BR-monster Thoughts and musings of a computer literate beer drinker…


Harmon Kardon Soundsticks

Up till now I have just used the Harmon Kardon Ball Speakers that came with my iMac and they have been excellent. Small yet powerful with a very clear delivery...

The other day I spotted a set of soundsticks with an iSub on eBay for £60 - worth a punt I thought and today they arrived...

Plugged them in and switched the sound settings to 'SoundSticks USB' in the System Preferences then fired up iTunes - WOW, these things are fantastic!

The ball speakers were good but the soundsticks are in a different league, if you have ever considered buying a set of these for your Mac - just do it, they are worth it!

Filed under: Design, Technical No Comments

Thierry Henry – CHEAT!

To be fair it's not just him, I singled him out because tonight I witnessed him try to get a Spanish player sent off by pretending he had been hit in the face when plenty of camera angles showed that this never happened - it was a blatant attempt to get the player sent off. To make matters worse the resulting free kick was deflected in meaning France took the lead and ultimately progressed in the world cup.

What kind of a message is this sending out? Cheat and be victorious?

This is a cancer growing within the game of football and it needs to be stamped out!

FIFA have said that they will deal with this 'ungentlemanly conduct', but they have been ineffective so far. Perhaps it is time to act using retrospective video evidence and give these CHEATS no where to hide...

At the very least we need to introduce a 'sin bin' to allow offences not as serious as a red card to be issued that actually penalise the offending team, if only for a short period of time.

Hopefully BRAZIL will meter out some justice and despatch the CHEATS in the quarter finals...

Filed under: Rant No Comments

ITV and SPORT – A Match Made In Hell!

Why do ITV think that they can present sport properly?

They took over F1 from the Beeb and promptly screwed it up, though they did add extra coverage of the qualifying sessions... All those adverts! and usually when the (very rare) overtaking manoeuvers occur.

Now they are at it with the world cup coverage - endless repeats of fouls or goalmouth action from all angles followed by the statement 'while you were watching that - this happened...' - we should have been watching it LIVE, after all ITV are calling it live coverage!

The BBC seem to be able to show live coverage (without missing anything) AND show repeats/reviews of action...

The ultimate masters of football coverage (though it pains me to say it) is SKY, they took it on and extented it beyond what other TV companies had done before them...

I think ITV are becoming obsessed with competitions - they have them in almost all programming - they will probably be in the soaps next (doesn't bother me though, I don't watch them), 'ring this/these numbers for ...' a big phone bill, probably!. After midnight ITV is now only phone in competitions, gone are the days of watching late night ITV programming...

Filed under: Rant No Comments

Appletalk filesharing over TCP

Ever had a problem where you have shared folders on a linux box that are inaccessible to Mac users (using appletalk, not samba), but are perfectly ok to everyone else including Windoze (sic) users (and that hurts)? Well, I've just had this and traced it back to a damaged .AppleDB in the root of the folder(s) being shared. I tried all sorts of things to try and bring these folders back online including CNID_INDEX to rebuild them (what an unhelpful bit of code that is), but nothing worked...

It was finally corrected by copying the .AppleDB folder from a working folder over the ones in faulty folders - they apparantly then rebuild themselves and work ok... not got a working folder you might say, it doesn't matter - create a sharepoint on a sub folder, get a mac to visit it and hey presto you have a working .AppleDB in this subfolder - copy this over the faulty one and remove the subfolder sharepoint.

According to forums and documentation damaged .AppleDB files can be caused by many situations, but at least I now know they are easy to fix!

Filed under: Technical No Comments

Disgruntled ex-employees

The company where I work, GemCreative is getting some bad press from a couple of ex employees. I suppose we should be flattered that they still have an interest in us, perhaps they cannot believe we still exist because of the shoddy code and systems they (are thought to have) implemented... (if they didn't what were they spending their time on?)

They have since claimed they never wrote the code, but comments within it say otherwise - and no other documentation of any kind was ever passed on...

Here is a comment from one of the scripts corrected by a contractor that was employed before I started - he was apparently quite perturbed:
* This script will send any emails needed to be sent via the campaign manager
* / 27th Sept 2004
* Modification History
* ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
* 06-10-2005 DR See note below
* 13-10-2005 DR Added in additional constants to wrap around queries for testing
* 06-12-2005 JB Changed LOG time to actual and corrected LIMIT check to test only
* Date: 06-10-2005
* Addition: DR
* Bug: the whole email sending thing was borked, totally.
* Resolution:
* 1 ) replaced email sending code with something that actually works!
* 2 ) added the vchrSubject to the DB since it wasn't there... at all!
* 3 ) corrected and added template2 since it was empty, completely empty!
* 4 ) corrected this file to use the new, working email sending code
* 5 ) updated templates 1 & 3 to record the subject
* 6 ) added some error handling to the sendtestemail page
* 7 ) duplicated this message into sendtestemail.php
* 8 ) added some bloody logging to this script
* 9 ) corrected the SQL query for getting details when passed through commandline
* Notes:
* How on earth this was coded I will never know, and for those interested
* in how the session system works: php.ini has session.auto_start on, yes
* that's right: on!

Filed under: General News 1 Comment

Why are our roads so bad?

The goverment charge me 140 quid a year in road tax, a bugs nadger off a quid a litre for diesel, I am also expected to pay to park in urban areas and even for the use some of the roads!

However the road surfaces are shocking! I get bumped around wherever I go, sometimes it is so bad it jolts the CD enough to make it pause and restart. If its not bumpy as hell it is currently being dug up (and made bumpy). Whenever a road is completely resurfaced you can bet that within a month the water, gas, electricity, telecoms or someone else will be there to dig it up and leave a patchy trench along it or across it!

Why do we continue to run services under our roads? Whats wrong with the pavements (sidewalks to our ex colonists) - they would be the logical place to put this stuff...

Can anyone ever remember making a car journey in the UK, whether short or long, without encountering a set of roadwords - or at least a set of cones round a collapsed section of road?

Filed under: Rant No Comments

I’m fed up of Windows problems…

At work and at home the biggest problems I encounter with computers are invariably Micro$oft based...

Over the last week I have repaired/reinstalled 3 different PCs, all with Windows XP. One had to be completely formatted, the other two were repaired via the boot CD repair installation method. All started off saying 39 minutes to install and then an hour and a half later said 26 minutes remaining. Anyone who knows me knows I have a major problem with 'Micro$oft time' - why can't they calculate an ETA off a longer time sample than they do - other installers can get it right!

One of these PCs took 24 hours to become bootable again (see my complaints about Norton)

When each of these PCs was firewalled (using OUTPOST, not the 'chocolate fireguard' from within XP) and put back on the web they had to go through the software update -reboot - software update again - reboot again - software update yet again - reboot yet again - you get the idea... I lost count of the number of times I had to do this...

It all feels like this: Downloading the Internet...

At Xmas I upgraded my 1.0Ghz 256Mb iMac from 10.2.8 Jaguar to 10.3.9 Panther, the OS was faultlessly upgraded in under an hour and it didn't take much longer to perform a software update (ONLY ONE NEEDED) to get all the updates from Apple - Micro$oft take note!

I am down to relying on only one PC - my trusty Dell laptop - which is used for all development. My home server is an Xserve and my home 'surf & stuff' client is the iMac. When I have enough spare spondoolies I will offload the Dell and get a MacBook Pro and totally end my use of WinDoze (sic) forever! (I look forward to the day...)

Filed under: Rant, Technical No Comments

Definition of ‘TO LET’

I think this will be (or should be) - 'I own the house but you, the tenant, pay the mortgage - so all you get is a place to live, whilst I sit back and watch the house go up in value'

Councils are increasingly using privately let properties rather than their own properties meaning that 'council house' people are escaping the ghetto estates and 'infecting' nice areas - like where I live.

Hopefully future governments will increasingly tax the 'buy to let' market as it is destroying the homeowner cycle and preventing first time buyers getting on the ladder, all because a few money grabbing b-stards want to play the property market and don't mind destroying the areas where they are buying...

Filed under: Rant No Comments

Norton (lack of) Internet Security, Systemworks (does it?) and Goback (if you’re lucky!)

I am fed up with fixing problems with these overrated and underperforming software suites. Every time I have had to deal with them it takes an inordinate amount of time and the outcome is not always successful.

Internet Security includes firewall, antivirus and antispam - when reloading it on a PC yesterday I left it running after waiting over 5 hours, it just continued to state 'performing initial configuration tasks' with no indication of what it was doing, where it was up to or how long it might take... I ended up loading AVG free and OUTPOST so that the PC would be protected...

Goback is one of the worst pieces of software I have EVER seen - when it goes wrong it leaves you with a partition which is not available for WINDOWS use unless GOBACK is running, which it probably isn't, hence no ability to repair the partition from the boot CD. The standard 'system restore' does a similar job and probably does it better and certainly quicker... The last time I repaired one of these fiascos I had to create a DOS6 boot floppy (luckily the PC had a floppy drive), run a prog called GB_PROG.EXE from the GOBACK program files folder (or system tools folder on the CD) which doesn't work in a windows 32 bit environment - this changed the drive signature back to a standard windows one - then use the XP boot CD in repair mode - which took over 12 hours to do its job - then reactivated XP and corrected all the issues that remained (old drivers, busted files, etc...) WITHOUT reinstalling this crappy routine. The problem originated when the owner tried to upgrade SYSTEMWORKS of which it is part, all did not go smoothly so they tried to remove SYSTEMWORKS, this is when everything failed (missing files) - I believe this was down to the fact that SYSTEMWORKS was installed under XP but was removed after several XP upgrades (beyond XP SP2) resulting in the inability to put XP back into a working state without GOBACK. I advise everyone to avoid this shoddy code!

Systemworks, pointless utilities that have better version available for free on the internet if you are prepared to look...

Filed under: Rant, Technical No Comments

Semantics… one and one makes two?

I'm fed up of hearing this, it doesn't make logical sense. When using mathmatical operators correctly:

  • one AND one makes one
  • one OR one makes one
  • one PLUS one makes two

Let's get it right in future and correct people that misuse the AND statement...

Filed under: Rant No Comments