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Mon 28th May 2007 @ 00:01 2007: Aw, bless. provides some essential information: How to Remove Linux and Install Windows XP

I kid you not. It covers the fact that the Windows install routine can't cope with a hard disk containing type 82h, 83h (swap, Linux), and that moving from GNU/Linux to Windows XP is not an upgrade... if you've got a Windows Upgrade CD, you'll need an original Windows Install CD, too.

Somebody really ought to let them know that most of us have been using GRUB for the past few years, and not LILO. SYSLINUX is handy for older BIOSes, but that doesn't get a look-in, unfortunately.

What is particularly ironic, is that the Windows installer has no concept of boot loaders (not even its own!) and blithely trashes the MBR anyway.

First, remove all the bad Linux in steps 1a-1f (6 steps to remove Linux):

a. Start your computer with the Linux Setup floppy disk, type fdisk at the command prompt, and then press ENTER.

NOTE: For help with using the Fdisk tool, type m at the command prompt, and then press ENTER.
b. Type p at the command prompt, and then press ENTER to display partition information. The first item listed is hard disk 1, partition 1 information, and the second item listed is hard disk 1, partition 2 information.
c. Type d at the command prompt, and then press ENTER. You are then prompted for the partition number that you want to delete. Type 1, and then press ENTER to delete partition number 1. Repeat this step until all the partitions have been deleted.
d. Type w, and then press ENTER to write this information to the partition table. Some error messages may be generated (because information is written to the partition table), but they should not be significant at this point because the next step is to restart the computer and then install the new operating system.
e. Type q at the command prompt, and then press ENTER to quit the Fdisk tool.
f. Insert either a bootable floppy disk or the bootable Windows XP CD-ROM, and then press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to restart your computer.

We seem to be assuming that the GNU/Linux installation hasn't used any of the lessons learned over the past few decades of the computing industry - concepts such as keeping the OS, Applications, and Data separate, so you wouldn't possibly have a separate /home partition, for example. That would just be freaky hairy communist stuff.

Having deleted Linux in six awkward (and not necessarily accurate) steps, the good install Windows stuff is a simple one-step process:
2. Follow the instructions on the screen to install Windows XP.

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Fri 25th May 2007 @ 23:53 2007: This is probably interesting is Clive Anderson, talking to various other lawyers, about the internet and law.

The MP3 will soon be here, unless I fall asleep first.

Still, it's good to keep caches of Beeb broadcasts, especially as they plan to switch to WMV10 ere long.

Dear BBC - I love you, I'm delighted to pay you to produce content. Please don't fsck it up.

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Fri 25th May 2007 @ 00:19 2007: Vista UAC

Vista's security model looks something like su or maybe sudo, to those of us in the UNIX world. To do something special, you have to provide your password first. That will grant this process permissions which you would not usually have, and also log the event.

With Vista's User Account Control (UAC), a "normal" user has to provide a password; an "admin" user has to click to confirm the action.

What happens once that confirmation has been done?

With su/sudo, that process, and its children, have elevated rights. Other processes running under your control, though, cannot access it. With Vista's UAC, it seems that any other (unprivileged) process can do what it likes with the privileged process - press buttons, perform mouse clicks, keyboard input, etc etc..

And how do Microsoft respond to this criticism? ("IL" = "Integrity Level"):

Even the ability of a process at low IL to manipulate objects of a higher IL isn't necessarily prevented. Since processes running at different integrities are sharing the same desktop they share the same "session".... ILs, in and of themselves, do not define security boundaries. What's a security boundary? Itís a wall through which code and data can't pass without the authorization of a security policy..... Because elevations and ILs don't define a security boundary, potential avenues of attack, regardless of ease or scope, are not security bugs. So if you aren't guaranteed that your elevated processes aren't susceptible to compromise by those running at a lower IL, why did Windows Vista go to the trouble of introducing elevations and ILs? To get us to a world where everyone runs as standard user by default and all software is written with that assumption
Yes, folks. That's the best argument that Microsoft can come up with: It gets people used to the concept of run-as-user. The fact that it doesn't protect you at all is not a security bug. This is just to get people used to the idea. We may actually implement the idea at some later date.

Trustworthy Computing, anybody?

Trustworthy Computing is the highest priority for all the work we are doing. We must lead the industry to a whole new level of Trustworthiness in computing.
-- Bill Gates, 2002

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Tue 22nd May 2007 @ 09:26 2007: God Bless Arkansas

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2007 on global warming.

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

Okay, it was a spoof, but it's a good one. It was even quoted on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz as a "genuine" article.

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Sun 20th May 2007 @ 00:56 2007: The Seven Ages of Rock

The series started tonight; at 21.10, not 21.00 as the website currently suggests. Covering Hendrix, The Who, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, it has actually managed to show itself as an interesting, informative programme, and not just "yet another" rockumentary.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.

The BBC are frequently attacked, but they produce very high quality stuff (check YouTube for "walking with dinosaurs", and especially the "behind the scenes" stuff). This is yet another example of what the BBC can do, which no other broadcaster on the planet can manage. I love the Beeb.


UPDATE: 21 May: The BBC have got "trailers" available. I'm not sure what they mean by "Video content is only available to UK users", I guess that's for the Beeb to enforce. Still, this is what I can find:

Episode 2: White Light, White Heat:

Episode 4 is Heavy Metal:

It seems that other episodes don't have trailers available online yet.

The BBC were a catalyst in the radio age, they grasped the television age, they got behind the personal computer revolution with the BBC Micro, and now they really seem to understand (for a large corporation) what the Internet entails. I suppose that the NHS has to trump the BBC, but of all the things that make me proud to be British, Auntie is right up there.


Sat 19th May 2007 @ 00:52 2007: Don't believe the hype claim to "back up everything on your PC, automatically."

Assuming you have a standard ADSL connection, you've got about 256Mbps upload.

Assuming that you can actually achieve that, you'll realistically upload 1Mb (one megabyte) of data in 75 seconds.
1Mb = 75 seconds
10Mb = 12 minutes (75 * 10 = 750 seconds = 12 minutes)
100Mb = 2 hours (12 minutes * 10 = 120 minutes = 2 hours)
1000Mb = 20 hours
1Gb = 20 hours (1Gb = 1000Mb)
10Gb = 200 hours (more than a week, which is 168 hours)

You could do compression, but since you don't know the data type, it's unlikely to be worth it - most file formats are already compressed; Text, HTML, XML, and MS Office formats will compress well, however.

I've got an 80Gb disk and a 200Gb disk (no, I don't do any kind of RAID - silly me), so I've got 280Gb of data (actually, about 150Gb used). To upload 150Gb over my ADSL line would take 3000 hours - 125 days, or 4 months.

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Fri 18th May 2007 @ 02:12 2007: Parking

Sorry, I've posted far too much tonight, but this is classic. I've tidied up a little bit of grammar, but the concept works, however you writed it up.

Dear Person,

I'm sorry I put a dent in your car. I didn't want to but I did it when I tried to park next to you. I am not leaving my information because you chose to use two spaces and I just wanted to park in one. The scratches are because I used a towel that had sand on it to try to clean the dent/paint off. Beaches are fun.

Please look your car over for the dent and scratches and each time you see them remember not to park in two spaces.

-- Sorry !!!

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Fri 18th May 2007 @ 01:14 2007: Relative Sizes

Relative sizes of celestial bodies

This goes all the way from this image, which makes me feel pretty big (hey, we're bigger than all the other near-Sun planets) to the rest of the Solar system, and beyond.

It's just a shame that there doesn't really seem to be any way to get the whole thing to scale, in a way that we can really comprehend.

This shows the relative sizes of the objects, but there's also the relative distances, which are just as (at least as?) mind-boggling.

As DNA once said, "You may think it's a long way down to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts compared to space."

UPDATE: Fixed the link:


Fri 18th May 2007 @ 00:33 2007: Weirldy Beautiful

This thing is spookily captivating - a free-falling skeleton, which dances around your mouse. And all done in DHTML, it says.

DHTML Skeleton

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Wed 16th May 2007 @ 23:26 2007: GNOME Theme

I've just upgraded from Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper) to 7.04 (Feisty). The in-place "apt-get dist-upgrade" stuff just wasn't working. I've yet to come across an upgrade routine which will reliably work. The difficulties of such a system are obvious, but I would hope that in-situ upgrades will work more reliably in the next 5-10 years.

The main problems with reinstalling a desktop, are:

  • losing all your data -no, using separate partitions deals with that one
  • losing all your system settings -no, taking a backup of /etc/ deals with that
  • losing all your personal settings -no, using separate partitions deals with that, too
  • losing all the little tweaks you've done to your GNOME theme over the past year or so.

That's been the awkward bit. I forgot to backup my LAMP settings, so I lost my Apache config (local copies of websites, such as this one), and the MySQL databases to go with them.

The Apache reconfig took about 5 minutes (remember: mods-enabled/include.load, "Options Include", and add "index.shtml" to mods-available/dir.conf)

MySQL took another couple of minutes - just exporting the databases via phpmyadmin, then import (phpmyadmin won't do over 2Mb without tweaking php.ini, which I'm too lazy to do):
# mysql -u root -p
Password: (mumble)
mysql> source database.sql;
... much output ...
mysql> quit

Glider, with the window borders of ClearLooks. is the killer detail. That is the screenshot; nothing special, but it's what I'm used to. Actually, I think that the blue used to be a bit lighter than that. But it's got nicely rounded corners, unobtrusive buttons, and it's clear which is the active window.
UPDATE: I think that what Feisty now calls "ClearlooksAlternative" is closer to what I had before - slight shading:

Oh, and there's always Automatix for the non-Ubuntu stuff, like MP3 decoders, and an easy way to do VMPlayer, Acrobat, Flash, etc. I hate to admit it, but it's the easiest way to get a load of proprietary stuff done.

The point of this post? Really, just so that next time I do it, I can work out what to do with my GNOME theme, which it seems was not picked up (I'm not a big fan of ~/.gnome* - it has never worked too well, and still doesn't cope well with the same user logging in from two locations simultaneously. I forgave that in 2002; it's getting a bit tired now)

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Wed 16th May 2007 @ 13:46 2007: Jon Schwartz on Microsoft and Patents

I do like Sun, when they speak out on things. Scott McNealy was great, but Jonathan Schwartz is getting better at it.

His blog post yesterday is entitled "Free Advice for the Litigious...":

So what's my view on this interview in Fortune - in which one of Sun's business partners claims the open source community is trampling their patent portfolio?

You would be wise to listen to the customers you're threatening to sue - they can leave you, especially if you give them motivation. Remember, they wouldn't be motivated unless your products were somehow missing the mark.

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Mon 14th May 2007 @ 12:06 2007: 235 (err, maybe 42?)

According to Fortune Magazine, Microsoft are claiming that "Linux" infringes on 235 Microsoft patents. Reading further down, the kernel's count is actually 42, with others for applications., for example, violates 45 Microsoft patents, according to Microsoft, so it's more infringing than Linux. And it runs on Windows. So, we could just as accurately write a headline saying:
Microsoft Windows violates 45 Microsoft Patents, claim Microsoft (if you install onto it)

On page 2 of the article, the reporter admits that they didn't interview RMS because he insists that GNU/Linux be referred to as GNU/Linux. The whole article would be entirely different if only the reporter understood the significance of this distinction. Linux is just the kernel, folks!

But back to the main point - we've got the SCO debacle starting up all over again, but this time, it's in the name of Microsoft, not in the name of SCO. As it becomes clearer that SCO are not going to win their case, and are likely to die trying, Microsoft have change tactics. Just funding SCO to do the dirty work didn't work out; they're now going to have to do the whole thing again, as themselves.

We had "millions of lines of code"; we now have "235 patents". And it's all just so much cow manure.

UPDATE: Another blog has the headline Microsoft and the "Do More Evil" slogan

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Sun 13th May 2007 @ 23:54 2007: maths4laughs

Maths4Laughs - a new contender for the throne of xkcd?

I must admit that I'm getting old, it has been many years since I've done any calculus, and some of the gags are beyond me. This one is a rewrite of a good oldie, though.

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Fri 11th May 2007 @ 23:59 2007: Shuttlecock

It's nice to know that the really serious crimes are being investigated. Soham have such a good record to maintain, after all.

I won't waste your time: The article really is about a lost shuttlecock. The Boys in Blue turned up at the neighbour's house, to demand the return of a shuttlecock. Who reported it as missing, is conveniently omitted from the story.

Cambs police said that "The officer in question has been spoken to"

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Thu 10th May 2007 @ 22:26 2007: 100% points out that, given a code, "A=1, B=2, C=3, ... X=24, Y=25, Z=26", then you can give more than 100%:

Hard Work8+1+18+4+23+15+18+1198%
Hmm... close.
Aha! We've got 100%. But we're often asked to give more than 100%. Keep trying...
Ass Kissing1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7118%

Reminds me somewhat of the relationship between Power, Knowledge and Money:
  • Knowledge is Power (K=P)
  • Time is Money (T=M)
  • Power is Work over Time (P=W/T)

P=W/T, and K=P, so K=W/T
T=M, and K=W/T, so K=W/M
Knowledge equals Work over Money...
  • The More You Know, the More Work You Do, and
  • The More You Know, the Less Money You Make.

It also means that M=W/K : Money approaches infinity as Knowledge approaches 0, regardless of the Work done:
  • The More you Make, the Less you Know.

It also tells us that W=MK... Work approaches 0 as Knowledge approaches 0.
  • The stupid rich do little or no work.

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Thu 10th May 2007 @ 15:17 2007: Oh, no!

Osnes Hyttepark looks far too nice to deserve such a domain name.

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Wed 9th May 2007 @ 22:01 2007: Countdown

Most Brits know the Countdown numbers game from Channel 4... in this example, the numbers available are:


The number to get is 952. You can only use Add, Minus, Divide and Multiply.

Go on, have a think. It's not easy. In the TV programme you get 30 seconds...

Select below for the loser's solution:
((6+3)*100) + 50 + (75/25) = 953

And then watch the video for the right answer:

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Mon 7th May 2007 @ 23:46 2007: KardPhisher

Symantec warn here of a trojan which looks remarkably convincing, and - worse still - does not appear to have a bypass mechanism (for the everyday user; I'm no Windows expert, but I assume that Safe Mode will bypass it? Hit "F8" on boot...)

You've got two options: Enter your credit card details, or your computer will shut down.

Nice. To be fair, it's very well thought out, and being activated on boot, not upon infection, it's cleanly disassociated from the infection vector itself - that is, you clicked a link on Tuesday, rebooted on Friday; you're unlikely to say "ah - well, I did visit a dodgy-looing site on Tuesday, it must be a trojan, not the genuine-looking Microsoft money-grubbing it appears to be".

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Fri 4th May 2007 @ 00:22 2007: Gosh, that's a new one

Google providing the usual "sorry but it'll work again soon" stuff that we expect from other providers.

It's a good job they keep most of the stuff in beta!

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Wed 2nd May 2007 @ 00:45 2007: DVD Keys

It's late, and I'm not sure of the details, but in case it is useful:

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

It's a number (yes, it's hex, but it's a number) It's for HD DVDs.

We could just call it 13256278887989457651018865901401704640. It's a number.

Nobody can claim copyright on it. (I've got 1-9999999999999 covered, and my squad of lawyers are working on the rest!).

This is more of a protest post than anything else; numbers are just numbers, and the DMCA is an ass.


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