microsoft prove they just don’t get it

July 22, 2010

Word 2007 and its very own layout fail.


never overcook a computer

July 12, 2010

I have a chum whose sole purpose in life is to do fucked up things to perfectly brilliant computer hardware I assemble for him.

His most recent exploit is to keep his PC running throughout the heatwave, burning DVDs. How jolly!

How not jolly to be woken at 6:20am on Saturday by a text message: “PC won’t switch on, left it overnight burning DVDs, call me when you get this msg.” Well, bollocks was I calling at 6:20am. In fact, bollocks was I calling until about 11am. After all, it had been the warmest night on record since recorded records began being recorded, and I needed some bloody sleep.

“Mate,” he said, when I’d decided to phone. “Mate, the pc had been fine all day…”

“All day?” I said. “You left it on all day on Friday?”

“It was fine all day on Thursday, it ran OK all night, then all day Friday…”

“What?”

“…And then when I went to bed last night, I left it burning a DVD because it takes so long…

“What?!”

“…But when I cam downstairs this morning, the entire box was dead.”

“And you are surprised by this turn of events?”

“Well… yes! What can I do mate? I need my PC!”

So I gave a few basic hints and tips; was it the fuse in the plug? Was it just needing a rest? Was he being a pleb? The usual sort of thing. But no, it seems the computer-box is dead.

“I tell  you what, mate,” (the emphasis was lost), “I’ll build up a spare Ubuntu box and have it to you on Monday, how’s that?”

“That’ll be brilliant, thank you!” And he hung up. Well, it was a hot day on Saturday, and you don’t want to risk your phone overheating and going bang, do you?

So what you can do here is imagine a montage section (you can supply the music, suggestions welcome in the comments):

  • Me finding the parts for a spare computer, digging in boxes.
  • Assembling the parts.
  • Switching the machine on for the first time.
  • The screen lighting up.
  • A wry smile across my face.
  • Taking off my glasses and wiping my arm across my forehead whilst drinking from a mug of coffee.
  • Watching a progress bar slide along the screen.
  • Typing at a keyboard and somehow the text on the screen is projected across my face as I type.
  • Clicking a mouse.
  • Finally placing the top of the computer on and wiping it with a piece of rag before patting it lightly and sighing to myself.

And now we are at this evening. I have just returned from installing the beast. And a beast it is too. It’s a Pentium 3, 733Mhz with 512MB of memory and 32MB of PCI NVidia graphics power behind it. It’s running Ubuntu 10.04.

I figured that PC-Boiling-Chum would want his DVD burner (I really don’t understand why) so thought I’d just slot that in. It would also probably be worthwhile sliding in his PCI-to-USB card too. He has a worrying collection of, ahem, webcams scattered about his desk which he likes to have plugged in.

My only problem was forgetting that his DVD writer is a SATA-based product, although luckily I had also installed a PCI-to-SATA card in the knackered PC. But what would be the chances of Ubuntu working nicely with:

  1. A 10 year old PC
  2. A PCI-to-SATA card it hadn’t known about on install
  3. A SATA dvd burner plugged into the PCI-to-SATA card it hadn’t known about on install

Obviously, it coped magnificently. Having opened the computer up and filled its amazing little riser card full with a video card, some USB ports and a SATA card, it then proceeded to boot and load in no time at all, perfectly happy with all the hardware. Webcams included.

So there we go. Unbelievers, start believing. Install Ubuntu Linux and enjoy.

(And for those of you that think something must have gone wrong somewhere, well, you’re right. The wireless mouse needed some new batteries.)


are bt a bunch of fibbing whatsits? you decide.

July 11, 2010

Friends, I offer you the following evidence from BT’s latest advert featuring the gurning ginger idiot who left the sitcom “My Family” to extend his career and, er, be in BT adverts.

The message I am taking away from this advert, entitled “Computer experts” (heh), is that if a video on a website doesn’t display in a timely manner, the only reason is that the broadband provided to your house is at fault. All other explanations are pooh-poohed by Kris Thingumy. “Let’s go to my house!” he declares and they have jolly japes whilst the narrator tells us all that 20Mb* broadband is the way forward (and BT’s is the best).

Last night, I had the misfortune to watch ITV1.

I don’t like ITV1. It’s like Channel 5, but with pretensions to being the BBC. At least Channel 5 don’t pretend. The best they ever want to be is ITV4 and don’t try any harder.  However, the World Cup was on and as my team, the Germans, were playing, I figured I should swallow my pride and put up with Adrian Chiles’ fat face and an advert break every two minutes.

It was during one of these all-too-frequent advert breaks that the Gold-Blend-wannabe advert came on. So I tweeted my disgust at its deceit:

Alf Fairweather boredofjam

BT Broadband. Tell me how you can make the internet work faster if the service you are trying to view is overloaded? Like the ITV play[-er]?

Which is a fact. How can a server designed to serve, say, 100 people at a time, possibly manage to serve 200 people better even if those people have BT Broadband (running at 20Mb)*. It doesn’t matter how fast the end product to your house is. If the thing you’re looking at can’t cope with the demand, you will not see what is on there.

Watch the advert. BT Kris says (and I paraphrase) “No no, dumbass, it’s your broadband! It’s stinky like Adrian Chiles’ socks.”

Let’s face it folks, BT Kris is wrong. Still, I felt happy that I’d told BT Broadband off, and went to bed.

[fade out] [fade in]

I was amused this morning to discover this gem from @BTCare:

@boredofjam If it is overloaded it has reached capacity and you would not be able to make it run faster. Try it again at a later time. about 7 hours ago via Debatescape

Well, that seems to confirm what I was saying. So simply pointed this out:

Alf Fairweather boredofjam

@BTCare: I know this, but your latest advert shown during the World Cup last night appears not to.

A few moments later, I get this:

@boredofjam It doesn’t matter how fast your Broadband is if the web site you are trying to connect to is overloaded then it will be slower about 6 hours ago via Debatescape

And then! This:

@boredofjam This is the website which is slower not your Broadband speed. about 6 hours ago via Debatescape

It’s magic! @BTcare agree with me.

So, the question we have to ask ourselves this evening is, are BT lying to us in their advert? Yes or No.

By the way, BT, how’s that thing going with Phorm? You know, the illegal interception of private individuals’ data?

*Reader, please be aware that 20Mb is not what you think it is. See how that “b” in “Mb” is in lower case? This means that it stands for the computer word “bit”, and there are 8 of those fellows to a byte. Therefore a 20Mb connection is going to be 8 times slower than you think it is, and is actually running at 2.5MB (megabytes).  Of course, this is in ideal conditions and won’t be reflected by the service to your door, but this will be glossed over and mainly ignored by your provider  – no matter who they are.