Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

23 Nov 2006

Desktop Adapted for Dad 2

I've finally posted the text of my Desktop Adapted for Dad 2 article on the Debian Administration site. The article is available on line already but it's a PDF which is not as easy as a web page, plus on the site it will get syndicated and collect comments.

21 Nov 2006

New PC...

I've never had a new PC at work. My first PC was only weeks from being decommissioned, had I started a month later it may have gone to silicon-heaven. When it died suddenly a year or so later it was replaced with a marginally younger machine that was it's self due to be replaced.

When our Exchange system was upgraded this August I was unable to use my PC to send or receive email as the installed version of Microsoft Outlook was incompatible with the version of Microsoft Exchange we are using. They couldn't upgrade my PC because there wasn't enough disk space on it to install Outlook.

On Friday my new PC arrived. I've spent the last two days gradually installing all the essential software that's not included in Windows XP: Cygwin, Putty, Firefox, XML Spy, Opera, Programmer's File Editor, Zinf, VNC etc etc. My next challenge is to turn off all the cruft that comes with XP, and make it usable. It's a very disruptive process making a desktop system usable and not helped my Microsoft's poor choice of defaults.

Compared with setting up a KDE desktop, XP is painful and primitive in the extreme. I suppose I mustn't grumble, I've got a new PC - which is reasonably fast even considering how slow XP makes everything and I'll get to avoid Windows Vista for a while.

20 Nov 2006

LPI Certification

A long time ago I decided to take the LPI exams. I've read some books and even registered, but I've not actually done anything about it.

This week someone from my LUG decided to set up an LPI-C group, planning to take the exams next year. It's shamed me in to doing something about it, and I'll take the exams with them next year!

16 Nov 2006


I use Amarok as my media player. It's a big fat KDE package, but it does the two things I want very well. First it's good at organising my audio files, second as a player it shrinks down to the task bar and stays out the way.

Basically I don't like most other media players because they do stupid things when I want them to just play audio - like visualisations, and/or they have poor cataloguing capabilities.

14 Nov 2006

Yoghurt (take 4)

Last night we got a batch of homemade yoghurt to work correctly. We are using an EasiYo kit we picked up cheap but rather than spend a fortune on the sachets, we are just adding cultures from an existing yoghurt to 1 l of UHT treated milk.

13 Nov 2006

Pumpkin Pie

It pumpkin pie time again. As in previous years I'm using a "British" recipe. This year I made one pie with finely chopped crystallised ginger and a second with only a small amount of nutmeg.

I'll have to make some more of them, the ginger one was eaten at yesterday's Little Meadow event. Pumpkin is cheap at the moment, as it's only used for Halloween in the UK, and that's now gone so all the un-sold stock is being sold off cheap. However once the surplus has been sold it won't be available for another year...

12 Nov 2006

Little Meadow

Today I spent a good few hours helping to landscape "Little Meadow", a community project I'm involved with. Some people pay money to go to a gym to get fit and lose weight. Removing a tonne of flints from the flower bed is free and quite fun when there are a few of you sharing the work.

11 Nov 2006


This morning my Mozilla Thunderbird turned into Debian GNU IceDove. I knew the change was due, but had expected it to happen first with Mozilla Firefox turning into Debian GNU IceWeasel.

09 Nov 2006

First ABAP Program

Today I actually got round to writing my first ABAP program. Since having the ABAP training this July I've mostly made tiny changes to SAP Script (not ABAP at all), or even smaller changes to existing ABAP programs.

It's a good job I've actually done some ABAP if I had waited any longer I'd have forgotten what I had learnt.

Compared with a modern language like Perl, ABAP is extremely verbose and primitive. I really miss the syntactic sugar that I'm use to in Perl.

Fishing For a Perl Contractor

We need some one to do a small project at work. I could easily do it myself, but I don't have enough time to do it by when it's required. We advertised on a few days ago and the CVs are rolling in already. Tomorrow I have to start emailing people back to thank them, and sifting through the CVs.

A tip for perspective candidates, a sloppy CV in Microsoft Word format does not help. Preferred formats are raw text in-line in the email or PDF. For this job I think I should have asked for the CV to be submitted in Perl POD or xhtml.

06 Nov 2006

Ripping to Ogg Vorbis

I have as some senior bod at EMI recently said ripped all my popular-CDs to Ogg Vorbis. I'm glad to see EMI now admit that DRM is no way to sell CDs, in future EMI will encourage people to buy their disks by adding more value to them, rather than removing it.

I'm now in the process of ripping all my classical and jazz CDs to Ogg Vorbis. I suppose I should actually rip them to FLAC but I don't have enough disk space to spare and on my PC it is hard to hear the difference between an Ogg Vorbis and FLAC encoded file.

Please Leave Your Prejudice At The Door

I recently saw a comment where an long time Unix user was shocked at the comments that a new Linux user said. The Windows user found Ubuntu Linux great as it only crashed every now and then, and he only needed to reinstall it every few months. The Windows user use to Windows crashing, frequent reinstalls and malware infections found the relative stability of Ubuntu great but in reality he should expect more.

At the same time I know long time Unix users, who constantl gripe about Linux not doing things the old insecure way that Unix does. All this SSH and secure by default annoys long time Unix users use to wide open server from the halcyon days before the great unwashed were let loose on the "net" with their infected Windows "pee-cees".

It's nice that Windows and Unix users are upgrading to Linux, but they both should expect more from Linux. Linux is neither Unix nor Windows and it does not and should not behave like either of these legacy operating systems.

04 Nov 2006

Zingy Scones

Last weekend I had ago at making scones. They came out okay so I've done another batch today with yoghurt instead of milk and without an egg. A friend's scones are very good and we are using a variation of her recipe.

  • 250g self-raising white flour
  • ½ tsp backing powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 75g cold butter
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 125-175ml milk or yoghurt
  • 50g sultanas or raisins
  • 25g dried cranberries

Cut the butter up into chunks and put in mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl, and rub the mixture with your hands until it resembles find bread crumbs. Add the dry fruit and mix so it's all neatly coated. Add the milk/yoghurt slowly until you can work the mixture into a non-sticky dough. Roll out to about 1cm think and cut into scone shaped pieces. Bake at 180°C for about 10-12 minutes.

Global Warming

Yesterday at a public meeting of my local biodiversity society we had a talk by Dr Mike Sparrow of Southampton University, Department of Oceanography, who is part of the international global warming scientific effort. It's all quite alarming, it's not about is there global warming, the issue now is how much and how fast.

A committee colleague had a bunch of compact fluorescent (cf) bulbs that we were giving away. As Simon Waters recently pointed out, with current electricity prices it's worth swapping old style incandescent bulbs for cf bulbs, they pay for themselves in only 7 weeks.

Yoghurt (take 3)

The third batch of yoghurt was much better than the second. It's still not perfect so I'll have to tinker with the process yet to perfect it.

02 Nov 2006

Homemade Yoghurt

We are trying to make yoghurt at home from milk and a culture from a small pot of bought natural yoghurt. The first batch worked perfectly, the second did not - we are hoping for better luck with batch three.