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Archive for May, 2009

Blogs

I’m putting my blog entries in my main scargill blog/website now so please visit the site now

Windows 7 on the EEE

Just a little update for those considering putting the Windows 7 release candidate onto their computers – and in particular for those using the EEE computers by Asus.

My 904HD is the one that comes with Windows XP and a hard disk, while remaining almost a pocket-sized computer (if you have very large, slack pockets.

First of all, why would you want to install Microsoft Windows 7? After all there’s nothing wrong with Windows XP, right? Well, yes, but eventually we’ll have to move on – Vista has been out for a long time now and Windows 7 is just around the corner – and we all like something new!

Some time ago I tried putting the Windows 7 beta on it and it worked, kind of – except for the video camera, which was a non-starter. A couple of programs crashed and I thought – you know what – XP works just fine.

And so it was that a couple of weeks ago just before heading off on holiday and with the release of Windows 7 RC1 having had some good reviews, I thought I’d give it another try.

Simple enough – download the ISO file – bang it onto a DVD and if you happen to have an external drive for your EEE – install off that – if not, look at solutions involving memory sticks!

So did it work – yes. The installation went through without a hitch – the only issue I had was the screen coming up in the wrong resolution and that was rapidly resolved by looking up windows 7 EEE screen issues on Google – and a few minutes later I was installing the Intel video driver.

Camera works, mic works, screen, sound – all work.  I am sitting here typing this on an external monitor at higher res, with an external keyboard and mouse (because the EEE keyboard is frankly rubbish) and I have already installed Spotify, Windows Live Writer, Audacity, Skype, my Vodafone 3G dongle, MWSnap (a freeware screen-grabber), Firefox and a host of other programs without a single hitch.  I am CONVINCED this is running faster than XP was and am up to now quite happy to leave it running until for licensing reasons it needs replacing with the genuine article.

Helicopter Flying Day for Maureen Scargill

tmpE7On Friday gone, Maureen had her first helicopter flying lesson. After several stalls due to bad weather we finally managed to get up to the Newcastle flying club along with grandson Rory yesterday afternoon and after some delay due to the helicopter being late coming in… off she went. The session lasted half an hour during which she learned all about the controls and even had a go at controlling the flight itself.

tmpE6The helicopter was TINY but Maureen and the instructor had no problem fitting in and taking off. It’s really neat seeing these things take off at close quarters.  Her trip took her from the flying club (a stone’s throw from Newcastle Airport) down to Tynemouth and back – meanwhile in that time Rory and I in the car hardly managed to get past Dinnington and back!!! Amazing what you can do if you travel in a straight line without hindrance!

tmpE8Anyway, here are the photos and a Video of Maureen’s first helicopter flight. An exciting weekend all in – we dropped Rory off and then set back home to get packed to go to Spain… 3am start, friend Louise came over at 3.30am Sunday and we set off for Spain – all in all a pretty effortless flight sadly dented a little by the complete incompetence of GoldCar who managed to blow an hour or more of good sun tanning weather for us! We arrived in Malaga airport around lunchtime and around teatime arrived in Galera, Andalucia to finish off a cracking weekend. More about our trip at the bedrock site

A welcome break

tmp5FI have to say I’m quite looking forward to a week in Spain. The weather here in Wark has improved but it’s still only 60F in May for heaven’s sake! As long as you only go out at lunchtime it’s fine but the evenings are COLD. I’m looking forward to sitting outside in the dark with a glass of wine staring at the heavens. Hopefully this afternoon Maureen’s helicopter flight is still on – though the clouds might put the kybosh on that… then in the early hours we’re off. If it goes ahead I’ll put a video in here.

For the first time I’m turning everything off, having just about mastered getting GMAIL to work with MS Outlook properly and as a trial before we go off in the summer for several weeks. Currently downloading the Windows 7 beta to try out on the little EEE laptop (I know – BRAVE).  Updates on our travels at the Spanish blog

Massive Wind Farm

It was quite elated this morning as they announced that Britain’s biggest wind-farm with 140 windmills was to be expanded by 30 more… well that was until I discovered a video sitting next to it that said that America’s biggest wind-farm had… wait for it, up to FIFTEEN HUNDRED windmills.  It’s not as if Scotland is short of hills.

MPs Expenses – the rot sets in

HappinessI’m sorry but I just don’t buy this apology thing… now we have Gordon Brown saying that a “gentleman’s club” is just not good enough. AND HOW LONG HAS HE KNOWN ABOUT THIS?

Gordon Brown and his predecessor have been part of that old boy’s club since they came into power and knew DAMNED WELL what was going on – does anyone REALLY buy this apologetic stance?

They’re all a BUNCH OF COWBOYS and we’ve found them out. THEN we have David Cameron the opportunist – “we need an election” – well – what ELSE would you expect him to say – something ORIGINAL perhaps? What he means is “we need the Conservatives in” – as if THEY AREN’T ON THE TAKE as well!! Is this kind of blatant opportunism REALLY what we want in the only credible alternative to the corrupt labour party? When I say credible – I don’t REALLY mean credible of course as they’re JUST AS BAD.

If you caught someone stealing from your shop and they promised to pay back after they were caught, would that REALLY MAKE IT OK? Or would you still demand punishment. I WOULD!!!

And this old chestnut about them BREAKING THE RULES… for heaven’s sake THEY MADE THE RULES… rules which are that CORRUPT they are now being changed IN THE EXTREME in the hope we don’t notice that this self-serving bunch we call politicians actually used our money to set up an expenses system so corrupt that there is no commercial organisation in the world that would tolerate anything LIKE IT! Our politicians unless they REALLY ARE living in a total dream-world MUST surely have some idea what expenses are like in OTHER organisations… they surely had to be WELL AWARE that they’d set themselves up a nice LITTLE EARNER!

Of course, it’s all an awfully good wheeze to keep our minds off the fact that between them and the banks they’ve brought this country to the brink of disaster!

No More Vodafone Roaming Charges?

The Times and other newspapers, eager to report Vodafone’s current elimination of overseas roaming charges for mobile phone calls and text messages – seems to have missed the plot a little here. Yes, you can now phone for normal UK charges overseas (conditions apply), hurray… though I could not get my head around whether that came in under “inclusive minutes” or not – and IF NOT then that is still REALLY a roaming charge… but what the papers DIDN’T report is that the excessive DATA charges for overseas use are NOT being reduced.

Vodafone along with others have been merrily pushing 3G dongles for data transfer, with “unlimited access” which really means a 3gigabytes or thereabouts monthly limit – which for many uses is adequate – most modern phones will allow data use or at least allow your laptop to use the data.  It has been the case now for some time that overseas use of Vodafone data incurs a £9.99 additional daily charge for a mere 50 Meg of overseas use + £9.99 for each additional 50 Meg thereafter (indeed until recently I was paying this for a daily overseas cap of 3Gig – but that has now disappeared). This is NOT being reduced – indeed in some cases depending on the country such charges can be as high as £4.99 for each megabyte!!! 

Worse, Orange when last asked had NO intention of even matching the ridiculously high Vodafone charges. A single video or fancy Powerpoint transfer could easily eat up more than 50 meg.

A short number of years ago it was a novelty to see a laptop on a train, today they are commonplace and mobile phones with data access are MUCH more common. Millions of us make daily use of Facebook, Twitter, BBC news and a million other data services – BEWARE that these charges are NOT going away and excessive overseas use of data will empty your wallet! Until we get some real competition in this area, they can charge what they like.

Star Trek

Just a quick note for those of you who like me have seen at one time or another most Star Trek movies and TV shows (though I never really got into the soap opera “Deep Space 9”)…. the new Star Trek movie is IMHO the best movie of the year BY FAR.

HEROES fans will of course be aware of the superb actor Zachary Quinto who play Silar (Gabriel Gray) the baddy so well he almost runs the show… well, no exception in Star Trek –his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana who is to say the LEAST, STUNNING in the movie) really does fit in well – and the whole thing is superb.

Kirk (Christ  Pine) was great… Simon Pegg was hilarious as Scotty and Anton Yelchin played a better Chekov than the original by some way.

To single out people is really unfair – ALL of them did really well in the parts and I would not be surprised if we see a TV series of a bunch of extra movies come out of this. Maureen and I smiled and laughed a lot and everyone came out feeling quite refreshed by the look on their faces.

As you might expect, Wikipedia has something to say on the subject for anyone who wants to go more deeply but the best thing you can do is get out there and go see the movie!

10 out of 10 – ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS.

Peter Scargill.

Maybe I’m just getting old

Maybe I’m just getting old but I wonder if I’m right to have utterly and totally lost any faith in the British government whatsoever. As if it’s not bad enough that one of their “solutions” to the massive dept that they and what used to be called the “respectable” banking establishment have gotten us into (interestingly when renewing your PASSPORT, people in BANKING are still considered “respectable”), is to suggest that we now work until we’re 70… as if it is not bad enough that having collected massive amounts of data they keep losing it through incompetence almost daily… we now have confirmation (not that we needed it) that fiddling expenses is absolutely the done thing – £25k for home security?  Come off it. Having just read the Saturday Telegraph on the subject – I’m beginning to think we should just take all of our politicians, put them all up against a wall and have them SHOT.

The idea of working until you’re 70 is fine from a government perspective, several years LESS pensions to pay, several years more TAXES to pay… but for one thing – despite medical advances (if you call our persistent inability to handle arthritis and the flu etc  “advancement”)  there remain a lot of issues with employing people at that age – not everyone can settle down to a quiet life at the checkouts… there are not that many jobs around –  in technology-related companies  for example does anyone really think that a software company is going to take on someone at 60 or 65 for any meaningful job? People’s attitudes, desires and needs are very very different in that age-group compared  to for example someone in their 20s or 30s. That might work ok if you’re in charge or in a people-handling position – but have you noticed that most of the leading hi-tech companies employ VERY young people?  Today’s young think nothing of living in and divulging their life history into social networks that most 60+ year-olds have never heard of – and conversation is more likely to be about the latest computer game than the latest statins – I’m just not seeing this working AT ALL.

Any hope we had of pretending that this goverment are actually responsible and capable of looking after the best interests of the nation has long-since gone and we’re left with a bunch of incompetents on the take and we appear for now to be able to do very little about it but sit back and watch Britain PLC go down the toilet.  I’m sure the government was hoping that swine flu would keep us so occupied and even that’s not worked for them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to return to youth when everything seemed much more organised and simple…. it probably wasn’t – it just seemed that way – and bankers really WERE called “merchant bankers”.

The Weight of a pen?

Here’s a thing. I read somewhere that when asked the question “While standing on the moon and you were holding a pen – if you let go of the pen – what would happen to it?”

Apparently 50% of people tested got it wrong!

Were you thinking it would float? Did you then think to yourself that there is no gravity on the moon? That’s what the ones that got it wrong said! When it was pointed out that men jumping on the moon don’t float, the response was generally “they’re wearing heavy boots”.

Someone close to me said EXACTLY the same thing – now, in the scheme of things this isn’t earth-shattering but it demonstrates how BADLY western science schooling has failed us.

If you’re wondering what I’m on about… the moon’s gravity is simply less than ours – so everything is much lighter. It is lower because the moon as less mass than the Earth. The pen would drop to the ground. If it didn’t… the dust wouldn’t stay down either!!

On the one hand we’re building the James Webb telescope (see this stunning video) and on the other…