Monthly Archives: March 2013

The 35p McMuffin Burger

These cost about 40p each to make. Morrison’s muffins are 49p for four. The burgers are generally 8 for £1 (frozen, substitute if you dislike the possibility of eating horse… I don’t mind)… I found 6 eggs reduced at Asda for 56p. Combine them to make these pieces of awesomeness and revel in how amazing you really are. Also note the lack of grease running down your arms from this home made version…

Student McMuffin

Nom!

Swap the burgers for square sausage if you aren’t a broke student. Or nicer muffins; or just go buy a real McMuffin since you can probably afford it. Enjoy!

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Using a Linux computer in University halls

If you run Linux on a PC or laptop in halls of residence you may of realised that most universities are using 802.1x authentication on their networks. It’s great, secure all that. It can just be a pain to set up. I’m currently in halls at Bangor University and couldn’t figure out how to get it all working in Ubuntu or Crunchbang. To be fair, it’s pretty unreliable in Windows too… “Unable to authenticate!”… Grr but I digress.

I found this guide on Aberystwyth University’s website, and it worked great. Basically you need to download and make sure that wpa_supplicant is installed (It should be in pretty much all modern Linux distros), then create a config file for it using the details on the page linked. I’ll paste them below in case they ever take the page down.

Start up a command line interface and create a directory by typing:

mkdir /var/run/wpa_supplicant

Using a text editor create a wpa_supplicant.conf file in /etc/wpa_supplicant. Inside this file enter the following lines:
# BEGIN wired network configuration

ap_scan=0

ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant

network={ 
      key_mgmt=IEEE8021X 
      eap=PEAP 
      phase1="peaplabel=1" 
      phase2="auth=MSCHAPV2" 
      identity="your University email address" 
      password="your University password" 
}

# ENG wired network configuration

Open a command terminal window and type:
sudo chmod 600 /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Edit /etc/network/interfaces with the following. (The bits in bold)
#BEGIN

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp
wpa-driver wired
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

#END

Restart your network card by typing
sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

You should now be connected to the University network

You’ll have to do a bit of experimenting with the identity field. Aber wants your entire uni email whereas at Bangor I just needed my username for it to work. Try both until it works. I’m fairly certain these settings are going to be fairly universal for all uni’s who utilise 802.1x authentication systems.

Thinking about the switch to Linux… (Again)

I’ve used various operating systems over the last ten years… Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. Apple’s OS X. Linux distributions like Ubuntu (I found some old 4.10 install discs a few months back), Debian, and more recently Crunchbang. My primary operating system currently is Windows 8 (although I was perfectly happy with 7 I just like shiny toys.)

Windows 8 gets a bad rap. Personally I think it’s undeserved as everything new and different is disliked initially. Sure losing the start menu is pretty damn drastic, but you don’t even need to ever see the start ‘screen’ ever if you don’t want to. Press Win+D and you’re back at your old desktop. Install a start menu replacement and be happy about all the new stuff in Windows 8 that actually matters. The inbuilt virtualisation stuff is cool, likewise the faster boot ups and (subjectively) snappier interface.

What currently ties me to Windows is Microsoft Office. It’s tied me for a long time. Last year for my final year HND project I got to watch one of the guys struggle with OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) trying to complete his 5000 word report. All sorts of things were just more difficult than they needed to be. Personally being used to Office is a really strong tie. If there was a way to run 100% native 100% compatible Microsoft Office I’d be running Linux as my primary OS in a flash. Maybe I’d still need to reboot for games that don’t run but that’s secondary and not as much of a concern. Rebooting to use office is a pain; rebooting for games… well if the majority of my games are separated that might do wonders for my productivity.

==Getting things to work in Linux==

Saying that I removed Ubuntu from my PC this week, fiddled around with Grub (nearly managed to hose my Windows install thankfully I got it booting again), and reinstalled the last version of Crunchbang in it’s place. The experience was a good one.

Whilst some of this isn’t specific to Crunchbang, I still think it’s good to let people know that Linux is becoming much more viable as a computing platform for the majority as time goes on. I booted up; my graphics drivers work (as in my native resolution 1920×1200 is functional) out of the box. My ethernet card is detected and although that needed manual config so does Windows or Mac due to my uni using 802.1x authentication.

Once I had my network working, Crunchbang offered to update everything for me and install various packages such as java, Libre Office, and a few others that I can’t remember. There was a bit of a fuss when installing the latest AMD graphics drivers which is made easier using a script called SMXI. It worked brilliantly until I had to reboot to unload the old un-needed kernel modules. From here, you’re supposed to run ‘sgfxi’ at a root prompt to allow the installation of the drivers to continue.

This is great except wpa_supplicant or something else important in my network configuration hadn’t been loaded. The trick is to call ‘sgfxi -W’ which skips the internet check as everything should of already been downloaded anyway. Worked great from there on and now I had the latest graphics drivers ready to go. If you get stuck after the reboot because your internet connection hasn’t connected give the above command a shot!

On the next boot I had a play with my external USB drives and was really surprised and pleased to see that whilst they are formatted as NTFS I could read them just fine. Playback in VLC worked as expected but this is the sort of thing that has changed so much since my earliest forays into Linux nearly ten years ago. Nothing worked back then. It was fun, though! Youtube worked fine, my sound card was working fine. Pretty much everything was working with minimal tinkering and configuration.

I still haven’t managed to get my printer to work (Samsung ML-2160) but that’s more likely to be a matter of persistence rather than it not actually working at all. The right driver is just waiting to be found! My next task is to replicate the ethernet sharing that I currently use with Connectify in Windows. I’ve read that dnsmasq should be able to do what I want (Bridge eth0 to eth0; provide DHCP on eth0 which is plugged into a minuture wifi access point providing wifi access to my consoles, tablet, kindle etc.)

Other than that, reinstalling Crunchbang for the first time in about three years was really good. I even got the NMR software that we use in chemistry to run (albeit I had to fiddle with the package as it was i386 rather than amd64, but I got that running in the end. Just need to send off for my licence if I decide to go full time Linux)

I am looking for a nice alternative to ChemBioDraw but I see that ACD/Labs have an older version of Chemsketch available for free that works with Wine so I’ll need to look into that. As long as it draws molecules it’ll do. Don’t need anything much more fancy than that. I also noticed that with all the Humble Bundles that I’ve been buying I have a load of native linux games to test. Yet another thing to take up my time! Of course, OpenTTD runs brilliant on Linux 😉

Linux is definitely looking more and more viable as a platform for me personally. If you don’t have the hangups of hanging on to Microsoft Office like I do; and you need no other platform specific programs then take a look at it. You might be surprised at how well it runs!

Me³

We’re nearly twenty percent through 2013. I’m 23. I’ve spend many years considering getting my life into shape but I guess now is a good time before it’s too late. In comes Me³ which is my fancy term for what I want to change and focus on for the next 90 days. Yes, this is going to be a 90 day challenge! 90 days from today ends June 1, 2013.

What does Me³ comprise of? Studying well, living well, playing well (Me.. cubed.. get it?! :P).

Study

I need to get into proper study habits. My last course broke my revision and exam skills because it was just coursework. This year I was thrown back at exams and didn’t do terribly well (whilst I did quite well at the assessed coursework such as lab reports).

Since I have to resit most of the January exams I’m going to make a complete set of revision cards for each module last semester and this semester. Mind maps/spider diagrams were always useful back when I used to actually revise too so I’m going to see if they can still help me out. I guess I need to dedicate time each lectures each day to completing and reading my notes and stuff like textbooks. Not too much, I don’t want to overload and burn out. The latest time to study would be 9pm each evening leaving a few hours spare to relax and do other things before bed time (preferably before midnight!)

Living

Last summer I managed to lose quite a bit of weight but that has pretty much gone out of the window since I’ve been living away at uni. I bought a gym membership for the year in October and I’ve gone three times. Three times…. Yeah, I should probably get on that. 2-3 times a week mostly on the days I don’t have insane amounts of lectures or shifts a work will be enough to get me back on that wagon.

Recently we’ve been cooking more meals in bulk. Spaghetti bolognese, an amazing mixed vegetable mixture composed of tomato sauce, spices and other cheap things (Student, remember?). It’s cheap and healthy. For under £4 we can get around 10 good sized servings out of one cooking session. A frozen pizza for a £1 sounds awesome, but honestly you’d rather not subject your body to it. If we already have delicious things frozen then it’s easier to say no to junk food. As my day likes to put it, “eat less, move more”.

Playing

My backlog of games is pretty huge. To round of my 90 day challenge I want to try and complete up to two games a month depending on my workload from uni and how close exams are getting (They start May 14th I believe). As I said, there is no point studying 24 hours a day; I’ll just get bored and quit like I usually do when I try and go overboard with stuff. I want to enjoy my time at uni too. Spending quality time with my girlfriend, reading, watching movies, playing games all factor into this. I want do well, whilst enjoying myself.

June 1st 2013

What should I be like in ninety days? I should be feeling confident in the exams I’ve already sat, I should be feeling much happier and healthier within myself, and I should be making steady if somewhat slow progress though my backlog of games, I’ll be ready to start the next ninety days up until We’re nearly twenty percent through 2013. I’m 23. I’ve spend many years considering getting my life into shape but I guess now is a good time before it’s too late. In comes Me³ which is my fancy term for what I want to change and focus on for the next 90 days. Yes, this is going to be a 90 day challenge! 90 days from today ends June 1, 2013.