Category Archives: weblog

Vista – they’re having a laugh…

I jest you not, I received this today via a Micro$oft newsletter:


Bill Gates was at the British Library in London on Tuesday to celebrate the launch and made some special announcements. Footage of this event can be viewed at Earlier this month, at CES in Las Vegas, he labelled the launch as “by far the most important release of Windows ever” and “the highest quality release we’ve ever done”.

Change Function by Pip Coburn

The amazon plug:

After years of studying countless winners and losers, the author has come up with a simple idea that explains why some technologies – DVD players, iPods – become huge hits while others – video phones – crash and burn. His big idea is that people are only willing to change when the ‘pain’ of their current situation outweighs the perceived pain of trying something new. In other words, technology demands a change in habits. This simple fact is the main cause of failure for many fabulous inventions. Many companies fall for their own hype and believe that if they build something better, people will automatically beat a path to their door. This is not necessarily the case; as Coburn shows, most potential users are afraid of new technologies and need a really great reason to change. “The Change Function” looks at this trend across many industry sectors, from computers to mobile phone and digital TV recorders, and is invaluable for anyone who creates, invests in, or is interested in, new technologies. ‘every page is a tug at your lapels to see things his way. The world would be a better place if we did.’ – “Wall Street Journal.”

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Software and Community in the Early 21st Century – keynote by Eben Moglen at Plone 2006 

“What does Firefox have to do with social justice? How will the one laptop per child project discourage genocide? How soon will Microsoft collapse? Watch Eben Moglen’s inspiring keynote from the 2006 Plone Conference ( mp3 or qt; or YouTube). The video presentation is ordinary, so the mp3 is an equally good format. ‘If we know that what we are trying to accomplish is the spread of justice and social equality through the universalization of access to knowledge; If we know that what we are trying to do is build an economy of sharing which will rival the economies of ownership at every point where they directly compete; If we know that we are doing this as an alternative to coercive redistribution, that we have a third way in our hands for dealing with long and deep problems of human injustice; If we are conscious of what we have and know what we are trying to accomplish, when this is the moment for the first time in lifetimes, we can get it done.'”

IR: …”Second reaction is the link with Mk1. Marxism which identified the condition of people as a consequence of their relationship to the ‘Means of production’.”

Was this the day the world just changed?

I’ve just read this at just gone midnight on the 26th of October 2006, I read the article I am link to about 10 minutes before making my entry in my blog. [the timing has gone weird on my blog!]

The link is here

But I’m going to copy a bit of text so you can get the gist of it if the New York Times end up pulling the article from the public domain.

October 26, 2006
A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data

If things go as planned for liberal bloggers in the next few weeks, searching Google for “Jon Kyl,” the Republican senator from Arizona now running for re-election, will produce high among the returns a link to an April 13 article from The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly.

Mr. Kyl “has spent his time in Washington kowtowing to the Bush administration and the radical right,” the article suggests, “very often to the detriment of Arizonans.”

Searching Google for “Peter King,” the Republican congressman from Long Island, would bring up a link to a Newsday article headlined “King Endorses Ethnic Profiling.”

Fifty or so other Republican candidates have also been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results.

The project was originally aimed at 70 Republican candidates but was scaled back to roughly 50 because Chris Bowers, who conceived it, thought some of the negative articles too partisan.

The articles to be used “had to come from news sources that would be widely trusted in the given district,” said Mr. Bowers, a contributor at (Direct Democracy), a liberal group blog. “We wanted actual news reports so it would be clear that we weren’t making anything up.”

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Britain cracked WW2 secret “dress code”

Britain cracked WW2 secret By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) – German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files released on Monday.

Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings.

They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures.

But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.

The book — part of a batch of British secret service files made public for the first time — included an example of a code hidden in a drawing of three young models.

“Heavy reinforcements for the enemy expected hourly,” reads a message disguised as a decorative pattern in the stitching of their gowns, hats and blouses.

The files reveal other ingenious ways spies tried to send coded notes through the post.

Invisible ink, pinpricks and indentations on letters were all used to convey details of troop movements, bombing raids and ship-building.

They hid codes in sheet music, descriptions of chess moves and shorthand symbols disguised as normal handwriting. Postcards were spliced in half, stuffed with wafer-thin notes and resealed.

Agents also used secret alphabets and messages which could only be read by taking the first letter of certain words.

The capture of two German agents in 1942 uncovered two such codes which British intelligence had repeatedly failed to crack, the declassified files reveal.

Britain’s wartime spy chief David Petrie described the failure as “somewhat disturbing”.

The code was used in a letter from “Hubert” to “Aunt Janet” to conceal the message: “14 Boeing Fortresses arrived yesterday in Hendon (London). Pilots expect to raid Kiel (Germany).

As the war went on, counter-espionage officials developed ways of spotting suspicious letters.

Telltale signs of a spy’s handiwork included rambling letters with no apparent point, often sent to neutral countries with too many stamps.

Clumsy or awkward phrases could be a sign that words were being forced to fit a code template.

Lists of numbers and long messages about games of bridge also aroused suspicion.

MSN link

It’s all going to go Pete Tong again?

Daily Mail today:

Britons ‘spend 40% of wages on their mortgage’
By BECKY BARROW and SAM FLEMING, Daily Mail 12:30pm 29th June 2006

More than 40 per cent of a homeowner’s take-home pay is now being wiped out by mortgage repayments, Britain’s biggest building society revealed yesterday.

Nationwide warned that this is the highest level since the dark days of the 1991 recession when house prices fell sharply.

It comes as the total amount owed by Britain’s 11.6 million home-owners soared to more than £1 trillion for the first time.

At this level, people’s massive mortgage debts of £1,006,796,000,000 are nearly equal to the country’s entire economic output, or GDP.

The country’s gross domestic product is £1.2 trillion, but yesterday’s Bank of England figures show the total amount of mortgage debt is catching up fast.

Soaring house prices, which have been rising for a decade, have forced anybody wanting to get onto the property ladder to take out a huge home loan.

The average mortgage has jumped to a massive £115,000, with many people forced to borrow much more to buy a decent home in the South.

In 1986, the average mortgage was just £25,000. Ten years later, it was still just £44,000 but it has now more than quadrupled over the last two decades.

Today’s huge mortgages mean that millions of homeowner’s take-home pay is eaten up by their repayments before a single other bill is paid.

The problem has rapidly got worse, the Nationwide said yesterday as it revealed house prices have jumped £8,000 over the last year to an average of £165,730.

In 2003, about a third of the take-home pay of a home-owner on average earnings was spent on mortgage repayments. Today, it is 42 per cent.

The calculation is based on a person on average take-home pay of £20,500 buying a typical home worth £165,000 and borrowing a mortgage of £125,000. The repayment mortgage would have an interest rate of 5.09 per cent.

Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide’s group economist, said: ‘The deterioration in affordability and its likely impact cannot be ignored.’

She warned that people’s ability to pay their mortgages will ‘continue to bite’ unless the situation changes.

The worry is that if mortgage repayments eat up more of people’s take-home pay, they will have less and less money to cope with the rest of their financial commitments.

Link to full article


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Ubiquitous Computing: Shall we understand it?

This was the question debated at a Computer Journal Lecture, which began with the following presentation by Robin Milner of Cambridge University, followed by the discussion below…. Read the rest of Robin’s presentation:

  • Modelling Ubiquity
  • Software science for ubiquitous systems
  • Models as languages
  • Two experiments
  • A tower of models
  • Goals for the challenge
  • Projects to meet the challenge
  • Coda
  • Acknowledgements and References


1. Morris Sloman, Department of Computing, Imperial College London
2. Martyn Thomas, Martyn Thomas Associates, UK
3. Karen Spark-Jones, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
4. Jon Crowcroft, Cambridge University
5. Marta Kwiatkowska, University of Birmingham
6. Paul Gardner, Head of Pervasive ICT Research Centre, BT Group Chief Technology Office, British Telecommunications
7. Nicholas R Jennings, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton
8. Vladimiro Sassone ECS, University of Southampton
9. Eamonn O’Neil, Department of Computer Science, University of Bath
10. Michael Wooldridge, Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool
11. Carsten Maple, Institute for Research in Applicable Computing, Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Luton
12. George Coulouris, Digital Technology Group, Computer Laboratory, Cambridge University
13. Dan Chalmers, Department of Informatics, University of Sussex

Reason for oil shortage in UK

A lot of people can’t understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Well, there’s a very simple answer. Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn’t know we were getting low.
The reason for that is purely geographical. Our oil is located in the North Sea.

Our dipsticks are located in Westminster.

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Office memo: Implementation of replacement hardware

Implementation of replacement hardware.

Over the next few months, there are going to be a lot of changes taking place as far as Servers and Computers go.

Our goal is to remove all laptop computers by July and all desktop computers by September, as part of a departmental cost cutting exercise.

Instead, every member of staff will be provided with an Etch-A-Sketch.

There are many sound reasons for doing this:

1. No boot-up problems.

2. No technical glitches keeping work from being completed.

3. No more wasted time reading and writing emails. (We have phones)

4. No worries about power cuts.

5. Budget savings on upgrades unparalleled.

Frequently Asked Questions from the Etch-A-Sketch Help Desk:

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all these funny little lines all over the screen.
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn my Etch-A-Sketch off?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What’s the shortcut for undo?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a New Document window?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I set the background and foreground to the same colour?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What is the proper procedure for rebooting my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I print my work?
A: Place your Etch-A-Sketch face down on the photocopier. Enter number of copies. Press Start.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?
A: Don’t shake it.

Attribute: Unknown as yet

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ZDNet: Government to force handover of encryption keys

Businesses and individuals may soon have to release their encryption keys to the police or face imprisonment, when Part 3 of the RIP Act comes into effect
The UK Government is preparing to give the police the authority to force organisations and individuals to disclose encryption keys, a move which has outraged some security and civil rights experts.

The powers are contained within Part 3 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). RIPA was introduced in 2000, but the government has held back from bringing Part 3 into effect. Now, more than five years after the original act was passed, the Home Office is seeking to exercise the powers within Part Three of RIPA.

Full article here.


Welcome to the temporary holding page for

I am interested in representing / reselling / marketing the “municator” device in the UK.

I an not presently official connected with the YellowSheepRiver company in ANY way.

BUT if you have ANY UK interest – please let me know:

  • Reselling
  • Corporate thin client deployment
  • or you would just like to buy one

Either the YellowSheepRiver company will let someone like me distribute it or appoint a distributor.

Any questions please call me:

Mark Cross
+44 (0)78 551 291 42

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Three men in a boat

OpenID & Microsoft Messenger v8 & a Telco

MX says 2006 = OpenID

Microsoft putting SIP support back into Messenger with the right telco transit agreements lined up to cope with the traffic against Google & Skype and FOAF goes massive – destination unknown! 🙂

And Microsoft go SIP in MSN Messenger – probably with Vodafone for transit breakouts.

Linux screensaver for Windows

LiveCDs demonstrate that, yes, Linux can run under Windows

Chris Ward (, Advisory Software Engineer, IBM

20 Dec 2005

Construct and package a Linux® LiveCD so that it will install using the standard Microsoft® Windows® install process and will operate as a standard Windows screensaver. Answering the most common concern about open source software, this article shows that, yes, Linux will run under Windows.
So why should you read this article? Why, indeed, should I write it? My motive is to help remove two obstacles to the wider adoption of free and open source software. Those obstacles are:

The perceived difficulty and disruptive effects of installing Linux
The uncertainty of hardware support for Linux
Most computer users are familiar with a Microsoft Windows environment and with the variety of screensavers available to prevent unauthorized access to the data on the computer when unattended.

There is sufficient free and open source software available nowadays to enable Linux to install and run as a Windows screensaver. This article shows you how to construct an appropriate CD or DVD, and in doing so, demonstrates that the “free” and “non-free” sides of the software Grand Canyon are not so far apart after all.

The examples in this article correspond to three current IBM objectives:

Concluding the OS/2 business
Reinventing education
Encouraging people to learn science

The Microsoft Killer

WinFS – I reckon it’ll kill ’em or it will never get rolled out in corporates.
Microsoft will have imploded before it’s successfully rolled out in corporates or quietly abandoned.

Green Christmas

According to the Big Issue South West Dec 5-11th 2005:

“This year around 200,000 trees will be used to produce 1.7 billlion Christmas cards the nation sends. Sadly just 10 per cent o f these will be recycled, leaving the rest to fill up swelling landfill sites.”

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Vista Hardware requirements

After a discussion in the office at lunchtime, my hypothesis is that Vista will require 512Mb memory and SATA-2 to function sensibly.

I also think that by the time it makes it out of the door virtualisation chips from both Intel and AMD will be shipping for the desktop and platform independant drivers will becoming up fast on the landscape.

Windows plan underscores Microsoft struggle
By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET

Published: February 2, 2004, 4:00 AM PST

While many customers applauded the move, some analysts said that the decision may be more than an act of goodwill. According to recent surveys, about one-quarter of all PCs run Windows 98 or older versions of Windows. “Better to have people stay on Windows 98 than to start investigating things like Linux,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research.

Update March 19th 2006

Will 512 mb be enough memory? Some think not:

Come on Mr AB from Torquay, so just how many people will be able to upgrade to Vista without buying a whole new PC?

May 20th “The Times”

THE much-hyped next-generation of Microsoft software, Windows Vista, ran into controversy yesterday after analysts said that the system’s full range of tools would be available to less than 5 per cent of Britain’s PC market…,,9070-2188681,00.html 

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Last breakfast with Maria

Well it all went by very quickly.
John (LX’s dad) has given me a Canon Rebel. I haven’t even yet openned!
Duty free bagged two large bottles of Pimms and two Moet et Chandon. $33 + $55 respectively!

Wednesday 21st
Plane got a good tail wind. The tired made it back to Totnes. I didn’t sleep on the plane, but was pretty solid on the train after Reading.

Biggles in good form. Thanks Rachel.

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Dale & Judy

Great hospitality from Dale & Judy, (Milbourne Lodge 127)
Present were:

Heather (daughter)
Judy’s mother
Hoola (Briefly)

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What did we do wrong?

Church again – but we were nice and late. But only shaving off a quarter of an hour.
Again, singing a real bind – but sermon again, not too bad.
Liz came over with my early birthday cake!

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Greg & Julie

This was quite a meet:

Greg & Julie
Uncle Roman
Aunt Ksenia (John’s Mother’s sister – Julie’s Mother)

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Blueberry pancakes
Siobahn’s dad show me his camera collection – would he miss his FE2?
Picked up Rick – went round this neat church. (Choose the North American jobbie.)
Army surplus story – no score
Met up with John at Lombard @ 18:17

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