Archive for November, 2008

Tiscali? Who’s that?

November 30th, 2008 No comments

TiscaliMy parents have Tiscali as their ISP. Recently they’ve had trouble connecting to Tiscali’s email server and have been blaming their router, but it happened while I was there today, so I did some quick checks.

The actual error they were getting was that Outlook Express was reporting that the Tiscali mail server could not be resolved. I checked a couple of websites and found that the internet connection was not down at all, it was just that was not resolving.

I added another DNS server to the search list and bingo – resolved and email worked again, so basically the fault was that Tiscali’s own DNS servers couldn’t resolve the address for their own email server – not a very impressive situation.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Windows Update downloads insecure versions

November 24th, 2008 No comments

I’ve just run a manual Windows update on three Windows boxes today that are normally run by non-admin users. This is still necessary since, although they are all set to ‘auto-update’, the updates get downloaded but the actual updates do not take place unless an admin logs into the machine. I wonder how many PCs around the world are delayed in installing critical security updates because of this? However, that is an aside as it is not the reason for this post.

On all three machines, as well as the critical update, I also installed updates for .net 1.1, .net 2.0 and the latest Windows Media Player. After installing and rebooting, I always make a habit of logging in again as admin and forcing a recheck for any other updates: on all three machines it was then identified that critical security patches were required for all three of these new items installed.

This means that the initial downloads made available by Microsoft were not patched, despite the fact that Microsoft knows they need it because it has the patches ready for them.

Since the initial install involves the mandatory Microsoft ‘your mouse has moved, please restart to update changes’ reboot, it is quite likely that anyone installing it will then leave the machine to a non-admin user to continue using, blissfully unaware that the new software has a critical flaw.

Surely it makes perfect sense to have the initial download fully patched.

Haydon Bridge Bypass Complete (according to Google)

November 18th, 2008 No comments

Haydon Bridge is the last remaining village on the A69 to be bypassed and while construction is still underway with a completion date of Spring 2009, Google maps appears to have jumped the gun and seems to think it has been completed:

View Larger Map


I have just updated the maps on my TomTom and the new bypass is also shown on here:

Haydon Bridge Bypass on TomTom

This is not surprising as both Google and TomTom take their map data from Tele-Atlas, who would appear to be the ones jumping the gun here.

Ironically, TomTom’s map update service proudly claims “Tomorrow’s maps today“. I didn’t realise they meant literally.

Further Update (24 Nov)

A representative from The Highways Agency has today confirmed that they were unaware of Google and TomTom showing the bypass as open. They also noted that Google maps has given the old road the number B6319 (as have TomTom) which has yet to be confirmed.

Update (27 Mar 09)

I drove along the A69 today and the bypass is now open.

Royal Mail Tracking is Not Reliable

November 14th, 2008 No comments

Royal MailI was expecting a Royal Mail Special Delivery this morning after a supplier had yesterday emailed me the tracking number.

When I first checked this morning on Royal Mail’s website, it said that the package had reached the local delivery office and was out for delivery. Fair enough, however at 9:30, it claimed that the package had been delivered. Despite checking all possible locations (security, stores, reception) I could not find the package.

Not surprisingly, there was a very good reason: Royal Mail hadn’t yet delivered it. They finally turned up at 11:15, almost two hours after the website claimed it had been delivered.

What is the point of a tracking web page if someone is going to enter false information?

The Manchester Motorist Cash Cow

November 12th, 2008 No comments

One from the inbox, portraying exactly how those who want the TIF proposal to go through view the motorist:

How the Yes Campaigns views the Manchester Motorist

Why should 1 in 10 pay when they won’t benefit?

November 11th, 2008 No comments

We can argue until the cows come home about the accuracy of the ‘only 10% will pay the congestion charge” claim of the Yes Vote campaign (it’s 20% according to the TIF consultation brochure), but let’s play along.

The pro-toll advocates say that it will only be 10% because others will be able to switch to a viable alternative (I can’t as previously posted). Following this logically through, this means that the remaining 10% are precisely the ones for whom the TIF proposals will not provide a viable public transport alternative.

So basically, the yes campaign are happy to promote the notion that the improvements should be paid for by those who can’t benefit from them.

How is that fair?

Is John Sergeant the Thorn in Strictly’s Side?

November 9th, 2008 No comments

Telephone VotingI really detest the telephone voting shows that currently pass as Saturday night ‘entertainment’, but my wife watches Strictly Come Dancing. What I do find funny, is the continued survival of John Sergeant (often misspelt ‘Sargent’) and how it’s really starting to annoy the judges.

However, it got me wondering – what if you wanted to intentionally sabotage one of these programmes? What better way to do it than to use their over-reliance on telephone voting against them.

EurovisionRemember Eurovision 2006 in Athens, when Finland group ‘Lordi’ famously won with a heavy metal rock track? Thousands of viewers across Europe saw the chance to tip the result in favour of the outsider. Whether this was the otherwise silent number of hard rocks fans or Eurovision-skeptics looking to make a fool of the competition, it is not known, but the result was a resounding win for outsider Finland.

What if John Sergeant’s survival is not entirely down to his fan-base, but is in fact due to a long awaited backlash against this kind of show? What better way to discredit Saturday night pseudo-talent-judge-vote shows than to make a complete farce of the selection process by making the judging of any actual skill irrelevant. John Sergeant even alluded to this last night, when he pointed out that they were only playing by the rules – the judges only account for 50% of the vote.

Whether John’s votes come from a disparate number of ‘mischievous viewers’, simply trying to throw a spanner in the works, or an organised number of people intentionally trying to tilt the vote (Top Gear maybe), Len Goodman’s comments last night about people voting for John making a nonsense of the show, have only served to help John’s cause by keeping him out of the bottom two for yet another week.

How not to advertise for a yes vote

November 8th, 2008 No comments

You’ve got to hand it to the Manchester Congestion Charge ‘Yes Vote’ camp: their lack of targeting their advertising properly is helping to galvanise the ‘no’ vote.

Rule 1: Don’t play to one of the opposition’s main arguments

The pro-toll’s decision to go with the ‘I won’t pay’ adverts has only angered those who will have to pay. Couple that with fact that these have been sited along routes which will not receive funding to provide an alternative and you only reinforce people’s decision to vote no.

Rule 2: Don’t promote a service to those who won’t get it

Now, having realised that, they have switched to a ‘that sounds fair’ slogan, but you have to question the wisdom of large bill-board posters proclaiming the building of Metrolink routes smack in the middle of those areas that will never have the benefit of Metrolink. Again, when the lack of Metrolink is a sore point, this only reinforces a no vote.

Well done – keep it up!

A Walk around Anglezarke

November 2nd, 2008 No comments

The colours were splendid today, especially coupled with the low sunshine. Click on the images for full size versions.

Anglezarke 1 Anglezarke 2 Anglezarke 3 Anglezarke 4
Categories: Photography Tags: , , ,