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



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

"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

"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 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 ( 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
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.

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.
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)


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!!!