Online Tax Return Fun

I filed my tax returns today. The scary part was that it was due today.

The truely harrowing moment was when I found that I could not activate the PIN number that had been sent to me. Instead, trying to access Self Assessment Online just gave me the following error:

A problem has occurred. Please try again later. If the problem persists please contact the Helpdesk on 0845 60 55 999 quoting G039.

The scary part was that the phone number was useless due to industrial action today. I couldn’t file my tax returns!

Thankfully, it was simply a matter or restarting the browser to get the process going again. Once I had logged back in to with my username and password, the activation prompt no longer appeared and I could get on with filling in the forms.

Oh, I owe the tax man 88p.

Marillion at the Koko – 28th January 2007

Interesting gig last night.

After not seeing Marillion live for over a year, Steve and I made our way to London and the oddly named ‘Koko‘. The journey consisted of us considering our feelings about the forthcoming album, ‘Somewhere Else‘. We were finding it difficult to summon up a great deal of excitement about the release. After the excellent ‘Marbles‘ in 2004, this album has been 3 years in the works. A lot of momentum seems to have been lost after such a strong album, and it’s commonly known that a number of the tracks are left-over material from the Marbles sessions. Nevertheless, it was time to get our Marillion heads on and enjoy the evening.

The venue was quite odd. Balconies all over the place with a 19th century theatre feel about it. I can’t help but feel that the venue used to be a theatre in its own right.

As it’s the convention warm-up show, we weren’t sure if we were going to be treated to the complete track list from ‘This Strange Engine‘, or if there were any new songs to be played.

Once the band opened with ‘Splintering Heart’, I knew this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill setlist that dogged live shows up to and including the Anoraknophobia tour.

The show was a pleasant surprise for me. TSE wasn’t played in it’s entirety, but a number of tracks were represented: ‘One Fine Day’, ‘Hope for the Future’, and ‘This Strange Engine’. The former two I had not heard live before.

As well as that, the alternative version of ‘I Will Walk on Water’ was rolled out. The big shock of the night – and certainly a track that I never thought that I’d hear live.

Two tracks from the forthcoming album were played, one entitled ‘Last Century for Man’, which I thought was a commentary regarding the state of the planet and our destruction of it – a political piece. I couldn’t really get to grips with them though. Unfortunately, having songs played for the first time like this makes it difficult to be objective.

On the whole, the set rolled in at under 2 hours (Steve felt short changed), including 5 minutes of Steve H talking a to fan on the phone while on stage. I enjoyed it (which was impressive considering I was starting to feel flu grabbing hold of me as the day progressed), and Steve did too. “A couple to cross off the list,” He said to me as we left.

One warning if you’re overweight and visiting the Koko – forget about using the balcony gents. If you can’t see your feet, you’ll never be able to comfortably pee…

Ubuntu can’t boot. Error: /bin/sh: can’t access tty: job control turned off

I had a bit of trouble booting into Ubuntu after connecting a new SATA hard disk drive.

After a fair amount of searching, I found a solution at It seems that his system had shifted the disk from hda to hdb. As I’m using a SATA disk, I needed to change the drive from sda to sdb.

If you’re not sure what the drive listings are, boot your system with a boot CD such as Knoppix or the Ubuntu installation CD, open the terminal and type sudo fdisk -l. This will list the partitions on your system. You should see entries like this:

/dev/sdb1 * 1 19080 153260068+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdb2 19081 19457 3028252+ 5 Extended
/dev/sdb5 19081 19457 3028221 82 Linux swap / Solaris

The path after /dev/ is what you are looking for.

Reboot your computer, press the ESC key when Grub is loading (you have 3 seconds by default).

In the menu you will see two entries for booting Ubuntu. Select the entry that you wish to change, and press ‘E‘ to edit the options. Find the line which reads something like:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.17-10-generic root=/dev/hdb1 ro quiet splash

Edit the root= path to the drive that you spotted in the fdisk readout. Press ‘b’ to boot.

Assuming that the process was a success, you should find yourself logging into Linux. From here, you can edit the boot file and save the changes that you just made.

  • Open a terminal
  • type sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Towards the end of the file, you should find the paths that you changed to be able to log on. If you change them again like you did above, and then save the file, the next time you boot Linux should start with no issues.

Getting to those pesky Outlook Express files

A friend of mine was asking how to find the emails for Outlook Express on his hard disk drive. So I thought that I should post these instructions for him and others who may find it difficult to get at these files.

In Windows 2000 or Windows XP:

Open ‘My Computer’

Goto your C: drive (or wherever it is you happen to have Windows installed today)

Now follow the path through

  • Documents and Settings
  • Username (that’s who you log on as)
  • Local Settings
  • Application Data
  • Identities
  • A funny folder name like {D552A680-D50A-4F31-821D-6A49A91D786E}
  • Microsoft
  • Outlook Express
  • And there are your Outlook Express files.

See? Easy.

All of your OE files have a .dbx extension. These are database files, and as such you will not be able to read the mail without opening the files in Outlook Express.

If you’re not sure exactly who you are, click ‘Start’, then ‘Run…’ and type cmd. In the prompt (the black-box thing) type SET and press enter on the keyboard. One line should read USERPROFILE=. What you see after the = sign is the path to your user account.

Open File Dialog Appears when you Click on Links after installing Internet Explorer 7

After upgrading to IE7 in Windows XP, we found that non-admin users were once again seeing the Open File Security warning dialog box.

Once again, the issue can be resolved by visiting the group policy. Open up the appropriate policy file, and follow the path to:

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Security Page

  • Double-click on Site to Zone Assignment and then click ‘Show…
  • Click ‘Add…
  • In the Add Item dialog, type in the FQDN of your domain (eg. mydomain.local) in the first field, and the number ‘2’ in the second field.
  • Click ‘OK’ until the dialogs are closed.
  • Now log a user onto a workstation to check that the changes have taken effect.

All we have done here is added your domain to the Trusted Sites zone, which removes the file security dialog.

Well done, you.

Sound Stops in Windows Vista

I hear that Microsoft didn’t take one of my BETA bug reports very seriously. Even after updating the drivers through windows update, audio is an issue.

Sound is still stopping on my Analog Devices sound card, with no errors, just an absence of noise.

Since Beta 2, I’ve adopted this method (which seems to be the quickest without writing a command script):

Step 1

Run command prompt with Administrator privlidges

Run the Command Prompt

  • Click the Start button
  • Type cmd
  • Right-click on ‘Command Prompt’ and click ‘Run as Administrator’
  • Accept the UAC Prompt

Step 2

Restart the Audio Service

Restart the Audio Service

  • Type net stop audiosrv and press Enter.
  • Type net start audiosrv and press Enter.
  • Type exit to close the command prompt

Now go and play that CD you wanted to listen to!

Making it automatic

If you are like me and hate typing that in everysingle time, we can create a simple script to do the work for you. Start Notepad and type the first two lines of the above commands into it:

net stop audiosrv
net start audiosrv

Save the file as restartaudio.cmd in Desktop.

Now, whenever the audio plays up, right-click on the file, and select Run as Administrator.