Computer refuses to boot? Could be HDMI cable!

Just a quick note as it may help others.

I just tried connecting a second screen to one of my computers via the HDMI port on the motherboard.

The first cable I tried did not seem to work at all. I assumed that the HDMI port may be in a power saving inactive state if it did not have anything connected to it. When I rebooted my computer to fix this the computer refused to boot! In fact it did not complete the normal BIOS check, just sat there with 2 blank screens.

If something suddenly fails to work it is always a good diagnostic step to undo the thing you just did.

I removed the HDMI cable and the computer booted perfectly.

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Have you ever deleted things by accident?

With a modern desktop it is likely that the files are just moved into a ‘Trash’ area rather than gone for good – at least for a while.

However the thing about a ‘trash can’ is that the directory hierarchy of the files was lost. I deleted a large chunk of my music collection in this way a while ago but was pleased to find the files all jumbled together on a trash area when I finally got round to some storage spring cleaning.

The useful thing about music file formats such as FLAC and MP3 is that the files contain within them tags with such information as Artist and Album – it is these tags that you see when you play the music with player software.

I wrote a simple Perl script to re-create a nice orderly directory tree based on Genre/Artist/Album and by reading the tags. The Linux link command is used to then put the files back into a sensible place.

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Occupy – something I wrote back in 2011

This is something I wrote for publication in the FlossUK newsletter back in 2011. I though it worth repeating here for a wider audience 5 years on.




One of the many slogans that have come out of the Occupy movement that is sweeping the world. The situation with the Economy, Energy and the Environment is now getting so serious that increasing numbers of ordinary people have got ‘the wake up call’ and are now going beyond just taking one day a time with their heads down ‘acting normal’.

I am one of them. We have been sleepwalking for too long because our leaders keep downplaying the seriousness of the situation.

What they thought would just be the usual short lived demo has been gathering momentum for months now. On the weekend of 19th/20th November representatives of the now thirty occupations going on in the UK alone gathered in London to meet and plan. New occupations are springing up all the time all over the world including ones that the authorities had thought they had ‘dealt with’ such as Oakland.

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A computer for OpenStack

Having used OpenStack professionally for a few months, and having attended Mirantis Openstack Training,  I thought it would be useful to be able to run my own system at home. So I could do my own experiments. Openstack’s promises of fault tolerance, with all data stored in more than one place mean that at the end of it I would also have a home environment with some quite useful features.

Practical “Real World” OpenStack deployments normally consist of one or more racks of noisy server class computers, intended to be operated 24/7 and consuming many kilowatts of power. Not really a suitable environment for home. I wanted something quiet, and as it was only going to be used occasionally, affordable! Computer hardware depreciates fiercely so having computers sitting doing nothing makes little sense. It is in fact this logic that has driven adoption of “The Cloud” where computing ability is rented by the hour rather than companies having to commission and maintain enough physical hardware to cope with the largest expected peak, even if that peak only comes once a year.

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Smartmeter Rollout – Your right to opt out

I recently got a letter from my energy supplier Ecotricity saying that they were planning to roll out smart meters soon in my area. I had heard a lot of bad news about SmartMeter use in other parts of the world including this broadcast from The Richie Allen Show and the is Youtube Video of a spate of SmartMeters catching fire in the USA! (Half a million have had to be recalled).  Also there is the privacy issue. There are already more CCTV cameras per head of population in the England than anywhere else. Knowing our exact power consumption habits in real time is just another level in the sea of data collected about our private lives.

I informed the Ecotricity Twitter account that I did not want a SmartMeter and to my relief, at least with this supplier, there is an exclusions database that you can be put on. I strongly advise everyone to ask for an exclusion. If your energy supplier refuses to give you one then you know what to do… Switch!

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An open letter to the Co-chairs of the Green Party

Dear Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas

I think the Green Party needs to be aware there has been a serious error in the official line that CO2 released from fossil fuel sources is of itself somehow bad. I recently attended the 2 day London Climate conference – in fact I broadcasted it for Occupy News Network – you can find all the broadcasts here

It turns out that modern CO2 levels are actually quite low compared to most of the many millions of years life has flourished on this planet.

We have had warm periods, like the Roman colonisation of Britain, and the Middle Ages – and colder times like the “Little Ice Age” of the Maunder Minimum.

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Hybrids and London Congestion Charging – a cautionary tail.

I drive a Toyota Yaris Hybrid and am on the whole pretty pleased with it. The combined petrol & electric drive comes into its own in the snails-pace traffic crawl that is becoming all too common on our roads. If fact if you are not encountering such traffic on a regular basis owing a Hybrid is not such a no-brainer choice. I found this out with a long motorway cruse the extra weight of all the hybrid cleverness makes motorway speed petrol consumption not particularly impressive, certainly not compared to the 60MPG that can be achieved in heavy traffic.

Other advantages to hybrid cars are zero rated VED or “Road Tax” as it is most commonly known and also as I was told, exemption from the London Congestion Charge.

I have owned the car for some 18 months and it was only last Monday I had occasion to drive into “The Zone”. The reason for this rather than taking the train as I would usually do was that I was going to an interview that I was told was in one place only to be updated that it was a Central London location when I was already so far into the journey that coming all the way back & taking the train would have made me late.

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Climate Change conference

Broadcasts from London Climate Change Conference.

On a recent Richie Allen Show Piers Corbyn was one of the guests and mentioned that this important conference by the Independent Committee on Geoethics was going to be held on 8th and 9th of September. I asked via Twitter was anyone planning to stream the event  and Piers responded that I was welcome to come and do it. Armed with all my battery packs to enable a full day of broadcasting I set off for London and here are the broadcasts.

New Dawn of Truth London climate change conference
Conference graphic

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Magazine Cover Disks with Linux – early days

History of Linux on Magazine Cover Disks

SuSE Linux Special Edition for PC Plus Magazine
PC Plus Super CD October 1998

I have worked with “Free Software” or “Open Source” technology for some quarter of a century. Being one of the people seeing why it is so important and pushing it early on, helping found the ACCU and then in 1994 a collaborative venture with the UKUUG (Now known as FLOSS UK) to start a Linux Special Interest group.

You can still find scans of those early printed newsletters on the UKUUG archive. The first issue shows just how far we have come in that time. There was an earnest discussion on the SIG producing its own CD ROMS of selected Linux software. Remember at the time unless you worked for a big company or University the Internet was something at the end of a SLOW phone line. And PCs were only just starting to get CD ROM drives, but not writers, they came a few years later.

Because of this problem with getting Linux to a keen public I persuaded several computer magazines at the time to give over most and in some cases all of the space on their cover CDs (also a new development at the time) to getting Linux out there.

  • The sadly now defunct Linux-FT release on Computer Shopper magazine in March 1996 and a slightly updated version again in Personal Computer World magazine May 1996
  • A year later (and a name very much still around) Red Hat Linux 4.1 on the cover of PCW.
  • And lastly, taking over the entire 600MB CD space, a special cut down edition of SuSE Linux 5.2 made it onto the cover of PC Plus magazine.

A big gamble of trust on their part but one that was well rewarded in that the magazine sold out fast!
This established an important trend. Until fast broadband became so common a magazine cover disk was a fast and risk free way for the modem connected masses to try out new releases of Linux as they came out. The way that Open Source software works, the more people trying something, and fixing it if it is not quite right for them is how we have come so  far 25 years later.

Welcome to Deluxe Technology

By Martin Houston.

First things first I am the only person posting to this blog. So even if an article (as opposed to a comment) does not say it is by me it probably is!

Busy with full time work again now so the rate of posts here will inevitably decrease as time gets squeezed.