Author Archives: Beardie

‘The King’s’ 50 Billion

So ‘The King’ has printed another 50 billion pounds (sterling) and given it to his banker buddies so that they can pay themselves yet bigger salaries and bonuses from it as they are in effect the gate-keepers.

If Mervyn King really wants to help businesses, why doesn’t he given the money directly to sound businesses that need it? Like manufacturing which is growing and needs to invest in equipment to get the edge to break into new markets, here and abroad.

What we don’t need is these unsound bankers investing the money in their cronies hedge fund schemes and other ‘casino-style’ investment schemes. And what certainly do not need is us, the public, being encouraged to live beyond our means on credit again as ‘The King’ seems to be implying that we should to ‘stimulate grow’. In addition printing of this money pushes down interests rates which further reduces returns for savers and pensioners reliant on dividend payments.

And no, I don’t think it was right that Fred Goodwin was stripped of his Knighthood. A Knight of the realm should be a knight for life in my books once knighted. There have always been plenty of knights in medieval times who didn’t quite live up to what was expected of them and still remained knights. Because a recent fall from grace should not and did not erase recognition for earlier valour.

And why only is it Fred Goodwin who seems to have been singled out for public humiliation? What about Gordon Brown who was key in overseeing this entire financial debacle as both Chancellor and then Prime Minister. Where was this much vaunted ‘Prudence’ of his when it came to guiding our economy?

The sinking of the ‘Estonia’ and Julian Assange

At first glance the two would seem to have nothing in common. Indeed at first glance they would seem not to have anything in common and are temporally separated by approximately fourteen years.

I however believe the two are linked by threads finer than the finest spider’s web that remain invisible unless you ask yourself why?

For the sinking of the  Estonia here are some points to ponder:

In a nutshell, the Estonia sank in 1994 in the Baltic Sea, costing 852 lives. No satisfactory answer to date has been given as to why she sank like a stone. The official report claimed that she sank after looking her bow visor but makes no reference to the integrity of her watertight compartments which should have kept her afloat even if  she capsized due to a large amount of surface water on the car deck due to loss of the afore mentioned bow visor.

  • Why did the Swedish Government try to entomb the wreck in concrete just 3 months after she sank?
  • Why will the Sweden Government till today not permit an independent investigation? – the Estonia is only 60 metres down and there are enough unmanned ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) which can collect data samples and take photographs not to mention divers.
  • Why have the divers of the Halliburton subsidiary company been sworn to a 70 year ‘secrets act’ regarding what they found on the ‘official’ investigation.
  • NATO was in the area carrying out Search and Rescue exercises. Why did they not respond to the Estonia’s May Day call?
  • You might like to note that the Swedish Government finally admitted that they had used the ‘Estonia’ to smuggle weapons technology from the former Soviet Union to the ‘West’. I am sure we all know where this smuggled weapons technologies was headed. It’s unlikely Sweden was the final destination.

I recommend you watch the movie ‘Baltic Storm’ (2003). It was made by a German reporter who was gagged from reporting the incident. Oh,  and another curious fact. Several of the survivors who reported themselves as survivors mysterious disappeared from the survivors list. Most of these were senior officers from the Estonia including the off duty second Captain.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Julian Assange has been a thorn in the side to big corporations and the American Government in particular as his informal network of informants frequently exposes Governmental corruption, insider dealings and certainly the ‘Afghanistan 2004-2010 War diaries’ which was written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military has not made him a popular man with the American establishment. In addition Wikileaks represents of the vangaurds of freedom of information – using the medium of the internet which governments all over are so scared of and want to effectively censor.

Sweden comes in here, as they are vehemently trying to extradite him to Sweden to face charges for alleged rape and assault.

You can read the charges the Swedes have submitted here>> Assange_Respondents_case

It seems the charges were dropped and them suddenly restarted – at whose behest I wonder.

I put forward before you that the ‘Estonia’ and the Julian Assange extradition attempt are the Swedish Government’s shame in put the interests of certain parties across the Atlantic before that of the Swedes.

What I love and hate about my Nokia N95 phone.

Well, perhaps Love/ Hate are  too strong a word. Especially since I am no techno geek or techno whizz and slow to make the  change from a proven and working system. Indeed my N95 came out in 1997 and we have only been together for 3 months. So I am not really up there with the latest technology. In fact the only reason I got it is that I felt it would be handy to be able to access the web via wifi.

So let’s start with the short comings of my Nokia N95.

  • For one you can use it like a normal phone because the ear piece does not work 95% of the time. It’s a bug in the software that never seems to have been ironed out. You have to speak to your call either via loudspeaker or headphones. Shocking! A lot of people must have returned these phones for this reason.
  • Volume control does not work – a design fault where the button breaks of it’s mountings. You can hover adjust the volume and leave it at a preset level using the external volume control cable. No ideal but a work around.
  • Nokia has provided sync support only for MS Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes. This means that you cannot sync your calendar with open source email applications like Mozilla’s Thunderbird which is a pain. And please no one mention Google Calendar. We have already given Google too much power with near search engine monopoly, our addiction to Youtube videos that I don’t really want to hand them my Calendar.
  • Not many applications out there, but I don’t find this to be a limitation as it does web, email, calendar and a couple of instant messenger programs.
  • Some say it’s a bit bulky but I don’t find this a problem.

The things I like about the N95

  • Pretty stable Symbian S60 operating system
  • Decent SatNav and Nokia Maps
  • Great sound system! Puts Apple iPhones to shame. You don’t need external speakers with this on to get the party going )
  • 4 Gb memory for storageis sufficent and the apps cope okay with the 48 Mb internal RAM.
  • Takes great pics with the 5 Mega pixel camera
  • Plays Youtube videos well – Real Player
  • Crystal clear and bright display
  • Supports OggPlayer (free app. but they accept donations) which is great for Audio books – has independent volume control and fast forward/rewind which default Nokia Music Player lacked.
  • Buttons – I like buttons. Nokia’s 3 lettered buttons suit me down to a tee.

Well, that’s be and my N95 in a nutshell. I am not looking to get another phone anytime soon )

Bi-lingual puns

What is a pun? A pun is the humorous use of a word to suggest another that sounds the same.

Speaker A: ‘Aren’t those plane trees over there?
Speaker B: ‘Why, Their bark looks quite patterned to me’ (said with a big grin).

We often use puns to make our conversations humorous and to demonstrate our skills at wordplay to either to raise our perceived social standing or less kindly to put someone down.

That we frequently use puns or come across puns or use puns in our conversations is a given. What I would like to contest is that is bi-lingual/tri-lingual speakers etc are more literally creative than mono-lingual speakers in some way because the can they can create bi-lingual puns.

I heard two university professors at a Indian university claim this and heard the pity in their voices for mono-lingual speakers. They claim that usage of bi-lingual puns require the speaker to know the word in both languages which is fair enough. However having a matchings words doesn’t in itself make a good pun. There must be clever humour behind it. This is highly valued my native British english speakers.

Here are three puns that are guaranteed to make a native english speaker smile.

1) Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

2) Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

3) Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Here is a bi-lingual pun that educated Indians find very funny.
Speaker A: When would Mickey Mouse write the Ramayana?
Speaker B: When he was a Valmiki.

Valmiki was the Hindu sage who wrote Raymana and so here the allusion that Mickey Mouse is a Valmiki whenever his poster is on the wall etc.

Bi-lingual Indians apparently find this very funny. Sorry guys, I just do not find it funny. I am sure forethought went into it to make the connection between Wall Mickey and the Valmiki but you have to stretch the words to much especially since one is pronounced with a ‘v’ sound and the other with a ‘w’. And it just got worse the more of them I listened to.

I am not convinced that bi-lingual Hindi-English puns are in anyway superior to mono-lingual British english puns. In fact I would argue the other way as English puns have to be delivered with grammatical and perfect pronunciation to work.

On a closing note, maybe Samuel Lee Jackson was right when he said that a pun is the lowest form of humour.

Raketa (Rocket)

This name is now used for pretty much all the hydrofoil craft on Russian rivers, the Black Sea and the waterways in countries that came under the influence of the Soviet Union. But there was indeed an original Raketa (Rocket).


Raketa 1

Raketa-1 the original Rocket


A brief history of the Raketa (Rocket)

The Raketa was the first type of hydrofoil boats commercially produced in the Soviet Union. They were manufactured from 1957 until the early 1970s.
The first model, the Raketa-1, was built by Krasnoye Sormovo shipbuilding plant in Sormovo, Nizhny Novgorod. On its maiden voyage, on 25 August 1957, it carried 30 passengers from Nizhny Novgorod to Kazan (420 km) in seven hours.

The Raketa Experience

I was in the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia the summer of 2004 and had the privilege to travel on a raketa from Krasnoyarsk up to the town Divnogorsk where there is a massive hydro-electic dam built across the river Yenisei . The Yensei is a mighty river that makes our river Thames look like a stream. It rises in Mongolia and flows all the way to the Artic sea.


Raketa pic

Raketa at Divnogorsk

The river after the dam is still over a mile wide at Krasnoyarsk and the water flows fast. There is a scheduled raketa service to and from Dyivnogorsk. The raketa trips are very popular with Russian tourists and locals. After queuing up for our tickets for which turned out to be a pointless exercise as everyone simply rushed to the gate as soon as the raketa arrived, we boarded. The only sell you tickets for the number of seats available. It’s probably to do with maintaining the stability of the vessel and the fact that the raketa won’t plane if it is overloaded.

The raketa was fast! Especially considering that we were going up river against a strong current. It made the other vessels look as if they were standing still. They views were spectacluar too. Dachas, farms, taiga (birch forest) meeting the river and of’course the spectacular views of the gorge itself as we approached Divnogorsk.


Me at Divnogorsk

The trip took less than twenty five minutes or so. It was smooth and comfortable all the way.

Re-installing Monitoring on SBS 2003 SP2

Re-installing Monitoring on Small Business Server 2003 Sp2

I had to re-install WSUS 3.) Sp2 and Monitoring on my SBS 2003 server after it broke when I tried to upgrade WSUS fro version 3.0 Sp1 to 2.0 Sp2.

These are the steps I followed:

Steps to Re-install SBS Monitoring

1. Control Panel -> Add Remove Programs -> Windows Small Business Server 2003 -> Change Remove ->
Set Server Tools to Maintenance. Set Monitoring to Remove and continue the setup process.

2. Control Panel -> Add Remove Program -> Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (SBSMonitoring) -> Remove.

3. Delete IIS Virtual Directory

Open IIS, expand servername, Web Sites, Default Web Site
Deleted Monitoring. Backed up files in the virtual directory first.

4. Renamed the C:\program files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL$SBSMONITORING Folder.

5. Deleted the registry keys relating to Monitoring

A. Deleted HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\Monitoring
B. Deleted HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL

6. Reboot the server.

7. Control Panel -> Add Remove Program -> Windows Small Business Server 2003.
Set Server Tools to Maintenance. Set Monitoring to Install and continue the setup process. I had an error message that

the system was unable to install MS SQL SP4. An error showed up on the install option.

8. 6. Rebooted the server.

9. 7. MSSQL$SBSMONITORING and SQLAgent$SBSMONITORING services started up on reboot.

10. 8. In Server Management Console -> Monitoring and Reporting: run the “Set Up Monitoring Reports and Alerts wizard”

Monitoring is now running but I have two errors relating to it in my system log file.

These are:

Event ID 120

The report server cannot decrypt the symmetric key. Most likely, the service account or password has changed. To continue, run rsconfig.exe to update the report server account information.\r\n
Event ID 140

The application domain WindowsService_5 failed to initialize. Error: Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.Utilities.KeyStateNotValidException: The report server cannot access the private key for the service account. This key is used to decrypt the symmetric key that protects content in the report server database. This condition might occur after the password is reset for the report server service account. You must either restore a backup key or delete all encrypted content. —> System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException (0x8009000B): Key not valid for use in specified state. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8009000B) at System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal.ThrowExceptionForHRInternal(Int32 errorCode, IntPtr errorInfo) at RSManagedCrypto.RSCrypto.ExportPublicKey() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.DataProtection.PreparePublicKey(Boolean repair) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.<GetEncryptionKey>b__2() — End of inner exception stack trace — at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.<GetEncryptionKey>b__2() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.RevertImpersonationContext.<>c__DisplayClass1.<Run>b__0(Object state) at System.Security.SecurityContext.Run(SecurityContext securityContext, ContextCallback callback, Object state) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.RevertImpersonationContext.Run(ContextBody callback) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.GetEncryptionKey() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.ConnectStorage() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ServiceController.ServiceStartThread(Object firstStart).

I tried using the RSKeyMgmt tool but it just could not find the instance of MS SQL server on my machine. i.e <severname>\SBSMonitoring If any one has some bright ideas, I’d be happy to hear from them.

WSUS 3.0 SP2 installed without any problems after this.

Remote desktop in XP not maximizing.

I have had this happen to me quite a few times when using a Remote Desktop connection. The RDP connection screen would go funny and then refuse to maximise again. So I decided to do a write up to save me time in the future.

The solution is really quite simple. Go to Start –> Programs –> Accessories. Launch Remote Desktop by clicking on the icon.  Then click on the Options button. You should then get the following screen come up.

Remote Desktop Settings

Select the Display tab and set the Remote Desktop Size to Full Screen (by moving the slider fully to the right).

If you want to have several remote desktop connections of varying sizes you can create shortcuts to the as follows:

Shortcut name:%SystemRoot%\system32\mstsc.exe /w:1600 /h:1200

Happy RDP-ing!

The Canoe Clavacade

Launching off

The Beginning.

This was organised by members and Volunteers of the Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group(MWRG). The Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group arranged to have the Bray Cut which becomes the York Stream in the Maidenhead town centre cleared of  overgrowth,rubbish, dead trees and another debris which was restricting the flow of the water. I too part in two of the weekend sessions in August. It was hard but worthwhile work. A sterling fellow volunteer by the name of Stewart and I began the first session my clearing rubbish and other debris from the river by the  bridge at Green Lane. Stewart from the ROTA Group.

We had to be careful as we waded as the bottom was very silty in places. Indeed, I sank it at one point and was firmly stuck. I almost began to panic as I sank deeper and deeper and the water breached my waders!  After extracting myself and emptying my waders I carried on. We pulled out a bathtub, a suitcase (thankfully there weren’t any body parts inside), cars seats, car wheels and so much other rubbish like plastic bags and bottles, beer cans and the like. People are really thoughtless  . What really got my goat was a lot of the rubbish  around there.was left by fishermen. You’d think they would respect the environment more.

By the second day we were clearing the section of river called The Cut which flows through the Bray Nature Reserve. A really beautiful place. Here the clearance work consisted mainly of pulling out and cutting trees that had fallen into the river and which were restricting it’s course.  We managed to clear a decent 5 metre wide section along here.

Setting off

Setting off from Green Lane

Off we go.

So in thanks and to to make people aware of the work they are doing, the MWRG organised the afore mentioned Canoe Calvadcade. I was lucky enough to be invited by a gentleman by the name of David who had a beautiful 13 foot wooden Canadian canoe. A piece of art really. You can see it the pics. It was a wonderful event with several entire families taking part. There was an inflatable Sevoylar Yukon paddled by a nice lady and her soon. I thought it was quite sturdy and stylish for an inflatable.

We started of at the bridge of Green Lane and followed the river all the way down to Bray where it joins the Thames. We then paddled back up a bit and got off at the Bray Marina who kindly let us use their pontoon and car park. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the water. We even managed to pick up a football and a pelican cone from the river on the way 🙂

My final thoughts.

I do support he efforts of the MWRG to make this section of water way navigable all the way to the town centre from Bray. But only for canoes and rowing boats. I think motorized boats, even small ones would disturb the wild life and tranquillity of this section of the river. There are a lot of bird species that seek refuge and breeding grounds along this selection of the waterway. This is due to it’s current relative inaccessibility to man.

Davids's Wooden Canadian Canoe

E-Commerce Exhibition 2010

This year’s e-commerce exhibition was run at the London Olympia on the 19th and 20th October. By all accounts of those who had attended the previous years it was busier and better than the previous year.



Girls from the UKFast Host Stand


UKFast had one of the biggest stands there.

Besides the lovely girls on their stand and promoting their carbon neutral ethos, UKFast had these tips to share:

  • Since August 2010 Google has changed it search engine model and organic searches now can return upto 7 results per page for the same website rather than the one as previously. A point worthy of some thought.
  • Google’s addition of Twitter updates (which was implemented by Google autumn 2009) now means search results include relevant Twitter updates.

There were a lot of Online Payment Centre Solutions:

These were offering alternative solutions to the likes of WorldPay and RBS WorldPay.

  • RBS WorldPay

Big UK players but didn’t have anything special for existing customers.


  • In this picture above, the lovely Anapolia at the clickandbuy stand. They are a German company and say that they are the 2 largest online transaction processing company after WorldPay. Anapolia said they are different in that they can accept debit cards which are prevalent in German and through the rest of Europe.

  • EVP International – a smaller Lithuanian company offering transaction processing with a special focus on central and eastern Europe.

the US/UK market. They use a bank account to clear payments on behalf of customers.

  • CreditCall Another world wide credit card clearance company.


Attended a 30 minute Google – Intoduction to Google Products Seminar.


A well presented session. Gained some SEO tips regarding what Google look for when ranking your website, namely Page Relevance and Links to your site.

However Google admitted without confessing that they tweek the system as they think it right that billion dollar companies like Amazon for example should appear at the top of the organic search list for the search term – amazon.


Google said to be very aware of seasonal trends when running your Adword campaign as this will determine what users are searching for at the time. A good example given was Stena Ferries capitalisation of the air travel disruption by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud this year by running a tailored Adword campaign.

  • Adwords should be compelling

  • Ranking of Adwords is awarded for Relavance, Click Through Rate and the the Landing Page Quality.

My personal take – Adwords simply burns a hole in one’s pocket but there you go. Google says it’s all about market forces and how much it’s worth to you.

Display Ads – if you didn’t know, Google own Youtube

Youtube has a seriously huge audience (Google claims it’s the second largest search engine – a reflection of the society we live in today, I guess) and a company would do well to invest in producing and hosting entertaining videos. Google encourages E-commerce entrepreneurs to develop a Brand Channel.

According to Google internet use via mobile will overtake pcs by 2013.

SEO Guys – DotAgency


I spoke with these guys extensively. The cool dude on the right is my friend Anthony. He uses DotAgency the for his emailing campaigns (Investment Banking Sector) and finds them cost effective at about 100 pounds a month for 25,000 managed emails. They are also doing SEO work. Speaking with them on Monday.

Rest of the Conference.

There were some interesting people doing very interesting stuff.

French companies had a strong presence.  french companies two lovely girls offered said they could get us bulk purchase of digital signatures at a very competitive price.


I spoke with Steve Bolton who said they can offer use competitively priced digital signatures for two web hosting servers.



Richard Jones on the left from i-kos . He is very passionate about developing e-commerce systems for companies on the Drupal platform.

There was only one company that I saw selling middle ware solutions. This was Martin Gordon-Kerr at Orion Consulting. The said they can implement a full document management solution for companies. Have Hitachi and Oki Printers on their books.

Ran into an old colleague, James McCormick – with whom I used to work with at Pitney Bowes MapInfo. He is now at Gomez. These guys do web performance stuff and more which I will look into when I get a chance.

Lunch was a garlic bread, Hot American Pizza and coke. Take away style. I also managed to squeeze in a back massage which was nice 🙂 A very worthwhile expo all in all.

Installing XAMPP and Open-Audit

First install XAMPP which will install Apache, MySQL , PHP on Windows XP

Download the installer from Source Forge

Version I have installed: xampp-win32-1.7.3

Vista pointers.

To get it up and running in Vista,  do  the following:

Disable WWW service as this runs on Port 80 by default which Apache needs. Check that no other service/application is listening on Port 80. From the command prompt use nestat –ao to do this.

What didn’t work in Vista..

Editing the httpd.conf file in the Apache ..\conf directory and set ‘Listen’ to 8080 and ‘Server Hostname’ to localhost:8080. i.e change the port settings for these two entries. In XP you just need to change the Listen entry’s port settings to 8080 if you already have IIS running on port 80

Use XAMPP Control Panel (apache friends version) to restart Apache and ensure that the services you want are running.

(to be continued)