Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Damn that AOL…

Taking my communications connection into my hands, I plumped to remain with AOL.  All it took was the assurance of a few months payment free, a new router, inclusive calls and a minimum speed of at least 14 Mbps (on a 24 Mbps line), which would have doubled my average 7 Mbps and all for less than two tenners glued together and slapped on a managers forehead. 

It so appealed to my penny pinching new scrooge mould, I said yes to the new 24 Mbps service where I would ‘experience a noticeable difference' and ‘speeds wouldn't dip below 14 Mbps,’ who wouldn’t?

My line could handle it.

I was told.

Naturally I whooped at this.  I would finally get to watch the iPlayer in HD, and experience broadband for what it was designed for, turning the not so healthy into utter ├╝ber-sized couch-potatoes.
The brief burst of enjoyment however, soon fizzled, as can be seen by the following graph.


If only I could summon up the energy to lift the phone, give a piece of my mind and swap ISP.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Scamming phone calls

Yesterday (30th June 2011) I received an out of area call. Happens all the time and is generally either a marketing company, a company wanting to help me manage my debt, a company wanting thoughts about surveys, and yesterday the strangest IT company wanting to ensure I wasn’t in a fix.

It started off by the first person saying “your operating system, Windows, has been attacked and there is a problem. I am calling to help you fix that problem.”

“Okay,” I said. “But what is the problem?”

“We have had some information pass through the centralised servers of Microsoft in Manchester, indicating that your computer has being infected. I will pass you onto a senior technician.”

I started to get quite excited, you might have noticed I haven’t even queried who the company is. Sadly I didn’t have the phone modem software up and running, otherwise I would have recorded the full conversation for posterity and uploaded.

After a few moments I’m talking to a more understandable, and seemingly more knowledgeable person.

“Hi, i’m John,” he says. “I’m a senior technician.”

More like scamming merchant, I thought, but held my tongue.

“Are you in front of your computer,” he asks.

“Hold on... Yes, I’m just starting the machine up and looking at the welcome screen,” which I was.

“Do you see the button on the bottom left of your keyboard with the four squares on?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Press and hold that, then press the R key.”

“What will that do,” I queried, briefly forgetting what the Window Start button and R actually produced.

“That will bring up the run menu,” he said.

“Ok.”  So I bumblingly located and pressed the Window Start and ‘R’ keys, and up popped the Run window.

“What now?” I questioned, all ears.

“Type in event vwr, and press enter.”

I was astounded at what that would produce, but didn’t feel the need to correct.

“Nothing’s happened,” I said.

“That’s not a problem. Click on the Start menu, do you know where that is,” he asked.

“Is that the bottom, yes I’ve found it,” I said.

“Click on that, and then click on the Control Panel.”

I wasn’t sure whether I detected a hint of excitement creeping into his voice. Sigh for a voice recording.
“Okay, I’ve done that,” I replied.

“Click on the Administration Icon.”


“Now can you see the event viewer?”

“Yes I can. Should I click on that,” I queried innocence pouring forth.

“Yes do that.”

So I did. The event window opened. I could see the Application, Security, System and Information entries. “Which one should I click?”

“Click on Information. You see the columns, and the icons on the left. How many are yellow?”

Dutifuly I counted. “I can see ten,” I said.

“Oh you have a problem, if we go through the next steps this will clear them from your system and your system will be clean.”

“That sounds really good,” I replied. “What should I do now?”

“Press the Window button and ‘R’,” he said. “And type in log me in 123 . com.”

It was at this time I thought it best to come clean. “Actually I’m running a Linux box with the Windows OS as guest.”

He paused, then the line went dead.

Moral? Be always vigilant of unannounced callers who may have ulterior motives than helping clean your non-infected machine!

If you are in doubt, find a reputable IT Technician/Repairer, it’ll generally save you a whole heap of trouble and money!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Giving away estates — the Firefox conundrum

No not those bits of land everyone loves to squabble and fight over which in time will be either at the bottom of a sea, or pitching and yawing broiling in the mantle, or perched atop a mountain top with some new species, all ready to conquer!

No, I’m talking about the recently released FF4.  A new Firefox which certainly loads faster than FF3, not as fast as Chrome – with the same number of extensions in both, but the release puts it firmly back into pleasurable browser usage territory, instead of turning into an IE6 look-alike; simply down to usage perceptions.  So kudos to the hard work put into this release, by all of those involved. 

I find (and counting myself in here), that many Firefox users load in add-ons as though legislation is being hurriedly enacted banning them from ever using their favourite crutch again.  The poor browsers are so encumbered with add-ons, they creak and groan under the combined weight of anything from the latest top 10, to looking up the defining quote for beibergit (definition of which is still awaiting entry).  Those older stalwart users remember the days of memory hogging - where the program grabbed as much memory as it could handle until your pc fell over – making the entire experience slower than watching paint dry, twice!

Naturally, over the years, this has inevitably led to Chrome becoming the default due to its unmatched speed; but even here, the inclusion of many extensions has reduced this once proud road runner to a slightly speedy wile e coyote.

I have being using Firefox since its inception and wanted to return to those halcyon days of tear-jerk quality every techno-nerd finds a need to return to.  This latest incarnation (including the table mats) once again makes Firefox a viable browser of choice. 

So, in pictures…


Ah yes, so where does giving away estates come into things, I hear the pondering?

If you look compare and look closely at the top bars of Chrome and Firefox, you’ll notice Firefox has a 3mm extra drop – if you look closely.  Don’t knock it, perception of size matters.  For those who don’t give a fig, give it a whirl and definitely try the table mats Ctrl + Shft + E in the browser, it’ll open up a whole new world of browsing possibilities.


Firefox 4, browsing to the future