Ramblings of this guy you know!

Tech Stuff and random observations on life as I see it….

Category Archives: RGU:Computing

The Curious Case of Sharepoint and file uploading

Its been a frazzling sort of morning… We’ve been trying to migrate some of the Schools finance information from a shared folder space tied down with access rights… As its become more complicated to sort out who has access to what, the user rights list has gotten mixed up over time… So I had the bright idea to move it to a Sharepoint area… Me and my big ideas.

We’ve been playing with the Webdav connection and thought that it was going to be a simple process of file copying from one area to another… One of those two minute jobs that took much much longer to resolve than you thought… You know the ones.

The problems began when we compared the files in the original folder to those that were in the new folder… It was out by over 90 files but there had been no error reported back. Tried copying the files and folders again using a sync tool with a report and got a number of “Access Denied” or “<file> to large to copy” messages. It was only when we tried uploading the file manually to Sharepoint that the penny finally dropped

The file name is invalid or the file is empty. A file name cannot contain any of the following characters: \ / : * ? ” < > | # { } % ~ &

OK, so now we have the root cause of the problem, invalid characters in filenames and folders…. But how many of them do we have… Thats when we found that Windows Search is a pain in the arse… trying various incarnations of “&” or “*&*” just yields a result of all files and it was only after finding a random entry in a forum post that we got the answer that must be preserved across time; To find any of the invalid characters listed above, put the following in the search bar:


and you will find all the file with & in the title… Found 11 of those. But when we looked up + we found 90+ items… Passed that one back to the office to fix.


Misadventures in Computing – Outputting a Mic on a PC directly to some speakers

This is a repost of an article I posted on the School of Computing Science and Digital Media.

Over the summer, we went through an upgrade of one of the IT labs… The carpet was looking a bit shabby after some rain last year and we were going to have more students that we could hold in our foundation year lab. The lab was fitted with connectivity through from the big lab so sound and vision could be played throughout.

We have already had problems with the connectivity; the new projectors and connections were fitted first so they could make as much mess as they wanted during the install. Unfortunately when the carpet fitters came in they pulled down the shelves that held the amplifier and disconnected all the cabling. Since putting it all back together, it’s never been totally right.

So, here we are on day one of a New Semester and the lecturers running the First Year lab come through and tell us that there isn’t any sound from the Microphone going through to the second lab… A call to the company that installed the system gives us a date of Friday for the Engineer so we need a workaround NOW!

My suggestion is to hook up a USB condenser mic we have and play the sound through the PC. OF course, by default your going to need some sort of App to play the sound… But through the glories of the Internet one of the sys admin support team came across this nugget on superuser.com (specifically this post)

1) Right click on the speaker icon in your system tray (bottom right of your screen). Go to recording devices.

2) Locate your microphone in the list. I am assuming it is not disabled as you mentioned examples of it working previously. Right click, go to properties.

3) Switch to the “Listen” tab, check off “Listen to this device”. While Listen is checked, your microphone will be audible through your speakers.

Tested it and it works… now we have a workaround to get us through the rest of the week.While Listen is checked, your microphone will be audible through your speakers, and in a more advanced facet, through stereo mix. So if you wanted to record your Mic and Stereo Mix, this is how you would do it, but at the expense of being able to still hear your mic (it throws most people off, like myself).

Cooler Master Cosmos II Unboxing – Extreme PC Building

Take a read about Daniels review of his new Cooler Master Cosmos II case.

What he hasn’t mentioned us how he came about getting this case; He won it in a competition that was run by Cooler Master themselves… But I already get ahead of myself. First we need to rewind about a month….

Daniel is our local expert on video production in the School of Computing at RGU and we were having a discussion about some new HP workstations we were speccing up for Video editing. I casually asked Daniel what he had at home and was a little shocked (and deeply disappointed) to find that all he had stay home was an ageing laptop.

He was shamed by my disappointment I think because the next I hear is that he is speccing his own new über-workstation. As part of this he entered a competition for the case for his world dominating machine… And he won, with this text.

And the winner of the Cosmos 2 is: Daniel Doolan!

As reason why Daniel deserves to win a Cooler Master Cosmos 2 he gave:

“I am looking to build my first PC from scratch and am looking for a case that will allow for future expansion.
I lecture in Computer Science at University and our Computer Systems Manager was horrified to hear that I had been running a laptop at home for the past few years.

He was expecting that I would have been running a really over the top extremely overclocked machine.
So this is a chance to build a machine for myself that will hopefully live up to the expectations of what our Computer System Manager would expect from me (he always comes to me when we go shopping for new equipment for the School from renderfarms and 3d motion tracking systems to high-end video cameras).

I lecture quite a bit in the area of Multimedia, and really do need to put together a beefy machine to handle audio/video/ 3d rendering allowing me to work easier from home.

Another thing I do quite a number of times each year is to go around to schools and give workshops on topics such as computer networking, games programming and building a PC.
At present the lecture slides I have for this are fairly old, and deal with just a very bog standard system.

By building my own high end machine I can use some photographs / videos in my presentation to illustrate just what can be created.

From reading the specifications I believe this case is one of the best available and provides more than enough room for future expansion.”

Glad to have been of help Daniel

Dr. Daniel C. Doolan News & Photos

Cooler Master Cosmos II Ultra Tower Case Unboxing. If you are building an extreme gaming case then this is certainly one to consider, providing you with 13 HD bays, support for more or less every type of motherboard, graphics cards up to 15.5 inches in length. It also allows for the installation of a 360mm rad on top and a 240mm rad at the bottom (with the removal of 6 hard disk bays) to create a nice watercooling loop to cater for all your CPU & GPU needs.

The big question is what components would you put into a case like this, in particular what type of system would you install for cooling – would you go Air or Water? If you go for water cooling would you go for an integrated system like the Corsair H100 or go with a set of rads something like those from hwlabs (you…

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LinkedIn aims itself at students

LinkedIn is the social network aimed squarely at the professional Market. This is the perfect place for your online resume once you have completed your studies and landed your first job as the profile looks decidedly empty without it.

Now, LinkedIn have added some new sections aimed towards students or young professionals looking to flesh out that profile. Read more in the LinkedIn blog

Adding the New content

  • From the LinkedIn menu bar, select Profiles and Edit Profiles.
  • Click the Add Sections button under the basic profile information
  • The selector box appears allowing you to select which section you want to add to your profile

  • Complete the relevant fields
  • Repeat for each section

Voila one better populated profile!

Highlights from SXSW 2011

Earlier this year in March SXSW took place. For those not in the know SXSW stands for South by South West and is a set of three festivals that takes place in Austin, Texas in the US. The three conferences concentrate on Music, Film and Interactive. In the interactive portion many web startups and technical experts come together in a very creative environment. Last year the one big big thing that came from South By South West Interactive was checkin services like Gowalla and Foursquare which have gone on to be massively popular in social networking terms…

This year, from what I read and listened about, these are the things that were hot and may be ideas for student projects or social networking tools for learning:

Game overlays on Real Life…. “Gmaification” as it has been termed. The biggest company at the forefront of this is SCVNGR (scvngr.com). SCVNGR (taking the current trend of dropping vowels in words) adds hotspots and clues on maps to create virtual scavenger hunts which lead to badges (virtual) or perhaps prizes (free burger for getting to the end etc etc). Playing SCVNGR is free but it costs to set up.

Group Messaging…. This has been a bubbling topic anyway but SXSW seems to have kicked it off big time… Group messaging apps such a beluga or Group messenger bring groups together across multiple platforms and different messaging styles. Both the apps I mentioned have web front ends, desktop apps, iPhone and android apps and also allow text messaging input as well. Group owners (or pod owners in Belugas case) set the membership and conversations are read and replied to within that specific group… As flexible as twitter but you are not broadcasting to the entire world.

The topic of Web 3.0 is starting to rear it’s head… Coined again by Good ole Tim Berners Lee. The last time I saw him at TED he was angling towards a data driven web and it looks that this has further refined itself to what he called ‘sensor-driving collective intelligence’ where things like phones and cameras and other data gathering devices will become even more the conduit to the information we absorb from the Internet. I guess this is kind of live in a small way from the Japan Tsunami and nuclear plant disaster where radiation counters have been set up with their output going on to the web so people can view radiation levels in particular areas.

Tasting the cloud…

There are many Cloud based offerings out there, but if you want to have a taste of the two main ones, there are “Free Goes” for a limited time…

Do note that a Credit Card is required for sign-up to both. Any monthly usage in excess of the stated amounts will be charged at the standard rates. The introductory special will end on September 30, 2011 for Azure and one year from signup from Amazon. After those dates have expired all usage will then be charged at the standard rates.

Microsoft Azure
The first one is from Microsoft and they are offering free limited access to their Azure services until the 30th Sept 2011.

The link to the site is http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/free-trial/

Upon sign up you will get the following:

Get 750 hours of an Extra Small compute instance, a 1GB Web Edition database and more free per month to get started with the Windows Azure platform. You can use your free trial to create and deploy an application using Windows Azure and SQL Azure.

The Windows Azure platform trial gives you the following resources on a monthly basis:

  • Compute
    • 750 hours of an Extra Small Compute Instance
    • 25 hours of a Small Compute Instance
  • Storage
    • 20GB
    • 50k Storage transactions
  • Data Transfers
    • 20GB in / 20GB out
  • Relational Database
    • 1G Web Edition SQL Azure database (for 90 days only)

Amazon AWS
The second offering is from Amazon AWS which offers one year of limited free access

The link to the signup page is here: http://aws.amazon.com/free/

Entitles you to….

  • 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Linux Micro Instances
  • 750 hours of Elastic Load Balancing and 15 Gigabytes (GB) of data processing using Elastic Load Balancing
  • 10 GB of storage in Amazon Elastic Block Storage plus 1 million input/output requests, 1 GB snapshot storage
  • 10,000 snapshot “get” requests, and 1,000 snapshot “put” requests
  • 5 GB of storage in Amazon Simple Storage Solution (Amazon S3) plus 20,000 “get” requests and 2,000 “put” requests for objects stored in Amazon S3;
  • 15 GB of internet data transfer “out” and 15 GB of internet data transfer “in” across all AWS services other than Amazon CloudFront.

Microsoft Education Links and Information

There is a wealth of information for student on the Microsoft Education site. Its well worth having a look. However I have summarised some of the main offers below. I have pretty much copied their site content word for word for speed.

Become a Microsoft Student Partner

What is the Microsoft Student Partner Programme?

What is the Microsoft Student Partner Programme?
The Microsoft Student Partners are part of a one year programme which is designed to help students get the most out of Microsoft tools and technologies.

What happens on the programme?
MSPs will work in partnership with Microsoft to reach out to technical students across the UK – helping at Microsoft events, running events on campus for students to attend, or contributing to the blogosphere or twitter chatter about the coolest technologies around.

Find out more at: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/students/learning/microsoft-student-partners.aspx

IT Academy Pass
Extra Qualifications for Free
The Microsoft IT Academy Student Pass is a special free online learning opportunity for students. IT Academy Student Pass provides free e-learning courses to verified students who are interested in extending their technical skills with Microsoft technologies.

The IT Academy Student Pass offers 12 to 22 hours of free e-learning courses, aligned to the first set of topics you need to master for the first Microsoft certification exam within the track.

The goal of the IT Academy Student Pass is to give you a head start by providing hours and hours of rich, award-winning e-learning content that sets the stage for the learning to come.

Find out more at https://www.dreamspark.com/Learning/freetraining.aspx

Want Professional Developer Software for Free?
Want Professional Developer Software for Free?

Microsoft Dreamspark is simple: it provides university and college students with access to professional developer, creative and gaming software all for free.

Software includes:

  • Visual Studio professional 2008
  • SQL Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2003
  • XNA Game Studio
  • Robotics developer studio
  • CCR & DSS toolkits

These products are all available to easily download to unlock your creative potential and advance your learning in your chosen area. It doesn’t matter what subject you are studying at college or University any student can download free from Dreamspark.

How do I download the software?
Go to www.DreamSpark.com sign in with your Windows Live ID, then verify your student status and start downloading – it’s that simple. You can verify your student status using your .ac.uk student email address or your Athens ID.

Training opportunities from DreamSpark
You can also find out more about free training opportunities for technical students at DreamSpark, such as the IT academy pass which gives free e-learning courses to verified students who are interested in extending their technical skills with Microsoft technologies. You can also gain Microsoft Certified exams which means you can stand out in your field with a set of qualifications that demonstrate your technical skills and commitment to staying current with the very latest and most relevant technology.

Helping you Make the Most of your Studies
MSDN AA is a great way for you to access all of the software you might need throughout your studies. If your university has a subscription you can simply download all the relevant software (including Windows 7) you need simply and easily. Why not take a look if your university has a MSDN AA subscription here ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/dd861349 ). And start downloading great software today.

Note: For RGU School of Comouting students you can shortcut this direct to to our MSDNAA site at http://msdn62.e-academy.com/msdnaa_ab8483 If you wish to get a login on the ELMS server then please come along to C13/C14 with your matriculation card and speak to the systems Administrators about setting up an account. Once you have this ID you can simply log into the System using your username and password and start browsing/ordering the software available to you.

Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011
Try Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011, which is free and brilliant. It helps you to co-ordinate images and music, and turn it into an impressive slideshow, with special effects, narration, titles, captions, and then publish them for viewing on a computer or TV.

Start using Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 for free from here

Learning Essentials
A free add-on for Office, that contains a set of tools to help teachers and students. Things like curriculum templates, and toolbars for Word, PowerPoint and Excel to help students and teachers get started on projects and stay organised during them. Students get tools, templates and tutorials to help them get past “Blank Page Syndrome”, language tools and templates, and tips and tutorials for managing projects and producing high-quality work.

Visit Microsoft Learning Essentials

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