Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Clemonceau 4

It seems like ages ago that we were here, on our way down to the south of France. Chenonceau is one of the must-see chateaux in the Loire Valley and is well worth the visit. Both the house and gardens need plenty of time, so plan to spend a day there.

The (I think quite effective) post-processing of this and three other images was done within iPhoto. They were taken with the Canon IXUS 70, really useful as a lightweight alternative to the Nikon D200!

On the Beach

Cabanes de Fleury, southwest of the mouth of the Aude. Fantastic beach!

Explaining the absence!

We've been away without a good internet connection, so there has been little activity on the internet and few blog posts this month. It was annual holiday time in Languedoc, France, a chance to re-find summer and enjoy the Mediterranean climate for a couple of weeks. Photos should follow.

While we were away there were three family birthdays, including 5 year old Isobel who celebrated hers by starting school! One again, Bonne Anniversaire to each of you, Pete, Isobel and Jeff!

Upon our return we were fortunate to have the tail end of a settled weather period in England but last night it broke and unsettled rainy weather seems to be the most likely prediction for the days ahead. Just as well I mowed the lawn yesterday!

The weather apart, we noticed some significant differences between the governments of England and France despite both being partners in the EU. On balance France seems to be doing the better job.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ike in Pictures

A quick post while I have an internet connection (which explains why the site has gone quiet this month). No I am not in Houston, but these photos show the level of damage that Southeast Texas sustained due to Hurrican Ike.

Thanks to Bill Waldrop (a.k.a. Chopper Bill) for the link.

Monday, September 15, 2008

iweb and the e-mail

(This entry relates to the sister site running on Apple's iWeb)

After several weeks of frustration I decided to take a calculated guess and send an e-mail to the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. I had no idea if the e-mail address was authentic but, what the heck, it was worth a try.

I received two replies!

The first was from a really helpful guy, John, in Cupertino, CA (Apple’s headquarters) who eventually got everything sorted out. The second was from Apple UK & Ireland who offered to assist and who I suggested could act as a back up (never utilized but nice to have them in my back pocket).

John in Cupertino was patient and with 8 hours of time difference the dialog proceeded slowly. It didn’t help that I was traveling at the same time, but we started to exchange data, logs and things about which I still understand little.

Eventually the site was published but with an error message. The source of this message has now been purged so things are back to normal (i.e. as if MobileMe never existed).

The negative of all this was a bad experience with Apple, the first I have suffered in 16 years as a user. The positives outnumber the negative in that I received excellent personal help and also have had my MobileMe account extended by 3 months as compensation.

Tipping Points can bite back!

The AGW brigade (AGW seems to be adopted now as an acronym for Anthropogenic Global Warming) have introduced the concept of “tipping points” in the battle for public opinion over climate change.

They may regret this. There could be a new form of tipping point emerging in Europe, the very center of gravity for all things AGW. And it isn’t what they want. One bad summer is not scientifically statistical but it goes a long way to sway public opinion!

With escape to the sun becoming more difficult as budget airlines drop out of the sky the average Joe and Jane is going to start to think about all the hot air that emanates from the mouths of Brown, Cameron, the EU, etc. etc.

And that can’t be a bad thing.

Monday, September 08, 2008

iWeb update

The story will be told, eventually, but at the moment the iWeb focalblog is up and running but with some minor problems yet to be addressed. I am holding off from entering new posts until I get the go ahead from Steve. Jobs, that is.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eat less red meat!

Why, to help slow down global warming, says UN expert on climate change!

I am interested to know how eating less red meat can possibly influence the generation of sunspots and other manifestations of solar energy that influence the planet's weather patterns. Also, we really should consider plugging all the vents of all the volcanoes in the world so that gases emanating from them will be contained within the Earth's crust.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hard Drive Upgrade

I currently own and use a four year old PowerBook 15" which uses the latest operating system and is reasonably fast - fast enough that I am not ready to upgrade to a new one. That speaks volumes for Apple's products in that I know of Windows users who seem to buy a new laptop annually.

But there is one problem - I need lots of storage! Even with several external drives I continually have a full 80 GB internal drive.

So I researched the web and found that I could replace the old drive with a new, larger one which would also run faster (5,400 vs 4,200 rpm) and have four times the storage capacity! The Western Digital 250 GB drive cost around £60 from Dabs.com and I found instructions for replacing the drive on ifixit.com. The latter appeared to be somewhat daunting but worth a go.

The key to replacing an internal system disk hard drive is to think it all through and get organized. Before doing anything (and it was while waiting for delivery of the new drive anyway) I wrote up the following:

Replacement 250 GB hard drive protocol

1. Back up existing internal hard drive to SuperDuper! 80 GB drive “portable”

2. Replace existing internal drive with new 250 GB drive

3. Restore SuperDuper! drive to new 250 GB drive having first re-named drive “PB G4 15 HD”

4. Re-boot from new drive and if everything checks out, temporarily back up to SuperDuper! drive

5. Copy Aperture Vault drive to 250 GB USB drive (erased and re-named)

6. Using SuperDuper! back up internal drive to LaCie 250 GB large drive (ex-Vault)

5. Keep Aperture, and iTunes drives the same.

6. Synchronize iDisk to internal hard drive.

SuperDuper! proved to be invaluable, creating bootable drives all over the place and giving great peace of mind if something was to go wrong!

Using existing external drives I was able to first backup the old drive and then install the new drive. Installation probably took just over an hour and needed several special tools which are indispensible - very small Phillips screwdriver and a small Hexagonal key. Fortunately I own both. iFixit's instructions are clear and the photos certainly help a great deal. There seemed to be one small error in the instruction (there was no need to disconnect the trackpad) and there were inevitable small design changes within the PowerBook (two screws instead of three, that sort of thing).

With the back up drive attached to a firewire port I booted up and there was the new drive, empty and waiting to be filled with data! SuperDuper! copied the backup disk onto the new disk in well over an hour and then I rebooted and "voila" the basic job was finished.

What followed would best be called good housekeeping - a 250 GB backup drive to replace the previous 80 GB one - as well as some re-organization of the various externals.

You will see item 6 above refers to iDisk synchronization. My MobileMe account provides 20GB of storage in the "cloud" and I intend to start using this. Synchronization allows access to the iDisk when I am not connected to the internet. Another form of backup, and this user believes in backup!!!

The bottom line: everything seems to be working OK. The entire process has taken several hours within a 24 hour time span but I would guess that the basic backup, replace, restore procedure only took about 5 hours for 80 GB of data.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

When the wind doesn't blow (BBC)

The BBC has an interesting article today on the inefficiency of wind farms and the particular difficulties faced in the UK. You will have read similar thoughts right here so I am pleased that the BBC is following a good example!

As usual with the BBC, the photo's caption is somewhat misleading - if wind turbines only operate 40% of the time, how can they be the "answer to Britain's energy demands"?

Summer, what summer?

It goes on and on and is getting quite absurd. More rain less sun equals a modern British summer.

Global warming, anyone?


So Google has introduced their web browser and it's called Chrome. I particularly like the way it was introduced. The comic strip, long as it is, is well worth a full read/view.

Only available for Windows users at the moment, but they are the people who probably need it the most. Mac users have the most choices, including Safari which includes some of the same kit (Webkit to be precise) that Google uses. The big loser here will be Internet Exploder which is not a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Very Tall Buildings

Architects (mostly if not all male and therefore phallic-brained) seem to have a fixation with very tall buildings. News today is that Dubai has the tallest building on the planet.

So what!

I guess I am conditioned by seeing the movie "Towering Inferno" several times and the comment by the fire chief (Steve McQueen) to the architect (Paul Newman) stays with me:

"Now, you know there's no sure way for us to fight a fire in anything over the seventh floor, but you guys just keep building 'em as high as you can."

This line always comes to mind whenever I stay in a hotel that has more than 7 floors and look at the fire escape plan.