Thursday, 31 May 2007
Windows Live Writer

I've just trying out a new blog writing tool by Microsoft called Windows Live Writer. I usually use Qumana however it doesn't allow you to add new categories to your blog however Windows Live Writer does. My only gripe with both products is the American English dictionary with no option for choosing any other type of dictionary. I am guessing these blogging tools are an American conspiracy to take over the world with their version of English :)

All in all nice tool guys just give us a choice of dictionaries please!

posted on Thursday, 31 May 2007 19:48:46 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Fortnightly Rubbish Collection

Its been quite a hot topic of debate which appears to have angered most people. Where it is taking place local councils are announcing what a success it has become, while the people served by these local councils are struggling with extra waste one couple in Brompton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire have gone and setup their own refuse collection for the weeks the council doesn't collect it to get rid of the extra waste.

What I find incredibly funny is Richmondshire District Councils response to the scheme. Stating what a success fortnightly collections have been and how residents have paid for waste collection to the council and don't need to pay extra for it. One thing I don't think Richmondshire Council  realizes is that people are doing this because they are not content, because there is a problem.

If councils are going to do fortnightly collections they should at least cut our waste collection bills in half surely if they are only providing half the service they should only charge us half the price? Or unless local councils have suddenly realized that they are struggling to pay for their recycling schemes and need to pay for it by reducing normal waste collections?

posted on Wednesday, 30 May 2007 18:59:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Bright idea mobile phone manufactures

I would love to know what wise ar*se at the mobile phone companies, thought it would be a great idea to enable mobile phones to play music on a loud speaker, so that irritating little teenagers and Japanese tourists, could share their lovely taste in music with whole train or bus loads of passengers. I mean why wouldn't you want to hear "Baby hit me one more time" on the pesky little loud speaker of a Motorola Razor phone 20 times. The whole idea of the word personal stereo system or personal music system, means just that...its personal! It means you listen to it through headphones so that nobody else has to. It doesn't mean I'll share what I'm listening to with everyone around me because they just love what I listen to. We know you think your choice in music is just the best in the world and we will take your word for it! 

posted on Tuesday, 29 May 2007 20:23:18 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 28 May 2007
Joost Me!

I finally got around to using the Joost invite my friend Owen sent me a while ago. To be honest I couldn't understand what all the fuss was until I finally signed up and saw what TV was on offer.

Its not half bad for an IPTV platform, in fact its bloody amazing. All the channels are delivered incredibly fast and it allows you to watch shows when you want to watch them. This platform is literally quite awesome and I only hope it really takes off in a far bigger way with much larger titles. I spent my time watching past episodes of Lexx and browsing through a few music videos stations. If this is the way for IPTV then I am fully onboard for the revolution! I have seen other IPTV providers such as BT Vision and was not too impressed they seemed to be lacking the content while at least Joost does have some nice content although slightly older content its still makes good viewing.

It would be nice if you could now pickup a dedicated IPTV box for Joost to plug into your TV. At the moment I plug it into my TV via my laptops RGB port. I am looking forward to some more content and wonder what the payment structure for Joost will be once its out of beta. Will you need to subscribe to it for a monthly fee or will the content be paid for using the small and not too long adverts they had during the shows?

posted on Monday, 28 May 2007 13:10:54 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Time for government to be accountable to the people

Its about time government became more accountable to the people, so often government has made decisions with out consulting the local population with some often tragic consequences. Government ministers getaway with so much now a days and we the British public seem to do nothing to stop it or have had any method of doing anything about it removed.

Take a simple issue such as only emptying our bins once every 2 weeks. Who in their right mind thought that, that was going to reduce the amount of rubbish? All they've gone and done is delay the amount of time it will take for the rubbish to get to the tip, its almost like saying well if we don't collect the rubbish the problem will go away. Its still there! What you will probably find happening is more illegal dumping will take place than ever before, their will be an increase in the rodent population and eventually disease. In countries such as Spain they collect the rubbish more than once a week to stop such a problem taking place, as our climate gets warmer we will start to suffer the same problems with stinking bins outside our homes. No matter how much you recycle you are still going to get dreadful smells from rubbish left more than a week, its a fact of life.

Join the localist revolution started by Daniel Hannan of the Daily Mail, start making local councils responsible to the people again, they are here to serve us not the other way around.

posted on Monday, 28 May 2007 11:24:41 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 27 May 2007
This is not a photograph

Wow I am still having a hard time believing this is not a photograph!

Have a look here to see how it was done

posted on Sunday, 27 May 2007 11:47:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

BT Vision vs Tiscali

When I first heard of BT Vision I thought to myself what a good idea! You can finally get TV over your broadband from one of the top broadband providers in the country right?

Well not quite exactly. BT Vision advertises that you can get all the free view channels over their set top box plus TV on demand. Ok sounds good, but when you look into it further you actually need to be in an area that can receive Freeview by aerial so basically the BT Vision box has a built in free view decoder and you don't get these channels over broadband. However the box does allow you to record, pause and rewind live TV a bit like the Sky Plus box does except this is for Freeview channels fare enough its a worth while service (they're not the first). So I decided to look at what  was available from the on demand bit of it, the main reason you are basically getting this box and why you need a broadband connection for it to work.

Now if the website is anything to go by you get precious little in variety in comparison to the likes of  Tiscali's newly acquired service which used to be called Home Choice which offers 1000's of movies to watch on demand. Maybe BT Vision has a lot of content to choose from but if they do, they don't advertise it very well. Tiscali are also offering a service called Sky By Wire which gives you access to Sky Movies and Sports Channels it doesn't however give you access to Sky One which appears to get hold of all those top shows such as Battle Star Galactica, Star Gate, Nip Tuck and 24. What I find the most amusing is what a monopoly Sky has on content, they don't have the best delivery mechanism for their content but they pull people into their platform because of what a hold they have on people who want to watch their channels. Sky One used to be available over other services such as Virgin Digital (formerly NTL Telewest) but I am gathering that Sky wants to keep this little gem of a channel very close to its chest. Virgin Digital also offers a great delivery mechanism with loads of channels available to watch on demand, Sky are only just catching up with on demand TV and if you've got a Sky Plus box you may have noticed the Sky Anytime option available on your set top box now. Its a paltry selection of on demand TV delivered to your set top box at night, which doesn't begin to compare to what's available from the other providers out there such as Tiscali and Virgin Digital.

posted on Sunday, 27 May 2007 10:57:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Madeleine McCann

I have found it so heart warming how so many organizations, celebrities and every day people have gone out of their way to help find this little girl. Even huge organizations like Microsoft have made an appeal on their web site to help find her. Even when I went on holiday to Ireland all the check in desks had pictures of Madeleine.

With the amount of publicity out there right now someone must know something and I really hope that they come forward with information to help find her.

posted on Sunday, 27 May 2007 00:19:03 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Friday, 25 May 2007
How safe is the food in your supermarket?

Having watched a BBC 1 documentary on Whistle blower about undercover reporters getting themselves jobs at Tesco and Sainsburys meat, deli and fish counters I was literally quite shocked by what they uncovered. All of a sudden I saw these counters in my super market in a whole different light. At the stores they uncovered  the selling of meat and fish products past their sell by dates, cutting off of bad sections of meat and placing them back on the counter, mincing cooked and uncooked meat and selling it as fresh mince and the list goes on...

What I think was more shocking is that not much more has been made about this documentary and that these large super markets will probably get away with it. All of this was caused by super markets cutting corners to make greater profits, but no matter how evident the documentary was none of the super markets will suffer for it. People will still blindly shop at these super markets because it is what we have always done, others will not even have heard about it and some will not even be bothered.

I think what is the most shocking is that a lot of food poisoning people could have suffered may not have been their own fault, but that of their local super market.

posted on Friday, 25 May 2007 19:46:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Why do you SPAM?

To all those spammers out there, do you have any morals? Does it not worry you that you are cursed everyday by thousands of readers of your spamming emails? What do you hope to achieve by entering adverts for fake Viagra sites into blogs when 99% of people on the Internet will just delete them?

posted on Wednesday, 23 May 2007 21:44:51 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Is WiFi bad for you?

Having watched the BBC program Panorma about the dangers of WiFI I have suddenly become very paranoid about my own two WiFI routers in my house. I wasn't aware until I watched the program that several countries have banned the use of WiFi transmitters in schools if even one child feels ill. If  people are sensitive to radiation from WiFI and cell phone masts they get grants for anti radiation paint to shield their homes or have the antennas removed

You could understand what a massive loss on investment it would be if new legislation suddenly came out over night saying that no Cell phone or WiFi antennae's could be located anywhere nears residents who may be affected by it, or schools where children are more susceptible to it.

The radiation from WiFi antennas could have some pretty adverse effects in the long term on human beings, it could even be responsible for:

  • DNA breaking up
  • Increase risks of cancer
  • Headaches and nausea

As a precaution I have made sure I turn off all my WiFi transmitters at night. As I see it, its probably better to be safe than sorry right?

If you've been suffering headaches for no apparent reason, try turning off your WiFi connection for a week and see if it helps, and if it does I would be interested to hear from you. All of a sudden cable running around my house doesn't sound like a bad idea.

posted on Tuesday, 22 May 2007 20:00:29 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 21 May 2007
I'm back!

I've been away for a few days in Ireland for a friends wedding it was a truly wonderful event set in the lovely county of Carlow in the sleepy little town of Tullow situated an hour and a half drive from Dublin.We stayed in a large 5 bedroom cottage on the grounds of the Mount Wolseley Hotel, the houses in this part of Ireland are pretty large our own cottage was huge by comparison to the little house we have here in Surrey.  One of our friends commented that the living room was so spacious it looked like a bowling alley with its shiny wooden floors.

We managed to a get a great deal that cost us £327.72 which we spread among 5 friends worked out to be very good value for money for a weekend. Why not take a look at their website if you are planning a mini break away?

posted on Monday, 21 May 2007 20:27:32 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 14 May 2007
Making money off your credit card

No this isn't another scam, its something I have read on the Fool.co.uk and have done myself for quite a long time.

Basically there are many 0% interest free credit cards out there trying to lure people who ring up large credit card bills over to them. If you are clever you can make the most out of this introductory rate, as long as your are strict with your finances.

Here's one example of what I do.

  • Get yourself a good credit card with a 0% interest free rate on purchases and balance transfers for a year or more (if you can get it)
  • If like me, your work pays for your travel expenses, start putting all of your travel expenses on your credit card.
  • When your work pays back your expenses, place these in a separate high interest savings account or a cash ISA.
  • When your 0% interest rate ends, pay off the balance in full and keep the interest you have earned and if you want, start the whole thing over again.

Now the above works really well as long as you:

  • Are not tempted to use your card for any other expense. This card is only for expenses nothing else!
  • Make a note of when your 0% interest rate ends so you are not suddenly stung for interest payments. If you use Outlook or some other email organizing program you can put a date reminder in here so you don't forget.

Good luck and if you have any similar tips I would love to hear from you!

posted on Monday, 14 May 2007 20:57:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]

 Sunday, 13 May 2007
Supermarkets

We all know that the super markets we go to, give their suppliers a very raw deal when it comes to buying their produce. They argue though, that this is partly to do with us the consumers wanting the lowest prices but the highest quality. Prices are so low in supermarkets that its possible to live off just a couple of pounds a day if you shop frugally enough. But the truth is that when we buy food from our super markets so much of it goes to waste we buy one and get another free but we seldom eat the free item. Portions we buy are large to big for us to consume in the time we have to eat the produce. Would it really hurt us if we paid just a little bit more for our food just that 50p extra that would be the difference between a farmer being able to pay for his farm or going bankrupt.

Many people have already started;

  • Getting your milk direct from your local dairy
  • Getting your vegetables delivered from box schemes such as Able & Cole
  • Getting meats and fresh produce from local farmers markets
  • and there are many more

I am not saying supermarkets are bad or we shouldn't use them, but like everything in life things have to be balanced its called avoiding a monopoly. We the consumer, need to reintroduce the balance once again by making sure we have a good alternative to supermarkets and that producers of food products also have a good alternative market for their food. Choice is good and it has to exist in both supply and  demand, when it doesn't certain factions get more power than they should and start to dictate the way we live.

 

posted on Sunday, 13 May 2007 17:07:16 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 12 May 2007
Be your own boss work from home work your own hours

How many times have you seen the above title? Have you seen it so many times that you were about to skip this blog post all together? Don't panic I am not introducing some get rich quick scheme although I am writing about what I really hate about them!

If you have ever seen adverts on TV that show some poor bloke in a so called dead end job and that he can solve all his problems with a career in IT. All he has to do is get some qualifications from them and he will have a marvelous car, large figure salary, a large house or supervising people working for him. So many of my friends in IT laugh at these adverts, the adverts seem to make it seem so easy. The truth of the matter is, is that when people hire people in IT one of the most important things they look out for after qualifications is experience, actual implementation of what you have learnt for at least 2 years min or more. Don't get me wrong we all have to start somewhere and the money you spent on training will take a long time to pay itself back or for you to see the benefits. There are plenty of other ways to get into IT but just like any other profession it takes time and some people will pick it up and others will find they are better suited to other careers.

The other thing that annoys me is work from home scams. We would all like to work from the comfort of our own homes and earn lots of money for it. Scammers know this only too well and prey on desperate people or those who would just like to earn some money working from home. Usually this is mothers who are always at home taking care of kids or our parents have seen it and thought it might be a good idea. Some of these scams are so intricate, one of them was a CD sent to a friend of mine containing a professionally done video showing a happy couple driving expensive cars and living in a house the size of a small shopping mall. The couple went on to talk about how successful their lives were thanks to this scheme they had come up with. The funny thing about it is how they talk about how wealthy they are and how good their life is, but nothing about how the scheme works. This is usually saved until the end, where the scheme is revealed it usually involves buying 200 copies of the CD to flog to some more unsuspecting people for 50 pounds each! So how do you recognize these pitches?

  • The scheme talks more about the benefits than it does about the actual scheme
  • You need to purchase something
  • You hardly have to do any work just sit back and wait for the money to come in.

Just remember working from home or running a business from home is not easy in the slightest, being your own boss, while it enables you to decide what times you want to work or how much you want to work. If you don't work you are probably not going to earn any income and then starve ... its that simple. Being your own boss also means going on holiday or taking time off sick means no income.

posted on Saturday, 12 May 2007 14:48:24 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 10 May 2007
Buying an LCD TV

You would have thought buying an LCD TV was easy if you had saved enough cash, it was the first time I had bought one and I had seen a DGM 32 inch display going for £344 pounds at DABs. I jumped at the chance and and when this lovely TV arrived I plugged it in and was almost immediately dismayed to see 2 red pixels glaring at me (ahhhhh!).

Oh well I thought having never bought an LCD TV before I just logged into DAB's site and registered for a faulty return and booked a courier on DAB's site to pickup the TV. It was just going to be a question of them seeing the fault and saying "Oh its faulty lets send this fellow a brand new TV as a replacement" right? Wrong! Apparently so many manufactures have a policy on what constitutes a faulty LCD TV screen,  according to a certain standard depending on how big your screen is depends on how many faulty pixels your screen has before they agree to replace it!

So lets take that into perspective, if you have a 32 inch LCD TV with 3 faulty red "stuck" pixels, and when you watch your TV that is all you think of as it ruins your viewing pleasure. The manufacturer will not consider it faulty as it does not fit  within their 5 or more faulty pixel rule for your size of TV! So you shell out all of this money for a faulty TV that they will not accept as faulty or replace by their standards! The thing is they don't make this very evident on DAB's website when buying an LCD TV what you have to expect and its all hidden in their help section. The problem I have now is that DAB's do not believe in phones so its very hard to contact them about anything especially when you can't get onto a computer with an Internet connection to use their online chat and the only way I was able to find their "email us" form was by searching for it on Google! Anyway the TV is being collected tomorrow and I have put a note in the box, having not been able to contact them I have not really been able to talk about the fault and how I only read about the returns pixel policy after the return had been logged. I have now asked if I can have a refund as part of their 10 days no quibbles refunds policy. Hopefully I can get my money back and go to AriaPC these guys if you pay £35 extra will test the LCD TV of your choice before sending it to you for faulty pixels! What service! I only wish I had found these guys earlier. I have a feeling I am going to have a lot of problems with DAB's....

posted on Thursday, 10 May 2007 20:33:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]

 Tuesday, 08 May 2007
Feeling Sorry for myself

If any of you read my wife's blog you would have seen the post about how our cat Lucy bit me (pictures included), followed now by how I have started suffering an infection for which I need to take antibiotics for as a result of the bite.

Now I have been bitten by a cat once before. This was by one of our other cats Oliver

and this was caused by me trying to give him a worming pill. Oliver doesn't like worming pills and decided to bite me for my efforts, for which I had to have an anti tetanus injection. Of course back then I didn't realise that Oliver would do anything for ham and I could have wrapped the pill in the ham doh!. Lucy on the other hand must have been spooked, I picked her up like I always do but this time she struck out at me and I had to quickly throw her away from me, as she set her teeth into my hand. Funnily enough now Lucy is acting incredibly cute, as though nothing has happened trying to get me to pick her up again and brushing past me making cute meowing sounds. Urrrgh cats can be so unpredictable!

posted on Tuesday, 08 May 2007 20:32:17 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]

 Sunday, 06 May 2007
Sending letters from the Internet with PC2Paper

I've been very fond of PC2Paper its been a site that has grown in its own little way since late 2002, and with recent changes has shed it old 80's looking logo in favor of a more modern web 2.0 style logo.

It does something that sounds rather simple and which several web sites have started to copy over the years and that is send letters and cards from the Internet. A clever idea that appears to have worked well for.

  • People unable or who do not have the time to go to the post office
  • Companies who can't afford their own mailing department and prefer to outsource their letter sending.
  • Backpackers and students away from home sending letters back to the UK for relatives and friends who do not have Internet access.
  • Older people who are unable to get to a post office because most of them are now closed in their area.
  • Traveling business people who need to send letters on the fly and need it to appear coming from the UK.
  • Web sites that need to send out paper versions of receipts 
  • Allow the sending of one off large mail shots without needing to recruit staff to do it for you.
  • The list goes on...

Tags: , , , ,

posted on Sunday, 06 May 2007 10:37:25 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Tuesday, 01 May 2007
Can't receive mail from hotmail on your server

Ever had a problem receiving mail on your email server?

I run my own email server at home and recently noticed that I was unable to receive mail from services such as hotmail. The mail would be in the inbound SMTP queue spooling and then it would just suddenly stop and drop the connection. Mail from services such as Gmail were fine and I couldn't understand what the issue was.

Then I made the discovery that after updating my server I had forgotten to update the servers MTU. What's an MTU (Maximum transmission unit)? Well all you need to know is that its a setting on your network card and it will probably need to be set to 1458. Take a look here to get a tool that will set it all for you.

posted on Tuesday, 01 May 2007 19:46:39 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]