Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20060821


It’s Monday again, and it will have to be a quick one this week. For all the people who have been having trouble with the way their mail client renders HTML emails, I am going back to text only again.

OK this is for the petrol heads out there (Hi Mark), Here is the guff.
“On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. No streets were closed, for Lelouch
was unable to obtain a permit.”
Now the footage is spectacular in itself but then some wacko synchronized the video with Google maps so you can see where the car was going.
You do need to get a good buffer up before pressing play. Follow the instructions on the page

So now would be the perfect time to segue into this weeks flash game. It’s really quite simple, go fast, finish 10 laps and you win, other wise you are like me (3 laps max)

And as a wise man once said “Now for something completely different.”
One of our friends has recently become a father so when I saw this I cracked up and thought of him . Baby Rock Records is releasing a slew of lullaby cover CDs of alternative rock tunes by the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, and Led Zep (Kashmir as a lullaby, now there’s a concept). Lots of synth glockenspiels, chimes, vibraphones, in lieu of fuzz boxed guitars. What next?

and so we will now move from baby songs to songs that came out when we were babies. John Cale & Lou Reed playing the old Velvet underground tune Heroin. The video quality is bad but the intensity is amazing . The story is that in the beginning of 1972 three ex-members of the Velvet Underground – Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico – were touring in Europe at the same time, and decided to meet and do just one show in Paris. …”

This weeks highlights from
Ulrich Schnauss is awesome. That’s it just have a listen .
Infectious and fun,
Serious and Fun

Now don’t forget the to pop into the blog ( ) for the odd update during the week.

As usual have a good one

{ Currently listening to Suzanne Vega and early U2 }
{ Currently reading: Linux Format magazine and a VBS Manual}
{ Quick Status Check: Going to Hell and you should the spreadsheet that says so }
{Crop Circle Status Check: A measly 8 so far for August. Pathetic really. We need to complain to the Galactic overlords about getting a better class of alien}

Got 15 minutes and Windows XP? Time for a Tune-Up

There are about a million of these “go faster” things on the net, dont believe me? Type windows xp tuneup into Google and it will find over 2 million pages.

So how do you find a good one? Tricky.

First get your expectations in order.
If you have an old “4 cylinder 2 door with a lift up back” PC no amount of tweaking and clean-up is going to get it to perform like one of those fancy “briight red V12 Ferrari” PCs. In all honesty it isn’t going to run as well as it did when you first got it.

Why? Well the never-ending flood of Microsoft patches , virus checking updates, firewalls, antispyware updates, and a system tray that takes up half the bottom of your screen would be good culprits. All these things add up over time. And NO you cant just delete them all. Your PC would have a life expectancy measured in milliseconds once you connected it to the net.

But all that being said. It is still worth doing.

Here is the blurb from a post at Tweak3D…

A fine-tuned Windows XP PC can run quite fast even it’s seriously lacking in the memory and CPU department. Before you chuck out your PC to buy a new one, try stripping some of the rust that’s built-up over the years; the results may surprise you.

It’s probably your operating system that’s slow, not the PC. It’s software, not hardware – you know, invisible 1s and 0s held in an electric field representing your data. Your computer is still fast, but there’s a ton of stuff slowing it down. There’s more 1s where there should be 0s and your PC is killing itself fighting an impossible battle to burn off this fat.

We’ve seen Pentium II machines with 128 MB RAM run XP faster than Pentium IVs with 4x the clock speed and 4x the RAM – so what gives? This article will help you figure out why your PC is running slow and outline exact steps to fix it quickly, before throwing in the towel with a format, restore, or new PC purchase. – Windows XP 15 Minute Tune-Up

I remember reading an article that said most people would rather buy a new PC and start again from scratch than do all this stuff. Some people dont have that option.

I sent you WHAT???

A friend of mine has had one of those embarrassing little gotchas… he used a “public” computer and either didn’t log off from his yahoo account or the machine just remembered ALL the passwords it ever has had typed into it.

Either way, an email was sent from his account and even though the content of the message was obviously way way way out of character, the recipient chose to believe it. (Which is probably the justification for me writing a book on human psychology rather than a blog post).

Now I will probably need to do this in a couple of parts (it’s a big topic). So lets start with “friendly” browsers.

As a rule of thumb if you “borrow” a PC to just quickly check your email and the only browser offer is IE run away be very careful… my favourite warning sign is to start typing in the address. If the AUTOCOMPLETE kicks in then there is a good chance that the remember passwords option is on.

The AutoComplete and remember password features are intended to save you time and typing by remembering text you’ve recently entered and automatically filling it in again if the browser thinks it recognizes what you’re typing. If you’ve been to different areas of the same site, the browser may also present you with a list of addresses to choose from.

AutoComplete can also remember user names and passwords and information used in Web forms. If you’d prefer not to use the feature — or want to erase any stored passwords or form information — you can adjust your browser settings.

So where to look to turn it off.
In IE, go to Tools > Internet Options. Click on the Content tab and then on the AutoComplete button.

In the AutoComplete settings box, you can see what information the browser will remember and this is also where you clear out stored passwords and form data.

For the 59% of you reading this using IE go and have a look now… we’ll wait.

All done? Good. I would write down that path so that you can go there at the end of your session and flush out where you have been.

It wont stop determined people but it will help stop drive by “alleged jokers”.

Also have a look at a previous post on “Delete your history in windows

Next we will have a look how to tell where the email came from (as opposed to what the FROM line says).

Your homework is to head over to Spam Links – reading email headers page and have a browse.

The resources on that page will help you to understand what the different parts of an email header mean, and how that can help you to trace an emails path.

Keep in mind “just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong”.

The Canary Project

I was walking along the street yesterday and looking at some of the gardens and couldn’t help but notice that the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and there are a lot of daffodils around. Very pretty BUT very scary folks. It’s the middle of August in Melbourne we are supposed to be freezing our buts off and fighting the wind and the rain NOT wondering which T shirt to wear because the weather is going to be so warm.

Need a bit more of a hint? Edward Morris and Susannah Sayler became interested in gathering visual evidence of global warming after reading a series of articles on the subject by Elizabeth Kolbert. This interest became a passion after seeing the massive retreat of the Pasterze Glacier in Austria.

So they started The Canary Project. The idea is to photograph landscapes around the world that are exhibiting dramatic transformation due to global warming and to use these photographs to persuade as many people as possible that global warming is already underway and of immediate concern.

The Eizabeth Kolbert articles from the New Yorker can be found here and Grist magazine has a really good article here

I know I am preaching to the converted but this is starting to get scary.

Aliens In Oregon

By now a lot of will be aware of my obsession with crop circles, mainy because “cereal art” is just so wonderfully ephemeral that I cant help but be fascinated. If you have ever wondered about how these things are made ( the ones that the aliens didn’t do) then this is the post for you.

Firefox Logo in a fieldThose of you who read subscribe to the “Monday” list will also be aware of my concerns about the lack of quality pieces available from England this year and there was a rant just last week as well.

A team in America (The Oregon State Linux Users Group to be precise) has sort of “raised the bar and created a 45,000+ square foot crop circle of the Firefox logo in an Amity, Oregon oat field (and they asked for permission?????). It took them a fortnights planning and a team of 12 around 14 hours to create the image in the field of oats (sounds like a movie I once saw … If you crush it, they will come). And of course being Americans, they documented the whole process with lots of photos of the field before, during, and after the circle’s making at Oregon State University Website.

Now why would they do this? To celebrate the 200 millionth download of Firefox of course. Why else?

Or this is yet another cover up and misdirection by the “powers that be” to divert our attention away from the aliens efforts to attract our attention. There’s never a smoking man around when you need one.

BoxCloud – Really Really Simple File Sharing

Back in early March I had a look at the whole emailin bloody big files thing, see Send Large Files Easily. Since then it’s all gotten a lot trickier. Eventually you are going to find that sometimes email isn’t enough.

For instance, what are you going to do with that 50 meg photo that you have to send to 5 people (that’s 250M folks, your entire Bigpond budget account’s bandwidth in one fell swoop).

Well instead of uploading it 5 times, how about uploading it just once to some place on the internet and then tell everyone where it is.

Good plan except for one little gotcha. Where exactly is that place? Well maybe it’s your PC, stroll over to BoxCloud for some “Dead-simple file sharing”

Let’s start with some hype…

BoxCloud is a dead simple way for sharing files with people you know. We feel that sharing files today is much harder than it needs to be:

Email is a pain to use for large files
Online storage solutions have size restrictions
FTP servers are not for everyone

BoxCloud’s drag and share functionality makes sharing files a snap through a small application you install on your desktop. You decide what to share and with whom. Once shared, people can then access your files using a regular browser – they don’t need to download or configure anything. The web-based interface is so simple even your grandparents will use it.
No holds barred

and here is the BIGGY folks, they let you share the files without making the person you are sending it to signup (and a good thing as it’s a 17M download). How cool is that?

Have a look and see what you think.