September 2011 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Cycled Around Hampstead Heath (25th September 2011)

We’re making the most of the long farewell to Summer 2011. Today, Fiona and I rode to, around and through Hampstead Heath along the (slightly sparse) cycle tracks out there. It’s a much hillier place than we anticipated!

Coming back we went via Highgate. We now understand where the “high” bit comes from. Think my rear 2 gear is broken, it just spins and doesn’t drive. So I had to hastily dismount and walk up one of the steeper stretches. (This is also known as a controlled fall.)

Was going to cycle this morning but there was some rain. It had finished by the time we left. Turned out to be a good thing because it poured down at hometime this evening! Hopefully more commuter pedalling for the rest of this week.

Busaba Dinner via Bicycle (24th September 2011)

Fiona and I went to the one on Store Street. We took the main roads and got there in just 20 minutes of cycling. The journey back involved a few wrong turns so took longer. The food was fantastic and we really felt like we earnt it! Sadly the Renoir Theatre was sold out at the Brunswick Centre, voiding our plan for an after-dinner movie.

FIXED: Windows Explorer FTP Registry Branch (19th September 2011)

Uninstalling Google Chrome broke the way I use Windows Explorer as an FTP client. The only solution was to import a working FTP branch from another Windows XP machine.

The correct registry branch is below. You can Copy and Paste it into a new .reg file using Notepad. Save the file, then double-click it to update this part of the registry.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

@="URL:File Transfer Protocol" 
"Source Filter"="{E436EBB6-524F-11CE-9F53-0020AF0BA770}" 
"URL Protocol"="" 




@="C:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE -requestPending -osint -url \"%1\""




The multitude of speechmarks, wiggly brackets and backslashes looks like an error. But that just seems to be the way some registry values have to be.

Now the Favourites in Windows Explorer for FTP sites open properly, directly in Windows Explorer with no error messages! The authentication details which I saved from File > Login As... work automatically, just like they used to. Hooray!


An e-mail from Marcus Bölke confirms this fix worked for him:


I just would like to thank you for writing this fix description!

I encountered the same issue you described and spent hours worriyng about what's going on^^

Thanks for this fix, it worked out fine

greets from germany


At the end of the Google Chrome Uninstaller, it asks which browser should be made the default. I selected Mozilla Firefox as that’s what I use for all web browsing. This seems to be when the uninstaller screwed up the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp branch of my Windows registry.

Google Chrome has never been set as my default web browser, I downloaded it directly from Google for testing web pages. So this final step of its uninstaller was completely pointless – as well as troublesome!


Following ftp:// shortcuts from my desktop, my Favourites menu or typing them into the Address bar of Windows Explorer (with and without the username:password syntax) would give this same error message:

Windows cannot open ‘null’. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

It would then start Internet Explorer 8 and try opening the address. At first, it showed the File > Login As... window so I could provide login details. After a while that window no longer appeared as it remembered my details.

The FTP folder was displayed a bit like an old Apache folder listing. There was no upload or drag and drop, it was just static links in an automatically generated HTML page.

The settings in Tools > Options (Advanced tab) were the same as normal. Chrome had not affected them.

When viewing the FTP listing in IE8, the Page > Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer menu item was available. Clicking it produced this error message:

This FTP site cannot be viewed in Windows Explorer.

Family Lunch & Weekend Relaxation (18th September 2011)

We went to a Hungry Horse and I ordered the Big Philly Melt Burger. The meat was like the home-made burgers Mum used to make; so much texture. Never tasted ones like that in a restaurant before.

Fell asleep in front of the TV a couple of times. Caught up with recent events in each others’ lives, shared some advice and enjoyed a quiet time.

Received my Dell U2410 (16th September 2011)

It absolutely deserves the enthusiasm you can find for it all over the web. At £312 this is the most expensive thing I have bought as a treat. After months of research and days of setup, I am now one very happy owner! c{¦¬)


Delivered in a rather uninterested way, the dude walked off to avoid carrying it up the stairs. Had lunch while reading the manual.

Happily it’s about half the weight of my LG Flatron 915FT Plus, a CRT made in 2001. Carrying it wasn’t much bother. The box has unpackaging instructions on it and the manuals are all in the end you open first, which is handy.


CD has a rather old-fashioned, auto-running HTML manual. Weirdly it started in Internet Explorer instead of my default browser, which is Firefox. Easy enough to copy the URL over and continue from there.

After reading all the setup stuff I got to the point of no return. Switch off the PC, change the data leads over and hope it restarts. That’s the point at which I finish this paragraph…

PC Works!

Everything booted fine and it worked straight away. Hooray!

Wow, it’s so sharp. Text looks amazing, even over VGA. Reviews said it has excellent VGA support and that’s the lead which is plugged in when it ships. Really, this is a noticable step up.

The pixels are about 20% bigger than my previous screen. This means I no longer find myself leaning into it, until my nose almost touches the screen. Now I sit normally, even lean back from it at times. This should be good for my eyesight.

In the evening, I’m currently using Brightness = 5 and Contrast = 15. Yes, those are the actual values and not typos.

Freeview Box Works!

Connected from the Component output of the box into the Component input of the screen. A composit lead with left audio and right audio lead fitted the plugs and produces adequate quality, so I deceded not to buy a proper component lead.

A really cool thing is the Picture In Picture (PiP) feature which lets me have the Freeview running in the bottom left while I do desktop stuff in the rest of the screen.

A separate lead carries Left Audio and Right Audio from the Freeview box directly to a Hi-Fi unit. It has a pair of large speakers, one either side of the futon.

The swivel stand for the monitor is perfect for viewing this screen when on the futon.

Playstation Works!

Using the Component plug, same as my TV in Fleet. Picture quality really shows how far from HD it is when sitting in the PC chair. But it’s good from the futon.

The Left Audio and Right Audio leads from the Playstation are not connected to anything at the moment. I’ll extend them to reach the Hi-Fi in due course, since that will require buying a cable.

Headphones Work!

So far only tried listening to the TV by plugging headphones into the Hi-Fi unit. It worked fine, though.

Overall Amazement

Seriously, this screen has totally delivered everything I had hoped. None of the pitfalls I was worried about have come true. My old CRT was great for it’s day but this Dell U2410 is in a higher league.

Bought a 24″ Computer Monitor! (13th September 2011)

For the princely some of £312 with delivery, a Dell U2410 will be on it’s way to me and should arrive this week. This concludes weeks of research and auction lurking. The seller is a web and iPhone developer. Delivery is ~2 working days so I should it this week!

The picture shows an Excel chart made from the bidding history of various screens I was interested in. Table 2 Clipboard for Firefox helped get the data out of the pages. It’s what Firefox should do by default when you Ctrl+Drag to select table cells and then Ctrl+C to copy them.

We can connect Fiona’s Freeview+HDD+DVD box this using component cables, plus my Playstation 2 using Composite, plus my PC using VGA. All at the same time.

It’s got aspect ratio control and different colour profiles for the different flavours of video signal. As well as being a very accomplished multi-purpose PC screen.

Resolution is 1920×1200. This LG is 1600×1200 and your Viewsonic is 1280×1024, to put it in perspective. The larger size means each pixel is about the size of the Viewsonic ones, so a bit more comfortable than the tiny pixels in the LG Flatron 915FT Plus. That’s one of the best CRT screens made, way back in 2001. It’s still going strong so will be put to pasture somewhere safe.

My current graphics card is considered ancient these days. It’s an ATi Radeon 9200 and only has one VGA port, so can’t do a dual screen setup. It’s still great for GTA2 and Top Gun: Fire at Will.

Nocturnal Ride from Thames Festival (12th September 2011)

Rode down using some less major roads from Fiona’s place to the South Bank. Met a couple of friends of Fiona while finding a place to lock our bikes. After a much-delayed but spectacular fireworks display, we rode back gently from about 10:40pm to about 11:50pm.

My parents had bought me some bicycle lights as a present a couple of years ago but I ended up never using them! Fitted them this afternoon which was super easy. They came with the right number of batteries, all screws done up. You just use glorified cable ties to secure them to the frame, with the front one having a knurled wheel to wind it really tight.

The headling is easy visible on the road a couple of metres ahead, even on the dimmest setting. Rear light flashes like a Formula 1 car going down a pit lane. They are secure in their brackets but inclip fairly easily, now that I understand where the push and in which direction.

My bicycle runs so smoothly! Have really gotten used to riding around on the dropped handlebars, although it’s quit hard on the shoulders to have that much of my weight of them. Seems to be counter-acting the hunch so common amongst IT professionals, from squinting at a PC screen all day.

On the way out it rained really hard which was a bracing experience to say the least. We got through it in one piece though; it really felt like and adventure. The sense of freedom and accomplishment is exhilarating! Fiona is very happy to be pedalling again, too.

Reduced my Taskbar Height (11th September 2011)

Having used a double-height taskbar for years on this 1,600×1,200 pixel screen, today I reduced to the normal size.

Modding GTA, reading up on web accessibility, blogging and releasing the stuff I was making all at once often led to having dozens of windows open at once. As shown in the (rather old) screenshot.

These days I’m more disciplined with my time. Fewer than 10 windows at once is now normal. That fits fine in a single row.

Rode Around Finsbury Park (10th September 2011)

Got two new winter tyres, a new inner tube, a stand and raised the seat of my £50 road bike. The work cost a slightly silly £60, mostly because of the tyres and fitting it all.

Will bring my tools and foot pump with pressure guage from Fleet next time I visit the family. Should be pretty routine maintenance, like I do for my mountain bike, so won’t cost anything.

Anyway, we rode to Finsbury Park and found a road runs around inside it. Only a small part of it is open to traffic so most is wide and clear. Strong headwind along the open straight along the far end but hunkering down on these dropped handlebars makes a huge difference!

Was planning to do 5 laps but was exhausted after just 2 of them. Feels a bit like a racetrack, with rises and falls and some very bumpy parts. Think I’ll be zooming (or more likely just pottering) around it quite a bit, to make the most of my new purchase.

Oh, we also played football and frisbee together. It rained and was really windy at times but it was actually quite welcome to ease the mugginess. Silly moments are the spice of life.