Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Tablet or reader: which should you choose?

Just as the choice seemed to have settled on Amazon’s Kindle as the ebook reader of choice with its 6″ screen and £109 price tag so the sands have shifted underneath us with the imminent arrival of a whole range of Android powered tablet computers.

From the reader angle, you have a long battery life (often measured in weeks), black and white screen which doesn’t give you eye strain and easy access to books from the Amazon model. The only downsides are that they are black and white screens and can’t run video but then paper books don’t run video either and most are in black and white too.

For the tablet computers, the screen sizes are 7″ to 10″ which is comparable to the 6″ and 9″ of the Kindles. Battery life at 7 to 10 hours is good by PC standards but poor by ebook reader standards and it’s going to be more difficult to read them outside. On the plus side you get colour and can run video. Pricing for the 7″ models seems to be about double that of the Kindle, for the 10″ it’s comparable to the Kindle DX (a number of manufacturers are coming out with these so the prices aren’t settled yet).

If you’re only reading novels, the clear choice remains the Kindle. However, if your taste runs to coloured texts with illustrations my inclination would be to go for one of the 7″ models or, if you’re not bothered about portability, the 10″.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Differences in the questions and the answers online

Differences in the questions and the interpretations of the answers on websites seems to be increasingly common lately.

At the top of the annoyances list is the bank which, as part of their security set up, asks what is your mother’s first name yet when asking you to confirm your security details asks what was your mother’s maiden name which, of course, is a completely different question and with a different answer.

Even more insidious is Facebook as I’ve just found out. I generally get around to looking at it once every couple of months so just got around to setting up a bit more of my profile on a whim a few weeks ago. One thing I noticed was that you can now say you’re in a relationship with somebody that’s on Facebook. The options under that are extremely limited for the complicated lives that people lead these days and basically look like they’ve been written back in the 1950s. Anyway, the only one that seemed to match up me and Wendy was “in a relationship”. Snag is that at the other end it asked Wendy to confirm that she was my girlfriend which doesn’t really equate to “in a relationship” to me and doesn’t really come close to describing said relationship seeing as James is now 8 and we’ve been together for getting on for 10 years.

Can’t people sort out these two-place questions?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Moving your email from Windows Outlook over to Evolution

Moving to Linux would be very easy were it not for the hassles of getting your emails transferred over. However, at least it’s not the showstopper that it was just a few years ago.

Your first issue is finding your .PST files which you can do by clicking on properties. To copy those over, go out of Outlook and copy them onto a USB stick. Likewise for contacts, calendars, etc. if you want those too though I’ve never used them so won’t be talking about them here. Evolution has a PST import limit of around 500MB so if your PST file(s) are bigger than that you’ll need to create some more and move your email into them until you’ve the PST files below the limit. At this point, it’s best to disable Outlook which you can so simply by changing the POP server that it uses to pick up your email; note down the settings as you’ll need those to set up Evolution.

Next you will need to install Evolution if you’ve not done so already and also ReadPST.

Evolution can take quite a while to import PST files (hours in my case) so you’ll need some patience for this step. Once that’s done you’ll discover one limitation of its import facility: it doesn’t import email in top level folders. Thus you’ll find that various folders which it has created are empty. This is where ReadPST comes in because it will read those PST files and separate them out into the various folders with mbox files in each of them. For the folders which Evolution has left empty, you need to import the contents from the appropriate spot in the folder hierarchy which ReadPST has created for you.

Finally, there’s the business of getting new mail  into Evolution. Go into Edit, Preferences and create the email accounts that you had in Outlook. As always, the settings here aren’t quite the same as those in Outlook (why that’s so is a mystery as the mail servers obviously work with all mail clients). In my case, I found that 1and1 needed a bit of tweaking to get outgoing mail to work, the settings being server: auth.1and1.co.uk (as per Outlook), server requires authentication, no encryption, authentication type: login. Once you’ve those set up, it’s best to send yourself a message to check that it’s all working.

What about email rules? I took the chance to do a little rationalisation of my email folder structure so didn’t bother trying to import those but that seems the best approach anyway as Evolution doesn’t seem to have nearly so much complexity as Outlook did. I say complexity rather than flexibility as there are just so many options in there that if you’re not careful email can seem to go into random folders sometimes.

And that’s it. Sadly, importing the messages isn’t as automated as it could be and, in my case, took quite a while but then that’s down to me having email back to 1996 and a far too complicated folder structure.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

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The McDonalds approach to blogging

Thanks to the free wifi service offered in McDonalds it seems to be attracting an increasing number of itinerant bloggers.

Almost every time we’ve been in lately (and, yes, we’re one of that band of McD bloggers whilst we wait for our ADSL connection) we’ve seen someone whipping out the laptop in a relatively quiet part of the restaurant. Thus far, our record is four separate surfers but I’m sure that’s a record that’ll soon be broken.

It’s not really surprising that they’re attracting these folk: after all that word “free” is quite a pull. What is more surprising though is that the majority of these people are lugging around full size laptops rather than running with the likes of my trusty Aspire One. After all, at under £200 for quite a usable machine it’s not out of the question to buy one pretty much just for the holidays and these days you can even get them “free” with some broadband packages.

Is it a worthwhile marketing strategy for McD though? Well, in that the restaurants obviously need a connection of some sort for their credit card machines it’s largely a no-cost service for them so there’d appear to be no downside in offering it. Moreover, few of the itinerant surfers leave without buying something so it would appear to be all upside for McD at the moment. Whether that would continue to be the case were significant numbers of surfers to start using the stores is another matter. It certainly works fine if there are a handful of people using the service but if there were, say, 10 or more then a) the seats are going to be taken up and b) the service is going to slow down. Still, at the moment, it seems like a great idea.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Now that Nightjack’s blog identity has been sprung and bloggers are no longer anonymous anymore, perhaps it’s time to “out” the anonymous newspaper correspondents and sources too?

Thanks to the Times it seems that bloggers no longer have the priviledge of anonymity. To be fair in the case of Nightjack the police who he worked for were closing in on him and would probably have worked out who he was fairly soon even without the aid of the Times.

However, now that the Times have removed the anonymity for bloggers, perhaps it is time that the same cloak of anonymity was removed from newspapers too? After all why should the foreign correspondent who wished to remain anonymous be allowed to do so by the Asia Times (no relation to the London Times as far as I know)? Sure, chances are the Chinese would have thrown them out of the country or perhaps something a little less subtle, but after all if Justice Eady can “blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity” how much more so does that apply in the case of newspapers? Can we take it as read that the practice of having anonymous columnists will be ended forthwith?

Now, I’ll grant that there were special circumstances in the case of Nightjack in that Richard’s blog was a little too real and appears to have compromised some cases that he talked about but that’s a separate issue. The key think is that Justice Eady’s comments are way too far reaching. Taken to their ultimate conclusion and you could easily see the end of criticism in totalitarian states which, thanks to blogging, was finally finding a voice of sorts where previously it had none. The situation of newspapers is no different: why should their sources be protected any differently? After all, they’re talking to a news outlet so why should they have any expectation of anonymity?

Why should newspapers be allowed the protection of anonymity when bloggers have lost it?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
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