Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Firefox Updated

Are you sick and tired of the bugs in your old web browser?  Well, do we have a treat for you!

Here at the Mozilla Foundation we've heard your complaints and taken action - the only action possible.  With Mozilla Firefox, every time you open a new browser session, you'll get a Fresh new version of Firefox.  That's right - if you found issues with the old version, just close it and re-open it and a new version will be automatically downloaded and installed.  We've re-worked our development teams so that they generate new versions every 1.76 seconds, so you'll never again have to be stuck using an old browser.

Firefox Fresh - the new way to browse every single time you open it!

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

I was saddened to hear of the death of Christopher Hitchens even though it was not unexpected.  He was a man true to his convictions, who didn't tolerate nonsense nor woo woo, who loved life for what it actually was, not tainted by some belief in a mythical sky fairy, who was both intelligent and an intellectual, who was an excellent author, debater and personality and who was and will continue to be an inspiration to myself and many others.

Hitchens died on Thursday 15 December, 2011 of pneumonia, a complication of his oesophageal cancer that was no doubt caused by his love of cigarettes.  It still amazes me that intelligent people can be suckered into smoking and find the addiction too hard to overcome, despite knowing the damage smoking can do to oneself.

I fondly recall the Intelligence Squared debate where Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry opposed the motion that "The Catholic Church Is A Force For Good In The World" sitting opposite Archbishop Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe.  The audience vote before the debate was roughly 32% For, 52% Against and 16% Undecided, yet following thoughtful, fact based and persuasive arguments by both Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens, the end result was 12% For, 86% Against and 2% Undecided.  If you have not seen this debate, then I'd strongly suggest that investing a mere 2 hours to watch all parts of this debate will be well worth it.

I have read some of Christopher Hitchens' works and feel that I know some of his thoughts and beliefs.  I don't necessarily agree with everything he believed in, but I sure do feel that he had a pretty decent grasp on reality - the reality that we all live in, without it being tainted by belief in any of the great number of myths that a great many people still believe in.  I will definitely be reading more of his work.

We have all lost a great man and a great leader in the fight against nonsense.  My condolences to his family and friends - you have lost a great man that you loved.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sharing A Little FSMas Cheer

I have just reinvested this month's Kiva repayments into loans to more people.  So far, this is how my portfolio looks:

Total Amount Lent$4200.00
Total Amount Repaid$3309.89
Total Amount Lost$    16.06
Total Refund/Expired$    29.01
Outstanding Portfolio$  845.04

Out of a total of 168 loans and $4200 loaned, I have had 4 loans end with a loss and that total loss was just $16.06 - That's a total of 2.4% of my loans have not been paid back fully, with a total of 0.4% default rate (in cash terms).  I'm pretty happy with that and would consider this to be quite a bit better than your average bank would see in their books!  :)

I'm also pleased to say that I'm a member of the AASFSHNR lending team which currently has a total lent amount of US$5,678,275 and climbing and also the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster lending team which is sitting at $875,175 and looking at reaching their first US$1m in loans in the near future - it will be good to help the FSM team reach this significant milestone.

In this holiday season, aside from giving praise to His Sauciness, our Pasta Master, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, would you also consider spreading a little cheer to those in needs of a loan to help them build their businesses or improve their education or housing?  If you'd like to accept a Kiva Invitation from me, just click this link.

Thanks to Kiva, we can make a change for good in many people's lives.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vibrams FiveFingers

OK, so I've known about the Vibrams FiveFingers range (well, some of it) for some time and know a few people who have some and quite like them, but it wasn't until I recently posted in Facebook that my physio recommended that I buy some supportive, anti-pronation shoes to help my recently (2011-10-23) badly sprained ankle that I actually considered buying some.  And if it wasn't for a friend suggesting that I look at them, I'd have totally forgotten about them!

So, as Joanne suggested I take a look at these instead of buying "normal" shoes, I did just that.  And I'm glad I did.  The exclusive Australian distributor for Vibrams products is Barefootinc, and right now they are at the end of a sale on some of their line, so now was a perfect time to make the leap.

I decided to buy a pair of Mocs for around the house, mainly in winter when it *does* get just a little chilly here in Brisbane.  They'll also be great when I'm staying in a hotel somewhere.  I also bought a pair of Sprints to walk in as I need to get back into walking a few afternoons a week to help get rid of a few(1) extra kilos and also to start strengthening my ankle now I can walk on it sans crutches and heavy strapping.

I've been wearing the Mocs for most of the past week since they arrived and find them to be quite nice.  They have a soft, kangaroo leather upper which appeals to me - I eat a lot of roo anyway, so walking around in the carcasses of my conquests seems only fair.  (Please note, I buy my roo pre-packaged in plastic.)  As they are designed exclusively for indoor use - they don't have the same soles as the majority of the Vibrams range - I've been wearing them mainly indoors and also out to the car/bin, but not out on the footpath or road.  I can see these being well used as time goes by...

I only received my Sprints on Thursday and wore them last night when a mate and I went to Nandos for some excellent Portugese chicken (much better than that sub-par Oporto stuff).  I wandered around a bit in them and was pretty happy with the way they seemed to alter my standing/walking posture and also they felt good to walk in.

This evening I took the Sprints for a walk around some fairly flat streets (until my ankle's strong enough, I'm keeping clear of the hills I normally encounter on my walks).  I was quite comfortable walking in them and was impressed with how "natural" they felt when walking.  OK, let me just say that unless I'm on a client site I'm generally always barefooted around home and the office and have been for many, many years.  I don't hate shoes, I just prefer to be barefooted.  So wearing the Sprints when walking felt like I wasn't wearing shoes (which I wasn't in the traditional sense) and really did feel good.

I walked for about 50 minutes and probably about 30 - 35 minutes into the walk I decided to walk on the grass beside the footpath and see how my ankle handled the uneven surface, which has been a HUGE issue over the past few weeks.  Well, I can report that in the Vibrams Sprints, my ankle felt fine - both on the footpath and on the grass/uneven surface.  I even considered walking a bit further but the rain was just starting to fall and I decided that I'd prefer to keep my phone dry and head out again tomorrow.

So, with the way I feel my standing/walking posture improve when wearing these VFF Sprints and the fact that they are extremely comfortable to walk in, I'm now considering a pair of black KSOs a size or so larger so I can wear them with Injinji socks (also from Barefootinc) to replace my normal shoes (Adidas runners that actually feel pretty good for regular shoes) most of the time.


(1) Well, OK, a few more than a few(2)
(2) And maybe a few more than that

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LuminAID - Real Light From The Real Sun

If you were looking for a way to spread the true light this FSMas/holiday season by helping a small business owner trade for a few extra hours a day or to allow a school child to study at night or a family to see without needing to burn fuel that produces toxic gases, then LuminAID may well be the project for you.

Instead of spreading religious mumbo jumbo about some mythically-endowed son, spread something truly useful for people - real, electromagnetic light in a waterproof, inflatable form, powered by the real sun.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Work From Home Without Going Insane

I read this post from Lifehacker Australia this morning and being a veteran of "work from home" myself (since 1989) I thought it only fair to make mention of it - there's some good points in there for anyone starting out or even starting to lose their way...

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Goes Up Mars Come Down

On 9th November, 2011 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russians launched their Phobos-Grunt probe using a Zenit-2 booster rocket.  11 minutes later, just as planned, the probe separated from the booster however neither of the two engine burns which would have set the probe on its way towards Mars' moon "Phobos" were successful.

Plans for the Phobos-Grunt mission started around the mid-1990s and after receiving an initial substantian funding of 40 million rubles in 2007, the project moved from paper to production.  Initially slated to launch in 2009, there were a myriad of setbacks mainly due to insufficient testing and unfinished components and this launch attempt was eventually scrubbed when it became clear that there was no way the mission would be ready for launch in the 2009 window that allowed the probe to reach Mars and Phobos.

Normally when new, as yet untested technology is being used to launch an expensive payload such as this, there will be a series of launch and control tests run (as NASA performed on 9th November, 2011 with its 500 sec test burn of the J-2X rocket engine) before the actual payload is sent off.  A number of these tests were not run and apparently some team members were even questioning the reliability of the control systems just before launch.  So it seems that this mission, even after being delayed for just over 2 years, was still seriously under-planned and under-prepared.

What's now the result of this half-arsed attempt at launching a probe to Phobos is that as NASA launches their "Curiosity" Mars probe/lander on 25 November, 2011 (planned to reach Mars in August, 2012), the Russian Federal Space Agency will be attempting to narrow down the estimated point of its uncontrolled re-entry and touchdown of the parts of Phobos-Grunt that will survive re-entry.  Now, with around 7.5 tonnes of highly toxic nitrogen teroxide and hydrazine propellant and some (mildly) radioactive Cobalt-57 on board, this probe will be one of the largest and most dangerous re-entries of launched material to date.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Now It's Steam's Turn

Valve Software's "Steam" service was hacked recently.  The database that the hackers gained access to contained sensitive information such as usernames, billing addresses, salted password hashes and encrypted credit card details, but it is unknown if this information was taken and/or the encryption compromised.

The next in a long line of breached online/cloud services, I'd strongly recommend Steam users check their credit card statements and make sure they change any passwords they have - preferably using passphrases, which if chosen well are significantly harder to crack.  I'd also strongly suggest regular passphrase changes for any sites that contain sensitive information and using different passphrases on every such site.

I've just checked and I currently have 684 passphrases that I have stored here, the vast (vast) majority of which are unique.  There's no way I could ever remember these, so I use Roboform to store these.  There's also LastPass, KeePass and other password storing applications out there, but I've found RoboForm to be by far the best.  Just make sure you use an appropriately secure passphrase to protect the application you store your passwords in!  :)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Brisbane IT Training

It is a busy time for IT-based training here in Brisbane!

SMBiT Professionals (Brisbane Chapter) ran an open training session on Group Policy and Remote Desktop Services at The Chalk Hotel on 23rd October.

Robert Crane from CIAOPS is holding an informal "Office 365 for SMB. The tricks, traps and best practices" afternoon on 9th November at The Chalk Hotel from 2:00pm - 5:30pm.

The regular SMBiT Professionals Brisbane Chapter meeting will be held at The Chalk Hotel from 6:30pm - 9:00pm following Robert's Office 365 session on the 9th November.  This meeting we'll have Sophos presenting on their products and their MSP offering and we'll also have Shane Hoey (PowerShell Guru) presenting Part 2 of a PowerShell for SMB session.  The first part of this PowerShell for SMB presentation will be held with the SMBiT Professionals Sydney Chapter at North Ryde on the evening of the 8th November.  SMBiT Professionals members should check the mailing lists for details of these events and the streaming/recording availability.

On Thursday 10th November, again at The Chalk Hotel, Robert Crane will be holding a SharePoint Bootcamp from 8:30am - 5:30pm.  The aim of this hands-on course is to provide you with the technical and business skills to confidently install, support and maintain just about any SharePoint installation

And then we have Infrastructure Saturday on 3rd December from 8:00am until around 5:00pm which will be at the Microsoft Brisbane offices.  Last year's InfraSat was a resounding success and this year's event should follow in those footsteps.



Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Has RIM Finally Fallen In?

If you're a Blackberry user in many parts of the world (including Europe, Middle East, Africa, India and South America) you'll likely find that you can't use Blackberry messaging and browsing and this has been the case for a day or so and will be remedied at some point in the future!

This was all caused by the failure of a single server in the UK which in a domino-like free-fall, resulted in a number of other servers going offline in sympathy.  It does, however, show the insanity in relying on a single company to deliver all of this information world-wide.

Yes, another Cloud service takes down thousands/millions of users in one fell swoop.  Cloud? Stability? Data Access?  Choose the first, or the others!  ;)


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Storms On Their Way

I just clipped this from the BOM site - we's a got some rain a'comin'!  :)



Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs - RIP

I'm not an Apple fan, but I have a lot of respect for what Steve Jobs achieved. So, the news of his death today, whilst not unexpected, is still sad.

RIP Steve - you will definite be missed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

So Zune And Yet So Long

Microsoft has discontinued their Zune hardware platform as of today: http://www.zune.net/en-US/support/zuneplayers/supportzuneplayers.htm

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Disturbing News From The Religious Nutter Front

It appears that the Australian National Anthem isn't good enough for some people - a number of "christian" schools are now using an unauthorised 2nd verse that has never been part of our National Anthem nor does it have anything to do with anything other than pretending that Jesus Christ is head of our country (when he was nothing other than a regular human being - like the rest of us).

Have a read of this News.com.au article for some more information on this disgraceful episode.

Now, I have to say that as a proud Australian, I know as many of the words to our National Anthem as the next person does (ie, some of them), but trying to use our National Anthem to push one particular religious fairy tale as being what we all believe in really makes me feel dirty.  If you want the real words to the first two verses, then have a read of them over here.

And while I'm going on about abusing our National Anthem (and I've said this before), I'd really like all Australiand to have a good read of the proper/authorised second verse and especially these particular lines:

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.


Yes, that shows, in our National Anthem, that we're not a country who will let people suffer the fates that many have suffered in trying to reach our shores when escaping from horrific situations overseas.  No, I don't think we should accept "just anyone", but I most definitely do think that we need to have a think about these words and our own humanity when handling illegal immigrants and processing their requests for asylum.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LOB Vendors - The Bane...

Why is it that Line Of Business Vendor support (sic) technicians (sic) who barely know even a little bit about how computer networks (especially Windows AD-based networks) operate and should know a lot about how their product functions always insist they know more than the system admin about the network (until they eventually have to agree that they don't understand much at all) and even more annoyingly keep showing that they don't know a great deal about their own product?

Not to mention that if these guys actually administered a network, all firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware would be disabled permanently and more than likely, all users would have the same password: "password".

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Office 365 - The Sep 8th Outage Explained

According to information released recently, a configuration update on the tool that Microsoft uses to load balance network traffic failed, causing the load balancing to fail, taking out services such as Windows Live, Hotmail, SkyDrive and Office 365.

This was the latest in a long line of service disruptions for Microsoft's online services - especially of BPOS and Office 365 - which leads to the question: Just how stable are Microsoft's hosted solutions, really?

With all the emphasis Microsoft is placing on their online services, wouldn't you think that they'd be testing things like configuration updates to critical infrastructure before deploying it to soon find that it takes out their "we're all in" cloud services moments later?

Now, whilst I agree that online solutions are appropriate in some situations, they are most definitely not a panacea.  Issues like this that result in thousands (or orders of magnitude more) of their clients being taken offline with no access to their data only goes to show that this is a technology in its infancy and running on technology that's still being stress tested.

If you have moved your data to "the cloud", what happens when your cloud hosting provider breaks or closes down?  How do you get access to your critical business data?  Backups are at least as crucial for cloud-based data as they are for on-site based data - and a proper backup/restore/alternate access regime needs to be worked out with any potential hosting partners well before your data is moved from on-site to the cloud.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Windows 8 Tablet PC Part II

So, after spending a little while using Windows 8 x86 on this Tablet PC (Slate) I have started to restore the Windows 7 image backup I took before installing Windows 8.

The *main* issue I have is the seriously reduced functionality of the "Desktop" in Windows 8 - there's no Start Menu any more and clicking on what appears in place of the Windows 7 Pearl just takes you back to the (currently - this is pre-beta) almost totally non functional Metro UI.  If this is what Microsoft relegates the desktop to, then I can't see anyone except personal (home) users and tablet users looking at Windows 8 - Enterprise and SMB clients will not be able to function in a barely usable desktop environment as I can *guarantee* you that very, very few of the LOB vendors out there will release their apps through the Microsoft Win 8 App Store as full-screen (Metro-style) apps.  And the "just use search, not the Start Menu" response Microsoft gives is a crock - especially on a Slate!

Obviously, as all of the tiles in the Metro UI are place holders except "Explorer", "Desktop" and "Control Panel", it is next to useless right now - however that aside, it *does* seem to be an interesting way to handle a Touch UI and I'm sure when devs start releasing apps that will work, it will become quite nice.  Right now, however, there's nothing useful in it at all.

So, back to Windows 7 I come.  This is disappointing as this is the fastest I have ever returned to a previous OS when starting to beta test the next one.  :(


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Windows 8 Tablet PC

Well, I just (as in just) booted my no-name Chinese Slate PC into Windows 8 (Developer Preview) x64 and it seems to be basically working - most of the hardware was detected and seems to function.  Of course, the 3DSP BT/WLAN card didn't function and the Windows 7 drivers supplied with the tablet are only x86 drivers, however I found x64 drivers at Syntek Semiconductor site - but they also didn't do the trick.  So... back to x86 I go!  :(

The Slate PC (Tablet) I have can be found here at DinoDirect - however don't bet on it being shipped with a functional 3G device - mine's totally non-functional.  That aside, I'm pretty happy with the rest of it.  Obviously the 3DSP Bluetooth/Wi-Fi card is a bit of a pain and I may well look around and see if I can find a card with functional x64 drivers - though it works fine in x86 (as supplied with the Tablet).

As to Windows 8, well since most of the Metro style buttons are only there for show and as the older Windows 7 interface is pretty much only partially functional, I don't know how long I'll be able to run with this on my Tablet for now, but soon, no doubt, things will be picking up speed with Windows 8!  :)


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Windows 8, Hyper-V And Power Saving

Well, it seems that the updated version of Hyper-V that will be included in x64 builds of Windows 8 will allow the PC to sleep and hibernate, unlike that in the current Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 version of Hyper-V.

That's great news as it means that people who want and/or need to run Hyper-V guests on their desktop can now do so and retain the power-saving functionality built into the operating system - something I've been a little concerned about since I started running WS2K8R2E on my desktop to gain access to Hyper-V functionality.

Hyper-V in Windows 8 will also support Wi-Fi NICs - as this blog post details.



Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Hyper-V - Failed To Compact VHD - File System Limitation

If you find yourself wanting to compact a Hyper-V VHD file and see the error message "The system failed to compact disk.vhd. Error Code: The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation" you may find the information below handy.

First, check to see that there are no VSS backups on the VHD by running a "vssadmin list shadows" command in an elevated command prompt.


Second, delete any VSS backups that are present by running "vssadmin delete shadows /all". If this fails to delete the VSS backups, you may need to resort to the "DiskShadow" utility in WS2K8 and WS2K8R2.  (There's some more information on DiskShadow here (free registration required) and also here.)


Finally, defragment the drive to enable greater compaction.  I'm using MyDefrag in this example, but I also use Defraggler and UltraDefrag at times.


After this you should be able to compact the VHD without any issues.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ABC and its News, News and News Policy

Are you concerned with the direction ABC is taking by dropping sport, arts and pretty much anything not news or current affairs? Well, speak to your State and Federal members of parliament to have them take this up for you.

Bowls Australia has an online petition available at http://www.bowlsaustralia.com.au/index.php?id=30&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=4602&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=4abf12dc0e

Microsoft's Office 365, Hotmail and Skydrive Go Down Again

It seems that in an effort to one-up Google again, Microsoft's major online "cloud" offerings went offline again this week for around 2.5 hours.  This was a global outage, not the more common localized outages we've seen, and was apparently caused by a DNS issue.

One additional issue is that Chris Jones of Windows Live said that "We have completed propagating our DNS configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers" whereas anyone with a good understanding of both English and DNS knows that DNS records do not propagate.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Google Explains This Weeks' Docs Outage

Google Docs went dark on Wednesday this week for around an hour.  Google's Engineering Director, Alan Warren, posted this explanation of what happened and what Google's doing to ensure these sorts of issues are both less likely to happen and if they do happen, quicker to detect and recover from.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google To Acquire Motorola Mobility

In some very interesting news (after all, as an Amiga fan, I am a fan of the Motorola 68000 series of CPUs, as well as some of their other offerings), Google has announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion.

In Feb, 2010, Motorola announced its intention to split the company into Motorola Mobility - mobile devices and home businesses, and Motorola Solutions - business and mission critical communications products.  On Jan 4th, 2011 this split was finalised.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This Week In Social Media

It has been a bad week for Social Media and Privacy.  First, LinkedIn decided that they'd emulate Facebook's utter disregard for their members' privacy by enabling anyone you're associated with to use your images and details in their advertising.

To disable this reduction in your privacy and copyright, in LinkedIn, click on your name and go to Settings, then click on the Account option on the left and then Manage Social Advertising.  Uncheck the "LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising" box that LinkeIn has checked for you by default when they introduced this feature.

Now, as if Facebook could allow some other social media site to invade your privacy without having an invasion of their own!  So, Facebook decided to one-up LinkedIn and make available to others the phone numbers of all of your friends, whether they are on Facebook or not.  I don't recall them asking me if this was what I wanted...

To disable this invasion of your friends and colleagues privacy, you need to click on Account, Edit Friends, then Contacts over on the left.  Now, click on the "this page" link over on the right and click the "Remove" button.  Also, on your iPhone, in Facebook's main menu, click the Friends icon, then click the Sync icon (arrow in a box) and then "Sync Contacts".  From here you can set syncing to on or off and can also remove any synced data.

Now, I have no issue with people HAVING the choice as to whether they use these features or not, however I DO have an issue with these privacy invading features being introduced and enabled by default, especially when their introduction isn't made well known to all their members.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, August 08, 2011

Cloud Down Due To Lightning

Ironic as it may seem, a good portion of Microsoft and Amazon's cloud offerings available from Dublin, Ireland were taken offline recently due to a lightning strike.

Have a read of this article for more info.

Now, if you had data on these servers, your business would be offline until they got it restored.  Was this your office, we could restore a backup onto a temporary server in around an hour or two and have you up and running from an alternate location.

So, it's your call - cloud services that you have no control over or locally hosted servers that we can restore from backups relatively easily?

**Update** According to a TechEye article, lightning didn't take out the transformer in question, however there is currently no explanation as to why the transformer caused the issues.  Amazon was out for less than a second whilst Microsoft was out for a number of hours.  (Thanks to Robert Crane for bringing this additional article to my attention.)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, August 05, 2011

It Seems The Jews Hate Paedophile Laws, Too

Along with the Catholic Church and Ratzinger's protection of the paedopholes instead of the children, it seems that the Jewish faith has also just taken a stance on the wrong side of morality over this issue.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman seems to have told the Australian Jewish News that he seens no reason that when something as serious as child molestation is reported, it is necessary for their church to take this to the "secular authorities" (otherwise known as the Law - the same Law for everyone in this country, that is).  Have a read of The Age for more on this vile story.

Now, before anyone gets all hot and bothered that I'm being anti-semitic, realise that this is your children these guys don't want to protect.  The same as Ratzinger's doing.  And I'd be equally as outraged if I found out any secular organization was promoting the rights of the paedophole over the rights of the child.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, August 01, 2011

Charlie 1 - Fred 0

If you've not read this, then you simply should.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thoughts on the Upcoming 2012 Atheist Conference

There's a lot we have in common, and likely a lot we don't have in common, which should make the conference quite interesting.


Religion is probably the largest purveyor of hatred and fear mongering that man has invented to date, and what's worse is that it parades this as a message of love. It is disgusting. One good thing about being an Atheist is that I am not being taught that people who eat pigs, or who wear garments made of two different materials, or eat shellfish, or don't believe in my particular imaginary friend, or have sex with someone in a manner in which my particular friend doesn't like, or who draws an image of an imaginary friend, or drinks tea or coffee, any other arbitrary thing is going to hell and if I can't convince them that my imaginary friend knows best, I may as well kill them now, in love.

Atheism has no need to hate anyone as there simply are no imaginary friends, no mythical sky fairies, no other metaphysical planes of existence. We have no need to make up planes of existence that we then claim are too "spiritual" for us to comprehend so we can find a place for our imaginary friend (or friends) to live.

Atheists can look at the real world in which we live, our vision not tainted by a belief in one particular myth or other, and appreciate the beauty in our lives, our planet, our universe for what it is. We have an opportunity to make positive changes without our particular mythical-based lessons in who to abhor tainting the reality in which we all live.

I'm looking forward to the 2012 Atheist Conference in Melbourne next April - sure there will be some sessions on looking at various religions and the different and conflicting myths they believe in, but I am looking forward most to learning about others experiences in the real world in which we live and how they are making changes for the better in it so we can learn more how we can all make real changes to give us all a better future.
Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, July 21, 2011

End of an Era

Whilst it is most definitely true that I'm sad to see the Shuttle program end - I've been an avid fan and follower, watching the majority of launches, landings, dockings, undockings, deployments, EVAs and other points of interest since STS-1 launched on 12 April, 1981 with Shuttle Columbia and its 2 man crew (Commander John W Young and Pilot Robert L Crippen) - this is the end of a much more significant era.

When the Mercury program ended in 1963, there was already the Gemini program snapping at its heels, which then started in 1965 and ended in 1966.  Gemini was followed by the Apollo program in 1967 which continued through until 1972 and delivered 12 men onto the moon - the only time in our history that we've set foot on another celestial body, which was and still is quite an achievement.  The final 3 Apollo missions (18 through 20) were cancelled to funnel money into the upcoming Shuttle program that first launched in 1981 and ended just a few minutes ago, at 05:57:54 AM US EDT on 21 July, 2011.

The Shuttle program was supposed to be followed by the Constellation Program, however President Obama announced on 1 Feb, 2010 that he was canning it, which became all but official on 11 October, 2010.  His new Space Program has relatively vague guidelines of a heavy-lift launch vehicle being designed by 2015 and construction to commence some time after this as well as a US-crewed orbital Mars mission by the mid 2030s - with no other definite goals and ideas.  Basically, in my opinion, Obama just canned the Human Space Flight Programs of NASA and the US for the foreseeable future.

So, this is not really simply the end of an era for the Shuttle Program, it is the end of an era for US Human Space Flight and exploration, and this is truly what's sad about today.  Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969 and today NASA's human space flight is over.  At least for my lifetime.  And that's really, really disappointing.

The money that's spent on wars and military conflicts and the death and destruction of humanity far exceeds that spent on human exploration.  I find that this is a sad comment on humanity.  Humankind has 2 main characteristics - the need and will to explore and the need and will to kill each other - I still hold hope for our future, that we will eventually realise that we need to all work together to make this planet a better (and nicer) place to live and that we *will* need to find another place to spread our wings to.  I still hold hope that we will do this before we wipe ourselves out.

The end of the US-based Human Space Flight most certainly doesn't spell the end of Human Space Flight - but it sure opens a wide gap between the Shuttle program and the next stepping stone.  I just hope someone can step up to make that leap and continue our exploration of the universe and our expansion of human knowledge.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Destroyed

I had to ensure a client's hard drive data was unrecoverable - I think I succeeded, no?




Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, July 08, 2011

Deals Direct Scam

Wow - I didn't realise that Deals Direct would be willing to push scams on their site, such as the GO4GREEN Energy Smart Plug-In Unit.  This unit is a scam - it will not improve your home's energy consumption.  Information on this scam can be found here.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Free Speech Speech

Admittedly I missed the first part of this (the initial comment and backlash that Johann Hari started), but after having had it brought to my attention, and seeing this link posted by @StephenFry, I have to say that I admire the guy for sticking to his beliefs in Free Speech - and that he's no doubt a better and stronger person for his recent experience.

This is an impressive speech promoting Free Speech.  Props to you @JohannHari


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Microsoft Office 2010 SP1 Is Out

If you've been wanting to do some testing again, then you're in luck - Microsoft has just released Office 2010 SP1 for download.  http://www.techspot.com/news/44454-microsoft-releases-office-2010-sp1.html gives some more information and direct download links are below:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26622 (x86)

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26617 (x64)

Thanks to Peter Hale for giving me the heads up on this.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BPOS Down Again?

OK, so while we're talking about Cloud services with their security and stability issues, Microsoft looks like they wanted to get a mention again, so here we go! BPOS was down again earlier this week - their North American offering was down yesterday (Wednesday) for 3 hours from 11:00AM US Eastern Time - right in the middle of the work day.

The Cloud has promise, sure, but if you can't affort outages where you have no real control over the recovery, sometimes keeping your infrastructure in-house makes a lot more sense.  Microsoft seems to have some way to go before they put these network infrastructure issues behind them and can offer a truly redundant cloud solution.


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Online Storage, Syncing & Backup

Up until recently, there was an application that I used and recommended called Dropbox that was used for online storage - you could run the app on multiple computers, your iPhone, iPad, Android or even Blackberry device and sync the data. OK, on mobility devices you won't get the whole size syncing, but you can choose a file and access it once it downloads (sane usage of expensive 3G/HSPA bandwidth).

Then Dropbox went and changed its T&Cs to let the US Government "hands on" department have access to my data if and when they chose. OK, as I don't store anything illegal nor compromising up there, I didn't care. Then they changed things so that any of their employees could access my data, which isn't good. And then, to top things off, they went and released an update that results in open slather access by anyone to anyone's data and that was the straw that broke this camel's back.

Sure, this latest issue was a poor coding, poor internal procedures, poor quality control issue, but it was also a massive security issue following on after Sony, Acer, Sega, Nintendo and other high profile companies had their confidential customer data breached.  This chasm has since been closed, however I don't like how easy it was for their internal checks and balances to be utterly defeated by the poor coding skills of one programmer.

Dropbox should have a) known and b) done better.

So, as the major failure of Dropbox is in the security (sic) of your data being applied at their server end, not at your client end, I've looked around for an alternative to Dropbox where I have some control over the security - SpiderOak seems to offer this.

SpiderOak lets you choose whether you want to back data up to the cloud using locally-applied encryption or whether you want to sync a folder on multiple machines that you've signed into using SpiderOak, again using locally-applied encryption - at no point is unencrypted data being stored on the SpiderOak servers.  You can also create a "ShareRoom" which allows you to share files with people who you choose, using a "RoomKey" password.

All up, this operates similarly to Dropbox and utilizes real security.  Dropbox has dropped the ball in a big way.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Nuts Is The Jewish Faith

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13819764


Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Outlook: "The name of the security certificate is invalid or does not match the name of the site"

When an SBS 2008 or SBS 2008 R2 (aka SBS 2011) site is configured, sometimes you will find the local (internal) users who use Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010 (and possibly/probably also Outlook 2003) will receive an error message when first opening Outlook that will report:

Tick - The security certificate is from a trusted certifying authority.
Tick - The security certificate date is valid.
Cross - The name on the security certificate is invalid or does not match the name of the site.

If you press "Proceed", everything runs as normal.  This is an annoying message that is caused by some improperly configured Exchange settings (normally caused by initially using a self-signed cert, then later replacing it with a purchased one), all of which are easily rectified after following KB940726, however below I've included the modified instructions for this to apply to an SBS installation.

In the following instructions, "CAS_Server_Name" should be replaced with your internal SBS name, such as "SBS2008" and "office.example.com" should be replaced with the URL you use to gain access to the SBS from the Internet. Also, all lines beginning with [PS] are single lines - everything in bold is the one command and there are no spaces between the minus signs (-) and the property names immediately after them.

  1. Start the Exchange Management Shell.
  2. To check the current settings of the ClientAccessServer property, enter the following command:
    [PS] Get-ClientAccessServer | FL
    If AutoDiscoverServiceInternalUri is not set to your external Uri (such as https://office.example.com/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml), then
    1. Modify the Autodiscover URL in the Service Connection Point. The Service Connection Point is stored in the Active Directory directory service. To modify this URL, enter the following command:
      [PS] Set-ClientAccessServer -Identity "CAS_Server_Name" -AutodiscoverServiceInternalUri https://office.example.com/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml
  3. To check the current setting of the WebServicesVirtualDirectory property, enter the following command:
    [PS] Get-WebServicesVirtualDirectory
    If the InternalUrl of EWS (SBS Web Applications) is not set to your external Uri (such as https://office.example.com/ews/exchange.asmx), then
    1. Modify the InternalUrl attribute of the EWS. To do this, enter the following command:
      [PS] Set-WebServicesVirtualDirectory -Identity "CAS_Server_Name\EWS (SBS Web Applications)" -InternalUrl https://office.example.com/ews/exchange.asmx
  4. To check the current setting of the OABVirtualDirectory property, enter the following command:
    [PS] Get-OABVirtualDirectory
    If the InternalUrl is not set to your external Uri (such as https://office.example.com/oab), then
    1. Modify the InternalUrl attribute for Web-based Offline Address Book distribution. To do this, enter the following command:
      [PS] Set-OABVirtualDirectory -Identity "CAS_Server_name\oab (SBS Web Applications)" -InternalUrl https://office.example.com/oab
  5. To check the current setting of the UMVirtualDirectory property, enter the following command:
    [PS] Get-UMVirtualDirectory
    If the InternalUrl of UnifiedMessaging (SBS Web Applications) is not set to your external Uri (such as https://office.example.com/unifiedmessaging/service.asmx), then
    1. Modify the InternalUrl attribute of the UM Web service. To do this, enter the following command:
      [PS] Set-UMVirtualDirectory -Identity "CAS_Server_Name\unifiedmessaging (SBS Web Applications)" -InternalUrl https://office.example.com/unifiedmessaging/service.asmx
      Note This command is required only in an Exchange 2007 (SBS 2008) environment. This command no longer exists in an Exchange 2010 (SBS 2011) environment. Instead, the WebServices URL is used for this purpose.
  6. Open IIS Manager, expand the local computer, and then in Application Pools, right-click MSExchangeAutodiscoverAppPool and click Recycle.

Next time anyone on the LAN opens Outlook and connects to your Exchange Server, the error message will not appear as we've configured the settings in Exchange Server correctly.

Update: Mark Wilton mentioned the following links to me also regarding this same issue:
A script to fix this issue from VirtualBarryMartin.me
Some PowerShell commands to fix the issue from Daniel Kenyon-Smith

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie