Archive for February, 2010

Welcome to WordPress

I have a lot to learn and although my earlier posts have been ported over, the links are in a bit of a mess, there are no categories and a few other points are a little disappointing.

But, Hey! I only had to click a couple of buttons and most of it was done for me, so I am not complaining. I will keep my site on Blogger though so if you find an old article here and the links don’t work, you can always pop over there for the original. In addition, it will take a couple of months for the browser engines to find everything on here.

I want to include a video here – just to see how it works., you may find it boring as it is in Afrikaans, but I thought the singer manages to show a typical Boer attitude. Tough, uncompromising with a gentle side.

OK, that just about wraps up the first test post. I will be exploring everything else this site has to offer over the coming week. But before I go, and just in case you are interested… The song was sung by Ray Dylan – and is called: “Hier Binne Klop ‘n Boerehart”. This is a little difficult to translate but roughly means here beats [a heart] within a Boer.

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The last post

Well, I am sure you’ll be relieved to find out that nobody has died although it wouldn’t go amiss if a few politicians of all hues popped their clogs!

No, it is because I am moving From Blogger to WordPress.

I have opened up an account on WordPress called ampers. and the site is, as I type, automatically moving all my blogs across from Blogger to WordPress. This should be done within a few hours so here is what you can do.

  1. Change the address you have for my blog from to

  2. Then, if you usually get notified about my blogs when they are published, by using Google Reader or another RSS feed, click on any of my posts and, when the page opens up, look for the orange RSS feed icon on the right, and click on it.

What could be simpler? I shall keep this blog up, with this last post in view for a month or so, to give readers a chance of making the change.

The reason for the move is that Google are taking too long to do various things.

For example, I have an Apps for my Android cellphone that allows me a really easy way to post to my blog. It is also possible to have the blog appear on a page on my website so visitors to my website can see it there, but it will still be OK to go direct, as you do at the moment with Blogspot.

There are a number of other advantages but I can already see your eyes glazing. 🙂


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You are English…


Watch this video and learn…

(A link in case the vid doesn’t play)


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Three on, three off

Back in the sixties I had an idea which may have made it possible for people to work just over a three day week for the same salary.

I knew the “Church” would have been against it as it would end the seventh day of the week, but it seemed a good idea at the time.

It would have also sorted out the unemployment, and in those days it was always at least three million plus.

The idea was to have workers, in situ, seven days a week. This would have been done by hiring the same number of workers again, and splitting them into two teams, “A” and “B” and have them working three days on and three days off. Companies could then make the cost of their premises stretch over the full week, rather than just five days. Workers might even be willing to work a longer day if it meant three days off each week.

We would have to guard against unscrupulous people by making it illegal for anyone to work for their company on their three days break. Perhaps a £20,000 fine which would be given to the member of staff reporting the instance as he or she would surely lose their job!

The“A” and “B” teams would have to be the same in every company. Without fail. This would ensure two things. Firstly, that you would always have the same contacts you deal with in every company, all the time. So you couldn’t have people chopping and changing.

Secondly, if you love your spouse, you would make sure both were in the same “A” or “B” team so they would have their off time together. If you didn’t love your spouse you would make sure you were in the other team to your spouse!

But there could be another reason for being in different teams. You could always be available for your children as they were growing up, because there would always be an adult at home. And you could always go out with your spouse during the evenings. And you could always take holidays together.

There would be no weekends. Work and off days would fall on different days each week. This would help the entertainments industry and restaurants as their work load would be spread across the week, rather than always be just on weekends.

I never pursued the idea as I used to have fun just drawing up plans like that. I still do, and I probably won’t pursue it now!

I was once caned in front of the whole Afrikaans school when I devised a plan for sharing power with blacks in South Africa in 1953. But that’s another story – and it was a good plan.


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Thou shalt not kill

I am referring to the death of the Hamas arms procurer in Dubai the other day. But it will achieve two purposes from my point of view. First it will identify those amongst us who think Hamas can do no wrong and Israel can do no right, and those who think Israel can do no wrong and Hamas can do no right (I do not fit into either categories as I realise it is not as simple as that) but also it has set me thinking about our own government.

In particular, our Foreign Office. But I shall come to that later.

First, whether Israel is responsible or not (and, because of the efficiency, it would take a lot to persuade me that they are not) they are gutsy. I would suspect, in the cold war days, Russia must have despaired that, no matter how much they funded Arabs and the Americans funded (and still do) Israelis, the Arabs just couldn’t manage to win any wars – and they tried – several times! Israelis were fighting for their existence, but the Arabs weren’t. A bit like the “cornered rat” syndrome. If a rat is cornered it will always fight its attackers more fiercely as it is its life, but for the attackers it is not a matter of life or death.

Returning to our Foreign Office, I wish they would show the courage of the Israeli Government in going ahead and doing what they think is right, rather than pussy-footing around terrified of offending any of our enemies, or friends!

I once suggested to Margaret Thatcher that she should privatise the Foreign Office. She smiled and by her look, I could see that it was an idea that “hit a spot” with her!

The sooner our diplomats get some backbone, the better it will be for England. Pussy-footing attracts contempt. Strength attracts respect.



Open Source software – does it byte?

Apart from being an IT journalist, I am also the editor of “The Finchley Arrow”— a small web based community newspaper in North London. I have recently moved over from Windows to Linux but that wasn’t the objective in the first instance.

We are all unpaid volunteers on the newspaper. When I told a local politician that we even pay our own expenses he passed out on the spot! Voluntary organisations which rely on computers and software to run things efficiently have a problem. They are restricted when choosing someone’s replacement because of expensive programs and, in addition, data that may not be compatible with the new volunteer’s software.

We thought long and hard about this and decided to use Open Source software. Open Source software is totally free so wouldn’t put a burden on future recruits to the Arrow. It should also be available on the three main platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux) so we wouldn’t be restricted by a volunteer’s computer system.

Programs such as Open Office instead of Windows Office, Scribus instead of Adobe’s InDesign. Inkscape instead of Adobe Illustrator or Coreldraw and The Gimp instead of Photoshop to name but a few. In addition, books on all these programs are available on Amazon.

I moved over to the Linux “Open Source” operating system when a friend, who had some serious hard disk problems, had loaded his Windows program on too many times. Windows just closed down and he had to phone Microsoft to get it released. He was treated like a criminal and it took twenty minutes to persuade Microsoft to allow him to use his Windows program again. I found this very unsettling and decided to move over straight away. I chose Ubuntu, which is very well behaved, does everything I want it to, and never lets me down.

One benefit is, whilst Windows only has one desktop, Linux allows as many desktops as you like – we actually use seven! I loaded up an open source program called VirtualBox which allows me to run Windows on one of my desktops. To change from Linux to Windows now takes one click of the mouse. So I have the best of both worlds.

There must be over eighteen thousand open source programs out on the web. Ubuntu have taken a couple of thousand of the best of them and added these to their “repository”. Quite simply, this means you can open a special window, search, or browse the list, and download with a click or two and the program is ready to use on your computer. I have a free genealogical program. Another that lists all the books on my bookshelf – I just type in the ISBN number and it searches the Internet and adds all the details without me having to type them in.

Our newspaper now uses open source software for everything, so as we grow and get more volunteers on board, we never have to worry about who has what program, and how much will they have to spend to do the job.

** To be classed as “open source” the source code needs to be available to anyone who wants it. Hence “Open Source”.


Interesting NOT

I read this a little while ago…

David Cameron has unveiled plans to ensure that any petition of 100,000 people would be eligible for debate in Parliament. Any petition with 1 million signatures would result in a bill being tabled in Parliament.

Those more sensible amongst us will know this won’t get off the ground. What if “bring back hanging” or “leave the EU” were put forward for referendums and attracted a million votes? Here are two particular issues our “bleeding heart” politicians wouldn’t want debated, Labour or Tory! Once “Call me Dave” thinks this one through it will bite the dust!

No! I have a better idea.

If a politician is caught with his “fingers in the till”, and by this I mean fiddling expenses, accepting deals from lobbyists, entertaining groups with public funds for private benefit – in fact the whole gamit of fiddles that politicians indulge in – and the public get together to ask for signatures to penalise that MP, the following should be the penalty.

If 100,000 signatures have been collected and presented, then that MP faces a cut in salary for as long as he remains an MP. This includes further elections he may win, and any golden handshake he receives on leaving parliament. And, in addition, any pension he may receive from the government after leaving parliament.

If 200,000 or more signatures are obtained, then he will receive a further cut of 10% cut for each 100,000 signatures, of all the items listed above.

This is not unreasonable as any politician knows that if he remains honest it would not apply to him. However the real villains will not be able to help themselves and would get weeded out of parliament. And it would make the more dishonest amongst would be parliamentarians think twice before standing for any constituency. Imagine how much the country would be saving with the expense scandals!

Bear in mind that here, the thieves will be punished and the victims will save their tax payers hard earned money.


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