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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday April 5 2003

Not very

I'm not terribly link-hunty these days, as I said would be the case a week or so ago. Consolidation, rather than exploration, is the name of the game for me right now.

Have a look at the links section if you're thirsting for adventure.

Posted at 6:56 pm by Jim Woods

The bells, the bells

I am rapidly being driven mad by the noise from my PC. Maybe I'm getting older, but it's really beginning to annoy me. It's not as though I have some enormous beast of a machine either - there's a "silent" power supply, a "silent" CPU fan and two hard disks. No case fans or fancy fan-cooled graphics cards. But it makes too much noise. It'll have to stop. I want some peace and quiet while still having my broadband available at all reasonable times. One thing I have learnt is that the "silent" PSU I bought for 28 at a computer fair is not half the creature that the 60 ones are. The specs are about the same. But they lie, it appears. I know this because my friend has one of each running, and the expensive one IS very quiet.

I'm going to pull the box apart in a bit and see what I can do. Not much, I suspect. I'm being driven inexorable towards I-macs at this rate. Or laptops.

Posted at 6:49 pm by Jim Woods

Friday April 4 2003

Tiny island stuff

Because I am very keen on tiny little islands, here's The Rockall Times site. Rockall is uninhabited of course, so this is an expatriate publication...

And it's very funny indeed.

Posted at 2:40 pm by Jim Woods

Wednesday April 2 2003

Here's a rather amusing UK blog all about junk food a.k.a. the usual modern diet for people who don't breed and Volvo.
Posted at 5:27 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday April 1 2003

Guidelines for crap-avoidance on the net

I could go on at some length here. The last entry wasn't much about Farscape was it? Still, while I'm fizzing here's one of my periodic specials. Here's how to spend a little time and no money to keep the tide of annoyances at bay. Just some simple rules you need to follow, unless you don't care - in which case fair enough:

First email. Use email software which allows you to view stuff as plain text. Avoid HTML in email altogether, and ignore attachments, and indeed mail, from people you don't know. Avoid spam. What I'm saying is, delete it all unread unless you explicitly want to read it. Even opening stuff can confirm your email address as a valid target for a deluge of spam. NEVER reply to spam, even if the conniving gits say that you can avoid future spam by doing so. Try Vivian Mail or Pegasus for your mailing needs. And maybe use a "sacrificial" HotMail or similar account for tasks where spam is an inevitable consequence - like registering "free" adware for example.

Second, browsing. Mozilla, MS IE and Opera all have the ability to adjust privacy and security settings. READ THE DOCUMENTATION. And set up those settings to suit you. You hardly ever need referrer logging, you very seldom need cookies. If you use credit cards online, LOOK for the indications in your browser that the site is secure before entering data. There should be a small padlock or something on the status line. Don't make assumptions. Even consider turning off everything that can be turned off or disabled and only changing this state of affairs when it's actually preventing you doing something you need to do.

Third, viruses and nasties. Get a virus checker. I use AVG. It's free and works well. Update it. Check each day for updates. If you don't update, you're not protected. Simple as that. For non-virus nasties like spybots, diallers and trackers, use Spybot Search and Destroy, again free. Update. Most days some arse somewhere develops a new way of getting at you online.

Fourth, use Windows Update. You NEED most of those updates. Yes, I know there are loads. I know it takes days to download them on dialup. Send your phone bill to Bill Gates. Windows is hit and miss sometimes, what can I say? Oh yes - I can say again that you need updates, or at least the critical ones. Life sucks sometimes.

And lastly, above all know your software. Try everything it does, and pay particular attention to options. Really work out what it does. Most net software has some settings that make it more private, more secure or just less annoying. To get the most from it you need to spend some time learning it. Don't just set up something complex like IE and assume that because it does what it does and you can simply view content all is well. Take an active interest in your privacy and security. They are not givens.

I haven't tried to explain things like cookies here in technical depth. There's plenty of good information out there, and you'll need to find it yourself. But I do hope that these general rules are helpful to you. End of rant.


Posted at 12:44 pm by Jim Woods

BBC Farscape site

The BBC cult TV site has a great Farscape section, which amongst other things includes a lot of interviews and video clips. In order to view the clips, as with so much else, you'll need RealPlayer One. Which is majorly annoying to set up if you want to avoid endless attempts to sell you things, but works pretty well once you've got it all tweaked out. If you're a fan of the show, recently and tragically cancelled, then it's worth the software pain to watch the stuff.

Mind you, I'm constantly amazed at how many people are quite happy to work on a machine which is festooned with auto-starting crap and pops up banner ads at them night and day. I mean, doesn't it get annoying? It does my head in to deal with all the junk that I encounter on the web and built into much of the software one is pretty much forced to use. And that's before you've got virus-checking and spyware-scanning implemented...

I guess that's why I am such a keen exponent of, and searcher for, decent free software which doesn't come with a pile of junk bolted on to deliver ads or track your movements. Mostly I can avoid the bull this way. But I think that, as the web matures, this sort of annoyance is going to be everywhere. It's like the level of TV advertising. And let's face it, we all have to eat. Bubbles burst, baby. The free stuff was then - now the net has to work for a living. The battle for neat for its own sake is over, and now the businesses battle for hearts and minds is on.

I think perhaps those who just put up with all the crap, and filter it out, may be better off in the end than those of us who fight it!

But I HATE ads and spying (however commercially motivated and harmless in the main), and I want as much privacy as I can wrest from the surveillance society, and I want stuff free if I can legally obtain it free. And if you're like me, read the next article in the blog and I'll give you some clues.

Posted at 12:29 pm by Jim Woods

Monday March 31 2003

A Space Odyssey
Here is a fine 2001 site. Highlights include a lengthy dissertation on the search for meanings in the film and a pretty extensive collection of sound samples from it. This has enabled me, a decade after the rest of humanity, to take the screamingly obvious step of having HAL deliver my Windows sound events. It's because of my great wit, I think. Anyhow, do visit the site. It's a goodie.
Posted at 10:05 pm by Jim Woods

Beautiful ice photography
Go here to see, well, some beautiful ice photography.
Posted at 7:58 pm by Jim Woods

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