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Vista Simulator February 10, 2007

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Techie Stuff.
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Some of the most incisive commentary on Vista so far, courtesy of Simon Travaglia at The Register

“So you like Vista?”

“Not really, no. I run a Vista simulator.”

“Virtual Server?” the Boss asks.

“Nah, I just turned on all the flashy crap in XP, changed the background image, took some memory out of my box and clocked down the CPU. Then broke Media player. Works like a charm.”


::sigh:: These guys just don’t get it January 6, 2007

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Moans, Whinges and Rants, Techie Stuff.
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This video appeared on YouTube yesterday, posted by researchers at Cambridge. They’ve managed to make a Chip and Pin card reader run a Tetris game


Now this is scary stuff, it seems that it is possible for these allegedly tamper proof card readers to have the program running on them replaced with something arbitrary. Which means that somebody could replace it with a program which looked exactly like the interface you normally get on such a reader but have it take the card details and PIN number and store it.

But, the people commenting on YouTube seem more concerned with slagging off the guy’s Tetris abilities. I give up.

Holidays are coming December 6, 2006

Posted by Steve in Cool Linkage, General Wittering.
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It always used to be CocaCola who did the really good advert for a soft beverage at Christmas. Not any more though. Stand aside, Coke – behold Irn Bru’s advert

Don’t drink and drive – Denis Leary style November 30, 2006

Posted by Steve in Driving, General Wittering.
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I’m guessing that the government is going to launch its annual Christmas Drink Driving campaign before very long. I think this effort (which is actually an advert rather than an official Public Information Film) is brilliant – contains moderate language.

A challenge October 26, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Techie Stuff.

I am nerdier than 90% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Beat that! <g&gt;

Dead blog? Not quite August 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering.
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Following a kick up the arse from Lenina of the Blog Liberation Front I just want to say that this blog isn’t dead, it’s just waiting for some inspiration!

Expect new posts soon.  ish.

A Nobel Prize contender? March 26, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering.
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I’m on one of my occasional “proper food” kicks at the moment, where
I’m attempting to reduce the number of times a meal is something taken
out of the freezer and lobbed into the microwave/deep fat fryer, and
trying to cook things myself when I have time.

In persuit of this, I’ve made a fantastic discovery in the freezer
section at Asda (and possibly elsewhere) – frozen diced onions.

Now it may seem like a small thing, but knowing what an absolute pain
peeling and dicing onions can be, this is a tear-free solution which is
most welcome. To whoever’s idea it was, Sir/Madam – you are a

To demonstrate how to do a proper meal with no hassle using this wonderous invention, I present my recipe for cheat’s Bolognese.

  • Start off with a saucepan, on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil and a small pack of minced beef.
  • When the mince is browned, drain off the excess fat and chuck in
    a couple of handfulls of the frozen diced onions and the drained
    contents of a tin of sliced mushrooms.
  • Give it a good stir and then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a dollop each of tomato puree, tomato ketchup and brown sauce.
  • Add a sprinkling of mixed herbs and maybe an oxo cube and a dash of Worcester Sauce.
  • You might need to add some water at this stage, but remember that
    some liquid will come out of the onions as they cook/defrost.
    Give it a good stir, turn the heat down and simmer until it thickens

Or something like that anyway. If you’re feeling adventurous
layer it up with cheese sauce and sheets of pasta and bake it and
you’ve got a lasagne – which is a handy way of using the leftovers if
they’ve been in the fridge.

So, was that post random enough for you? <g>

Are McAfee reading this blog? March 13, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Techie Stuff.
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A couple of weeks ago I posted a suggestion that Microsoft could break McAfee in the same way as they did with Norton. I have a feeling that they may have got wind of this plan and got in their retalliation first, by issuing DAT files that quarantine parts of Excel and some Windows files.

An interesting development, which I think makes it Symantec’s move.

I remember when banks used to listen March 6, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Moans, Whinges and Rants.
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Ouch, two moan posts in a row…

Could someone explain to me what the Halifax are playing at? I have their Web Saver account, which is supposed to be operated online.

In an attempt to buy a car today (which didn’t happen, but I don’t want to do three moans in a row so I’ll spare you that story) I turned up at the bank to attempt to withdraw several hundred poinds to purchase the modest vehicle I was interested in. Having established that the ATM would only allow me £300 per day I took my place in the queue. The cashier swiped my card and found that he wasn’t given an option on his screen to allow a withdrawl. A little head scratching and investigation found that as it’s a Web saver account, I’m unable to use the branch facilities, I get a (marginally) better interest rate because I have to do things online and via the ATM.

Which is fine when it *is* something I don’t have to waste the staff’s time with. But how am I supposed to withdraw larger amounts? Do the Halifax not realise that people use savings accounts to accumulate money to make large purchases? Apparently closing the account wasn’t even an option in the branch.
Suggestions for less clueless financial institutions gratefully received.

Why buying online still doesn’t work February 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Moans, Whinges and Rants.

Firstly, welcome to my new blog. I’ve thought about starting one for a while now, but always thought that I didn’t have anything to say, but as that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else I figured I may as well hop onto the bandwagon 😉

Not sure whether kicking off a new blog with a rant is a good idea or not, but I guess I may as well start as I mean to continue.

I decided it was time for me to treat myself to a new camera and, having chosen the model I wanted with some help and advice from knowledgeable people like my good friend Sam, set about finding a supplier who a) I had heard of, b) had it in stock and c) were cheaper than the high street. Point B was the major sticking point in the equation.

Eventually I settled on ebuyer who I have bought from in the past with no trouble and had the item in stock at a considerable saving over the high street price, which would cover accessories like a battery charger, memory card and case.

All going well you might think – the credit card transaction went through without incident and I had confirmation emails sitting in my inbox. But what happened next is the major point that e-commerce firms don’t get: some of us poor sods have to go to work.

Why do these companies insist on using couriers which only deliver during the day? Is it not fairly obvious where I’m going to be during “office hours”? So a phone call to the number on the card they left didn’t get me very far as they were unable to be more specific than which day they could attempt a redelivery on, and had no suggestions other than visiting the depot on Saturday morning. A depot on an out of the way industrial park in Morley. An hour’s bus ride away, and there’s only one an hour. And they close “at about 1pm”. So having eventually found the place, at about 12.20pm I find that they’ve shut up shop and buggered off home.

Fantastic. So I still don’t have the camera.

Now if the supermarkets can offer a delivery within a 2 hour time slot why can’t the courier services? Or if not why not use Royal Mail parcels (not the same as ParcelForce) or at least offer it as an option, then I can go and pick the item up from my local sorting office before I go to work.

Or is providing a service to your customers of little relevance to these companies any more?