Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Simply Bowled Over

On the evening of Thursday 13th December 2007 - AFL Social Enterprise Division -minus one member of staff who couldn't come out to play as he had to stay in and wash his hair :) - descended on Strikes Bowling Alley in Ely for a little soire of food and bowling!

Beat The Boss was the aim of the night! But it really isn't the winning or losing but the taking part that counts. No. Really.

Everyone had a really good time and to prove it here are a couple of photo's from the night.


Serious Pre-Tournament Training!


Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted Sisters!


The Boss

The Italian Job

(He Thinks He's The Boss!)





Oh What Fun We Had!

Did we beat the boss - hell no! (It was in the contract!)



The A-Team

In 2004 a charity started a Circuit Rider project through a government backed initiative. These men propmptly escaped from the confines of their host charitys' M&A's to the underground of Social Enterprise. 

Today, still backed by funding and charging for services, they survive as Circuit Riders of Fortune. 

If you have an IT problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them not in the pub, maybe you can hire the i-TRUST team!

Col Hannabal Smith
Lt. 'Face' Peck
Sgt BA Baracus
Capt Howlin' Mad Murdoch
Reporter: Amy Allen

What do you mean did we have fun at the Xmas Party? What Party!!!!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Cambridgeshire Circuit Riders Get Everywhere





Even on the Regional page of the Capacity Builders Website! And not the page covering the east of England, Oh No. The 'home' page for that section, Oh yes!





And is that the shuttle that Peter is standing in demonstrating the wonders of technology...?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Orange Becomes Bitter Over Freeserve

From the Inquirer

Orange suspends old Freeserve accounts
Naughty boy, you're not paying us anything
By Tony Dennis: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 8:46 PM


ICONIC FREESERVE was a market leader in the early days of the UK Internet scene. But the ISP has been sold on and become part of Orange/Wanadoo. So your email account might get suspended.

The INQ was alerted to this problem when a reader's email address suddenly stopped working. Well, suddenly is a bit of an exaggeration. He hadn't used it for something like 17 days.The upshot was that downloading and sending emails via Microsoft Outlook stopped working even though the facility had worked for years.

The reason is simple. Our reader had grown tired of the service offered by Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange and migrated to Talk Talk.So, in effect, he wasn't paying a sausage to Orange. Naturally the company take umbrage at such outrageous behaviour and cuts off access to your Freeserve email account.

The INQ has looked this up and officially Orange says it will cut former Freeserve users off after 219 days.

But don't despair. There's a way to reactivate your Freeserve account. If you go onto the Orange Uk home page, you'll see a menu marked 'Your Account'.

Under that is an option marked 'restore Internet account'. It's very easy to use this facility to restore an old Freeserve account if it's been disconnected.

There's only one problem. Your Freeswerve email address will now only be accessible as web mail so you can't get to it via Outlook, for example.
You can't blame Orange, though. If you've given up using its broadband/dialup service, it is – in effect- providing you with access to your old Freeserve address for free. µ

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Well SKiLD!



Wed 7th Nov 2007 - Peterborough CVS
SKiLD Workshop
ICT for Development Workers
Workshop Leader: Paul Ruskin/Paul Jefford

As part of the SKiLD Learning Activities program for development workers a workshop was run on ICT for Development Workers at Peterborough CVS today.

The workshop was an enormous success and all who attended felt it was very worthwhile.
The aim of the day was to ask those present what question they had about ICT, what questions they get asked about ICT, how do they deal with these questions, where do they turn for answers?

Delegates came from St Albans, Ely, Peterborough, North Herts, South Lincs and Burnley - so all nice and local!

We would like to express our thanks to all who attended, to Peterborough CVS for hosting the event, to the person who gave up their parking space for us and to the caterers for a slendid buffet lunch!!

Here are some pictures from today's session:

The group in discussion


Telling It How It Is!

Exercising!


Quick before he gets back!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Do you WILF?

66% of Internet Users have done it.
You are 60% more likely to do it if you live Scotland than elesewhere in the UK.
Men are bigger WILFers than women :)
If you are over 55 you are 3 time less likely to do it then if you are 25.

A term derived from What Was I Looking For - WILFing is the art of surfing the net without real purpose, and, according to various reports could soon become a national pastime.

I have to admit here and now to being a serial WILFer. My excuse is I use iGoogle as my web browser home page. I make use of the facility to customise the page to have sections, in fact I even have tabbed pages so my content is over three pages.
Page 1: Dedicated to useful Work and Personal Shortcuts, News, Sport, Weather etc.
Page 2: Various Games
Page 3: Really Sexy - all things FOSS

In fact it was a spot of WILFing that lead to this blog entry.

I went to look up the opening times of the local vets and my browser opened on the FOSS page and I saw an article about "Open Source: The most disruptive force in IT today ?" Of course I had to take a look and then found that the FULL Article does not exist so I followed the links to the the related sites... and so it began...

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

That Will Teach Me To Go On Holiday!


How times change. 

50 Years ago a campaign started to get us to Go To Work On An Egg! (Mind you its easier to go to work on egg than it is to get anywhere by public transport!)
Where was I, ah yes, the likes of Tony Hancock and Patricia Hayes extolling the virtues of the egg as the  breakfast food.

I remember well the advert with Ms Hayes playing a Landlady and asking of her lodger "How do you want yer eggs? Fried or Boiled?" and the lodger replying "Eggs Risotto please Mrs P" to which she said "What's that? Fried or Boiled?" They don't make them like that anymore (thank goodness). In fact these adverts were eventually banned as they deemed to promote an unhealthy, unvaried diet!
Then we moved to time when eggs were positively BAD for you. If the Salmonella didn't get you, Edwina Currie did. 

Well I can tell you here and now that eggs are bad for you. Although not suitable for wide scale damage as an antipersonnel device they are almost perfect!.

There I was enjoying the first morning of may holiday - spent I'll have you know finishing off a set of slides for a presentation and writing a proposal - when to quote John Cleese in the Cheese Shop Sketch "I became all 'ungry lyke!"
I know thinks I, I slice of nicely toasted wholemeal bread topped with a delicately poached EGG would be a treat! Oh how wrong was I.

1. I did not check the toaster before inserting the bread and had not realised that my son had turned it to a setting so low that rather than toast the bread it just made it warm and soggy. So I turned the toaster up and put the bread back in. The phone rang and although only a short call it was time enough for the toast to burn because I had forgotten Brevelles Forth Law of Toasting - namely " Bread will burn no matter what the setting if it has previously been in the toaster at any time!"

2. Then to the preparation of the eggs.
In to a pan of boiling water that had agitated with a spoon to create a whirlpool in the water I add the first egg, the second egg fell apart as I cracked it and went all over the worktop, so I tried with another egg and this cracked ok but on entry to the pan seemed to disintigrate.

3. I left the eggs for the required time, lid on, heat off. I removed the eggs or in this case eggy messy from the pan and placed on top of the toast. It was not properly cooked, and although I like my steak on the rare side of blue, eggs are something even I won't eat if not cooked properly.

What followed next was a real top chef hissy hit as I slammed around the kitchen swearing at all the utensils, the dish washer, the cooker, the toaster, even the poor old cat! Then I calmed down and thought don't be a prat. Stick it in the microwave for a few seconds that will finish it off.
It is at this point I have to exercise my Public Duty an say

"DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!"


"NO REALLY! DON'T"

The eggs first visit of 20 seconds to the microwave improved the situation viz-a-viz the physical substances of the foodstuff and to complete the transformation a further 15 seconds was deemed necessary, in fact a further 12 seconds was applied.

The plate on which lay the toast upon which the eggs nestled, was removed from the microwave and a quick visual inspection showed the egg to cooked! 

Holding the plate I then moved to the other work top to pick up my cutlery and then turned to sit at the kitchen table. ( About 3 steps and 5 seconds after removal from microwave).

I heard a funny phsssttt sound and in the split second I realised it was the egg, it exploded, or more accuratley the Yolk Exploded taking the white with it. This obviously made me jump! But not as much as the lumps of egg shrapnel that had attached themselves to various parts of my face, including the lids of the left eye.

Egg has a similar property to hot jam in as much as if you get it on your skin, it sticks and burns and it is very difficult to get off and apply anything cold to the area of the burn.

So I am flaying around the kitchen sink 'blindly' trying to find a cloth with which to bath my damaged eye. I find the cloth - hurrah. A quick dowse under the tape to soak with cold water to apply to my eye! This procedure started well. It was about 5 seconds in that I found out there was something else of a cleaning product nature on the cloth and as fast as the cool was soothing my damaged eye, the other element was making it worse!. 

I eventually managed to find a clean cloth and administer the necessary first aid.

But if this what happens when you take a holiday you can stuff it! I'd rather remain tired, miserable, stressed, lonely and morose - it's a lot safer!!

For those of you that are interested I managed to secure one of the photo's taken by the Investigation Team that arrived shortly after the explosion. This is what was scrapped up from the floor. You can still see the wires!!!






Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Here's One I Made Earlier....

Having already in an earlier post waxed lyrical about the need to have watched Blue Peter to be a true circuit rider.

I have even more evidence...

I think the following could become the Circuit Rider Motto

"We the (un)willing
Lead by the Unknowing
And having achieved so much from so little so often
We are now able to make anything out of nothing"

Any way only a true circuit rider could turn


hee hee can yu guess what it iz yet?


That's right
In To



A fully working office for our Projects Division 

All 0ut of old cardboard boxes, sticky tape, bag ties, the foil off yoghurt pots, string, 
round-nosed scissors(we got an adult to help with the cutting out) poster paint, cotton wool, Lesley Judd, and lots and lots of sticky-backed plastic!

We took the "Build An Operations Room For Your Male Action Figures" make and adjusted it a bit! Just hope we got the scale right! I think we should have used rubber solution glue to stick things together. I said they only use double-sided tape on the 'make' coz it was quicker and to show you the finished object! Would they listen?...........

Sunday, 14 October 2007

In Recognition of Services Above & Beyond...


Social Enterprise Division

On the evening of 12th October 2007 the management team of Advice For Life invited the staff, and their partners,of the Social Enterprise Division to join them for a meal at Montaz, an A-La Carte Indian Restaurant situated in Market Street, Ely.

This was to acknowledge 
  • the success of the division and pay tribute to the extremely hard work of all the staff
  • the sacrifices made by the partners and families and to thank them for putting up with the long hours the staff work
It was also to applaud they way the division and the 'team' has grown and developed over the last 10 months going from

"Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred."
extract from the Charge Of The Light Brigade - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

through
"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
extract from IF - Rudyard Kipling

to
"From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;"
extract from Henry V - William Shakespeare

On behalf of my fellow workers with the Social Enterprise Divison I would like to put on record our thanks for being given the recognition we deserve and say " It's about time!! :)"

Seriously! Thank You Very Much !
I would also like to thank my mum and dad for making me possible.... ;->

Friday, 12 October 2007

This Is One Small Step For UK ONLINE. One Giant Leap for AFL


Live from the surface of planet Red Square, Ely.

I am writing this entry live from our mission to Ely Market Square.

Take Off was delayed by 45 minutes due to a rogue car being parked to close to the support gantries so the launch pad had to be re-sited!

We arrived on the square at 09:50 UK BST and had the Shuttle up and running by 10:05 ready to deliver UK ONLINEs Get On Line Day. A small technical problem arose at 10:30 which was a bit of a Huston We Have a Problem, this resulted in an unscheduled EVA to repair an transmission cable. Flt Lt Poulter carried out the repair with his teeth an a small piece of chewing gum wrapper (kidding! it was a bit of polo packet!) ;)

It is now 14:30 and the mission is going well. The indigenous population are friendly, and the flight crew have invited several people to join them on the flight deck and recieve free gifts in exchange for playing a simple on-line day.
Here are some pictures of the mission so far.
@spire - safely landed on the surface of Red Square
One of our younger visitors enjoying a visit to the shuttle

Commander Buchan in conversation with an interested visitor.

More pictures will be posted later...

Click ->Here <- For More Pictures

Or ->Here<- for something more moving!

Circuit Rider Attacked By Fen Tiger!!

What are the odds? 

To be on the receiving end of the infamous Fen Tiger's attentions not once but twice!

Preparing for yet another action-packed day as a Circuit Rider - (each day is a cross between Forrest Gumps "Life Is Like A Box of Choc-o-lates  ye neva know wot ya gonna get" and Stars In Their Eyes - Tonight Matthew I'm Going To Be ...) - and having woken up with the headache from hell and therefore resorting to my favourite remedy for this - the 4 T's (Tea, Toast, Tablets and Twenty more minutes in bed) - it was whilst I was munching on my Vegemite toast that the fabled creature appeared and pinned me down and forcibly removed the toast from my plate!! Honest!! - She (yes the Fen Tiger is in fact a Tigress) even got me to 'cut' up the toast in to little fun size pieces so it was easier for her to manage!

I was a bit slow off the mark this time so I was unable to capture the creature on camera but my first attack.

However, here are the newspaper article and a picture of the felonious villian from that occasion. (More Here)


PS: Today Matthew I'm Going To Be An Astronaut! See Come On, Turn Up, Drop In

Thursday, 11 October 2007

A Techies Lot Is Not An 'Appy One

When a user's not engaged in his employment (his employment)
He likes to go a browsing on the net (on the net)
Downloading lots of things for his enjoyment (his enjoyment)
I wonder just which viruses he'll get (bugs he'll get)
He calls to say his PC keeps on freezing (keeps on freezing)
And swears it isn't anything he's done (thing he's done)
The excuses they will use beyond believing (beyond believing)
No, a techie's lot is not a happy one (Aaaaah)
With virus-cleaning duties to be done, to be done
No, a techie's lot is not a happy one (happy one)

When a user calls to say their PC's broken (PC's broken)
The screen is black 'cause there's a power cut (power cut)
You know they're much too thick to own a 'puter (a computer)
It's very hard to keep your mouth tight shut (keep it shut)
When a user says she's got a broken cup-tray (broken cup-tray)
It turns out that she means the CD-ROM (CD-ROM)
And they think their PC's so ****ed up they (so ****ed up they)
Know a techie's lot is not a happy one (Aaaaah)
With technical supporting to be done, to be done
No, a techie's lot is not a happy one (happy one)

When the phone rings for an element'ry blunder ('ment'ry blunder)
When the problem that's described is quite absurd (quite absurd)
And it's happened twice before - so it's no wonder (it's no wonder)
That "USER" is a bad four-letter word (letter word)
And the error's nowhere near what they're reporting (they're reporting)
It makes you wish you're carrying a gun (-ing a gun)
And to all the idiots that we're supporting (we're supporting):
A techie's lot is not a happy one (Aaaaah)
With user-interfacing to be done, to be done
No, a techie's lot is not a happy one (happy one)

With apologies to the legendary Gilbert & Sullivan's When a Fellon's Not Engage (or A Policeman's Lot) from The Pirates of Penzance.

I am greatly indebted to Phil Alexander for this brilliant parody! (this is only one of around 700 parodies written by Phil)

Come On, Turn Up and Drop In

(apologies to Mr T Leary)

@spire - The Shuttle

It was action stations today at launch control (Cape Lancaster Way Business Park) and mission control as AFL Shuttle @spire and its crew prepare for their latest mission.

Operation Get On Line Day is due to commence at 10.00am on Friday 12th October - UK BST.

Part of Families Week, Get On Line Day, is an UK Online initiative aimed at getting more people using the web and computers.
Shuttle Commander, Peter Buchan, is joined by Paul Jefford (a vetran of early shuttle missions) and a first time Shuttlenaught - Giulia Vicari, an Italian Student, working with AFL's Social Enterprise Division.

This mission will be exciting as Shuttlenaught Vicari will be docking with the Shuttle once it has landed on Ely's Market Square. Commander Buchan's usual Co-Pilot will be flying the special mission to meet up with the shuttle to allow Sig.na Vicari to transfer to main mission.

There was a slight problem reported yesterday when engineers realised that one of the rocket housings needed a bit of a 'touch up' to the finish after a recent structural repair. 

However a support team managed to put this right this afternoon when Peter turned up with a can of black hammerite smooth.

Early indications are that the weather should not interfere with the mission but this is mid October, England, UK so basically who trusts weather forecasters!

Details of the shuttle's latest mission will be posted on this site as soon as possible after the event.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Microsoft Re Write Dictionary Definition of Open Source!

One of the many dictionary definitions of Open Source

"open source
n. [common; also adj. `open-source'] Term coined in March 1998 following the Mozilla release to describe software distributed in source under licenses guaranteeing anybody rights to freely use, modify, and redistribute, the code. The intent was to be able to sell the hackers' ways of doing software to industry and the mainstream by avoid the negative connotations (to
suits) of the term "free software". For discussion of the followon tactics and their consequences, see the Open Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org) site."

However, the following article posted on the Inquirer, shows that Microsoft beg to differ.

Microsoft "Open Sauces" .NET
In a very proprietary way, complains bloke


have a read a learn the error of our ways.

Thank you Microsoft!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A Day In The Life Of A Circuit Rider

What makes a good circuit rider?
  1. An understanding of the VCS? Possibly!

  2. A good technical back ground/good technical knowledge? Will help!

  3. An understanding of applications both open source and 'Microsoft'? Ditto!

  4. Knowing how to work a projector at an AGM? Does carry a few brownie points!

  5. Excellent Working Knowledge of PowerPoint. Obviously!

No1 Most Important - Watching Blue Peter As A Child!!!

How else would any self respecting Circuit Rider know how to turn a flower pot stand in to a projector stand using


2 x Tea Trays
1 x NetGear Print Server (in its packaging)
1 x 12" long piece of scrap wood 3/4" x 1/2"
White Electrical Tape
Masking Tape


Not a yoghurt pot, brass paper fastner, no rubber solution glue or any sticky backed plastic in sight!

Don't let the bugs bite!

INQ Guide to free anti-virus software
Windows for Doughnuts Free anti-virus
By
Liam Proven: Wednesday, 03 October 2007, 5:25 PM

THIS IS ONE of the most critical components of the setup of any PC today. A machine doesn't need to be on the Web to be at risk; there are decades-old viruses that can still spread by disk transfer, and new ones that can infect USB thumbdrives.

Direct infection across local-area networks is also a common problem; someone takes a laptop outside the company LAN, picks up something nasty in an Internet Café, later on reconnects in the office and the bug is on the rampage.

Companies such as Symantec and McAfee make good money selling anti-virus solutions, both to big businesses and to home users. If you buy a new PC from one of the big vendors, it's quite likely to come with some kind of anti-virus preloaded, but all too often, it's only a trial or demonstration version, and after a month or three it will stop working. Generally, the program still runs but it no longer gets updated definitions.

A common misconception is that an anti-virus program will protect against spyware too. Most do not. We'll look at anti-spyware in a later article.

But my old copy of Norton works fineA common trap to fall into is to just keep renewing the updates subscription for a commercial program. In a word: don't. Get a new version.
New types of virus appear constantly, as today, they're big business: collections of infected, remotely-controlled computers are used for sending spam and for organizing "distributed denial of service" attacks, where business sites such as online betting shops are held to ransom. It's not a lucrative business on a per-PC basis, but today,
one of the biggest supercomputers in the world is a "botnet" - a team of millions of compromised PCs, remotely controlled from illegal websites and chatrooms. With such resources at their disposal, crooks can make a good profit. If you can send several million spams a day, even a success rate of 0.01% can make a lot of money from hapless idiots who think that a pill can make them taller or a bodypart grow bigger.
The snag is that an out-of-date anti-virus program, even with the latest definitions, can't catch the new viruses that later versions have been rewritten to spot and remove. Obsolete anti-virus is worse than none, because it imbues you with a false sense of security. Users think they're protected - the past-it program may be giving their PC a clean bill of health - but actually, they could be infested.


Many of the leading commercial anti-virus tools can be upgraded over the counter for half the cost of buying that years' new update, but why bother, when you can get protection for free?
When choosing a free anti-virus program, there are some important things to watch out for. The essential features of a full anti-virus program are real-time monitor and some kind of virus removal procedure. Several companies offer free scanners, but a scanner alone is not enough. For one thing, while it's useful to be able to scan your computer as a check, a simple scanner doesn't sit in the background and monitor file activity on your PC, so it won't notice if you receive an infected file by email or instant message, or insert an infected disk. This is called real-time monitoring and it's a must-have.


Secondly, some free programs will tell you that you've caught something nasty, but they lack any ability to remove what they've found. There are three main ways to treat an infected file: simply delete it, the easiest and safest; or to quarantine it, move it into a protected safe storage area where it can do no harm, for later inspection or salvage; or finally disinfection, which attempts to remove the virus from a document or program and leave you with a safe, usable file. This last is the hardest to do successfully, and whereas it can sometimes work, it's safer and better to bin the dodgy doc and get a clean copy from elsewhere - like your backups. You do keep backups, don't you?

There's no harm in having a scanner, but it can only be a second line of defence, to be used to verify that your main program is telling the truth and that you really are clean.
Czech this outFor some reason, the Czechs dominate the world of free antivirus. Both the best-known program,
AVG Free from Grisoft, and the highly-regarded runner-up, Avast Home from Alwil, are from the Czech Republic. In the country next door is Avira in Germany with its free AntiVir.

All have the same snag: they're only free for non-commercial use. For home, personal or nonprofit users, they're a bargain, but business users must pay a modest fee or look elsewhere. Avast has, if anything, the best reputation, but has the slight snag that the free download only works for a couple of months. To use it for longer, you must register with a valid email address, and re-register annually.

Along with their free firewalls, both PC Tools and Comodo also offer a free antivirus program. Both cover the essentials and the websites don't mention any riders about business use.
The only big open-source offering in anti-virus is
ClamWin, the Windows version of ClamAV, the popular Linux scanner used on many email servers. It's kosher for use in corporate environments, but it doesn't do real-time monitoring, as this isn't a problem on Linux.

An example of the hazards of spyware is VCatch, a rather ineffective free antivirus program with a nasty payload. Avoid.

L'Inqs
AVG Free 7.5 from GrisoftAvast Home from Alwil
PC Tools Free Antivirus Comodo Free Antivirus - note, still in beta test.
Avira AntiVi

For belt-and-braces security, here are some decent scanners to check that you really are clean.
ClamWin
BitDefender Free (Download here.)

Online scanners. These run inside Internet Explorer, so need no download or installation.
McAfee FreeScanPanda ActiveScan

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Big Brother Is Watching You

Mr Blair was right (Eric not Tony).
UK coppers empowered to demand your encryption keys

All you data is now belongs to the plod

Under part three, Section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) if Inspector Knacker of the Yard knocks on your door and wants to have a snuffle on your hard drive and finds a blob of encrypted code he can make you decode it.

If you refuse, and the copper is investigating acts of terrorism, you could be eating five years of porridge at her Majesty's Pleasure. If it just happens to be an ordinary crime that the copper is investigating you could be up for two years jailtime!

Full Article Here

Its for Chaaaaaaaritee Folks!



It's official pop pickers! There are Flowers in the Rain! (Opps really showning my age here)

DON'T PAY FOR SOFTWARE!!
BBC RADIO ONE SAYS SO!

On Jo Wiley's show during a "consumer information slot" the consumer guru said "Don't pay for Anti Virus Software because there are good, free, programs out there like AVG that are free for home users". He then went on to say " Are you student just of to Uni, new laptop? Paid out £200 or more for Microsoft Office - apart from the fact you can get a Student Pack for greatly reduced cost - better still there is a product called Open Office which is 'free' and just as good."

Now all we need is for it to be published in the 'Super Soar Away Sun' and we'll know it's true!!!









Sunday, 30 September 2007

Vista Not Buena For Microsoft


Microsoft told to abandon Vista
Give up and start over


By Egan Orion: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 12:30 PM - The Inquirer


THE NATIVES are getting restless, a bog post at Cnet urging Microsoft to dump Vista reveals.
Accompanied by a picture of the Windows Vista Ultimate edition box labeled " The Microsoft albatross," writer Don Reisinger's piece entitled "Why Microsoft must abandon Vista to save itself" begins "While Vista was originally touted by Microsoft as the operating system savior we've all been waiting for, it has turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in technology."

After taking the Vole to task for the lack of value in Vista Ultimate, he goes on to build a case that Vista is a disaster and Microsoft should just dump it and start over. Disappointing sales, check. OEM PC sellers sticking with XP, check. Apple's Mac sales surging, check.

He writes "With each passing day, it's becoming blatantly clear that Microsoft released Vista too early and the company's continual mistakes and promises that can't be kept are further annoying the Windows faithful."

He discounts the widespread hope among Windows users that a Service Pack will fix Vista, asking "Will SP1 eliminate the ridiculous Microsoft licensing schemes? Will SP1 drop the price on the higher-end versions? Will SP1 eliminate the need for users to buy a new computer just to use the faulty OS?" He takes the view that, while a Service Pack might fix some of Vista's known bugs and flaws, history suggests it will likely introduce new ones.

For the full Inquirer Article click here

For more on this story click here
Our advice to our clients has been stick with XP Professional - better the devil you know!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Crab Apple Sauce


Wozniak hates Open Sauce
Undoes all the good Apple bought into the world
By Nick Farrell: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 8:47 AM; The Inquirer

In an interview with eWeek the wizard of Woz (Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple) calls Open Saucers "... a group of people who want to undo the forces of industry that have given us so much in terms of wealth".

He also says "there are always people who want things to be free and the open-source movement starts with those sort of people"

and continues with "the good points in Open Sauce have nothing to do with whether the software is free or not ... the best part about it is the idea of developing something and then making it known ..."

Who yanked his chain?

Read the Inquirer article here

Read the eWeek article here

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Whose Been Sitting in My Chair?

Wicked Uncle Ernie (apologies to Messrs Daltry, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon) has been at it again.

According to my favourite online publication - the Inquirer - in a report by Nick Farrell, Microsoft have been indulging in some very naughty, underhand behaviour...

"Microsoft fiddles with your Windows without permission

Even if you have auto-updates switched off"

SOFTWARE GIANT, Microsoft has been caught updating punters' Windows machines without asking them.

Scott Dunn of Windows Secrets has noticed that Windows Update (WU) has recently started altering files on users' systems without displaying any dialogue box to request permission. 

So far, there is no indication what the changes actually do either. There are no software conflicts caused by the patches and no reason to kill them off.

However as Dunn said it is more of a concern that Microtus Sneakicus thinks it is allowed into your computer to tinker with files without asking. You never know what they could get up to.

Read the full article here

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Wednesday 12th September 2007

I enjoy reading!

I like to be able to dissappear off in to a world of fiction and lose myself in a darn fine yarn.

On some occasions it is even possible to empathise with the characters and feel what they feel.

Take this morning for instance. I now know Harry Potter feels!

OK, I 'd just like to say

  1. I'm not a fictional character - I think therefore I am
  2. I'm not a wizard - although I like to think in my role as a Circuit Rider I have performed the odd piece of magic
  3. I'm not a skinny runt with a lightening shaped scar on my head - I'm more of the Dudley Dursley build if I'm honest.

But I do now, know what its like when your family forgets your birthday!!

When they do finally twig that today is one they should remember it is with that casual oh well you don't really count birthdays at your age anymore, do you!?

However much that last statement might have a basis in truth it still doesn't forgive them.

It's a good job I don't hold grudges!

The people at work remembered (mind you I did put it up on the board!)

Caveat Emptor

Just when you thought you'd heard everything and thought it safe to stick your head up over the parapet once more, along comes another tale of rank stupidity that makes you wonder how we ever got clever enough to come down out of the tree's!

PC World claims Linux melts laptops shouts the Inquirer in another article by Nick Farrell.

OS Swap blamed for manufacturing fault!

THE "TECH" PEOPLE at PC World seem to think that Linux is responsible for creating manufacturing faults.
A Slashdot reader took his five-month-old laptop into PC World with a broken hinge to the display which had cracked the plastic casing.
However the technical wizards at PC World refused to fix the fault because the punter had replaced the pre-installed Windows Vista with Gentoo Linux.
They claimed that installing Linux had voided his warranty and there is nothing they will do for him.
Like many indignant Brits he asked to speak to the manager and was told that he had been ordered to refuse any repairs if the operating system has been changed.
More here. µ

This sounds like a basic infringement of a buyers statutory rights under an item being fit for purpose. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Internet Security - Content Blocking

Having recently been asked to provide a quote for one of our support clients to provide an Internet protection/content blocking package, my fellow Circuit Rider, David Poulter, after wading through the usual subjects like Cyper Patrol, Net Nanny, etc came across a the following product;

Features Include;
  • Content Control (through blocked site list and a word list - both updateable)
  • Time Control - set times when the Internet is actually available
  • Usage Logging & Email Notifications - check what is going on and receive reports by email
  • Application Usage Restrictions - decide what applications are accessible
  • System Restrictions - stop unwanted installs and protect sensative files
It is easy to set up and appears to be a very powerful tool and the software is free to download! Which makes it even better. More Here

But it doesn't stop there, as Crawler Parental, the organisation behind this product have a whole suite of really useful looking applications that could find a place in most Circuit Rider Tool Kits. Check them out!

We'd be keen to hear from anyone that is using, has used, or tries out any of these products! Let us know what you think!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Microsoft Announces Details Of Service Packs

Microsoft shouts service pack plans Vista SP1 and XP SP3 en route
By
Wily Ferret: Wednesday 29 August 2007, 18:33 (The Inquirer)

MICROSOFT HAS finally publicly announced its plans for the roll out of beta versions of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3. In a long Q&A announcement, the Vole has published the details of what's in, what's out and when it's due.


Vista SP1 will be entering beta "in a few weeks" and will be "released to a moderate size audience". Interestingly, this audience does not include standard MSDN and Technet subscribers, as might usually be the case - it seems that Microsoft wants to drill down a little and hand-pick its own testers. The update, we are told, is focused on improving reliability of third party applications and drivers to reduce the number of blue screens, as well as adding business-level improvements.

For example, Vista 64-bit can now boot from an EFI machine, meaning Intel Macs can get the full Vista experience. ExFAT is supported, enabling the usage of a new range of flash storage devices. There's the controversial DirectX 1.01 update, as well as Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol, an enhancement to Vista's VPN platform.

There are a few decent improvements for IT managers, too, many of whom will have been waiting for SP1 before deploying Vista widely. Bitlocker, the drive encryption tool in Ultimate and Business editions, can now lock any local drive. There's improved support for printers, and better network diagnostics for end users.
Crucially, there's no mention of any security updates, which means either than Microsoft isn't talking about it, or that security updates are really being dealt with through the regular 'patch Tuesday' events. Vista has consistently proved itself to be a more robust platform than XP when it comes to flaws and holes in the OS.

However, there is a cryptic mention of the Windows Server 2008 issue (the Vista client has to be updated to work with the new version of the kernel being rolled out in the server OS). Microsoft alludes to this by saying that some common files between the two strands of the codebase will be updated in the service pack - and whilst "most of these changes do not change the features or functionality of Windows Vista", nonetheless "some of these changes may increase the reliability of Vista SP1".

The download is around 50MB for the 32-bit version. The full release is expected, the Vole sayeth, in the first quarter of 2008.

As for XP SP3, the news is rather less exciting. The full thing is scheduled, rather vaguely, for the first half of 2008. The service pack is basically a "roll up of all the hot fixes and patches including security updates, out of band releases and hotfixes". There are, we quote, "no new features" in the service pack, with the bare exception of Network Access Protection, a Vista feature being ported backwards to XP machines connected to Server 2008.

As for the Server platform itself, the 2008 date appears set on February 27. That's when things start getting interesting