All Over The Road
Slowly but surely I am creating my web presence. I imagine it will take a lot of discipline to keep any blog up to date. And it probably takes a big ego to think that you have a something interesting to say every day. Well, let's hope I can find enough to keep talking - although talking to oneself is talent worth developing.
Click on the player below to listen to my selection of tunes from International Artists Company website while you browse - and support independent artists!!

Station at KIAC and

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to Rebuild your Computer and Reinstall Windows from Scratch

If you are planning to rebuild a ’slow’ computer by reinstalling Windows (XP or Vista) from scratch, here’s a pre-installation checklist + some time saving tips. You existing data on the Windows PC will not be affected even if you do a clean install instead of repair or upgrade.

Fix Problems by Reinstalling Windows

As a tech blogger, part of my job involves reviewing software which is so interesting but frequent installation (followed by un-installation) of software programs also tend to slow down the computer.

To deal with this problem, I did a clean installation of Windows last weekend and re-installed all the important software programs from scratch. As expected, the boot-up time has reduced and the computer’s performance has improved significantly. Luckily, this task is not as complex as it may sound but here are a few things you should remember before taking the plunge:

Pre-Installation Checklist

1. Get Magical Jelly to retrieve a list of product keys that were used to install Windows and Microsoft Office on your computer. Print this information. (Also see: Determining Windows version)

2. Get Belarc Advisor to create a detailed report of all software programs, hotfixes and hardware devices available in your system. Print this report as well.

3. Uninstall all software programs that had to be activated at the time of installation (e.g. Adobe Creative Suite, Dragon Naturally Speaking or Microsoft Office). It’s important that you do a proper un-installation of these programs through Add/Remove Programs because simply deleting the folder from Program Files directory will not free up the license on the manufacturer’s activation server.

4. Install Driver Max to create a backup of all device drivers currently installed on your system. This will come handy after reinstallation incase you are not able to locate the driver installers on the vendor’s website.

5. Create a backup folder on c: (say c:\old_files) and add the following files to this folder

i. Your Outlook pst file that has all the mails, contacts, tasks and other Outlook items.
ii. If you have purchased any custom fonts, copy the relevant ttf files from the c:\windows\fonts folder. c. All documents, Live Writer drafts, pictures, music and videos from your My Document folder.
iii. Backup your custom dictionaries from Firefox, Microsoft Word, Live Writer, etc.
iv. Export all browser bookmarks and copy them to the backup folder.
v. Open your Firefox add-ons window, take a screenshot and paste that image in the backup folder. This is a good way to remember your favorite Firefox extensions.
vi. Export your podcast subscriptions in iTunes as as OPML (XML) file.
vii. Product keys (serial numbers) of all licensed software.

6. If you have a partitioned hard drive (say C: and D:), just copy* the backup folder created in step 5 to the D: drive. If you don’t have a partitioned hard disk or if the size of partition is small, install Live Mesh, add c:\old_files folder to your Live Mesh account and wait until all the files are uploaded on to the web. Mesh offers 5 GB of space and it may therefore be a good idea to burn all the heavy files (like videos, music, etc) onto a DVD instead of transferring them online.

*You can copy large folders across drives through Windows Explorer or the xcopy utility.

Re-Install Windows from Scratch

Now is the time to do a clean installation of Windows. This is probably the easiest part. You can either boot your computer from the original Windows installation CD** or, while you are running Windows, pop-in the installation CD and run the setup.exe program just like you would install any other Windows app. Always choose “Fresh Installation” instead of “Repair”.

**If you installation media doesn’t include the latest service packs, try creating one yourself. Windows XP with SP3 is available as a downloadable ISO while you can slipstream SP1 into Vista fairly easily.

Post-Installation Tips

It can take around 30 minutes (or more) for the whole installation to finish. Now jump to the Windows Update website and let your browser download all the hotfixes, security updates, driver updates, etc. If your computer is unable to connect to the Internet, chances are that your computer doesn’t have the proper network drivers. No problem as you can easily get the drivers from the dump that you created using DriverMax utility.

If your display is acting funny or there’s no audio, just install the right drivers from the vendor’s website (preferred approach) or use your backup media. Once all the patches are installed, Windows Vista users can free up few gigabytes of disk space by making SP1 permanent. Windows XP users may skip this step.

Now turn on the Firewall and install all the other software programs and associated updates in any order. The next important step is to clone your disk image via DriveImage XML (free software), Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost. Windows Vista Ultimate also comes with a “Backup & Restore Center” that you may use to create a complete backup image of your entire computer to another drive, external disk or a DVD.

These disk images will come very handy after few months when your Windows PC get slow again. You won’t have to repeat the rebuilding exercise as the PC can be easily restored to the original state through these disk images.

Don’t experiment on your main PC

If you are tech enthusiast who loves to try new software / browser add-ons, I would strongly recommend that you don’t install these software on your main system - instead get Virtual PC (it’s free), create a Windows XP / Windows Vista virtual machine and use that environment as your new playground.

Another recommendation - do get a cane of compressed air to remove all the dirt from components inside the computer case. Sometimes software may not be the reason behind your slow and slugging PC - the culprit could be the dust sticking on the CPU heat sink.

The Essential Guide to Internet & Software for First-Time Computer Users

You bought a brand new laptop computer for mom - the Apple Macbook was too expensive so you settled for a Dell machine loaded with Windows Vista and a trial copy of Office 2007.

Your mom is a great self-learner and knows all the basic stuff about computers but needs some help is in finding the right software tools that will help her do stuff more efficiently and as inexpensively as possible.

Letter to Mom suggesting tools and web apps for her new computer

Dear Mom - I hope you are enjoying the new Dell notebook. Now the first thing I want you to do is install PC Decrapifier - this will detect and remove all the unwanted trial programs that came pre-installed with your machine.

Next you should install Firefox - it’s an Internet Explorer like web browser but slightly better. Instead of using browser bookmarks, try the delicious add-on to save the addresses of all your favorite websites. Another add-on that you should install is Iterasi - web pages come and go but Iterasi will permanently archive your favorite web pages (like that eggless cake recipe).

You should create two email accounts one - share the primary email address with your friends and family but for everything else (like the newsletter and shopping deal alerts) always use the secondary email address. If you come across a site that requires registration, generate a temporary email address from and enter without sharing your main email.

With so many websites around, you’ll soon find it very hard to remember all those passwords so get into the habit of putting down all the different passwords into KeepPass from day one.

If you plan to carry this laptop in public places (like the Library), get this Laptop Alarm software that will emit a loud sound if someone tries to shut down your computer or remove the power cable. Laptop thefts are not so uncommon after all.

The trial version of Microsoft Office on your computer will expire after 60 days so you may completely uninstall that software and switch over to Google Docs - it has all the basic feature you would need in an Office suite including templates for tracking expenses and utility bills. You can use your primary Gmail address to log into Google Docs.

Sometimes your friends will send you documents, images or video clips that won’t open on your computer - that’s because you don’t have the right viewer software on your machine. You can simply go to and convert the file into some simple format (like avi for video, jpg for images, doc for documents, mp3 for songs, etc.) that you computer can play/open.

If the computer contains too many programs that you’ll rarely or never use, get the Revo Uninstaller to get rid of such programs permanently. To free up additional space on the hard drive, use WinDirStat to learn about file folders that are occupying the maximum space on your computer and delete the unnecessary files.

Be very careful when deleting files on your computer but if you ever delete something important accidently, Recuva may help you recover all those erased files. It even works with the memory card of your digital camera.

To download pictures from your digital camera onto the computer, get Windows Live Photo Gallery. This software can also upload your photos to our common family Flickr account so everyone gets to see your pictures even though we are several hundred miles away from you.

If the computer is not able to play your huge collection of DVD movies, you’re probably missing some codecs (don’t worry about the term) - just download the VLC player and the DVDs will play just fine.

You should also get Live Mesh - it will allow us to share files and documents with each other privately plus you can use Mesh to backup important files onto the cloud (I mean the web).

I am almost always available for chat on Google Talk but if some of your online friends use other chat software (like Yahoo! Messenger or AOL), you can easily connect with them through Miranda or, if you don’t want to install any software, use Meebo.

Another thing - do open an account at PayPal and link it to your main credit card as this will make online shopping easier. If you ever have a problem with PayPal or something isn’t clear, just call their toll-free 1-800 support number from your browser using Gizmo.

If your current voice plan is too expensive, I suggest that you download Skype - it lets you make calls from the computer to any landline or mobile phone at much cheaper rates. We can also use Skype to have video chats on weekends but if you don’t find me online, just send me a video email with Eyejot.

If you have newspaper clippings, bill receipts and business cards lying in the closet, just take a picture of them separately using the camera of your mobile phone and transfer them to the computer with Evernote - it will turn your "paper" documents into digital format that is always so easy to find and manage.

When planning a movie or weekend dinner with friends, you can send all of them a quick reminder for the event via phone and SMS for free using Notifu. If you’re inviting people at home for a party, head-over to sites like, SuTree or for new ideas about food, cocktails, party games, etc.

If you ever need to fax a document somewhere, just go to FaxZero, upload the document and fax it for free. FaxZero is only available for fax numbers of US or Canada but for international numbers, you may try eFax.

You can also consider dropping those magazine subscriptions that are delivered by snail mail - switch to Zinio instead that delivers the same magazine but in digital format.

As far as I remember, you’re currently using an unlimited data plan for the Internet but if that’s not true, get BitMeter - it will help you visually monitor your bandwidth usage so you never exceed the plan limit. You may also want to download FlashGet for downloading big files from the Internet.

If you notice carefully, some websites add an orange colored icon in the browser address bar (go to to see a live example) - this icon means that you can get updates about new articles posted on that site automatically without having to visit the site again and again. If that’s the case, go to Feed My Inbox and type the address of that website - you’ll be notified automatically via email.

When browsing the web, you’ll frequently come across photographs, web pages and videos that you’ll want to share with us (your family members) - you could either send the link in a group mail or better still, simply create an account at Tumblr and start saving all the "interesting" stuff there.

And if you ever find yourself spending too much time on the computer, get RescueTime to know about websites where you spend most of your time.

There are a few other things that I want to do on your computer like installing a hosts file and configuring OpenDNS so that sites load quickly on your machine. These however require some geeky knowledge so I will try configuring them from here itself via CrossLoop - a remote desktop access tool.

Player sets unwanted record with three-second dismissal

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - A player with English minor league club Chippenham Town has set a record for the fastest-red card in senior soccer when he was sent off for a wild tackle three seconds after kickoff, media reported on Monday.

Striker David Pratt, 21, was dismissed in a Southern Premier League game against Bashley on Saturday.

The previous fastest sending-off is generally accepted to be 10 seconds for Bologna's Giuseppe Lorenzo after he struck an opponent in a 1990 Italian league game.

English soccer's previous "best" was 13 seconds when Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Kevin Pressman handled outside his box in a game in 2000.

Also in 2000 an English amateur player, Lee Todd, was sent off after two seconds when he responded to the referee's whistle to start the game by saying "xxxx me, that was loud" and was dismissed for foul and abusive language.

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mis-translated bilingual road sign - E-mail ends up on road sign

welsh lost in translationImage by johnbullas via Flickr

BBC NEWS | Wales | E-mail error ends up on road sign
The English is clear enough to lorry drivers - but the Welsh reads "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

"When they're proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh," said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.

It's good to see people trying to translate but they should really ask for expert help
Dylan Iorwerth, Golwg magazine

Swansea Council became lost in translation when it was looking to halt heavy goods vehicles using a road near an Asda store in the Morriston area

All official road signs in Wales are bilingual, so the local authority e-mailed its in-house translation service for the Welsh version of: "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only".

The reply duly came back and officials set the wheels in motion to create the large sign in both languages.

The notice went up and all seemed well - until Welsh speakers began pointing out the embarrassing error.

Welsh-language magazine Golwg was promptly sent photographs of the offending sign by a number of its readers.
Site of wrongly translated sign
The sign was lost in translation - and is now missing from the roadside

Managing editor Mr Iorwerth said: "We've been running a series of these pictures over the past months.

"They're circulating among Welsh speakers because, unfortunately, it's all too common that things are not just badly translated, but are put together by people who have no idea about the language.

"It's good to see people trying to translate, but they should really ask for expert help.

"Everything these days seems to be written first in English and then translated.

"Ideally, they should be written separately in both languages."

A council spokeswoman said: "Our attention was drawn to the mistranslation of a sign at the junction of Clase Road and Pant-y-Blawd Road.

Other confusing signs

"We took it down as soon as we were made aware of it and a correct sign will be re-instated as soon as possible."

The blunder is not the only time Welsh has been translated incorrectly or put in the wrong place:

• Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".

• In the same year, a sign for pedestrians in Cardiff reading 'Look Right' in English read 'Look Left' in Welsh.

• In 2006, a shared-faith school in Wrexham removed a sign which translated the Welsh for staff as "wooden stave".

• Football fans at a FA Cup tie between Oldham and Chasetown - two English teams - in 2005 were left scratching their heads after a Welsh-language hoarding was put up along the pitch. It should have gone to a match in Merthyr Tydfil.

• People living near an Aberdeenshire building site in 2006 were mystified when a sign apologising for the inconvenience was written in Welsh as well as English.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Monty Python announces its decision to launch its YouTube channel

YouTube - The Monty Python Channel on YouTube

Beat the bootleggers - support the artists.

After years of less-than-honest persons posting stolen video clips on media sharing sites, Monty Python announces its decision to launch its YouTube channel!

I am very pleased that they are fighting back by posting their own, high quality versions of their hillarious films and clips to stop the bootleggers. This is a free subscription which will, hopefully, be paid for by viewers linking to ads where they can buy official DVDs and CDs.

The Who decided to do something similar to this years ago when they started producing their own DVDs and CDs of every single show they play live. Proceeds from these recordings go directly to their chosen charities, Teenage Cancer Trust and Double-O amongst others. Finally, the bootleggers are s**t-out-of-luck! And good riddance to them, I say. I am glad to see artists take back control and shut out the criminal element.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Might Get Fooled Again!

20051018-balham 119Image by Johnsyweb via Flickr

"Meet the new boss/ same as the old boss." I sincerly hope Pete's comments after WGFA (see text in bold near end of the article) don't come back to haunt him. Let's pray that Obama isn't all smoke and mirrors and that he does actually represent a change in direction for Amerikay. 

Pete Townshend shares spotlight with young pals | Entertainment | Reuters
Pete Townshend shares spotlight with young pals
Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:18am GMT

By Craig Rosen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It wasn't as monumental as the Who "Live at Leeds." The special-guest Dylan was Jakob, not Bob, and the Who frontman Roger Daltrey was nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, Townshend at the Troubadour on Friday was pretty damn special.

The show was presented by Best Buy to promote its exclusive forthcoming CD/DVD set of acoustic all-star jams, initially staged as webcasts by Townshend and his longtime girlfriend, singer-songwriter Rachel Fuller.

Townshend opted to strip things down and shine the spotlight on relatively new talents in an intimate setting before the Who's two-night stand at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

On this night, the newest of the bunch was She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and indie stalwart M. Ward, which proved much more than another actress's musical vanity project.

The show's format allowed the artists to play a few songs each before being joined by Townshend. Dylan, an unannounced special guest, still lives in his father's shadow but did an admirable job sharing the stage with another legend on his Wallflowers hit "One Headlight" and the Who's "The Kids Are Alright."

Mark Everett of eels jokingly apologized to Dylan for any awkwardness evoked when Everett performed Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country," offered a heartfelt reading of his own "Bus Stop Boxer" and was joined by Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard and Townshend for a playful run through the latter's 1980 solo hit "Let My Love Open the Door" that was the show's first-half high point.

Townshend's solo spot was the night's ultimate peak. Attacking his acoustic guitar and using a combination of picking and power chords, Townshend tore into "The Acid Queen" from "Tommy," spitting out the lyrics with such passion you could see spray coming from his mouth. "Drowned" -- from his other rock opera, "Quadrophenia" -- followed, then he launched into an extended monologue before "Won't Get Fooled Again." He mocked himself, explained the absence of his "other wife" Daltrey and noted the pendulum effect of politics before launching into the Who showstopper.

After he finished the song, Townshend acknowledged the lyric "Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss" might no longer be applicable, given the election of Sen. Barack Obama. It was a nice revelation, capped with an all-star rendition of "I'm One," bringing an appropriate climax to one special night.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter
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Friday, November 14, 2008

The first pictures of planets outside our Solar System have been taken

Dark Sky, Bright Sun (1680x1050)Image by TopTechWriter.US via Flickr

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Exoplanets finally come into view
Exoplanets finally come into view

Three exoplanets orbiting the same star have been imaged directly!

The first pictures of planets outside our Solar System have been taken, two groups report in the journal Science.

Visible and infrared images have been snapped of a planet orbiting a star 25 light-years away.

The planet is believed to be the coolest, lowest-mass object ever seen outside our own solar neighbourhood.

In a separate study, an exoplanetary system, comprising three planets, has been directly imaged, circling a star in the constellation Pegasus.

While several claims have been made to such direct detection before, they have later been proven wrong or await confirmation.

The search for exoplanets has up to now depended on detecting either the wobble they induce in their parent star or, if their orbits are side-on to telescopes, watching them dim the star's light as they pass in front of it.

Being able to directly detect the light from these planets will allow astronomers to study their composition and atmospheres in detail.

Ring cleaning

The difficulty for astronomers imaging exoplanets is that their parent star's light swamps them - like trying to spot a match next to a floodlight at a distance of a mile.

The light from the star Fomalhaut was blocked to spot the planet

But advances in optics and image processing have allowed astronomers to effectively subtract the bright light from stars, leaving behind light from the planets. That light can either come in the infrared, caused by the planets' heat, or be reflected starlight.

Paul Kalas of the University of California, Berkeley, led an international group that used the Hubble Space Telescope to image the region around a star called Fomalhaut in the constellation Piscis Austrinus.

The star has a massive ring of dust surrounding it that appears to have a cleanly groomed inner edge.

That is in keeping with what is known as accretion theory - that young planets gather up dust and matter as they orbit - and prompted the team to begin looking for the suspected planet in 2005.

The team estimates that the planet, designated Fomalhaut b, is some 18 billion kilometres (11 billion miles) away from its star, about as massive as Jupiter and completes an orbit in about 870 years. It may also have a ring around it.

"I nearly had a heart attack at the end of May when I confirmed that Fomalhaut b orbits its parent star," Dr Kalas said. "It's a profound and overwhelming experience to lay eyes on a planet never
before seen."

In threes

Christian Marois of the Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics, Canada, and his team used the Keck and Gemini telescopes in Hawaii to look near a star called HR 8799, which is just visible to the naked eye.

The team studied light in the infrared part of the spectrum, hoping to spot planets that were still hot from their formation.

What they found in 2004, and confirmed again this year, are three planets circling the star.

According to a theoretical model that accounts for the light coming from the planets, they range in size from five to 13 times the mass of Jupiter and are probably only about 60 million years old.

The trio have similarities with our own Solar System. Their orbits are comparable in size to those of the outer planets, and the smaller planets are those closest to the Sun - again suggesting a system that formed through accretion.

Dr Marois points out that the current methods used in the exoplanet hunt are sensitive primarily to Jupiter-sized planets and larger.

"We thus do not have a full picture," he told BBC News. "The detection of the three planets around HR 8799 does not mean that no planets are orbiting at smaller separations. Other gas giant or even rocky planets could reside there."

Comparison - inner four planets in our system not shown; Dwarf planet Pluto included to help see scale (C. Marois/NRC)
A to-scale comparison of the HR 8799 system and our own

The study of the light directly from the planets will yield information about their atmospheres and surfaces that is impossible tocollect from planets discovered indirectly.

Further, the current results will also support theories of how planets form from the grand discs of dust and material around stars, and lead to better estimates of how many Earth-like planets are likely to exist.

These latest claims are both based on observations that were well-spaced in time, allowing the researchers to apply a rigorous test for direct detection.

"You see an object next to a star and you might think it's a planet," commented Mark McCaughrean, an astrophysicist at the University of Exeter, UK.

"But you have to watch it for several years and make sure that it moves around the star and with the star as it moves across the sky.
Though I've been very sceptical in the past, these ones all seem pretty real to me," he told BBC News

"It's like a London bus - you've been waiting for one for ages and suddenly four come along at once."

Exoplanet (Nasa/Esa/L.Calcada)
An artist's concept of the star Fomalhaut and the planet observed by Hubble

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Pyramid discovered in Egypt at Sakkara

Perhaps it's just me, but I feel that Dr. Zahi Hawass is the mafia of Egyptology. If he doesn't like a particular archaeologist or theory, you don't stand a chance. It's high time he was removed and replaced with a committee. At least, this would open up the entire field to new ideas and methodologies. He has held the power of veto for far too long. J

New pyramid discovered under sand
(01:29) Report

Nov. 12 - Egyptian archaeologists have started excavating a pyramid buried in the desert that no-one knew existed until recently.
It's located near the famous 'step pyramid' south of Cairo.
The pyramid probably housed the remains of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti, who ruled from 2323 to 2291 BC and founded Egypt's Sixth Dynasty.
The headless, five-metre (16-foot) high pyramid originally reached about 14 metres, and each of its sides was 22 metres long.
Sonia Legg reports.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Satellite TV without the bulk dish

Satellite Dishes installed on an apartment complexImage via Wikipedia

The Clymo Brief: Satellite minus the dish

I was recently cornered by my elderly neighbour as I put the bins out one evening.

“Here, you write about gadgets and stuff, don’t you?” he asked. “I’d like to pick your brains.”

It was a pretty simple request. He had been reading about how we’re set to become an all-digital TV nation in 2012 and was looking to upgrade and finally get telly via satellite.

But with a very limited budget he and his wife were concerned about signing up for a monthly subscription-based service like Sky. He wondered what I thought of Freesat, a joint venture between the BBC and ITV launched in May of this year. It can be had for a one-off payment and doesn’t involve any kind of contract or subscription – and so it really appealed to them.

High-def misconception
I hadn’t actually tried the service, but an interesting point came up during the conversation. The couple had recently bought an HD-Ready television so they were under the impression that they were watching everything in high definition.

Freesat, the subscription-free service from BBC and ITV (image © Freesat (UK) Ltd)
They were, in fact, watching episodes of Corrie and Emmerdale via a plain old analogue signal because they didn’t have an HD receiver, which is a necessary requirement for getting high-definition Freesat.

But, I explained over the top of the wheelie bins, there were plenty of options for sorting things out. An integrated digital television (IDTV) with a built-in Freesat HD receiver would be a good bet, but they’d only just recently bought their TV. So a set-top HD receiver would be the next best thing and for a bit extra they could even get a digital TV recorder too.

Flat antenna
I also suggested they might want to take a look at the SelfSat Flat Antenna. This is a neat variation on the satellite dish that allows you to pick up a satellite signal just like a normal one would. The big difference is that this device is much less obtrusive than many comparable models on the market, so it’s ideal if space is tight or you have regulations about what you can attach to your home.

A lot of flat owners, for example, have rules stipulating what they can put up on the exterior walls and it’s often a similar problem if you live in a listed building. SelfSat has a design that can be cleverly disguised to blend in with the background and can also be squeezed into much tighter spaces, so it might just offer the solution for that kind of issue.
Selfsat graphic (image © idoit)
I had been sent one only a day or two before, so our conversation created the perfect opportunity to put it to the test. They popped to the shops to buy an HD set-top box and I went round the next day.

Plumbing in the cables was the easy bit. Once it’s connected, though, you have to spend some time getting the SelfSat pointing the right way for maximum reception. This is aided by a compass (supplied) and brackets that have degree markings on them.

Costly option
This bit went surprisingly well, but the neighbour was less impressed when I told him the SelfSat costs £149 and that he couldn’t keep the unit I’d lent him as the PR lady had asked for it back again. Which meant he was still going to need a dish.

So although this was an experiment that was successful in as far as I could successfully roadtest the SelfSat, it was a disaster in terms of staying on speaking terms with the people down the road.

Nevertheless, the SelfSat did a pretty good job of picking up pictures, although you need to be sure that there’s a clear path between dish and satellite. It’s just a shame about the price as it makes an ideal mate for the Freesat service.
The SelfSat device (image © idoit)
Now that I’ve taken a look at it, this budget answer to multi-channel viewing seems like a really good idea.

Freesat currently offers over 130 channels and a growing number of them are now in high definition. It certainly seems a lot better than Freeview.

Freesat features
BBCi, for example, runs better on Freesat and the on-screen menu system it employs is much more user-friendly. And there are additional benefits. For starters, a Freesat-approved box has an Ethernet port.

This means that if you’ve got broadband you can hook up to that and gain better access to the growing number of interactive and on-demand services that are appearing.

Freesat also makes sense if, like in our neighbourhood, you’re not currently well catered for when it comes to a decent analogue signal strength. It effectively means that you can’t get Freeview at all.

Satellite TV in every room
Nailing up a dish like the SelfSat allows you to tap into satellite and the twin or quad LNB line also enables the use of multiple receivers from the single antenna. It means you can watch your favourite channels on more than one television.
The disguised SelfSat unit (image © idoit)
Oh, and you can customise it with stick-on transfers so that the antenna blends in with its surroundings. That’s a good idea if you’ve got a home with a standard red brick finish, but there are also football team logos on offer that, if you ask me, might end up doing the complete opposite. Still, there’s no accounting for taste.

So is the SelfSat a good idea or just an unnecessary variation on the more conventional satellite dish? Well, at £149 it’s not cheap and there are plenty of inexpensive alternatives available.

But having seen it work so nicely in tandem with Freesat I think there could be a market for this kind of device - although they’ll need to get that price down first. My neighbours think so too.
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The Hypnotised Hen

THIS ANIMATION IS BASED ON A REAL PHONE-IN TO AN IRISH RADIO STATION... a man accidentaly hypnotised his hen, and turns to the radio presenter for advice, at his peril!

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NOT for Women -

Image by Simon Pais-Thomas via FlickrCurrent_tv has a great financing policy. They generate advertising revenue from "viewer-created" ads only ... here is a brilliant example about Men's cosmetics by L'Oreal

Not related but found a great example of the blurring of the lines between the "barriers between content and advertising" in this EBay ad by Dailymotion which I found at Fred Destin's blog :

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Shaun the Sheep - makes it to the BBC homepage today only

Shaun the SheepImage via WikipediaShaun the Sheep - Watch a clip from 'Wet cement' on the BBC homepage. You can get all your Shaun fun at from the BBC or at his own site

Bitzer is standing guard to keep Shaun and his friends from making their mark on some wet cement. But can he keep his concrete free of naughty sheep?

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Brain Power as a Computer Interface

Animated Brain. The brain is divided into the ...Image via Wikipedia

Brain Power Video -
Brain Power

People who are completely paralyzed due to illness or trauma are getting help communicating with a new technology that connects their brains to a computer. Scott Pelley reports.

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November 3, 2008
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Giant Lego man appears on Brighton beach

giant lego manImage by blinkbyblink via Flickr

BBC NEWS | England | Sussex | Giant Lego man appears on beach
Giant Lego man appears on beach

It is not known where the giant Lego figure came from

Mystery surrounds the appearance of a giant Lego man on a beach in Brighton.

The 6ft-tall (1.8m) red, green and yellow figure has the slogan "No Real Than You Are" painted on the front and some words written in Dutch. Brighton resident Peter McNiven said he had spotted the figure in the water while walking to work this week.
It is not known if the figure washed ashore or was carried to the seafront. A Lego man with the same slogan appeared on a Dutch beach last year.
Mr McNiven, 32, who works for a digital marketing company, said: "I just happened to stumble across him on Wednesday morning. "I took a couple of pictures because it's not something you see every day. "There's a lot of talk about him coming over from Holland to here, but there's no tide marks on him."

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it did not know how or why the Lego man had appeared on the beach. He added the figure had now been taken away.

In August 2007 a giant Lego toy, bearing a close resemblance to the Brighton figure, mysteriously appeared on Zandvoort beach in Holland.
And Like the Brighton Lego man, there was no official explanation about where the giant plastic toy had appeared from.
The blue and yellow figure was pulled out of the sea and bore the same slogan "No Real Than You Are
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Truth on Tara was buried deep due to culture of lies

N3 road (Ireland)Image via Wikipedia

TaraWatch » ‘Truth on Tara was buried deep due to culture of lies’ - Mail on Sunday
‘Truth on Tara was buried deep due to culture of lies’ - Mail on Sunday

38 sites discovered during test-trenching, on M3 route

My findings on Tara were altered, says archaeologist

Irish Mail on Sunday - 29 June 2008 - By Luke Byrne

A LEADING archaeolgist employed to survey the M3 Tara Valley route has claimed her findings were changed to support the motorway when in fact there was evidence against it. In a devestating attack, Jo Ronayne - who was working for the National Roads Authority - says her findings were altered before being presented to ministers. Miss Ronayne, who was an excavation director at the Tara valley site in Co. Meath, claims she was told to ‘change interpretations’ so as to ‘lessen to potential of numbers of sites’. And she says she was excluded from NRA meetings in which her evidence was altered before reports were passed on to the Government. The damning allegations will shatter the Governments defence that it would not change the Tara route because there is no significant archaeological site on it. And it will lead to disturbing questions about whether ministers - and in turn the public or even the courts - were misled about the archaeological finds.

Miss Ronayne, who was directly employed by NRA subcontractor Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, suggests in an explosive academic article that her role appeared to have been a sham. ‘I didn’t realise that the testing and my reports would be used to facilitate rather than stop the project going ahead. Or that they don’t let you write the truth in the reports or give you enough time to do a proper job,’ she wrote. The archaeologist - whose sister Maggie, an archaeology lecturer in NUI Galway, is due to attend today’s World Archaeological Congress in Dublin - remains utterly disenchanted with how she says her reports were used and portrayed. She said: ‘I held the licence and was responsible for the work, but the NRA archaeologist would come down and tell me what I should be doing. ‘Directors or field archaeologists working on the sites were not allowed to attend meetings where decisions were made by the NRA’s own archaeologists about how to interpret and present what we were finding.’ She added: ‘A number of times I was told to change an interpretation which served to lessen the potential numbers of sites. We were also told to excavate large sections even tough you are not supposed to excavate in the testing phase. ‘They edited our reports before the Minister saw them.’

In May 2005, following preliminary archaeological reports made by the NRA, the then-environment minister Dick Roche sanctioned 38 archaeological excavations in the Tara-Skryne valley in Co. Meath, effectively approving the route. It was reports such as those complied by Miss Ronayne that Mr Roche would have been presented with before he eventually gave his approval for the project. Following the decision to go ahead with the road, Miss Ronayne and a number of archaeologists refused to work on the excavations. Since the route of the M3 was approved, there have been a number of protests aimed at highlighting the archaeological value of the stretch of motorway.

However, the results of initial test-trenching were often highlighted by advocates of the route of the motorway. In March 2005, Frank Cosgrave of the Meath Citizens for the M3 group, told the Joint Committee on Environment and Local Government: ‘Nothing that could be described as a “national monument” has been found. At the same meeting, Cork TD Billy Kelliher said: ‘The argument put forward by the archaeologists with regard to the richness of the area is a bit of a myth.’ Labour Environment spokeswoman Joanna Tuffy said: “If this is true, I think we need to bring in a completely independent archaeological survey to make sure that anything that can be salvaged will be. ‘At this stage we’ve already gone too far so we can’t turn back.’ Miss Tuffy added: ‘This incident is something that I will raise in the Dail.

Truth on Tara was buried deep due to culture of lies
Mail on Sunday - EDITORIAL
29 June 2008

BUILDING a much-needed road ought to be reasonably straightforward. Yet, years after Meath commuters were promised the M3 motorway, the project has been hit by another completely avoidable scandal. The revelation of official interference in the archaeological studies at Tara mean more misery for those stuck in tailbacks, but it is the culture of official deception that poses the gravest questions.

A lot of people have been badly misled. Archaeologists hired for their professional expertise and integrity have not in the words of one, been allowed to ‘write the truth’. Altering independent advice to fit hidden agendas is a dangerous corruption of working of Government in itself, more typical of systematically dishonest regimes than a democratic country like ours. Dail and public debates were based on information that cannot now be trusted. The courts have been asked to make judgments premised, in part, on studies that contain the taint of offical tampering. And a difficult decision whether to put the real needs of the travelling public nover the genuine loss of a part of our patrimony has been subverted by bureaucrats trusted to give us accurate information.

Those responsible cannot be allowed to hide behind behind the monolithic facade of the public sector. This is a dishonest decision with serious consequences. The individuals responsible - who must be known to those who can blow the whistle on their misdeeds - must be held to account. But the culture of dishonesty that makes such flagrant interference possible is harder to root out without clear direction from the very top. This is a Government that routinely plays fast and loose with the accuracy of the information it serves up. Bitter experience has taught the public not to take on trust the official information it receives. Yet the truth will always out. Public confidence in politics is as low as it is because political standards are so low. This sort of deliberate dishonesty needs to be stamped out, with the Taoiseach and the Cabinet setting standards at the top.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

500 Places to See Before They Disappear

The historic Hill of Tara  The controversial n...Image via Wikipedia

500 Places to See Before They Disappear

Hill of Tara

Tara is one of my favourite places on the planet and the only place where I feel my Irish heritage (see my blog article on Travellers below). Just like Stonehenge, the magic of this place will be lost forever with the completion of the ill-advised M3 from Dublin to Cavan. Despite widespread protests at all levels, the Irish government is going full-steam ahead. The danger of this development is not the motorway itself but the housing estates that are already planned (probably on rezoned land owned by friends/family of past Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern) that will spring up at every junction. One such junction is planned a short distance away where the Tara Na Ri pub currently stands and will seriously impact the site. At least the housing crash might delay this abomination.
Please visit the TaraWatch links at the end of this article and add your voice where you can.
Bonnie Alter, London on 10.30.08

Arthur Frommer usually writes guide books about where to eat and visit in Paris, but even this super-enthusiastic traveller is getting worried about the state of the world's environment. To explain the rationale behind the latest guide book, called "500 Places to See Before They Disappear", the author says: "The devastation wrought by climate change and direct man-made interference is familiar to all of us. But this book is a carefully chosen list of last-chance destinations that eco-conscious travellers can enjoy - if they move sharpish - for possibly the last time." So put aside guilt about the flying for the moment and let's dream about the most beautiful, striking and unspoilt places to be visited on this last trip of their lifetime.

Locations are listed by topic, not country, so there are subjects such as Sea & Stream, From the Mountains to the Prairies, Big Skies, Going to Ruins,City & Town, Where History Was Made, Tarnished Gems of Architecture, and Disposable Culture. This one includes vanishing structures like wigwam motels in the southwest of the USA. The natural wonders include the Hill of Tara (pictured) in Ireland which is under threat due to a proposed highway running close by, and the Dead Sea in Israel because it may run dry.

The guide also includes many architectural spots that are under threat due to redevelopment pressures. This includes New York's Little Italy, and the Taj Majal in India. Others are in danger due to lack of money for restoration, such as the oldest parish church and the Battersea power station in England.

Image by Arpinstone

In the US, the Everglades are in trouble because of agricultural and development pressures. Lower water levels and pollution haven't help either, with the number of bird species falling by a whopping 93%. Fenway Park in Boston, built in 1912, and the oldest baseball park in the major leagues, is on the list due to threat of demolition. Frommer's 500 Places to See Before They Disappear Via : The Observer

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Study says the woman in red drives the men crazy

La mujer de rojo/Woman in redImage by guervos via Flickr

Study says the woman in red drives the men crazy | Oddly Enough | Reuters

Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:41am GMT

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If a woman wants to drive the men wild, she might want to dress in red.

Men rated a woman shown in photographs as more sexually attractive if she was wearing red clothing or if she was shown in an image framed by a red border rather than some other colour, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The study led by psychology professor Andrew Elliot of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, seemed to confirm red as the colour of romance -- as so many Valentine's Day card makers and lipstick sellers have believed for years.

Although this "red alert" may be a product of human society associating red with love for eons, it also may arise from more primitive biological roots, Elliot said.

Noting the genetic similarity of humans to higher primates, he said scientists have shown that certain male primates are especially attracted to females of their species displaying red. For example, female baboons and chimpanzees show red colouring when nearing ovulation, sending a sexual signal that the males apparently find irresistible.

"It could be this very deep, biologically based automatic tendency to respond to red as an attraction cue given our evolutionary heritage," Elliot, whose findings appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, said in a telephone interview.

The study involved more than 100 men, mostly college undergraduates, who were shown pictures of women and asked to rate how pretty they were, how much the men would like to kiss them and how much the men would like to have sex with them.

Men were shown a woman, with some of the pictures bordered in red and some bordered in white, grey or green. Even though it was the same picture of the same woman, when she was framed in red the men rated her as more attractive than when she was bordered by another colour.

Men were then shown photographs of a woman that were identical except that the researchers digitally made her shirt red in some versions or blue in others. And once again, the men strongly favoured the woman in red.

The men also were asked, "Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 (64 pounds) in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?" When she was clad in red, the men said they would spend more money on her.

The researchers noted that the colour red did not alter how men rated the women in the photographs in terms of likeability, intelligence or kindness -- only attractiveness.

The researchers then had a group of young women rate whether the pictured woman was pretty. Red had no impact on whether women rated other women as pretty, they found.

Gay men and colour blind men were excluded from the study.

(Editing by Maggie Fox)

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Christmas with The Who in London - for members only!!

RAF - The WhoImage by oddsock via FlickrGot myself tickets for the December 14th Who concert at Indi02 in London. Can't wait. Indi02 is an intimate little venue holding only 2,500 and I've got standing floor seats.

The Who are putting on two special Christmas shows there for members of only as a reward to their dedicated fans. If you want tickets, you must be a member. Membership, BTW, is a great deal in and of itself.

For $50 you get:
- View From A Backstage Pass - this double CD contains a whole generation of rare live Who performances (1969 – 1976).
- A members only, Wholigan t-shirt
- A 25% discount off your first purchase in the Who store, The Who Sell Out.
- message board area , forums, regular messages from Pete and Roger, including Pete’s blogs, and they both answer fans questions from time to time
- Personalised email address (
- Regular mailings you’ll be the first to know about new releases, special appearances, publications or tour dates. With more features coming soon.

"I'd call that a bargain, the best I've ever had!"

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Traveller Weddings

Ireland.Bunratty.Travelers.IMG_0536Image by catzrule99 via Flickr

I agree that travelers are very badly treated in Ireland - but then the Irish can be very xenophobic in general and aren't very welcoming of "blow ins". I should know, I lived there for 10 years, my mum was born there and still I never felt truly Irish except when camping alone on the Hill of Tara. That was the only place I really felt part of my Irish ancestors.

An example of this exclusion of foreigners can be found here

... Dalkey is a compact town with a great deal of history and character. It was designated a Heritage Town in 1994. Timmy Ryan, an esteemed local, tells a story regarding his Grandfather Joe Ryan, who came to live in Dalkey age two. In the town, man and boy for a mere 68 years, Joe could be found with old pals on fine days, swapping yarns, sitting in the sun on the bench by Webster’s Corner as it was then known. (This same sunny bench can be found in front of the double hoardings down the end of town). One day a heated discussion on Dalkey matters arose, Joe offered his opinion and was immediately told to shut up, after all what did he know wasn't he only a blow in.

And yet, when a celebrity with tenuous links to Ireland like JFK or Bill Clinton visited, they were feted like long lost sons. It seems Irishness is an "honour" to be bestowed only when it suits. I suppose the fact that I don't have ANY nationalistic feelings of my own makes it so incomprehensible that people should feel proud of something that they had nothing to do with. Your nationality is an accident of birth and not an accomplishment! You might as well be "proud" you have blue eyes. Being proud to be Irish or English or American is the most useless of emotions and the cause of more wars than religion ever was.
Sorry, rant over and now for the article.

Would You Raise Your Machetes Please In A Toast To The Bride And Groom? | Avalon5
Would You Raise Your Machetes Please In A Toast To The Bride And Groom?

July 29, 2007 (7 Responses)

WHEN YOU THINK of weddings and family celebrations the images which typically permeate your consciousness are probably along the lines of old aunts drinking a little too much sherry, old uncles grabbing the microphone and treating guests to various drunken renditions of Elvis classics, even perhaps kids sneaking the odd alcohol treat when no one is looking. All in all, you probably think of weddings as one of those events which brings the entire family together in celebration of starting a new branch of the family tree.

When you think of possible venues for such an event Tinakilly House Hotel - a four star victorian mansion set in the woods of County Wickow, Ireland - is one of those locations most people desire; secluded, steeped in history and elegant enough for the wedding event of your dreams.

Unfortunately, this is not the image which most people will be left with after the last wedding ‘event’ down in Tinakilly house. Rather than a wedding, it’s perhaps more accurate to describe the affair as a grudge match. Police were called to the scene when a brawl broke out between the two families gathered for a wedding last Friday. Not just any kind of disagreement however, this brawl involved the participants weilding machetes, pick axes, slash-hooks, knives, wheel braces and even a sawn off shotgun (no wedding pun intended!). Apparently up to 30 or 40 people were involved in the fight, which I’m sure must have looked like a scene from Apocalypse Now by the time the cops arrived.

You see this was a traveller wedding.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Story of the Guitar

Legend  1. Headstock; 2. nut; 3. machine heads...Image via Wikipedia

The BBC has produced a fantastic documentary. Obviously, my favourite sections deal with Pete Townshend . Here Pete explains what the attraction of the electric guitar was to the bands of the 60s. How The Who found their sound, and how art school influenced what it meant to Pete: much more than just an instrument to play on.

The man who made his name smashing guitars on stage here argues for the guitar as an instrument of the salon. Pete Townshend sings the praises of the guitar as the most personal, intimate and companionable of instruments.

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AOR (All Over the Road) by dublinjames is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.