Archive for April, 2008

Blog test

I am in the process of testing Linux software in advance of the proposed changeover on 10th May.

I am testing a program that will allow me to post a blog direct from my Linux Desktop but as yet I haven’t tested it. Here is the test. I do apologise if there is nothing very interesting, but so as not to waste your time completely, I will tall a little joke:

An Englishman is having breakfast, in Paris , one morning (coffee, croissants, bread, butter and jam) when a Frenchman, chewing bubble-gum, sits down next to him The Englishman ignores the Frenchman who, nevertheless, starts a conversation.

Frenchman: ‘You English folk eat the whole bread??’

Englishman (in a bad mood): ‘Of course.’

Frenchman: (after blowing a huge bubble) ‘We don’t. In France , we only eat what’s inside. The crusts we collect in a container, rec ycle it, transform them into croissants and sell them to England ‘ The Frenchman has a smirk on his face.

The Englishman listens in silence.

The Frenchman persists: ‘Do you eat jam with the bread??’

Englishman: ‘Of Course.’

Frenchman: (cracking his bubble-gum between his teeth and chuckling).

‘We don’t. In France we eat fresh fruit for breakfast, then we put all the peels, seeds, and leftovers in containers, recycle them, transform them into jam, and sell the jam to England ‘

After a moment of silence, The Englishman then asks: ‘Do you have sex in France ?’

Frenchman: ‘Why of course we do’, he says with a big smirk.

Englishman: ‘And what do you do with the condoms once you’ve used them?’

Frenchman: ‘We throw them away, of course.’

Englishman: ‘We don’t. In England , we put them in a container, recycle them, melt them down into bubble-gum, and sell them to France ‘


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I tend to use Google a lot. It’s not because I have any particular love for the company – although I do have a little admiration – it is because whatever they seem to want to do, turns out to be something I want to do as well.

First of all, passwords. Google have simplified this so that you keep the same user name and password for each and every one of their applications. I tend to change my password every month as I am a heavy user of this company’s products.

When I fire up my Firefox browser, the home website it goes into is “iGoogle”. This is the “shell” which has links to all the Google applications I use, together with a number of their “widgets”. A “widget” is a useful utility that does a small thing. For example, I use Google Clocks which gives me the time in all the countries I phone from time to time to ensure I do not phone at awkward times. Another has the date, another has a countdown to a particular day. Another shows me the weather, there is an eBay search, and all my applications are also included as well.

The first application, and my start in my use of Google, is Gmail. I have mentioned this in a recent blog, so will skip too much explanation of this extremely useful function.

The last application I subscribed to was Google Reader and this is a real application killer! Many of us keep visiting websites to see if there have been many additions. If you visit a few every day and no new information has been added, you are wasting your valuable time. The next time you visit the website, copy the URL (web page address), and go into Google Reader. Click the “Subscribe” button on the top left-hand corner of the page, paste in the URL and click “Add”. In no time at all that web site will be on your Google Reader Page. You can add as many addresses as you like and each time you go into Google Reader it will show you any additional articles on all of your websites. Start by typing in ““and you will always be notified of my latest blog!

Google Groups. This is based a little on Usenet, but without the “plonkers” one tends to get on Usenet. You have full control of your group and can suspend or ban people from joining, make your group private or open to the public, and allow specific people only “posting privileges”.

Google Calendar. This is very useful. We have an office at home and, although my wife and I have our desks near each other, our calendars are with Google (probably in California). We have used the “permissions” facility to link our Calendars together. Now, if I am at my computer and Pam is out, and a friend phones up to arrange for us to see them, I check my calendar, click on Pam’s name on the left and her appointments are immediately superimposed on top of my calendar, but colour coded in a different colour. Now I can make an appointment that is convenient to both and after I have entered the details, I can click on “Add Guest” and an email will go to Pam’s email address. She can click on Accept or Deny on the email. If “accept” the information is immediately placed in her Calendar. She can also link to my calendar although this is not necessary if you want the facility to be one way only.

Google Talk. This is a clean simple alternative to MSN Messenger, Skype, or Yahoo Messenger and allows quick typed notes to be sent to other users. Can be very handy in a company. Pam and I use it as a noticeboard to send messages to each other if one of us is out.

Google Notes. This is where you can collect your notes. You can download a piece of software to connect to your Firefox or Internet Explorer so that your copy/cut and paste operations are copied to your notes. This can be looked at on your browser when convenient but the joy is, it is also on the Notes website under your sign-in on the web so can be checked from anywhere in the world.

Google Maps. Once again, a nice clean application. Once you sign in, you can keep a list of the maps you ask for if you so require so you can refer back later from anywhere in the world. And you can just type in the name of a Restaurant. For example, go to Google Maps and type in: Le Train Bleu, Paris. You go straight to Paris, in France, and it shows the address (it is in the Gare de Lyon). Of course you can print out the map and, unlike some other street map applications, it prints out on one page without all the rubbish and adverts. And, naturally, it has a facility of printing a map from where you are to the place you want to go.

Google Documents. This is a very good word processor, spreadsheet and presentation set of programs that allow you to work directly on the web from wherever you happen to be in the world. It also allows you to give permissions for others to not only read the documents, but if you so wish, to edit them as well. And, of course, You can have different people allowed different access to different documents.

Further information can be got direct from the Google Applications web page.


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I have seven different email accounts. One day I realised that six of them were spammed and scammed on a daily basis, whereas one of them never contained any offending emails at all.

This led me to think, “there must be a better way”. The account which was always problem-free was my Gmail account so I thought I should learn more about this account I was using.

After going through all the help files and making sure I understood all the settings, I decided to do the following.

First of all, I arranged for all my email from the six other accounts to pass through my Gmail account. Just a case of typing in the email names and, when a “test email” was sent to the account, clicking on the link – simplicity itself. This cured my spam and scam email problem immediately.

Also, when sending email from my Gmail web account, I could choose from my seven accounts exactly which email to show as the address from which the message would appear to have come.

Excellent. One major problem solved. I then set up Pmail – an email account that allows me to bounce messages and then bounced five years email messages to my Gmail account. (Bouncing means that, when my messages arrived into the Gmail account it actually shows the sender as the original sender, not from my email program.)

Now I had a web based account that had, on file, my entire collection of emails for the last five years.

This came in very handy recently in South Africa when I was to call on a friend and found I had lost his address. However he had sent me the address about two years previously, and a quick trip to an Internet Café, together with Gmail’s excellent retrieval skills, I had the errant address and a great evening was had by all. Most web based email websites will only have the emails which have arrived since you last logged on to your email.

Perfect. Now all I had to do is to set up, within Gmail, an operation to send all new emails to my email program. And change the SMTP protocol in the email program to send all mail via Gmail so a copy would be there. A few clicks and the job was done.

Now all I had to do was to fire up my email program, the emails would be downloaded and I could work as I normally did. The only difference was, no offending spams and scams, and all my mail available, anywhere in the world, at any time.

However, this might be suitable for most people, but for those of us who have many computers – I have two desktops and one Notebook, there is a problem. This is not a Gmail problem, it wouldn’t matter how you collected your mail, you would only really be able to use one computer if you wanted all your email in one file.

A few years ago POP3 was progressed to IMAP. IMAP with Google is a blessing for me. By using IMAP on my many computers I log on with my email program through my broadband connection and although it looks like I am working in my email program, I am in fact working on the Gmail database. All this is transparent to the user but it means that when I switch from my Windows machine, working in Outlook, to my Ubuntu Linux machine working with Evolution email, the picture of my message base is exactly the same and I even have copies of the emails I sent on my Windows machine.

In addition I use Google Documents for word processing and Spreadsheets, and now Presentations so that they are always available, even in Internet Cafés.

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Cui Bono

When I was at boarding school in South Africa – my parents couldn’t stand me being around the house – and at the school I took Latin.

I can’t remember much, apart from the 2nd declension of Dominus,

Dominus, Domine, Dominum, Domini Domino, Domino
. I particularly remember this as Dominus means the Lord, or Master! That’s me folks!

However, the phrase to remember, to learn, and to keep on asking, whenever you hear the news on television or read the newspapers is “Cui Bono”. The nearest and best translation of this is “Who benefits…”

But this is not really enough, as you need to do more deeply into what lies behind the meaning. Fortunately someone has written a piece on this in Wikipedia and a visit to that website will be well worth the visit. Make sure you bookmark this and put it into your favourite websites as you should refresh your memory of the real and full meaning every now and again.

Armed with this valuable information, you will be able to make much more informed decisions after seeing, hearing and reading the news.


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Why I decided on one particular Linux flavour.

First of all, a very, very potted history of Linux. In the beginning there were mainframes, and many of them ran Unix, a text based operating system. Then micro computers came along and eventually IBM standardised Personal Computers and arranged with Bill Gates to deliver a text based operating system for their new personal computers, and PCDOS was born.

Then the nice Mr Linus developed a kernel which he called “Linux” and other people redesigned the Unix operating system around his kernel.

Meanwhile Microsoft experimented with Windows 1 which was pretty dismal and then he produced Windows 3.1 which worked after a fashion. The rest was history until XP However, with the introduction of Vista, Microsoft took a step backwards and have now announced that they are bringing the next version of Windows forward a year to compensate for all the stick they are receiving with Windows Vista.

In the interim, the Linux kernel was developing into a handy backdrop for many distros (distributions) of Linux all slightly different. A Linux distro is known as GNU Linux (GNU is a recursive acronym: GNU’s not Unix) but most people use the name of the kernel (Linux) to mean the whole kaboodle (kernel and operating system). A few years ago, the LSB (Linux Standard Base) which is part of the “Linux Foundation” was formed to ensure standards by delivering operability between applications and the Linux Operating System. Fortunately, most players in the market are signed up to the LSB. This has brought the Linux community a more stabilised product and a visit to their website will ensure you choose a distribution that is in the mainstream.

Over the years I have toyed with Linux, experimenting with various distros and it is only now that I have found one which I consider the best (for me that is).

The reason I chose Ubuntu, apart from Mark Shuttleworth (the Space Tourist who went up in a Russian Spaceship for over a week for $20,000,000) is a South African, is that he has wisdom far beyond his 35 years. He has proven successful by starting up a software company (Thawte) and then selling it to Verisign for $590,000,000. In addition, he has generated a Linux support company to handle his new distribution to ensure it gets taken up by the Corporates. And finally, has set up a trust fund of £5,000,000 to keep his distro going in the event that he gets knocked down by a bus. In other words, he is skilful, efficient and is capable of forward thinking.

Horror stories abound about Linux forums being unfriendly to beginners. Linux up to recently, has been a sort of “private club” and newcomers, especially non-technical newcomers were considered persona non grata.

Mr Shuttleworth, however, has changed all that with his Ubuntu forums. To be a “card carrying member” of the Ubuntu Fraternity you have to do something. Either in programming, marketing and design, or assisting people. To count your success in helping people on the forums he has introduced a “thank you” button and helpers on the forum vie with each other to get the most number of “thank you” tags. Some have thousands. This has produced a community who fall over each other to help you at all times.

As we would say in SA, he is a “clever ou” and a “smart cookie”.

Anyway, I am throwing myself into GNU Linux and will be making the move on the weekend beginning Saturday 10th May.

Before making the move there are many things I have to do in Windows: rescuing all my data which is scattered all over the place. Then I will load Linux onto a clean hard drive, download everything I need. I will load up Crossover, the parent of Wine, a program that runs Windows programs directly for Ameol, an off-line reader I need for Cix. I will also load VirtualBox that allows a copy of Windows to be run directly within Linux for one major program called LightRoom from Adobe. I will also load in CorelDraw, Photoshop and In-Design. However, there are Linux equivalents for these and I will only keep them until I master the alternatives. Although there is not an equivalent to LightRoom at the moment, there is an alternative in beta format and as soon as this comes out of beta I will remove LightRoom and Windows by deleting VirtualBox.

Whilst I attempt all this, I will keep copious notes of my experiences and what I do, step by step. I will give a drastically abridged account in a blog towards the end of May so that I can report on a couple of weeks without Windows. In addition, I will write up my notes in a PDF document to make it available for all who may be interested.


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We’ve been devalued

But not only us, but the US as well.

None of the “pundits” are saying a word about it are they? Perhaps they are ignorant? Or have their ordersss?

But those in the computer business where prices for software are given in Dollars, Sterling and Euros won’t have to go back too many months when a hundred pound product would be priced as:

£100 ($200 or 200Euros). These weren’t exact translations admittedly, but were rounded to make it easier for the Americans.

Now, today, I checked the currencies with XE.Com and the following is the exact exchange rate at 3:20pm. £1.00 = 1.97456 USD = 1.25293 EUR

Or to simplify: £1.00 = $1.97 = E1.25

This can signify two things.

1. Either the American and British money has remained the same and the Euro has strengthened enormously in value, which I doubt or there would be a lot of news about it; or…

2. The Euro has remained pretty much the same and the Pound and dollar have gone into free-fall owing to the property and banking crises, and the fact that the Federal Reserve, and our Bank of England are printing money by the billions.

Of course, there could be a third reason but I hate to dwell on that as it is too depressing. This is that the Pound, Dollar and Euro are all falling, but the Euro isn’t falling as fast – at the present – because the Continental economic cycle is not tied to the American cycle as ours is. If this is indeed the case, I am too fearful to check our three currencies against the Asian economies. Do remember a lot of those bought up our gold when we sold it at knock-down rates.

So apart from the pound in your pocket, and in your savings account, when you buy all those modern luxuries made in Asian Economies, expect the cost to rise in the very near future.

I am tempted to remove all my savings from the bank and spend the lot on a bottle of Scotch!


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Zeitgeist, the Movie

This is an interesting movie and examines the Christianity religion.

Now, I am not saying whether this is true or false. However, the transcript, with all the references, and there are hundreds, show that the creator has taken an enormous amount of trouble to get his facts together.

Here is a short extract from his transcript, with the reference points taken out. However I have a link below to the website which has all the reference points hot-wired into the transcript. I have only removed them here for clarity.

Broadly speaking, the story of Horus is as follows:

Horus of Egypt (He is the Sun God of Egypt of around 3000 BC) was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri.

His birth was accompanied by a star in the east, which in turn, three kings followed to locate and adorn the new-born saviour.

At the age of 12, he was a prodigal child teacher, and at the age of 30 he was baptised by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry.

Horus had 12 disciples he travelled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water.

Horus was known by many gestural names such as The Truth, The Light, God’s Annointed Son, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and many others.

After being betrayed by Typhon, Horus was crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected.

These attributes of Horus, whether original or not, seem to permeate in many cultures of the world, for many other gods are found to have the same general mythological structure.

Then, from around the world, were:

Attis, of Phyrigia, born of the virgin Nana on December 25th, crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days, was resurrected.

Krishna, of India, born of the virgin Devaki with a star in the east signaling his coming, performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was resurrected.

Dionysus of Greece, born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the “King of Kings,” “God’s Only Begotten Son,” “The Alpha and Omega,” and many others, and upon his death, he was resurrected.

Mithra, of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.

And the last…

Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary on December 25th in Bethlehem, his birth was announced by a star in the east, which three kings or magi followed to locate and adorn the new savior.

He was a child teacher at 12, at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist, and thus began his ministry.

Jesus had 12 disciples which he traveled about with performing miracles such as healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead, he was also known as the “King of Kings,” the “Son of God,” the “Light of the World,” the “Alpha and Omega,” the “Lamb of God,” and many others.

After being betrayed by his disciple Judas and sold for 30 pieces of silver, he was crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days was resurrected and ascended into Heaven.

Is anything familiar?

The above has been taken from and there are references against each item of information. On clicking on the reference number you will be taken to the reference page where you will have the full reference quoted.

If this is true, and I am, by no means, saying it is, then it would appear that we, the population, have been lied to, from century to century, by self-professed “Men of God”.

My gut reaction, seeing the huge amount of research carried out, and seeing how the church has been responsible for so much human misery (the Spanish Inquisition and refusing to allow Catholics in Sub-Sahara Africa to use condoms to combat AIDs as just two of them) – there are many more over the last 2,000 years – is to tentatively accept it as being truthful.

See for yourself and I would appreciate feedback from anyone religious on this. Don’t quote the movie, just the transcript so I can check where you are coming from.


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