set the boot sequence for that to run first. Finally I had some success, right until I got to the point where the laptop couldn’t recognise my SSD and this is about the point I am ready to cry myself to sleep but I DID NOT GIVE UP!

I put my old HHD back in my laptop, I spoke with Microsoft again (for the 4th time) and got to the point where they actually became useful – they gave me a link to a tool that would directly allow me to add a bootable ISO directly to my flash drive and I could choose the version of Windows I wanted to install and it downloaded it. I was then able to change the boot sequence back to flash drive first and then the HDD and this worked! I was able to go through the motions and after a slow hard drive I got my Windows 8.1 installed.

Now I was making progress I decided to bring back my original issues with my smart watch, downloaded all the drivers and tools again and opened the flash tool. It now recognised the COM port I Was using through the USB connection to the watch. The downside at this point was that it said my phone must have turned on too quickly for it to step in on the start-up so I turned it off and tried again but then the touch screen froze so had to pull the battery. I tried one more time in a different USB port and it was exactly the same.

So just to confirm at this stage, I have my old HHD in my laptop now with Windows 8 to use for the purposes of this flash tool software which doesn’t even work.

I have now put in my SSD drive again and have decided that I really don’t need my smart watch to be all singing and dancing now.

I did however find out on my quest that Windows 8 is being supported by Microsoft until 2032 and always make sure that your device has been tested with Windows 8 and whether the manufacturer will support Windows 10 and the drivers you will need.

And seeing as though I am on the subject of Windows 10, it is actually a good operating system and the likely hood is that you might not even need to use it for the things I try and do with my gadgets so you will be fine. The free upgrade to Windows 10 does actually run out at the end of July 2016 though so if you still haven’t upgraded yet then it would be recommended to do so.

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Hull Raspberry Jam 25th June

https://www.raspberrypi.org/

Why not join in on the fun and learn more about the Raspberry Pi and how to code by attending a Raspberry Jam.

The next event takes place on Saturday 25th June and starts at 10:15 until 13:15.

The venue for this event is Malet Lambert School – James Reckitt Avenue, Hull, HU8 0JD

This is a free to attend event – tickets plus more information is available from the Eventbrite website.

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What is a Raspberry Pi?

https://www.raspberrypi.org/

Imagine you have a computer at home and on that computer you connect a mouse, a keyboard and a monitor to get a full setup.

This is exactly the same with the Raspberry Pi but instead of it being a large case to rest your feet on, it sits in the palm of your hand.

Typical home computers are build with an Operating Software installed such as Windows XP, Windows 7, 8 or Windows 10. This is licenced software which means that you have to pay for the use of it.

On the Raspberry Pi, your hard drive (where you store all your files) is a small memory card and the Operating Software you use is a development of Linux, which is classed as “open source” software.

Open source means that instead of hiding all the code that is used to create the user interface that you are met with when you turn on the pc, you are allowed access to it and they encourage that you change the code to suit your needs.

If you are new to computing then don’t be afraid of this idea as you can easily download a version of Linux for the Raspberry Pi without the need to worry about any code.

If the Raspberry Pi that you purchase does not come with a memory card with the software installed then you can download it for free from the Raspberry Pi foundation.

There are numerous distributions available to download for the Raspberry Pi but if you are starting off then its probably best to try Raspbian.

Once you have everything setup and the Pi is up and running with your Raspbian operating software you can have a play around and get yourself familiar with the feel of it. It will look different if you are used to using Windows but the concept is the same.

Raspbian also comes with Scratch pre-installed which is what the children learn in the first term at Code Club so it allows them to explore further.

If you wanted to get creative with the Raspberry Pi, you can also create games and numerous other projects by using code called Python.
Python is the most commonly used code for the Raspberry Pi and if you search the internet as well as YouTube, you will find many different tutorials.

You will notice that on the top of the Raspberry Pi you will have lots of pins running along the side. These are called GPIO (General Purpose In/Out) pins.

These are used for projects such as making an LED (Light Emitting Diode) flash on and off. You would wire up one side of the LED to one of the pins for example: pin 8 and the other end of it to the ground pin.

Then you will need to write a bit of Python code to state you wish for pin 8 to go HIGH and you can state how long for and then go LOW. This is basically telling it to turn on with the HIGH command and off with the LOW command.

**Please remember that the Raspberry Pi will give out more power than is needed for an LED so make sure that you connect a resistor to this setup so that you do not burn out your LED**

There are different types of LED which can handle different values of power but as a rough guide, you would provide enough protection for your LED if you were to use a 220ohm resistor. It does not matter if you connect the resistor before or after the LED as it will still have to run through the resistor so will still offer protection.

The Raspberry Pi also has a camera that you can attach to it for instance if you would like to create a CCTV network for home or a dash cam for the car.

Here are a few other projects that people are using the Raspberry Pi for:

• Home Automation – turning lights and circuits on and off in the house.
ALWAYS be careful with electricity.
• Light shows using LED strips.
• Building robots that have sensors that can move towards or away from
lights.
• Music media centre.
• Digital photo frame.

Trust me, the list is endless and is only limited by your imagination.

For even more details about the Raspberry Pi then visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/ and why not visit a Raspberry Jam, an event to learn new things about the Raspberry Pi.

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Software Development Assignment – Java

We were set an assignment at college to create a program in Java using IntelliJ.

The assignment criteria was to create a currency converter that converts GBP into 3 different currencies where the end user can manually input the exchange rates.

The challenge set by the tutor (for a clear distinction) was to add an extra feature so that when you click a button it will pull the latest exchange rates from the internet.

As I am stubborn and not one to back down from a challenge, it was one I was willing to accept.

The user interface was quite difficult to create with IntelliJ and all the tutorials online showed that people were typically using NetBeans which I downloaded and found it so much easier to create a user interface as it was just drag and drop rather than worrying about spacing.

I created an action listener so that when the appropriate buttons were created they would act upon the code I had set to each button click. So the clear button would default the text field back to its original state using a jbutton.setText(“1”); I used an action listener for each button.

The currency exchange button turned the input number from a string to a float variable and then I calculated one float by another, example: GBP*EUR and then converted the float back into a string to output it into the area to show the amount.

For the auto generate section of the program, I used JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and set the URL from Yahoo Finance as a string but added a variable called currency in the middle of the URL so that it would change the variable fromto section so that when you click on the auto generate button next to the Euro it would change the variable to GBPEUR and pull the latest Euro rate, when you click on the auto generate next to the US Dollar it would change the variable value to GBPUSD and pull the US Dollar rate and the same again with the Chinese Yuan.

You will need to download Java Runtime Environment to run this .jar executable file but please feel free to download and play around with my program. Download can be found here: Java Currency Converter

I have also added the code in a text file in case anyone would like to have a go. Download code

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Ooops my bad (1)!

I have numbered this as (1) as there are bound to be a few of these posted throughout the years.

Basically I want to write about my mistakes so that others can learn from them and not make the same silly mistakes I have made along the way.

I decided to upgrade my laptop and so treated myself to a SSD (Solid State Drive). This is faster as there are no moving parts so the read/write speed is increased and therefore it takes seconds to boot to Windows (instead of hours).

The idea was to take an image of my existing hard drive, just the way it was, and then put that image on to the new SSD. What actually happened was that I used the cheap imaging software that came with the hard drive caddy which decided to give the SSD drivers that Windows did not recognise!

Then I realised that the Samsung software that was available (for free) with the SSD came with cloning software but now it would not recognise the SSD as the other software had “screwed” it up.

So I decided to carry out a system restore which seemed to take forever and then I was going to use the Samsung software but by this time I realised that you cant take shortcuts and so I backed up my files to my external hard drive, asked Windows 10 nicely to do a clean install and then finally got to use the Samsung software to clone the hard drive.

After all of the above I could then download all my programs again and then add my files. In total I think I saved a fair few GB in storage space by having a clean copy of Windows to clone.

The moral of this story is to not use cheap cloning software that puts rubbish drivers on your system and also to take the time to put a fresh copy of Windows on your hard drive before cloning because it saves time and space.

#LessonLearnt

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My First Java Program

java

At the moment we are learning Java at Hull College and the picture above is the text from my first program.

It was written using an IDE (Integrated Design Environment) and although I am new to Java, I found that IntelliJ was a fairly easy to use IDE.

It uses the Scanner class from the API (Application Program Interface) library which basically means that it uses code pre-written to request an input from the user and then with the use of Boolean, it will check to see if the number entered is the same number as the random number the program created. If it is not correct then it will use the IF and ELSE statements to tell the user whether the number they entered is either too high or too low.

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Code Club

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Since last week I have had the privilege of volunteering on a weekly basis at a Code Club held at Hull Central Library. The Code Club teaches 9 to 11 year old children how to code. It starts with using the MIT software Scratch and then advances to teach CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which is used as a formatting tool for HTML documents and then goes in to JavaScript.

I think its amazing that children from a young age get to learn these skills and I know I certainly wish I had the chance to learn more when I was younger.

I was in conversation with the Code Club on Twitter previously and they asked if I would be interested in volunteering and my reply was “I do not have enough knowledge”. I am now glad I took the next step and questioned my ignorance. The only skills you need is the ability to read. All the documentation is available for you to follow step by step and there is a teacher version as well as a child version.

I would highly recommend becoming a volunteer and searching the Code Club website to see what clubs are running near you. Not only are you giving to the community but you are also in a position to learn new skills of your own.

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Calculus Maths Exam Tutorial

I received a maths test paper for a future college exam on

Being able to solve a problem involving coordinate geometry of straight lines”

and thought I would go through the paper by creating a tutorial on YouTube and go through the methods.

So far I have only answered Question 1 although I do intend to complete the rest of the test paper and also add those to YouTube as well.

 

 

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