Matt Damon is a lucky SOB

What better to break my blogging hiatus with than a clip that has had me belly-laughing like a belly-laughing fool.







Technorati tags: sarah silverman, matt damon


Post Category: Amusing

February 3rd, 2008 at 07:08pmOs

Windows Home Server saves my bacon, well, my email

I have previously waxed lyrical about Windows Home Server, but today it finally paid for itself.

I use TheBat! for email, and it has served me well for many years, however when I checked a little-used email account I discovered that all the messages in it had been deleted. Checking the folder in explorer shows that the database file holding the emails had presumably become corrupted and had emptied completely. This was a trifle inconvenient as I really needed the contents of one of the lost emails, urgently.

Thankfully, WHS backs up my PC daily, although I had to go back over a month to find an uncorrupted copy of the messages, but I’m now happily back with a full mailbox on the account, and the important information therein recovered.

I am one very happy camper.


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Post Category: Technical

December 2nd, 2007 at 07:12pmOs

Those crazy Sudanese Muslims

So, after allowing the children in her class to name their teddy bear ‘Mohammed’, teacher Gillian Gibbons is to be jailed for 15 days for insulting religion. The school’s director, one Robert Boulos told the AP news agency this classic piece of arse-covering verbiage:

“It’s a very fair verdict, she could have had six months and lashes and a fine, and she only got 15 days and deportation.”

Oh, that’s alright then!

Naturally, the irony is that by sentencing a hard-working committed teacher over such a trivial matter, they have done far more to insult Islam, and once more cemented the idea that Muslims are, on the whole, well, really touchy.

However, now you too can own your very own Mo-Bear as listed on Ebay, so get bidding!

Just remember, this bear isn’t named after the Prophet Mohammed, the illiterate camel salesman with a penchant for pre-pubescent girls and killing men, women and children. No, not the Mohammed who heard voices from invisible pixies, murdered indiscriminately and some of whose followers also have a fondness for blowing shit up, usually themselves and anyone around them.

No, not that Mohammed.

That would be an insult to teddy bears!


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Post Category: Nut Jobs,Politics,Rants,Religion

1 comment November 30th, 2007 at 11:26amOs

Rip off Britain? The software companies think so

Recently, there was a fuss about the pricing of Adobe Photoshop CS3 when compared between the US and UK, the UK price being nearly double the US price, when the currencies were converted. Adobe never really explained themselves to my (or indeed many peoples’) satisfaction. Still, I got CS3 in any case, because I needed it.

When I received an announcement of the release of Diskeeper 2008, I decided to take the plunge and buy a copy. Off I went to the UK Diskeeper store, and the Pro-Premium edition was priced at £95.20, which is $198.89 at the current exchange rate (thank you collapsing Dollar).

Frankly there was no way I was going to pay so much for even this excellent bit of software, so instead I went to the Diskeeper US store, which priced the self-same product at $99.95, which is currently £47.84, a smidgeon above half the UK price, which I bought and am now happily using.

So, save yourself some money by taking advantage of the global economy and buy your software from US online stores in dollars, and reap the benefit of the weak dollar / strong pound & euro.

PS Diskeeper 2008 really is very good and worth buying, just not at double the US price.

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Post Category: Technical

November 3rd, 2007 at 02:25pmOs

Windows Home Server

Although I’ve bemoaned its absence from MSDN, I went ahead and built a Windows Home Server (WHS) box for my home network.

Since it’s going to be running 24/7, it needed to be quiet, frugal on power consumption but still powerful rough to be useful, and have a ton of storage. In the end I plumped for an AMD Sempron 3200 based machine, with four 500Gb Samsung hard drives providing the storage, coming to a total of 1.8Tb once everything had been installed. Even with all that, the server runs on idle of less than 50W, and under 100W when under load. It has built in VGA which consumes less power than a normal add-on card, but since the server runs headless it was only used for installation.

I’m afraid that my previous backup solution, Acronis True Image, has been sat idle ever since because the built-in backup support of WHS totally eclipses it for both convenience and configurability. It runs automatically for all of my PCs on the network, backing them up daily (apart from my laptop, it can’t wake it up and won’t back it up when it’s on battery, which makes sense) without my having to lift a finger. Additionally I can control what is being backed up so that, for example, it doesn’t back up the Steam folder on my main pc, since all the games are available to download at any time and it saves 14Gb going over the network.

Using a RAID-like software mirroring system, folders set for replication are spread across multiple drives so in the event of a disk throwing a shoe and crashing, nothing will be lost. Not to mention it can use external USB storage as part of the pool of drives available to it, making expansion easy.

The remote access features are also useful, for example if I need to access my home pc, using the Asoft Autoexit addon I can connect to my home server over the internet, wake up my home pc using wakeup on lan, then remote desktop to it – pretty slick.

Sod Vista, this is the product that Microsoft have proved they can make really compelling products with.

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Post Category: Technical

1 comment October 6th, 2007 at 03:54pmOs

Perseids Pictures

During the recent Perseid meteor shower, on a whim I decided to try man hand at Astro Photography for the very first time during which I learned three very important things:

Firstly, it really helps if you take fully charged batteries.

Secondly, where I live it is pretty much impossible to get away from light pollution.

And thirdly, in meteor pictures, size is everything.

Unfortunately, I somewhat failed in the latter by using a relatively wide angle lens.

So, here are three of the pictures taken on the night, somewhat messed about with to hide as much of the light pollution as possible. It seems that green is the in-colour for meteors this year.





Technorati tags: perseids, meteors

Post Category: Photography,Science

August 19th, 2007 at 01:37pmOs

Windows Home Server – Microsoft screws the (developer) pooch

Frankly, Windows Vista strikes me as just XP with some makeup on and a whole heap o’ DRM technology added. I can dual boot it on my pc but frankly there is no compelling reason for me to use it so far.

Windows Home Server (WHS), however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. This is a product I want, and I want it now. Although in all my uber-geekdom I can easily build a Linux box with most of the functionality offered by WHS the whole package looks slick enough to make me want to use it. As soon as I get around to building a new server for it I’ll be purchasing a copy.

Plus, as a software developer I’ve got several ideas for WHS addins that will be of use to me and potentially other people so I eagerly logged onto MSDN to see if I can download a copy for development purposes, because, you know, you really don’t write code and test it on a production platform. Not there. Oh well, it has only just gone to RTM perhaps they’re taking their time.

Apparently not, for some insane reason they’re not going to put WHS on MSDN. Since there is zero chance I’m going to buy an additional copy for development purposes after Microsoft already have taken lots of money for the MSDN subscription, I guess that my home server addins will simply have to wait until they get it through their corporate heads that as a developer I may want to use my Microsoft Developer Subscription Network subscription to develop software for, arguably, their most interesting new product for several years (much more exciting than Vista, by a long shot).

They tried a similar thing with the Expression products, arguing that developers never write html or do graphics so they don’t need access to them. After a while sanity reigned and I have a hope that this also happens with WHS sooner rather than later.

But I’ve been wrong before…

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Post Category: Rants,Technical

1 comment August 15th, 2007 at 01:50pmOs

Things I like

My infrequent blogging has mostly been a little ranty, so to balance the cosmic forces or something, here is a small list of things I like:

  • The fact that men over 60 continue to wear a shirt and tie every day. I need to be drugged to put on a shirt, let alone a tie; but somehow seeing these older gents dressed up makes me feel happier with the world.
  • Islands. I love islands, the smaller the better – there’s something inherently pleasurable to me knowing that I can walk the length and breadth of an island in one day. When I win the lottery I plan on buying one, nothing too showy, mind.
  • Talking bollocks nonsense. Sometimes when I’m just chatting with a very good friend of mine we just start talking absolute nonsense, but in such a way that it sounds like it should be perfectly clear. It is almost like a jazz riff, it achieves nothing but still is utterly entertaining.
  • Ceiling fans. I just can’t get enough.

Post Category: Personal

July 24th, 2007 at 04:40pmOs

Blow up Rushdie, he wrote a book, apparently!

Once again, some followers of the religion of peace are strapping on suicide socks and blowing off their feet.

Salman Rushdie, noted serious author and Booker Prize winner, has received a knighthood, so from now-one will be Sir Salman. Naturally, some people in Pakistan (where 50% of the population can’t read) don’t approve of this, because he once wrote a book they didn’t read like, The Satanic Verses.

Iran has said this award demonstrates ‘Islamaphobia’ among British officials. Odd, I think threatening to murder an author because of some supposed slight against an illiterate businessman with a fondness of 9 year old girls born in the 6th century is more likely to promote ‘Islamaphobia’ than any book will.

‘Awarding one of the most hated persons within the Islamic world indicates Britain’s hostility towards Islam and will put that country against Islamic societies,’ Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said.

Yes, deeply conciliatory words from that bastion of freedom, tolerance and women’s rights, Iran.

Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs, Ijaz-ul-Haq said that the award will provoke Muslims to commit suicide bombings, telling parliament:

Britain should immediately tender an apology to all Muslim states failing which the Muslim world should cease diplomatic ties with Britain

He continued:

[Britain’s decision] will encourage people to commit blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed

And more:

The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the ‘sir’ title,” ul-Haq said.

Yes, that will show the non-Muslim world that their particular brand of sky-pixie worship should be tolerated. Nothing like threatening authors with bombs to make the world a more tolerant place.

Here’s a clue, if Muslims don’t want to be treated as pariahs then perhaps they should shut up the more vocal members of their sky-pixie club when they insist on spouting contemptible rubbish.

But please don’t murder me, Allahu Akbar!

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Post Category: Nut Jobs,Rants

June 18th, 2007 at 11:32pmOs

Physics teaching is going to hell in a handbasket

When I was a lad in school, back in the days of yore (ie, the late 1980s) I wasn’t really enamoured with many of the subjects I was taking at ‘O’ level (the precursor of GCSEs) and then ‘A’ level.

However, I absolutely loved physics. I loved the precision, its predictive powers and how, well, sciencey it was. With the right equations you could work out everything from the path of a cannon ball to the energy produced when matter falls into a black hole.

In short, it rocked my physical world.

I didn’t realise this at the time, naturally, but although I wouldn’t go into a career that requires me to use physics every day, it did finely tune my bullshit meter and give me the apparatus to see through nonsense and woo quickly. For example, someone told me that using a mobile phone would literally cook their brain, as if it was in a microwave oven. My bullshit meter immediately went off and after a quick scribble on a piece of paper to work out the wavelengths involved, it was apparent that the human head is simply too small to even interact on any meaningful level with the radio signals involved.

So you can imagine how disheartened I was when a physics teacher called Wellington Grey announced that the new GCSE physics curriculum is basically dumbed down to the point of insanity.

Already universities here in the UK are having to give new students remedial maths lessons, now they’re going to have to teach remedial physics for those poor souls who want to take a hard science in further education.

This is why more people than ever are taking ridiculous ‘soft’ subjects like Media Studies instead of the old, tough subjects like Maths, Physics, Chemistry et al – why do all that hard work when you can sit around for four years watching TV and still get a degree at the end?

Now the UK government, through its education policies, is determined to produce several years worth of physics-ignorant kids who don’t know F=MA but do know that global warming is a really bad thing, m’kay.

But, what the hell, if you make the exams easier more pupils will get a higher grade and then the government can crow about its achievements in education!

I really wish I was just being cynical.

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Post Category: Rants,Science

1 comment June 9th, 2007 at 01:18amOs

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