Get the Start Menu back

If like me you have ignored the cries of frustration from others about how Windows 8 or 8.1 have stolen the Start Menu then fear not as there are several solutions kindly provided by great people. Below are a couple of links that are by no means exhaustive but will give you an idea of how to claw your functionality back. If you choose to install any third party softare, please ensure you read the instructions and don’t install anything you don’t want to.

Start Menu 8 –

Classic Shell –

Installing VMware tools – Ubuntu

Installing VMware tools – Ubuntu requires you to navigate to the toolbar and find the option to Install VMware tools, click on it and download it if required. Once the button is pressed, it will mount the drive in Ubuntu, a folder will auto open but can also be found in the Devices section of Files. Double click VMwareTools-……..tar.gz then select vmware-tools-distrib and click Extract and choose your destination directory, in my case Desktop and then click extract. Close the Extractor and now the files exist in a usable state for you to install.

  1. Open up Terminal and type cd ./Desktop/ and hit Enter to get terminal to look at the Desktop, type ls (lima sierra) if you want to check the contents.
  2. Type cd vmware-tools-distrib and hit Enter then sudo ./ and hit Enter then type in your password when prompted.
  3. Accept the /usr/bin directory as the default by hitting Enter unless you want to use another.
  4. Confirm the directory that contains the init directories by hitting Enter and repeat for the init scripts, daemon files and library files.
  5. On a first install, /usr/lib/vmware-tools won’t exist, the installer will ask for confirmation to create it so hit Enter.
  6. Confirm the documentation files directory by hitting  Enter and repeat for creating the folder.
  7. Now the final request to confirm you want to run the program, hit Enter or if you have done all of the above by mistake type no and hit Enter.

Subsequent requests for confirmation will be made and are detailed below.

  • Do you want to allow shared folders between the Guest OS and the Host? Hit Enter or type no and hit Enter.
  • /usr/bin/gcc appears valid, do you want to change it? Hit Enter or type yes and hit Enter.
  • Searching for a valid kernel header path, do you want to change it? Hit Enter or type yes and hit Enter.
  • Do you want to allow copy and paste and dragging between host and guest? Hit Enter or type no and hit Enter.
  • Would you like to enable VMware automatic kernel modules? Hit Enter or type yes and hit Enter.
  • Enable Thinprint printing? Hit Enter or type no and hit Enter.
  • Enable guest authentication? Hit Enter or type no and hit Enter.

Installation will complete and a reboot will be required for all features to become available. Type sudo reboot and hit Enter the system will then reboot and you can use Ubuntu happily.

VMware: Exception 0x0000005 (access violation) has occurred.

If you are presented with a “VMware Workstation unrecoverable error: (vthread-16)” then the answer should be fairly simple, if like me your graphics card is starting to get old then it may simply not be as functional with vmware workstation. I am assuming that you are using Workstation, so in windows, simply navigate to the folder where the VM is stored and delete the folder labeled “.lck-xxxx”. There may be other files or folders that need to be deleted but once this is done view the virtual machine settings and select display, untick the Accelerate 3D Graphics and apply. Your virtual machine should now run without issue.

Skypes little known in chat commands

If  found myself needing to give admin rights to everyone in my skype chat group but couldn’t find anything to support it in the GUI, then I descovered the Skype commands buried in their website. Below are some key entries, all of which are entered in the chat bar;

  • /kick [Skype Name] – removes the user from the group, they can later be added
  • /setrole [Skype Name] MASTER – sets the user stipulated as an aditional admin
  • /showmembers – displays a list of members and their role
  • /info – shows number of people in the chat and maximum number available

For more detailed information visit

Installing Ubuntu Server

Insert the bootable Media and ensure that the machine will read from it during boot. Select the Language you desire and then Install Ubuntu Server. Again you are prompted for language but this is the installation language rather than the page instructions, key up or down and then press Enter, select your country and then select Yes to detect the keyboard layout before following the instructions. Once you are happy that the correct keyboard layout has been generated, click Continue, give your server a name and click Continue. Enter the Name of the User you wish to create, followed by the Username and hit Continue for each. Enter a Password for the user and click Continue, then enter the Password again to confirm it and hit Continue, before selecting No for home directory encryption (this option is up to you). Next is the Time Zone setting, if you are happy with what is preset, select Yes, if not click no and correct it appropriately.

Next is the Partition configuration, press  Enter to continue with the default “Guided – use entire disk and set LVM”, select the partition you wish to use and press Enter. If you are happy to write the changes you have opted for, select Yes and then press Enter, confirm the amount of the disk you wish to use by pressing Enter. Confirm changes and write to disk by selecting Yes and pressing Enter. Enter your Proxy details if necessary or leave blank if you don’t need it and press Enter. Select how you want to keep your system up to date, in this guide I have opted for No automatic updates and press Enter.

Now the basic install is nearly over, you can select which elements you want to add to your Server but essentially you have a Server ready to install whatever you wish onto it. I personally like to add OpenSSH server so as to be able to work from a machine of my choice rather than from the device itself. Select all that you wish to by pressing spacebar and then pres Enter. Next choose Yes and press Enter to install the GRUB boot loader on the hard disk. Press Continue to finish and reboot the machine but make sure you remove the installation media before you do so.

Once booted, log in to the user you chose at the beginning of the installation and run sudo apt-get update, if you installed the most up to date distribution this should run without a hitch. For good measure, run sudo apt-get upgrade and the relevant software upgrades will now be installed. The server is now ready to be manipulated to whatever use you have planned for it, run ifconfig and note the IP address so that you can SSH into it from your desk.

Setting Google MX Records

Setting Google MX Records is simple to achieve, navigate to your website provider or hosts administration page. From there each provider does vary, if they are helpful then it will simply be a case of finding the DNS settings and altering the MX records. Simply remove the old entries and insert the new ones provided by your new provider, in my case Google. If they aren’t as helpful as the companies I have used in the past then it is worth searching your preferred search engine as many guides are available.

Priority         Points to

10            ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
20           ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
30           ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.

Wiring patch panels

Quite often simply plugging a cable from one device to another is sufficient, if however you find yourself needing to wire rooms together you may need to patch between panels and in turn wiring patch panels. Wiring generally follows a standard and can often be confusing, in order to allow rooms to be centrally administered, choose either TIA-568-A or TIA-568-B but ensure that both ends match or no connectivity will be achieved.

Strip the outer sheathing off until a little over an inch of coloured cabling is visible and position each colour over the correct spacing and apply short sharp pressure using a punch down tool or (if unavailable) a flat screw driver. Each cable should now make a conducting connection with the metal heads of the panel, snip any excess wiring once you are happy that everything works.

Domain Registration

Registering a domain is relatively simple, you choose your provider and what packages you want and then pay. The common mistake made by individuals is that they register with their home address and then think that everything is ready, this will then result in their details being searchable on the internet through a whois search. There are several courses of action to take when configuring your domain and they depend on who the internet registry company is.


Responsible for .wales and .cymru Top Level Domains (TLD’s), they hold and retain overall control of their domains.

Private Registration must be set on the website, login details can be requested even if you have never logged in before and it is a simple process. Simply Manage your details and follow the instructions.


Responsible for .com, .gov, .mil, .org, .net, .edu, .int TLD’s and allow registrars to alter records for their domains directly.


See for more details.

Accessing WiFi password history – Android

How do you grab that password that you have entered in your phone so you can use your laptop on a WiFi network that you have previously joined? It’s not as hard as you might think but does need a little know how. If you have rooted your android phone then it makes life easier, I am running Cyanogen Mod but you should be able to use similar methods to get the information.

Open File Manager, if you’re not using Cyanogen Mod then Root Explorer or OI File Manager is often recommended, you should find yourself in the Internal Storage area of the file structure and might have a numeric zero visible at the top. At this point many other tutorials might baffle you but because you’re only logged in as a user you won’t be able to see the folder /data/misc/wifi/.

Enter the app settings using the menu button and select General Settings, scroll down to Advanced and Access Mode, then select Prompt User Mode. Press the file manager button at the top to give you the folder structure menu and choose Home, you will now see the /data/ folder appear and when selected you’ll be asked to authorise elevated privileges, click Yes and you’ll be whisked away to the android superuser request screen, select Remember choice for 10 minutes to save you from having to deactivate it later and select Allow. Now you are essentially an admin on the phone and can roam about unrestricted, bear this in mind and ensure you don’t play with the unknown, click /misc/ and then /wifi/ so as to see the wpa_supplicant.conf file, open this file with Editor or a text app to view its contents and see passwords and ssid’s.

There are many places to find this information, one of my references can be found here for further reading: