Thursday, 4 December 2008

Opera 10

Browsers and their updates seem to be falling out of development cycles at a heady rate over the latter end of the year.

And the latest is an alpha version of Opera 10, available from, all the while remembering that alpha releases might be unstable and should only be used as an indication of the final release.

But Opera was one of the first to incorporate mouse gestures, one of the fastest (after the new pack rendering leader - Chrome), a delight to use, small footprint, and the browser of choice for when I decide to blow off the dust and gain access to my cobwebbed account.

So the blurb...

"This release gives people a taste of Opera’s new rendering engine, Opera Presto 2.2 — the foundation of all future Opera 10 products. Opera Presto 2.2 offers approximately a 30-percent-faster browsing experience as compared to Opera Presto 2.1, introduced in Opera 9.5 in June 2008.

Opera has fine-tuned its standards support and, as a result, Opera 10 alpha achieves an Acid3 100/100 Test score. This version also provides Web developers with a whole range of new technologies for building better Web sites.

Other new features in Opera 10 alpha include spell-checking as you type, as well as auto-updating to the latest versions as they become available. Opera Mail also has added support for HTML formatting of e-mails."

Good to see that companies like opera can still exist and come up with innovative and free software. 

If you don't, just yet, wish to risk your set up then stick with Opera 9.6.  If however your sense of adventures is piqued.  Take the plunge, download the Opera 10 (alpha) and run.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

McAfee - sorry our systems are down

So it's too expensive for McAfee to twiddle around with their database and either insert an extra field or amend a field and put a conditional statement for its use.

If that's to difficult for them, makes you wonder how they're managing to work out new definition tables and keep systems 'secure'. Oh that's right, they're only pretending.

Last time I used McAfee was... that long ago. Its either ZoneAlarm and AVG, or Avast and ZoneAlarm, or Comodo. Dependent on which becomes inoperable during an update.

Well if people out there are still buying stuff from McAfee, hope this gives them very great pause for concern.

There are plenty of good free security programs out there, which don't need a degree in astrophysics to operate. Be bold, be brave and give them a whirl.


AVG - (free antivirus/spam)

Zonealarm - (free firewall)

Comodo - (free internet security suite)

Avast - (free home edition with daily updates)

As of a couple of hours after this went up, mcgaff did an about turn, saying they would pass on the percentage cut.

This should be enough for those who (why?) buy it, to go out and celebrate. Their - approx. - £1.12475p saving can be used towards a pint (or half) of beer, in any happy smoke free, bodily malodorous pubs; that are still out there serving the things.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Firefox 3.0.4 update tweak

Not quite sure whether it's me or the code on the pages i usually visit have been cleaned up, or the guys & gals beavering away behind the scenes on ff3 have at last sorted out the memory issues.

But, for the first time in ages ff no longer claws its way through all the available memory, until it either falls over or slows everything else down.. 

Up until today, it had reached the stage where the the browser would after a short period of time need  restart. Once response times became sluggish and ff easily chomping its way to nearly 1GB nothing else would work except a restart. 

It's been open for nearly half an hour with my usual windows tabs open and it's hovering contentedly around the 70MB mark.

So far, a hearty thumbs up!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Vorbis Theora

I remember the ogg vorbis player from way back when which also happened to be the best player at the time.  So coming across the video codec release Theora 1.0, i unhesitatingly and unashamedly, had to copy and past this plug.

"Are you tired of constantly being prompted to download proprietary software and plugins to play the videos and listen to the music you want?

Are you fed up with seeing new gadgets that only use incompatible and restrictive audio and video formats?

Did you know that it's not a lack of technological know-how that causes this, but software patents and other legal restrictions?

Increasingly proprietary software companies like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe are pushing video and audio formats that restrict access and restrict software developers, but there is an alternative that can be played on all computers without restriction—Ogg.

Ogg provides professional grade multimedia formats. Ogg is used extensively by free software projects, artists and a growing number of music and video distributors.

Soon over a million children and their families will be receiving the One Laptop per Child XO computer designed to play and create Ogg files. By advocating now for Ogg we can help ensure that those children will gain access to, and not be unnecessarily restricted from thousands of educational resources and materials on the web.

Join us in advocating for Ogg right now by taking 4 Easy Steps:

  1. Install VLC multimedia player,
  2. sign-up for the PlayOgg advocate mailing list,
  3. find and share Ogg friendly sites, and
  4. put PlayOgg Buttons on your web site or blog.

After all that, if you are still looking for more to do, consider encouraging others to do the same."


Friday, 31 October 2008

Card readers

A 53-in-1 card reader?  It must be to good to be true.

After spending a brief period of time counting (three times), the various connectors the card reader actually supported came to 31.  So, I wondered, as many of us would.  What happened to the other 22?  Or did they count the various versions of the same type of card.  Like pcmia one thru four?

Wondering what winging an email off their way would produce.  I promptly sent one off.

Four days later a reply popped into my box from their support centre.

"Our reply regarding your question:
It's marketing. It just reads all cards. :)
Beware however that it does not support SDHC unless it is specifically stated."

So in the end, it's just a clever little marketing ploys to get us to part with our cash!

But even though a severe ticking off should be brought in by trading standards, do have to admire the company's honesty at answering a direct question.


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Sun weblog writer

Well after hearing some negative comments regarding the sun weblog writer, I thought i'd give it a quick spin; just to see how useful, helpful and time saving it might be – especially in comparison to microsofts live writer.

Well it took a few minutes to eventually get the download, either sun's servers were under a bit of pressure or to many people siphoning off my connection. But it eventually downloaded and installed without a hitch.

I looked for a new program, but nothing. Opened oow (openoffice writer), to notice two new icons. The first a little feather with an upward pointing green arrow next to it and the second another little feather with a downward pointing orange arrow.

So I clicked on the open weblog entry icon the feather and downward pointing orange arrow icon, to get the following pop up.

Clicking on either of them produced, well, a basic ui.  But unlike the many complaints I saw on the site, it connected and retrieved without a hitch, as can be seen in the image below.


But  rather than use that to retrieve an existing post and have it do something untoward, i created a new post - this one - to upload and see what happened. 

So clicking on the to weblog icon to upload a quick draft blog – this one – brought up the window (see image below), which was a tad basic but had the send as draft clicked.  Uploaded and then went to the blog to see how the first bit of the test came out...


Unlike windows live writer (which I must admit is a piece of software I find indispensable, I would even go so far as saying it's one of the best offline blog-producing bits of software i've used so far; it doesn't have the all in one place functionality i've become used toplaying with in wlv.  Just little things.  Like been able to easily change the displayed and click-able picture sizes by a couple of mouse movements, is an excellent implementation of resizing.

... and now over to the blog.  The sun weblog writer dismally failed.  First off, it published/posted to public despite the save as draft option been checked.  Secondly, the first image above failed to appear and paragraph spacing was doubled spaced.   Little things which wouldn't have made a great bit of difference four years ago, but things have moved on at breakneck spead!

So on this occasion the clear winner (splutter, cough, cough), is undoubtedly microsofts live writer.  Which, unless a decent open source alternative comes out, I heartily recommend.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Fattening fox

I have, albeit briefly, fallen out of love with my favourite browser - firefox.  We had a wonderful affair going back many years when all was perfect.  From when it initially poked its head through the holes left by the thundering internet exploriphant, which had terminally wounded the previous king of the jungle - netscape. 

Through thick and thin, when ff refused to load bookmarks or refused to put them in the correct locations, to losing all the passwords in a minor tiff!  Through all of that we patched up and roared on.

But with the growing popularity of the add-ons things took a slight turn for the worst.  Was it a badly written meal ff had digested, causing it to go a strange colour of blue?  No just a badly prepared theme i'd stupidly installed.  But its initial speed was slowing, on some occasions even taking longer to load a page than it took ie to load and be ready.  Blasphemy! 

The last time - when the camels back finally broke - ff was still loading up long after i'd loaded up chrome, checked my banking balance the weather and what was on at the local cinema before it sputtered onto screen.

What was going on?

A quick look through the trusty task manager brought up a few home truths.  Chrome with five tabs open was taking up only 56MB of ram. Firefox on the other hand (whilst still in its loading phase), was chugging through over 1.3GB of memory; before settling down to a relatively wieldy 215MB. 

The only thing that had changed was the inclusion of more add-ons (figure 1). New add-ons that are recommended by someone you know which they just can't live without, you just have to try.  That other slightly strange but winking at you add-on from the pages of the latest magazine to hit the door, or viewed on a site, all offer time saving, enjoyment having wasting more time than sense hours of fun. The time had arrived to ruthlessly remove all those juicy helpful helpers.  To return the browser to a state of speed and efficiency - you might even find it crashes less frequently too. 

Figure 1. Add-ons


Sigh, what to remove and what to keep...

  • The all-in-one sidebar I regularly use for its unabashed over helpful organisational abilities. 
  • The latest add-on was Tab Mix Plus, which looks good adds to the functionality but I can do without for the time being.
  • Scrapbook is good but somewhat duplicating Google notebook so that will have to go.
  • Fire gestures - mouse gestures certainly require that onboard.
  • Firebug haven't really used it so that can go.
  • As can answers since I now use ubiquity for so many things.

...and on you go, through each add-on and saying yes or no.  Once you've reached the end of your list, you can restart firefox.


Firefox now consumes just 165 MB of memory to open before settling down to a modest 152MB. By just removing 5 add-ons the start up time has dramatically improved, and as seen below its memory footprint is now more manageable.



The image following shows how the new look slimmed down version looks:



So if firefox is causing you problems it may more than likely be an arrant add-on.  The best thing is to start the browser in safe mode:

Start menu -> all programs -> mozilla -> mozilla firefox (safemode)

which will bring up the following window:


Simply check the disable all add-ons option and click the continue in safe mode.  If that works and it starts okay (best to wait before the wonder of watching it zoom along is lost), then it is with great probability your add-ons.

Go on a helpful worthwhile mission: the add-on decluttering mission, and watch ff fly.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

AOL recommendations

Logged into aol to check my emails.  A chore that usually takes no more than five minutes, once a month.

The good thing about having aol as my main account?  Nothing.  If I hadn't signed a new contract a few months ago - I would certainly not be using them now.

The last time I had a choice, it was between aol and be. It would have been be for their speedier pipes, but aol gave me a reasonable offer. So i stuck with them, and have regretted it ever since.  A point i might have mentioned once or twice, in previous tappings.

So i was quite surprised to receive a mass email  offering £30 (or $52.5c and falling), if I would recommend a friend to use their services.  Nearly fell off my stool - really must get that leg fixed. 


Finally i came to my senses.  Realised I would rather recommend a friend buy a clapped out moss-grown citroen 2cv (yes even moss would get a speeding ticket faster than an old iconic 2cv) than go with aol.  If they were the last company on the planet offering broadband, i would recommend a friend go back to using dial-up.  Recommend aol?  Put me in front of a rampaging herd of bulls; let them put me out of my misery - quickly. 


Picture purloined for point proving, but from this wonderful site.

So what would i recommend aol for?

If you wish to enjoy a slow browsing experience, use aol's.  If you require (generally) unhelpful service, use aol.  If you want to engage technical support in linguistical riposte, to be told it's all your fault, then please do use aohell. 

I was always surprised time warner did the bed-hopping episode. But greed is a powerful stimuli.

With all these things, it's always your own personal experience.  A bit like the mint adverts (2004 was a better year).  In this case someone out there, is having all my service... 

Now, where did i put that friend?

Ofcom emergency

As of monday 8th September 2008, if you have an emergency (slightly burnt toast doesn't count as one), and sitting in front of a pc;  you should be able to use your voip provider - for most of us that'll be skype, to make that emergency call.  But it applies to other software voip's out there as well.

And about time to.

As Ofcom says...

'From 8 September revisions to General Condition 4 came into force. These revisions mean that VoIP providers who enable their users to make calls to the PSTN (i.e. make calls to telephone numbers) must provide the ability to make “999” and “112” emergency calls.'

Would still keep a mobile handy, next to the bed.  Just in case that raging fire takes down your phone line.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

First play of chrome

The hours tick by as many people await the browser everyone is talking about. Google with another launch, wonder if it will have browser-beta somewhere? This is beginning to look like apple fanmania.

Reminds me of the hoop-la when gtalk arrived. Haven't seen any major im's falling by the wayside just yet.  The fact their non-related sibling (mozilla) wasn't told... well let's just see what happens, in just under three years time.

Currently using ff3 quite happily.  Followed by safari/opera then ie8 - just to test website compatibility - and viewable by the majority of browsers in use. Out there in the internet viewing world.

Its here!


And first looks are, not sure I like the colour. But that'll change. Tabs? Can go with those, on a 24" lcd it's quite spacious - looks less crammed.

And not a beta tag to be seen! Now this is different, time to tinker...


Easy installation, hasn't crashed yet... more play

For those who haven't tried it yet, it can be downloaded from here.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Ringtone cashcows

Where are you now, oh mighty crazy frog?  And hands up how many spent £2, buying that particular ringtone when it first came out?

In today's permanently-on-all-you-can-consume menageric society, you can download a quality realtone (as opposed to the nasty plasticy monotones we had to endure up until a couple of years ago) for the pricely sum of £4.50p - a single download.  Or if you take out a subscription, for £4.50p ($8.46c), you can download 3 ringtones of your choice - from one particular website  - per week.

That's just over eight full music track downloads, from the itunes store or two cheese flavoured quarter pounders, for 30 seconds of sound. Or to to indulge in bit of mediocre statistical  shuffling, it would equate to an approximate hourly rate of £540, per hour.  Been paid that would easily put you in a reasonable gross weekly income position of about £21,600 - and you wouldn't even have to worry about been a footballer just getting your boots on the first rung of the ladder.  But don't get me started on the current crop of the national team.

So, at a bare minimum we can say that the most popular operator of this form of media outgassing, gets a minimum of £21,600+ per week by consumers downloading 30 seconds worth of a song or songs. Not bad, for ringtone dealing. 

Are we mad?  Many companies out there obviously think we are.  To the ringtone industry, we are nothing more than gullible "ringtone cashcows!"

And for those out there still not aware of how to go about creating a ringtone, I was going to do a quick brief little piece.  But luckily, swivelled across the splendid article below, on Which needs as much additional explaining as teaching Mr Bean how to be a court jester.

But here's something i cobbled together [cackle]. At the very least it would see if your ears are cleared!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Firefox 3 surpassed by IE8 beta 2

According to a reviewer on the Cnet website: IE 8 beta gives other browsers a run for their money.


In another feature, known as InPrivate, Microsoft allows the user to suspend caching functions while you surf. The scenarios for using InPrivate include when you're using someone else's computer, like for instance, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact. Apple Safari has offered this feature for a while, but Mozilla Firefox does not.;snav

Now if the reviewer on the cnet site had done, let's say, 2 seconds worth of digging amongst the extensions available for firefox, he'd have found an extension which incorporates that particular function (and has done so since the first half of 2007), which IE8 beta2 only now includes.

And it's called stealther 1.0.6, by Filip Bozic and was last updated on June 16 2008.

Technically the reviewer is correct.  The stripped down bare bone basics of mozilla firefox doesn't offer that function, in its native form.  But people tend to go with firefox, not only for the extra bit of security, but the freedom to mix and match the perfect add-ons that suit their own set of particular circumstances.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hotwipes slackmails

A few posts have mentioned that an invisible swagbag has slunk off with some hotmailers mail bags, leaving disgruntled users simmering in its wake! 

Rumours circulated on the 26th August, that  hotmail users (exact numbers unknown), had suddenly lost 100's of emails from their accounts.  In some cases emails they'd kept, that were over 3 years old.  

Sadly anyone who takes msofts claims of security and data loss seriously - for that matter anyone who takes any company's claims for rock-solid security and data safety, has either never used a computer for a lengthy period of time, or been deep sea living and missed all the news about the pieces of data that seems to be shipping out (no pun) on a monthly basis - from public and private concerns alike!

The moral of this is ensure you have at least one back up of all your important messages.  Even if you use an offline email client, à la thunderbird.  Just download and backup those emails in zip form. Burn to a disc that is verified and encrypted - with at least 1024 bit strength encryption.

Opensource and freeware picks - august 2008

Well it's the year of the iphone with people in countries who don't have 3g networks still buying the iphone, because of the kudos. Sweet!

For this month my top ten open source picks, that have kept me happily tickled are:

  1. audacity - audio
  2. inkscape - vector drawing software
  3. gimp - photo/paint software
  4. camstudio - excellent bit of opensource software allowing you to record/capture any part of your screen vidcast
  5. openoffice 3.0 - fully fledged office suite of programs
  6. winmd5sum - cute little freeware utility that checks downloaded program checksums simply by right clicking and sending
  7. Blender 2.47 - animation 3d and game designing software which gives many of the bigger boys an excellent run for their vastly overpriced sums. Don't believe me? Check out the award it's just won
  8. firefox - a browser with so many helpful plug-ins and extensions, a browsing experience on any other computer, just isn't the same
  9. vlc media player - plays most video's, dvd formats without a hiccup
  10. cutepdf - create a pdf from any program without any hassle

That is just a quick snap shot of my current pick of favourites.  The list could go on and on.  But as each month goes by the open source and freeware developer communities, continue to spring remarkable surprises.

I might consider an iphone, once they have one that incorporates radio. Oh yes and a replaceable battery.  But who knows, it might turn out that i'll be far happier with an android.


Every now and then, something comes along that after first viewing and using sends a tingle along the full length of your spine.  Something that has the potential to change the way we've done and used things, and makes you think where have you been all my life!

Welcome ubiquity!

After a quick download, install into FF3 and restart, the first few commands worked instantly. No falling over.  No errors.  It dramatically cut down on the number of clicks, tab openings and browser swapping that one needs to do.

You can see how powerful this small extension will be, once it's combined with a voice application such as dragon naturally speaking or, once computers can accurately monitor them, hand gestures.

For an alpha release, it is - at first use - very impressive.  Ubiquity is one to watch.  If you're not a fan of alpha releases, grab it once it's in beta.

Once downloaded it's a simple case of firing up the ubiquity interface, by pressing Ctrl + Space Bar.  You can then use one of the commands that follows below; with the promise, over time, of many more commands becoming available. So subscribe to a feed or an email list, and be kept up to date with availability.

Ubiquity's like yahoo pipes, but with an added UI layer and way less complex to get decent use out of.  So use as is, or if you enjoy tinkering and trying out, delve as deeply into it as you wish.

List of ubiquity commands:


Adds an event to your calendar. Currently, only works with Google Calendar, so you'll need a Google account to use it. Try issuing "add lunch with dan tomorrow".


Searches Amazon for books matching your words.


Searches for the given words.


Searches for the given words.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, makes the selected text bold.


Searches Bugzilla for Mozilla bugs matching the given words.


Calculates the value of a mathematical expression. Try it out: issue "calc 22/7 - 1".


Checks what events are on your calendar for a given date. Currently, only works with Google Calendar, so you'll need a Google account to use it. Try issuing "check thursday".


Closes all open tabs that have the given word in common.


Closes the tab that matches the given name.


Takes you to the Ubiquity command editor page.


Takes you to the page you're on right now.


Converts a selection to a PDF, to rich text, or to html.


Gives the meaning of a word. Try issuing "define aglet"


Deletes the selected chunk of HTML from the page.


If not yet submitted, submits the page to Digg. Otherwise, it takes you to the story's Digg page. by Sandro Della Giustina - licensed as MPL,GPL View more information at


Searches EBay for auctions matching the given words.


Puts the web page into a mode where you can edit the contents. In edit mode, you can edit the page like any document: Select text, delete it, add to it, copy and paste it. Issue 'bold', 'italic', or 'underline' commands to add formatting. Issue the 'save' command to save your changes so they persist even when you reload the page. Issue 'stop-editing-page' when you're done to go back to the normal page viewing mode.


Begins composing an email to a person from your contact list. Currently only works with Google Mail, so you'll need a GMail account to use it. Try selecting part of a web page (including links, images, etc) and then issuing "email this". You can also specify the recipient of the email using the word "to" and the name of someone from your contact list. For example, try issuing "email hello to jono" (assuming you have a friend named "jono").


Replaces html entities (<, >, and &) with their escape sequences.


Searches Flickr for pictures matching your words.


Looks up the email address of a person from your contacts list given their name.


Searches Google for your words.


Takes you to the Ubiquity main help page.


Highlights your current selection, like this.


Searches the Internet Movie Database for your words.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, makes the selected text italic.


Displays your most recent incoming email. Requires a Google Mail account.


Turns a selected phrase into a link to the matching Wikipedia article. Can only be used in a rich text-editing field.


Turns an address or location name into a Google Map. Try issuing "map kalamazoo". You can click on the map in the preview pane to get a larger, interactive map that you can zoom and pan around. You can then click the "insert map in page" (if you're in an editable text area) to insert the map. So you can, for example, type an address in an email, select it, issue "map", click on the preview, and then insert the map.


Maps multiple selected addresses or links onto a single Google Map. (Experimental!)


Searches MSN for the given words.


Redoes your latest style/formatting or page-editing changes.


Resets any annotation changes you've made to this page.


Saves edits you've made to this page in an annotation.


If you used the 'edit page' command to put the page into editable mode, use this command to end that mode and go back to normal page viewing.


Treats your selection as program source code, guesses its language, and colors it based on syntax.


Switches to the tab that matches the given name.


Adds a tag to describe the current page by Dietrich Ayala - licensed as MPL/GPL/LGPL View more information at


Replaces the selected URL with a TinyUrl


Translates from one language to another. You can specify the language to translate to, and the language to translate from. For example, try issuing "translate mother from english to chinese". If you leave out the the languages, Ubiquity will try to guess what you want. It works on selected text in any web page, but there's a limit to how much it can translate at once (a couple of paragraphs.)


Sets your Twitter status to a message of at most 160 characters. You'll need a Twitter account, obviously. If you're not already logged in you'll be asked to log in.


Restores the HTML deleted by the delete command.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, underlines the selected text.


Undoes your latest style/formatting or page-editing changes.


Shows you the source-code of the web page you're looking at.


Checks the weather for a given location. Try issuing "weather chicago". It works with zip-codes, too.


Searches Wikipedia for your words. by Blair McBride - licensed as MPL. View more information at


Displays the number of words in a selection.


Searches Yahoo for pages matching your words.


Searches Yelp for restaurants matching your words. You can search for restaurants near a certain location using the near modifier. For example, try "yelp pizza near boston".


Searches YouTube for videos matching your words.


Zooms the Firefox window in or out.

One thing, it is javascript based.  As it pulls many elements together, it brings added layers of usability and freedom, but (until it's fully tied down) you will need to keep an eye on potential security issues, if using commands from non-trusted sites.


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A wee bit of foresight?

Previously to the machine giving up the ghost and requiring yet another fresh installation, I had a few 3d and world design programs which looked rather good, if a bit frustrating to use. As anything new, skewed to the right of complexity invariably is!

I reinstalled the OS and tested (for an hour) to ensure there was nothing underlying possibly causing the problems; i.e. faulty memory cards, hard drives overheating, fan not cooling the processor down sufficiently, stupid operator, electricity spikes.

But the whole thing remained remarkably stable and zipped along nicely. 

Stage one over.

Then went onto stage two. The process of reinstalling all the programs that I deemed necessary, from the DVD I luckily managed to burn, prior to the disaster.

So on this occasion, Instead of suffering a day or two installation woes, everything - which also included SP2 & SP3 as well as the latest drivers for peripherals, components and up to date software packages - were placed into a folder on the windows xp image disc, and it all installed in just under three hours.

With data safely backed up, but more importantly copied to verified disc media, the computer received its late summer cleaning.  Eschewing the necessity of hurling it into the nearest river - which can sometimes bring debilitating consequences to bear, on your computer.

A good basic program, which is also relatively inexpensive, hails from ashampoo called Burning Studio 7. It does everything it says; burns iso's, creates bootable disks, etc., etc, and all for the princely sum of £9.  Although do wish a good open source  alternative comes along, eventually.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Eight months of listening to the pitfalls and woes my flatmate has undergone since alighting on the good ship Vistanic, has been an experience.

From screaming about dodgy pixels (okay Toshiba's fault), to screaming at the UAC thingy. Having the OS install the same piece of software three even four times, when a gadget's been plugged in. To bits of equipment that work happily with xp and say they're vista compatible or certified - having to be taken back to the shop, because they refuse to work without crashing the system - even with updated, upgraded, uplinked drivers.

A feeling of smug resignation forced me to bite my tongue and not to repeat that well worn mantra of I told you so.  As I kept beavering away on my ancient relic, which has kept trudging along through out it all, quite nicely.

What was that about the Vista experience.... ah yes, best avoided. With windows 7, singularity or black hole 2 on the way; shall avoid getting my hands dirty with the Vistanic, by having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it!

I'm happy with linux and happy with xp. Perhaps if something more stable, with an extra helping of rose-tintedness comes along, i'll think about giving it a try. 

It also shows there's a bit of hope for us lemmings, as on this occasion manufactures have been forced into a bit of backtracking, by offering people the old OS over the shiny new one.  Against the wishes of the behemoth .

"All that glitter's isn't gold," holds very true in this case.  If there has ever been a case for a trading standards rap, both knuckles of this organisation should be swiftly done for mass hoodwinking.

"Psst, a quick word.  If it's something pretty you require with more hand holding than granny could give, then go for a mac. For something more stable and more reliable than a mars rover, then head for something linux flavoured or if you're happy with it, stick with XP."

Friday, 27 June 2008

BBC's 'new' iPlayer

As an avid listener to the radio, and partial 30 minute - average - television watcher. It's only natural to become particular attached to whatever bit of equipment - hardware or software – that is used to satisfy that purpose.

So if at any time, this comes over as being slightly bucolic. I'll just have to be forgiven.

The new BBC iPlayer I have to give an overall score of 2 out of 5 (at least there’s no raspberry).

But that mark is only for the slightly larger video area, if watching a programm
e on the iPlayer.

So overall? Very disappointed. I was expecting a seamless merger of the iPlayer and the previous, wonderfully more informa radio pop-out - which took up a fifth of the screen space - and encompassed navigation controls, listings of programs (on the right hand side) one could scroll down. Small 'clicky' buttons that allowed quick and easy channel changing, and even 1 click to catch up on a program missed. This new beta (unless I’ve missed something that will which makes this missive unnecessary) could have offered so much more than it appears to, than just an integrated colour scheme.

So here’s the new window beta iPlayer pop-outy!

And here’s the previous superbly formed and excellent working pop-out.

As I might have previously said, very disappointed!

Friday, 18 April 2008

IFPI's Swedish nightmare

The following piece is from the The Local, Sweden's news in english - as my Swedish's a bit rusty.

'Judicial scandal' in Pirate Bay case

A Swedish police officer involved in the investigation of file sharing site The Pirate Bay has been given a job with one of the plaintiffs in the case, film company Warner Brothers.

The officer began working for Warner Brothers job several months after the preliminary investigation was completed. The same police officer is scheduled to appear as a witness in the forthcoming Pirate Bay trial, newspaper Sydsvenskan reports.
Defence lawyer Peter Althin said he would be looking into the matter.
"The question is how long this was under consideration. If it was under consideration at the time of the investigation then it is a scandal," he told Sydsvenskan.
Althin is representing Peter Sunde, one of four men charged charged with being an accessory to breaking copyright law.
"This is a judicial scandal. Talk about a conflict of interests," Sunde told the newspaper.
If the police officer is found to have entered into discussions with Warner Brothers before the end of the investigation, which took a year and a half to complete, it is possible that the prosecution will have to scrap its findings and start again, said Althin.

Perhaps the IFPI should have stuck to taking consumers (the end users of its conglomerate parts products) to court instead.

When does 512MB equate to 2GB?

When you are a T-Mobile customer upgrading your yearly contract and someone in customer services either can't be bothered to find out, or they think it's a very good late April Fool's wheeze, or it's company policy to get rid of old 512mb cards by telling those who they think are technically non-enabled that "the 512mb card is in fact 2GB, but just labelled incorrectly."

So having a customer (was eavesdropping over flatmate's conversation) call up and be laughingly told that the supplied card has just been labelled wrong and it is in fact 2GB and not the 512MB emblazoned across its front, makes me wonder how many other people have they tried this particular con on.

But today as flatmate spoke with another customer services representative, they apologised and said the correct card would be arriving tomorrow.

It's a shame that a painless upgrade process should be marred by the incorrect card been included in the first place, then by the attitude of the representative of such a big brand.

So T-Mobile, 2 raspberries!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

AOL (revisited)

Once more AOL/Carphone warehouse have been at it, from 22:47hrs on the 19th march 2008, the line went down and has so far (now 13:37hrs) stayed down!

Initially only for about 10 minutes, but then it went back down and with it, any chance go getting in customer services until 8am in the morning. So there was nothing to do but tidy up the desktop and head back into the other room to get back to what the vast majority of people would be doing at that time of night, watching the not so square box in the corner, with a very strong cider and snack food.

7.45am arrived. Switched on the modem, hub, router, pc. The routers light's popped on one by one, except the internet one which stubbonly flickered red or remained blank. Took the phone in hand and waited for 8am and with the last number dialled as 7:59 and 59 seconds turned over, I was amazed to actually get through within 20 seconds, a definite first.

So once more it's a network outage, she had no idea why, just that it was an outage been looked into by their technical support people. I viciously doused the thoughts of they need retraining, from reaching handset and expressed my disappointment at been an aol member for over five years to be treated so badly.

She promised it should be up and running in at least two hours time, and with the time now at 13:38hrs there is still no connection.

I believe my grounds for leaving this crumbling edifice of broadbandhell are increasing leaps and bounds.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Passing of a legend

R.I.P. A.C.C.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


A bit of a change, and who'd have thought it.

"It's 2075 and even the odd skeptic, inured to the spectacular increases in global weather unpredictability, has been forced to have their patterns uploaded and blasted out into the depths of space; between the Arks heading towards 6185-2.

During the last decade, earth's glaciers have all gone. Desert areas have more than trebled. There has been a 20 fold increase in earthquake and volcanic activity, along with ferocious raging seas.

Food is at a premium. Oil, gas and coal reserves depleted, and time has run out for their replacements.

The last of the worlds democracies has been brought to its knees, from a wave of suicide Nismits, that have over the past couple of years brought the world crashing back down to the brink of hunter gatherer status. For the majority, all thoughts or ability of arresting and reversing climate change is forever lost.

For a very small lucky few, huge stellar ships blast away from a spaceport island. As in the distance another explosion rips into the sky and Washington is gone.

Recording through reinforced e-screens the sky is full of biogen, nuclear, chemical globes of death hurtling to all points across the dying earth..."

Monday, 10 March 2008

Belated offerings

The new Samsung SH-S223 DVD Burner with 22x recording capability sounds wonderful.  If it had been brought out two years earlier. 

With the next generation of optical rewards going to Bluray, for the next 3-5 years until something better comes along, why spend the money on a faster burner?  When by just waiting a couple of months down the line, the prices for bluery players will significantly come down in price and you can still use your old dvd's and new bludiscs, without the extra hassle of another same capacity drive?

Here's a lovely picture of one though.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The absolute hell of AOL

After a period of time when AOL seemed to be getting their act together, they went and sold a bit of themselves off to Carphone Warehouse.

Since the integration of AOL customers has been going on and databases, links etc transferred from one to the other the amount of outages has more or less quadrupled.

Before, I could happily boast about how wonderful the service was, and it was, if somewhat behind in the speed stakes. But when I'd call and complain about something, which turned out to be their fault, they'd offer me a sop I would graciously accept and be a happy customer again for at least five months.

Nowadays you have to make the most of your connection whilst you can, as at any time of day or night, it will go down. And will remain down for anywhere between an hour to over six hours. And as nearly half their customer base seems to be experiencing the same problems that's quite a few people trying to vent their rage to a small number of helpless people who are just sitting their taking those punches.

So what to do.

Look into your service agreement, as they're sailing close to breaching it. If you're on a monthly contract and want to upgrade to something else, make sure they know where they stand and get that laptop and PS3.

Failing that and in the last resort, threaten court action. Bearing in mind that if you've brought your mobile phone from carphone warehouse, you won't be flavour of the month.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Death of illegal p2p by 2009

So Margaret Hodge MP and others believe that ISP's should be made the new policemen of the UKs Interpipeways.

In one very great respect, you should say yes. There is an obligation for the people who create the software to be paid for their work, time and ingenuity; if that is what they wish. But I'm not to sure there are that many people out there, who think that Microsofts five versions of Vista with associated crop of problems they're causing (to anyone with legacy components) are truly worth the exorbitant cost of a single, not already installed, purchase.

I wonder, how many people out there have, over the many years, started off in graphic design or programming; by downloading or been given a copy of Photoshop or visual basic? People who have then gone on to become successful business people. In companies which purchase full bloated software packages with associated number of licenses and tie-ins.

Introducing this measure will be another way of ensuring that the majority of those who are financially under-achieving, will remain so. Without a hope of gazing into a future of vibrant possibilities.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

First Nanoskein Murder in Second Life

"First Nanoskein Murder in Second Life to be investigated by the LAPD!"

Yes a fictional news headline. It could however be a plausible scenario in the not too distant future!

The science behind immersive technologies are moving forwards at a whirlwind pace. With soon to be retailed headsets that can literally read your thoughts or at the very least the many billions of neurons firing away in our soggy cranial matter. Paper thin displays and clothing replete with embedded technology, could (shoppers willing) be with us, for general use, in the next five to ten years.

Imagine all the sensations of been, for example, on a battlefield! Crawling through hedges or jumping into a muddy field. Having someone caress and stroke you, all within the peaceful surroundings of your own home, cocooned in a virtual nirvana!

To some the above will sound like some Orwellian nightmare. After all what about the human touch? The human aspect of existence?

But there are already people who are ostracising themselves from the ills and troubles that plague so many of their fellow species; hiding behind walled and gated compounds in the developing world, let alone the developed.

So where does it go? Will legislature ensure such things don't happen, are not legally allowed?

Well they've so far not had much luck in the outlawing of drugs or for that matter, anything illicit that a fair groundswell of people wish to acquire.

So we can safely say it will happen. Now just have to wait for that rainbow to come this way!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Is lame-ass-sheep to strong a term?

Looking and listening to swoons of delight over Apple's soon to be, newest baby money spinner... the MacBook Air, with comments ranging from ..."how will the competition counter this," to "genius at work!"

Seems that way to much reporting's been done by people seemingly with heads in the air lauding anything coming out of the Cuperold stables; again, so it seems.

But perhaps there is an in joke doing the rounds, and the naming's been shortened to MacBook Air, from MacBook Airhead!

It is definitely one of the thinnest portables out there measuring a slim 19mm. But what about the other bits under that very sleek and lovely bonnet, compared to other computers out there, basic models?

Well let's take one of the most important, battery life (light usage): about 5 hours with the Air, but with the Sony VAIO G11 that clocks up 9 hours!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Illusionary broadband

Looking at an advert from and reading the blurb Superfast Broadband for £6.49 for the 1st 3 months, then £12.99. I thought, oh could this be a wonderful new service, offering more than Perhaps creeping up from behind the field to snatch premier position, scattering the opposition to the winds in disarray; blowing them all away with a spectacular 70Mbs service? No! Tiscali's definition of Superfast broadband is, 'up to 8Mb*'!

For many years we have been promised faster broadband, which would do away with that nasty roof-top aerial or podgy uglier exterior satellite. Un-interruptible streaming films, rock-steady tv programmes, downloading everything at the click of button like water from an open sluice. And just as the promises have been so atmospherically high, so services have stratospherically failed to materialise, and the ISP's have been trying to weasel their wording into making below average service provision look fantastic. But, I suppose unlike snake-oil salesmen, they do actually supply something that works.

Now doing a search of the terms fast and superfast brings up some interesting definitions.


From - a site I'm enjoying using as it splurges a plethora of so much useful information down a page, practically complete, even with translations. Reasons for having more than ten tabs open within my browser are rapidly diminishing. So what does definition come up with.

  1. Acting, moving, or capable of acting or moving quickly; swift.


fast adj (faster, fastest) 1 moving, or able to move, quickly. 2 taking a relatively short time. 3 said of a clock, etc: showing a time in advance of the correct time... ... pull a fast one colloq. to cheat or deceive.

But I am coming around to the opinion that tiscali are using the ChambersHarrap colloquial definition, and trying to pull a fast one!



super- prefix, forming adjectives, nouns and verbs, denoting 1 great or extreme in size or degree • supermarket. 2 above, beyond or over • superscript • supernatural. 3 higher or more outstanding than usual • superhero. Compare hyper-.

So, with Super and Fast conjoined something spectacular should be on offer. But in the real life tiscali and for that matter any other ISP can get away with advertising Superfast broadband at only 8Mb*, showing both guard dogs (ASA and Ofcom) have teeth as sharp as rubber gloves, effectively blunted by the industry.

Now why did I start this... Ah yes! I don't for one moment expect to experience as the norm, speeds upwards of 100Mbps at any time in the next five to eight years. Maybe 30Mbps. But then the holographic advertising and moving displays will be another headache. And by then who will really care that the speed they're getting is less than a fiftieth the advertised offerings!

*Unless of course, in the small print, they've mentioned that speeds are 'as compared to a tele-typewriter'.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Love & Disaster: CES

I, like many other technologically minded souls, have been waiting with heightened baited pulse for the advent of this years CES show. Especially as the peddlers of Doom & Gloom Incorporated Limited, have been doing the rounds with regard to credit crunches, country collapses, and soon to be mega-disasters, coming along to add the final touches to finishing us off!

Putting all that to one side, it was good to see that companies are still out there doing their bit to give all of us, easier happier life's, whilst also parting us from our cash; but I might have mentioned that particular earlier.

So after the first day let's get down to it, and in no particular order...

On the software side it has to (especially when I get a faster computer with a graphics card that properly works - very disappointing ATI-AMD, very disappointing) be SpaceTime a wonderful free piece of software... actually much quicker if you pop to this site for a sublime description, but with 3D Vista Aero style flying things happily working, albeit slowly, on my ageing XP PC is straightforward, easy to use and definitely another line added to the do I really need to upgrade to Vista? list. Also, having a 22inch plus wide screen monitor would be of help.

Then on the hardware side, Panasonic's 150inch plasma tv, drool and I don't care who sees me... Might have to go down that ten bedroomed house with 30ft walls route after all. Sigh!

Hates (or if that is to harsh, dislikes)
Do I really need a bulky table costing over $5,000 so that I can zip and zoom into whilst dragging things around. Not at this time, and no it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that it's from MSoft.