June 2009


I upgraded to version 2.8 of WordPress on the Bob Shaw blog. Me no likey. A totally whole new interface which is nowhere near as nice and clean as the previous interface.  A lot of the features that were right there in front of you after a couple of clicks seem to be buried in sub menus. Everything is on the left hand side – and if I’m right handed wouldn’t it be better to be on the right hand side? Previously it was all on the top, which I found much easier.

I’m now informed that WordPress has support for Gears, which is a net based programming language/API probably based on java script. Programmers apparently have nothing better to do that create new languages every few years.

However, the Google Analytics plugin is now working. Previously it only spat out something about an error on line 148. Now I have the setting screen and can input the Google analytics number. I’ll have to see if it works. I pasted the code in from Google to the front page of this website but when I log into Google analytics it says the site is not activated. After pasting the number in the plugin was successfully updated. I’ll have to wait and see if it does analyse the site.

Short stats seems to be working better too. No errors there so far. I finally took the time to look at the code in the sidebar.php for the current theme and amended it so only Tags appear. It previously had a search and also a duplication of the posts but that has been amended now.

I think I’ll leave this blog as it is for the moment.

But I think it was just maintenance by my host. Yesterday I had a lot of trouble accessing my blogs, my websites and even the website of the company who host the sites I have. Everything is now working fine but I’m off to do a full back up of my sites via the control panel.

So I check my bandwidth usage so far and it is below halfway toward the 5GB monthly limit with only about ten days to go for this month. I decide to install the Vista Service Pack 2 now instead of waiting until the end of the month. The download is 343.9 MB according to the update but the download amount is 122MB (for the whole day) according to NetMeter and Windows Update has started and is preparing my computer as I type.

Knowing Windows this means I’ll have to save this blog on the hard disk and then restart the computer. This is one of the worst things about Microsoft and their updates, it was a perennial nuisance in Windows 95. Anything you installed wanted to reboot your machine. I would have thought that Microsoft had learned the lesson but apparently not. At least there is now an option to delay the reboot, from time scales of ten minutes to four hours.

Yup, Windows wanted to restart. Then it spent ten minutes telling me not to switch off my computer, five minutes of black screen and then another five minutes of Windows telling me not to switch off my computer. It doesn’t seem any faster or better. I think it’s a ruse. You download a small file and it makes small changes. The rest is a simple while or for loop counting down seconds and displaying information. It’s like those 0870 helpline numbers: you know you’re not waiting on an operator becoming available, they’re just keeping you waiting until they’ve ticked up some cash. Boy I’m feeling paranoid tonight.

I’ve still got a lot of books to read through. The novelisation of Star Trek was mince. I’m not inclined to go and watch the film on that showing. Maybe I wont even get it on DVD.

I got the replacement Interzones and that’s further fiction to go through. Although being short stories they are a little more appealing than a novel. Poor Iain M Banks and his novel Matter are still at the bottom of the pile. And that after me reading the novel Vertigo by Bob Shaw again. I had only intended to skim through it to refresh my memory when writing about his works on one of my other blogs but I got sucked in and was about sixty pages or so in before I realised. I thought I might as well finish the novel having read that far.

I installed a minor update for Windows Defender and then suddenly Vista Service Pack 2 was shown to be a vital update needing attention, and needing between 337.9MB and 343.9 MB.

Last week I used about 50-60 MB downloading updates. I thought this was Service Pack 2 but apparently not. This time it will definitely wait until closer to the end of the month.

(Just checked the update history and a lot of the previous updates seems to have been programs: Works 9  – which I never use – Office 2007 and Internet Explorer 8 – which I use even less than Works 9. But I am surprised that Visa Service Pack 2 has come and gone on the update options; as I have mentioned in previous blogs.)

After I’ve used my bandwidth allowance for what I want to do we’ll see what’s left near the end of the month and then update Vista; probably next weekend. I’ve no doubt that there will be enough of the 5Gb allowance available: I’ve never yet come close to the limit in the time I have used Madasafish as a broadband provider.

Although the usage has crept up a little in the past few months I’m still comfortably within the limit. Only once have I received an email from them telling me I’m close to my monthly allowance – and then it was at the end of the month and I had deliberately used up some bandwidth.

Windows Live Writer is the bomb.

So Thunderbird has a reprieve as I found out how to add forwarding servers. It was right before my eyes but I couldn’t see it.  It still doesn’t fully work but it may be worth persevering with.

The problem of junk mail to another address may be solved too as I was on one of my domains and found out there was an email forwarder on one of the email accounts I set up. I set up another for another email account I set up and instead of looking for an email client to handle all addresses I’ll look into setting up email forwarders to one or two free email addresses I have.

For the first time in a while I logged into the control panels of the domains I have. I did some tidying up. Making a new backup and downloading it. I checked the emails. The default email inbox is full, and I’m leaving it like that. It receives a lot of spam so it’s better to let it bounce back with an inbox full error message than for me to log in and empty it of spam only for it to fill up again within a few days.

The backup was 18MB in size, including the databases that WordPress uses for the blogs.  One was 3MB in size and the other 1.5MB. I’ll have to keep an eye on them as they are getting big. I don’t know what size I expected the databases to be but, as they are mostly text, I was expecting it to be quite a while before I had to worry about the size of them. However, the Bob Shaw blog does include a lot of images.

I also saved some space on the site and cleared about 12Mb of files from the temp directory.

I tried a couple of USB email clients. One wouldn’t even connect to the server at all.

Thunderbird was given a second chance and fluffed it again. Something that is simple in Outlook and Outlook Express, changing identities, is apparently non existent in Thunderbird.

The help page for that topic wouldn’t come up when I went online, kept timing out. It kept the outgoing settings for the Yahoo email address without even offering me the option to put in the correct details.

This is a big no no when I’m trying to log on to one of my domain names which has nothing to do with Yahoo and hence gives an authentication and password not accepted error. I looked around the Options and Settings but I couldn’t see where it would let me change the outgoing mail options. It was either default (Yahoo) or nothing. If only Outlook Express or the Vista equivalent, Mail, was portable.

I took a chance and updated Vista before the end of this month. It appeared at the end of last month on my updates saying between 50 and 300 MB (or thereabouts). Even just a day earlier and I could have added it to my bandwidth allocation for that month and forgotten about it. The update kept changing, one time it was 300MB the next it was 300k (for Windows Defender) then it was back up and then back down. So one time I decided just to see what was available and it turned out to be a reasonable 50 Meg or so. Even now, a little over halfway through the month, I am a lot less than halfway through the bandwidth allowance. So I decide to update Vista. I suppose it may work out better in the long run. Updating Vista more or less when the updates appear should work out with less downloads than one cumulative upgrade every now and then.

Here’s something that isn’t a surprise to anyone who uses ‘budget’ airlines. http://www.lovemoney.com/news/travel/ryanair-costs-more-than-british-airways-3559.aspx?source=1000020

Who’s surprised Ryanair is more expensive than BA? I personally don’t see how Ryanair is still operating. Some of the comments on that website state they ignore EU directives. And I think they have a no refund policy, which, as far as I’m aware, is against UK Consumer law. I know this because I tried to get a refund on a mobile phone just after thirty days and was informed by the shop and local trading standards that refunds are only allowed within a reasonable time, which is considered to be thirty days. After that the seller is obliged only to replace the item.

I’ve been trying new email clients recently. I’ve got a lot of email addresses and don’t check on some of them nearly enough as I should. I’m looking for something portable and easy. Portable because I use a U3 USB stick nine times out of ten and easy because I’m thick.

But the plan to bring all email addresses under one program seems to be stalling a bit. The only really portable email client is Thunderbird, and I don’t like that too much. I may give it another shot but I’ll exhaust the others first. A few I’ve tried turn out not to be portable enough. There are some available out there but they are old programs. I have popcorn on the USB disk but it’s a bit tricky to set up accounts. It’s very basic and not too user friendly. ON the plus side it isn’t even one megabyte in size. I’ve just tried Sylpheed and it’s not portable at all. It is available as a direct download to unzip and no need to install but its settings appear to be on the local hard drive and not the USB drive. I set up a yahoo account, and surprisingly it didn’t take too much searching to get the settings for yahoo, and then logged in and checked mail. It worked fine but when I tried the program on my laptop at home there was no account; hence all the information is on the other computer. I couldn’t find any settings anywhere which would tell me where the settings and folders were.

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