Friday, 21 February 2014

Increase your IT Knowledge for Free

Do you find that you have a fairly decent knowledge on how computers work but you just wish to increase your knowledge that little bit more? Alternatively you've reached one of those stages where your not too sure what to do next, i.e. should you play a game, read a book or go out for a walk? Are you are person who is limited in resources but wants to do something new? Well this might help you a bit in making your mind up. A website called NoobsLAB have very kindly compiled a list of 26 free eBooks that cover a range of different IT topics. The books in the list vary widely in topic from security on a local PC or Network, to programmer in a new language, to using the bash scripting in Unix/Linux. You can view this list via the link below.

When you visit the web page you can scroll through the list and click on any of the "Download eBook" buttons, which appear below each book. When you click on one it will take you to a page that will tell you how you can claim your free eBook. If you follow through this, you will be taken to a another page asking for you to fill in some of your details. When you are done you can then click the "Download" button. You will then be informed that your request has been received and an email sent through to you. When you receive the email and open it up, just click the "Get it Now" button. You will then be taken to another page where your download should automatically begin.

All eBooks are in PDF format, making it easy to read/annotate on any device. Once you have registered the first time you will not need to register again for another free eBook. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Windows Explorer with Multiple Tabs

Have you ever wanted Windows Explorer to enable multiple tabs within a window like a web browser can handle multiple tabs? Initially I thought there was no point in having multiple tabs in such an environment. I believed that having separate windows is all you ever needed. This was until one of my work colleagues showed me a little program called Clover.

Clover File Explorer
I found Clover to be a very simple but powerful add-on, that does not add any noticeable overheads to your computer's performance. You may notice there is not much difference between the image above and the default Windows Explorer. The only difference being that at the top of the window is the area where you can have multiple tabs. Also just below this is an area where you can bookmark different folders.

To open a new tab on the window just click the new tab icon (just left of the existing opened tab at the top of the window). To add a new bookmark right click the area where it says "For quick access, place your bookmarks here on the bookmarks bar", select Add Page, enter the location of the folder you wish to bookmark and click OK.

You can also select to add a folder as well via the right click menu and store numerous bookmarks under a folder as well.

If you click on the small wrench icon you can access the Settings for Clover. The settings consist of a number of options which can be seen via the screenshot below.

You will note that a number of the settings match what you would find in a standard web browser.

I have to admit, I personally found that having the multiple tabs makes tasks such as copying, pasting and comparing files from one folder and another much easier. The most noticeable benefit though is just simply the saving of screen space; so rather than having multiple windows open for each folder, it is all stored in one window. Some of the additional settings, which can be seen above, add further to the features of Clover.

Also another added bonus is that I did find that on an occasions when Windows Explorer crashed, Clover offered to restore the tabs that had been forcibly closed during the crash. Again this is similar to how a browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox would offer to restore your previous session.

After using this at work I found that the standard Windows Explorer just no longer cut the mustard and I had to install this at home as well. Good news is that Clover can be installed on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Please note that when you install this, it will replace your default Windows Explorer, but it is most definitely worth a try.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

LinuxLive USB Creator

If you are ever in the habit of regularly installing different flavours of Linux onto your PC or Laptop you may find that you end up building quite a collection of discs, which can be a bit of a nuisance after a while. After moving house recently I found I had accumulated 200+ CDs/DVDs.

Fortunately in this day and age you do not need to rely on the disc format only and instead you can use a USB Flash Drive to act as a bootable device. The only downside is that if you try to set the USB drive up as a bootable device it can be a little confusing and complicated. However a good friend of mine recently recommended a nifty program called LinuxLive USB Creator for Windows.

After downloading and installing the program, I was quite impressed, not only with what it could do but also with the simplicity of the it. As you can see from the image above you can create a bootable flash drive in just 5 steps.

Step 1:
You insert and select the USB device you wish to use as a bootable device. If you have inserted the USB drive in, after you started the program you can click the Refresh button so that it displays this drive in the drop down menu.

Step 2:
You can select the source of your image. This can be an ISO, IMG or a ZIP image. You can also copy the image off from a CD/DVD or download a variety of different Linux flavours through the program itself. To get an idea of what the different Linux distributions look like and to find out more information about them you can visit, which has a wealth of information. Please note that LinuxLive USB Creator works better with some Linux distributions than with other ones

Step 3:
This is the persistence mode. By default this is left to Live Mode which will allow you to boot into a live session of that flavour of Linux. When viewing the Linux OS directly in Live Mode you can install some software, allow some software updates and even create files/folders before even installing the software. If you are like myself though you just get on with installing the Linux OS straight to the main hard drive. I will have to say though, it is handy having a live session if you ever wanted to use Linux on a friends machine.

Step 4:
This step will allow you to configure some simply options. By default "Hide created files on key" is ticked and "Enable launching LinuxLive in Windows" is also ticked. If you have data you no longer need on the USB drive you can also tick the option "Format the key in FAT32" which will erase all data currently on the flash drive.

Step 5:
If you are happy with everything you can just click the little lightning icon and the installation will then begin. If you wish to configure some more advance options you can always click on the OPTIONS button. Please note that there is an Advanced tab, but it is only recommended you touch this if you know what you are doing.

When you have followed through these 5 simple steps you will have a new LinuxLive drive which will be ready to boot on the machine of your liking.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Java Issue with LibreOffice Base

Recently I have been mucking around with LibreOffice Base in order to enhance my personal knowledge on database structures and also using SQL with a different database engine other than PGSQL or EDB.

For those wondering what LibreOffice first of all is. LibreOffice is a free and open source alternative to Microsoft office, which can run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux. Before it was called LibreOffice it was previously known as OpenOffice. When Oracle bought over Sun Microsystems, who primarily maintained OpenOffice, many people feared what would happen with their favourite open source office suite and so forked the code. Thus LibreOffice was born back in 2010. LibreOffice offers 6 different modules which are: Write (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet program), Impress (presentation program), Draw (vector graphics editor), Math (program for editing/creating mathematical equations) and Base (database management program).

I quite like the LibreOffice Base as it has a nice simple and easy to understand GUI (graphical user interface). The database engine it uses is known as HyperSQL or HSQLDB, which is a relational database management system written in Java. As it was written in Java though, I ran into a problem.

Originally on my Windows 8.1 machine I was running LibreOffice 3.6 which was a 32-bit install and had no problems running Base. However I installed the latest LibreOffice 4.2 in 64-bit and found the following error appeared when I tried to access my tables in Base.
"LibreOffice Base requires a Java runtime environment (JRE) to perform this task. The selected JRE is defective. Please select another version or install a new JRE and select it under Tools - Options - LibreOffice Base - Connections."
I followed the on screen instructions as the message said and found it did nothing to fix the issue. I un-installed and reinstalled LibreOffice 4.2 and still had the same problem. I rolled back to LibreOffice 4.1.5 and still had problems. I un-installed Java and re-installed this as well and still had issues.

After hunting around for sometime I found what the issue was. I found that Oracle, who now provide and maintain Java, would offer the 32-bit run time environment to install by default. The reason for this is that most browsers run in 32-bit mode. Although Internet Explorer does have a 64-bit mode, this is not used often as many websites are not compatible with it. Oracle does however offer the Java runtime environment in 64-bit mode as well. Before I installed this I thought I would try one more thing. On one forum post I followed the following steps:

  1. Go to Start and then Run
  2. Alternatively press the Windows and R key together
  3. Enter C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\LibreOffice\4\user\config
  4. Click OK
  5. Locate the file  javasettings_Windows_x86.xml 
  6. Delete this file

After doing this I found that I was once again able to access my tables within LibreOffice Base.