Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Lists and Rankings - Does nothing happen on December 31?

The world seems to have gone mad this year with list and rankings of just about everything - some of the yearly "review and recap" sites I've been listing on the BlackStump News page for the last 6 or 7 years. But now, too many! So I'm going to list them here instead.

Here goes...

ResourceShelf Archive for Year End Wrap-Ups

TIME Person of the Year

Top Movies (U.S.) of 2006 & Year End Motion Picture Box Office Reports (International)

Another List of Lists

Year in Review 2006 Quizzes

The Panda Software virus yearbook 2006

Top American TV Moments of 2006

50 best Defense Tech posts of 2006

BoingBoing's most-trafficked posts of 2006 (and all time)

Worst Vlogs of 2006

Search Bloggers On Their Most Popular Posts & Stats For 2006

The 10 Best Books of 2006

Billboard 2006 Year in Music

Top Search Terms Of The Year (Google, AOL, Yahoo, Lycos, MSN) Top Searches of 2006

I'm sure there'll be many more (after all, it's only December 30 - does nothing ever happen on December 31???)

To finish this thread here's another list of lists from Bob Drudge at Refdesk

Happy 2007!


PS ...and for those interested in the Bushfires...some still burn, although many were doused when we had a wonderfully cold and wet Christmas. But the season is still young and we have another 3-4 months of severe fire alert weather.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Zoho Wiki, Bushfires and Warnie

I wrote about Zoho some time back in June and again in October.

Worth mentioning them again, not only because they produce excellent - and mostly free - goodies, but they just launched their latest offering, a Wiki. Free, of course!

An update on the Bushfires - they continue unabated - over two weeks now and some 750,000 hectares burnt out. Look in the previous couple of posts for the sites to look at for up-to-date info. And another hot one today, 35C.

Still no rain, and moving to Level 3 water restrictions in Melbourne on January 1 (which basically means water can be used outside for only 8 hours per week and no lawns watered etc). Some sports are shutting down mid-season as grounds are too hard and dry and cricket pitches can't be watered.

Speaking on cricket, it must be noted that Australia just won The Ashes back from England - "the" most important cricket trophy worldwide - and the bad news today that Aussie Legends Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath are retiring. Bummer!

Keep 'em spinning Warnie!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bushfires still raging in Victoria

Well, here we are a week later, the fires are still burning and not much rain in sight.

The NASA Earth Observatory has some photos from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Keep on hoping!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bushfires continued

The mercury hit 38C yesterday and peaked at a bit above 42C in Melbourne today - the fires are still burning.

Here's another site from the Department of Sustainability and Environment showing the Statewide Fire Situation map.

And here is Today's Fire Update.

Here is an historic Bushfires Photo Gallery and a few photos of the current fires.

The weather is cooler tomorrow, 20C, but will it rain ??

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bush Fires in Victoria

* Photo courtesy Skynews

Some of you will know that I live in Nillumbik Shire which is a semi-rural area in the city of Melbourne, state of Victoria in Australia.

Melbourne is generally well known for its skittish weather as it is situated at the southern end of mainland Australia (hence, winds from the desert/outback north are damn hot and winds from the icy Antarctic south are damn cold) and wind changes bring huge variations in weather conditions. One of most common jokes is that if you don't like the weather, then just wait half an hour!

Anyway, we in Melbourne (and Victoria, and lots of Australia) are in the grips of probably one of the worst droughts in history. Bad enough are the growing water restrictions due to the falling water storage levels, but right now it's the bush fires which are the major concern. Huge fires are already burning and today its predicted to hit 37C in Melbourne and higher in country areas.

The Country Fire Authority site has a lot of information and a summary page of current fires. You can also keep up to date via Google News.

Unfortunately (in this context), summer has just commenced and what we are currently experiencing may occasionally have happened in the past towards the end of summer every couple of years - what lies ahead over the next 3-4 months has the potential to be quite horrific. Ugly.

Good luck everyone, be prepared!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Photosynth Technology Preview

This one might worth a peek - something new from the Microsoft Labs - Photosynth. It's a technology preview which they reckon is a few steps short of a beta - so...up to you if you think it's worth the effort!

As they say it's a...
"...taste of the newest - and, we hope, most exciting - way to view photos on a computer. Our software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next.
In our collections, you can access gigabytes of photos in seconds, view a scene from nearly any angle, find similar photos with a single click, and zoom in to make the smallest detail as big as your monitor."

Have Fun!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Trawling around for New Sites

Been trawling around the RSS feeds with Google Reader - a lot of new sites I find go directly into the Black Stump directory but there are too many reasonable sites out there for me to add. So here's a selection of sites that didn't quite get there but are certainly worthy of a peek...

The BigBands Database
Internet Resources in Music
Photos: The best of Google Earth
Collarity Search
Space Audio
Cheat Sheet Round-Up: Ajax, CSS, LaTeX, Ruby
Google Earth and Geography Awareness Week 2006
Browser Wars: Internet Explorer 7
Dorkbot ...people doing strange things with electricity
Monster of the Milky Way
and finally for now...
101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

Have Fun!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Inventions YouTube and PodMailer

Lots of news lately about YouTube and its purchase by Google. Seems like a lot of people are worried by this. As a matter of coincidence (?), YouTube has been named by Time as the best invention of 2006.

Another interesting site you may like to check out, but not about inventions per-se, is the cutely named Cocktail Party Physics which is well worth a wander thru.

To round off this little ramble is a neat little app, PodMailer, which allows you to share files by e-mail - regardless of their size - without clogging your inbox.

In case you didn't know, the Black Stump also has a list of invention related sites for your perusal.

Happy Inventing!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flying and Invisibility

Having flown in and out of Hong Kong many times in the past, I just loved this little entry in the Humour Cafe. I recall the first time I flew into Kaitak and saw people seemingly only a few metres away working at desks in buildings! Some fantastic photos there and the new airport and landing is nothing by comparison. Just the view of Hong Kong Island as you landed was super spectacular.

Couple of other articles recently about invisibility. This one appeared in the New York Times and there is another article from Discover about "How to Build an Invisibility Cloak" - hmmm, what's next? The human Teleport ? Been waiting for that ever since I latched onto the BBC series Blake's 7 many moons ago. Gotta save a load of jetlag!

Stay well!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Vegemite for You!

The US has banned good old Vegemite ??? I don't like the stuff personally but it's a bit of an Aussie institution - Ok, you lot can keep your McDonalds and KFC within your own borders!

Vegemite is banned because it contains folate which is Ok to put on your cereal but, no no no, not on your toast, brother.

They have to be kidding...everyone knows this stuff is great for fixing holes in asphalt!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Software - Eudora Zoho Google Virtual PC

Seems like a whole raft of neat software announcements have been made lately - the first was the announcement of Google Docs & Spreadsheets which is a combo job of the Google Spreadsheet and (the ex) Writely. I still find the Google Spreadsheet a bit rudimentary but it has got better over time - if only they'd support a nice red colour for negative values I could almost use it.

Next was Zoho which I mentioned back in June. Looks like Zoho Single Sign On is On - take a look-see, you won't be disappointed with the range of options and things to fiddle with!

Next I read about the news from Qualcomm about Eudora - I'm a huge Eudora fan, have used it since day dot and now it appears it's going Open Source and Free of Charge sometime in 2007. Here's the FAQ.

Lastly, one of software technologies I'm interested in from a big computing point of view, but haven't really embraced personally as yet, is Virtualisation. Microsoft have just announced the Virtual PC 2007 Beta Program which I might take a peek at sometime - it also comes with Vista support now as both host and guest.

Happy Downloading!

Monday, October 02, 2006

HTML Validation and Flash EMBED tag

EMBED, Google video and html validation......a trail littered with one-way streets and dead-ends...

I decided to give Google Video a go on my site. All pretty easy - just view a video in Google Video and click on the "embed html" button and there's your code. Just insert that into your webpage and you're all done....or so I thought!

First problem - I ran the W3C HTML validator and, of course, it bombed out on the EMBED statement. Ok, off to Google and run a search on embed and html validation - up pops a couple of likely looking sites - the first by J.J.SOLARI details a way to include the EMBED into the HTML 4.01 Transitional DTD - must have been having a bad hair day, but I couldn't get the damn thing to work for me - gave up, rationalised my decision by saying I didn't want to butcher the standard anyway.

Ok, back to Google again....

This time I find a forum which basically says "don't use EMBED, use OBJECT instead and your page will validate nicely". Yup, I did, and yup, it did. Firefox downloads the goddam video whether the user wants to run it or not - and I couldn't find any way to stop that happening. So, I don't want to annoy the 11% of my visitors who use Firefox by artificially loading (unwanted) videos and bumping up their transfer back to the drawing board yet again.

I gave up trying to Validate via W3C - I use CSE HTML Validator across my site before running the W3C validator anyway, so any page with video on it will be validated with that. A small concession to "purity" but I can sleep at night knowing my pages are valid but I'm also not ticking people off! I also had to include the following metatag to keep the validator happy with the generated EMBED code:

meta content="text/css" equiv="Content-Style-Type"

Oh well, what's a few more lost hours lost spent gnashing and cursing at the keyboard!

Happy EMBEDding!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free Spyware and Antivirus Programs

Featuring two sites today, and features both free anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Not much else to say - go for it.

The GRC site features many tools and utilities that are really useful as well. In particular, check out Shields Up! and the Freeware page which has loads of goodies.

That lot should keep you busy for another week!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 20 - Lying Camera

Someone once told the camera never lied - and like most people, I don't like most photos that are taken of me....and make up your own mind what that means.

Two sites that may be of interest - check the HP Slimming Photo camera ! Hey, way to diet folks!

...and here's a whole bunch more lying photos!

Gotta fly and get me a HP R967...cya

Friday, September 15, 2006

September 15 - Mixture

Thrill-riders? ... the Segway to my latest blog entries is Segway Stumbles in Europe and Glitch Leads to Segway Recall. Ooh-ah, expensive way to possibly hurt yourself!

Be careful ! - Phishing exploit sort of via Google.

Would you believe it ? Finally Get Smart is almost here!

..and Pirate Pete sez talk like him on September 19! Yohoho...

Avast me hearties!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

September 6 - Word

Be on the lookout for nasty Word documents in the next few days. Here is an FAQ on this issue.

More info in these sites:
Trojan.Mdropper.Q / Email Attachment Practices
Security Focus

Happy Blocking!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

September 3 - Phoneboxes and Skating

Phones these days can just about do everything except slice bread - but for a blast from the past check out the Payphone Project. Still some good old payphones around - I like the one from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand -looks like Dr Who could step right out!

Lots of more interesting sights in the gallery.

For something different check out the inline skating Speed World Championships being held in Anyang, Korea this week. Exciting stuff and little bit of danger too - Aussie Andy Finster crashes in his first race breaking both wrists, getting 8 stitches and a dislocated finger to boot ! All that training, just to do that.

Happy skating!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29 - Still Ugly

Wow, we must be sooo Ugly! - have fought our way right back up the chart to Number 1 position after dropping out of the Top 20 momentarily. Like I said before, happy being ugly!

One of the sites I like to use these days is Bloglines. I mentioned a while ago that I'm a big advocate and user of Web Watcher but Bloglines is a great complement to this for watching your favourite RSS feeds - in fact, I find Bloglines easier to use when "watching" sites like ResourceShelf which gets updated a lot and sometimes hard to track all the changes.

ResourceShelf is a terrific site, by the way, to find out about lots of new things and happenings on the Net. A couple of other good sites for finding new things are the Librarians' Internet Index and the Scout Report.

Happy Surfing!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22 Site Advisor

Hi Folks,

Two sites worth taking a peek at today - the first is the McAfee Site Advisor which some of you might find useful. SiteAdvisor is a downloadable tool that works with the browser to help you stay a bit safer whilst browsing. (and I'd appreciate if anyone felt the inclination to rate the Black Stump site, but that's entirely up to you, of course).

The second site is a bit of a fun site (at least I'm taking it that way!) - the Hot or Not Designs site is rating all sorts of sites (sights?) from hot to ugly. I'm pleased to say the Black Stump site has featured quite high on the list (well, Ok, in the ugly section!) - but I can tell you I'm Ok with that as the site is designed for information help and quality resources not to look like every other blogsite out there. And yes, I know it's a bit of an anachronism from the 90's, but there you go!

Happy being Ugly!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 14 Sites

Oh well, the feedback was a bit light on !!

Here's a random selection of a few more new sites I fell over this week.....

Wildcam Grizzlies's largest gathering of brown bears in Alaska

An Inconvenient Truth ...Climate

The Infamous AOL Data and NYT Locates One AOL Searcher

The BBC News Styleguide ...pip pip

Caddy Map round of golf??

How to Present to Investors

Yodel Anecdotal ...a look inside Yahoo!

The List of Proverbs

Star of Bethlehem

Games, Simulations and Quizzes

Happy Linking!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

August 7 Wimps?

Hmmm, well the broken arm needed to be "reset" - don't like to think too much about the word "reset" or "re-align" for that matter in this context - ouch...and they say we might be A Nation of Wimps ? Well, maybe, but if you ask my kids, I don't think they'd agree just at the moment. Three hospital visits in 10 days is way, way too often for me!

Onto matters more useful and interesting....a couple of neat sites for finding out stuff - the first being DNS Stuff - quite a tidy lot of tools. Take a look, you'll be glad you did.

Second site is Karen's Powertools. I use a number of these little freebie programs of which the Replicator is the best - it is a very easy way to backup my *really* important files from one hard drive to another each day. Also take a look at the Whois and URL Discombobulator as well which I also use regularly (but there are a lot more, and sure to be something of interest for you).

Now, a request - what do you you want to see here ? Any feedback ?

Take it easy!

August 2 Mix

Well, the hospital saga continued this week with another child in hospital having his appendix removed - been a week and a half!

Might have to get around the fire and have a game of Monopoly - I see times have moved in Monopoly and new versions can be played with a credit card!!

If any of you have websites, you should probably read Matt Cutts blog. Obviously very Google oriented, but well worth the effort. He's addressed a whole bunch of new questions on video this time around. Interesting!

And, to finish with today, here's information and a newsletter on interactive television when you get bored of playing Monopoly (or max out your credit card!)

Happy playing!

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 29 Hospital

Ok, well I've moved on from the big birthday celebrations into enjoying a week off from my main place of toil (not the Black Stump). Enjoying, momentarily...

First day, I come down with a goddam virus - Ok, it's just a sore throat, headache, feeling lazy, all the usual crap - I'll live, I guess. Two days later....rude interruption - school calls "Your son has dislocated or broken his wrist"...bah, humbug, off the the Casualty department of the nearest hospital for the rest of the day. Eleven hours, waiting, x-rays, waiting, discussions, waiting, surgery, recovery, waiting....eventually go home around 3am, leaving my son in hospital at least overnight, possibly longer. Turns out he made (or someone helped him make) a big mess of his Radius bone and now has plaster from fingers to shoulder.

Of course, the football season at school and with his local club have just completed and finals are just about to start - no, no, no, not for him - 6 weeks minimum, no sport. Happiness, all round...

The Black Stump has Medical and First Aid pages with loads of information if you care to look this, or other medical ailments, up.

Can someone remind me this time next year that birthdays are cancelled from now on?

Happy Medicals!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 24 Birthday

Sorry about the lack of posts lately but I've been a little distracted with a milestone birthday and, well, celebrating it!

Lots of things happened on my birthday through history and I share the date with Alexander Dumas and Amelia Earhart to name just two. One day they might be as famous as me...

If you want to know what happened on your birthday, or other dates in history, there are a few sites to check out like the History Channel or Famous Birthdays or Any Day in History or maybe Those Were the Days

Don't forget to check the Daily Fun page on The Black Stump for various "of the day/week" type sites!

Happy Surfing!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 18 Weird

A few sites I run across are rather odd. I post quite a few of them on the Bizarro page but I find more than I can post on that page! Either there are just a lot of odd posters out there or I just happen to gravitate to and across them...

For example...

Ink Blot Tests with Faces in them

Extreme Pumpkins

How long will I live?

Destination Day

Nostradamus Fulfilled

The Excuse-O-Mat

Error Wear

Restroom Ratings

Taos Hum

Moggy Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics

Happy Weirdness!

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14 Tools Part 3

People often ask me where I find the sites I list on The Black Stump and the answer is "all over the place". Mainly online, but I also scan newspapers for anything interesting as well just to get something a bit different.

Online site scanning is made fairly easy these days with a Software tool called WebSite-Watcher - basically you list the sites you want to monitor and the frequency and it really does the rest. It can watch all or only parts of sites, it highlights all the changes and it's very flexible and highly configurable - it's a great time saver for me.

With a site like The Black Stump where all the sites are personally selected (no auto submissions here!), the link quality is very important. Not just the quality and appropriateness of the content, but the link itself must be valid. Now, with a site of just over 20,000 links it's a rather difficult (in fact, impossible) task to keep everything in order at any point in time so I depend on two link checking tools - LinkBot and Xenu. I don't think LinkBot exists any more but the last version still works OK, but these days I prefer to use Xenu anyway. Xenu works pretty quickly and has some nice little features enabling you to quickly check "down" sites in the Google cache and in the Wayback Machine.

To get back to the opening question about where I find the sites, that's the subject for another day - most of the sites I scan are listed on the Black Stump, most probably in the Cool Sights page. There are probably 20-25 of the sites there which I monitor fairly closely.

Happy Linking!

Monday, July 10, 2006

July 10 Encarta

Quick post today...

A two-hour free pass to the content of Encarta is available. Just follow the instructions contained in the link....

An extract follows...

How to get your free pass
Your Microsoft Encarta free pass is available from any Encartalink on MSN Search.

For example:
Above the search box, click Encarta, or click the arrow next to the Searchbutton, and then click Encarta.
Click any Encartalink on your results page within an hour of running your search.
Click an Encartadirect answer link. Direct answers are identified by this symbol .
When your two-hour free pass expires, you can return to MSN Search, run another search or click an Encartalink. Your two-hour free pass is instantly renewable whenever you click an Encartalink from MSN Search.

Encarta Free Pass Details

Happy Researching!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

July 9 Picasa

Finally found some time to check out Picasa and I gotta say it's impressive and its also free. Doesn't get any better than that!

Picasa is photo management software allowing you to organise, edit, and share your photos and it's amazingly simple to use. It scans your PC for grahics files and collates and sorts them into visual albums organised by date and/or the folder name.

You can have it scan your entire system and find loads of things you forgot you had, or you can limit the scanning to directories of your choice. For me, I just used it to scan the "My Pictures" folder. It manages to automatically keep track of changes in the "watched" folders and reflects those updates within the Picasa view. Magic!

I'm also experimenting with Picasa Web Albums which is a neat way of publishing your photos on the Web. I was impressed by the simplicity and ease of use of the software.

Picasa also has a load of powerful editing features and they all seemed pretty intuitive to me.

If you want to store or edit digital photos and/or publish and share them on the Web (easily!), give Picasa a try.

Free, Easy and Useful..what else would you want ?

Happy Editing!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4 Bus

Was sitting in YAM (yet another meeting) in the office listening to those who like to be heard and it struck me how often over the years I've heard the expression "If X got hit by a bus tomorrow, what....".

Is it just an IT thing ? It seems to be a euphemism in the IT industry for "you better do what I'm saying (now!), 'cos if something one in a trillion happens tomorrow, you'll be in trouble...." (except, of course, if was YOU that got hit by the bus, then you wouldn't really give a rats, would you ??).
Although, I think I can remember in the olden days (when I was a kid...), mothers always used to say "make sure you have clean undies without any holes, in case you get hit by a bus" - what the ?? Hey, Mum, just gimme the clean undies and we'll be sweet!

But, why a bus ? What if you got hit by a train ? or a tram ? Would that be Ok ? Just avoid those evil buses , I guess!

Anyway, all this reminds me of one my favourite sites on the Internet and that's the Urban Legends - well worth a wander through but, be careful, you might get stuck in there for days!

I'm off to do my laundry, just in case....

Monday, June 26, 2006

June 26 Dumb

Having returned from the land of Chocolate, I finally found time to reflect on something DUMB I did just before I left....backed one of my cars into the other in my own driveway...naturally the bigger car (with the towbar) was quite Ok...the smaller was not, having had a nice, neat towbar-shaped hole punched through its front...and, the creme de la creme of this situation? Neither car is insured against the other because I own them both !! Bah...may as well have thrown $1200 in the street!

Well, I guess I have a few mates out there like these Dumb Criminals and Dumb Crooks. The Law is an ass and does not escape dumb scrutiny - just check out some of the evidence at Dumb Laws out there.

......and finally, here's DumbFind..which actually doesn't appear dumb at all to me, but maybe I'm missing something ??? (maybe I'm just dumb enough not to get it?)

All criticism accepted!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 20 Football

Well, I find myself in downtown Lausanne Switzerland for the second time in a month - working again, but thankfully the weather is much better this time around (high 20's) and, of course, it's World Cup Football (still soccer to me) fever time.

Lots of coverage on the Net at the FIFA site and Yahoo also cover the situation in a similar vein. Historical information is available at the BBC.

Naturally, being an Australian, I'm keen to see how the Socceroos are performing - the Football Australia and the Age sites cover the Aussie scene well.

Australians are very keen sports people and we even excel at Robot Dogs Soccer !!!

Well, good luck to the Socceroos, and here's hoping for a good result against Croatia, but for me, I'm also looking forward to the Aussie summer where we can get back those Ashes from the Poms!

Go Aussie!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 16 Rainyday

A rainy day, maybe a day for (big) downloads to while away the time and use up all your excess bandwidth ?

Microsoft has released a beta version of Windows Vista Ultimate which clocks the scales at a mere 3.5 Gb !! This release is available in three languages (English, German, and Japanese) and in 32-bit and 64-bit editions. According to good old MS when you register for the Customer Preview Program you will receive the Beta 2 release plus Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1) — the next major pre-release of Windows Vista — when it is available later this year. So ....up to you - Windows Vista Beta

Maybe you'd like to fiddle with photos instead and catch up on the millions of digital images you've poked away on that hard drive ? Google has released Picasa Web Albums and you can sign up and wait for an invite - you'll need a Gmail account to do this.

If that's all too hard, just play a game of Sudoku instead !

By the way, Microsoft announced a whole bunch of security updates yesterday.

Till next time...

Monday, June 12, 2006

June 12 Tools Part 2

Continuing the Tools thread - today the Text Editor and FTP.

As far as developing my sites, I've always used Multi Edit. Originally, they used to have a fairly function rich free/demo version which did most things I wanted in a text editor. They still have the freebie version, which is now called MeLite which is probably only free for thirty days, though.

Anyway, I also fiddled marginally with FrontPage and people have recommended DreamWeaver to me, but I've always stuck with coding things myself and MultiEdit. I guess I prefer to control what I do and I'm not a big WYSIWYG fan. MultiEdit is still a terrific text editor, probably a bit costly now, but I'm in system doing the upgrade thing from time to time so the expense isn't too bad.

As far as FTP is concerned, I've used CuteFTP forever, probably since when it first hit the market (a long time ago). It's just so simple to use and it does everything I need, so I've never seen any reason to change. Like most things, it's probably added a load of new "features" over time so it's probably more bloated than it used to be (and more than it needs to be for me), but I still only use the most basic functions (like drag and drop a file to send it to a server).

I recently heard about a freeware program called WinSCP which is supposedly Ok, but I've not yet had the inclination to try it. Also used WS-FTP way back but didn't like it at the time (can't remember why) although a lot of people use it, so I presume it must be Ok.

Anyway, thats it for now.

Take it easy!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 7 RIP

Office RIP ?

Coming soon...Google Spreadsheet

Already there...Zoho

Already there...Writely

Where's Powerpoint ?

Happy Days!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 5 Overflow

Nine new links to check out...the Black Stump overflow....

1. The Web Riddle
2. Anxiety Disorders
3. History of Money
4. Stolen Jewelry Website
5. About Belly Dancing
6. Jesper's Blog
7. Brain Maps
8. Leonardo's Last Supper
9. Magic Gallery ...vintage magic posters

Happy Linking

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June 2 Maps

I know Google Maps have been around a while and, of course, there are many other Map and Atlas sites around.

It seems that maps (and satellite images) of most of Australia are now available on Google which you can check out at the Google Maps site. Just to help you a bit, I created a couple of pages for Melbourne and Sydney. Its easy enough to scroll around, but I'll try and add a few new direct links to major cities soon.

Happy travelling!

Monday, May 29, 2006

May 29 Numbers

I mentioned a few days ago about the addiction of Sudoku - about the only antidote known is Kakuro - problem is cure is worse than disease!

As you might expect there are any number of sites where you can try your hand at these:

Do Kakuro,,
Kakuro Puzzle,

That should do for now!

Mind Bending!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 25 Tools Part 1

Like many people in the IT industry, I have become the local Tech Support guy for many of my relatives and friends who have a computer problem - not that it bothers me much, and it's a great way to learn new things, it's just the time factor involved. As Murphy dictates, the problems flood in when you have the least time to deal with them!

People often ask me what software I use when I use and surf the Net and I'm happy to run through some of that.

Email - For my personal use, I'm a long time Eudora fan - I'm not sure when it first appeared but I've been surfing around the net since 1994 and I don't recall ever using any other client. It's dead simple to use and the free version is good enough to do most things you'd ever want to do. In my work space, I have to use MS-Outlook which I'm well used to by now as well.

Dealing with spam is probably the biggest problem I have in the use of email. For a while I used MailWasher to filter and deal with the problem but it really didn't solve or reduce the problem for me - it's probably a good product, I may not have invested the effort to use it properly (and I think it become non freeware after a while which made it expensive to use across multiple computers).

In the end, I decided to channel everything to a Yahoo! mailbox and let Yahoo do the filtering for me. I paid up the $20 for the enhanced service which lets me send mail from different addresses and gives me POP access back to Eudora so I can offload and keep my real mail where I want it.

One of other real bonuses with this approach is access to my email from anywhere - as I travel a lot I can use Internet kiosks in airports and other places and read and retain the mail I want for later download to Eudora and heave-ho the rest as I go. Think I'm getting somewhere between 200-300 non-work emails a day now (add another 50 or so for work related email), so the thought of not accessing it for a week is rather daunting!

I'll also admit to having a GMail account which I haven't really got into yet - it just auto-forwards to Yahoo - but, like Yahoo, it will be accessible from anywhere in the world.

Browser - I generally use Internet Explorer both at home and at work mainly because it's what most other people use and it's just easier developing web sites in the most common browser.

It hasn't always been that way - I was most certainly a Netscape Navigator bigot in the early days starting (I think) with version 0.9 beta. IE simply didn't exist or was pretty woeful in those days for quite a long time - I think I made the switch around version 5 of IE. These days, FireFox looks Ok and I use it a little bit as well as IE, but mainly just to check web page layouts. Occasionally IE won't load a page properly, so FireFox can be handy then as well.

More coming a later time - if anyone has questions, please comment!

By the way, the Software and Browser pages are good place to take a look.

Happy Surfing!

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 22 Phunnies

As an IT guy, one of my favourite cartoon strips is Dilbert and I guess like a lot of people I seem to gravitate to Google for searching on the Net. Seems like theres been a bit of convergence lately with Scott Adams featuring Google in recent Dilbert strips.

Unbeknownst to me (head stuck in sand?), there seems to be a bit of history there. The Xooglers blog annotates some of that history with more to come soon, it appears. I also managed to find the Dilbert and the Google Doodle which I'd never seen before. If you want more of Scott Adams and Dilbert, you could always check out the Dilbert blog.

Must say though, given the name of this site I probably should promote my namesake (not associated) which is a good old Aussie, non-IT cartoon.

You can find more humour and funny things on the Black Stump Giggle page.

Have Fun!

Friday, May 19, 2006

May 18 Brainbusters

One of things I managed to do on one of my recent flights was to finally engage in Sudoku. I like numbers and I like puzzles but somehow I'd managed to ignore (well, from a playing point of view) the Sudoku craze.

Boredom flying between London and Hong Kong encouraged me to buy two books in Hong Kong airport for the the coming 9 hour flight down to Melbourne. I was sick of the movie channels and I already read the (huge!) Steve Waugh book my daughter gave me for Christmas. Anyway, no problem with one star and two star games - three star had me thinking but still scrambled through. Those four star games are tough, especially without a darned pencil and eraser, I have to say.

Ok, I'm hooked - I'm now ripping the Sudokus out of the two daily newspapers and I just gotta do them! Help...

If you want to test yourself with some different Sudoku puzzles or find some hints, just try looking on the Black Stump Sudoku page.

Have Fun!

Monday, May 15, 2006

May 16 Cycles

Maybe it's the jet lag, and I'm really not sure about this, but I signed up today to do the 210km Around the Bay bike ride. The Bay is Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay and the cycle ride is punctuated by a ferry ride roughly in the middle. I'm rather hoping I don't punctuate it with a ride in an ambulance, and I just know my butt is going to kill me for days afterwards...why am I doing this ?? At least I have until October to get ready or bail out! Not to say I'm not fit, I am.

If you're looking for more cycle information try the Bike Victoria site and the Exploratorium's Science of Cycling is also very informative. The aptly named Bike Website has a good deal of repair and maintenance guides.

Ride On!

May 14 Watchings

Just having come back from Switzerland, one thing that intrigues me is all the watches and the fascination for time - I'm not a big fan of expensive watches and I must admit to having worn only black faced Swatch watches for a long time (god forbid, I could never buy a Rolex now after all the spam I've received on them over the past few years!!!) However, I found a new watch which I really like - the Swiss Railway Clock watch (pictured) - I find it really neat.

Anyway enough of that, I found a nice site which has what it considers to be the Top 10 Strangest Watches. Think I'll stick with my plan to buy the Railway watch!

There's also a free clock for your website if that interests you.

Time's Up!

Friday, May 12, 2006

May 12 Trends

Still winging my way back home, currently in Hong Kong - its a long haul!

Some new Trends stuff from Google you can have some fun with. Here's a good one comparing Elvis and the Beatles. Go and try some comparisons yourself, interesting stuff!

On a slightly different tack RFID is a technology making inroads into the mainstream. Are you worried ? Check out the RFID Hacking Underground and have a think about it!

Surf Well!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

May 9 Fuzzies

Ya, well I'm here in Lausanne - the weather is worse than it was in Melbourne - cloudy, drizzly, wet and about 10 degrees. Colder than Melbourne but probably not as windy - I think it gets better from here and will be sensational the day I leave. As they say, c'est la vie!

Brings me to the subject of jet lag which I find is never as bad travelling west but is a bit of a killer going the other way. As an Australian, jetlag is generally always a bit of a curse as most international travel is over major distances, although I never have any problems going to Asia as it's mainly north, I suppose. The Jet Lag Calculator is a useful site as are the few tips from Gorp.

For me, I find it helpful to adjust to the destination timezone the minute you step on the plane, drink more water than usual (some alcohol is Ok but don't go overboard) and try not to sleep when arriving until about the right time. Nothing worse than crashing at 8pm and waking up bright-eyed at about midnight! This will slay you for days, trust me.

Oh well, I have the easterly trip home to look forward to soon (yech), but at least it will be home, and home is one of best places on Earth. I only have to travel away to know that...

Bon Soir

Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 8 Travels

Well folks, I'm on the road again this week winging my way to Lausanne in Switzerland (I'm in transit in Hong Kong airport lounge at the mo)- it's about as far away as you can get from Melbourne in Australia and it takes something like 31-34 hours elapsed door to door. Talk about trains, planes and automobiles!

Working I am, not playing, but there's so much to see in that area - one of the simplest things to do is take a ferry ride around Lake Geneva (Lac Leman).

In Switzerland you can jump on a train and go anywhere and everywhere but a good place to go is Zermatt and ride the vehicular Matterhorn Railway for something a little bit different!

Of course, it's just a hop to France where you can head to the Chamonix Valley and ride the cable cars via Aiguille du Midi into Italy.

I'll probably get to see four walls of an office and a peek out a few plane windows there and back. I guess the train ride from Geneva to Lausanne will be pleasant enough anyway.

Au revoir!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 6 Groans

Sometimes you just have to laugh - take this one for example - Gates doesn't want to be the world's richest man - the way I figure, that should be an easy objective - just ship some of it my way if you like, Bill - just enough to make you not the world's richest man will do me just fine thanks.

Working mainly in a technology area and having exposure to lots of support issues this one caught my eye - 10 user complaints about IT support - think I'll run the the top 10 IT complaints about users, customers, partners (or whatever you'd like to call them these days) - Number 1 would be "Why, when you pay as little as possible, do you expect everything and everything immediately?" - if you want a Rolls Royce then don't pay for a Motorcycle....


Friday, May 05, 2006

May 5 Rambles

For those of you looking to protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware you could worse than take a look at Microsoft's Windows® Defender (Beta 2) which is also a freebie.

One of my colleagues reminded me of this classic site - Engrish - some real rippers in here - I like this one (note the wires, too!) but there a couple of hundred more worth a peek.

Take care out there!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

May 4 Things

Been a long day...

Look out for these April sightings - Top Ten malware threats and hoaxes reported to Sophos
The ladies have it at blogHer

Stay Cool!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May 3 Blastoff

Well, a little more space oriented stuff for now - is it Rocket Science though ?

Still looking for nirvana ? A couple of search sites for you....
Lexxe and Sphere


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 2 Musings

Time to head into space today ...

Is there a 10th Planet ? Goofy ??

How about those SF writers - Turkey City ? Huh ???

Take it easy!

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1 Stuff

Ok just a couple o' sites today....

Yahoo Tech...looking at technology, buying or using
MS Office Live Basics which offers you a free website amongst other things...

Have Fun!

Finally Blogging....

Hey, I got here at last...been mooching around the Net for about 11 years now running The Black Stump site and a host of other things here and there....time to blog, they say ?

Not quite sure what we'll do here, may post some news, may do some links - I'm open to suggestions ?