Sunday, 15 March 2009
Social networks the new Email 2.0?

FaceBook My friend Owen Twittered this interesting article on the BBC web site about how social networks are the "new e-mail". This is a subject I have found pretty interesting, partly because every day of my life since the Internet started to get popular I have been spammed excessively.

I have 3 personal email accounts which I am not very good at checking. The only email account that gets my full attention is my work email account. My work emails get sorted into what needs my immediate attention and items that are mildly interesting that I will file away and most probably forget about. There may be a few social contacts which I will probably set myself a reminder to deal with later in Outlook. To me email has become a real chore for every email account you have you need to sort the noise from your real contacts. It has become such an issue that sometimes I give up all together on my personal email account and sit down maybe once a week separating adverts, circulars and spam from genuine friends emailing me. In the old days email was not like this, when you received an email it was an exciting occasion, someone genuinely wanted to contact you. Email used to feel the same as receiving a hand written letter in the post from a friend, but now I find 1 out of 10 emails is usually spam.

Social networks help you separate spam from friend pretty easily. You usually have the option to not receive messages from people who are not in your social network and hence making your social messages and alerts easier to take in. The only problem I have found with networks such as Facebook is the excessive amounts of forwards and invitations to join certain groups or install certain applications. Without thinking about it I installed several Facebook applications just because friends forwarded them to me. I even ended up on a dating Facebook application, which I had no intention of joining and had great difficulty removing myself from. After awhile I started to find social networks just as tiring it was yet another "thing" that needed attention and soon my Facebook account started to become just as tedious to maintain. I found that the best way for people to get my attention or to get me to respond to a social events was via MSN Messenger, phone or actually meeting me and asking if I was attending something. Messenger is spontaneous and gets results. Then someone introduced me to Twitter and from there things started to change.

Twitter didn't demand the high maintenance of a social network and the noise created by spam in an email account was easily avoidable. Twitter kept things simple, you post a message in Twitter it can be anything you want and people can respond. If people start spamming you, you remove them from the list of people you follow on Twitter. Twitter is like a cross between blogging, MSN messenger and social interaction for me. Its also a great platform to put a question to the world and get a response from an expert in almost seconds. This got me thinking, if you keep things simple and they don't demand a great amount of your time, people will stay with it. It was almost as though traditional email should have had this built in. You can only send me emails once I accept your email account is allowed to send me messages which has been attempted before but requires you pay a subscription fee. I don't think social networks are the new email 2.0 I just think they are yet another way of communicating with each other. Each of these communication methods has its place.

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posted on Sunday, 15 March 2009 13:20:37 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 09 March 2009
Upgrading RAM on your Mac Mini PowerPC

A while ago my wife asked me to upgrade the RAM on her PowerPC Mac Mini from 256megs to 1gig because Quark Express was complaining. I thought I would put together a little guide for anyone who would like to do this themselves. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. So lets get started.

Please note: I take no responsibility for any damage you do to your machine as a result of following this article. So if you are a bit squeamish or not confident with machine hacks this probably isn't for you. Remember to read the whole guide through before starting. This is only for a Mac Mini PowerPC and NOT an Intel Mac Mini.

What you will need

  • 1 x Paint scraper (that's it!)

Step 1


Unplug all cables from your Mac Mini and turn it over. Using the paint scraper (be careful here) push it in between the gap between the case and the base of the unit (this part is actually the hardest I have found). You may need to use your nail here to eventually "pop" one side up. If you are not careful you may end up scraping the case so take care.

When it does eventually come up you will hear a "popping" sound. 



Step 2


After one side comes up turn the Mac Mini around and gently pry up the other sides with the paint scraper.






Step 3


After you have pried up the sides of your Mac Mini it should look like the photo. As you can see the base of the Mac Mini is actually held in place with plastic clips and these are responsible for making the "popping" sound when you first pry up the lid.





Step 4

Separate the base from the lid now that you have pried it free. Put the lid to one side and turn the base unit around so you can see the RAM module on the side.






Step 5
Remove the RAM module by pulling back the clips around the RAM Module (Caution ensure you are earthed before doing this or have touched a radiator or an earthed item first to remove any static from you).

Now insert the new RAM module ensuring the clips are in place. The RAM needs to sit firmly in its slot.








Step 6
Now place the lid back on top of the Mac Mini base unit and push it down until it clicks back into place. You're done!

posted on Monday, 09 March 2009 09:16:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 08 March 2009
Are we tired?

WillowAndOscarWillow and Oscar at the end of a busy day of chasing leaves around the garden (and annoying the hell out of me) decide to rest on the sofa for the day.

Later on tonight they will complain why dinner has been delayed by 5 minutes and that they had tinned Beef two days ago.

Willow will take one look at what I put down in her bowl and look up at me as to say "And this is?" before walking off.

Oscar will wait until I move off the sofa to get a drink from the kitchen so he can move in and take the warm spot I left behind.

Cats, you've got to love them! :)

posted on Sunday, 08 March 2009 18:47:45 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 07 March 2009
Internet dating fraud

When you think of Internet fraud you probably think of credit card theft or hackers getting into your computer stealing information to make lots of money. If you have been on the net for a while you may have heard of the notorious Nigerian 419 scam. Where unwitting victims are led to believe that a wealthy widower from an oil rich African state wishes to get her money out of the country and requires your help to do so. Sound familiar?

Well the Internet fraud game has taken a more sinister approach preying on lonely people on Internet dating websites. Now don't get me wrong there are probably a lot of genuine young women on Internet dating websites looking for long term relationships. But among these genuine people will be the fraudsters who have set themselves up with a fake profile. In many cases the photo of the person in these profiles is of a rather beautiful woman. Investigate the photos further and you will probably see they are taken off a modelling web site.

The fraudster will spend a lot of time forming an online relationship with their victim or maybe even several victims at once. Our fraudster does not have any morals and while they are leading on several victims in a dating scam, they may also have other little fraud projects setup on the side. One of the fraudsters favourites are fake banking websites setup to capture your credit card details (you know the ones?). To the fraudsters this is their 9-5 job this is how they make their living. The fraudster will eventually come up with a story of how they would like to come over and see their victim but need money for a ticket. The fraudster may also say they require money for a life saving operation. At this stage the victim is so smitten with the fraudster they are willing to give them anything. The fraudster will keep this scam going until the victim either catches on or runs out of money. The fraudster ensures they have a constant stream of cash coming in by having several of these victims lined up, almost like a production line. 

There are some key ways to identify these frauds which you can find on the following web sites.

Other ways of identifying fraudsters and not just Internet Dating fraudsters are:

  • Are they using a Yahoo email address? For some reason this appears to be the free internet email service of choice for Internet Fraudsters. Its so common someone has even started a directory of fraudster email addresses.
  • Is all correspondence in capitals?
  • If you Google the address they gave you, you may find its been listed on anti fraud sites. You may also find the address is used by several people.
  • If you Google the persons online nickname you may find they are registered on every single dating website out there. Possibly in several different countries.
  • If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.
posted on Saturday, 07 March 2009 17:45:39 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 01 March 2009
Free PDF Merge tool

My wife works in type setting and sometimes needs to merge PDF's together which can be quite a cumbersome task. I had a look on the Internet to see if there was anything freely available to do this but everything I found started at $60. Being a developer I decided to make my own program to do this in C#.

I found a code sample on Jean-Fran├žois blog which uses the iTextSharp library and wrapped it up into a command line program and a .NET DLL.

Its a pretty simple and quickly put together application which does exactly what it says on the tin. Below I have put together a zip file which contains the command line version of the tool and a DLL you can call from your own application. I have not tested if it is COM compatible. Let me know if you find it useful or if you have any feedback!

Download RS PDFMerge

posted on Sunday, 01 March 2009 20:26:25 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

Mandelson to part privatise Royal Mail, why?

Mandelsons plans to privatise Royal Mail have been in the press a lot this week. What I have found so interesting about it, is that even though the plan is so unpopular and has the potential for Labour to loose a lot of votes (maybe even an election), they have not backed down on the idea. Gordon Brown has openly backed it, even after the large out cry from the unions and their threat to hold back funding for Labour.

So, why go ahead with the idea? Well we all know the Royal Mail pension pot is in a lot of trouble and the group is haemorrhaging cash. Talk to postal workers and they will tell you that the communications watch dog will not allow Royal Mail to increase the cost of a basic postage stamp. Royal Mail mainly makes a loss on the mail service to the general public which needs to be shored up by the money it makes from businesses, for example the delivery of your BT phone bill, Gas bill,bank statements etc. Currently Royal Mail is finding it very hard to be competitive in this market because companies such as TNT (you've seen their postage stamps on your mail) are offering more competitive rates to win these business contracts.

You may be asking,how does TNT deliver my mail to me? The answer to that question is they don't! All TNT do is collect the mail from large companies sending out their bills and statements, and sort the mail. They then get their lorries to deliver this sorted mail to the various Royal Mail sorting offices, ready for Royal Mail postman to deliver it to your door. In this market Royal Mail as I am told, is not allowed to undercut these private companies. They rely on Royal Mail which has the delivery network to deliver this post. Without Royal Mail it would not be very cost effective for companies such as TNT or Business Post to try and employ their own postmen, its just far to expensive. The money Royal Mail would have made by trying to be competitive and cutting their rates for sorted mail to companies is not allowed by the competition watch dogs. The money Royal Mail needs to cover the cost of the public service is then reduced. So the government is left having to pump more money into the postal service. But wait a minute, the government as been pumping a lot of money into the banking industry lately so there can't be that much left to spend on much else could there?

Would privatising Royal Mail make the government some money to help them fill the depleted coffers caused by bailing out the banks? I know its a drop in the ocean but I can't help but feel this wont be the last attempt by the government to raise some cash by selling off the family silver. Maybe they will attempt to privatise Network Rail again?

posted on Sunday, 01 March 2009 12:55:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]