Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

31 Dec 2004

Internet Banking

I mostly hate Internet banking. It's as if the banks decided to implement the worst possible interface design, with security that is so obtuse that you either write it down (defeating the point) or you forget it and are constantly locked out of your own account. To add insult to injury it's often optimised for that security disaster "IE", and the banks themselves have had a string of elementary security problems.

The only merit that Internet banking has is that I can, in theory access my accounts when I need to, not when the bank permits.


30 Dec 2004

Google

Earlier this month I allowed web search engines to index this site. Previously I had blocked them, as there wasn't enough content to warrant it, and as it's hosted from home over ADSL with a dynamic IP address, and the unreliability of BT I didn't want people to search and get a dead link.

However my ISP Nildram do a sterling service at keeping the connection live, even though they have to deal with BT, and as I'd added a little more content, I thought I'd allow search engines in.

In under one month the most popular search terms that have refereed through to this site, have been almost all about blocking adverts, almost exclusively from Google searches. I have on small page which contains almost nothing new or exciting, but it seems to be getting all the interest!


Linux Keyboard

German keyboard maker Cherry, have a new Linux "optimised" keyboard. Apparently it went on sale in the UK this October, but so far I've not seen it. It's your basic PS/2 and USB keyboard, but with extra buttons for common tasks, and the Windows key has been swapped with a "Tux" key. Officially it only supports SUSE, but I gather it's possible to make it work to some extent with other distros too.

When I get a nice new computer I may upgrade to this new Cherry "CyMotion Master Linux" keyboard, assuming I can find one in the UK...


Free and Open Source Software

Over Xmas I was with family in France. I took the opportunity to distribute The Open CD and WinLibre disks to them as they don't have high-speed Internet connections, and are unlucky enough to still be using Windows.

No sooner had I distributed the disks, and two of the bigger applications on the disks get upgraded! Thankfully I don't have a capped ADSL service and CD-R media is cheap.


15 Dec 2004

WinLibre

WinLibre Logo

Today while browsing the net, I came across another collection of FOSS for Windows machines. It has a slightly different mix from TheOpenCD, and best of all comes in an English and French flavour. I shall burn a disk with it on, and take it with me when I visit my Family in France shortly.

This disk has Zinf, a nice Windows media player, and some useful anti-virus software. Like TheOpenCD it has Mozilla Firefox and OpenOffice.org, and a few small utilities.

The nice thing about FOSS is that it empowers people to make and sell their own mix of software, and any improvements they make are pooled back into the software for the greater good. The end user is given a free choice of largely compatible software, and doesn't have to worry about being locked into some proprietary hell.


09 Dec 2004

The Open CD

The nice Open CD people released version 2.0 of their excellent disk of goodies. For people trapped in the purgatory of Windows, this shows them a view of freedom.

It also means that I don't have to keep producing custom versions with newer version of Firefox et al. on.


08 Dec 2004

Growing Confidence

Today I fixed the HP Management tool on the Linux web servers at work. I also down-loaded lots of patches for them, bringing them as up to date as possible. I upgraded the kernel on the latest box that hasn't gone into use yet, the others will need a moment when I can reboot them to test them, without impacting the business.

At home I also rearranged the files system on my home server. Basically I moved /home off a crowded disk onto a disk of it's own, and moved the under used file-system on to the root file system. Everything went without a hitch.

I'm now getting quite happy at working with Debian and RedHat. I think I'm more comfortable with Linux now than I ever was with Windows. It's not that I know more about Linux that I know about Windows, it's that I can find out about the stuff I don't know about much easier on Linux than I could on Windows.


07 Dec 2004

Safe Computing on the Web

Friends in the village seem to get their computers infected and rendered unusable with amazing regularity. I'm currently trying to write up a very short few page guide so that they don't get themselves into such messes. I'm targeting at people who know next to nothing, as they are easier to train than those who know something*.

The basic ideas are:

  • Install proper AV and anti-spy software.
  • Install a proper browser, and do not use IE.
  • Install a proper email client or use web-mail, and do not use Outlook or Outlook Express.
  • Do not connect directly to the Internet, use a NAT router.
  • Keep your system and all the key software packages up to date.
  • If you have an OS where there is a root user, then only use that user for installing stuff, not for day to day activity.

* Some people think Windows is easy, and that they know what they are doing, when in fact they have no idea.


RHCT

I finally got my RHCT scores and certificate via email today. I got 100% on stage I and 90.9% on stage II to give and overall score of 93.63%, which isn't too bad.


05 Dec 2004

xsnow

We are now into December, so it's time to run xsnow on my computer. It's all very silly, but it's okay given the general insanity of the time of year.