Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

31 Oct 2006


A colleague at work said that if he had any more problems with Windows his son was going to upgrade him to FreeBSD. Given how crappy Windows is, I'm surprised he hasn't been upgraded to FreeBSD already. If it's running KDE, Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice it'll do most of the things that Windows can, only it'll be secure, reliable, quick and free.

28 Oct 2006

Pumpkin Marmalade

Today I made pumpkin marmalade. You take half a kilo of pumpkin, four washed oranges, two washed lemons, and four peeled carrots. Chop everything up and add three quarters of a kilo of sugar, allow it to stand overnight. Tip the mixture into a jam pan and heat to the jam point. It filled 4 pots. I'm not 100% convinced it was a great recipe.

I also made some scones. I had this sudden urge to make scones this afternoon. It's hard to get good scones down south, other than a friend who makes good ones, most of the ones I've had in the past few years have been rubbery and taste of raising agent. I made mine to a traditional northern recipe but added dried cranberries as well as sultanas. They came out very yummy.

27 Oct 2006


Because of poor documentation on a process at work, months of development have been wasted. When a change was made to the process, the documents were so poor that an error was made in the configuration which caused the process to fail. It's taken me two weeks to figure out why the process wasn't working, and less than five minutes to fix. Now I'm re-writing the documentation so this kind of cock-up shouldn't happen in the future.

22 Oct 2006

The Dolphin File-Manager

In a Linux magazine I saw a review of Peter Penz's Dolphin, a small lightweight file-manager for KDE. It's much smaller and simpler than Konqueror. It's not yet available in Debian, so I downloaded it and tried to compiled it myself. I had to pull-in over 110 MiB of development libraries for C++, Qt and KDE, but it compiled okay, and runs fine. I asked aptitude to flush the unused libraries afterwards, and I've got my space back too.

As good as Konqueror is, it's a bit of a fat tool, and I don't use or need a full fat file-manager most of the time. I mostly use the command line to maintain my box and when I use a GUN I like things to be simple and obvious. Dolphin may be the tool for me - we shall see.

21 Oct 2006

Insurance Costs

This week my bank sent me our content insurance premium for next year. It had gone up 44% from this year. I checked on-line and I could easily get comparable insurance for a lot less. I rang my bank and pointed out that 44% was a bit steep for a price rise give we have never claimed and that other high-street banks were offering similar deals for a lot less, and magically the premium dropped to less than this years.

19 Oct 2006

Microsoft IE7

Microsoft's latest super-soar-away success story, "Internet Explorer 7" was born today. It's less than 24 hours old and it has security advisories posted against it. Given that it's just a superficial hack of their older and even more insecure Internet Explorer 6 it's hardly surprising that they are having security issues already.

If they don't want to spend the money to produce a decent modern standard compliant browser, then they should just give up and tell people to use Firefox or Opera.


Today was my dentist visit. Thankfully it went well, though it's annoyingly expensive. I suppose my dentist needs all the money he can get to maintain his Mercedes-Benz habit.

13 Oct 2006

Wool vs Cotton

I live in an area with hard water. It may be better for your teeth and bones but it's not so kind on your household plumbing or your skin.

In summer I wear socks with mostly cotton content, and I have to say my feet don't like it. In winter I now wear socks with mostly natural wool or synthetic content and my feet are much happier.

I think the hard-water dries my feet out, and wearing cotton socks makes this much worse. When on holiday in areas with soft-water and wearing technical socks my feet are always happy.

12 Oct 2006

Web Design Talk

I was going to give a talk at my local LUG on DIY web design. They couldn't get the meeting room they needed for the meeting, so it has been postponed to another meeting.

At work, our SAP Business Warehouse system generates web pages, and the developers need to know how to do xhtml /css. I may be able to use my LUG talk as the foundation of a short course at work.

11 Oct 2006

Eudora on Linux!

It looks like I may eventually get Eudora to run on Linux. However it's not quote what I expected. Apparently QUALCOMM have decided to base the next version of Eudora on Mozilla Thunderbird. Project Penelope will take Thunderbird and produce an enhanced "Eudoraised" version, that will merge the best bits of both products. The new Eudora will be fully open source.

Th cynic in me says that this is just QUALCOMM killing of Eudora. The optimist says that this is great, Eudora has always been my favourite graphical email client, and it can only improve Thunderbird - which while better than Outlook isn't that good really.

Ice Weasel

It's official Debian won't ship the next version of Debian GNU/Linux® with the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox™ browser. Instead they will ship their own compiled version called Ice Weasel. To all intents and purposes it will be Mozilla Firefox - it just will have a different logo and name.

It's sort of irritating and you could say it makes the open-source community and Debian and Mozilla in particular look petty. However, both parties are sticking to their principles, and the affair has ended with no nasty public arguments, it's all been perfectly civil.

09 Oct 2006

Good Customer Service

On Saturday after my local LUG meeting in Southampton, I bought some socks on my way home.

To my horror when I got home one of the socks was missing, so I had 5 instead of 6 socks. I sent a quick email to the retailer on Sunday, quoting the receipt details. By lunchtime today, they had responded, and agreed to send replacement socks to me in the post. They apologised both for the packaging error, and that they had missed the post and that the replacements would take a day longer to arrive.

You may pay a more for goods from John Lewis but the standard of service is much better than most other UK high-street retailers.

06 Oct 2006

Boom Like That...

Yesterday one of the Wintel servers threw a fit and stopped working at work. After some effort the Wintel guys got it running again. This morning it had died again. Ironically this server is one of the few that actually does more than one task, so Windows home directories, department shares and DHCP were knocked out.

After a few hours of panic they managed to bring the disks up in another identical (but functioning) chassis.

The problem with our server room is that over the year servers have been upgraded and densities increased and the air conditioning has not been upgraded to match. On a normal autumn day it is a balmy 30°C around the Wintel kit. Over time HP/Compaq Intel kit just can't hack it - our IBM Power kit is naturally cooler and better made and is quite happy.

04 Oct 2006

Damon Jam Report

After a great deal of effort we have finally finished off the jamming for this year. I'm not sure what the best conserve of the year has been, but I know the best of each category.

Best Jelly

For the second year running, Red Current Jelly wins as a clear sharp jelly, with excellent flavour, good yield and easy preparation.

Best Jam

Damson Jam a clear winner. Excellent flavour and texture, and a good yield. Labour intensive to make but well worth the effort.

Best Marmalade

Rhubarb and Orange Marmalade from this spring. It's the only marmalade I made this year but it was very good and I do plan to make it again.


The apple and damson jam is quite nice. It spreads well and is worth making again. It's much easier to make than the whole damson jam, but the flavour is no way near as intense.

The apple and caramel we made was interesting to do and looks impressive. I don't think I like the flavour though, so I don't plan to make it again, especially as it was a lot of effort to make.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam is very nice, and by far the most popular - everyone wants that one. As we will probably get lots of rhubarb again next year I will make this one again as well as the rhubarb/orange marmalade.

Hill Farm Apple Juice

Hill Farm Orchards

Last year we bought a case of Apple Juice from a local producer. Even with careful rationing it has eventually run out, and we had to go and buy some more. Last weekend we went up to the local farmer's market and got some more. Alas they didn't have all the varieties in stock, so we'll have to go again in December...

This year I plan to balance it with some very nice Breton Cider we brought back from our summer holidays.

Ten Reasons To Dump Windows

Over on there is a provocatively titled article " Ten Reasons To Dump Windows". It's fair to say that a lot of the points are opinion and you could easily argue them in favour of Windows instead of in favour of Linux. However the first point "Default Security Setting" is a real stinger:

  • Windows is insecure by default and it does take time and money to make it secure. It's also expensive and time consuming to keep it secure.
  • Linux is a lot more secure out of the box, and a lot easier and cheaper to keep secure.

Security doesn't come for free and it takes a skilled administrator to keep any system secure. It is just that it takes a lot more effort to keep a Windows system secure.

02 Oct 2006

Firefox Zero Day Exploit

Apparently there are some zero-day exploits for Firefox in the wild at the moment. Though Firefox users are exposed for fewer days than Internet Explorer, using any browser has a risk associated with it.

For some time I've used a number of tools that making browsing faster and safer. Though NoScript makes using Firefox more awkward, I'm glad that's what I do.