Category Archive:general

New phone ( admin posted on January 23rd, 2009 )

Wow. Just got a new phone, google g1, currently exclusive in the uk to t-mobile. Just because I can, I did a wi-fi scan last night on the way home. In less than 2 miles, through a small rural town, I found 92 wireless routers. 11 of them were open. The saved kml file brings them all up on google earth in seconds. What fun you could have!

p.s. posted from the phone.

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Categories: general

How to not be fat. ( admin posted on January 3rd, 2009 )

The short version :-

Your size (i.e. your weight) is determined substantially by how much you eat. Your fitness and stamina is determined substantially by how much you exercise. These two characteristics are not significantly interchangeable by normal mortals.

Anyone who tries to tell you different is talking rubbish.

The longer bit :-

Interesting to note :- the average human male (me) needs about 2500 calories a day to sustain himself. Lets round this down to 2400 i.e. an average of 100 calories per hour. Every hour. Doing what you normally do, breathing etc.

You can burn up to several hundred calories in an hour of very vigorous exercise. Then you put 400 calories back immediately with a snack bar and a packet of crisps. I can’t burn calories at such a significant rate because my name is not Michael Phelps and I am not an athlete. I can eat snack bars and crisps very easily. See the problem?

So we need a different approach – we need to cut down the calorie intake if we are going to avoid blimp mode. Hence the fascination with diets.

What I have learnt about diets by observing people over the years – they are a waste of time. I have never tried to follow a diet.

Here is the solution :- miss a meal. Every day. Of course you can – trust me, you get used to it. There is no charge for this advice, by the way, but it does work.

Just think about it for a minute :- when you were a baby, you snacked at will. As a small child you had 4 or 5 meals a day. Then it got down to 4, including supper. This is a habit that tends to carry on into adulthood, and it’s not a good one. Why 3 or 4 main meals a day? It’s a habit.

As an adult, you should have already dropped supper, or already be 3 stone everweight. Remember you only need 2500 calories (2000 for the ladies). Easy to get that – too easy.

(p.s. when has any doctor not said to someone over 40: “Stop smoking, lose 3 stone, take more exercise” at every opportunity).

Think back to the old saying “Breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dine like a pauper”. How many of us do that? Not easy is it?, we tend to do exactly the opposite! But it is easy to drop the lunch, especially if you work. Don’t go to the canteen/chip shop/butty shop etc. Don’t take those sandwiches with you. Probably harder if you are at home all day – you need a distraction.

In order for this to work, you have to have a good breakfast, and that means protein. Whoever thought up cereals for breakfast was an idiot. It just leaves you craving proper food 2 hours later. Been there, done that. No, the answer is proper food for breakfast, eggs, ham, bacon, pie etc. whatever. Toast will not cut it – I’ve tried.

So are you going to change? This is not a diet, remember, it’s a new way of life – forever. Has to be a proper change – you need to get your head round that. Bit like getting a dog or the giving up smoking thing – it’s forever.

The good news:- It gets easier, it saves you a bunch of money on lunches, your body changes shape slowly so you can continue to do all the things you normally do, buy smaller clothes over time etc.

You can cheat if you have a business lunch, sunday lunch etc and not feel guilty – you are not on a diet!. Just make sure you miss all the lunches you can in between.

If you want to get the most from this change, you need to do the other thing the doctor recommmends – more exercise. Has to be without the snack afterwards as well. Gym, fitness classes, walking, running, swimming, doesn’t matter, just take up something. Personal trainer if you really have no will power and money to burn.

Personally I swim – twice a week normally, 30 minutes, non-stop (about 1 to 1.5km). Again it’s amazing how it gets easier and you get faster. Really I should do more but time etc.

Good luck – no charge.

Kids – you can ignore all the above until you get to 25, after which you can decide for yourself when you need to start missing a meal or two – clue – your clothes are getting bigger.

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Categories: education, general

Bet you can’t guess . . ( admin posted on December 12th, 2008 )

what happens next :-

Just amazing.

see failblog for more fun stuff.

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Categories: general

PM E-Petition ( admin posted on August 11th, 2008 )

My request for an e-petition has been approved and just gone live here.

The text is as follows:-

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to force computer retailers to un-bundle software from hardware.

When you buy a computer you need to load it with an operating system and other programs (usually from Microsoft). Having these come with the unit is great for some people, but also acts as a “tax” to others who may want to use their own software (e.g. Linux). At the moment retailers keep details of the bundling and pricing very secret and in most cases will not even sell a computer without a load of bundled software. If they were forced to be more open, and sell or at least price the software separately, the market would be much fairer.


I got 60 signatures. Thanks to all who signed up, but not enough I think. Keep paying the tax then . . . . .

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Categories: general

Laptop Update ( admin posted on August 8th, 2008 )

Sound does work – I only tweeked a few things and it came on.

Great view of the desktop eyecandy – this is 4 screens, after pressing start > e

Got both firefox and opera running.

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Categories: general

Hasta la vista ( admin posted on August 5th, 2008 )

Well PC World’s loss is Dell’s gain – my new Inspiron 1525 laptop arrived today, complete with ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed, and a battery pre-charged. It recognised my new logitech marble mouse (been wanting to try one of these for a while – thought it would be good on a small desk or even a knee). It also recognised a USB pen-drive, and a USB hard disk, even though this was formatted as NTFS. I copied all 30GB of data off the disk while typing this (took several minutes at around 15mb/s according to the file copying utility).

All in all, a fantastic machine which has all the bits and pieces I need, together with access to more utilities than I will ever get to use ( and a few games!).

First charge of the batttery lasted about 2 hours intensive use, including powering the external hard disk. This is the 9 cell version with a power bulge at the back. Normally comes with 6 cells.

So far the only thing not working out of the box is the sound (not a peep so far).

Eye candy is excellent. at least on a par with vista

Keyboard is quite good, apart from my tendency to keep hitting the touchpad, due to my not normally typing on this sort of keyboard a lot. Might have to put something over it and use the external mouse all the time.

I had cause to play with a vista machine today, which seemed to spend every spare minute running both available processors flat out doing some background task. It also took around 4 hours to copy about 20GB off an external hard disk (USB). Pretty poor performance by comparison to ubuntu – good job I was near a mains point. Not my machine of course, and cost rather more.

Put a few desktop widgets (desklets) on, and had a play with “F-Spot” photo album/editing suite. Imported from disk flawlessly, and does a great slide show.

I also installed “Opera” as one of my favourite browsers, and a mobile connect card suite for my dongle arriving tomorrow. Mmmmm…..wireless internet.

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Categories: general

Buying a new laptop is not easy ( admin posted on July 28th, 2008 )

It should be, what with high street sales struggling, credit crunch etc. But PCWorld doesn’t want to sell one to me. I want a simple laptop and they have a model that looks perfect – EI 1201. Except I want to run my own operating system (Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Open SuSE/Open Solaris). Shop price £280 including the windows tax (vista). How much without vista ? Lets see :-

email to customer services.


I called into my local store recently (Huddersfield) and was impressed
with the EI Systems 1201. I would like to buy one without Microsoft Windows
installed, but the people in the store were a bit vague as to whether
this was possible. Could you clarify this please – can I get one with the
software removed already, or do I have to buy one, then return the
disks/stickers for a refund at the store? (Assuming I am not going to use
the software and refuse the license agreement). Could you also please
advise the amount of discount/refund I could expect?

Many thanks,


2008/7/21 PC World :

Dear ,

Thank you for your email dated 17th July 2008.

The Ei System 1201 only comes pre-installed with Windows Vista as a
manufacturing standard, therefore we would be unable to remove this
software. Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Radford
PC World Customer Services


Thanks for your reply.

What would be your position if I bought one, then refused the software
licensing agreement?

Would I then be able to claim a refund on the software as per the standard
microsoft license terms ?

I understand this is to be recovered direct from the retailer (yourselves,
not from microsoft because of the bundling) according to the terms.
Obviously I haven’t read the actual terms that go with this machine yet, I
am assuming they are similar to others I have seen in the past. Perhaps you
could send me a copy or point me to the correct link prior to purchase?

Your comments appreciated.

Best Regards,

2008/7/24 PC World

Dear Mr ,

Thank you for your email dated 21st July 2008.

We would consider a refund of the whole unit if you did not agree with the
license agreement, but there is no responsibility on the retailer to refund
the cost of the operating system. The point of contact for this would be
the original equipment manufacturer.

I trust the above serves to answer your query and thank you for taking the
time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Jones
PC World Customer Services


I am very disappointed. Ideally I would prefer to buy an EI Systems 1201
without any software, my second choice was to purchase the unit and then
apply for a refund covering the microsoft software bundled with the product,
thus ensuring no disruption to your supply chain.

You are now saying I can’t do this. This seems to be against all common
sense. If I was buying a car from you would I be forced to use microsoft
maps rather than the collins ones I already have? I use microsoft software
every day, but I would also like a choice in spending my money where it is
best used. Buying a computer, with the cost of the operating system and
other software included, and then wiping the hard disk immediately seems
just wasteful.

Can I contact EI systems direct ? Will they sell me one direct ? I thought
that this machine was made exclusively for DSG and therefore you are the OEM
not just the retailer?

This would not be such a big issue if the cost of the bundled software were
comparable to the car/map scenario (car £15,000, map £5), but in this case
it is probably of the order of 10 to 20% of the final cost of the unit from
yourselves. Thats a heck of a tax!

Your comments appreciated.


Dear ,

Thank you for your email dated 25th July 2008.

I am unable to assist from here at Customer Services, as we do not hold the technical knowledge required. I suggest you contact our technical team direct on 0844 800 6020 or visit for further support.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Yours sincerely,

Tracy Keady
PC World Customer Services


So there we have it. My questions are too technical. Or maybe they don’t want to answer.

I am very tempted to push this further, but quite frankly I can’t be bothered. I have ordered a dell with ubuntu pre-installed instead (£55 cheaper than the windows model, but not as cheap as the EI 1201).

I have also requested an online petition to unbundle hardware from software, or at least make it transparent.

If approved for voting I would appreciate some support. Breathes in and holds . . . . . .

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Categories: general

DRM is really, really stupid. ( admin posted on July 16th, 2008 )

I’ve been avoiding anything ipod related for a long time – especially since I read Cory Doctorow’s excellent speech some years ago.

Today I heard another story where someone wanted, quite reasonably, to put music onto a different player to their normal ipod for a while. And couldn’t. Yes there are ways round it, but making people jump through hoops to play their own music is not good for business, or as was said to me “If I had known about this I would never have had an ipod. I will never buy another”. Nuff said. Your music should be your music.

Googling for Cory + DRM finds a lot of similar comments.

Another funny explanation of drm is here.

I don’t have an MP3 player, but my kids do . . . . .

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Categories: education, general

Fast Dilbert ( admin posted on July 16th, 2008 )

I regularly check the dilbert website and the latest cartoon is just superb. Best for a long time.

If you didn’t already know, you can bypass all the flash and the adverts by going fast.

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Categories: general

Last Vulcan back in the air ( admin posted on July 8th, 2008 )

XH558 is back in the air. Sadly I couldn’t be there at Waddington over the weekend, but my second favourite aircraft is back on the air display circuit.

I will never forget the sight (and sound) of a Vulcan Scramble at early 1970s air shows. Yes I know it’s a bit of a fake, with the aicrew already strapped in and the whole plane “hot”, but as a pre-teen, it was just fantastic. (If any real crew would like to tell me otherwise be my guest).

Good luck for the rest of the season.

p.s. my favourite plane ? English Electric Lightning.

Also here.

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Categories: general