Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A malevolent morning

I love these sunny June mornings. With a gentle breeze in the air and a temperature just the right side of balmy everything seems right with the world. The warm early morning sun is on my face; the cool concrete of the patio that cools my feet adds a delicious juxtaposition. I lift my head and turn my face like a satellite dish to receive all the glorious life giving rays my yellow friend can beam down on me. My mind is still and I smile at the world with my eyes.

Mornings like this buoy the spirit, I feel like an old General surveying all I have conquered. If course I’ve conquered nothing, I just happen to live in the house on the hill. The house is not mine, it’s just where I reside. I hesitate to continue along this line for fear that I paint a portrait of myself as an old man, the truth is quite contrary. I know where I stand in the world and have no desire to battle and struggle to find another way of life or to better myself. There is nothing I like better than simply sitting for a moment, with no particular goal; just to absorb LIFE. Too many in this world expend so much of their precious life force straining to achieve, without ever taking the time to sit - with the sun on their face – and revel in the glory of (just for a few minutes) achieving nothing.

Neither do I desire to give the impression I am lazy, it is certainly true I take more moments than others just to sit and listen to my thoughts; but I firmly rebuke accusations of laziness. I have my place in the household I find myself in. I have my routines and bear no malice to my housemates; unless they tamper with my desires. I don’t help with housework, I don’t contribute financially in any way, in fact a casual onlooker could accuse me of doing nothing other than taking food and relaxing. My reply would be that if you can do it and get away with it then why not!

This morning I have wandered a little farther than I normally do during my morning constitutional, I see no harm in expanding ones horizons occasionally, as long as it requires only a little effort. The house on the hill is surrounded on all sides by other houses, all tightly packed in like red brick sardines. As much as I love sitting on my own patio and staring absent mindedly across the large sweeping valley we overlook I fall to the old cliché of believing the grass on the other side of the fence is a little more verdant. So this morning I climbed the fence to find myself here on this sunny patio. I know this isn’t my territory, but these houses are empty during the day and this is less an invasion, more an exploration.

My reverie is broken for a moment by the arrival of an acquaintance, who silently joins me by my side. We hardly know each other but find ourselves comfortable in a swell of mutual ambivalence towards each one another. I consider life too glorious to sully it with needless bickering and fighting.

I glance over at my new companion and she is lost in a broad scan of the valley before us. Perfect. Out the corner of my eye I can see one of the other residents of this house that hosts my harmlessness, equally uninterested in my presence. If only the whole world shared the genial outlook we three are nurturing this fine morning. We have nothing to say to each other, we feel no need to engage in any way, we’re happy just to sit and enjoy the sunshine. We have no goals, we aren’t a committee sweating over increasing our productivity, we just want the same thing; peace. We revel in comfortable mutual ambivalence.

Enjoying the morning breeze with two ladies makes me feel a little like I have a modest harem, and holding that thought I allowed myself to become tangled and lost in a day dream; the details of which (as a gentleman) I shall not share with you!

The wrecking ball that demolished the fantasy I constructed around myself came in the form of the other female living in the house. This beautiful but needlessly malevolent girl gathered pace across the patio as soon as she set eyes on me, and met me with a whirl of claws and a an ungodly (and most uncouth) yowl. For just a second I glanced at my shattered harem and was surprised to see their love was lost, then I scaled the fence and sprinted home, glancing back only to mourn for a moment the passing of a glorious scene.

I think maybe I’ve had enough adventure for now, tomorrow maybe I’ll stay to my own territory. Life is challenge enough; it doesn’t have to be a battle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Nestlé boycott, and why you should get involved.

This article originally appeared in Beat Motel #7 and has been republished a few times since. This article is copyright free, please redistribute.

Since the 1970s Nestlé has continued to market it’s baby formula in a sickeningly unethical way to third world countries. It has been proven again and again that using Nestlé baby formula instead of breast milk means the child doesn’t receive the essential immunity boosting hormones released by the mother and as a consequence is not protected against diseases that here in the west are usually nothing more than a minor inconvenience. It is estimated that around 1,300,000 babies die every year as a direct result of Nestlé’s marketing to mothers in underdeveloped countries, and that figure is from UNICEF!

As most mothers using the formula are very poor they mix up a very weak formula as a matter of course, meaning their babies don’t get anything like the nutrition they need. The fact that Nestlé baby formula has to be mixed with water is probably the greatest danger of all, especially as contaminated water is often used. The result is babies are being given diseased water causing them to get sick and die of diseases that they would be protected from if breast fed, and would not be exposed to if they were breast fed.

To put things into some sort of bizarre context, it is estimated that around 8 million people died in World War 1, since 1974 Nestlé have been responsible for the deaths of over 41 MILLION babies in developing countries. So what’s the response to this money driven manslaughter? Well not a lot really. Nestlé have some pretty tasty lawyers on retainers and anyone making these claims in the public arena will be silenced pretty quickly. The full horror of the marauding beast that is Nestlé doesn’t stop at infanticide, a quick search on Google will tell tales of the raping of natural resources, horrific treatment of slave labour staff and far more.

There is a very direct and wonderfully lazy way to fight this horror, just stop buying Nestlé products! However, this is more of a challenge than you might think.

Click here for a list of Nestlé products...

Thursday, June 11, 2009


LawsieCam.com was running from some time in 1999 until June 2009, I decided to close the site as a part of a huge simplification process I'm going through. If you bookmark this page you'll still be able to view the cam and control it, I've just removed the lawsiecam.com site, not the actual webcam! The gallery has been archived here -http://lawsie.blogspot.com/2009/06/lawsiecam-gallery.html


Here's the old intro text from LawsieCam.com:

Ipswich webcams are few and far between, so about ten years ago I decided the world could probably do with another Ipswich webcam to help clutter up the web. And so LawsieCam.com was born, and the world never looked back, or to be more accurate it never looked. I mentioned that my neighbour threatened to run around in the nude and that managed to bring in a load of (largely disappointed) visitors and even attracted the attention of an Ipswich TV station who came and filmed a feature on me, oh my mum was so proud!


If you're looking to waste some time on something utterly unproductive then you can move these cams around yourself, just click the cam you want to control then take it from there!

Visitors to this live Ipswich webcam can expect to see either my cats doing not much other than hacking up fur balls in the garden, or me having a kip in my office when I should be doing incredibly important work...

So here it is, enjoy it, because frankly this webcam ain't gonna get any better...

LawsieCam Gallery

Here is the gallery from the now defunct Lawsiecam.com webcam site. The actual webcam is sort of still running here on this blog -http://lawsie.blogspot.com/2009/06/lawsiecamcom.html

This is the old sign I used to put up when the camera wasn't working, it was drawn by Birks

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Can Gmail replace Outlook and where does that leave my Blackberry?

The problem and the plan.
I have long desired to be free of the shackles of desktop installed software, and have been using Google Docs for some time. One bit of software I didn't think Google would be able to top was Outlook, with its calendar, tasks and contacts (and of course emails). I didn't think I'd see a day when it could be replaced by an online application.

Well that day may now be here, let me explain my wacky Gmail Vs Outlook experiment in finer detail;

Well that's fairly straight forward, I use the accounts facility in Gmail to pull emails over from my various Pop3 accounts. Gmail even nicely labels them and allows me to send emails from each of those accounts. The storage is a huge 7GB and the spam/ virus filtering is the best I've ever seen, and I've seen many! I use a bunch of rules in Outlook to deal with mail that I have to receive but don't want to keep, and hey, it looks like the filter settings in Gmail are going to do much the same thing. I have to hang onto some emails for years at a time and the search facility in Outlook is really handy for finding old messages, I'm hoping the huge storage allocation in Gmail coupled with the ability to use the Google search engine on ones inbox will comfortably cover this aspect of the way I need to work.

For a considerable length of time now I have been using the Google Sync tool to sync my Google Calendar to my Outlook Calendar, if I use Gmail as my main email application then the calendar link is neatly and conveniently situated at the top of the screen at all times. If I managed to stop using Outlook then that also means I don't need to run the Google Sync tool on my computer, and whilst it is marvelous it is a little buggy, I've not had any problems with it personally but a few of my clients have suffered all kinds of palaver!

This is something of a no-brainer, I have been using Google Docs for a long time and just like the calendar link, the link for accessing my documents is at the top of the Gmail page. Unless you're doing something terribly complicated then Google Docs will suffice for 90% of office needs.

I was a little concerned about how I would keep the contacts list I've spent years building up in Outlook, the problem was solved by the Blackberry sync tool mentioned below.

How this all fits in with my Blackberry
Having Gmail pick up all my Pop3 mail certainly makes picking up emails on my Blackberry a lot easier as I only have to point it at one mail server rather than a whole list. I have set Gmail to always appear to respond from the address an email is sent to: If someone emails andrew@corndog.co.uk the reply appears to come from andrew@corndog.co.uk. I'm yet to discover if this will hold true on my blackberry.

Ever since I got my Blackberry Pearl (just a few months ago) I've hated the way it syncs with my PC. It appears the only way to get it to sync is to connect it via USB, manually fire up the Blackberry Desktop software then sit there and manually approve or disapprove the options an endless stream of prompts throw at you. Because it's a pain in the bum I don't tend to sync my Blackberry very often, which is bad, and leads to all kinds of professional complications I won't go into here. Then I found a far better way of synchronising my blackberry to my emails, calendar and contacts...

The Google Sync Tool for Blackberrys
As is often the case a quick bit of prodding around on Google came up trumps and I very easily downloaded a sync tool to my Blackberry. This will instantly sync any changes made to my calendar and contacts, whether I make the change on my phone or my Google Calendar. Neat huh!

The Conclusion
Well I don't have one yet, that would be foolish at such an early stage! If this madcap experiment works it means all I need to work anywhere in the world is a browser, now that's impressive! It will also mean I can spend more quality time with my little Linux netbook that I love so dearly!

On the downside whilst I'm spurning Microsoft I am somewhat leaving myself at the mercy of Google. This plan also restricts me to standard office work (word processing, presentations, spreadsheets etc), it does not help me in the slightest when I need to use Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Lightroom. To a certain extent this is currently okay with me, I'll do graphic and photography work when I'm in my own office in front of my own computer. The issue of not having Dreamweaver with me as I travel is becoming less important the further I wander into the world of Content Management Systems (CMS) like the lovely Drupal.

The Payoff
If this experiment works then I'll be able to rid myself of Microsoft office and more importantly that heinous resource hog Outlook. Over the last few years whenever I've launched Task Manager in Windows to see why things have ground to a halt Outlook has been at the top of the list, greedily chomping away at my memory. Moving office applications online also means that I'll be largely platform independent, and I may be able to move away from Microsoft entirely and invest in a sexy Mac! I do apprecaite that (much like my Linux netbook) this solution isn't yet simple enough to appeal to everyone, but I make my living from tinkering with technology so it's just fine with me!

Should anything bizarre develop with this experiment I will of course report back here!

Thanks to Graham Birks for the photo of me shown above.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Office 2007 Pro - Setup cannot find Word.en-us\WordLR.cab/ The longest file transfer in the history of mankind

I thought I'd share this delightful error message for you as it's really not very clear what the Office 2007 installer is asking for, or how to solve it.

Setup cannot find Word.en-us\WordLR.cab

When this error pops up during the Office 2007 install process you may think the installer is struggling to find some files it needs for the installation of Office 2007, would you not? Surely as I've bought Office 2007 and am using the official install disc all the files needed would be on the disc?

Well yes, they are.

This is a stupid licence issue, the file the installer is looking for actually appears to belong to the previous version of Office you've been using on your computer. The real frustration is trying to browse to the file that is needed. The error that pops up offers no help here, there's no mention that this is a licence issue, it looks much like there is an error with the install disc (I actually returned the first disc I got, and I'm an IT professional with ten years experience of swearing at Microsoft!) I even tried downloading the trial version of Office 2007 professional and activating it using the code I have BOUGHT but no, that doesn't work, I mean, why would it? That would be far too simple wouldn't it.


The Solution to the 'Setup cannot find Word.en-us\WordLR.cab' error message.
Okay, so enough of my ranting, here's how I fixed the problem, well actually here's a few ways I tried to fix the problem, now how's that for value for money! Before starting I uninstalled every previous version of Office, I'm not convinced this will help as Microsoft has a habit of hiding things in the registry forever, like a stubbord stain.

Fix 1
The first time I got this error I popped in the install disc from a previous version of Office and the install continued. That makes about as much sense as older versions of Office demanding the install disc when uninstalling, which they did. But because my purchased licence code won't activate this version the fix is pretty useless, I'm just mentioning it as it may work for you.

Fix 2
I found a suggestion that I could clear this error if I took out the install disc and placed it in a shared drive on another computer on my network, then mapped a network drive back to the machine I'm trying to install on. Well I've got a slight problem with that, the machine I'm trying to install Office 2007 on is Vista Home Premium, the host computer is XP Media Centre Edition. Despite the fact I have shared the host drive with full permissions the Vista machine is still telling me I don't have access. I own this machine, I have so much access to it I could open the case and defecate on the motherboard I have so much F'n access. So I can't map the drive, and any continued attempts to find the missing 'WordLR.cab' file result in the irritating 'Invalid Location' error. After hammering the 'ok' button and making a high pitched squealing noise at the screen the error eventually went away, as did the Browse For Folder dialogue box and left me staring at a progress bar trying to figure out it if's moving at all. After about ten minutes the Browse For Folder box popped up again asking for the same file, *sigh*.

Fix 3
Another forum user suggests I copy the contents of the DVD to my hard drive, and try the install from there. Of course explorer froze then crashed when I tried to acess the DVD. My goodness, if I didn't have to support this junk I'd never use Microsoft. Ten minutes later the files started copying, and even although I have no other programs running (on the desktop) on a 64 edtion of Windows, and 4gb of ram it's claiming copying the files is going to take two hours. *heavy sigh*
1pm - After half an hour an error message popped up saying there was an error reading the disk *grinds teeth*.
1.25pm - It's still ticking away twenty minutes later, I've downloaded DVDs worth of data faster than this!
1.40pm - Losing will to live...
2pm - 2.05pm - I'm starting to wonder if I could have copy typed the contents of the DVD quicker than this? The amount remaining went up a few minutes ago and the time remaining said '44338877 hours', wow, so I only have to wait another 5061 years for this transfer to complete, and here I was starting to get impatient!

2.10pm - Wa-hoo, only just under twenty years to go now!

2.15pm - Ah nuts, things have slowed down again, now I have to wait around 129 years for the transfer to complete!

2.25pm - Ah nuts, the amount to copy has rocketing up from 39.8mb ten minutes ago, to 317mb just now, is windows writing to this non-writeable disc?

2.40pm -
Wa-hoo, only 99 years to go!

4.25pm -If the data keeps growing at this rate it will cover 4/5 of the earth's surface by lunchtime tomorrow.

4.45pm -Screw this, I want my life back, cancel, cancel and cancel! I refuse to believe these problems are file related, I'm positive they are all related to Microsoft's over anxious licensing restrictions. I buy software, so why am I punished as a criminal for it? It's like putting a newborn baby in prison in case they commit a crime as an adult.

The conclusionWhy did I have to spent nearly an entire day trying to install a product used by tens of millions of people? Why do we continue to use Microsoft when they repeatedly smash us in the face with irritating and unclear error messages. Just like those irritating anti-piracy adverts on movies we're being punished as criminals without any jury and indeed without having commited any crime! Oh yeah, it's because we HAVE to use Microsoft products, because otherwise none of our contacts could use any of the files we create!

If I do find a solution I'll post it back up on this thread.UPDATE - 5.50pmI thought I'd try running direct from the install disk again, shouldn't have bothered.

UPDATE - next day 2pm
I decided that as I'd already lost two days worth of productivity I would download and install office, the code I bought still doesn't work but at least I'll squeeze some work out of my computer before the trial period runs out, hopefully by then the people I bought the licence off will be able to help me. Despite the fact I totally uninstalled every version of office I could find all my settings were still in Outlook after I installed the trial, proving my earlier point that you can't actually totally uninstall Microsoft products. Mind you, it saved me a bunch of hassle in that I didn't have to set everything up again!

I went to PC World last night and looked at iMacs, oh they're real pretty!