Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Fri, 11 Aug 2006

Herts LUG 20060809

Another well attended meeting. I took my PC and monitor along to try and get some help on a couple of issues. One was an apparently dead keyoard, but only on one user account. Turned out to be the Slow Keys option was turned on so you had to hold a key down for ages before it did anything. The other was my intermittent USB card. Reseated the PCI card and okay so far. Also had a go at installing a graphics card I got from Rob, but was hampered by a total inability to get into the BIOS screen. Something strange there.

As promised by Nicolas we had wireless networking. There was a Zaurus, an XDA and a Nokia 770 all accessing the web as well as the odd laptop. I'll have to get myself some sort of wireless device one day.

The featured presentation of the evening was by Malc on the delights of BASH. I certainly learnt a lot. Malc used my PC and learnt that you could have multiple KDE/X sessions running as I generally do.

Other news: I decided not to go for the Acer GPS so I'm looking at alternatives. The NAViGPS looks appealing for the price. I might have to go for the more expensive model with Bluetooth in case I get a PDA with that facility.

I just took delivery of a digital TV card (Hauppauge Nova-T PCI) so that I can use the PC to watch and record TV. I'm hoping it won't be too complex to get it working on Linux.

[14:36] | [Computer] | Comments | G

Wed, 09 Aug 2006

Oxymorons

I heard a story on the radio news whilst away about a fake psychic conning people out of their money. Could give those real psychics a bad name. I would expect better of the BBC, but then Steve Wright gives over a fair bit of his show to an astrologer. Meanwhile, loony preachers condemn mathematics as non-Christian. That's the attitude that held up human development for a few hundred years. Mind you, the muslims, hindus and other 'heathens' invented a fair bit of mathematics.

Whatever happened to the Age of Reason?

[14:59] | [Culture] | Comments | G

Happy Campers

Just back from a spot of camping up in Northumberland, near Haltwhistle, centre of Britain. Stayed on a very nice C&CC site. Checked out the Roman remains at Vindolanda as well as Hadrian's Wall itself. We had some wet days there, but I bet it was much worse for the Romans in the depths of winter. Another visitor to the camp site was Mick Aston of Time Team fame. We left him to enjoy his holiday, but I'm sure he got the odd autograph request.

We then went on to Edinburgh, via a brief stop at Roslyn Chapel. I first became aware of it when reading a certain well-known book, but it's enjoyable enough as a piece of craftmanship in stone. It's currently covered by a temporary roof to help dry out the structure. This allows you to climb up and view the upper features.

We were visiting family in Edinburgh, but it just happened to be Festival and Fringe time. We saw a couple of kids' shows and Rich Hall. He was pretty funny having a go at the US 'War on Terror' (to be followed by campaigns againt wistfulness and uncertainty). We also did some walking there, including an ascent of Arthur's Seat.

[13:14] | [Travel] | Comments | G

Thu, 27 Jul 2006

Where am I?

I've just entered the wonderful world of GPS. I know everyone and his wife has a navigation system in their car, but I've considered them overpriced for the few times a year I would actually need one. I was getting by with my road atlas. A friend is looking to sell his Acer n35. This is a PDA with built-in GPS antenna. I've got in on trial with a view to buying it. First impressions are pretty good. It can't get a signal indoors, but outside it picked up enough satellites after a few minutes. It has TomTom installed, which most people I know say is the best software. I used it on the way home and it was spot on for my normal route. I tried to fool it by taking a wrong turn and it worked out an alternative to get me there.

The PDA side is behind the times, but probably equivalent to my aging Palm. I just need to get used to the Windows platform. It remains to be seen if it will talk nicely to my Linux PC. Some data can be transferred by infra-red beaming, but ultimately it would have to synchronise with my PC applications. I mainly use the Palm as a glorified organiser and occaisional audio player, so it should be able to handle those needs. I don't want to be carrying both devices all the time.

There is no wireless networking built in, but SD adaptors are available, some with built-in memory, for not too much money. There never seemed to be a cheap option for my Palm. It's about time I entered the wireless world too.

One thing I would like to play with is OpenStreetMap. This is an effort to produce free maps of everywhere by people mapping every road using their GPS units. Arlesey is partially mapped, so I could add to that once I figure out what software I need.

[14:04] | [Gadgets] | Comments | G

Thu, 20 Jul 2006

Cool Computer Thing of the Week

Not exactly a regular strand on this site, but never mind. A couple of weeks back I finally got a working VPN connection from Linux to the company network by getting the latest version of KVpnc and finding the right configuration options. Using Citrix I can do most work things if I don't happen to have the XP laptop at home.

This week I got around to trying out Synergy. This allows multiple computers to share a keyboard and mouse. Very handy if you have several on you desk. As you move the mouse off the edge of one computer's screen it appears on the next and control is transferred. It works on all the main operating systems. I'm typing this on my Linux box, but can easily switch to the XP laptop and carry on typing there. The computers also share a clipboard that can do images as well as text. This is the most useful thing I have installed in a while. Checking on my del.icio.us I see that I bookmarked it nearly 2 years ago!

[13:35] | [Computer] | Comments | G

Tue, 18 Jul 2006

Fixing my feeds

I've changed my feeds from del.icio.us and last.fm to use their utilities rather than RSSDigest. That has served me well for a while, but I'd prefer to get the feeds directly from the sources. The last.fm one is in the form of an image, but I can live with that. The del.icio.us one was doing the same as my category list and was shifted too far to the right in Firefox. I've fixed that for now by making the whole sidebar left justified. It's not as aesthetically pleasing, but at least everything fits on the screen now.

[10:26] | [Site News] | Comments | G

I got Rhythms

Had a great time at Rhythms of the World in Hitchin at the weekend. I've not had a proper look before. The problem was that there was too much choice. The main acts we saw were acoustic singer Beck Goldsmith, funky Horace X and cello singer Laura Hewison as well as bits of various others. The opera singers in the church were very moving. I hope to be back next year.

We also attended the Great Offley Bike Show. I've not been involved in the biking scene for a while, but it was nice to have a look. I'm always amazed at the work people put into their bike, both old and new. Everything there from a 1920's Levis to a nitrous Fireblade and some big trikes.

Wildlife highlight of the weekend was seeing our first frog in our new pond. I knew there were frogs in the garden before, despite the lack of open water, so it was just a matter of time. I'm hoping it will eat some of the mosquito larvae before they take flight.

[09:17] | [Entertainment] | Comments | G

Thu, 13 Jul 2006

Herts LUG 20060712

Fun meeting last night. Rob organised a little quiz with prizes! My team won and I gained a neat USB light. Not only that, but I learned a few things about Linux. I think total attendance was about a dozen.

[12:07] | [Computer] | Comments | G

Tue, 11 Jul 2006

Second Anniversary

My PyBlosxom has now been running for over two years. In that time I have not managed to do any of the customisations I originally planned. I still want to make the sidebar links come directly from my FOAF file, even if that technology does not seem to be taking off. I also intended to convert the old Postnuke data to something I could display here. I did some initial playing around in Python. It's just too easy to waste time idly surfing. I have managed to get an exercise routine going and I spend some time on my drumming, but I would still like to do some programming for this site.

[13:07] | [Site News] | Comments | G

Wed, 05 Jul 2006

End of an Era

Microsoft are ending support for Windows 98. I still have a PC that runs it just so that my kids can play some 'edutainment' titles. The problem now is that there will be no more security updates. I just found out that Zone Labs will not support 98 for their free ZoneAlarm firewall. They suggest that you install a more recent Microsoft OS, i.e. XP, but I don't want to have to buy that. Instead I shall look at the possibility of running the kids' games on Linux via Wine. The wonderful thing about Free Software is that you can just download the next version for free.

Some people have concerns that all those thousands of PCs out there still running 98 will now be vulnerable to all sorts of security risks that could cause problems for the rest of us. We shall see. We can always hope that at least some of them choose a Free alternative to the MS options, especially if they cannot afford to upgrade their hardware.

[13:15] | [Computer] | Comments | G

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