Michael J.A. Clark
Michael Clark is a professional software developer who creates high-quality products for startups in Cambridge, UK. Skills: C#, Java, PHP, XHTML, AS3, CSS, ML.

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Articles tagged technology

High Street App Stores

High street app store

Businesses have technology consultancies but what do you do if you are a regular individual and want to use technology to improve your life. To find new software you have to search on the internet or using app stores. You then pick the package with the best reviews, most downloads and closest match to your requirements.

Software is sold on the high street in boxed packages that complement hardware and increase margins for the electronics stores. In the next decade, software will be sold without hardware and customised to solve individual needs with face-to-face feedback. Technology will be the foundation that supports increasing possibilities for our business and personal lives.

The Internet generation will enter the workforce with an intuitive grasp of technology and employees will use custom apps to gain an advantage over competitors. They will enter a physical app store and state their problem:

I want to know all the clients that I haven’t messaged in over 7 days. —Future consumer

Trained advisors will look at this need, generalise it and design an interface optimised for that customer:

Your profile indicates you are an auditory learner. We will create a mobile app that reads out the contacts you have not contacted recently. You can customise the time frame and use it as your alarm clock. —Future advisor

Tony Hoare predicts that industry will fund the development of software that can answer questions about how software runs and why errors occur — computers will gain an understanding of their own workings. With lower intellectual requirements for software developers, prices for custom software will fall within the reach of an average consumer.

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Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Grand Launch 2012

Cambridge University Entrepreneurs vision to succeed

The 2012 Grand Launch had three inspiring speakers.

Lord Mitchell

Labour Opposition Spokesperson for Business, Innovation and Skills 2012

His normal educational experience was cut short when he was thrown out with Charles Satchi at 16. Out of school he covered enough material to attend Columbia to complete a MBA, then avoided the draft (green card) by returning to the UK. The MBA gave perspective.

You need passion for the product. Entrepreneurs are born not made.

SMEs are really important to modern societies and the UK is best for SMEs in Europe. However, we have to encourage acceptance of failure in the UK, it is more culturally acceptable in the USA. “Failure is a life learning experience.” People say the UK automobile industry is being eroded but more cars are made in the UK than ever before.

Billy Boyle

CEO of Owlstone Tech

Owlstone Tech develops chemical sensors to detect explosives on board public transport and diseases through breathalysers. They formed the product by combining emergent technologies. The company is not yet profitable, but most companies take 5–10 years to get to this stage.

He was inspired into action by Seneca’s On The Shortness Of Life. Why act now? You have the least to lose in your early twenties and can afford to take a risk. He also recommended Founders at Work (stories of startups’ early days).

In Cambridge you can write sqrt(i) in a pub toilet and come back 15 minutes later to find the answer (Champion of the Thames). On Coldhams Lane Chimney: “If not now, when?”

“No” is the most common word he heard in the last 8 years. He joked with co-founders about going to Starbucks and asking for a coffee — “no”.

  • Remember knowledge of a subject is a poor substitute for experience of it
  • Respect the power of cumulative advantage
  • Qualify ideas with the outside world (not friends in Cambridge)

Dr Darrin Disley

Horizon Discovery

“How am I going to kick the shit out of the day?”

Kicked out of school at 15, released from professional football at West Ham at 19. He then started businesses, giving away half of first million to show money was not the driving factor. They included:

  • BodyShop — be able to survive until opportunities present themselves
  • Adapative — needed £20 million of investment, folded it

The first step is the hardest, turning £100 into £1000. Scaling that up is easier. Afford success and failure the same respect.

The UK has 11% of all citations in science. There push for science and an entrepreneurial society. The corporation tax is 10%, there is no point going offshore.

Decisions are made by those who show up. —Barack Obama

An attendee asked how he compared himself to Richard Branson. Mainly scale and that his characteristic is disrupting many different industries.

I raised my hand when he asked “are you an entrepreneur (at heart)?”

Networking

Before they started, I met a group of MBA students from the Judge Business School. One woman was in the formative stage of an entrepreneurial venture but the name and product were under wraps.

In the theatre, I sat down next to the usability expert John McMillan who started and sold many businesses, but kept hands-on and still took contract work from time to time. His book How to write software for sale has useful chapters on planning, marketing and efficient construction.

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Fixing faulty wireless Ubuntu 10.10, Asus Eee PC 901

After upgrading my Asus Eee PC 901 to Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 I was shocked to find that the wireless card stopped working. Problems included:

  • Failing to detect wireless networks
  • Random cutouts after connection
  • Unstable file transfer
  • Very slow download speed (at one point 500 B/sec)

This problem affects all Eee PC models with a rt2860sta wireless card; it is also likely that similar RaLink models are affected, for instance the Eee PC 1000HE among others.

Information about networking capabilities can be found using lspci | grep RaLink* and lsmod | grep rt*.

A working solution

Install the package linux-backports-modules-wireless-maverick-generic using Aptitude. Then run this bash code:

echo "
blacklist rt2800lib
blacklist rt2800pci
blacklist rt2x00usb
" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

This removes the faulty Linux kernel modules and restores wireless connection functionality. According to the forum post below, problems with WEP networks can be solved by adding rt2x00lib and rt2x00pci back in. Look at these sources if you want more information.

Useful sources

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Creative X-Fi issues on Windows 7

X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion contents.

An occasional pop in the midst of silence, a little crackle while watching a movie — these are features that I did not order with my X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion sound card back in 2008. Creative drivers are appalling and the company is starting to gain notoriety on the internet as just another large company who does not care about its customers. They consistently ignore plees to improve their drivers and blocks enthusiasts from creating improved versions. The driver is broken, please fix it.

Daniel_K, a user on the Creative Forum, is a lone philanthropist who edits the drivers to enable hardware features that Creative Labs that have intentionally crippled. I am about to install Daniel’s support pack and his updated driver from August (after observing the multitude of positive reviews):

  1. SB X-Fi Series Support Pack 2.0 (2009-05-15)
  2. SB X-Fi Series driver 2.20.0001 - Forte v1.1 (2009-08-06)

Creative do not like Daniel providing its customers with working drivers. Wired investigated and questioned Creative directly:

O’Shaughnessy admits that Creative Labs intentionally crippled its Vista drivers as a business strategy.

My next sound card will not be Creative. The Asus Xonar D2 Sound Card is a viable alternative at a much lower price (half of my Champion Edition) with brilliant reviews all over the internet. Next time I purchase hardware I will ensure customers are satisfied.

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Spam proofing my guestbook

I now spam-proof my guestbook with a simple script that generates a simple string for the user to input on comment submission. This will fool all but the most intelligently-designed robots and has reduced my guestbook spam to a minimum.

It works by hashing a combination of the time period, page requested and user IP address to produce a unique key that lasts until the end of that time period.

My ranking on Google should now improve — hoping to recover my front page position for the search query ‘Michael Clark’.

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