Monday, May 17, 2010

Australian Prime Minister does it again!!

The whole world needs a leader like this!

This man should be King of the World never mind OZ !Truer words have never been spoken.

Kevin Rudd. Photo / AP

This should be a world wide rule. If you want to move to any country and become part of that country...WELCOME,  But if want to change anything in that new country you wish to live in ..GOODBYE
It took a lot of courage for this man to speak what he had to say for the world to hear.  The retribution could be phenomenal, but at least he was willing to take a stand on his and Australia 's beliefs. Yes, allow those that want to come,  to come.  But understand that if you want to go to a country not of your birth, you should expect to live by their rules and respect their ways of life.  This doesn't mean you have to give up yours. I think he explains it very well.


Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
Rudd angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.  Quote:
'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on
Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'
'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.'
'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!'
'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'
'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'
'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.'
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I KNOW the feeling

Parents hesitate to redecorate after kids leave


It takes British parents over two years after their kids have flown the nest to finally accept they won’t be coming back, according to a new survey.

Research by Churchill Home Insurance shows parents will cling on to the memory of their kids growing up for as long as they can. Parents only start re-decorating a son or daughter’s room when the kids hit an important life stage.

Nearly a fifth of parents think that the ideal time to start pulling down posters and re-decorating is when their kids have moved out with a long-term partner. However, 16% of parents take the more traditional view and wait until a child is married before they start choosing a new colour scheme.

One in ten won’t change the room until a son or daughter has bought their own property. But a further 10% are brave enough to risk clearing out their kids’ bedrooms as soon as their offspring have finished their degree or college course.

Top 5 uses for a child’s old bedroom

Spare bedroom for guests


Becomes younger sibling’s room


Second sitting room


Study / computer room


Storage room for clutter


However, there are a number of parents who refuse to touch their kids’ bedrooms until long after they have flown the nest. 15% will leave them completely intact, keeping the décor, posters and shelves full of toys just as the kids left them.

On average, parents will wait two years and three months after a child has left home to start changing rooms around. But the research shows most children want their parents to move on and only expect parents to keep their room the same for just over a year.

Furthermore, householders who have re-decorated their kids’ bedrooms believe the changes they make can increase the value of their properties by around £3,200.

Almost 30% of children use their parents’ home as a dustbin by leaving behind all the belongings they don’t want when they move out. A further 18% leave unwanted belongings in storage at their parents’ house.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, comments Scott said, “Interestingly, a number of children leaving home prefer to keep belongings in storage in the longer term at their parents’ house rather than clutter their own properties.”

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Common Sense Security

This site is designed to give an overview of what we can do to keep our computers safer and more secure while we are on the Internet. I have known the owner (Mark Rider) for a long time and confirm that his site is secure AND gives out some very useful advice. I can  recommend it highly.


Monday, January 01, 2007

A Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to one an` all.
May the year ahead bring all that you desire and more.
If that includes a substantial lottery win my address is available on

Best Wishes

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A guide to online bargain-hunting

Taken from Evening Standard
7 February 2006
SHOPPING online in search of a bargain can often leave you feeling disheartened or out of pocket rather than elated. Experts say that you can avoid this if you follow a clear set of rules.

'My view is simple,' says Martin Lewis, creator of, a website where shoppers can compare prices and experiences. 'If you're going to shop online, don't buy anything until you've checked on a price comparison website.'

First check out what kind of technology a site uses. While the idea behind Froogle is attractive, the technology it uses is not as advanced as sites such as Kelkoo and Pricerunner. Froogle uses a regular search engine rather than using a 'shop-bot' (or shopping robot as geeks like to call search engines that are geared to price comparisons).

But a common mistake made by online shoppers is to use the internet to choose the product itself. 'You need to be clear about what it is you want,' says Lewis. 'It's no good going online and looking for 'a plasma TV'. You need to have a specific model in mind. If you are buying something expensive, you do not want to rely on a website to help you make up your mind.'

And he cautions against thinking of price comparison sites as a sure-fire way of getting a bargain. 'It's a quick way of cutting costs, rather than the best way to find the absolute cheapest price in the entire country. And let's not hide the fact that all these sites have commercial relationships with the suppliers they promote. That's how they make their money - every time you buy something on their recommendation, they get commission.'

This is not necessarily a bad thing - suppliers value their reputation and their commercial relationships, so it means you can be fairly certain you're not dealing with cowboys.

The fact is, as Neil Saunders of retail analyst Verdict says, consumers are frequently put off by the reality that savings offered by sites like Kelkoo are often minimal. 'A lot of people simply can't be bothered with the hassle of it all,' he says, 'especially when most if the time the savings are a very small proportion of the overall cost. Often, consumers would rather pay an extra £10 and buy something from a brand or supplier they trust.'

In short, comparing prices online is for many people more of a hobby than an effective way of saving money, so unless you're the kind of person who gets a huge kick from saving £1.25 on the price of a DVD, you may be better off paying a visit to your local high street.

The best price comparison sites


Specialists - a huge range of DVD, CD and videogames over a number of sites - a specialist in PC goods and consumer electrical equipment

Price comparison site DOs and DON'Ts


• make sure the company with the lowest price is reputable. They should have a UK office, a secure server and an address and telephone number.

• haggle: take a print-out of an internet price quote to a shop and get them to match it.

• look for reliability as well as price. The cheapest option may not always come from the most reliable source.

• take into account the price of delivery when shopping online. This can often push the price up above the High Street equivalent.


• try to source non-branded goods on price comparison websites; if an element of choice is involved, go to the High Street and decide what you want first.

• assume you won't find the internet price in-store, especially during sales.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Quake survivor amazes doctors

Quake survivor amazes doctors
By Zulfikar Ali
BBC News, Kamsar camp, Pakistan-administered Kashmir

Doctors say it is a miracle.

Naqsha Bibi, 40, was recovered alive from the debris of a collapsed house in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on 10 December.

The unexpected rescue came more than two months after the 8 October earthquake destroyed large parts of Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir and northern areas in Pakistan.

Naqsha Bibi, now under hospital treatment, is suffering from muscle stiffness and is so weak that she can barely talk.

She weighs under 35kg - about half the weight of an average woman her size.

But since being brought to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, she has been put on a liquid diet and is showing signs of recovery.

Doctors say that on Tuesday morning she gave them a smile. ----Read online

Call me!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Hyper Frame

Dig This: It's midweek. You've worked yourself silly for the last two days and now you're ready for some recreation before thinking about the weekend. Try Hyper Frame, a simple little Shockwave game:
Brace your mind for an addictive puzzle game unlike any other! Click squares on the cube to connect same-colored markers. It sounds simple, but it's a super challenge and once you start you won't be able to stop!

GoogleBase is live.

By Alice Hill
Google Base is Google’s database into which you can add all types of content. Google will host your content and make it searchable online for free.
Examples of items you can find in Google Base:
* Description of your party planning service
* Articles on current events from your website
* Listing of your used car for sale
* Database of protein structures

You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base. In fact, based on the relevance of your items, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products like Froogle and Google Local.

At the time of writing this item, Google Base still suffers from some problems, such you are sometimes unable to pass the login page, although you are logged in. But I expect that this problem will get solved quickly. Source: Aviran’s Place

Friday, October 28, 2005

Home improvements for young disabled eased

Families in England needing to adapt their homes to care for a disabled child will no longer be subject to means testing from December 2005.

The government's decision makes it easier for families to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to get funding for help to provide access ramps, stair lifts, level access showers and home extensions.

The change, which ensures families are entitled to apply for the maximum grant available without having to go through a means test, will mean they can now apply for up to ?25,000 for disability improvements to their home.

Housing Minister Baroness Andrews said the current DFG means test prevented some families from getting the help they needed, in what were often difficult and distressing circumstances.

"The ending of the means test is an important change which will be warmly welcomed by all those who have been pressing for a change," she said.

Lord Richard Best, director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said, "This is excellent news, not just for the families concerned but for society as a whole. By removing a crucial barrier to families resolving their housing difficulties, the government has opened up the prospect of improving disabled children?s life-chances not just today, but throughout their lives. This will have positive knock-on effects for years to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Guess what just turned 34?

Googler insights into product and technology news and our culture.
Guess what just turned 34?

10/21/2005 03:19:00 PM
Posted by Paul Buchheit, Gmail Engineer

It's difficult to pin down the exact origin of email, but in October 1971, an engineer named Ray Tomlinson chose the '@' symbol for email addresses and wrote software to send the first network email.

At the time, it must not have seemed very important – nobody bothered to save that first message or even record the exact date. I've always thought that it would be fun to witness a little bit of history like that – to be there when something important happened. That's part of what drove me to join a little no-name startup named Google, and it's why I was excited when I was given a chance to create a new email product, now called Gmail.
Read on and when you get to the end you will find an invite to join the Gmail fun and Games (Well Fun Anyway)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

NTL to offer 10Mbps broadband as standard

UK cable firm NTL today promised to make 10Mbps its standard broadband access speed, and to upgrade existing customers at no extra cost.

The first home surfers in the UK to receive the upgrade will be NTL's current 3Mbps broadband customers.

"By the end of this year they will have a connection of up to 10Mbps, while their usage allowance will increase from 30GB to 75GB per month," the company stated.

The move is part of a service revamp that creates a set of cable broadband products "up to 10Mbps as standard", with different inclusive bandwidth options to match usage plus a series of services with no traffic caps at different speeds.

NTL said that the roll out of its revamped product portfolio will be complete by the end of 2006. It added that there are no plans to change monthly prices but some customers will need to upgrade their modems.

The cable firm said that moving customers to a 10Mbps broadband service is part of a wider progression towards services with even higher speeds and greater bandwidth.

NTL claimed that its fibre-rich network means that broadband speeds of between 30Mbps and 50Mbps are possible through DOCSIS 3.0 (cable) or ADSL 2+ (copper).

Simon Duffy, chief executive at NTL, claimed that the move puts the company "well ahead" of any other broadband provider in the UK.

"Moving 1.5 million customers to a connection of up to 10Mbps is a major initiative," he said. "However, we have full confidence in our ability to complete this programme in 2006 by leveraging our next-generation platform."

Friday, August 12, 2005

CCTV video mixes maps and images

By Jo Twist
BBC News science and technology reporter

Smart software is taking CCTV into the domain of 3D gaming by combining graphics, map data, and different camera views in one composite image.

The system automatically tracks and stitches 3D images with CCTV video, maps and other real-time information.

It automatically alerts operators to intruders, unusual behaviour, left objects or anything it is told to spot.

The UK's former defence research agency, QinetiQ, plans to bring the US system, called Praetorian, to the UK.

It is currently in operation at airports in the US and other high security environments there.

"This is a huge step, not just an incremental step [for CCTV]", Simon Stringer, managing director of QinetiQ's security division told the BBC News website.

The London Underground system alone, the epicentre of the recent bombings, has more then 6,000 CCTV cameras on the network.

The Praetorian system looks like something one would see in a computer game or the TV series 24.

It has rendered graphics of landscapes and real-time video inserts of objects which can be seen and navigated from different angles.

Camera to camera

The term Praetorian was originally the name given to the tent of Roman commanding generals - praetors. The Praetorian Guard was the select gang of individuals who would protect it.

"It [Praetorian] provides a composite picture which means you are not only able to determine where something is going on, but control the incident by deploying appropriate personnel to the area," explained Dr Stringer.

The big advantage is that not only do you have situational awareness, but the system will automatically alert you to intruders, abnormal behaviour, left objects or anything else you tell it to look for
Simon Stringer, QinetiQ
If a camera operator suspects an individual, he or she can be designated, or marked, and the system will automatically track the individual from camera to camera.

Automatic handover from one camera to another, without operators manually switching views, is highly desirable for CCTV systems.

Praetorian will graphically build up the terrain around the CCTV video insert and will swap camera views seamlessly in real-time too.

Those movements can then be rendered and projected onto a 3D map which would allow the individual to be intercepted or isolated, away from busy public transport, for instance.

By stitching different 3D and real-time information together, the system presents a rather game-like interface.

Situational awareness

"What it does is to give you an overall perspective on a region or a site or an area such that you get a composite picture of the whole thing," explained Dr Stringer.

"The big advantage is that not only do you have situational awareness, but the system will automatically alert you to intruders, abnormal behaviour, left objects or anything else you tell it to look for."

Facial and behavioural recognition systems have been developed and tested on the UK's CCTV networks, but the systems do not build composite images with this data all at once, in real-time.

Praetorian is not a biometric system that tries to pick out particular people, however.

"It is not looking at a database of people. It is looking for anomalies in behaviour, for example, people loitering in places you would not expect them to be," said Dr Stringer.

"Somebody loitering on a continual basis, or indeed leaving something would alarm it. You can then decide if you want to capture the image and refer it to other images."

It is programmed to know what is considered "normal human behaviour" in any given context, so can detect the typical movements of someone speaking on a mobile, for example.

Abandoned objects will also be detected because the system will know what is supposed to be in a particular image in ordinary circumstances.

If it spots something it does not recognise, it will alert the operator who can then inspect the image more closely to decide whether it is deemed a threat or not.

"The computer scans and recognises a normal environment," said Dr Stringer.

"If something is put down and becomes part of the environment that computer does not see as normal, it will sound an alarm and the operator will see if it warrants further investigation."

Dr Stringer said QinetiQ was confident that the system would be deployed in the UK and the company is in talks with UK authorities.

As it is a software system, it can be overlaid on top of existing CCTV network architectures.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/12 08:01:10 GMT


Friday, June 03, 2005

Microsoft shoots for Raw photos

Microsoft is adding support for the Raw photo format to its forthcoming version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn.

The company has entered into agreements with Adobe, Canon, Fuji and Nikon to deliver native support for Raw images in both Longhorn and Windows XP.

The Raw format is gaining in popularity with digital photographers because of the higher-quality pictures it delivers. It represents the image that a camera produces before any processing is done.

Common digital image formats, including Tiff and Jpeg, process the file in order to compress it, but this can lead to loss of detail or colour quality. Most users currently need third-party software to work with Raw files. Microsoft's support means they will be able to perform basic actions such as opening and printing files.

Raw images are mostly supported by high-end cameras, but price drops will soon bring it within the reach of the common photo enthusiast, according to Ron Glaz, program director of digital imaging services and solutions with analyst firm IDC.

"Microsoft's implementation of the Raw file format in Longhorn will simplify access to Raw files, and that is expected to increase the use of the file format by various types of digital camera users," he said.

Users of Windows XP can expect support for Raw images through an updated Image Thumbnailer and Viewer, which allows preview and printing of files from Canon and Nikon without requiring third-party software.

Microsoft hasn't published a projected release date for the update, but said users can download the free software "soon." The software vendor also promised to add support for the format in a future version of its Microsoft Digital Image Suite photo-editing product.

>NTL offers 1MB access for £9.99

Cable company NTL is offering 1MB broadband access for just £9.99 a month to people applying between June 1 and July 11. The pricing lasts for a year, after which it goes up to the standard £17.99 a month, but there are no start-up charges.

The service is capped at 3GB a month at both prices, but NTL says few of its users exceed that limit.

Existing customers will not be able to claim the new rate
SHAME . Chris Bunyan, director of Internet product management, said most of them had already taken advantage of other sign-up offers, such as free line rental.

Bunyan would not comment about reports of revived talks about a long-predicted merger with Britain's other UK cable giant Telewest. The two are not strictly rivals as they cover different franchise areas.

Permalink to this story

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Microsoft's Fresh Start for Donated Computers program

If you're an educator, check out Microsoft's Fresh Start for Donated Computers program, which helps schools rejuvenate machines with damaged or missing operating systems:
Has your school ever received donated personal computers that were delivered without the appropriate documentation and CDs for the original Windows® operating system? Microsoft's Fresh Start for Donated Computers program helps primary and secondary (K-12) schools ensure its donated computers are properly licensed—so students and teachers can gain additional access to technology.

To learn more about the Fresh Start for Donated Computers program, select your country or region. If you decide to apply, the license documentation will be provided in the language you select here.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Google Allows Users To Add More Bells and Whistles to Home Page

By Michael Liedtke May 20, 2005

AP Business Writer

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (AP) -- Google Inc. has introduced a new option that will enable visitors to display more information on the online search engine leader's bare-bones home page, a departure that pushes the company a step closer to operating an Internet portal in the mold of rivals Yahoo and

The feature, introduced Thursday and available at, allows the millions of Google users worldwide to select components tools located underneath the search engine's hood and display them on the main page.

For instance, a user could choose to have the weather, an e-mailbox, movie listings, top news stories, stock market quotes, and driving directions displayed whenever they visit Google's home page and sign in using a personalized account. The company unveiled the feature during a media day hosted at its Mountain View headquarters.

Displaying a potpourri of information on the home page marks a significant change for Google, which has always greeted its visitors with little more than a box to process a search request, along with a few tabs to navigate to other features, such as news and shopping.

The company decided to give users the option of adding more bells and whistles on the front page because it believes it developed a "critical mass" of products that present helpful information to visitors, said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer products.

Despite the shift, Google isn't trying to persuade visitors to spend more time on its Web site, Mayer said. "We are still interested in getting people off our site to the places that they want to go (online)," she said.

Even after they create their own version of Google's front page, users still will be able to toggle back to the bare-bones look by clicking on a "Classic Google" link located near the top of the page.

Web surfers who personalize Google's home page will be able to create a site that looks more like Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.'s, which both have tried to built multidimensional sites, or portals, designed to give visitors everything they might need.

Both Sunnyvale-based Yahoo and Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft also have spent heavily on building improved search engines to challenge Google's leadership in that specialty, hoping to tap into a rapidly growing ad market revolving around search requests. The companies also both offer tools that enable visitors to and to personalize their home pages.

The bare-bones approach has served Google well so far, helping it create the fourth most trafficked site on the Web, according to comScore Media Metrix, a research firm. Google attracted 78.6 million unique U.S. visitors last month, lagging behind Yahoo (114.8 million unique visitors), MSN (97 million) and AOL (86 million), comScore said.

Google has a strong financial incentive to boost its traffic figures because it maximizes its profits when Web surfers click on advertising links displayed on its site. The search engine also delivers ads to hundreds of other Web sites, but has to share those sales commissions.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Grandparents' £1bn 'property ladder' help

One fifth (18%) of British families rely on help from grandparents to provide financial support for grandchildren throughout their childhood, Barclays research reveals.

Across the UK, grandparents are shelling out over £4 billion each year to help families with childhood costs, which equates to an annual average of £2,303 per family.

According to Barclays, almost a quarter (23%) of this cash is used to help children get on to the property ladder, either via house deposits or contributing to mortgage repayments. Additionally, grandparents’ contributions are important early on in life in terms of helping with childcare costs (35%), as well as fees for university education in later years (31%).

However, over a half of grandparents who help their families out do so by giving cash on an ad-hoc basis (58%) and very few take a more structured approach through an annual gift (22%) or planned investment (16%).

Whilst ad hoc gifts can be useful to meet immediate needs such as school fees, Barclays warn that this approach may not be the most cost efficient way of supporting a grandchild’s longer-term needs such as university fees or a deposit on a first home.

Barclays estimates that if you had invested the £2,303 (nearly £200 a month) given by grandparents each year in the stock market over the last 18 years, the investment would now be worth £54,760. By careful planning and regular investment, the contributions provided by grandparents each year might help towards the £40,000 prospective cost of putting a child through university in 18 years time or to provide the estimated deposit on a first home in 30 years time.

Grandparents based in the South West give the most financial support by giving their grandchildren an average of £4,829 a year, whereas grandparents in the North East are most likely to help out financially (22%) than any other region.

However, many grandparents are not making the most of the £3,000 gift they could make each year which is not eligible for inheritance tax, with only 18% saying they would consider it.

Stephen Ingledew, Director of Barclays Financial Planning, said: "Many families are now finding the need to turn to grandparents for financial support as the cost of property and education bites, and indeed many grandparents will want to help wherever they can. However, we’d urge any current or future grandparents to ensure their finances are working as hard as possible for them and by extension for their grandchildren. A little bit of planning early on can reap benefits for the whole family."

"Many grandparents are generous in giving cash gifts on an ad-hoc basis, such as for birthdays or to help cover a mortgage repayment. But, with an average of £2,303 being handed over by grandparents each year, British grandparents should look at other, more financially sensible options. For example, perhaps look at a planned investment or provide an annual gift such as a cash ISA, where grandparents can save or invest for their grandchildren whilst enjoying tax benefits."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Quote of the Week:

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Oak And The Rose

An oak tree and a rosebush grew,
Young and green together,
Talking the talk of growing things-
Wind and water and weather.
And while the rosebush sweetly bloomed
The oak tree grew so high
That now it spoke of newer things-
Eagles, mountain peaks and sky.
"I guess you think you're pretty great,"
The rose was heard to cry,
Screaming as loud as it possibly could
To the treetop in the sky.
"And you have no time for flower talk,
Now that you've grown so tall."
"It's not so much that I've grown, " said the tree,
"It's just that you've stayed so small."
Shel Silverstein

Thursday, March 24, 2005

How was I born? Joke

Son: Daddy, how was I born?

Dad: Ah, my son, I guess one day you will need to find out anyway!!

Well, you see, your Mom and I first got together in a chat room on MSN.

Then I set up a date via e-mail with your Mom and we met at a cyber-cafe.

We sneaked into a secluded room, where your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive.
As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the "delete" button, nine months later a blessed little Popup appeared

and said: "You've got male!!!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How to Find Lost Objects

The method is based on what Is called the Twelve Principles—a set of precepts designed to lead you directly to any lost object. Like a bloodhound!

The Twelve Principles are: ?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


" All animals except man know that the ultimate of life is to enjoy it" Quote by Samuel Butler 1912.

Quote of the Week:

The wise are not wise because they make no mistakes. They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them. - Orson Scott Card (1951- ), Xenocide

Government services online

Is there a planning application pending in your street? How long are hospital and school waiting lists? Find the answer to these questions, and more, with CW?'s guide to e-government.
You'll soon be able to access all government services online, at least if government meets its end-of-year deadline. In theory, you'll be able to check what day your rubbish collection falls over the Easter bank holidays, search for schools in your area, register with a GP, check hospital waiting lists, read the latest budget and even file your tax return electronically.
Access national government

The entry point to the UK's 'online government' is the Directgov website Directgov is a treasure trove of information about public services such as GPs, hospitals, the Inland Revenue and schools. You can also look up government papers such as details of the Lottery Bill, for example.
Navigation bar

Along the top of the Directgov website are five tabs, which will remain regardless of where you are on the site.

Directgov home takes you back to the home page. Info for arranges information according to personal circumstances and includes categories such as 'Disabled People', and 'Parents'. Info about has general information on topics such as 'Learning' and 'Money'. Quickfind lists directories of government services, including links to local councils. Finally, Newsroom is the place to go for government news, statements, publications and announcements.
Information central

The main part of the screen organises links under three main headings: 'Find what you need', 'Most popular services' and 'Directories'.

Find what you need contains general information on everything from Tax Basics to Travel. Click on Parenting and you'll find advice on how to choose the right childcare option, for example. Most popular services contains more specific information including a link to 'find a local school'. Simply enter your postcode to search for schools in your local area. The search presents key facts about each school including its religious affiliation, the number of pupils and its performance. Directories includes an A-to-Z of local councils.
Leaning to the right

The right-hand side of Directgov hosts News Headlines. Go to the bottom of the page, however, and hidden away is a useful link to 'Find forms online'; a tax-rebate form, say.
Interacting with government services

Most government services are still primarily accessible face-to-face, or by good old-fashioned phone calls or snail mail. But some government services now allow you to interact with them directly via the web. These services are grouped in a section called 'Do it online', under the Most popular services menu.

* File an electronic tax return |
* Land registry |
* Report non-emergency crimes |
* Renew or replace a passport

File an electronic tax return

One of the most popular government services online is filing an electronic tax return; you can also apply for child benefit and tax credits. Click 'Do it online' then 'Do it online by category' at the top of the page, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'Money'. Click the link to 'Complete your Income Tax Self Assessment (SA) online', then the external link to Tax Self Assessment.

You should now find yourself on the Inland Revenue's website ( You need to register with the Inland Revenue's website to be able to use the service – register under 'new user'. First you must tick, which service you need 'Child Benefit Online', 'Self Assessment Online' or 'Tax Credit Online' and click the Register button. Enter your name, email address and a password then click Continue.

The site will ask for your unique taxpayer reference, National Insurance number and postcode so make sure you have these to hand before you start.
Land registry

Looking to move to a new area? The section entitled 'Find local property prices' is well worth a visit. The link jumps to the Land Registry website where you can enter your desired location (Stratford-On-Avon, say). The search engine will tell you the average price for a detached, semi-detached, terraced house, and a flat there.

It's also useful if you're selling your own property - just enter the postcode to discover the average price of a house or flat in your area.
Report non-emergency crimes

You can also report non-emergency crimes from the 'Do it online' area of via Directgov (the link takes you to First, click to say whether you are the victim of the crime. Next, pick the type of crime that you want to report; theft, criminal damage or vandalism, theft from a motor vehicle or damage to a motor vehicle. Next enter your name, then your contact details and click 'submit'. For emergencies, you should still dial 999.

In the event that you have information affecting national security you can also email MI5, anonymously, if you wish (
Renew or replace a passport

You can renew or replace your passport ( online. To be more accurate, you can pay for a new passport and fill out an application form. But, as online signatures are still some way off, to complete the process, you'll still have to sign and return a form sent to you by the Passport Service.
Accessing local services

Two thirds of contact between citizens and government happens at local level. Often, your local council's website is the best place to start if you're looking for a care home for a relative, need to find a school, pay your council tax or even book a squash court at the local sports centre. 'The average person wants to know whether a telephone mast is being put up next to their kid's school or whether there are plans to widen the road,' said Paul Smith, research director for e-government consultancy Kable.

The good news is that all 355 English local government authorities (LGAs) have pledged to have their services online by year end. Ipswich Borough Council, for instance, is using a graphical information system (GIS), a piece of software that pulls together information about a place, and organises it on a geographical basis. The borough's online portal has a map on its home page divided into five key areas. By clicking on their area residents can search local services such as 'advice and support', 'wildlife' and 'nature and parks'.

Bracknell Forest Council has also embraced e-government. Local residents can pay their council tax, make mortgage repayments or pay rent online. 'I want a website not a notice board,' said Councillor Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest and e-government champion for the Local Government Association (LGA). 'My residents are accustomed to setting up a standing order to pay their council tax at four in the morning using online banking; they get hacked off if they can't tell us that they've done it at 4:10am,' he continued.

Alternatively, if a Bracknell Forest local suspects their neighbour is trying to sneak through a controversial planning application, they can look it up on the website. Equally, if they're awaiting a planning application decision of their own, they can monitor its progress electronically.

The website is also making it easier for the 6,200 council tenants in the borough to report a fault, such as a blocked sink, with a couple of mouse clicks. 'The website features a schematic diagram of the house; tenants can click on the room where there's a problem, and then, for example, click on the sink if that's where the problem is, they can even select the u-bend. When the technician comes he knows exactly what the problem is and is more likely to have the part on board,' says Bettison.

Bracknell Council has also introduced what Bettison claims to be 'the world's most multi-application smart card.' Dubbed 'The Edge', the card is available to all local residents. Schools in the Borough Council are making good use of the cards, which can be topped up with dinner money as a kind of electronic purse (parents can even stipulate how much cash pupils can spend per day) and is also used to register pupils in the morning.
E-citizen project

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has invested £2.5 million in the 'e-citizen' project, which is designed to ensure that all citizens have the same access to local government services, regardless of where they live. The first stage, just reaching completion, is to ask every local authority who they hope to reach with online services, how they're doing it and how successful they've been. The second, bigger, challenge is to inform local residents about the services they can access online. 'If you ask people what they want from a council website they can't vocalise it but once they visit the site they are keen to get involved,' said Neil Wholey, head of e-government research for MORI.

Until the e-citizen project really takes off, you can find your own local council via Directgov using the A-to-Z of local councils (under Quickfind).


IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency)
Inland Revenue
Local Government Association</b>
UK Passport Services

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Dig This: You're going to watch this short video a couple of times, I promise, because it's so, well, remarkable. The guys' timing and aim are amazing; and if you think this footage has been tinkered with, notice how the woman rubs her head after the swoosh. [Thanks, Alex.]

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Best blogs on the web' honoured

The best of the web's blogs - online diaries or websites where people publish their thoughts - have been recognised in the annual Bloggies.

Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things took the top overall blog prize.

The prize for the best British blog and the lifetime achievement award went to, a site dedicated to musings about people and new media. .........cont.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Just For Grins

In my life, I thought I had a handle on the meaning of the word "service."
"The act of doing things for other people."

Then I heard the terms:

Internal Revenue Service
Postal Service
Telephone Service
Civil Service
Selective Service
City/County Public Service
Customer Service
Service Stations

I became confused about the word "service." This is not what I thought "service" meant.

Then today, I overheard two farmers talking and one of them mentioned that he was having a bull over to "service" a few of his cows.

SHAZAM! It suddenly all came into clear perspective.
Now I understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.

Just For Grins

In my life, I thought I had a handle on the meaning of the word "service."
"The act of doing things for other people."

Then I heard the terms:

Internal Revenue Service
Postal Service
Telephone Service
Civil Service
Selective Service
City/County Public Service
Customer Service
Service Stations

I became confused about the word "service." This is not what I thought "service" meant.

Then today, I overheard two farmers talking and one of them mentioned that he was having a bull over to "service" a few of his cows.

SHAZAM! It suddenly all came into clear perspective.
Now I understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.

Sunday, March 13, 2005 launches in the UK

Mobile phone company will launch today in the UK, claiming to be the first operator to offer low-cost, no-frills services to consumers based on internet-only sales. The company will extend the service to 11 other key European markets at a later date.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of the easyGroup, said that the launch will leave rivals "running scared".

"I think that is why Orange, the competitor owned by the France Telecom, is running so scared that it decided to take us to court over a spurious claim that we cannot use the colour orange.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Woman impaled on bath tap

NoteThought you might find this story interesting but have refrained from publishing any photos as it could have been someone I know.

From correspondents in New York
March 04, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

A 92-year-old Harlem woman who fell in her bathtub became impaled on the cold water tap and screamed for help for more than six hours before she was rescued, the New York fire department said.
After falling yesterday, she banged on walls and shouted for help for hours, said Lieutenant James McCluskey.

"The neighbours at first thought it was a plumber," he said.

Neighbours finally used a key to get into the apartment, finding her with the four-pronged knob stuck in her, the Daily News reported.

Firefighters cut the metal tap with bolt cutters and took her to Harlem Hospital where it was removed.( The TAP that is)

"It was in there pretty good," Lt. McCluskey said.

Ms Riley was resting at the Harlem Hospital today as was her bottom.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

TELEO (Beta)

Due to the overwhelming success of Teleo's beta launch, you may experience difficulty connecting to the service. We are currently upgrading our system, and will restore service as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience during our beta test phase.
Check back later

Friday, February 25, 2005

Couple's final tsunami pictures

Couple's final tsunami pictures
By Valentine Low, Evening Standard
24 February 2005

These pictures are the last thing John and Jackie Knill ever saw. They show the Asian tsunami seconds before it hit a beach in Thailand — a massive churning wave rushing towards them.

As we now know, few people who were that close to the wave when it struck would survive. But the Knills, a Canadian couple on holiday at the popular Thai resort of Khao Lak, perhaps did not realise that.

And instead of running for their lives, they took these photographs with their digital camera.

What happened next one will never know for sure. The Knills — from north Vancouver — disappeared and relatives say they were notified about a week ago that the identities of their remains had been confirmed.

Searchers later also recovered the couple’s destroyed digital camera but were able to print photos from its memory card. Today, 60 days after their death, the last moments of John and Jackie Knill can be reconstructed.

A shot taken at 8.20am shows that everything on the beach appears to be normal.
Six minutes later, curious onlookers are shown wandering onto suddenly-exposed tidal flats, a sign of the impending tsunami. A large wave appears to be breaking in the distance.

Two minutes after that, some spectators appear to realise this is no ordinary wave.

"I don’t know why they didn’t run," their son Christian Knill told Global TV in Vancouver. "Either they knew they couldn’t or they didn’t know the power of the wave."

A pair of photos taken at 8.30am shows a wall of water churning up sand and mud. A final shot a couple of minutes later shows the tsunami hitting the beach.

Then nothing.

At first the pictures show a distant wave on the horizon.

The water then starts to rush out from the shore as the wave draws nearer.

The wave can be seen growing as it moves closer.

The photos were taken on the popular holiday resort of Khao Lak.

The final image shows the tsunami crashing into the beach.

Friday, February 18, 2005


"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Today's Quote:

Quote: "I find chopsticks frankly distressing. Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven't yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?" -- Bill Bryson

Serial burglar caught on webcam

A house burglar was caught after a webcam on the owner's computer recorded images of him carrying out the raid.

Stills of serial raider Benjamin Park, 19, of Cambridge, were sent to an email address so even when he stole the computer, the images could be found.

Police said it was a "brilliant idea" of software engineer Duncan Grisby, who set it after a previous burglary.

Park was given an 11-month jail term by magistrates in Cambridge on Tuesday after admitting burglary.

"It was an absolutely brilliant idea of Mr Grisby's," said Det Sgt Alan Page, head of Cambridgeshire Police Burglary Squad.


"The webcam was set up in his computer and began filming once it registered motion. It captured every movement Park made.

"At one point he stared into the computer as if it might be making a noise or something to make him suspicious.

"He then stole the computer but it didn't matter because Mr Grisby had set it up so that as it was recording it was sending the images to an email address.

"When the break-in was discovered Mr Grisby simply gave us the email address and we were able to watch several minutes of footage and say, `That's Ben Park'.

"Mr Grisby is an extremely bright man. He'd set this up because he'd been burgled some years ago and the quality was superb.

'Better than alarm'

"It was better than a burglar alarm and when Park initially denied breaking in to the property we were simply able to show him the footage."

Magistrates heard Park, who has more than 13 previous convictions for theft, had stolen computer equipment and other property with a value of nearly £4,000 from Mr Grisby's study.

He committed the offence in February while on bail after being charged with an attempted burglary in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in August.

"The webcam made our job really easy," added DS Page. "It was a pleasure to show him the pictures and see his expression when we interviewed him."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/02/16 22:26:26 GMT


Serial burglar caught on webcam

A house burglar was caught after a webcam on the owner's computer recorded images of him carrying out the raid.

Stills of serial raider Benjamin Park, 19, of Cambridge, were sent to an email address so even when he stole the computer, the images could be found.

Police said it was a "brilliant idea" of software engineer Duncan Grisby, who set it after a previous burglary.

Park was given an 11-month jail term by magistrates in Cambridge on Tuesday after admitting burglary.

"It was an absolutely brilliant idea of Mr Grisby's," said Det Sgt Alan Page, head of Cambridgeshire Police Burglary Squad.


"The webcam was set up in his computer and began filming once it registered motion. It captured every movement Park made.

"At one point he stared into the computer as if it might be making a noise or something to make him suspicious.

"He then stole the computer but it didn't matter because Mr Grisby had set it up so that as it was recording it was sending the images to an email address.

"When the break-in was discovered Mr Grisby simply gave us the email address and we were able to watch several minutes of footage and say, `That's Ben Park'.

"Mr Grisby is an extremely bright man. He'd set this up because he'd been burgled some years ago and the quality was superb.

'Better than alarm'

"It was better than a burglar alarm and when Park initially denied breaking in to the property we were simply able to show him the footage."

Magistrates heard Park, who has more than 13 previous convictions for theft, had stolen computer equipment and other property with a value of nearly £4,000 from Mr Grisby's study.

He committed the offence in February while on bail after being charged with an attempted burglary in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in August.

"The webcam made our job really easy," added DS Page. "It was a pleasure to show him the pictures and see his expression when we interviewed him."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/02/16 22:26:26 GMT


Friday, February 11, 2005

BT quadruples broadband speeds for free

BT today promised to "transform" its retail broadband services by doubling or quadrupling existing connection speeds without raising tariffs. The move will offer the telco's 1.4 million retail broadband customers a minimum connection speed of 1Mbps.

Most consumer and business customers will have their speed increased to 2Mbps, as much as four times faster than current speeds. Those with BT Broadband Basic will have their speeds increased from 512Kbps up to 1Mbps.

Ian Livingston, chief executive at BT Retail, said: "Today we are offering customers up to four times the broadband speed without charging a penny more, allowing customers to get even more from their broadband services for entertainment, education or communication."

BT said that the higher speeds will pave the way for the delivery of improved services such as video over broadband.

"The internet is no longer simply about surfing the web or checking email. More and more people are enjoying online gaming, on-demand music and video," said Livingston. "BT is bringing applications of the future, such as video telephony, within reach of all our customers today."

According to Livingston, the announcement will also help businesses conduct online trading and teleworking more cost effectively.

"We fully appreciate the critical nature of broadband for business so, in addition to 2Mbps as standard, we are introducing a service level guarantee on our premium business product," he said.

The speed boost will become effective for consumers signing up after 17 February, and for business customers taking out a contract after 1 April. Migration of existing customers will start from the same dates.
This article was printed from the VNU Network
VNU Business Publications
© 2004 All rights reserved

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes
by Stephen King
I. The First Introduction

THAT'S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers' school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn. It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Here's a rather interesting description of the universe

Here are some facts about the universe:
area: infinite - bigger than the biggest thing ever
and then some. much bigger than that in fact,
really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size,
real "wow that's big" time. Infinity is just so big
that by comparison, bigness itself looks really
titchy. gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied
by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept I'm
trying to get across here

Imports: none. It's impossible to import things
into an infinite area, there being no outside to
import things from

Exports: none: see imports

Population: none. It is known there are an infinite
number of worlds, simply because there is an
infinite amount of space for them to be in.
however, not every one of them is inhabited.
Therefore, there must be a finite number of
inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by
infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so
the average population of all the planets in the
universe can be said to be zero. From this it
follows that the population of the whole universe is
also zero, and that any people you may meet from
time to time are merely the products of a deranged

Art: none. the function of art is to hold the
mirror up to nature, and there simply isn't a mirror
big enough. see area

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ctrl-Alt-Del :: Taking another serious look at VoIP technologies

Ctrl-Alt-Del :: Taking another serious look at VoIP technologies: "
For quite sometime now, VoIP technology has been something that has fascinated me to no end. While just about everyone has heard of Vonage and Skype these days, I could not shake the feeling that there had to be more to the world of VoIP services out there. After doing some digging, I ended up with the following discoveries


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Granny facing jail for cannabis casseroles

26/01/05 - News section

Granny facing jail for cannabis casseroles
by DAN PARKINSON, Daily Mail

A pensioner who put cannabis in her casseroles to ease back pain became an unlikely drug dealer after friends developed a taste for her cooking.

Former restaurateur Patricia Tabran, 66, laced her hotpots, cakes and soups with the drug, professing that it soothed aches left over from injuries she sustained in a car crash.

Her specialities were chicken and leek pie and lemon and lime cheesecake.

When friends and neighbours in her Northumberland village sampled the fare they were so impressed they begged her for recipes and a supply of the key ingredient.

Tabran, who had been using her pension to buy £20 bags of cannabis from a dealer in a Newcastle pub, succumbed to their pleas and took £150 each off a group of friends to do business on their behalf. Acting on a tip-off, police raided her stone-built cottage and found 242 grams of skunk, a potent type of cannabis, and a quantity of self-sealing bags.

They also seized 31 cannabis plants she had been trying to grow in her attic. "They weren't very pleased when I said they couldn't take the soil or the huge pots because they were mine," she said yesterday.

Cannabis helped combat pain

Last night Tabran was facing a possible jail term after admitting possession of the drug with intent to supply. She has refused to name the friends she was buying for.

"They wanted the stuff to help them relieve pain," she said. "I'd been going on the bus to Newcastle to get small amounts. It was all I could afford as a pensioner. That was used in the cooking.

"When I got a chance to get more and help out my friends, I met a supplier."

She said she was scared. But after a series of rendezvous with the dealer in coffee shops, he arranged to hand over the drugs.

"I took the envelope with the kitty money and gave it to him. He pulled out a package from under his coat. It was similar to a gun holster.

"I asked him if he wanted to count the cash. He said I didn't look like the sort of person who would want to cheat anyone. He gave me a little bit extra of the loose stuff."

Bespectacled and wearing a black cardigan, Tabran, from Humshaugh, near Hexham, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court this week after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.

She will be sentenced later this year after probation and psychological reports. Last night she told how the cannabis helped combat pain from a car crash in which she suffered whiplash.

She also suffers pain from a lower back injury, and arthritic knees.

'I'm a good cook'

She said the cannabis even helped relieve tinnitus and the depression she has suffered since the death of her son in 1975.

"NHS medicines bring me out in a rash," she said. "I've been using cannabis to eat and bake in my food for months since I was introduced to it in February last year. I am sure the whole village knows about it now.

"I'm a good cook and I used the stuff I'd bought from a pub in Newcastle to put in stews, soups, curries and chocolate cake and desserts.

"I believe cannabis should be made legal for medical reasons. It's a natural herb. It has given me natural pain relief, as it has for my other friends who are suffering from MS and other conditions.

"If they send me to jail I am going to write a book about the merits of medicinal herbal cannabis.

"I want people to know NHS medicines are poisoning them instead of treating their illness.

"If Jeffrey Archer can write a book in prison, so can I."

Tabran ran the Zodiac Centre restaurant in Edinburgh with her husband, whom she later divorced. The couple had two children, a boy and a girl.

Her depression started after the death of her 14-year-old son, Duncan, in 1975. She found him dead in bed face down in his pillow.

She remarried and had a second son, Colin, now 25, but her husband, David, died from cancer.

She has two grandchildren but has not had contact with them or her daughter for several years.

Find this story at
©2005 Associated New Media


Powerful Open Source Web Editor (IDE)
Got Dreamweaver envy? Go on, admit it. Macromedia Dreamweaver (and Adobe GoLive, among others) is a powerful tool that can help make Web design an enjoyable, creative experience, rather than a menial coding headache. But if you are a Linux developer, or if you simply couldn't afford expensive software, you were out in the cold... until now.

Even Dreamweaver users may want to stop and take a look at Nvu, a free, open source Web design environment with Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine at the heart of its WYSIWYG HTML editor.

Nvu runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and even though this is only the second beta release of the software, it's already got a solid feature set, including:

* multiple file editing with tabs
* multiple views per file: HTML, tags, WYSIWYG, and Preview
* strong CSS support
* site file management with integrated FTP
* on-the-fly spell checking

Power users may miss a few features of the commercial packages, like Secure FTP (Blane suggests a work-around in his blog entry), pop-up code hints, server-side coding, and testing servers. But if the momentum of this project is maintained I expect all that and more will eventually be added.

Monday, January 24, 2005

19 Million Firefox Downloads - Spread Firefox

19 Million Firefox Downloads - Spread Firefox announced on Thursday that the popular open source browser had reached 19,000,000 estimated downloads. What’s even more amazing is the fact that it was done in a little more than 10 weeks.

Friday, January 21, 2005

How to make your PC secure

An unguarded PC is a potentially dangerous window into your life and finances. We show you how to make it secure and keep it secure
Kyle MacRae, Computeractive 19 Jan 2005

Part 1
Part 2

Thursday, December 23, 2004

On Test: Webmail services

On Test: Webmail services
With the impending release of the free Gmail service, we ask whether it's worth paying for webmail services
Paul Grant, Computeractive 25 Nov 2004

You are probably familiar with the concept of webmail, the (mostly) free services that allow you to send and receive email from any computer in the world, providing you have your email address and password to hand.

It's a handy service, particularly if you travel a lot and don't carry a notebook or handheld computer, but there are some drawbacks. Some accounts expire if not accessed for a set period of time. All have limited storage for emails and attachments and many won't let you send or receive large file attachments, a problem in today's world of broadband connections, when large video or audio files are becoming commonplace.

But on April Fool's Day the market was revolutionised by a new upstart. Although still in the testing phase, Gmail, from the makers of the world's most popular search engine, Google, offers an enormous 1Gb of storage for emails and attachments, much more than other services.

This prompted its competitors to up their games by increasing the range of services and features on offer. So let's look at the benefits you can gain and see if they are worth paying extra for.

A free lunch?
Most 'free' services are actually paid for by advertisers, and many companies now base the advertising shown to each user on the subject headings of emails sent to them or terms they have entered into a search engine, matching them with products or services offered by their advertising partners.

Under UK law it's perfectly legal providing the company explains this in its terms and conditions and gives you the chance to decline the service. Gmail took this a stage further, saying it would scan emails to find potential advertising matches. This raised eyebrows, as users became concerned that Gmail staff would be reading private emails.

The company said that its automated tools would simply scan for key words, so people who mention the word 'summer' in an email might see adverts for holiday companies. Not all the services here use this technique and some remove adverts altogether for premium members.

FastMail is an Australia-based service, although strangely it displays the time as if you were on the west coast of the US. It claims to be the fastest email service on the planet and prides itself on its reliability.

It offers a range of standard features free of charge, including the ability to access other email accounts, such as those on IMAP and other webmail services, from FastMail. It also integrates well with other email software such as Microsoft Outlook and Eudora, making it much easier to access your communications on the go.

There are a range of different paid-for services available through FastMail, with more facilities and greater storage space as the price goes up. For just over £20 a year you can get up to 2Gb of storage. However, instead of a maximum file size, like most other similar services, it instead has a bandwidth limit, in this case 750Mb per month, much like the usage limits on some of the cheaper broadband services currently on offer.

It is only when you start paying that a good virus scanner and advanced spam filter are offered, otherwise you are not as well protected from hackers and junk mailers as you might like to be. Advertising also then disappears and you can receive up to five different email aliases on the same account and the ability to host your own website.

Although it hasn't yet been officially launched, it has already made quite a splash. Initially people have been staggered by its size, with 1Gb of storage space available.

It also employ's the technology used by the Google search engine to search through your own email account, helping you find things much more easily in what they expect to be a sizeable account. It is this feature that sets Gmail apart from other services and users of Google should be able to get to grips with the way it works quickly.

The service also has a few other neat touches. As well as the standard contact books and spam filters, Gmail can group messages together into conversations to help you keep in better touch with contacts. It also has a star system which allows you to highlight those messages you wish to have a special status. You can then quickly view all starred items on their own page, a good way of keeping track of email receipts for online purchases, for example.

As mentioned earlier, there were concerns over privacy issues with Gmail, as the contents of your emails are examined in order to deliver specifically targeted advertising when you are using the account.

However, the company has promised that no human will read any of your emails and that personal information will not be sold or passed on to third parties without the express permission of the account holder.

Gmail is due for full release soon, but many people now have a beta account. You can register your interest in a Gmail account here.

Most internet users will have come across Hotmail, Microsoft's free webmail service, before. It is one of the most recognised email addresses you will come across. Given that it is owned by Microsoft, you can expect that it integrates well with many of the other Microsoft products that you will find on your Desktop.

It shares its address book with MSN Messenger, Microsoft's instant messaging software, allowing you to choose whether to email or instant message a contact at any point. It also offers MSN Calendar, to help you schedule appointments and interacts well with its own Outlook software. It has free virus-scanning and cleaning software and an integrated spam filter.

Most of this you can get with your free account. If you're looking to upgrade, for just under £15 a year, you get extra storage. Hotmail Plus, the paid-for service, gives you 2Gb of storage space, a massive jump from the current 250Mb limit on the free account, and you can send or receive files of up to 20Mb in size.

The premium service also gives you 30Mb of extra space at MSN Groups, which you can use for sharing photos, documents and other files. If you are an infrequent email user but find having a webmail account vital, your money will also prevent your account, and your messages, from disappearing after 30 days of inactivity, one of the major drawbacks of free Hotmail accounts. For those of you who hate advertising banners, the upgraded account is also advert-free.

Hushmail, as the name might suggest, has privacy and security at its heart. It is aimed at those who are worried about other email services being potentially vulnerable to attack from hackers or those looking to steal personal information. With Hushmail your mind will instantly be put at rest.

All messages and attachments sent from a Hushmail account are encrypted, so it is practically impossible for others to intercept and view the information. Hushmail also works with other systems that use PGP.

It offers an advanced spam filter, which includes a system that requires a sender to verify themselves interactively before allowing the mail to go through. This ensures that no mails sent out to every address under the sun get through. It also allows you to create a list of those you want to receive mails from and those you don't.

Hushmail offers a range of services at different prices above its free provision, depending on how much space you want. At the top end you can get up to 128Mb of secure storage for you messages and files for about £50 a year. The paid-for service also allows you to create an unlimited number of fake email addresses, which enables you to maintain your anonymity over the internet when filling out forms on the internet or posting to newsgroups.

All users can receive files of up to 25Mb. For an additional cost, Hushmail also gives you access to IMAP mail servers, so you can read messages in other accounts from your Hushmail account. If you want to send emails and be almost entirely sure they can't be read by anyone else, try Hushmail.

Lycos is another big name in webmail. While most users will only have experienced the free service, the provider actually has three different offerings available. The free service will allow you a maximum storage space of 15Mb, while you can send or receive emails with attachments of up to 5Mb in size.

The basic service also comes with an address book and calendar tool and allows you to access IMAP servers and other external email accounts. Spam filters and virus protection is provided but the tools are fairly basic.

The next level of service comes at a cost of £2 a month. This increases your storage limit to 100Mb while attachments can be up to 15Mb in size. You also have access to POP3 accounts and the ability to send 30 text messages via your email account. Helpdesk support is also available with the paid service, spam filters and virus software are improved, while banner advertising is banished.

The highest level of service, which starts at £3.50 a month, sees storage space increase to 1Gb while attachment sizes can reach an enormous 50Mb. You can also choose your own email domain name and have up to 50 email accounts on it. Spam filters and virus protection are also enhanced to their maximum.

A look at webmail would not be complete without Yahoo. Along with Hotmail, Yahoo is one of the top free email services in the world, and as such offers you a good range of features.

Following competition from the soon to be released Gmail, Yahoo has bumped up is storage size from 6Mb to 100Mb, increased the maximum individual mail size from 3Mb to 10Mb and improved the look and feel of your mailbox.

It offers the obligatory spam filters and antivirus protection, enables you to set up an address book and add your own personal touches to the look of your mailbox, but you are subjected to page adverts.

Another handy feature is the option to receive alerts of new messages to your Yahoo! Messenger service or direct to your mobile phone. You can also send text messages via the service, but you'll pay your phone company the usual fee for each.

With so much available free of charge, its hard to see how what could be added. For £12 a year, your storage space increases to 2Gb and the adverts fall away, but attachment sizes remain at 10Mb. Like Hotmail, your account will no longer disappear if you don't use it for a certain period of time. As a bonus you can currently receive a £20 wine voucher for Virgin Wines, effectively cancelling out your fees for nearly two years.

One concern you may have about using webmail is the security of the contents of your email as they fly about the internet. Unfortunately most email systems, including the ones provided by your internet service provider, are inherently insecure. The emails you send are transmitted in clear text across the internet and anyone who is determined to get access to them and is technically gifted enough could probably do so.

What you have to remember is that it is highly unlikely that anyone will want to intercept your conversations with friends. If you're transmitting anything more sensitive than that, an encrypted service like Hushmail is probably for you.

If you are accessing your email account on a shared computer or in an internet cafe, ensure that you have logged out of your account properly before leaving it and don't tick the 'remember my login details' button found on most. Following these simple steps should ensure your email account remains open to just you.

Signed, sealed, delivered
Even if you only access email from home, free and premium webmail services offer benefits over your home ISP account, particularly in terms of online storage and attachment sizes. But if you want no more than the ability to send and receive messages and the occasional attachment from any PC, then we see no point in paying for premium services.

For those wanting a little more oomph, a paid-for service gives you much more storage space, you'll be able to send and receive large files in one go and you won't have to worry about your account disappearing if you don't use it for a while. It will be interesting to see how these premium services fare after the full release of Gmail.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Study: European Scorchers To Get Worse

Dec. 2, 2004 — The temperatures that held most of Europe in a molten grip in summer 2003 will be considered typical seasonal weather by the middle of the 21st century — and, a hundred years from now, will be seen as cool.

That's the alarming prediction of British scientists who have carried out the first detailed research into Europe's June-August 2003 blaster.

Delving into climate records, the British team said 2003 was the hottest summer in southern, western and central Europe in at least five centuries.

From the eastern Atlantic to the Black Sea, the mercury was 2.3 Celsius (4.14 Fahrenheit) above the norm.

The event was such a statistical freak that, if carbon pollution in Earth's atmosphere remained at today's levels, it would take place only once every 250 years. But: the heat wave will no longer be an anomaly just a few decades from now if the machinery of global warming continues to build up speed, they estimated.

The world's six billion humans are disgorging so much greenhouse gas from fossil fuels that a red-hot summer will soon become commonplace in Europe, they said.

According to their projection, crunched through one of the world's top models for climate change, by the 2040s at least one European summer in two will be hotter than in 2003.

"By the end of this century, 2003 would be classed as an anomalously cold summer relative to the new climate," the scientists write in the British weekly journal Nature, published on Thursday. Summer in 2100 will, on average, be some 6 C (10.8 F) hotter than today.

Separately, scientists at the French meteorological agency Meteo France told AFP that they expect summer temperatures in France to rise by between 4 and 7 C (7.2-12.6 F) by 2100.

"By the end of the century, a summer with temperatures as we had in 2003 will be considered a cool summer," said researcher Michel Deque.

According to an international Red Cross report issued in October, the 2003 heat wave claimed up to 30,000 lives, many of them elderly people who died of dehydration and heat stress.

Estimates by the insurance industry say the drought conditions caused crop losses of $12.3 billion , in addition to losses of $1.6 billion from forest fires in Portugal alone.

The British findings are based on an updated computer model run by the Hadley Center of Britain's Met Office, while the French findings are derived from a European project, Prudence, which is based on 10 different European models, including the Hadley Center's.

Both are based on the so-called A2 scenario, in which atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) will roughly triple compared to preindustrial levels. This is also called the "business as usual" scenario, in other words, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at present rates.

It does not take into account efforts to curb pollution through international treaties, like the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to take effect from Feb. 16 but will, at best, simply stabilize emissions among industrialized signatories.

"If the greenhouse gas levels are reduced, there will be a corresponding impact on temperatures," lead author Peter Stott, of the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research at Britain's Met Office, told AFP.

CO2 concentrations stand at 379 parts per million (ppm), according to measurements taken in March at a US observatory on Hawaii, which put the year-on-year increase at three ppm. This compares with the yardstick of 280 ppm of preindustrial times.

Greenhouse gases are so called because they hang in the atmosphere like an invisible blanket, trapping heat from the sun instead of letting it radiate out to space. This warms the atmosphere, the sea and the land, with potentially major effects on the delicate climate system.

The Night Before Christmas, Legally Speaking

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a.k.a. St. Nicholas a.k.a. Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter. The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as "I"), being the joint owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance. At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter "the Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus. Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen (hereinafter "the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named "Rudolph" may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney. Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the UK.. Tax Code.) Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" Or words to that effect.

My Way News

Death Toll at 24 in Attack on Mosul Base: "Death Toll at 24 in Attack on Mosul Base"


Yep you heard it correctly GOOD SPROUT NEWS is all about how GOOD the humble sprout is for you.
Sprouts – Are They Really A ‘Wonder Food’?

Expert Studies Validate Sprout Nutrition and Health Benfit i

What we Still Don't Know

What we Still Don't Know
Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees investigates....

Are we alone?

Sir Martin explores the possibility that life exists on planets beyond our own. He unveils an unsettling scientific debate that has startling consequences for us Earthlings. Do you believe in aliens? If not, a quick glance through these pages might change your mind!

Why are we here?

Everything you thought you knew about the universe is wrong. It’s made of atoms, right? Wrong. Atoms only account for a measly 15% of everything that exists. The mass of the universe consists of something so mysterious and elusive that it has been dubbed ‘dark matter’.

Are we real?

There is a fundamental chasm in our understanding of ourselves, the universe, and everything. To solve this, Sir Martin takes us on a mind-boggling journey through multiple universes to post-biological life. On the way we learn of the disturbing possibility that we could be the product of someone else’s experiment.

Click the hyperlinks above the pictures to get to each section

Monday, December 20, 2004

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world today, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey", died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in, and then the trouble started. --- Steve/Roger Lamm

Bill Gates' Speech TO: MT. WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL in Visalia,CA.

Bill Gates' Speech TO: MT. WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL in Visalia,CA.

Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

To anyone with kids of any age, (or no kids) here's some advice.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did

not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good,

politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality

and howthis concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect

you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You

won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had

a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about

your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are

now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and

listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you

save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try

delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers,but life HAS

NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give

you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear

the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and

very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on

your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

To A Keeper

To A Keeper, (With thanks to Anita Henslee a good friend)
¸...__/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°

One day someone's husband died,
and on that clear, cold morning,
in The warmth of their bedroom,
the wife was struck with the pain
of learning that sometimes there
isn't any more.
No more hugs, no more special moments
to celebrate together, no more phone calls
just to chat, no more "just one minute."
Sometimes, what we care about the most
gets all used up and goes away . . never to
return before we can say good-bye,
say "I love you."
¸...__/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
So while we have it . . . it's best we love it . . .
and care for it . and fix it when it's broken . . .
and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage . .
and old cars . . . and children with bad report cards
and dogs with bad hips and aging parents and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it,
because we are worth it.
¸...¸ __/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
Some things we keep -- like a best friend who moved away
or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things
that make us happy, no matter what.
¸...¸ __/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
Life is important, like people we know who are special . . .
and so, We keep them close!
¸...¸ __/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
I received this from someone who thought
I was a 'keeper'! Then I sent It to the people
I think of in the same way.
Now it's your turn to send this to all those
people who are "keepers" in your life.

¸...¸ __/ /\____
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/ ```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°

Thank you for being a special part of my life!