Sunday, 29 July 2007
Computers ruling your world

I was just thinking after watching one of those films where the clever computer system some scientist creates to make life better takes over his whole house while he is out and locks his wife and kids inside the house and for some reason decided to kill anyone that approaches the house.

So if Hollywood is anything to go by...

  1. I will not allow a computer to control all the locks in my house
  2. The off button for the Super Computer will be a switch not some silly computer terminal I have to type a password into.
  3. As soon as the computer starts getting jealous I'll unplug it.
  4. I will not plug ray guns into the super computer
  5. I will not allow the super computer to control the national grid.
  6. The super computer will absolutely not have control of an automated metal work shop where it could build android foot soldiers.
  7. I will not allow the super computer access to heating systems, especially the ones under the floor which may inevitably fry you when you try to walk on the floor.
  8. I will not name my super computer Skynet, its bound to want to take over the world.
posted on Sunday, 29 July 2007 22:30:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 28 July 2007
The coffee addiction

My name is Rory Street and I'm a coffee addict, my last coffee was 2hrs ago, a smooth tasting full blend Illy Italian Coffee and I am busy thinking of my next cup.

Coffee addiction is something that affects a lot of people in Britain and even more in the USA. I usually find that after I have been on coffee for a couple of months and need to lessen my dependency on it that I usually have to switch to tea. Funny enough tea has more caffeine than coffee however the caffeine is a lot more gentler for you than coffee. Don't ask why, because I really don't understand it. But switching to tea and then gradually moving onto a caffeine free drink such as Rooibos tea (Afrikaans for Red bush tea) seems to work wonders.  

Coffee quality also plays a strong part. I used to be an avid Star Bucks coffee drinker until I discovered the joys of Illy coffee from a little coffee shop in Windsor called Claremonts, next time you are in Windsor site seeing I heartily recommend it. Claremonts isn't to far from Windsor castle you can find it on your way from the castle walking along the high street opposite Windsor Parish Church. They don't just do coffee they also do tea, pastries, smoothies, hot chocolate, sandwiches and a great egg benedicts among other things. 

Illy coffee is a nice smooth blend of coffee which makes it so different to coffee you get from the main chains who usually use mixed blends which lets down the flavour of the coffee I have found. I used to have my coffee with sugar but after I discovered Illy coffee the taste was so smooth I didn't need to anymore. I have tried drinking coffee without milk, last time I was in the USA they didn't seem that keen on adding milk to coffee, for some reason they thought it ruined the taste unfortunately I still can't bring myself to do without it.   

posted on Saturday, 28 July 2007 12:52:06 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]

 Tuesday, 24 July 2007
BBC iPlayer

I was just reading an article about a possible holt to the iPlayer application being launched by the BBC to enable licence payers to access BBC TV programs online.

The OSC has complained that the BBC should launch this service on an open source platform and not lock people into a Windows only platform and would therefor want to holt its launch if it continues on a Windows only platform.

What gets me a bit angry even though I can understand the point of the OSC is that a hell of a lot of money (licence payers money) has been spent on this player. To holt a version that would target most of the BBC's viewers anyway because a few people are a bit unhappy that it won't work on Linux or the Mac is a bit over the top. The BBC does have a plan in place to release a Mac version of the player later on. I can understand why the BBC has taken this approach it makes more sense to target the biggest users of a platform first then move to the second biggest platform and so on.

While I also understand that "The BBC has a mandate to provide equal access to content " regardless of platform, as long as the BBC has a roadmap for this to happen, this should fulfil this need, however it should not require the ripping out of something that has taken time and money to create. The point that the BBC is planning a Mac version is quite clear that a user is not being locked into a platform. While I like Linux as a server product (and use it as such) I am not a big fan of it as a desktop product.

posted on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 13:12:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 22 July 2007
Flooding in the UK

If you've been watching the news you probably would have seen that flooding has dominated most of the air time. We have seen flooding the likes of which has never seen before in the UK and its giving the environmentalists more fuel for their argument that things are getting worse and we will probably see a lot more of this in the future.

One of the problems I have is not so much that the flooding is taking place as it in most cases can't be helped but the information and how it is supplied on the environment agencies web site could be a lot better. A large map of the UK marking all the trouble spots and allowing you to click on it to drill down so if you are traveling it would really be useful. Anyway if you are looking for flooding information along the Thames this is the best I managed to find.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/flood/floodwarning/Thames.html

posted on Sunday, 22 July 2007 21:36:35 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

BT Home Hub pain in the ar*e

The BT Home Hub I have installed in place of my Conexant Hasbani router has recently started being a real pain in the ar*e. For no reason at all it will drop the Internet Connection and commence downloading updates from BT to update the firmware. It does this without disconnecting the BT Home Hub phone (one of the reasons I went for the hub) but it drops every other Internet connection.

I use the Internet a hell of a lot for work and dropping a VPN connection or a remote Citrix connection is not fun when you are in the middle of some important work. Yes I understand that BT wants to update the firmware but not when I'm using the hub and definitely not when I'm working on the damn thing! If this continues I am going to rip the damn thing out and go back to the Conexant. The Conexant is a simple bit of equipment but it works and is reliable. BT obviously weren't thinking straight when they decided to run updates on the Home Hub, and I suggest if they want this piece of equipment to be key to their new strategic idea of bringing TV, Phones and other services into the home that they had better think good and hard about standard of service. If you are going to update a piece of software you ask first you don't just disconnect people and let them lose their work.

posted on Sunday, 22 July 2007 00:05:18 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 21 July 2007
Brushing the difficult cat

oliweb  If you are a regular reader of my blog you most probably think I have a real death wish when it comes to cats as I usually end up getting bitten by them.

Well never fear I haven't been bitten again...yet! I've just been helping my wife try to brush one of our difficult "ferrel" cats Oli pictured left. Oli last gave me a painful bite when I tried to feed him a pill and since then the two of us have always had a strange thing about trust. I don't trust Oli and he doesn't trust me.

 

Oli's has an interesting party trick when you do something he doesn't like and the thing he doesn't like this time is the grooming brush, so when ever you corner him to brush him with it he poo's all over the floor. What a cat hey? Unlike Lucy who will bite you straight away Oli gives warnings in the form of a lick followed by a gentle nip and then a powerful bite.

Anyway I am going to give him one last time to get his matted coat brushed otherwise it down to the vet to be shaved! Mind you last time we took him to the vet he nearly removed two fingers from a male vet. He really seems to prefer female vets to male vets for some reason.

posted on Saturday, 21 July 2007 23:11:49 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 19 July 2007
Mmmm Hoff

Yes I am a big fan of David Hasselhoff. Why? Because he is just so damn cheesy he's actually funny! 

Anyway here is one of my all time favorites that has me in stitches every time I see it. Long live the Hoff!

posted on Thursday, 19 July 2007 21:31:09 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Burger King is better

I have always been a Burger King fan, not that I eat burgers a lot mind you. I only eat so called "junk food" every now and again such as a Friday to treat myself for surviving the weekend on bread and lentils. However Burger King recently closed down in Windsor and I had to have a Big Mac instead to fulfill my once a week junk food ritual.

My verdict is? Come back Burger King! Don't make me eat Big Mac's instead, please come back! I love the Angus burger!

posted on Thursday, 19 July 2007 20:48:12 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Wednesday, 18 July 2007
My Joost Set top box

pearl Well the only way I am going to get a Joost Set top box is to make my own! All I need is a PC that is nice and thin and looks like a set top box and I found one at CappuccinoPC.com. Now I'll have to find a UK based supplier for this box all I will need next is to install Windows XP and then Joost.

Next I could probably get myself a wireless mouse pointer from global sources and that should sort me out rather nicely with the same functionality of a Wii remote I think.  Oooh I feel another exciting project on the way!

posted on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 20:58:50 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

How to loose weight - get toothache?

Its funny, I took out a gym membership to start loosing weight. I started going to the gym quite regularly but my 38inch waist line still persisted. Then all of a sudden I started to suffer severe toothache so bad that I was up whole night nursing it with cold water, I couldn't eat anything for several days and could only sip soup or chew bread on one side of my mouth.

I was surprised that after my little ordeal I lost half a stone in weight and my waist went back to 36inchs! Mmm so maybe I should have just eaten less? No it couldn't have been that simple could it? So what have we learnt from this? Well if you want to loose weight you have to have someone punch you in the mouth and and knockout a few teeth. No no no that's a horrible idea...

posted on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 20:21:08 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 14 July 2007
My new VOIP toys

qpe_v601_01 Every few months I collect the spare coins I take out of my pocket and leave on the side table at night because they weigh down my wallet too much. If I'm lucky I can usually put enough pennies together for my gadget fund. This months gadget is the QPE V601 wireless VOIP communicator which works with Skype.

Its so cool! Instead of having to talk into your PC's microphone and looking like a complete idiot to the rest of your mates in the office you can actually walk away from the PC and use this device (up to a maximum range of 10 meters). I have tested it with both Skype, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and VOIP cheap and the quality is excellent. I have only had a few problems where I have not set my Skype to use the proper sound device in this case being the QPE which of course relayed the Skype call through my laptop speakers instead.

My other device is an optical mouse which doubles up as a VOIP phone! How cool is that? The mouse rings and you just put it against your ear and talk. All these gadgets can be founds at Maplins for a total sum of £28, not bad hey?

posted on Saturday, 14 July 2007 18:45:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 12 July 2007
I have won an award!

I've won my first blog award! Wehoo! Thanks Mariuca!

Awesome Guy

 

I promise I am not going to let this change my life. I'll still talk to my old friends and blog in the same way as I used to.

posted on Thursday, 12 July 2007 21:15:16 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [2]

 Wednesday, 11 July 2007
My good old Atari BBS

I will admit it. Back when I was younger and kids were fighting about what format was better in the school playground I was the kid with the Atari ST. A die hard fan right to the very end just hoping Atari would save what I thought was a great line of computers with an even more fabulous release of computers. Sadly this was never to be but it didn't stop me running a BBS system I had run on the machines for over 4 years.

The good old Atari ST almost never crashed it was slow but it was also reliable and did what it was supposed to but ever so slowly as the loyal users of my BBS system Athena BBS commented back then. For those readers too young to understand, a BBS stood for Bulletin Board System, they were around way before the Internet became popular, people would leave messages kind of like newsgroups on them and these messages would be traded with other BBS's systems in the unsociable hours of midnight over 33,000 baud modems.  Users would rush in polling the BBS's modem one by one for their mail in the morning seeing what had gone on in the world or what was the latest in the Fidonet message areas. Back then you were lucky to have a modem past 22k in speed anything faster was far too exspensive. Internet email was also exspensive back then and some BBS's like my own offered people email addresses at the BBS for free which would be fed through to them twice a day. Back then spam was something you got in tins and the closest we had to modern day spammers we called muppets and banned them from the BBS network not a hard thing to do back then.

The owner of a BBS was called the Sysop (Systems Operator) a very nice guy who ran the BBS usually for free. Most BBS's also had public domain software available for download, one of the easiest ways of getting hold of free software if you didn't have an Internet connection. My BBS used to be run on two Atari ST's networked over Midi ports using two modems to answer calls. It was a great hobby I funded out of my own pocket and sadly closed down when BBS's finally started loosing people to the Internet. Every now and again I take my Atari ST's out of moth balls and fire them up looking over the BBS system and playing with the old games in the glorious 640x480 resolution, left in exactly the same condition from when it was turned off 12 years ago.

posted on Wednesday, 11 July 2007 20:44:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 09 July 2007
Boeings Dream Liner

Mmm having looked as this plane I have a hard time understanding what makes it so "dreamy". Its looks exactly the same as all of the other planes Boeing makes.

I get the idea it is supposed to reduce pollution by 20% but I bet we are all still going to be packed like sardines into this plane as airlines put as many seats as they can into them. Hardly dreamy is it?

posted on Monday, 09 July 2007 18:58:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 07 July 2007
Slow computer problems?

A few days ago my machine started to suffer with high CPU usage and was just generally very slow. Naturally being a technical person I examined the event logs and CPU usage followed by what I had last installed on my machine. It appears the culprit was the latest version of McAfee Anti Virus software. I tried all kinds of things with it until I eventually got annoyed and removed McAfee and installed the free Anti Virus program AVG which has given me no problems what so ever.

I also found I am not the only person who seems to be having this problem quite a lot of my friends on older laptops which have been updated to the latest version are suffering the same problem. I feel there is no excuse for McAfee having not extensively tested their software before it was released. Software companies have got to start realizing that when they release a bit of software for a machine that it has to try and play nicely with other bits of software and stop acting as though it is the only piece of the software running on the machine. We have computers to use them, we do not have them for bits of software to monopolize their recourses while we wait until they are finished so we can use our machines.

I am not a die hard Linux or Mac fan but I can understand how they smile knowingly to themselves as we Windows users suffer all these performance issues.

posted on Saturday, 07 July 2007 12:32:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [4]

 Monday, 02 July 2007
BT Hi-Def phone anyone?

Got a call from BT the other day offering me a free BT Hi-Def phone if I agreed to stay with BT for another 18 months. Well I've been with BT for such a long time now and while other friends on other broadband providers have had all kinds of problems I have not had a single complaint with BT. The service is always up and its very rare for it to be down, their customer service is easy to get through to and they actually know what they are doing unlike other broadband providers. So I said yes to the man on the phone and in return a got a further discount on my bill and a sought after BT Home Hub Hi-Def phone.

BT's IP phone technology is interesting, you can't help but feel that the companies vision is to eventually go fully IP with their whole network. However one thing I absolutely love about  normal PSTN phones is that they just work. IP telephony can go wrong so often depending on what you have running on your network.

posted on Monday, 02 July 2007 21:57:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Joost set-top box please

Every now and again I do a Google search and take a look at Joost's blog to find out if they have finally got a set-top box on the way and the only article I have found that seems to be anything hinting at being close is this article.

Gee if they had a set-top box I would be one of the first to get one. The content from my Sky box is lacking even with Sky Anytime. BT's BT Vision also doesn't seem to be much to get excited over and Virgin Media leaves too many strings attached for me. Get your phone with us, mobile and Internet and you can get cable. I think the thing about Joost that appeals to me is the whole simplicity of it. There is no strings attached it just works. Apple TV seems like a great idea as well but where is the content Apple? I don't want to get an Apple TV box just to download music videos.

Come on Joost where is that set-top box?

posted on Monday, 02 July 2007 21:42:34 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 01 July 2007
Concert for Diana

I've been watching the Diana concert on the TV. All the acts were brilliant however one thing that seems to let it down from a television perspective is how they will be interviewing someone and then suddenly cut them off and go to the two main presenters while Fearne Cotton is still in the middle of talking to someone and then go back suddenly to someone else. They were also constantly introducing the wrong acts which was a bit unfortunate. At times the sound would suddenly disappear, its hard to know if it was the producers fault or technical faults.  

The concert in all was fabulous and helped to highlight so many things Diana was involved in, so many good causes and charities.

posted on Sunday, 01 July 2007 20:47:46 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Terrorist Attacks in the UK

glasgowairport It seems as though the latest 2 car bomb attempts in London and the single attack on Glasgow airport appear to be testing and probing the new Brown government. I wonder if its more than just a message but a way of trying to scare the new government into pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan and not just the warning of "we are still here".  

There seems to be a view that the intelligence services are not doing their jobs properly monitoring these groups. However the job for them to monitor these people is incredibly vast, however there is the argument that the USA is just as much a target and they do not seem to have had any attacks like this after 9/11, is Britain being seen as more of a soft touch by the terrorists because of our more lenient human rights laws? The Muslim community will feel the spotlight back on them more than ever now as the security services start to do the usual probing into their neighborhoods and the other terrorist agenda of segregating these communities more from the rest of the population will be on its way. It seems so unfair and it was the same pressure the black community felt in their neighborhoods when stop and search was introduced during recent knife and gun attacks. I remember when the first terrorist attacks started I had my very first stop and search as I was carrying a laptop bag at the time. I knew why the police had to do it but I couldn't help but feel that the colour of my skin had something to do with it, but I didn't mind I knew the police couldn't target their search at everyone they had to narrow down their searches I suppose. Better safe than sorry right?

These kind of segregations always take place, the Americans did it after the Pearl Harbor attack keeping a close eye on the local Japanese population with an internment program. I think the only thing that can help is education and greater ties between communities, naturally communities of different cultures stay segregated they have done so from the beginning of time. However it is usually one common stand, interest or something they both believe in that brings them together. I suppose the question is: Why is being British not something that brings people together living in this country?

posted on Sunday, 01 July 2007 10:44:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]