Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

30 Dec 2005

Leap Second

Apparently we get a leap second this year. So the last minute of the year will have 61 not 60 seconds in it. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with the extra second...


27 Dec 2005

Strange Names

There is an interesting article and thread about it on /. discussing application names in Linux. The author claims that applications in Linux have funny names that confuse Windows users and this contributes to holding Linux back from wider scale adoption.

I think that there are number of problems with the original article and these are disused on /. The first point is that obviously none of this has anything to do with Linux, many of the so called oddly named applications also run on most other Unix systems and many even run on Windows.

Secondly, while many applications do have arbitrary names that have little or no relation to their function, many allegedly well known applications are also arbitrarily named. If you didn't know what they were for "Outlook", "PowerPoint", and "Excel"[1] or "Bold", "Cif" and "Ajax"[2] really tell you very little about what they do.

Finally, in many distributions the user menu is structured so that different application types are both described and functionally grouped - something Microsoft get's very wrong with Windows - where applications are grouped by vendor.

Menu structure and layout is a very important thing, it's one of the most laborious jobs in getting the GUI ready for end users. While there is something to be said for brand recognition, in reality, the actual name of a given application is less important than where it's placed in the user menu and how it's described.

  1. Productivity software applications in the Microsoft Office Suite.
  2. Cleaning products available in the UK and other countries.

26 Dec 2005

Television

Traditionally in the UK, christamas TV has been special. All the big block-buster films, flagship dramas and comedies all premier. While it's true that there has been a Dr Who special, other than that it's been very bland. In fact we've watched even less TV than we would on a normal weekend.


25 Dec 2005

Temporary Image Persistence

When I got my new PCs this year I bought them with Iiyama ProLite E435S TFT LCD. After a few months one of them started to develop Temporary Image Persistence (TIP), it gradually got worse and though it's not permanent it take longer to get rid of the problem than it takes for it to reoccur.

Iiyama replaced the unit under warranty a few months ago and the replacement has been fine. The second unit is showing some TIP but much less than the first and it's mild enough to clear up on it's own naturally.

It's over a year since I thought about monitors, but I still think CRT have the edge on the price and performance scales over TFT. Even CRTs are even smaller and lighter than before. CRT displays days are numbered but for the moment they are still the best option.


22 Dec 2005

Modems

A friend in the village was given a new computer earlier this year. Alas it is running Windows XP which he had never used and I have little experience with. I offered to update it as I have broadband and did my best to set it up. After many-many reboots and many hours of downloading over a 2MBit pipe I gave it back fully patched and configured.

The built-in modem refused to work and after several goes, even from a Linux live disk we gave up concluding it was duff. Another friend gave his modem and this week we tried to use that. It worked perfectly when we tried it earlier this week, but today it was less than happy. Windows XP really is a pain when it comes to hardware - it is defiantly much less reliable and predictable than Linux or Mac.

After a few minuets of "phone support" support tonight he is back online. I only hope the world of 56Kbps isn't too slow and frustrating.


19 Dec 2005

Perl Can Vote

Apparently it was Perl's 18th birthday yesterday. Amazing to think I've been using Perl now for over 6 years - even my use of Perl is getting old...


15 Dec 2005

Corrupted Disc

I've encountered my first EMI Copy Controlled disk: Alain Souchon - "La Vie Theodore". It's not a real CD, so there is no guarantee that it will pay on any particular kind of CD player. When you play it on a civilised computer without installing some dodgy software from EMI the drive reports all sorts of errors. It's a kind of broken Red Book disk, it's broken to confuse a multi-standard computer CD player but not a more simplistic domestic audio player.

As a result it's not playable on older Windows computers, Linux systems or many modern CD multi standard CD or DVD player. The errors on the disc also mean that the disc is very sensitive to damage as it has less redundancy than a real CD.


13 Dec 2005

KDE vs GNOME

It's official, even Linus now recommends KDE over GNOME. Actually it's a storm in a tea cup but over on /. it's generating an awful lot of hot air.

I don't care what people use and I'd happily use either GNOME or KDE in preference to Windows any day - though I do prefer KDE to GNOME. I prefer KDE not because it's got more eye candy than GNOME - which it does - but because I can turn things off if I want. GNOME is okay but too restrictive for me, I just can't turn things on or off to make it the way I want it.


12 Dec 2005

Old Computers

This month's LUG meeting was at Jamie's Computer Club in Southampton. If you need to get rid of IT kit, or want to buy cheap reconditioned kit, then this is the place to go.

They are a very nice bunch of people and it's all for a worthwhile cause. It's also a lot better on the environment to reuse old computer kit rather than throw it in a hole in the ground.


11 Dec 2005

Hants-LUG

Yesterday was the December Hants-LUG meeting. The day went very well, and my talk didn't get me lynched - so it can't have been that bad. I may even do another talk - if they ever let me in again...


08 Dec 2005

Damn Small Linux

I got a cheap USB key-chain flash-RAM drive. It's got plenty of space on it to put a boot-able Linux distribution on. I like Debian but it's a bit big and not designed for booting like this so I'm going to use a Debian/Knoppix derivative called Damn Small Linux instead.


04 Dec 2005

Web Browsers

Opera

The last few week have been very active on the web browser front. First Opera gave away free keys for their birthday, then shortly after they gave Opera away with the adverts permanently removed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that since they removed the adverts downloads have increased.

Get Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation continue to march onwards and a shiny new version of Firefox arrived. This new version is full of bug fixes, usability tweaks and quite a few internal upgrades. The new version now includes support for SVG, which should be a boon for web developers.

konqueror

The Konqueror browser come file manager has also evolved. Thanks to input from Apple, "khtml" the core rendering engine of Konqueror has been significantly upgraded and now passes the ACID2 test.

During this busy time Microsoft hasn't rusted on their laurels. IE6 now has a new security defect so severe that Secunia had to create a new category for it: "Extremely Critical".


Russet Apple Juice

Hill Farm Orchards

Yesterday we had friends round for dinner. They brought some very yummy local Russet Apple juice round: Hill Farm Juice.

The stuff is so good I am going to buy a few cases.


01 Dec 2005

Murderous Machines

My week just keeps getting worse. Yesterday the pole carrying power into the house exploded into a ball of fire and cut the power of to the house. In the process my NetGear 100MBit Ethernet switch was killed in the process. I'm now running on a borrowed switch from work.

Earlier this week the UPS for the phone system tried to poison us with sulphuric acid fumes at work.

Tomorrow I think I'll stay aware from technology...