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 ?