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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Women bishops.

This is the final and last work-in-progress note and in fact signals literally my last ever post.

I fear to tread in an area that bares no relation on my life nor any member of my immediate family. Though in a way I suppose it does have as we have two children in a Catholic school. I am talking about religion.

Religion is one of those areas where, I believe, one either 'believes' or one does not. While I myself am a staunch atheist the older of our three boys is, at age 11, agnostic. Our middle boy has so far professed nothing on this matter and the youngest is too young to have any thoughts on the matter. My wife is of the same view as I whereas my first wife was a practicing catholic. My two boys from that first marriage have no strong views on the matter.

I have never forced my own views on my children believing they will come to a conclusion one way or the other via their own findings and whatever side they lean towards it will be with my complete and unfettered blessing. I have found during my almost 50 years of life that is it exactly that which those who steep themselves in religious theory  do not allow. That being those with opposing views. This is particularly true  within the catholic faith as I found out  when first meeting my now ex-wifes parents and again later when meeting her much more staunch beliving  grandparents. (No, that in and of itself had no bearing on the eventual outcome of that marriage).

But, I digress.

Once again in the news is the act of making women  bishops. With both sides of the debate giving up their reasons  as to why such a radical thing should or should not be allowed. Forget for now we are living through the 21st century and let us instead focus on some writings  written many centuries ago during a time when the female form was not in any way shape or form comparable to that of the male counterparts. Forget that thought as to my mind religion itself of any flavour has no part at all to play in the modern world but let us play along for the sake of debate.

It appears to me to be one sentence within their popular reading material known as the Bible that seems to have both sides at loggerheads. This being from I Timothy 2, 12: which says "I do not allow a woman to have authority over a man." Which some are saying trumps whatever good the ordinated  women  could possibly do. To my, admittedly closed, mind  that is as closed a mind as a  closed mind can be.

Why I don't play games.

This is another  work-in-progress note.

Especially, online games. Less especially all and any type of game. I  have never owned a console, unless one can include under that banner the Amiga CD32 in which case that is the only one I have ever owned and that was so long ago too. Never since that time, during the 1980's, have I bothered with any of the consoles since. Why? Simply put. I don't play games and haven't since I sold my last Amiga in 2001.

Some of my friends say that the reason I don't play games is because of my choice of OS but that is easily  disregarded as my chosen platform has enough games for anyone. Others  say it is because I am getting on in years but if that was the case how come some of them who are the same, or similar, age as I am still play games? A few say my arthritic hands are not condusive to playing games but my arthritis crept up on me so why did I abandon games in the intervening years?

The real reason I don't play games is that as far as I can see they are all very similar with very very few new ideas. Almost all games nowadays have very little by way of game play instead they have lots of pretty pictures and rolling landscapes and involve lots of shooting of in-game robots or other players. I used to play lots of games back when I had my Amiga's (1986 - 2001) and since that time while games have got bigger and bigger requiring evermore hard drive space they have not got any better, in fact in my opinion they have got worse, with the game play aspect.

New to games these days is the advertising within games. Online games especially  are inundated with advertising. This to me detracts from the over all gaming experience and does absolutely nothing for the game itself and even less for the player of.


This is another work-in-progress note.

The various governments of the so called Western world waffle on about  openness.

Some more than others but the general diatribe goes something like "One of the government's objectives is openness so that the people know what is going on and how we arrive at any given subject.". This means that what a given country's government do that directly or indirectly impact on the people they are supposedly representing will be done is a way that the people can see and what is happening regarding whatever it is that the governemt is concerned with or about. Now, I am very big on openness and open standards so I tend to try and keep up with such matters within my own  government and I urge you to do the same within your own as the definition of the word 'openness' is not what you think is it. This is especially true when defined by our governments.

A perfect example of this is with Internet blocklists. Blocklists are URL's that the are blocked by ISP's. In England this list is edited and held by a none government organisation called the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Anyone can send these none official people a URL that they find objectionable. This  request is then scrutinised and if found to hit some hidden definition it is then added to the blocklist which is then picked up by the various ISP's operating within the U.K. Not such a bad thing you may think and it would not be except for two things.

One) The IWF is not a government department. It consists of ordinary people who supposedly make decisions on what is and what is not a naughty URL based on both  what they have on their web site and also the personal tastes of the individual which cannot be avoided.

Two)  The blocklist created, edited and  held by the IWF cannot be seen by anyone outside of the ISP's administrators and those within the IWF itself. It is a hidden list of URL's that holds who knows what.

The first thing mentioned is not so bad until one thinks about it.

Program comparisons.

This is another of my work-in-progress notes.

Being an old Amiga head who now uses a Linux based operating system I can directly compare programs that where available for that most excellent operating system Amiga OS/Workbench and what comparatively is available for a Linux based operating system.

Sure, the Amiga OS programs would in most cases lack the sophistication of there Linux based alternatives but there are some  significant comparisons to be made and in some cases the AmigaOS programs come out on top as being the better program.

One area the Amiga OS programs come out on top is to do with sound. The Amiga had its own internal DSP, primitive as it was, it was, and still is, a powerful chip. This is one area that lets a Linux based OS down even though such powerful add-in cards as a Creative XFI can be added to the mix it is software, both drivers and audio programs where it is let down. On a Linux based OS there is a plethora of sound daemons. ALSA, OSS, Pulse Audio are the main ones then there is KDE's own ArtS and GNOME's own ESD. For my XFI sound card, at this time, OSS (via 4Front) is the only one that works with it. There  were no such issues on the Amiga as the OS itself took care of the details while programs such as the excellent OctoMED  took care of production.

Back when the Amiga was top dog of the computing world, certainly true for those of us who where more technology minded than the rest, we had powerful programs such as OctoMED to drive our audio bent. A comparison can be made between it and  such as Audacity and Ardour for a Linux based OS but they pale into insignificance to the power and ease of use OctoMED gave the user. Of course there where many other audio programs available for Amiga OS but OctoMED was the defacto standard on Amiga and rightly so.

The Amiga OS's Workbench, its GUI (Graphical User Interface), was another area where the Amiga shone. No other GUI for any platform has come close to the blazing speed it had nor its intuitive ease of use. Well, perhaps the ease of use cannot be used as something the Amiga excelled at as most GUI's created since those days follow on, or are catching up to, the Workbench in the ease of use area. But, the one thing that really made the Amiga shine was its pull down screens. One has to see it in operation to fully appreciate what pull down screens means as no GUI since the Amiga has done it as far as I am aware. We Linux based OS users have a desktop shell called by many names, KDE, GNOME, XFCE4,LXDE are just a few. We also have Desktop Managers that aid in the look and feel of the desktop. These types do not have the plethora of programs the full DTE's (DeskTop Environment) have.

At the end of the day I was and still am an Amiga Head so my view of that operating system may be slightly slewed but if it is then so be it. I will say it again. No operating system from the Microsoft world, the Linux based world or the Unix based world or even lesser know ones like the QNX desktop or BeOS. Of all those QNX comes the closest but even that one fails in some areas when ut up against the AmigaOS.

Windows V Linux

As I am stopping doing this I have decided to publish some work-in-progress notes. This being one of them.

I have seen Microsoft Windows 7, as it is currently dubbed, the other day as I installed in in a VM. What I saw did nothing for me that my operating system choice already does in a better way with less resources and has done for at least 2 years or more.

The Linux based platform has come a long long way since it first appeared. The kernel is now more robust than it ever was and the desktop much more user-freindly. The whole experience is quite simply much better than it was only a year or two ago.

I install many operating systems for people I know and for people of people I know who I don't know but now do and many friends and friends of friends etc. Then there are the installs for family added to the mix. Some have a preference for Microsoft  while some prefer a Linux distribution, others ask for a dual boot setup so they "can test the waters". What they mostly all want is something  "that just works for what I need to do" on the system they have and a Linux distribution fits that bill perfectly in 99% of cases.

In years gone by getting a Linux based operating system to play nice with some of the more estoic hardware available could be a challenge but as more and more hardware companies move away from proprietory software standards to a more open standards world this challenge has been almost eradicated. There still remains a stubborn pocket of hardware makers that are going against the flow but as more and more machines are installed with a Linux based operating system they will eventually wither and die away or join the growing band of hardware makers previous mentioned. Installing a Linux based operating system now is as easy, if not easier, than installing a Microsoft created operating system.

Microsoft still hold the top spot in users of their creations but not because of any other reason than they buy their way onto machines sold, thereby creating a false sense of people bying their flagship software operating system. Some call this the "Microsoft Tax". Myself just finds in an annoyance that is swiftly eradicated and replaced by something I call much better but that fact, of course, does not suit everybody and I now appreciate that fact. Another fact I now appreciate is that not everyone wants to rely on someone else to keep their machines running. Microsoft Windows, of any flavour, and a Linux distribution both need someone that knows what they are doing to help them get to grips with the operating system installed be it a Linux based one or a Microsoft based one. What I find now is more people want to become more self reliant in this area. Of course, there are, and probably always will be, some who cannot survive their operating system usage without someone  else who knows what is what and why something happens when it should not.

A Linux based operating system now can be set up in such a way as to keep both sides happy and in some cases can be setup so that it can automatically do everything itself, save for those who are most likely and determined to kill whatever is in front of them on their monitors

If you run a Microsoft based operating system or a Linux based operating system both have the option of running another operting system within their chosen one. These are called Virtual Managers. So. There is a way to run the opposite without the need of a dual boot setup or removing the installed operating system.

So, go on. If you run a Microsoft operating system or a Linux based operating system give the opposite one a go. There is now nothing stopping you installing one of the mainstream Linux based distributions, but remember it is not anything like MS Windows so all the brain washing that that has given you is useless. It is a new and slightly different way to get the same things done. As long as you remember that basic thing then you will enjoy the freedom it offers you.

The major difference between the two option is that of cost. Most Linux based distributions are free while all of Microsoft flavours cost anywhere between 80UKP and 400UKP. If cost bothers you then there can only be one choice. Go for it.

This happens in life.

Bye bye.

I have enjoyed the experience but I can no longer be bothered. Replies are all but none existent and the emails that where coming thick and fast have all but died off.

This says to me that people are not interested in my ranting or observations so it seems the best thing to do is to go away and do something else which I surely will and am doing. I fully understand and have no animosity towards anyone for failing to amuse and/or entertain.

Actually, I feel like Microsoft may be feeling. That is it has been good but losing traction is not an option. Unlike Microsoft however, I an quiting while there is still a little interest. Microsoft on the other hand will flounder and splutter and eventually die away, a sad lonely business that once ruled the world.

Whatever, thanks for all the fish and goodbye.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

It is getting worse.

It is getting worse and with more and more MS Windows users taking up some flavour of a Linux distribution, usually one of the Ubuntu flavour, we are seeing more and more top posting in the Linux Usenet groups. If you are nterested in checking my statement then just take a look at the last few days in alt.os.linux.ubuntu (Google groups didn't used to take this particular group but I think recently they started taking it).

Things are made worse by google groups as those using it see that the text they are replying to is below where the cursor starts. They  see this and immediately start writing which is exactly how MS Outlook (and MS derivative of) does it without the quotefix patch that forces MS Outlook to do things properly by putting the cursor after the replied to text.

For us old time stalwarts of Usenet there is nothing worse than top posting. Nowadays, those using google groups to post to Usenet suffer the same fate as those top posters.

Google does not care one bit about such things. Many, including myself, have complained time and time again about how they are doing it but thus far we have all been ignored and it is not google themselves who suffer is it those using their services. Many thousands of long time Usenet users, like myself, simply block (commonly known as plonking) ALL google groups using post irregardless of what that post is about and irregarless of who posted it. Of course, there are some using google groups who post properly but because of the blanket googlegroups plonk many are doing those who try to do things correctly are caught in the dragnet.

Those using MS Outlook, and derivatives of it, and not using the quotefix patch mentioned above are also automatically put in the SHUT YA FACE bin.

Myself and many other long time Usenet using people use proper news readers that do things correctly and have thousands of options to cover every possible need when using Usenet so setting up blanket plonk rules is simple. Remember this, in abstract terms if you top post you score 9999 on the scale (0 - 10000). If you are using google groups you score 9999. If you use google groups and top post you score the full 10000. Both those scores of 9999 and 10000 mean PLONK. I and many others will never see what you post to Usenet.

Now you are aware consider what you are doing and correct your actions. Who knows, if you do that you may just find your way out of many peoples bozo bins. Maybe. Then again, maybe it is too late and no matter whether you correct your actions or not you will forever remain in that bozo bin.

For many of us Usenet died a long time ago when MS operating systems (OS) became the dominant desktop OS and those using it started their top posting habits. We still use it but the shine has rubbed of it. Now google with their google groups have infiltrated Usenet and brought along with it more top posing fools this made Usenet a dull place to visit. The blame lays firmly with possibly the two biggest companies on this earth.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Debris in space.

When reading this arstechnica article it came as no surprise to learn of the inherent dangers of space  debris. Caused by mainly low orbital satellites, both some still in use and some no longer in use, but both types just floating free around our fragile Earth. NASA probably knows but your average Joe, of which I am one, probably does not, but the questions remain such as, what unknown damage is this space flotsam and jetsam creating for our Earth orbital spin and axis?

It is bad enough to know that the Earths low orbital space area is littered with objects, not just functional and defunct satellites, created after some 50 years since Man first transversed the problems of getting objects to fly outside of Earths atmosphere without having to wonder what problems these things can, and possibly will, cause for us in years to come. What, for example, would be the result of a collision in this area of several satellites at the same time? Would such a thing simply create yet more space debris making life evermore difficult for future space travelers or is it beyond the realms of possibilities that such a thing could cause the Earth to tilt on its axis one way or the other thereby possibly wiping out everything on Earth?

Other questions that should be asked is why after all the years of space travel have we not found a way to enter this area in space and simply hover up all the space junk? I am aware of the inherant dangers of grabbing such fast flying objects can create not to mention the docking of such items but we can do it with the space station so why not for a space refuse collector? I get the feeling that even though we humans have a space station of sorts out in space but we cannot seem to build a simple (yes, I know it is not as simple as just saying it but given what NASA and other space entities such as Russia's version of NASA and even China's flavour know about such things it cannot be that difficult for them) craft that can enter this cluttered area and effectively clean it up of all, if not all then most, space debris. This could then be expanded to cover areas beyond this particularly cluttered area.

Over the years since Man first ventured into space all manner of satellites have been dispatched and it would appear very little thought was given to the problems we have now in this area. Or maybe there was but the warnings were suppressed or simply ignored, whatever the reasons for being in the situation we now find ourselves the current situation is only going to get worse if the worlds space  efforts do not combine to create a better solution than the one touted in the above article. And who knows what dangers lay ahead not just for satellites, defunct or otherwise, but for the Earth itself as the more dense the debris gets the less light we will take in and the less light we take in the more living things will die.

Time for the world's space agencies to find a better solution than one that mimics air traffic control systems.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Next working day?

How often do you see "Next working day" when waiting for a parcel to be delivered? Let us consider those 3 words for a minute then let us consider what they mean in the modern 7 days a week commercial world.

Back in the old days they meant exactly what they say. This being your parcel would arrive on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday but never on a Saturday or a Sunday because those latter two were considered none-working days and, for those who can remember, Sunday was a day when almost no shops where open, save for little corner shops that usually opened for an hour or two.

Over time, big and not so big, shops started opening on a Saturday but Saturday never became part of the working day when taking deliveries into account, unless one paid a much higher price on that delivery.

Move into more recent memory and big, and not so big, shops started opening on a Sunday but still, for deliveries, Saturdays and Sundays are not considered Working days when our 3 words are under consideration. The same rules for a Saturday delivered parcel remains in force but Sunday does not get a look in.

So, we now live and work in a week consisting of the full 7 days, but, if you pay for a  "Standard delivery" option on a Friday you will still need to wait until the following Monday for that parcel to arrive. However, Saturday has been a standard working day for so many for so long it should now be considered a Standard working day and therefore be covered by our 3 little words.

Then again, if this was ever done the bosses  will almost blow a fuse and demand that because Saturday is now considered as part of the standard working week then they should not have to pay their workforce   time and a half, or third as some are still paid. But even there there is a work around. Saturday should only be considered as part of a  standard working week when taking parcel deliveries in to consideration and should not impact on the wages, payment details, of those who are forced to work on a Saturday.

Of course, there will be some winners and some losers in the above but I, and many others no doubt, would like to see Saturday as part of the Next working day delivery option for no other reason than in this 7 days a week world we now live in demands it be so.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

i cannot understand.

The mentality behind such people as this jerk in a BBC report. The guy is 20p short of a pound if he thinks for one second that what he waffles on about is anything close to reality. Sure, there will be some in middle England that would go along with it but those on the various Council owned estates dotted around our cities won't give a hoot.

Take this gem as an example of his bilge.

"And to my mind the really shining example of how far the public have
come in accepting laws to help protect us from self-harm is the huge
support for smoke-free public spaces and workplaces throughout the UK."

Here is another.

"We've been largely successful with the tobacco industry, and now it's time to shift the focus onto alcohol and junk-food."

And one more.

"What next? I would like to see a ban on smoking in cars with a child on
board and a ban on displays of cigarettes in shops. I would like to see
a real hike in tax on alcohol and a ban on deep price-cuts for booze."

That would be the tobacco industry that they are killing. There are so many holes in his spurious comments that it really is not worth poiting them out.

The vast majority of people of this country take no notice whatsoever of what some berk says about being healthy. As i said earlier there will be some who do, mostly from the middle classes but the working class simply will not care and the younger that working class people is the less they care. It is people like that guy who provides us with the laughs that keep us going. He is so high up on his high horse he can't even see what is really happening. Here is a free clue for him.

Just because you say it is so does not make it so. Fool.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The decline of "News" sites.

Back when the Internet was but a fledgling mini beast waiting to explode on everyone the so called News web sites that have no dead tree parent soon became apparent in the eyes and minds of those with a technological bent.

Some have long since disappeared but some of those that where at the begining or came along just after are still around. Some of those still around are the worse for wear while the rest plod along as happy and snappy as ever. Those that are the worse for wear are surely to go the way of the Dodo like many before them.

For me it is sad to see formerly glorious News web sites, of the more technical flavour, fail to attract what once was a loyal readership. It is easy from a reader point of view to see those that are failing. The web site displays less advertisements. The user comment sections lay relatively empty. The  forum, should they have one, sees less and less by way of posts.  Their News  stories get evermore boring and shorter and often offer less by way of journalism and more by way of sarcastic commentary. Their head honcho moves onto  something else, usually a competing offering. Those five things are the main things that signify when a News web site is dying. Another thing is they get less and less by way of worthy submissions. But then again many of these News  web sites carry articles by the same person using a multitude of monikers so this one is harder to spot.

A new breed of, usually, Web 2.0 enabled News web sites make some of the longer standing News web sites look by comparison old and jaded as if those in charge are fast running out of ideas. While I am not an overly impressed with this whole Web 2.0 thing one has to agree, even if you hate it as much as i do, that it does make for some better looking web sites.

So, it is with a heavy heart that, while not mentioning any names, I wave a fond farewell to the, apparently (based on the totally none scietific method mention above), soon to disappear Technology News web site i have  read for years.

And so it goes.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Karoo WiFi.

Is as much of a joke amongst local people as their ADSL2 offerings. Karoo WiFi is available as part of ones contact with them but what they don't tell you is where their access points are. They are in fact extremely limited as their access points are mainly only avaiable in Queens Gardens on the edge of the town shopping are. Queens Gardens itself covers some 1000 square yards of space but the Karoo WiFi offering only covers approximately half of that. Excellent stuff that we locals have come to expect for our monopolistic telephone company.

In other news regarding my, and others, ongoing efforts to get Karoo, and therefore the companies Daddy company, to improve their dismal ADSL2 offerings they are now engaging in lies. Outright, unadulterated lies. They have been found to be fiddling their user inputs on whether or not people consider their flagship (Ha!) offering good or bad. How was this found out? Well, simply put there are moles within and these moles  are telling me that there are internal IP's showing as being from within their customer ranks. Of course, no-one outside the company ever sees a posting IP address nor do they see  headers of the emails that have been supposedly sent in from 'customers' who have praised the service offering .While it can be easily refuted by the company I will go with what the moles have said as that would be a typical compny thing to do. There will be some who will say I am bias against them but that misses the point entirely. The fact that they are reduced to doing something like this belies the fact that they consider their offering any good.

In further news the latest gaff from them is that when emailing an individual within their ranks one got back and auto-response email that had within it the claim that the email had not been read and 'helpfully' pointed one to a blanket email address where ones email is sure to get lost amongst the noise of other people complaining. Laughingly, once it was pointed out to them that this practice, or more precisely the line that said that the email had not been read was illegal they have now quietly dropped that part, and that line in particular, of their auto-response emails.

As a company they are terrible. As a provider of Internet connectivity they are terrible. In Customer Service they are terrible. In every conceivable way they are terrible. One has to wonder what with their share price dropping through the floor just how much longer they can stay away from a total buy-out. The problem with that however is who exactly could or would buy them out and if a company did would they be any better than what we suffer now? i mean, the only way they  could possibly improve the actual service is by redoing their ancient copper lines or by installing fibre to the home. Both of these are an expensive exercise which would would take a lot of money to implement which KC certainly do not have and it is unlikely, if a buyer even bothered to buy them out, would have either. As an aside who would I complain about! Seriously, no company is perfect in every way but to fail customers so specularly in every possible way as they do is astounding.

My moles have told me that while FTTH was tauted by a previous contact as being very very soon it is now firmly on the back burner as finances get ever tighter and is likely to stay on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The Intenets hidden joke.

If there is one single web site that causes none Microsoft laden administrators, and some hardened Microsoft  administrators, to laugh out loud is is "Shields Up!" from

The sheer scale of hyperbole on there aimed not at seasoned professionals but at the all American everyday common and garden Microsoft Windows users is simply stunning. Every facet of that web site is designed and created to scare the Hell out of  Microsoft Windows users. Take a look at  a snippet of text taken from within the "Shields Up!" process and you will see exactly what I see and that is pure unadulterated hyperbole.

"Solicited TCP Packets: RECEIVED (FAILED) — As detailed in the port report below, one or more of your system's ports actively responded to our deliberate attempts to establish a
connection. It is generally possible to increase your system's security by hiding it from the probes of potentially hostile hackers. Please see the details presented by the specific port links below, as well as the various resources on this site, and in our extremely helpful and active user  community." (any and all links removed to protect the innocent).

Now, I run a Usenet news service so of course 1 port is open otherwise noone would be able to connect to it and what is the use of a server if that be the case? So, that said I fail, with huge red banners proclaiming my failure. This is ridiculous but surely scares the uninitiated. If the average person sees something on a web site self proclaimed as the leader in all things security related says you failed the most basic of ping tests what are they going to do? Panic. That is what and that is what Mr Gibson wants them to do.

Some will say that the web site is not aimed at battle hardened administrators but that itself belies what the web site is all about and that after all is securing a connection. All over the site, which is designed in such a way as to scare people, he makes claims  and points out what people should do and some of that advice is plain wrong or if not wrong then ill-advised. As an example he states that to achieve true stealth mode one should disable pings. This is bad practice for anyone connected to the Internet be it via a router or a modem within a computer. A ping test ensures that the Internet runs  smoothly, by turning off pings it creates the illusion that there are huge black holes all over the place when in fact  the computer or router is sitting there connected to the Internet.

Hyperbole is what it is all about. The information a tools available should be taken and used with a large  dollop of salt. We seasoned and in some cases, mine included,  professionals know to ignore  the advice given. It would be better for the whole Internet is the web site did not exist but it does and while it does we will continue to laugh.

I suppose it serves a purpose for the paranoid but other than that I see no reason for its existence unless of course it is meant to be a joke in which case the joke is on us.

Be careful out there.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Karoo email.

In an effort to stifle customers  Karoo are now sending out the following email when a customer emails an individual within the organisation (all email addresses munged for obvious reasons).

"Thank you for your email.

So that we can ensure that your query is handled appropriately please
direct it to the relevant contact listed here.

***@***.com <mailto:***@***.com> 

This email has not been read.

Thank you."

Then there is the usual organisational bumph following that.

"This email has been scanned for all viruses by the MessageLabs SkyScan

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

The content of this email and any attachment is private and may be
privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure,
copying or forwarding of this email and/or its attachments is
unauthorised. If you have received this email in error please notify the
sender by email and delete this message and any attachments immediately.
Nothing in this email shall bind the Company or any of its subsidiaries
or businesses in any contract or obligation, unless we have specifically
agreed to be bound.

KCOM Group PLC is a public limited company incorporated in England and
Wales, company number 02150618 and whose registered office is at 37 Carr
Lane, Hull, HU1 3RE.

118288 - KCOM UK Directory Enquiries. Calls will cost no more than 49p
connection + 14p per minute including VAT from a KC or BT landline. Call
charges from mobiles and other networks may vary. If you are calling
from a mobile you will now receive your requested number via text
message. You will not be charged for the text message."

Ignoring the crap at the end which nobody with any sense takes any notice of, let us consider the first part and why they are sending these email out as auto-replies.

My take on them are that they are designed and created in the hope that genuine customer emails get lost in the noise that such email addresses generate. This then enables them to claim that they never received the email. This has happened to me, and others, several times when being directed to a blanket email address.

While such blanket email addresses make sense for the organisation they make no sense whatsoever for the customer. As always it is the customer that loses out in this deal for the reasons stated in the above paragraph.

One such example was an ongoing conversation I was having with an individual with an @***.com email address. After some 40 odd emails to and fro suddenly the above auto response was generated to which I foolishly duly replied. After a wait of 10 days I then emailed the individual again who said that the previous email i had sent was never seen by her. After some investigation it turned out that the email referred to was 'lost'. Now, we all know that organisation never 'lose' emails but due to the fact that the person  claimed it was there was nothing I could do. I did try emailing the individual again but that ended up creating the never ending  circle of email sent, auto-response returned and so on.

So, if you ever receive one of these auto responses you now know why they do it. After emailing an individual I urge you to ignore what the email says and continue emailing the individual. While this may seem counter productive it will, hopefully, inform them that such a blanket email address is wrong for the customer.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Do you use the BBC web site?

I do. in fact I spend a lot of time on it visiting all the various bits dotted around it. Some hidden from immediate view while others are displayed in prominent and semi-prominent links.

My reason for asking is that I feel that some of it could be vastly improved. Take something like this as an example. Am I the only one who dislikes how they display each entry backwards to how people normally read? The entries on that page, as it is everywhere such things are displayed, start at the bottom with that first entry. As each successive entry is added they go up above the previous one until the last one which is at the top. It simply does make for a natural reading style.

Why they do it this way only they know as I have asked, via email, several times with no reply so it would seem that:
1) I will never know who made the decision to do such things backwards
2) I will never know why whoever it was that made that decision made it
3) I will never know why or who decided such a backwards reading style was a good idea.

Simply put it is not. There is, to me anyway, nothing more annoying than finding an article, or several articles as these things are, well, mini articles anyway, like this then realising it is coming to a close or has already closed and having to scroll down through several other days worth to start reading at the bottom. Some of such articles can be several days worth so scrolling takes a while. It is frankly bloody annoying not to mention arse-backwards.

I am aware that there are many, possibly  thousands, of people who start reading on day one and return as each successive days worth of text is added so to them  it may seem right and proper as it is laid out. To those people, and to the BBC, I say there are probably many more thousands, if not millions, who find such pages by accident many months after whatever it is the article covers who then find they can only read the various days worth of text by scrolling first down to the bottom, reading a page which means scrolling up to find that days start then down again as one reads a days worth of text then up to the next days start and so on. Down, up, down up, down up. It absolutely makes no sense.

So, BBC, if you see this then please for the love of all things correct turn these types of daily  articles the right way up. Then those the read the daily articles can read them as normal and those of us who find such daily added articles can read them as normal too.

In living memory eh?

In this BBC article we have the lib-dem leader saying "Today's school leavers could be the first generation in living memory "to end up worse off than their parents". No doubt it has been reported elsewhere but as the BBC is one of the most respected web site for news at all levels that is where I read it first.

Now, being as I am 48 years old at this time in my short stay on this planet I can well remember the problems of getting a job during the late 1970's. i left school during 1976 when jobs for young people where very hard to come by. Sure, things improved during the 1980's but it is that time during 1976 to 1980 i am referring to. A time when if you did manage to find a job you was lucky yo stay in it for more than a few months.

I myself had many such jobs during that time. Not all good jobs either but being from a family that viewed unemployment as something nasty not having one was not an option for me. So, I went from job to job always hoping the next one would last but they never did until in 1978 my Granddad got me a job at a local tannery which lasted some 21 years until my disability get the better of me and I took voluntary redundancy.

But for the leader of a political party to claim the current crop of school leavers as being the first generation in living memory to be worse off than their parents shows either he is too young to remember the late 1970's or he lacks the knowledge about that time. As one who lived through those times I can tell him this current crop is most certainly not the first to suffer through lack of jobs. Not in living memory and not ever.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Yet another Windows worm.

As news spreads of yet another massively spreading Microsoft Windows worm infects every machine it comes into contact with via several different methods such as USB sticks is it not time that Microsoft realises it has lost this game of cat and mouse?

As I am sure some of the more technological mined people know not all the blame can be laid at Microsoft's door but just as certainly some of it can. Microsoft's unending quest for an operating system, rotten at its core, to be an ease of use operating system the  doors that remain in the kernel core and DLL files are just as culpable as the user-base of it.

The new worm wreaking havoc on Microsoft Windows machines is called Cornficker (also known as Downadup and possibly other names as well) is a case of same old same old as far as the worm code is concerned as apparently it is a rework on some much older worm code base. So, why are we subjected yet again to an estimated 3.5 million Microsoft Windows machines being infected with a variation on a theme worm such as this Cornficker is?

There is one main reason why the infection is so quick and prolific and that reason is the general population not installing critical updates that became available as lng ago as last November. So, the blame game surely points at users. Yes? Well, yes and no. Yes because when Microsoft declares something as critical it is worse than that. They have regularly claimed some patch or other as being severe when the world plus dog knows it to be a very very critical hole indeed so when Microsoft say some patch or other it is  critical then it is indeed very very deeply critical. No because if Microsoft did it right they would force ALL critical patches onto user machines and not even give the user a sniff about doing it either. There are those who claim such a  strategy as that is open to abuse and that anyway Microsoft can't do this without the express consent of the machines owner as it could fall foul of various Laws governing remote access, and more importantly changing files on a remote machine which could be classed as hacking,

But those who create such a fuss about a forced installed patch are surely missing the point. For every one of those who complain about such a thing tens of thousands of machine get infected to create yet another botnet on the back of Microsoft's operating system. I have long held that the vast majority of compromised machines are compromised because of user incompetence. When I have build a machine for someone and at their behest installed a Microsoft operating system one of the first things I do is turn on auto updates. If, as is invariably the case, the machine comes back "because it is running slower now" the very first thing I do is check that auto updates are still set to on. Then I check the the virus and malware programs are still being run and still set to auto update their definitions files. Invariably it is these three things that have been turned off due to them "being an annoyance". So, that is a clear case of user stupidity and has nothing whatsoever to do with anything Microsoft may or may not have done.

So, in the end who should get the blame? Microsoft for not forcing such critical updates and patches onto people who know no better and also users for being stupd enough to turn off the very applications designed and installed to protect them from such things as this latest worm. Now, I have been building and using machines since before the very first IBM machines rolled into the general public view and, of course, I am acutely aware of user borne stupidity. For me though the blame lays half way between Microsoft and their users of.

One thing that is for sure over this latest mess is that once again Microsoft Windows, for all its stupid users, it shown to be the broken by design mess it really is.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Will they ever learn?

With reports going around that the MOD's navy  ships  computers have been infected with a virus (or two or three) will these people ever learn? Our Royal Navy ships computers run Microsoft Windows. What flavour I do not know but in all probability it is either Windows XP or Windows Vista. Yes, I could research and find out but all we need to know is two words, Microsoft and Windows. Whether XP or Vista really makes no difference. Both are easily infected.

As the latest virus  calamity strolls around the Internet infecting any and all Microsoft Windows machines it finds it should speak loud and clear to anyone using one of those operating systems that the design of Microsoft Windows is flawed at its very core. And yet, we continue to read about some large and small companies being forced offline because their machines have been infected with whatever is the latest in a long and boring line of viri designed to flush out the flaws and very well they do it too as this reports shows.

So, our Navy runs a known broken operating system that has a track record of being blown wide open on so called none critical systems. Tell those poor sailors that their email is not critical! Seriously though, critical or not that fact that it is well documented is all they should need to have known and know they surely did which makes it all the more surprising that they took Microsoft's word (and probably back handers) on security is frightening.

Microsoft and its operating systems are a busted flush. If, and I doubt they ever will mange to do it, they can clean up their broken operating systems they may still be around in years to come. However, if they continue to follow the same path they have always followed and people see more and more of these virus riddled systems of some high profile company or government department stories circulate then I cannot see a world in years to come where Microsoft still dominates.

More and more countries the world over and leaving Microsoft behind it is about time our country does the same.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Living in a box.

Living in a box, living in a cardboard box as the song goes. Well, more a case of living out of a box.

After some 18 months at our new place we are still unpacking boxes which where filled at the old, much smaller, house we had. It simply amazes me how we fitted so much into that much smaller house. So much, it would seem, that we can't, or haven't yet, found the space to fit it all in at this new, much larger, house.

The old place was a 2 up, 2 down house pretty common here in the U.K. The new house is a 4  bedroom place with a living room area twice the size of the living room and kitchen  areas combined at the old house which makes it all the more surprising we can not, or have not, yet  found the space here to unpack everything.

While not an excuse directly. my previously mentioned disability does not help matters either nor the fact my wife works as both these things mean it is hard to find the time to unpack the mostly hardly ever used stuff. One day....Maybe.

While most of the rooms are now decorated, they are all carpeted, there are still a couple where we have not planted a single lick of paint. Thankfully, as those rooms left were freshly plastered they do not look too bad. Again, my disability and my wife working make getting around to doing these last bits  difficult.

We will of course  finish it all eventually but they are not in our immediate sights. As each family birthday and Christmas passes more and more stuff gets added in spaces we had earmarked for one or more of the unpacked boxes which means another box or two does not get unpacked. Actually, neither is the unpacking of the remaining boxes in our immediate sights as everything we needed to be unpacked was when we first moved house. A box now and again was rifled as and when we wanted the stuff within over time.

I have always hated moving house and will always continue to hate moving house. Apart from the well documented stress associated with moving house these two mentioned parts of the act add to the hate i feel towards the act.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The open world of yesterday.

It is often said that todays world is a global one. From business to the internet it is all global in nature. Or rather that is the nature of the beast. So, when we read about all the various countries with all their various border controls where exactly does this global world fit in?

We have seen many times where those from so called 'problematic' countries are denied access to some other country. This also makes a mockery of the global world in which we supposedly live.

Our financial systems, banks etc, are  global companies and look at what has happened to them. Part, if not all, of the worlds financial meltdown can be attributed to how the  financial sector played in the global world. There are other examples of companies that played in the global world who are now suffering because of it.

So, we live, as our own Prime Minister is want to say, in a global world and yet that global world for many people is a closed door.

A few years ago one could move between the various borders of various countries just as easily as one could walk the streets of ones own city or town. What exactly happened to close the global world door no-one really knows. We can surmise however that the U.S.A. being finally dragged screaming into the terrorist malee (we here in the U.K. had to suffer the U.S.A. funded IRA attrocities a long time before any real terrorist activity landed at the door of the U.S.A. but I digress..) was the catalist for the global world to be unattainable by some. And of course where the U.S.A. goes many other countries follow which closes more and more doors of the global world for some.

The world of today is only global because of the rise of the Internet. For all other aspects the world is no more global now than it ever was and for some never will be.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pain Management.

This is not a moan. It is just a quick explanation of my personal health which goes someway to explaining why this blog is intermittent as I jump from mind state to mind state.

Since the quacks at the Pain Clinic I am attached to decided to change my medication I have never been at such a high level of constant pain as I am currently. Being winter as it is here right now does not help matters either.

The previous medication, while not perfect, in that it did not completely erase the pain, at least allowed me to control the pain I have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now, since they changed it I am a wreck. Both mentally and physically. It is hard to express how tiring pain can be on both the body and the mind but suffice to say it is extremely tiring on both. But, outwardly, apart from the walking stick I need for stability, no-one would ever know as I try desperately sometimes to keep it within the family. My wife is very supportive as are our children which is something I am very very thankful for.

The pain I have stems from a fall I had when aged 4. I fell 40ft out of a tree on to a rockery garden. This led to me being in traction for 2 years after which I had to learn to walk again. Years past and I played many sports such as football and rugby league and many others, even though after every game I was in pain I continued to play until I could no longer suffer in silence. I traveled the world and had been around it twice by the time I was 21 years of age. Mainly because my father took me on long trips where we would get onto land for anywhere between a few hours to several days. I had done many other things such as  water skiing, sky diving and bungy jumping amongst  all the things I had done. Maybe at the back of my mind was that later in life I would not be able to do such things.

By that time I was 28 years of age. Shortly after giving up playing sports, which was a hard thing to do for me as I enjoyed playing so much, I went to the hospital to find out why I was in constant pain. They did an MRI scan from which they discovered I had several slipped discs along my spine. After fidning this out I had keyhole surgery  during which they dissolved the discs and welded my lower spine. This allowed some years  to be relatively pain free.

After about 8 years after having had the surgery the pain started again. Another MRI scan revealed that the area where they had operated some years earlier was starting to fracture. A piece of fractured bone had lodged itself into my spine higher up my back. Added to this was the fact that that same area had become arthritic. All in all this meant a return to the pain i had suffered in my youth.

Fast forward to today and the arthritis has quickly spread to every joint in my body. This is  bloody painful and the pain is constant. Over the  course of the last 4 or 5 years they have swapped and changed the medication I am forced to take many times as they try to work out what medication is best for my personal circumstances. So far they have never managed to decrease the pain 100% but have, from my own feelings, manged to alleviate it by some 50% or so. At least they got it to a level where at a personal level I could manage what was left. Of course, there have been good days and bad days and more recently more bad than good.

Then they go and change my medication again to something they said was stronger than anything they had advised me to take previously. Sadly, for me, while it may well be stronger it certainly does not work. My pain levels have shot through the roof. I am duee to talk with then again soon and will be telling them I cannot continue on the present medication and hope that they put me back on what I was taking previously. I somehow doubt they will though as they expressed caution that it was damaging my liver. So, i guess it is wait and see what else they can come up with.

On a personal level I am within myself happy even though walking is particularly painful. My hands constantly shake which makes typing fun but doable. My gait is bent double and my right leg is all but useless at times hence the walking stick mentioned earlier. I try not to moan and by large I succeed but it is getting harder especially since they changed the medication.

Pain management is not just about the medication though. It is also a mental state which I think I succeed at.

Child protection.

No right minded thinking adult would ever consider hurting a child, much less their own child.

With seemingly the front line people, who have an undertaking to first and foremost protect the nations children from harm, not only from those outside the family circle but also the child's own parents, being in total disarray following some high profile,and not so high profile, cases where said front line people have neglected to do their duty, is it not time for a total and complete rethink on how we consider these things?

As a parent of five children myself I abhor any acts of real violence directed at children who cannot protect themselves and even though as a parent i can understand the why i cannot understand the how they can do it to them, much less their own child. With each new case that is highlighted in the press there are probably thousands of cases that go unreported. And that is a scary thought that all decently and right minded parents should never lose sight of.

As a nation we are seen as a set of compassionate people. But, it would seem, we love our pets more than we love our children. One of the major problems under the current  child protection scheme is not the scheme itself nor the rules and guidance which manipulate those scheme but is, as seen from my own eyes, a lack of people on the front line who are parents themselves. Many, many times I have seen social workers who are barely old enough to have children let alone actually have children of their own who have been on cases. This surely cannot be right.

There are many complex reasons underpinning why a child is in danger. Some of those reasons are never immediately clear. Some parents on the 'hit list' of suspected child abuse, at any level, go to great lengths to hide whatever it is that is a danger to their children and it is only one who is a parent themselves that will see through the smokescreen as they know what parenting is all about. It is hard to see how someone who has never had children themselves could ever see through these smokescreens but within the service itself there are many such people.

It is impossible, not to mention irresponsible, for any one to say they can fix what is so obviously broken in an easy and effortless way, though fixing it is what is needed as currently it is so obvious broken. There is much to moan about and not a lot that can be immediately fixed, but our legislators must endeavor to that aim. One thing that can be and should be fixed within the system designed to protect our children from harm from their own parents is to immediately and without question remove those from any position of first person contact without any parenting experience from within the system. While this by itself will not fix  the obviously broken system it will give  the system a boost in the eyes and minds of all  right minded parents around the country. It will also help to shore up the back feeling directed at such services.

Another thing that should be immediately remedied is the current thinking of try at all costs to keep families together even though the child within the family is known to be in some danger from its own parents. Instead any parent suspected, and more importantly properly and correctly investigated, should have their child or children moved out of harms way. While that is open to abuse it will ensure any child or children deemed to be in harms way will not be harmed. I am not for one second saying they should be moved into that other broken system  children's homes. No. They  should be moved into another family circle where children are known to flourish.

Two very simple ideas that should go a long way to fixing this problem area.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Karoo - A shot in the arm.

A while ago I mentioned taking our fight with the incumbent broadband provider for our area to the E.U. This is gathering pace since I set things in motion.

Of course, once I had blurted it out in an email to them they immediately cut off all level of contact. Total and utter silence is what is coming from their end. Even legal and proper questions to Customer Services go unanswered. Not  surprising I guess but slightly annoying for reasons I shall now explain.

They have both an AUP (Acceptable Usage Policy) and a venerable T&C (Terms and Conditions), like all companies as small as they are they try to cover every conceivable angle in as few words as possible while wrapping the whole thing up in big words. This creates documents that are at best ambiguous and at worse have no legal standing in a court of Law. They know this, of course, but the hope is that your average person never looks at said documents so that when your  average person crosses whatever line they, the company, can point at some ambiguous section and cut off said user. Over the years I have taken several steps to address the ambiguous nature of these documents all to no avail. Now the E.U. is on their tail and they too agree the  documents are too ambiguous and should  therefore be made more legible by your average person.

As to what action the E.U. can and will take I am not allowed to say in detail. What I can say is that the organisation will be looked into. That much is a given. What  will come of it I do not know but as they, Karoo, have annoyed me to this level I do not care as long as it costs them money and they are inconvenienced to the max.

Monday, 5 January 2009

A nice, gentle walk.

As Autumn has given away to winter the fields around here take on a very different look, not to mention smell as the various foliage gives off that winterly aroma. To my surprise Edward, my 12 year old son, asked if I would take a walk with him last night along the field trail we have walked many times since we moved here. The same trail we walk when we walk our dogs. A gentle walk on a cold and frosty January evening is good not only for the soul but also ones personal health.

He said he had been studying at school how plants, trees etc changed through the seasons and that he wanted to take a first hand look at those changes. Because we knew the paths so well he had decided that that would be the best way to go rather than we two looking for new, different routes to take and new, to us, fields to transverse. While taking this familer walk he could see for himself how nature changes from one season to the next. Autumn to winter he said was probably natures most violent change as the leaves on trees and plants die away to make way for new leaves on trees and plants come spring time.

Suitably enamoured by his enthusiasm with walking stick in hand we set about the walk at 6pm on a wild and windy, but dry, cold winterly Sunday evening. Off we walked down the road to the park area, down the side of where the park is there is a longish field. This field leads to an area free from mans meddling. In other words is it nature at its best. Free to grow as much as it likes and it does.

The whole area of fields is as unencumbered as a field can be so. It is here that my son decided was the best place for what he wanted to see. During our time looking at various flowers, weeds, bushes and trees we also saw some of the lowlifes that make such areas no-go for a lot of people. They did not bother us but the threat was always in my mind. As it turned out they were more interested in their glue or whatever it was that was amusing them than they were us two. Anyway, we carried on doing what we wanted to do as if they where not there. After 3 hours it was by now very dark and very very cold, because there is no lighting in that area very dark it was indeed. My son had the forethought to bring a torch which is how he managed to work in the dark. We also brought with us a digital camera, with flash, and a video camera both of which he used as he moved from patch to patch.

After 3 hours he decided he had seen enough and more importantly he had enough information for the homework he had been set before the Christmas holiday breakup. On returning home we were also very cold as the night air was starting to bite. After getting home he immediately headed for his bedroom, forgoing the hot pot of coffee my wife had made to complete his homework. Very quickly he told me to go away and leave him to it promising to show me it as soon as he was finished. He took the digital camera and the video camera so he had the information with him which he turned into words and pictures via the Open Office suite of programs on his Linux based machine. I know he is my son but the work he produced (which I read as soon as he made it available to me, which was later in the evening just before his bed time) was outstanding for his age group. Time will tell if his teachers agree as the work is to be submitted laater today on his first day back after the holidays. He said he should have his results by Wednesday so he will know what the score is. I can't see him getting any less than 90% but I am not his teacher (at school anyway).

It is nice in this day and age, an age where our youth is often daemonised to the point of total and complete mistrust from those from the older age groups, to see a child of that age actually doing something he plainly enjoys and something that does no harm to anyone. The fact he is plainly taking an interest in his environment is also surely a good thing.

A proud father I surely am.

Guilt by name association.

Maybe not guilt as such but certainly touched. For an example of what I am writing about see this BBC article. Read what it is about then look at the name of the guy who purportedly wrote it.

This sort of thing happens all the time, especially in the science world, but that does not make it any less annoying that it happens at all. Furtherance of ones own country, and by extension ones own countrymen, even those who lived centuries ago is something to be applauded, especially if the reason for said furtherance is previously an unknown fact or two, but again that does not make it any the less annoying.

No one, least of all myself, would disagree with the sentiments of that article but does any one outside of the science community really care who did what centuries ago? Does it really make any difference to what we do now, or how we look and use something, on a daily basis? While history as a subject was something I personally enjoyed at school and since leaving school linking ones own birth name and place to someone who purportedly furthered what science knew at that time is in my opinion a futile exercise in the extreme.

Which make it all the more surprising that the BBC can give up resources, money and airtime to such things, but do all that they have.

Look again at the authors name and  tell me you cannot see what I see. Am I really so cynical? Obviously I am but that alone does not make me wrong. Does it?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Oh stop it!

Please. Stop it you are making me laugh so hard my sides are aching. What is it that is causing this? Climate Change. Global Warming. Call it whatever you like but please stop with the lies.

It has been proven many times that a lot of the problems various plant life, both surface and seafaring, has nothing at all to do with climate change. climate change itself has been proven to be something of a lie too. While the planet we live on may be getting warmer it is getting warmer because of a perfectly natural  weather  cycle. It has nothing to do with Man or what Man has done in the last 100, 200 or even 300 years.

I have said many many times it is all bollocks and now the proof is out there to back up my claims. The polar region has more ice now than at any time since records began and yet there are still those with a vested interest to keep the myth running who claim otherwise. And what is worse of all this is the governments the word over have fallen for the lies. Not too surprising i suppose given the collective intelligence of those we entrust with our countries affairs.

Still, at least you lot trying to keep the myth alive are giving me and other who like me can see through the lies a good laugh.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Yours in particular.

Have you noticed how much Government interference there is in your everyday life? They have cameras everywhere watching your every move. They are planning a huge database of every possible communication you can do. Email, telephone, mobile phones, web interaction all being stored so they know everything you do in your daily life. Combine the two together and you will get a very good map of what each and every individual does. It is  scary. Think about it for a second or two. Doesn't it scare you too? It should.

We are walking directly into a surfailence society where the government can and will track each and every individual.

on another level of interference by our government, who  are supposed to be serving us not watching us, we have various things happening. Take this BBC report as one such example. While no-one can say we  do not have an obesity problem it is not and never will be as wide spread as the government claims it will be but onward they go towards yet more meddling in peoples private lives.

The current government has done more to break down the privacy barriers of people than any other government in our history. Some they claim is to combat some hidden boggymen but mess with your mind they do and there is little you can do about it. Wake up now and rise up otherwise before you know what has hit you you will have absolutely no privacy from government level interference at all.

It not hard to imagine them putting cameras in your home so they can keep an ever watchful eye on what you get up to. It is but a short step for them to take and if you don't do something now it will happen before too long.

There has been many Laws squashed, passed or rehashed that take way another strip. And nobody appears to listen to those who are shouting against  them.

I fear for the future of my children in this country more now than I have every done.