48 posts • joined Thursday 7th February 2008 21:39 GMT
Best accessory I ever bought...
The best accessory I ever bought is a U2o external battery pack - it will power my Acer Aspire One for several decades (OK, about 5 hours), has a 5V USB output just in case your mobile phone, Nintendo DS, PSP or other gadget needs some juice PLUS because it's a generic battery and the output voltage is adjustable it can be used with other DC-powered devices too - it sure beats buying a spare laptop battery that will only fit one thing.
Long link warning:
Nice list, but some (at least one) are "Free" as in 'Free for home and personal use only' eg: Karen's Replicator - from her site: "Karen's Power Tools programs are free for personal, non-commercial use. But if you'd like to use the programs at work, you need a paid license."
Also check out (Google is your friend):
deltacopy and grsync: Packaged, GUI-driven versions of rsync that can backup to local and remote locations via the tubes.
iReport: Crystal Reports (ish) without the dosh
Kompozer is a half-decent GUI HTML editor
7zip for most of your compressing and decompressing needs
Inkscape - the poor (but free) long-lost-cousin of Corel Draw
Dia - likewise for Visio
PDFCreator - Do you need a description?
Winsplit revolution - Windows desktop organiser
Of course it *IS* technically possible for any number to be routed through any provider and terminated where needed.
The problem is that it's just too much of a PITA to setup because the industry's infrastructure to make this easily doable is in a mess and so very few service providers can be arsed to spend the time contacting all the relevant parties to make the changes.
Yes, number database centralisation would be the answer - but centralised with whom? I know of some outfits that would still rightly bodge this kind of thing in an upwards direction.
Sod the iPad
Forget all the iCleverness, have they finally managed to implement a calendar that can handle multi-day events, like we've all been begging them since 2006?
I have several potential users that have dropped plans to install SugarCRM when they saw how crappy the calendar function was.
"...Also the scrappage scheme can include a subsidy so that luddites (read Reg readers) can swap their perfectly adequate AM/FM/LW radios for a nice little DAB set that allows you to receive in mono that which was previously in damn good quality stereo - that's if you can even get the radio to produce more than some meaningless burble and gibberish, especially when its raining."
From now on, my work contracts are going to define any mistakes on my part as being 'pretty darn daft negligence' or, worse case, 'WTF were you thinking negligence' so that I cannot be sued for gross negligence.
...considering many believe Mandelson to be the biggest anus in UK politics.
I'm sure I had an invite to a party hosted by David Geffen in one of my pockets..? Nope, just this loan application form.
I feel their pain...
On Sunday afternoon while working on a new system roll-out (not a biggie - 25 PCs and a server + a network switch overhaul), I smelled burning in the room in which we'd based ourselves. I tracked it down to the UPS on the mail server. That server & UPS were not part of the roll-out - they had been there chugging away for for 2 years - so I guess the kit must have just felt left out with all the new stuff arriving and wanted some attention. Anyway, the server was powered down to replace the frying UPS.
On startup, one of the mirrored drives had decided to seize and would not go 'ready', effectively freezing the server. What a to-do: I had to disconnect the drive, fire up the (Linux-based) server on one drive, zoom to the nearest PC World, grab a new 320GB SATA drive (we did not have a spare for that), shut down the server, install the drive, boot up, partition the drive and add it to the RAID 1 array. Total downtime? 2 x 15 min periods. Data loss = zero. Array failures? Meh!
Worse time of my life - stepping into PC World, that is!
OS is not as important as it used to be
OK, I don't speak for everyone, but I spend about 80% of my working day in a browser. NO - not looking at pron, but in the Web interfaces of our many business support tools. I check emails regularly and also do some SQL & programming development. I need to do the odd bit of graphical work and sometimes I am in VNC or an RDP session working remotely on a system elsewhere and....that's about it.
My point? Well, the desktop OS is not important for me. I am currently working on a Vista-based PC because I need to know its ins and outs to support our customers, but beyond that, all the tools I need are available in the Linux, Mac or Windows worlds - in fact, I will probably reboot soon and pop back to Fedora Linux.
Yes, there a number of OS-specific apps that I need to use, but not many (there's always Virtualbox!). It's obviously different for others that have specific AV, gaming or development needs, but I expect a serious number of people really could use any OS to do what they need - and if they could remove themselves from the MS-or-die groupthink then it all comes down to functionality and cost. I wonder if there's an OS that you can get for free...hmmm!
Now all we need is a can of "Monster Air" with oxygen-rich particles to improve your power transfer and see crisper pictures with cleaner-sounding audio!
Simply spray Monster AirGapMax 3000 in the gap between your television and the power transmitter for 15 seconds before each viewing session, and then once again for 15 seconds every hour.
A full can lasts almost 5 days!!
Only £37 per 500ml can.
Do not want
Out of the blue our FD received a brand-new, boxed iPhone 3G delivered to his home address - left unsigned-for!! (Maybe an addressing error or some kind of third party fraud attempt?). He thought it was a mistake by us IT bods and, anyway, being a Blackberry sheep he sent it 'back' to our offices, unopened.
We couldn't wait to get rid of it (box still unopened) ASAP, so we contacted O2 and it's gone.
weDon't either - even when they fall in our laps!
I was directed to a site the other day via a Google search only to have a 'reasonably convincing' Windows 'app' pop up in my browser and begin to 'scan' c:\, c:\windows etc. and 'discover' numerous trojans that could then be kindly removed by clicking on the pop-up button (leading to installer.exe).
Trouble was, I'm running Fedora 11 and had just not got around to installing NoScript!
Have to say though that the look and feel of the WIndows app was pretty good - albeit it was in a browser window.
“This is not about customer service, as the service in our operations around the globe is of very similar standards."
Message from my colleague the other day...
"Some called from BT for you. I think it was about the line you wanted ceased - I think they said it had been done, but I am not sure as I could barely understand a word they said"
/Paris because, like India, she's abroad
Jeez, for that price, I could just buy every seat in the meeting room its own laptop and still have change from £11K
Proof if you need it
Cost of second hand Dell 3250 dual Itanium server on ebay = £50.
Rackmount rails for it = £95.
Yeah, it says something when the rails are worth more than the server.
It's dead, Jim.
PS: Anyone want a Dell 3250....!
/Paris, because she's off the rails too
'tis a Joke
The need to have a mandatory - chargeable - BIS or BES account just to pick up mail is nothing more than a lock-in to earn additional revenue considering that every man and their dog (except RIM) has managed to somehow squeeze POP/IMAP and SMTP support into their phones. It''s also incongruous to have to hand over to RIM (via Vodafone in our case) our email account logins and passwords so they can go fetch users' message just to shove them down to the phones. Being cynical, I wonder what happens to these emails as they pass through RIM's hands (data mining, anyone?)
Sadly our company Managers and Directors looked no further than the hype and cock-waving 'mystique' of having a Blackberry rather than the practicalities.
Meanwhile in Support, we 'cope' with our HTC Touch Pros picking up our mail, giving us RDP access to our Windows servers, SSH logins to our Linux servers, FTP wifi tools etc.
/Paris, because she probably knows what it's like to get shafted.
Buying a solar-powered phone charger from Hong Kong, receiving a 4-way USB video camera dongle instead and having to argue with the seller that you won't pay the return postage for the wrong item because a) it's their fault and b) Postage is 4x the value of the wrong item.
What's not to like!?
Seriously though - I have got some good, second-hand IT kit (routers, switches, VoIP phones and racks) from ebay but picking known, trusted resellers. Cheap USB chargers from Hong Kong etc. are also usually OK, but for new stuff I'd always check high street prices and availability first and then still seriously avoid ebay unless really certain about the seller.
In about 4 years of dealings on ebay, I've probably saved close to £10K in IT kit, been shafted once for £45 whcih I couldn't reclaim and had to make around £50 of paypal claims so, on balance, it's been worth it.
/paris because she'll accept any best offer. A+++ would use her avatar again.
I'd be outraged
We have 10 BT Business broadband accounts in our orgnisation and I have not seen any emails about this.
I suppose I should be outraged, but I flogged the BT hubs on ebay and installed Drayteks instead.
Time for a shakedown
It's about time the enterprise and small business telephony market was shaken down/out/whatever and, hopefully some of the sharks that pass for telephone system suppliers will fall by the wayside:
1) I am called by at least 4-5 telephony companies a month promising me a cost-effective system that has free calls round the galaxy and makes toast. They soon bugger off when I tell them about our in-house managed Asterisk system though.
2) A contract expired in July for a 2-line, 5 extension system at one of our branches. This was a site and system we acquired through a buy-out so I had no involvement in speccing the PBX. The system the previous staff were persuaded to buy is monstrously over-specified and the renewal fee to rent it for the next 5 years was £4.5K. I told the suppliers they were having a laugh and to come and pick up the system (giving the required 30 days notice). They were not best pleased - they kept ringing the site AND neighboring ones warning them they were about to be cut off and that their system would be repossessed if they did not sign a new contract. In the end I had to fax the MD of the company involved telling him what I though of his business practices and I copied the fax to the manufacturer for whom they were agents..
The replacement system I put in was a 2-line, 15 handset (max) DECT PBX with an answering machine in the auxillary port. Maintenance contract? Heck no - I just bought a spare system - and still had change from £500. To make matters worse, the company involved is still billing us for monthly maintenance on the old system AND threatening further action or withdrawal of support services for the system - even though we don;t have it any more.
You might guess that I rate phone system suppliers right down there with solicitors, estate agents and copier salespeople.
--Paris as she's handy with extensions.
Oh dear, Ted's had too much caffeine again
I was going to write a few paras on the smart arse support things I can do with my Aspire One and HTC TYTN II smartphone, but I'll just pause to ask when Ted's work experience at El Reg ends.
/Paris - 'cos she'd knock up a more insightful and accurate article.
And your objective was...?
So the author has a hall pass that gets his work on El Reg. Beyind that, what was the point of the article? Did he really sit down and think "My work gets published - I must write something that makes me look like an complete and utter twat"?
//(Typing on my Acer Aspire One with Open Office 3.0 installed.)
////God, that article sucked balls.
////Yes, I am being harsh - but take it on the chin from a veteran IT Magazine freelancer from the 1980-90 season - constructuve criticism, darling.
/////Tux laughts at your amateur ramblings
Emperor's New Clothes
Yes, they did/do some interesting stuff for people with more money than sense and a hankering for minimalist designs, but - what was it - £225 for a telephone?
Paris - because she knows when she's been shafted.
My Son's school hosts all its student work on a Linux server I installed about a year ago - mirrored drives in caddys and a cold-spare system unit all ready to run - and still a fraction of the price RM wanted for a fully-specced/fully licenced Windows-based solution.
Tux trumps Paris, for once.
But are there any traces of nuts?
Is it actually a legal requirement to add terms to a radio ad anyway or do they all suffer from the fact that 'x' company did it in 1997 and so everyone else thought they'd better too.
Paris, because $RandomParisJustification
Overheard at one PCW store: "Oh, yes - it has a dual core processor so the Internet runs faster". I nearly fell into a nearby stack of antivirus software boxes I was laughing so much!!
I went to buy an Acer Aspire One in Chichester a couple of weeks back (Linux model, of course) - they had one on display, but none in stock. They checked Portsmouth for me and the system said they had 5 so the next day I popped over - they had none on display and had 'never heard of it'. 'You have 5 in stock - Chichester checked', I said.
10 mins later and they gave up looking for the stock on their system, phoned Chichester and got the inventory code from them.
Another 10 mins and, hooray, they had found them - and they price matched Dabs. I kindly gave the salesperson an overview of the Acer as he had no knowledge of them at all.
Next week I went back to Chichester to grab a neoprene sleeve for the Acer - there was nothing ideal in stock except for an ill-fitting, generic one that was something like £14.99. In the end I got one off ebay from Hong Kong for £3 + £3.50 carriage.
Paris - because she's had lots of dabs on her over the years.
I'm not rushing
I would imagine that, like myself, quite a few IT professionals first got their hands on Vista not because they consciously bought a copy, but because a laptop or desktop PC came with the damn OS pre-loaded - and then the IT department had to 'upgrade' a PC in order to support their Vista Users.
Sadly, I upgraded my 2 year-old Acer laptop in response to the trickle of Vista-based laptops arriving in our organisation - and it's been grief ever since. First of all the RAM had to go up from 768MB to 1.5GB to get any decent performance (Processor is a 1.5GHz Celeron M), then I had to debug why remote desktop kept stopping working for a few Managers. 50% of the time my display won' t wake up again after screen-saving and then I have to push the power button to go in, then out, of suspend to carry on working.
Heaven help me if Vista downloads an update and wants a reboot because the cycle of: 'out-of-hibernate' -> reboot -> install updates -> maybe reboot again can take the best part of 20 minutes.
I am often left wondering why a simple task, such as checking or changing network configuration, takes twice as many keypresses under Vista (with default configuration) as with XP. My default printer keeps randomly changing and if I lose my wifi connection it can sometimes take a reboot to get it back..I could go on but you get the picture.
I look after around 200 PCs and it'll be a cold day in hell before I take any direct action to upgrade any of them to Vista - and before you wonder what happens when I have 'no choice' because Vista's the only pre-loaded option well - I am looking at a new core app for our business needs (veterinary clinics) that is wholly java-based and will run on a Linux desktop - even on our ageing PII's currently running good-ol' NT4.
--Paris because she probably knows what it's like to have something unwanted thrust upon her.
"Vodafone hasn't yet responded to our request for an explanation as to how the bill came about, or why it took so long to sort out."
Vodafone's Customer Service email system has a special routine in the reply routine:
if ($F_todays_date - $F_creation_date($mail_id) < 2) then
This ensures a consistent 2 day delay before getting a reply to anything.
--Paris: because you used the word 'punter'
It's Maplin (singular) - always has been.
No doubt the author also plays with Legos?
-- Paris - because she's been buying batteries for her..er..appliances..from Maplin ever since she bankrupted the Tandy battery club.
- World's OLDEST human DNA found in leg bone – but that's not the only boning going on...
- Lightning strikes USB bosses: Next-gen jacks will be REVERSIBLE
- Pics Brit inventors' GRAVITY POWERED LIGHT ships out after just 1 year
- Storagebod Oh no, RBS has gone titsup again... but is it JUST BAD LUCK?
- Three offers free US roaming, confirms stealth 4G rollout