Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Old iGoogle is back !

Well, to my surprise, Google has not switched its homepage interface back to the old iGoogle. The new one is just plain awful and I've since moved away from Google because of this very reason. You can try, it's rather nice...

However, a little trick I discovered entirely by accident can get you back to the old iGoogle UI: simply use instead of ! Why this works, I have no idea.... but it works :)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

New iGoogle is the New Vista

As I write this message from my Google Mail account, I can't help but feeling bad for lamenting over the new iGoogle. I consider myself a pretty loyal Googler, using their Search, Mail, Docs, Calendar, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa etc. etc. etc. I've often joked that I probably occupy the hard disks of several google servers in California. So, while it is not my intention to give Google a bad seems that they deserve one.

The new iGoogle homepage is just plan awful. The side-tab design is a colossal waste of web real estate and makes navigation near impossible. The new page is cluttered and going against everything Google originally stood for (clean cut and minimalist). I have since deleted all gadgets and ceased to use iGoogle.

Fortunately I've found an amazing substitute. NetVibes ( is a phenomenal tool that does every Google did and more! NetVibes is not as minimalist as Google, but definitely serves my purpose. It integrates Google Mail, Calendar, News and many more customisable widgets (see here).

Goodbye iGoogle, hello NetVibes !!

First Look at OpenOffice 3

Like many others, I downloaded the new v3.0 OpenOffice recently. There are some things I like....some I don't like but all in all it doesn't seem that different than v2.4. For example, there are newer, more modern icon sets - but I thought the old ones were fine. Looking at the configuration panel, I can change my icons back to the old sets. In fact, there are 4 old sets and only 1 new set. Other minor changes include modern highlighting in Calc, a better looking progress bar during "Save." All in all, not much is different.

I like the fact that v3 has MS Office 2007 support. I can't begin to describe how many files I am sent in Open XML 2007 format (.docx .xlsx .pptx etc.) and now I can finally get rid of that 3rd party converter tool. It would, however, be nice to save in this format...though I suppose it is not necessary.

I really dislike that my custom settings did not transfer to the new update. My name, company name, address etc. all went over fine, as did my updated memory settings. But, ALL of my keyboard shortcuts, toolbar configurations and custom styles did NOT transfer! This was extremely annoying, especially since OpenOffice and the open-source community in general are strong proponents of customisation. They should most definitely have been transferred to the new application.

All in all, nothing to write home about, they could have called this v2.5 or something comparable. It probably didn't even deserve a blog entry :)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Google Chrome

Like everyone else in the IT world, I downloaded a copy of Chrome -- Google's slick new browser -- earlier this week. After some fairly surface-level testing (just putting it through my rigorous everyday use really) I believe I can sum up my feelings in one short phrase...... Google ain't got nothing on Firefox!!!

Apart from Chrome's load time, which was INCREDIBLY fast, and its memory consumption, which is quite low compared to other browsers, I can't see what all the fuss is about. I fell in love with Firefox a couple of years ago when it dazzled me with its incredible customisation. I have added numerous plug-ins and extensions....the browser is at my beck and call. It has come to the point where I've customised Firefox so much that it's painful to use another browser (i.e. Chrome) where my shortcuts, key commands, and other andrew-isms are missing.

Chrome is's fast and responsive. It may be good as on a terminal or browsing-only workstation. But when it comes to a browser that works for its living, Chrome does not measure up. Not to mention Section 11 of the EULA (yikes!).

Sunday, 11 May 2008

i like that old time rock n roll

This afternoon I noticed that my laptop was infected with a few viruses/spyware etc..... and not just a little infected but a lot infected.
I found:

  • vundo
  • virtumonde
  • pandex
  • goldun
  • smitfraud
  • and a handful of other rogue cleaners and trojans
The worst part is that I brought this upon myself. I'm a firm believer that you really don't need a whole lot of sophisticated antivirus antispam etc. applications running. Just don't open rogue executables and stay away from untrusted sites. Whenever I follow my own advice my laptop is clean as a whistle. That said, today I had the urge to play some classic Starcraft (fun!), but the constant whirring of the game's cd was really annoying (not fun). I decided to go searching for a no-cd crack online.... I own the game, I have a valid license key...what's the harm in getting a no-cd crack to stop that annoying whirring of my cd drive????

Well, plenty. Unfortunately I didn't follow my own advice and downloaded and ran half a dozen [useless] patches before realising the obvious -- my computer was infected.

Now, to get to the point of this little story.... none of my stinking antivirus/antispam programs work! I tried clamwin, kaspersky labs, panda, Spyware Doctor (endorsed by Google), virtumundobegone, vundofix.... none of them worked. period. Sure, they were great at detecting the malware, but they all seemed to be lacking in the removal of the malware.

After numerous scans and restarts I came across a program called SUPERantispyware ( It's AMAZING. It doesn't do your taxes or anything, but it actually does what is advertised: detection AND removal of malware. wonderful, A+++.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

out with the old, in with...

Two days ago, I decided to delete my facebook account. Delete, as in wipe all pertinent information off facebook's servers and forget my profile existed. Having recently read Steve Mansour's 2504 steps to closing your facebook account (, I was a bit worried at what might follow.

Here's a bit of quick background information...I deactivated my facebook account some months ago (see previous post) because I didn't like how our social lives were moving online. At that point I had no idea if you could delete your account or not, but I figured deactivating it was the safest way to go in the short run. Thinking of what facebook still might be doing with my data (their explanation of keeping it just in case I ever wanted to reactivate seemed to leave something to be desired..) I took the plunge and asked them what must be done to completely erase my profile.

Steve in Montreal wrote that his facebook rep asked him to delete every individual wall post, personal message, picture, comment etc. before they could delete his account itself. My rep (Clive) was a bit more understanding :) Here's a snippet of our email conversation:

Clive: "If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, let us know, and we will take care of this for you. Keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added."

Me: "I would like you to completely delete my entire account. I understand that I will not be able to reactivate it or access any of its information."

Clive: "We have deleted your profile information and removed your email address from our login database. Please let me know if you have further questions or concerns."

Done. This wasn't at all what I was expecting....I had my heels dug in and was ready for a good argument, yet was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency that facebook came out with on this one. Looks like they're learning.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

the prodigal son has returned...

No, I'm not talking about the words of Christ in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, I'm talking about Ubunto's new Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 distribution! I know, parable of the prodigal son in Luke would have been a more worthy topic...

You can get Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon from their main download page ( absolutely free of charge. It was released on the 18th of October, why am I writing about it now? Well, it's pretty simple actually, I just downloaded and installed it last week :O

Here's what happened: I had Windows XP running nice and tight, configured just the way I wanted it on my stupendously superb Gateway MX9658 laptop. For some reason or another my laptop's HD decided that it wanted to crash... IE froze, I rebooted the machine, and presto! Windows XP won't load. No problem, I thought...I'll just boot from XP install CD and reinstall the system. No deal, Windows XP can't locate any HD on the computer (awful drivers). OK, I'll just try to boot from CD and hit F6 to manually install the drivers. I have an OEM cd that came with the laptop...I know it has the drivers on it somewhere. Again, no deal. The bright engineers at Microsoft allow XP to only load drives during the install from a floppy A: drive.


Take a moment and think about how many computers you know of with a 3.5" A drive floppy. That's right, zero! No one uses floppy drives any more, and if they do it's on an external USB drive, not an onboard A.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I fixed my problem by installing Ubuntu Gutsy from CD bootable (yes, it could detect my HD no problem). Gutsy is easy on the eyes, easy to configure and best of all 100% free, open source software.

Having been brought up on Macs from a young age, the switch to Windows was almost sacrilege. The switch to linux has made me the laughing stock of my oh-so-small circle of friends...but I don't care. It's a great system!

I realise that I cannot possibly attempt to explain the wonders of this OS in such a tiny post, but let it be known: linux, that slightly dodgy somewhat scary little brother of an OS is back...and he's all grown up!

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