Problem installing Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate on Windows 7 64 bit

I just upgraded my Vista computer to Windows 7 64 bit and when I tried to install Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, it wouldn’t work. The setup process would just abort with a message telling me that the process could not be completed and show me a list of components which has not been installed.

At first I thought that it was a problem with Windows 7 64 bit but then again I have the same OS on my laptop and I didn’t have any problems installing it there. So I did a little bit of research on the net and found a couple of solutions. There are some things like checking your windows registry to see if there’s an entry in the 32 bit or 64 bit section of windows and since I just upgraded from 32 bit Vista to 64 bit Windows 7, I thought I might as well check it out but that was not the problem.

Some people who had the same problem said they were able to fix it by burning the iso file again. I gave that a try and when I placed the newly burned dvd into my dvd drive, it started the setup process but shortly afterwards aborted. My first iso image was burnt on a TDK DVD and the second one was on a Sony DVD. This shows that not all DVD ROMs are able to read all DVDs available on the market.

Anyway when that did not work, I plugged another DVD ROM in my computer and that did the trick. The whole problem was associated with the fact that the DVD ROM could not read the burnt iso of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition and therefore setup had to quit without finishing the whole process.

Smart HDD – Trojan which makes you think your system is giving up on you

While looking on the internet for a way to restore a failed hard disk on one of my desktops, I got scared when windows started showing me messages that my laptop was giving up on me. I saw messages on the taskbar similar to windows messages which pop up when you have problems like no anti virus etc and they said that my hard disk was corrupted, my system was running out of memory etc.

There was this program which launched itself, Smart HDD, and it was running without my consent. Now any genuine program would have been installed either by windows itself when you have purchased your laptop/computer or by yourself. I thought that it could have come pre-installed with windows and let it run. It defragmented my laptop but said there were other problems which it could not solve and it required an additional module and that I needed a licence for that. Now windows would not install something which is important to the functioning/repairing of your machine and ask you to purchase a licence afterwards. Anyway, I had a look at their website and it said that the licence costs $90. Of course I did not pay for the licence!

I tried to see if I could uninstall the program through Add/Remove programs but it was not listed there. So I had a look at the windows path for smarthdd.exe and found that it was installed in my app_data folder and had a really weird name. This shows that it was a trojan indeed. So I went into my control panel and restored my system to an earlier date (4 days back). This process does not delete any of your files but would erase any programs that was installed after that time. This solves the problem.

My laptop is now working fine. However know that the messages from Smart HDD can be quite convincing especially when they use the same message format that you’re familiar with and they tell you that your private data will be lost, your hard disk could not be found or your memory usage is 100% or it’s overheating!

Holiday to Dublin, Ireland

Booked with Ryanair 2 months ago was a short break to Dublin. The flight was from London Stansted to Dublin and it takes around 1 hour and 15 mins but because we had been delayed at the airport, the pilot made up for it and we arrived there in like 45 mins. We hired a car (Nissan Micra) and we got it a discounted rate of 85 euros for 4 days.

We stayed at our aunty’s place for the duration of the break. Our first trip was to Blessington Lakes and it was a nice drive there. The view was magnificent but it was freezing cold. We got lost a few times trying to get to the viewpoints but in the end, we managed to get the sat nav that we brought to guide us to what we wanted to see. At one point, we were so high up the mountain that we could see the cloud just a few metres above us and if we were to climb up a bit further, we would be able to touch it.

The second day was a trip to Dublin city and although no different from London itself, it was just nice to be in a different place. Once in the city, everything is so accessible. All the shops are walking distance and there are plenty of shops, including shops for foreign foods (international foods). We had to buy a few things to prepare for the party later on that day but unfortunately, not many people could come because of bad weather. A multi storey car park is found on Parnell Street and it costs us like 5-6 euros to park there for 2 hours.

It snowed quite a bit on Saturday and we took some pictures at 2 in the morning (sunday morning). Duke, the family dog, became really attached to all of us and he was such a lovely animal. He would lie on his back on the floor for you to stroke his belly and would sit down when asked to or give you his paw.

We couldn’t explore more by car because it had snowed everywhere and was still snowing in some places and it was really cold as well. However the main purpose of the trip was to spend some time with the family and everything went on fine and it was a really nice break.

However the Ryanair experience was not pleasant. Although the flights were cheap, the service was really poor. When we were on our way to Ireland, we were asked to go to gate 44 to board the plane. Whilst in the queue, we were then told to go to gate 46 and ended up in the back of the queue because people were running and pushing about. If you don’t have the right dimensions for your hand luggage, you might end up paying 35 euros for checking the suitcase in. The dimensions are quite strict, 55x45x20cm. The staff come with a carton mould of the dimension and test to see if your hand luggage fits in properly. As soon as one ryanair plane arrives, it’s refuelled and just after passengers have left the aircraft, others are ready to board. There’s no time for cleaning the plane and when you get inside, you will have to hunt for a seat. On board, the meals are very expensive; a croissant costs 2.50 euros and a hot drink 3 euros. A hot baguette can cost as much as 7 euros. You can smoke the smokeless cigarettes though which costs 6 euros for a packet of 10 and it’s just like sucking in on paper. Ryanair is cheap for a reason and it can be really frustrating knowing that you don’t have an allocated seat and people will do anything to get on the plane first.

Holiday to Iceland

At the beginning of 2010, we came across an article on the Internet mentioning the Blue Lagoon and at that time we didn’t have a clue what that was all about but as we read about it, it became more and more enticing and since then we decided that we needed to experience this. However we couldn’t make it to Iceland because we had another holiday booked and then there was the volcano eruption and it was not safe to go to Iceland.

In November, we suddenly made our minds and decided to go explore Iceland for a couple of days. We managed to find a package holiday which included the Northern Lights, the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon.  It was going to be 3 nights, 4 days but we wanted to stay for 1 more day to explore Iceland further. It only costs us £25 more per person per night to stay which was really good.

We stayed at Reykjavik Hotel which is a 3 star hotel but to be honest it could have been a 4 star hotel. It’s only bed and breakfast but the room was clean and the staff very helpful. We had the Northern Lights excursion booked on the very first day that we arrived but our flights were delayed because of heavy fog and we missed our 8pm slot because of the 4 hr delay at the airport. The flight time should have been 3 hour and a half but the pilot made it in 2 hours and a half. Anyway once checked in at Reykjavik Hotel, the receptionist told us that the Northern Lights tour was cancelled because of poor visibility. So we were relieved and hoped that the following day, we would be able to do it.

The next day was Blue Lagoon excursion and it took us roughly 50 mins to get to it. A small shuttle bus picked us from the hotel to the Reykjavik excursions bus terminal where we boarded a coach. Once at the Blue Lagoon, we hired bathrobes at the cost of 8 euros each because it was really cold out there (the pathway from the building to the actual warm lagoon). We had to rinse our body before entering the lagoon and that’s without clothes (swimming costumes), so for the shy ones, you might need to wait to get into the cubicle and hand your clothes above. As I said before though, the temperature outside is really cold and the small distance that you need to walk from the building to the lagoon can make you shiver or get ill, so wrap in a towel or bathrobe. The water of the Blue Lagoon is really warm and you can see the steam coming out of it because it’s cold everywhere else. It’s a really nice relaxing environment and there are places where the water is hotter if that’s what you like. There’s also a waterfall feature and it can really help with bad backs because the pressure and hot water is a really good combination for that sort of muscle ache. You will also find sillica mud in the Blue Lagoon for you to use. It’s good for the face and you can also apply it on your body. Leave it for 10 mins and wash off afterwards. I’ve tried to dive in the water but it’s really murky and hard on the eyes. It’s good to have a waterproof camera with you or buy the Aquapak which is just a plastic container which will prevent water from entering it and keep your digital camera dry.

We ate lunch at the Lava restaurant and it costs us in the region of 6000 krona (£40) for a nice monk fish dish and cod and mussels dish. The shop at the Blue Lagoon was really expensive and there was nothing that interest us anyway. Once back at the hotel, we were informed that the Northern Lights tour was once again cancelled because of bad weather. Just across the road there’s an Icelandic and Phillipine restaurant called Harry where we ate dinner that night. It took around 40 mins to be served although the place was not full and it annoyed us because we were hungry. The food costs in the region of £45 for the two of us and it was nothing special to be honest; it was okay. We ordered Phillipines fried noodles and a fish dish.

On the 3rd day, we had the Golden Circle Tour which consisted in visiting the Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall. The first stop at Thingvellir is where the first parliament was ever made and from there you can see the tectonic plates movements. It’s a couple of metres wide and it currently moving apart 2cm each year. You will also be able to see a very nice view of the mountains from there. After that we went to Geysir which is a hot spring which spouts hot water every 10-15 mins. The water is 80-100 degrees hot and can reach a height of 20 metres above ground. It’s a natural phemenomena and a beauty to see. The last stop was Gullfoss which is Iceland’s most famous waterfall. It’s quite big and for those who want a closer look, there’s a narrow and sometimes slippery path down there. It was too cold though and after taking a few pictures, we headed straight to the restaurant where we ordered soups to keep us warm. The soups were too watery though and we filled up on bread instead. One tomato and one lamp soup with 2 cheese sandwiches costs us around £35, no drinks included. This was supposed to be it really. However in the super jeep that we were travelling in, there were one other couple and they wanted to do snowmobile, so the driver had to take us with them. It was a nice drive up the mountains and at one point, I thought the superjeep was going to fall over while the driver manoueuvred over the snow uphill. It was a long drive up the mountains and we stayed in the jeep because it was too cold outside. The snowmobile costs £100 each for about 1 hour’s fun and I thought it was too expensive. If it wasn’t for the other couple, we would have been back to the hotel at least 2-3 hours before. The only regret I had for that day was that I forgot my DSLR camera in our room’s safe and could not take good pictures, however we had our other little camera.

The Northern Lights tour was cancelled on that night as well. We ate dinner and Madina’s which is an italian restaurant down the road from our hotel. It was like 5 mins walk. We ordered pizza and pasta and it all came to about £40 with drinks.

On our last day, we wanted to explore Iceland by walking. We went to Perlan (The Pearl) for a panoramic view of Reykjavic. It took us around 25 mins walking from our hotel and we saw a wild black rabbit while going there. There’s the Viking musem (Saga Museum) inside but the entrance fees are around 8-10 euros per ticket but there was nothing interesting in there, so we decided not to spend out money on that. The viewpoint was a nice place to take some awesome shots and if you have missed the Geysir, there’s a man made one in Perlan.

We then headed to the Reykjavic zoo and it took us around 40 mins by foot. The entrance fee to the zoo was 1000 krona each (around £7) and we had a nice time there. We saw Icelandic horses, seals, cows, goats, pigs, sheeps, reindeer, turkeys, chickens, artic foxes to name a few. There’s also a botanical garden outside which is free but it’s best to go there in the summer. On our way back, we saw the Arts museum but we didn’t have time to enter and we were too knackered as well. Once at the hotel, we were informed that the Northern Lights was cancelled again. We had a take away dinner this time. We walked straight down the street where there was this pizza place and ate the pizza back in our room.

We also visited Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim’s Church), a parish church, where we took some nice pictures. It’s about 20 mins from the hotel. We had an early flight on Saturday morning.

It was a shame that we couldn’t see the Northern Lights but Iceland is a nice country and the people are pleasant and speak good english. The prices in Iceland are quite expensive though and the cold quite bitter, so warm clothes are a must.

Holiday to Cyprus

Just came back from a holiday to Cyprus on a self catering basis. We went to Ayia Napa to enjoy the beautiful Nissi beach. The flight time from UK (Luton Airport) to Cyprus is around 5 hours and we travelled by Monarch Airlines. We landed at Larnaka airport where a private taxi was waiting to take us to Elena Court in Ayia Napa. The transfer time was around 40 mins and the drive spoke little english so it was hard to make an actual conversation with him.

Once at the apartment, we met Jon who works for Overseas Keys. He showed us the apartment and made me signed some documents just in case we break things. No sooner than Jon was gone that we headed for the shops to buy the basic things that we needed – milk, bread, butter etc. The shops/supermarkets were only 5 mins from the apartment but we walked along the main street to get a better idea of what was around us.

Although there was a swimming pool in Elena Court, we did not use it because we did not see the point since Nissi beach was extremely beautiful. The water is crystal clear and increases in depth gradually which makes it very likeable. We spent most of our time at Nissi beach although we did enjoy the waters of Macronissos beach as well. Other beaches were not as nice as those 2, for example, Lande beach was a bit too wavy as well as the other beaches on the opposite side of Nissi.

We went to the Harbour one time and it was such a struggle to walk in the heat that Cyprus provided in the month of October. Instead of taking a taxi to come back, we decided to take public transport and the bus cost us a euro each and the air con was nice. It was the first time we travelled by bus in a foreign country.

There are lots of souvenir to take from Cyprus and the things which caught my attention were the shells.  You can have really big shells with different designs for around 20-30 euros or a pack of small shells for 5 euros.

All in all, we had a really great time in Cyprus and it is well worth the money spent.

30 days challenge without Facebook

I’m finding it really hard these days to focus on my work. It’s been a long time since I decided to rewrite of my websites and I only seem to be gathering ideas rather than putting them to practice. I’ve noticed that when I get bored with what I’m currently doing, I just log onto facebook and see what other people are doing. It’s pretty much just gossip but it’s kind of addictive. Therefore I’ve decided to take a 30 day challenge of not using facebook.

I started this challenge yesterday (16th of June 2010) and I’ll be completing the challenge in a month’s time, on the 16th of July 2010. I don’t have many friends on facebook, probably like 25 friends but the problem that I’m experiencing is that whenever I want a break, I just sign onto facebook and without realising I’ve wasted some 30 mins.

It will be good to see if I become more productive without facebook. I might even consider suspending my account so that I don’t receive any updates through email but for the time being I’m just leaving it as is.

My first DSLR camera

I’ve been thinking of getting a new digital camera for a long time now because of some limitations of the compact (point and shoot) cameras. I remember when we were in Egypt and I wanted to capture some great photos of us going down the water slides and I couldn’t get any good shots and had to do it a couple of times and still end up missing the action. The problem is that the point and shoot cameras don’t have a fast shutter speed and since it takes a couple of seconds to take the next shot, you either get the person at the top of the slide or down in the water. Continuous shoot is a real problem but that’s not the only reason why I wanted more from a digital camera.

Usually in the evening after dinner, we would stroll along the pool or places which are not properly lit and the pictures that I would take would not look nice. It was really frustrating that only good shots could be taken when there is plenty of natural light. The other problem I had was to do with the zoom. You cannot get good zooming on point and shoot cameras. Therefore I wanted a camera which addresses all the problems I’ve been having and when I looked at which cameras could give me the performance I wanted, it came down to having a professional camera, that is, an SLR (Single Lens Reflex).

DSLRs (Digital SLR) come in two flavours – with Live View and without.  Live view allows you to get a view of the shot before you actually take it and it helps you to decide whether the shot is perfect or not. Without live view, you may not be certain that you’re capturing the best shot. I wanted live view in my DSLR but did not want to spend more than £300. When I looked at some cheap DSLRs, they did have all the requirements that I wanted. The cheapest camera I could get was £350 but that was not a brand name that I was looking for. In my mind, it was only Canon or Nikon because when you buy a DSLR, you tend to stick with it for a long time and making the wrong choice at the start could cost you more in the long term.

It’s things like replacement batteries, lens and compatibility that you need to watch out for. In the end, I had a couple of cameras which seem to suit my requirements. Canon EOS 1000D, Canon EOS 400D, Canon EOS 450D, Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5000. My budget had been raised to £500 at that point. After reading reviews and looking at advice on various websites, I decided to go with the Nikon D5000. The cost of the camera itself was £529 and it comes as a kit with the 18-55 lens.

What you don’t think about when you’re purchasing a camera is how much it’s going to cost you to have a working camera. You need a memory card (high speed one for a DSLR), a camera case and insurance because if you’re spending so much money on the camera, you might as well protect it against accidental damage. Extended warranty for 3 years costs £69, SD card around £20 and camera case £20 because of half price discount of buying an expensive camera. When you put all that on top of the camera, you end up paying around £650 which is more than £100 on top on the camera.

I will be getting £50 cashback on my Nikon D5000 because of a certain promotion on that particular model but then again £600 for a camera is quite expensive. I must admit that the pictures from the DSLR very good though. I can also take High Definition (HD) movies on the camera, so it’s killing two birds with one stone. Mind you that lens are quite expensive though, around £150 and there are other things to consider as well as you get into photography like flash gun and tripod but I suppose that these have to wait not until I’m familiar with all the modes of the camera. Overall I’m very happy with my birthday present which came some days before my actual birthday.

Custom made sofa – Why settle for anything else?

After a long search for the perfect house, I finally found one which has got most of the features I wanted. Of course, if i had it my way, i would build a house from scratch rather than buying an already built house. Anyway, because I was renting before, i didn’t find it necessary to buy my own furniture at that time and it would have been a hassle moving furniture to the new house and costly as well. Therefore I had to find a nice comfortable sofa so that i can watch tv in my cosy little place.

I went to all the big sofa shops (DFS, Land of Leather etc) and some small shops as well but i didn’t really find one which really appealed to me. There were some sofas which were ‘alright’ but it seems that i was settling for something that i did not really want because i didn’t have any other choice. But when they told me that i need to wait for like 3 months to get my sofa delivered, that was it for me. I could understand waiting 2 weeks but not three months! Where was i supposed to sit for a quarter of a year? On the floor, you’re having a laugh! I’m not paying hundreds if not thousands of pounds to sit on the floor.

This is when i decided to look into custom made sofa. At first i thought they were expensive but when i looked into it, i found that the prices were actually cheaper. The company itself is called Nabru and are based in London but you can order from anywhere in the UK. You need a sofa that’s going to use the space in your living room efficiently while providing the nicest and most comfortable seats. You can read the nabru sofa review here for more information on the company.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to make their houses fit around their sofa when it should be the other way round. You can sometimes see sofas in really awkward places or find very little room to walk in because standard sofas were bought and the shapes and sizes are not meant for the room but still they are there (probably because people who bought them didn’t have any other choices or they got it for cheap!). My advice is to look for custom made sofas because they are not that expensive after all.

New Year Resolution 2010

For a couple of years now, I’ve been looking at my previous year’s resolution and see whether I’ve managed to achieve them or not. So for my 2009 resolution, here’s what has been happening:

  1. Spend more time with Poum (holiday, less time on computers etc) – more or less achieved
  2. Set up a business – pretty much done
  3. Exercise – no time to do
  4. Play guitar – no free time to play

For 2010, I’ve decided to concentrate on the bits which I didn’t manage to complete in my last year’s resolution. Therefore my 2010 resolution will be as follows:

  • Exercise & healthy eating
  • Find more time to play guitar
  • Increase business revenue
  • Travelling & more family timev

Now let’s see how many will get completed during the course of this year!

Snowing in London

Since yesterday, it’s been snowing all over London and flights have been suspended across major airports like Gatwick. My once used to be green garden is now completely white with snow and my cats are loving it. They were the first ones to step onto the fresh snow and all you can see now is pawprints everywhere.

Unfortunately though, I’ve had to cancel my trip to Ikea because I don’t want to be stranded in traffic because of the snow. I wanted to go there to get a few things in preparation for Christmas and New year but I suppose this could wait. In a couple of day’s time, it’s supposed to stop and that would save me the hassle of having to drive in snow.

Not sure we’re going to have a white Xmas but I’ll be making the most of the snow in my garden and throwing some snowballs later on. Not to mention the usual snowman that needs to be built.