Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

30 Apr 2006

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Today I made some rhubarb and ginger jam. It's cooling at the moment. As my better half doesn't like ginger we're currently looking for a rhubarb and orange recipe.

  • 1Kg diced rhubarb
  • 1Kg sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 125g crystallised ginger

Soak the diced rhubarb, in sugar and lemon juice over night. Tip the rhubarb mixture into a jam pan, and bring to the boil. Once it's soft, add finely chopped ginger, continue to boil until it reaches the jamming point and pot. Makes 5x370g pots.

Holiday On Wheels

My week off work has gone rather well. I've done 18km per day on the bike, today was a different route, but I stormed up the final hill in a much higher gear than the first day. In the scheme of things my bike rides haven't been long, but just 18km does produce a difference.

26 Apr 2006

The Great Microsoft Blunder

Love or loath him, but John Dvorak has a thought provoking article on the PC Magazine site: The Great Microsoft Blunder.

It's an interesting idea. Scared that Netscape is going to dislodge Microsoft from their monopoly, they start a dirty tricks war to exclude Netscape from the market. Microsoft didn't actually do any real software engineering, the basically licenced a browser off someone else then told their partners to support it or else.

Netscape didn't have the money to fight Microsoft and pretty much lost the war before it had started. Microsoft didn't pay attention and Netscape wasn't the enemy they thought, and open source was, in the shape of the Apache web server running on the GNU/Linux operating system, which silently took over the web server market.

Microsoft couldn't monopolise the Internet once Apache/Linux was entrenched, nor could they dislodge it, Apache/Linux is so much cheaper - no matter what Microsoft says. As Netscape was pretty much dead, they were safe to ignore the browser, Windows was king, there wasn't going to be a browser/network operating system to replace Windows. Thus IE has remained pretty much the same technical dinosaur for years.

With no viable commercial competition Microsoft has been able to squeeze the market and generated years of record profits. It ignored the Open Source community, they were just hippies without a business plan or money, and couldn't hurt the richest most profitable software company in the world.

Out of the ashes of Netscape rose the Mozilla browser, slowly at first but over time it has matured into the fabulous Firefox browser. At the same time Konqueror has appeared in the Linux community, and the ever present Opera has gradually won powerful friends. These viable alternatives are all more standard compliant - making them easier to work with, faster, and more importantly SAFER. Just as they appeared in a stable form, a string of high profile security glitches have plagued IE.

While you could argue that IE is a loss leader that Microsoft uses to feed their MSN site, John has a point, they could easily use Opera or Firefox, the browser is a commodity, and it's not worth paying to develop for. Their plans to propriartise the Internet failed, so maybe now is the time for Microsoft to exit the browser market...

25 Apr 2006

Microsoft Adverts

Microsoft must really be worried, they are advertising their soon to be decommissioned software like mad on TV:

"Yes you too can own an antique we created years ago, and we are about to replace with a shiny new version."

It's quite funny to see them talk about all the safety and security features that they have added. By design Window is just insecure, and while you can make it secure it's an up hill struggle. Unix and Linux systems are secure be design though it's true that poor administration can open them up. Even though nothing is perfect, I'd still rather have something cheap and slightly rough that was designed properly, rather than the highly polished t*rd that Microsoft created.

24 Apr 2006

Holiday At Home

I'm on holiday this week. I had hoped to be organised an go somewhere warm but I just not organised enough. Instead I plan to get fitter, and complete stuff that has been uncompleted for far too long.

This morning I got up as normal and went for a 18km bike ride round the village before breakfast. The traffic was a bit more annoying than when I do the loop at the weekend, but other than that it went quite well.

Over the weekend I've already completed one article for the British Human-Computer Interaction Group's magazine "Interfaces". Today I will start the process of editing a Perl Success Story for the Perl Review.

18 Apr 2006

Apply Those Patches

The Mozilla Organisation released patched versions of Firefox, Sea Monkey and Thunderbird. The latest versions fix quite a few defects, some of them serious.

All software has bugs, complex applications have lots of them, and even well designed open source applications have them. Patch your system and move along.

17 Apr 2006

White Horses and Standing Stones

Over Easter we had family visiting from Paris. Rather than take them to the normal tourist traps like Stonehenge, we took them to Avebury which is much nicer though still very busy. On the way back we had a look at the numerous giant white horses carved into the hillsides. We managed to get a good view of four of them. The horses aren't on the same scale of antiquity as the standing stones in Avebury, but they are still rather fun to look at.

11 Apr 2006


Yesterday my father was asking a few questions about the web. He had noticed the little "RSS" logo that Firefox displays and asked what it was for. A quick demo of Firefox Live bookmarks and he is now using RSS Feeds.

04 Apr 2006

MS J-Script

For strange reasons we use a Microsoft J-Script to transform some XML files at work, so that we can feed a label printer with data. I don't know what Microsoft did, but it went from needing restarting once or twice per day to needing a restart once or twice per hour. It's been running like this for two weeks, and it got really annoying.

I've now written a Perl script that does everything the J-Script did, only it now has error handling, logic checks, debugging, and full logging. It's about half the size of the J-Script, and isn't riddled with magic numbers and business logic.

I'll do some testing this week, then replace it when we are happy. We'll run the new script on an existing Linux server, and then be able to decommission the antique Windows server that the J-Script was running on too.

03 Apr 2006

Desktop Adapted for Dad

On Saturday I gave a short talk to my LUG about my experiences in setting up my step father with Debian. After the talk and discussion I've been asked to write my experiences up as a short article for Interfaces - the magazine of the British HCI Group. Cool.