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New from ASUS – the WL-700gE router August 21, 2006

Posted by Steve in Cool Linkage, Techie Stuff.
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Two words – “I want” – details here

Well at least I do until I see the price…

Tech Support – when will it cater for people above the Lowest Common Denominator August 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in Moans, Whinges and Rants, Techie Stuff.
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In the latest in my series of rants offering free clue to the businesses of the UK, I turn my attention to ISP Technical Support, and wonder why they seem only to cater for people who require help locating their on-of switch.

Having, on several occasions, had to educate the tech support “agents” on the end of the phone about the protocols which underpin the internet ( for example I’d diagnosed a DNS issue, but needed to explain what DNS does before getting anywhere) it seems to me that these organisations need to do more to address the needs of bone fide geeks who call up.

Usually when I have an issue I’ve already troubleshooted everything at my end. I know what I can and can’t ping, whether I’m getting an IP address over DHCP, I’ve tried a proxy server and third party DNS servers. I don’t need to be asked to go to start, click run and type “C…M…D” into the box, and wait for a black window to appear and type in “P…I…N…G…” (yes, that really did happen)

So here’s a suggestion for the ISPs – train your first line “techs” to recognise when they have somebody on the end of the phone who knows what they are talking about. Train them to pass such calls to somebody who can help them. If a geek is phoning in with an issue, it is something non standard. In fact they’ve probably found a workaround and are doing you the courtesy of calling to let you know that you have a problem. The script isn’t going to cover it so don’t waste the time. Put them through to a fellow geek and let them thrash out the issue between them.

The more experienced technician is going to welcome having somebody on the end of the line who can do diagnostics without having to be walked through it keypress by keypress, and the caller is going to be glad of being able to feel like they’ve helped to sort the problem out. And of course it is these people who are often asked for recommendations for an ISP and will be more likely to give your company a glowing recommendation if they’ve had a good experience with your tech support.

It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s what used to happen at my particular ISP before they outsourced their tech support to clueless people 😦

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.

Announcement: AutoPoilot April 10, 2006

Posted by Steve in Driving, Techie Stuff.
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I’ve been busy for the last couple of days doing a spot of programming. I tend to go through phases where I really get into it – particularly if there’s an itch which needs scratching.

So I present – http://www.autopoilot.co.uk

Using the Google Maps Api it lets you create custom Point of Interest files for use on your SatNav unit, which can be downloaded in either Garmin format or, thanks to Eddy, for TomTom.

Feedback welcome!

Photography – Blackmoorfoot Reservoir April 7, 2006

Posted by Steve in Photography.
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Thought I'd check out the local reservoir. Having eventually found it (with little help from Sat Nav as I'd screwed up the POI file I made… damn long winding country roads with nowhere to turn round), here are a few shots:

BlackmoorfootRoad sign100_0137.jpg100_0138.jpgGrebeGrebeDucksDucks100_0151.jpg100_0158.jpg100_0157.jpgSafety SignMoorside Edge Transmitting Station100_0162.jpg100_0163.jpg100_0165.jpg100_0166.jpg100_0167.jpg100_0168.jpg100_0169.jpg100_0170.jpg100_0171.jpg100_0173.jpg100_0174.jpg

I’m calling the FBI April 1, 2006

Posted by Steve in Techie Stuff.
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It's at times like this I wish I was still running Prat of the Week… because the City Manager of Tuttle in Oklahoma would win hands down.

The bare bones of the story are these:

The server running the city's website was reconfigured by the hosting company, and they screwed it up so it was showing a default page from the linux distribution which ran the server.

Jerry Taylor, the City Manger, got the wrong end of the stick, and so began an email conversation in which he accused CentOS – the linux distribution providers who were nothing to do with the knackered server beyond the fact that their software was running on it – of having hacked his site, and threats to involve the FBI.

Personally I think it might have been funnier if the FBI had got involved and helped to distribute some clue to this guy…

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 think I’m entitled March 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in Driving.
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to be a little miffed… Having eventually bought myself a set of wheels yesterday (and managed to get it round the ring road in one piece!)…
my motor!
I wake up to a wonderful snow scene. So I'm not going anywhere today 😦 Ah well.

Big wide world here I come March 10, 2006

Posted by Steve in Driving.
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Everything feels a little strange at the moment. I completed my Pass Plus course today. It’s a 6 hour top-up driving course, which prepares you for some of the things you might not have done on normal lessons. (and is worth a year’s no claims from some insurers)

I suppose I should be happy, but it all feels strange. No longer do I have the safety net of a driving instructor with a brake pedal by my side. I’m on my own. And I’m not sure if I really like the idea of that.

It feels a lot like when I left home, and I got used to that soon enough, so I guess flying the nest and going it alone this time will sink in sooner or later… anyway I’d better get back to trawling the autotrader site