Jim's Inchoate Weblog
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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!
Friday July 2 2004
Tour de France starts tomorrow!
Great excitement. Don't miss it. There's a great official web site too.
Posted at 7:57 pm by Jim Woods
Thursday July 1 2004
I seem to be developing a rather more ambivalent attitude to software than has previously been the case. I suppose that what I mean by this is that spyware and viruses and trojans are forcing me to be more selective about what I use. Every day, more or less, there's some new scare about a hole in Internet Explorer or some other nasty out there. I've been particularly concerned about the rise in nasties that steal one's home banking logon details, since I rely on home banking via the internet. All this means one thing. No IE, nor any shell - such as MyIE2 - which relies upon it. Don't need the hassle, can't take the risk. I'm on the Firefox for the time being and possibly forever. No problem there, as it's a great browser and pretty much does what I want. What concerns me though is that since the exploits which are being written to get through IE are targetted at it simply because it's the most common browser, what happens when Mozilla-based products become more prevalent?
I'm enough of a realist to realize that in all probability a lot of the hype surrounding Mozilla's superiority may well be down to the simple fact that no one is busting a gut to write nasty code that takes advantage of a browser that is only used by a tiny number of people. That'll probably change. Mind you, the lack of integration with the operating system in Mozilla relative to IE is always going to be A Good Thing for security. Still, the real problem is always going to be the various criminals who infest the net. Rather like criminals everywhere, they're not going to go away.
Anyway, bleak predictions about the future (who me?) aside, there are some causes for celebration. My system is relatively stable after the last clean reinstall of XP Pro. Probably this is because I have installed the bare minimum of software on it. The bare minimum is not that minimal, but at least I have fast stable internet access; clearly Mozilla, Firefox, Xnews and MyIE2 are not the culprits in slowing down the whole shebang. Or at least not the current versions. I would have liked to be able to install the latest QuickTime without having to take iTunes into the bargain, but as general playlist-based media players go it's a decent enough bit of software so whatever. My old MS Works 2000 does the job as far as general office software's concerned. I've had five years out of this, with its associated versions of Money and AutoRoute, so that was £100 well spent back then. Much though I prefer the idea of open source office software it's all a bit big and scary. And the current policy with me is not to install anything big and complex.
The good old BBC Radio home page is proving to be the gateway to a cornucopia of great jazz and hip hop, so I'm spending a lot of time streaming that while I work. My email is still suspect, and I've countered this at the moment by simply not using it for anything that matters. Until I get a hard core of people together who can guarantee that they'll reply to my messages promptly and allow my read receipts to be returned I'm not going to worry about it a lot. I send stuff and people generally get it, and I tend to get what I'm sent as far as I know. What I don't get is replies. No, it's not my return address setting. I have the Outlook Express still chugging away, since the plug-in protection from AVG against viruses is more important to me these days than anything else and I wanted to use common software while working out what the problem is. I still tend to the view that the deluge of spam has f*cked up email as a viable primary method of communication at the moment, and enjoy the SMS on my mobile as something that works without trouble.
I replaced the mobile that was stolen from me with the cheapest one I could get from Vodafone on Pay As You Talk; I'm a fairly light user these days. I now have a Motorola C350, which works well although the operating system lacks the usability of a Nokia. Still, it's smallish and light and it works - and that's what I want from a phone.
That's it for now. I hope to return to some more wide-ranging themes before long, but have been rather busy. Never fear, I'm looking.
Posted at 2:42 pm by Jim Woods
Wednesday June 30 2004
Well, here we go again on the merry-go-round
of antibiotics and not being able to do anything much oral. After a fifty-minute struggle today my dentist delivered - in bits, the prestige way - a molar which has been a literal pain for months. Now I have to do salt water mouth rinses and horse pills for five days and see how it goes. Bastard painful is how it goes at the moment. When they shoot you full of anaesthetic and it still hurts like hell you know you're in for fun. It's web and telly for me for the duration, with tea to be cautiously phased in...
Posted at 2:05 pm by Jim Woods
Monday June 28 2004
Calibrate your monitors
this instant, naughty people. And here's the page to help you in doing so.
I've never really got to the bottom of this monitor calibrating lark. I suppose that if one works in publishing, or is a sufficiently keen photographer to really care, then there's an argument for going through this rigmarole. And I have noticed that when playing games, such as the wonderful Uru for example, that I need to tweak my existing monitor settings pretty fundamentally to see what's going on. But there's no denying that the settings that I find comfortable for my day-to-day computing, which basically means a lot of emailing and web surfing and a bit of what you might call office work, are miles away from what is considered "proper". And it's not that I haven't tried a fair few calibration aids.
I am forced therefore to conclude that my bollocks monitor, which shows signs of ungraceful ageing but was to be fair very cheap, does not respond well to being properly set up. Does me though. Anyone fancy calibrating their monitor according to a test page and letting me know how it goes?
Posted at 2:35 pm by Jim Woods