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

Saturday April 10 2004

I really like the look of this

upcoming installation in Greenwich. So much so, in fact, that I may actually break my "no going to London because I really loathe it" boycott in order to see it.

Posted at 9:44 pm by Jim Woods

Friday April 9 2004

Dedicated to saving your loot

as usual, I notice that there's a new version of 602PC Suite available. Despite a release date of April 1st, which I wouldn't have thought was all that confidence-inspiring, this is actually a good tool. You can use it free for home purposes, and even if you register it for a business it'll only cost you around £40 for a three computer licence. Bargos. What you get is a word processor, spreadsheet, basic photo editor and album. Coolly, you can work with MS Word and Excel documents - and the methods of doing things are very similar to these packages. So if you need to deal with these formats, or you just want some software to write letters or do your sums, this one's worth checking out.

OpenOffice remains the flagship of these sorts of products, but is an immense download and is probably overkill for most home purposes. There's a new release of that too, by the way, which fixes a lot of bugs.

Posted at 1:00 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday April 8 2004

Excellent news

for "finding lost ships and planes and stuff from the comfort of one's armchair" buffs everywhere. They've found Saint-Exupery's plane off Southern France. For added keeping the mystery alive a bit, though, it would appear at this stage that his body is not in it. Intriguing, as the wreckage is really close to the shore. I'm sure I'm not alone in envisaging some sort of "I'll just parachute out now then and let the bugger ditch while I start a new life somewhere else" scenario as at least a remote possibility.

If you haven't read any of his novels, by the way, might I recommend them? Vol de Nuit (night flight) was a particular favourite of mine.

Posted at 10:31 am by Jim Woods

Wednesday April 7 2004

Despite my general reluctance

to add to the pollution of the blogosphere by linking here to things I simply found while looking at other blogs, occasionally something is interesting enough that I feel I must bring it to your attention. Such a thing is http://www.worldisround.com/. Yeah, it's easier for me to just paste the link in. Who's complaining? So..... Worldisround is a large site full of people's travel experiences and photos. Applying my usual stringent and impartial tests, which involve looking at all the pictures of Amsterdam and - er, well that's it really, this site is great. Unless some of the photographers of the 'dam are well above average for the site, this is fertile ground indeed. Let's face it, anyone who can even correctly identify their camera while staying over there has to be a class leader. Nice site, nice idea, good contributors, nice pics.

I shall now return to my depression. Why oh why does my "electrical guitar" exhibit a different set of tonal and physical characteristics every time I even look at it? When it's good it's very very good, but when it's bad - and of course that would be the majority of the time - the reverse applies. Bloody thing. I really need another, if only as a spare, but cannot afford anything decent without plunging even further into debt. Ain't it a bitch.

I found the link, incidentally, on MetaFilter. I hope they will not object to my quoting their own description of what this is: "MetaFilter is a community of users that find and discuss things on the web. The topics run the gamut, and tend to run intelligent and civil". True enough. If you're already so steeped in the web that you're sure you'll never get out alive, you have little to lose from having a squint at it. It's a good 'un.

Posted at 4:51 am by Jim Woods

Tuesday April 6 2004


make some very handy software. For most of you, the best thing will be the free edition of Ad-aware which is a spyware cleaner. I suggest you go get it, and while you're there download the plug-in which allows you to disable Messenger. Note that this is not the instant messenger which you use to chat to contacts, but rather a Windows service which can be a backdoor for annoying messages and which it's most unlikely that you need. All system-hardening against miscreants has to be a good thing, especially when it's free.

Note also that you should use Ad-aware as well as Spybot S&D. There is a lot of overlap between the two, but each has unique protective and detective properties.

Posted at 8:19 pm by Jim Woods

The Register

has a nice new look, I see. Tip: If you're in the UK and you can only be bothered to look at one tech news site a day, make it this one. If, on the other hand, you'd rather nail your genitalia to the table than read tech news then don't bother. Think about visiting the Azores or something instead.


Posted at 6:16 pm by Jim Woods

Google's new shopping search

Froogle is in beta, but that doesn't mean you can't be using it. I do like the name.

Posted at 3:57 am by Jim Woods

Having previously found the body

of Mallory on Everest, another expedition is now under way that aims to find that of his companion Irvine. The significance is that there is a goodish chance of finding a camera which may be able to show that they made the first successful ascent of the mountain. It's a long shot, but it's a fascinating one. You can read the expedition reports - and read a ton of good stuff on previous theories, findings and all sorts of Everestia - here.

Posted at 3:52 am by Jim Woods

Monday April 5 2004

I know MTV

is the spiritual home of toss, the apotheosis of self-abusing teenaged baseball-hat-on-backwards low-brow attention-span-of-an-acid-casualty-in-a-spin-dryer culture. I know, but sadly cannot prove, that it does little to improve the lot of man. But it does have this one good thing. It is where one can view, as soon as possible in the UK, The Osbournes. I like the fact that of all the rock stars I grew up aware of, only Ozzy and Keith Richards still really act the part. And Uncle Keith has rather too much dignity to be the subject of reality TV. Fair play Keith. I like to watch the arch-chavish Osbournes as they tastelessly parade their wealth and generally screw up due to an excess of enthusiasm and a dearth of thought. I rely on the weekly insight into their affairs to reassure me that someone, somewhere recovers from cancer, buys and enjoys all the toys, lives in luxury with taste of a full-on variety seldom encountered in Oxford, and just generally has the craic.

The Osbournes are like The Weebles really - whatever befalls them they wobble, but they as yet do not actually fall down. Sharon has cancer, but she recovers. Ozzy becomes confused about whether he or the all-terrain vehicle should be on top, but he recovers. Jack and Kelly enter rehab, but hey - they have time and money enough to be strung out and walk away from it. They're not exactly going to end up in some crowded NHS ward with hacking pensioners and strange alien-like grey beings are they? They're going to send out for fifty quid's worth of sandwich lunch and watch very large TVs while they fart and sweat their way away from dependence on whatever dope they're on that the rest of us can't afford or get anyone to prescribe us. Money and fame don't make you happy, but in my experience skintness and obscurity aren't exactly cheering either.

So God bless the Osbournes, and I genuinely mean that. They do the best they can with what's available to them. If I had that kind of loot I'd be just the same.

But the Devil take, and spank incessantly, bloody MTV. I have invested heavily in technology. I have TiVo and I have Sky. This is to ensure that I can catch all episodes of a few things like The Osbournes while still having a life, rather than being driven to the appalling depths of sitting around at home watching the telly in real time. I mean, since the advent of the VCR this is not something anyone should need to waste their time doing.

So what's my beef? I pay subscriptions to an aggregate total of £29.50 per month for the facility to capture all Osbournry, and I am denied even this simple facility. That's what. I look at the programme data on my Sky box, I look at the program data on my TiVo. I see there is much Osbournes. So much that I am surprised that they don't have their own channel. But all my attempts to distinguish one episode from another are thwarted by their being uniformly described as "a look at the everyday life of Ozzy and his family" or similar (I forget the precise wording). Well no shit Sherlock. How very helpful and informative.

I find that TiVo works very well for me. Ninety-nine percent of the time it faultlessly records what I tell it, and provides enough programme data for me to clearly see what something is and whether I might want to record it. It's not absolutely perfect, but it's good enough. Except for The Osbournes on MTV. They run amazingly late, they run ridiculously early. They substitute the oafish Jackass or whatever for The Osbournes. They concoct their programme guide information by throwing magnetic letters at their fridges.

I finally managed to find out that new episodes are aired twice a week by looking at the laughable and ugly MTV UK website, but there's no way to tell which episodes the other ten or so a week are. This week the TiVo, as is all too commonly the case, failed to properly record the new episode on both occasions it was aired - for reasons I can but guess at. I know MTV is angled at pricks who sit glued to it night and day, referring to one-another as "dude", but how difficult would it really be to make that little bit of extra effort and run it like a real TV station? All I want is an accurate schedule so that I can selectively record some stuff to view. Lord knows I pay enough, ostensibly for this facility. I just want to know when I can catch a repeat of this week's new episode, but I'll have the meaning of life at my fingertips sooner and with less effort. Even if I record every bloody episode for weeks I'll have partials and duplicates and who knows what, and I'll have to look at them all to see what they are. Pathetic.

I shall not be holding my breath. Even the most helpful software can easily be rendered useless by invalid input data, and MTV are the undisputed kings of this. If you see them, give them a molten lava enema from me will you?

Posted at 3:01 am by Jim Woods

Stick this in your Micra

Go on, I dare you to.

Posted at 2:46 am by Jim Woods

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