Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mail dilemma - and it's not the Royal Mail!

For years I've used Microsoft Outlook (2003) on my home PC's for email and contact management. Mostly I suppose because I've used Outlook at work and am therefore familiar with it, but it's not through any innate love of the application.

My recent upgrade to Windows 7 on my desktops, gave me an opportunity for a re-think, and I installed Mozilla's free and open source Thunderbird application. So far, I've been impressed. It's far slicker than OL 200 and looks nicer, but I've yet to fathom all the bells and whistles.

I've also been thinking it's time to move away a desktop client altogether, and move to using Googlemail. I already have a Googlemail address, and of course everything would be available so long as I have an internet connection.

Now of course, the Macbbok Pro comes into the equation. I've no idea how good (or bad) the inbuilt Mail application is, but I do understand that it's probably quite OK, and of course integrates seamlessly with iCal and the Mac Address Book application.

Chances are in the first instance I'm going to sync my iPhone to the Mac and manage all my email/contacts and calendar on the MBP and my iPhone. I'll have to work out the most efficient way to keep everything synced (wired, wireless or via Mobile Me?). Hopefull using only Apple devices and software will rid me of some of the strange things that happen with duplicates and so on from time to time when I've been using Outlook.

If you're a Mac or serious Googlemail user, let me know what works for you - and of course what doesn't!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Messenger bag and office suite for Macbook Pro

Now I'm the proud owner of a Macbook Pro (at least I will be on Monday), I needed a bag to carry is around in. After all what's the point of a 13" portable notebook if you're not going to carry it around?

I wanted a messenger type bag, but not one that looks like it's just a "business" laptop bag. Had a butchers today in Staples and then PC World, and have gone for a "Swordfish Borneo" bag from the latter store. It's a fetching dark brown with a grey panel on the front which includes the swordfish motif. It's not garish and it's not an "I'm a businessman" type bag.

It's not too big, but will allegedly house a 15.4" lappie if needed. Padding seems decent, it's got a clip fastening rather than just velcro, and importantly (for me anyway), it's got plenty of extra pockets and places to store stuff. At £25 I thought it was a bit of a bargain.

I'm also going to need an office suite. I've heard a few bad things about MS Office for Mac, so am steering clear for the moment. I've bought a copy of iWork which will probably be more than enough for me, and I'll see how I get on. If it doesn't work out, I might try the free "NeoOffice", a variant on "Open Office"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Palm Pre - where is it?

I was at one of these large out of town retail "villages" this morning, and there was an O2 store there, with big posters of the Palm Pre stuck to all it's windows. Whilst the missus was off in another girly shop I snuck in on the pretence of having my first real life look at a Pre - purely for research purposes you understand.

I was disappointed to find that none were on display. There were two Touchstone chargers there, but sadly no Pre's sitting on them. I wasn't going to be in there long enough to ask them if they had one available to look at - and they might have thought I was going to buy one!

It's funny. If this had been the iPhone, I reckon they'd have had three of four out on display. Maybe they'd just sold the last one, though as this was early-ish in the day I doubt it, or maybe they hadn't got round to putting them out - in which case they're not very good at their job.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's here!

Inside this nondescript plastic grey courier transit envelope, lies a brown box. And inside the brown box lurks......another box, a white one. And inside the white box lurks.....a Macbook Pro! At least that's what it says on the bit of the white box I saw, just to confirm it was what I thought it was.

And that, as they say is that. At least until Monday when I can cut another notch on the old (and getting older) staff of life. There's no way my dear lady is going to let me get my grubby mitts on it before then, and as my chum David over at Palmblogging said on Twitter (@Palmblogging), we'd do the same for the kids if it was their birthday, so grin and bear it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macbook Pro: The Pros and Cons

As promised, here is a list of pros and cons I considered when deciding to buy a Macbook Pro. As I said yesterday, its important to bear in mind a couple of key points.
  1. This is a "want purchase", not a "need". I didn't need a laptop. I wanted one. It's part gift, part self purchase on the back of a big birthday, so an opportunity for self indulgence.
  2. I was in the fortunate position of money not being an issue - well providing I didn't go topside of £1,000 anyway
When people list pros and cons, they usually start with the pros, but because I'm me, I'm going to start with the cons.

  • I don't have any Macs
  • I've never used a Mac
  • All my PC's are Windows based
  • I haven't got any Mac software (unless you count a couple of Mac magazine cover disks as I bought the mags in the interest of research)
  • All my experience is Windows based (unless you want to go back to my Atari days - hey, they were very "Mac like"!)
  • Macs are expensive
  • Even the expensive entry level Macbook/Macbook Pro aren't very well specified compared to what you'd get spending the same money on a Windows laptop
  • All my Windows PC's/eternal hard drives are NTFS formatted, and my research showed Macs can't natively write to an NTFS volume.

  • In the computer world, the Macbook Pro is drop dead gorgeous. I appreciate beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but take a look in any PC World or Comet or Curry's etc, and there are banks of "samey" black plastic laptops, and then there are the Macs. I also appreciate looks do not a computer make, but the aluminium unibody on the MBP is a rock solid bit of engineering. No creaks here matey.
  • Still on the hardware, simple things like a mag-safe power adapter that will pull off if the kids or cat trip over the power lead. Genius.
  • I can learn Mac OS. I like computers. I spend a lot of time with them (sad). Everyone I know who has one and most of the the websites who have an opinion, say Mac OS is easier and more intuitive than Windows. Using the Apple command key & C for copy for example is hardly harder than CTRL+C on a PC and isn't going to bog me down.
  • Being like for like under specced against a similar priced Windows laptop - is it really an issue? Only 160GB hard drive - I have a 500GB external drive and will probably also get a portable external drive, so not an issue. Only 2 USB ports. Not a problem, and if it is, I've got a 1-4 USB laptop extender somewhere. Only 2GB RAM? Should be fine for my needs
  • Apple make the MBP. They also make a lot of software to run on their machines. Generally, flawlessly. Unlike Microsoft - see my pearlier post about how I had to resort to the command line in Win 7 to get Micosoft's own Live Messenger to work!
  • Everyone I know personally, or virtually, who's made the move says once I go to a Mac, I'll never want to go back
  • You get 7 hours of life out of a MBP. Yes you can get 8 or more from an Acer Timeline, but it's not as powerful, hasn't got an optical drive and will probably fall to bits inside a year (stands back - waits for response from Acer users...)
  • It's quiet (generally). I have a real thing about noisy PC's and noisy laptops. My older desktop box fan kicks in quite frequently and sounds like 747 taking off. I'm sure most laptops aren't so bad, and it's not a BIG reason for choosing a MBP over anything lese but....
  • The multi-gesture trackpad is awesome. Having played with a MBP on and off for a few weeks every time I've been into a shop selling one (quite a lot!)I don't think I'd ever need a mouse on it.
  • There's loads of free software if you know where to look.
  • I can get round the NTFS write problem using one of several solutions. Paragon's NTFS for Mac isa paid solution, alternatively there's NTFS3G which is free
  • If I really want to I can run Windows on the Mac via Bootcamp, where you boot into either Windows or Mac OS, or virtually within the Mac OS environment using something like Parallels
  • I have an iPhone. Hopefully I'll get iCal and my Address book working flawlessly together and can ditch my clunky and horrible Outlook 2003 install on my desktop.
  • The screen is gorgeous. OK it's glossy and some don't like that, but it's so vibrant
So there we are. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but one that on balance gives me enough solutions to potential concerns to say - "what the hell....if I don't do it now, I never will".

I was never going to be using whichever laptop I bought as my main powerhouse PC. That was never the intention. I wanted it for me. To be able to sit downstairs in the conservatory or lounge instead of up in the study and do stuff. To be able to watch movies on if we're away somewhere. To have fun.

OK, it might mean that in effect that I have a very expensive netbook, but that's not the point. If I'd have "needed" a netbook, I'd have bought one. If I'd have "needed" a worktype and purely functional laptop I'd have bought one. But I didn't.

So I got a Macbook Pro.

Done again

After having my credit card compromised a couple of weeks ago, I had a call from the bank today to say my debit card had also suffered the same fate. Apparently is was another Vodafone PAYG top up for £30 - same as last time.

By all accounts this happened between 6 and 7 this morning, and the bank rang me at about 10 past eight. Highly efficient I must say.

This is a right pain in the arse though. At least my new credit card has come through, so I'm not totally stuffed. I've always been very careful (or so I thought) with my card payments. I think this was all the result of an online transaction, but can't be sure. I always use websites I've either used before, or have a "good" reputation (whatever you read into that), but I think I'm going to be a bit more careful (paranoid) from now on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Moving to Mac. A Windows User Experience

Well, as I'm making the move to a Mac for the first time, at least on one of my machines, I though ti would be a good idea to document my progress on this blog.

As I don't actually get the machine until later this week, and probably can't get my hands on it for a few days more (it's a birthday present), it's probably worth outlining why I've decided to jump ship to a Mac.

It's for all the wrong reasons. I've never owned a Mac, having only ever owned and used Windows based PC's from way back in Windows 3.1 days. I actually used to use MS-DOS 5 machines at one point. I have at home 2 desktop PC's running Windows 7 and an Eee 701 netbook running XP, so from both an experience and hardware perspective it makes no sense.

However, I've always thought it would be nice to have a Mac. I like the style, the OS looks easy, and it's just, well, different. And a lot of what I do is web based, so really it makes no odds - both platforms are very efficient these days.

And, (this is the clincher), I have a rather big birthday coming up (no, bigger than that!) - one where you think perhaps you should do something a little out of the ordinary, something rash. Get a motorbike, visit a far flung country.....or get a Mac.

To be honest, the nod came from my good lady. One day when I was fiddling in PC World on the premise of "just looking" but thinking about getting a laptop she said, "Don't forget you've got a big birthday coming up, why not get one of those...?" (I was shielding the price tag at the time). I explained all the reasons why not - price, lack of knowledge, all my software is for Windows etc, and she just said "...every once in a while you have to do something radical". The seed was sown. We agreed that I'd get a laptop for my birthday, and I'd put something towards whatever unit I got given they're not cheap at any price.

Over the next 4-6 weeks I scoured online reviews and as has been well documented on The Lentil, narrowed my choice to a Samsung Q320 Windows based laptop, or the Macbook Pro (MBP) - both 13" models. The Sammy is about 200-300 cheaper depending on where you buy and in what configuration, and generally better specced. Classy though the Samsung looks the MBP just oozes style. I know you can't go on looks alone, but it don't half help!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'd convinced myself the Samsung was the way to go, almost to the point at which I picked up the phone this morning to order, but at the last minute I changed gave in, and decided it was going to be the MBP. So it's on order, and should be with my by Wednesday.

In my next post, I'll lay out the pros and cons as I see them. You have to remember, though, this is a "want" not "need" purchase. That's a big difference. Just ask an economist.

Microsoft - what's going on?

I'm not having a good Microsoft day (which is probably God's penance for me for ordering a Mac).

My kids are sadly both avid users of Microsoft's MSN Messenger instant messaging service. So when I upgraded my two desktops to Windows 7, I downloaded and installed the latest version of Messenger, called Live Messenger. Now apart from the fact this is a big download and tries to foist all sorts of other essential "apps" on you, it don't bloody work.

I've installed and uninstalled and reinstalled about 6 or 7 times now over the last two days, but whenever they try to log on they get a "could not log you on" error.

Googling brings many reports of similar problems - though none directly related to W7 as far as I can see, and solutions ranging from wait, to hacking the registry. I've done all of the above. I've even downloaded an old version which promptly told me to continue I "had" to upgrade to the latest version.

I've checked the firewall (and tried it with that disabled) and disabled the anti-virus software too all to no effect.

Microsft support sites ain't much help. You have to register (even though I'm already registered with "Microsoft Live", and having registered the "next" button takes me to a blank screen that says this service is unvailable!!!!!!

I've installed Trillian as a short-stop, but that requires more registration processes. Pulling hair out now. No idea what to do next. Anyone?


Sorted after a bit more hair pulling and swearing and Googling. And of course, it was an easy fix.....wasn't it. No.

I had to go to the command line as an administrator and type "netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled" and then reboot the PC.

No I don't know what it means or does either, but it worked.

Blogging - a move to Wordpress?

I've been considering moving this blog from Google's "Blogger" to Wordpress. A few of the blogs I follow are Wordpress driven blogs, so I'd be interested to hear peoples experiences of using Wordpress - especially if they are iPhone users and use the iPhone Worpress app.

There's no real reason for thinking of moving, other than it's a change. I do get the feeling that Wordpress offers some more functionality than Blogger, but will have to do a bit more digging.

It's done. Macbook Pro in da house...nearly

The deed is done.

I have finally, finally, made a decision on a laptop, and Apple wins out over Samsung - MAC OSX over Windows 7.

To be fair, it was a tough decision. Up until about 2 minutes before I picked up the phone to order the MBP, I was still erring on the side of the (significantly cheaper) Samsung Q320, but at the end of the day I think that was all about my "sensible" side, and as my dear lady wife has said on two or three occasions, "be rash for once". So the MBP it is. Should be delivered on Wednesday, but I guess I won't be able to get my grubby mitts on it until my birthday next Monday. I can wait....

So are there any reasons why the Apple/OS X machine has triumphed over the Samsung/Windows stable?

Well, it's undoubtedly an uber-cool machine - Apple devices generally knock spots off Windows machines in looks and build quality.

It's got a battery life that only Windows netbooks, or the latest low voltage "thin & light" laptops can rival in a much more powerful machine.

That trackpad is just awesome - having played with various MBP's in PC World, Currys and Comet over the last few weeks I don't think I'll ever need a mouse.

You get a load of good software as standard, though I'll need to fork out on an office suite (iWork or Office for Mac anyone?)

My "concerns" over having a Mac in a house full of Windows desktops, are I think all surmountable, and the main one was around sharing files. It shouldn't be an issue. Writing to my external and currently NTFS formatted hard drive might require either setting up a FAT32 partition (Mac's don't play with NTFS) or trying something like Paragon's "NTFS for Mac" (anyone tried this)?

Let's have you top suggestions for Mac software please!

Now all I can do is chew my fingernails until it arrives, and then chew them some more until I can play with it....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More W7

Seems I'm a bit out of touch with RAM prices. Yesterday I posted that having found my old XP box was manfully struggling along on 512mb of RAM, that it would be a sinmple and cheap issue to resolve.

Well, simple yes. Installing a RAM module is a piece of cake. Cheap? Well I suppose it's all relative. Last time I bought any memory it was dirt cheap - a gigabyte cost me next to nothing. Hunting around though, I've struggled to find a gig of the type I need for less than about £25 plus P&P. Still, it's a price worth paying. It's always said the first and easiest way way to speed up anythrow more RAM at it. This old HP Pavilion will only take 2 gig max, so I'm going for another 1 gig stick to start with which should make it run a bit more slickly.

Elsewhere on the W7 front, there are mixed things to report. W7 is supposed to make it easier for PC's on the same network to talk to each other and share files. Well, it is easier than it was trying to connect an XP PC and a Vista PC together, but it's still not entirely straightforward. At various times today I've had my network flagged as "unidentified", a duplication of my external drive in the network explorer screen and a message saying my old XP box could find my printer (which is connected to the old Vista box) and then promptly saying "do I want to print a test page!"

Elswehere, Windows Live Messenger (which I don't use but the kids flog to death) has got both machines in a tiz. It installs fine, but you can't login - the system suggests a network problem, but everything else that's connecting to the 'net does so faultlessly. The in-built firewall clearly is allowing the programe to send and receive traffic, so I've no idea waht's going on there.

Also, I've had a hard time installing my Microsoft Lifecam (web cam). That's now sorted, but it's intersesting that these latter two problems are with Microsft programs/hardware......

On the messeneger front, I think I might ditch Live Messenger and give Trillian a go

Saturday, October 24, 2009

XP to Windows 7 latest

OK - Hurrah! Got a working XP box again.

Now to install W7.

Have to download Win XP Service Pack 2 before the upgrade will run. :-(

Running, but the upgrade adviser has to download (8mb) followed by .Net framework (another 22mb download (thank God for broadband).

I should have just skipped the Adviser, but I thought I'd see what it has to say about my aging XP box.

The computer says......"Yes"!!!!!, although it did point out that I've only go 512mb RAM and it needs 1GB to run "optimally". Bugger. I though it wasn't running very fast LOL!!! I though ti had more than that in there - older than I thought!

No worries, that's easily rectified, and hopefully pretty cheaply too.

Windows 7 - the story so far

Well, there's good news, and there's bad news.

The good news is that I performed a clean install of Windows 7 on my main (previously Vista) desktop yesterday, and everything went as sweet as a nut (what does that mean?). The actual install took around 20-25 minutes, very impressive, and the new OS recognised everything attached to my PC, including the router and network settings - brilliant.

The backing up of my stuff prior to the upgrade, and the re-nstalling of all programs afterwards is a bit tedious, but I'll take that for the benefit of starting from scratch with a completely virgin OS. It also allows me to ditch a pile of accumulated software that I never use.

Boot up is sprightly as you'd expect, and so far I'm very impressed.

Now the bad news.

I also have an XP box, and I bought another W7 licence to upgrade that system. However, things started to go wrong almost immediately - and mostly because a) I didn't read the instructions and b) I rushed.

On the Vista machine I did a completely clean install - booting from the W7 DVD and allowing the process to wipe my drive (after checking with me).

On the XP box, I planned to do the same - it definitely needed a good wipe. The problem was my W7 version was the "upgrade" for Vista, or "clean install" for XP - but what a clean install apparently means is that you run the DVD from XP and allow the process to take you through a clean install.

Because I'd done a wipe on my Vista box, that's what I did on my XP box - and everything appeared to be going ticketyboo until I got to "Enter your product key". I did, and it told me it was invalid. I checked and entered it again. Smae result. I tried about 6 more times. Same result. I got my son to do it. Same result. Bugger.

Range Amazon, who were very pleasant, but basically said "ring Microsoft". So I did. Eventually, the guy worked out from my muttering what was going on and told me I had to reinstall XP and then run the W7 disk. Ok.

So, I started to re-install XP, but here's where it all went VERY pear shaped. I was now rushing, and when the setup got to the bit where it shows the partitions I deleted everything. Yup - everything. Including the primary partition where you store an OS. Ooops.

You see This drive had several partitions and I wanted to get back to a single partition, so it seemed sensible to do that. But it wasn't.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short and miss out the profanities I was by now muttering, I've managed to swap disks around and get the darn thing installing XP again. I've got bits of computer strewn around as I've switched hard disks, and I'm half way through the XP install.

So far it's taken me about 4 hours and I'm not even back to where I started!

I'll let you know if it works later!

Good game for the neutral: Sheff Utd 3-4 City

Blimey - they don't get much more tense than this.

City went ahead at Bramall Lane on 41 minutes, only for the Blades to equalise 2 minutes later. Only two more minutes passed before Whittingham made it 2-1 from the spot, and STILL in jury time in the first half,Henderson equalised yet again for United.

Dave Jones must have (should have) given them a roasting at the break, and on 60 minutes Whittingham grabbed his second of the match. When he wrapped up his hat trick on 80 minutes, City must have thought they had this one in the bag, but we all know how frail they are under pressure, and true enough in the fourth minutes of added time Harper made it 3-4. Surely all done? No, the Blades still managed to get the ball in the net again, but thankfully this was ruled offside.

So maniacal ends to each half leave City with all 3 points (just) and that's enough to put us second in the table.

Up the City!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Job done: City 2-0 Coventry

Another 3 points gained as City beat Coventry 2-0 in front of over 19,000 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Anthony Gerrard (Stevie's cousin) opened the scoring with a powerful header after just 5 minutes.

After that though, City endured a nervous 25 minutes or so, hardly being able to lay foot on ball, and when they did they just gave it away. They dragged it back a bit towards the end of the first half, and missed a couple of gilt edged chances.

The second period was a calmer affair for City fans - much more so after the outstanding Bothroyd had been dragged down in the box, Peter Whittingham converting easily from the spot.

Dave Jones didn't even make any substitutions tonight.

With West Brom and Newcastle losing, City are still third, but the gap is now just 1 point from those two.

Up the City!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dour: City 1-1 Palace

This was a match that started slowly, and never really got beyond that.

City went behind early due to some dreadful defending (again) with City old boy Alan Lee netting for the visitors. City huffed and puffed in the first half but the scintillating events of the Derby and Watford matches were long forgotten.

Eventually an equaliser came through Peter Whittingham after good work from Bothroyd down the flank.

Palace should have been down to 10 men when N'Diaye should have gone for his second bookable offence of the first half, with everyone, but everyone in the stadium expecting referee Mr S Tanner to produce a yellow followed by a red, but he completely bottled it and Palace survived much to the anger of the home fans.

Apart from that not much to report really.

Hopefully Dave Jones can motivate the team to a better performance with Tuesday's visit of Coventry.

Friday, October 16, 2009


It's back to Championship action tomorrow after another dull international break (especially dull if you're a Wales supporter).

The Bluebirds take on Neil Warnock's Crystal Palace at home and then face Coventry also at home on Tuesday. (Who does these fixtures?). City come into the match on the back of 2 winds with a 10-1 aggregate score from those matches, so should be on a high, but who knows what the break has done for continuity? I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Palm Pre

So today's the day the Palm Pre hit the O2 stores. The coverage has been no-where near aswide as when the iPhone arrived, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes.

On some of the sites I visit (PDA247, Palm-Mac) there has been muted interest. One of the PDA247 regulars said they were in a store and had one in their hand, but my guess is they didn't take the plunge.

Personally, I was intersted when the Pre was first announced way back at the beginning of the year, but it's been so long coming any excitement I had has long since dissipated. As things stand, I'm very happy with my iPhone almost a year into my contract, and not really in the slightest bit interested or excited by any other platforms or devices to want to move. I've got another 8 months or so on my contract anyway, and will be happy to see that out and re-assess in the spring.

However, if someone out there would like to get a Pre and test drive it, I'd still be interested to hear how it goes in real life!

Victim of card fraud

I regret to say that I've been a victim of card fraud.

I had a voice message yesterday to call the bank - the message said the line was open 24 hrs. Odd. Normally, they just ask me to call back "at my convenience" because they want to "review your account" (i.e. sell you something).

Anyway, rang the number and got through the the "Fraud line". Oh dear. Call was answered by a very dour person who obviously wasn't in the mood for light hearted conversation or chit-chat who asked me if I'd made a £30 payment on my card in the last couple of days for a Vodafone top-up. I hadn't, and no-one in my family is on a Voda account.

I was informed that someone had got hold of my details (duh!) and used them fraudulently. To be fair the gentlemen was very professional, told me to destroy my card straight away and a new one would be with me forthwith (Royal Mail permitting of course).

When I asked how they'd noticed this, he was very guarded and said only that they monitor known fraud trends very stringently.

Worryingly, I haven't used my card across a counter since I don't know when - possible the last time was in July when on holiday when I hired a car. I have though made a number of purchases lately and wonder whether somehow it's linked to that? However it's happened though it's worrying. I've never had any problems with my credit card before.

Friday, October 09, 2009

iPhone email issues

I've had a problem with the email app on my iPhone a couple of times in the last two weeks.

The scenario is as follows. I have an email in my in-box on my POP email account. I delete it (send it to Trash), and somewhere during that process, the email app closes down sending me to the home screen. When I go back in again, there's my email sitting there smugly in my in box again as if to say "you aren't getting rid of me that easily".

The first time I did this, I ensured all other emails in the Trash were deleted, I reset the phone but still it wouldn't be deleted. In the end I resorted to deleting my email account and re-creating it.

Then, this week it's happened again. After much googling, I've found some reports of this happening to others, and it seems to be related to emails with larg(ish) attachments, though of the only two emails sitting in my in-box at this time the biggest was 68k, so hardly a behemoth. And it's never happened before, and I know I've had bigger attachments that that sent to me since I've had the phone.

So what's going on? Is it a flaw in the iPhone OS 3.1 update? There's nowhere that suggests this is a major or common problem, or that Apple are aware of it (and therefore are unlikely to fix it with a 0.x patch.

It's bloody irritating though.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Decision time: Mac or Windows?

If you've been on the Lentil before, you'll know I'm in a laptop dilemma, but I can't dally for much longer. My birthday approaches and my good lady is ready to spend far too much money on me, so I need to make a decision.

Do I stick with the tried and tested Windows running on a Samsung Q320 (recently A-Listed by PC Pro) or do I have a rush of blood to my middle aged brain and go with (for me) a completely new OS in Mac Snow Leopard running on the devilishly handsome sleek Apple Macbook Pro?

Do you know what? It's getting so hard to choose it's stopping me sleeping at night. I'm swaying back and forth between the two faster than a very fast thing going very fast (as Baldrick of Blackadder fame might have said).

Logic has all but gone out of the window (if you'll forgive the pun). If I'd stuck with logic I'd have bought a dowdy netbook, but you're only (cough) 50 once. Today I'm swaying Macwards, having found that I could overcome my need to access an NTFS formatted external hard drive using an app called Paragon NTFS for Mac, and also of course that using Bootcamp I could boot into Windows for kay apps that I have in the Windows environment.

Tomorrow I'll be back on the 320. Pretty soon I'm going to have to decide for real - I fear it may come down to a coin...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

City swarm over hornets: Watford 0-4 City

After handing out a 6-1 drubbing to Derby on Tuesday, City took 1,200 fans to Vicarage Road, often a tricky place to get anything, and also welcomed back last seasons top scorer Ross McCormack to the bench to take on Watford.

Which City would turn up? The one that were roundly booed off their home turf after losing to QPR, or the scintillating attacking City we saw on Tuesday?

Answer - It's was Tuesday's City. 2-0 up at half time through goals by Peter Whittingham (pen) and long range Beckamesque effort from 17 year old Adam Matthews, they rounded up a win with two more goals in the second period courtesy of Whitts (again) and a fantastic individual effort from Jay Bothroyd.

It could have been more - Tuesday's 4 goal hero Chopra missed a couple of decent chances, but Dave Jones will be happy with a 6 point haul and 10 goals in the last two outings.

I only hope they can keep it going.

Up the City!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Picasa 3.5

Google's Picasa photo program has been updated to v3.5. PC pro's resident graphics guru Tom Arah is pleasantly surprised by this latest version which offers stunning facial recognition capabilities.

I too, though far less well renowned that Tom Arah can vouch for this as I downloaded it and started the processing of scanning through my rather large photo archive to allow facial recognition and tagging by "people".

It does take a long time. It's been running since early afternoon, and has so far scanned only about 60% of my archive (but it does run to 10GB). Once you've marked a couple of faces, the program basically decides what else looks like that and groups it - but does allow you to confirm it first. It's amazingly accurate and has correctly identified photos of me that are very poor (I don't get ri of much), with various hats on, even ones where I've warped images with special effects!

And of course, it's got all the usual Picasa goodies in it too - and best of all - it's free! Get it here for PC or Mac

Cervical cancer vaccine

The story about the young girl who died following the cervical cancer vaccine hit very close to home. Our daughter received her first dose of this vaccine at the end of last week and was very nervous about it. When the news of the tragedy in Coventry broke, we, and I suspect thousands of parents up and down the land were understandably nervous.

We now know that the girl had a serious underlying condition that appears to have been the cause of her death, and it was not due to the vaccine. A tragedy nonetheless.

On vaccines in general, my wife's a nurse, and I was once. We understand better than many that there's a risk in any procedure, however small, but you have to be informed and weigh the balance up. There was a big hoo-hah about the MMR vaccine when our kids were smaller, but we both felt it was better for them to have it than not.

Life's a risk. You have to weigh the balance and make your choice. If we were too worried we'd never get up in the morning, or cross a road.


Migraines. If you've ever had one, you'll know about it. I didn't used to be a sufferer, but in the last three or four years I've had them on and off. This year it's been a 'mare and I've had a dozen or so. Eyes were tested earlier this year, and though I need glasses for close work, they haven't deteriorated much.

I can feel them coming on and nothing stops it. All the usual over the counter remedies and some herbal ones I've tried don't touch it. I get nauseous, can' concentrate and they hurt like hell - usually right at the back of the left eye.

Through trial and error I've started to narrow down the triggers. Red wine and dark chocolate seem to be the main protagonists, and I avoid them. Cheese is said to be another, but luckily for me as a cheese monster, it doesn't seem to cause them.

I've had one this week that's lasted since Saturday. Saturday wasn't great, Sunday was awful, improved Monday and Tuesday, appeared to have gone on Wednesday and came back with a vengeance today. Went to the GP and he prescribed a drug called Rizatriptan. Took a dose at 12:15 and by 1:30 the migraine had all but gone (aided by a hours dozing). Remarkable. Comes with a list of side effects as long as your arm though....

If you're a sufferer I commiserate. If you're not, you're very lucky.

Documents to Go - iPhone update

The iPhone version of Documents to Go from Dataviz has been updated to include long awaited Excel creation and editing.

It's a free upgrade for those who have already bought the app, or £5.99 if you need to buy it from the App Store. Either way it's a bargain. I'm a long time user of DTG, so I'm glad to see the Excel issue sorted.

Of course if you prefer, the alternative is Quick Office also at £5.99. You pay your money and take your choice....