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

Friday June 11 2004

How it feels #1

Amen to that.

Posted at 2:45 am by Jim Woods

Wednesday June 9 2004

I now have

768 meg of fast memory in my computer. Gloat. This really makes things fly!

Posted at 6:57 pm by Jim Woods

My bloody email

I am still not getting all the messages that people are sending me. Whatever temporary blocks Pipex had instituted (I referred to this the other day) are probably not the problem, although I'll need to do a few tests now to be sure. I have abandoned all pretence of modernity and am still using Outlook Express, so there's no erroneous filtering going on on my machine. I am really at a loss at the moment, and will have to speak to Pipex about it - although I doubt this is going to provide a solution.

One thing I would say, although I've said it enough times in the past: Use your Windows Update AT LEAST daily, and preferably every time you log on to the net. Ditto your anti-virus update. And don't even think of connecting to the net without a firewall even for a second. Things really have got as bad as that. Really really. I am forced to assume that at some point in the chain many people who are mailing me are making simplistic assumptions that if their systems are working well and they are not noticing anything out of the ordinary then all is well. This is just not a safe assumption. Any kind of monitoring software or firewall would tell you that you're being attacked about every ten seconds on average while online. Have you all applied last night's Windows Update? Exactly. Quite possibly the reason I'm not getting emails from people - because the ones I'm sending are mostly if not entirely getting through - is because their systems are being filtered out or blocked due to some kind of infection...

At this rate I may even be forced to consider acquiring another computer just so that I can run my internet access under Linux or even OS X. Not that there aren't any security issues with these, but at least the exploits and viruses out there in the wild are far fewer. I have some sympathy for those on dialup who face ridiculous download times for keeping everything up to date, but please, please be aware that it's not just down to whether or not you care about the security of your computer; if yours is compromised, then those you communicate with may well also suffer.

I know I keep banging on about this, but frankly I'm forever running into otherwise intelligent people who just don't seem to think that this is a serious enough issue to be worth putting in some time on. If necessary pay a computer person to sort out your machine. Treat your updating and firewalling and virus checking like you do securing your home. There's at least one trojan out there that WILL have obtained your financial details if you ever shop or bank online and have not kept up with the security. Go read up a bit if you don't believe me. It's a big problem nowadays.

Posted at 6:36 pm by Jim Woods

Monday June 7 2004

Having spent

most of yesterday afternoon watching the D-Day goings-on, I particularly enjoyed the Lancaster bomber flying over Arromanches. I've enjoyed a lot of beer in Arromanches; if you fancy an easily accessible French trip you could do much worse. I had it in the back of my mind that there was only one flying Lancaster left in the world but a little research turned up a surprisingly good crop, albeit in all conditions. Not that I'm a militarist, but I am keenly interested in history and there's a lot of military history. Or should I say that much of history is military. Whatever, what a splendid old beast the Lancaster was and is.

D-Day then. The whole event, and the commemoration of it, stirs up complex emotions in any thinking person. The celebration of an achievement for some, the remembrance of loss and sacrifice for others, and the relevance to Europe today are all intermingled. War is detestable - and all the more so for involving such huge numbers of civilians and conscripts - but it's unlikely that it will ever disappear. Tragically, we don't seem to be able to manage that. And sometimes there's no choice but to fight evil, since evil cannot be relied upon to simply listen to reason or respond to kindness. From the Allied perspective, World War Two was a just and necessary war, and D-Day a necessary step toward establishing peace. The Allies had the relative moral high ground, and perhaps the relative moral high ground is all the moral high ground anyone can have. Justifiable self-defence, in other words.

Whatever one feels about life in Europe today, it is undeniable that we face a far better future than we would have done had D-Day not occurred and had Germany not been ultimately defeated. See here for the range of those who were persecuted by Nazism, quite apart from the general instigation of war on the European population. You may be surprised at the scope and number of categories. Who needs telling that it would be a nightmarish kind of life in Europe today were we subject to the Thousand Year Reich? Most if not all of the old soldiers we saw yesterday were just as we would have been: Frightened and wanting to be at home, but at the same time recognizing that they were there to do a job which had to be done - a kind of moral damage control. Today's Europeans, largely free in speech and action, should remember both the veterans and their dead. Because they are no different to us, except perhaps in having had to rise to the occasion, and we owe them.

I was touched to see the German chancellor invited to the event for the first time. It would be tragic to confuse Germans in general with Nazis in specific, and if we're to remember honest soldiers then there is no doubt that the regular German army contained a preponderance - one of my great-uncles included. Given the choice of life in a concentration camp or serving in the German army, is it reasonable for us to categorically demonize those who made the latter choice for the sake of themselves and their families? What would we have done? Certainly, dissent was not a particularly viable option. There's no doubt that Normandy is the resting place for many German victims of Nazi evil too. It's necessary to bear in mind that it must be as hard for Germans of today to come to terms with their recent history as it is for many other Europeans to do so. And if history is to be scrutinized, who has been blameless throughout the course of it? If we in England, and the Dutch and the French and the Belgians and - well, all of us - are to be allowed to recognize the shortcomings and barbarity - in many respects - of our ancestors and move on then surely we must allow Germany to do so after sixty years of contrition? I think that yesterday we made a step in the right direction.

To move peacefully forward into the EU many of its citizens will have to set aside old prejudices and painful memories and think ahead to that undiscovered country, the future. Part of that journey must include according former enemies the right to participate in the remembering of the fallen. I think that the relevance of those fallen, today, outstrips the details of their nationality or the nature of their fall. To anyone with a grasp of European history that goes beyond the cursory they serve again, all of them, as a reminder that our actions today can have terrible consequences tomorrow.

So despite a healthy scepticism in matters of flag-waving and a general distrust of nationalism, I feel that it was important to bring D-Day to the world's attention again. I've visited the sites, and the cemeteries, several times over the years, and quite apart from any premeditated opinions or thoughts that I might have had there was a tangible air of sadness and of waste in those fields of crosses. The area holds a different resonance for each of us depending on our own particular experience and perspective, but the underlying message is unvarying.

Simply, to take care.


On a related theme , it's election day on Thursday (here). Please don't feel that it's not important to vote, or that it doesn't matter who you vote for.


Posted at 6:41 pm by Jim Woods


So maybe this is what was buggering up my email. Not, of course, that I was a-worm spreading. But some of the people whose email I haven't been receiving may have been. I had begun to think that this was the most likely explanation...

Posted at 7:36 am by Jim Woods

Sunday June 6 2004

Breaking my rule

about contributing to the self-referential and circular nature of the blogosphere, here is something I simply took from Boing Boing. If you don't read Boing Boing, by the way, you probably should. I so agreed with this particular item that I'm linking it here, and using it as a springboard for a summary of my own.

So what's he on about already?

This little thing.

What this says, and it's pretty concise as you'll see, is that you want to use the simplest software and plain text if you're the kind of person who is productive in terms of textual output. I learnt the hard way that the only way you'll really get data portability and accessibility is to use simple text which will cut and paste between apps transparently. It's so simple, but your average user seems to have missed this point. Apps die, apps become redundant, better apps appear, data structures change and lightning strikes twice. Text remains, though. Text can be on your phone, or any computer ever made running any software ever produced. The temptation to make things look good is borne of deficient content or ignorant play.

Text is the one.


Posted at 10:49 pm by Jim Woods

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