Monday, December 31, 2012

Ten predictions for 2013

Predictions for 2013

OK I've decided to play the oracle and look forward into the future. What will 2013 hold for us?

1. Sooner or later Israel and Iran will come to blows. This will inflame an already tense area. Pressure will be put on governments of Europe and America to support one side or the other. A total arms embargo supported by the US, Europe, Russia and China might delay the flashpoint. One thing is pretty clear, for Iran to lob a nuclear missile at Israel would be a good way for them to commit mass suicide. Israel would squash them. As to the rest of the Arab World - they might not like Israel but Arabs have never been fond of Persians! They might well sit back, let them fight it out and then think about dealing with a weakened winner.
2. The US economy will go from crisis to crisis with little improvement. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. There will be ever increasing calls from the 99% for increased taxation starting at about £60,000 ($100,000) Forget that taxation at $450,000.
3. Europe will be much the same as the US and will continue to go from crisis to crisis, shoring up until they follow Iceland's lead and jail the bankers.
4. Apple will ditch the mini iPad, replacing it with a 'Retina' version and annoying thousands who bought the current mini. This, together with Java being removed in October  to protect virus stricken Macs and those infuriated by Apple Maps will see the end of the 'Apple can do no wrong' era.
5. Technology will take enormous leaps and bounds with nanotechnology and genetics having major impact.
6. Memristors, almost unheard of today, will transform computers making processors faster, cheaper, more powerful and memory less expensive. Memristors will begin to take over from DVD and Blue Ray.
7. HP will make a comeback in a big way, largely as a result of their investment in memristors.
8. We will continue to hear of miracle drugs promising the end to cancer and this year - there's a good chance of these being produced.
9. Populations will become increasingly disillusioned with central government.
10. Carbon emission targets will not be met. Fuel prices will continue to rise and pressure will be put on governments to fund/support serious renewable energy projects. The debate over global warming will continue with ever greater extremes of weather being believed to be climate change. (Things should start to cool down in 2014)


Seems people can lose faith in Apple -

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Exactly when does the new year start? (Reductio ad absurdum 3)

OK I promised in an earlier blog to tell you how September, October, November and December got their names so this is from my genealogy site
    Before 1751 the year started on 'Lady Day' - 25 March. Until then, we used the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE) in the UK. This meant that 31 December 1740 was followed by 1 Jan 1740 and continued until 24 March 1740. The next day was 25 March 1741. This causes a lot of confusion to people researching their family history, so in the years before 1752, you may find dates in transcripts referred to as January 03 1740/1, indicating that this was the 3 January 1740 by the calendar at the time but, 1741 by our calendar. This double dating is used only on dates between 1 January and 24 March.

    By 1751, it was realised that the Julian calendar did not keep pace with the Sun and that Easter was arriving later each year. A change was made to the Gregorian calendar (named after the Pope who worked it out), this meant the dates ran as follows:
    • 1750 ran from 25 March to 24 March, 365 days
    • 1751 ran from 25 March to 31 December, 282 days
    • 1752 ran from 1 January to 31 December, 354 days. It should have been a leap year but, the 29 Feb. and 11 days from the 3rd tothe 13th September were missed out to bring the calendar back in line with the Sun).
    • 1753 ran from 1 January to 31 December, 365 days
    The change in calendar upset quiet a lot of people, there were riots in some parts of the country where people felt that 11 days were being stolen from their life.

    The tax authorities never worked up the courage to tax people twice in less than 365 days and if you add 11 days to 25 March, you will find the date is 6 April - the start of the new tax year in the UK.

    You should note that Roman Catholic countries had changed to the Gregorian calendar by papal edict in October 1582. Protistent countries were slow to adopt the much better Gregorian calendar. The UK was one of the earliest to adopt it; others did not do so until the 20th Century.

    By the Julian calendar, September was the 7th month (Sep being the prefix for 7 as in septuagenarian , October the 8th month (oct meaning 8 as in octopus), November the 9th month and December the 10th month, hence their names. 

    Incidentally, this was not the first time the calendar had been reformed but, is the only one you are likely to come across.
    • From the sixth century to 1066, the year ran from Christmas Day to the 24 December;
    • From 1067 to 1155, the year ran from the 1 January to 31 December; 
    • From 1156 to 1751, the year ran from 25 March to 24 March.
That means the months September to December relate to the months following Lady Day - the 'Lady' in question being the Virgin Mary. 

Maybe we should re-name those months also to avoid offending non-Christians?

If this post has proved of interest to you would you do me a favour in return? Download a FREE copy of the book I co-author - a romantic technothriller called 'Immortality Gene'. Even if you don't read it it will help our ratings. You can get it at and if you want to read it, you can use a phone, a tablet, a computer or even a Kindle.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Alarm - No sound Solution

My wife just upgraded her phone to a Samsung Galaxy S3 and ran into a problem. The alarm suddenly stopped playing an alarm sound. After going through the alarm and sound settings she passed the problem to me.

It took me a while to track down the problem. Lots of other people seem to be having it also. In the end I discovered the problem was caused by a telephone marketer and poor default settings on the Blocking Mode.

The Galaxy S3 makes it easy to block unwanted telemarketing calls and when my wife got one she immediately added it to the offered 'Blocking Mode'. Blocking mode was started and that's when her alarm problem began. She didn't notice it but she wasn't hearing incoming calls either!

It's easy to fix. From your home screen swipe down from the top right hand corner of the screen. You'll see at the top under 'Ongoing' Blocking mode. Tap it and remove the check mark from 'Disable alarm and timer' then go down the screen and turn 'Allowed contacts' to 'All contacts'. Had you noticed that your phone was not playing ringtones?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A very merry 'Seasonal Greeting" or 'Reductio ad absurdum 2'

Surely you mean Merry Christmas?

There are loads of people on Internet who are upset that some people use the phrases 'Happy Holidays' and 'Holiday season trees' instead of 'Happy Christmas' and 'Christmas trees'. Officialdom is making these changes so as not to offend those of other faiths and those who are not religious. Each year we get this but in most cases, it simply isn't true.

BUT if it was true...

Yes - I can see their point BUT we can't stop there. There's an expression 'Reductio ad absurdum' which means following the implications of something to an absurd conclusion. Let's apply a little of this to the days of the week.

How the days got their names

Mithras the sun god

  • Sunday meaning "sun's day", the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It's the same in German: Sonntag and Dutch: zondag. Both meaning 'sun-day'
  • Monday Means Moon-day. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon monandaeg. This second day was sacred to the goddess of the moon. In French: lundi; Italian: lunedi. Spanish: lunes. All from Luna, "Moon". In German: Montag; Dutch: maandag. [both: 'moon-day']
  • Tuesday was named after the Norse god Tyr. The Romans named this day after their war-god Mars: dies Martis This is apparent in French: mardi; Italian: martedi; Spanish: martes.
  • Wodin and Frigg
  • Wednesday was named after Wodan (Odin). The Dutch used the same god to get Woensdag. The Romans called this day 'dies Mercurii', after their god Mercury from which we get French: mercredi; Italian: mercoledi; Spanish: miércoles.
  • Thursday is named after the Norse god Thor. In the Norse languages this day is called Torsdag. The Romans named this day 'dies Jovis' ("Jove's Day"), after Jove or Jupiter, their most important god. This accounts for the French: jeudi; Italian: giovedi; Spanish: jueves.
  • Friday is named in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg which also accounts for the German: Freitag and Dutch: vrijdag. The Romans named this day after the goddess Venus (dies veneris). From this we get French: Vendredi; Italian: Venerdi; Spanish: Viernes.
  • Saturday is from the Latin dies Saturni or "Saturn's Day", by the ancient Romans in honor of Saturn. This also gives us French: Samedi; Italian: Sabato; Spanish: Sábádo; German: Samstag; Dutch: zaterdag.

That means that every day of the week must be renamed so that the days do not offend those of other faiths (including Christian) and those who are non-religious and we can't stop there either:

The months too

  • January is named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings Janus.
  • February comes either from the old-Italian god Februus or else from februa, signifying the festivals of purification celebrated in Rome during this month.
  • March is named after Mars the Roman god of war.
  • April is OK because being in spring it got it's name from the Latin aperire, "to open". Think opening buds. Wait a minute - maybe that would offend those in the southern hemisphere where it would be autumn. Granted that's only 10% of the world population but we believe minorities should be able to dictate to the majority. Right?
  • May gets it's name from Maiesta, the Roman goddess of honor and reverence.
  • June was named in honor of Juno, another Roman goddess who was the wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars.

So that means we have to rename every day of the week and the first six months of the year so that we don't offend. Think of all the diaries and calendars which will need changing. Think of the problems it will give us when we try to remember the new names of the days and months or the problems it will cause our descendants in the future when they look up a date. On balance I think it might be better to stick with what we have and if we are going to do that we might as well stick with Christmas.

So everyone - I'm looking forward to Christmas this year and if you are offended by that then you are welcome to pay for the date changes and have the blame for all the trouble it will cause.

Postscript - I know someone will ask so here's the rest of the months:
July got it's name from Julius Caesar who was born in this month. August was named after the Emperor Augustus. Maybe those ones are OK.
We don't need to worry about September, October, November, December because they come from the Latin for seven, eight, nine and ten. Huh! Shouldn't that be nine, ten, eleven and twelve? No - but that's another story.

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Reductio ad absurdum 1

I once heard the comedian Dave Allen tell this story as he took a drink from his whiskey glass:
"You know I read that 40% of accidents on the road are caused by people who drink. If you look at that from the other side that means 60% are caused by people who don't drink...," he paused and took another drink from his glass. " why don't they get off the road and leave us drunks to drive in safety?"

That's an example of 'reductio ad absurdum' or following implications to an absurd extent. I love them and I've been collecting them over the years:

From 'Monk-e-business' at

  • How are you feeling? Buddhist monks are reckoned to be happy, enlightened folk. They are not burdened by possessions, and in fact they carry their material wealth around with them. All they own is a plain robe, and a simple bag containing a wooden bowl, a water strainer and a needle and thread. Last time Zygote checked, the full monk kit would only set you back twenty quid from Tesco’s “you shop, we drop” online service. Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance has recently profiled the exact amount of wealth the average British citizen carries around with them. Staggeringly, and the use of that word is highly appropriate, we are toting an average of £1,043 worth of kit around with us when we step outside the front door. Most of that is in the form of accessories and electronic gadgets, including MP3 players, laptops, phones, cameras, sat-navs and the like. If you think about these things at all, you may think that the more we are weighed down by all these bits of expensive kit, the less enlightened we are. But according to yet another government report, you would be wrong. There is one more important item that most of us carry around with us at all times, and it is represented by plastic credit cards encoded by smart little electronic chips. And what they represent is debt. Steaming great piles of debt. The average UK adult is in debt via credit cards, overdrafts and unsecured personal loans to the tune of £4,506. According to Zygote’s diamond-studded calculator, if you subtract the average UK portable wealth from the average UK portable debt, then we clock in at minus £3,463. In other words, thanks to useless electronic gadgets and virtual debt the average UK citizen is 173 times more likely to reach Nirvana than the average Buddhist monk. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

From SOPA and Writers at

  • SOPA as I understand it wants to block sites which contain pirated content. Presumably that will be done by removing the domain name from DNS servers. You would still be able to access the site provided you knew it’s IP address.
  • Sounds fine in theory but let’s take it to it’s logical extreme.
    In the UK a student, Richard O’Dwyer, is being extradited to the US because he created a website which contained links to pirated material on other sites. HE DIDN’T HOST OR SHARE THIS MATERIAL! That’s not against the law in the UK. To support his very successful site he used advertising on it. That too is not against the law in the UK. According to the US he made thousands of dollars from this advertising (something I find hard to believe.) Now in the US it’s against the law to make a profit from promoting in any way pirate products. The US used laws created in the UK to ease the extradition of terrorists to ask for Richard’s extradition. He’s never been to the US and hasn’t broken any UK laws.
    Now hang on a bit – I’ve seen pirated content on YouTube. I found it easily using Google. Both US sites and both making a LOT of money from advertising. Why are they not being prosecuted?
    To make matters worse if you post a YouTube video or link to it from your blog or web page you will be breaking the law if your page contains advertising from which you profit. You will be linking to a site which contains pirated content and be making money from it. SOPA will make your prosecution easier for the US law.
    I’ve done this myself here:
    This is plainly ridiculous and if SOPA goes through – the law is the law and justice is blind.
    SOPA does censor the internet – it will say which websites you can and can not look at. It’s a step too far and open to abuse by the law.

Friday, November 30, 2012

How can a small bookshop make money from ebooks?

Bookshops everywhere are worried. There's a revolution going on and they are losing sales because of it. The revolution is that of ebooks!

Oh I know there are those who say 'I love the feel and smell of a proper book' but these are mostly people who have not yet got an ebook reader. Once these people have got their hands on one it doesn't take long for them to change their minds. That means fewer sales of paper books.

Yet we all still like going to the library and browsing the books in a bookstore. Having found the book we like do we then buy the paper format or simply make a note of it and look it up at Amazon later to get it in ebook format? I have to admit, I've done the latter many times but felt guilty that I've denied the bookseller a profit from the sale. He/she has, after all, helped me in my book purchase.

So how can the bookstore make money from ebooks? I think there is an answer, and one which is simple to put in practice.

How a bookstore can cash-in on ebooks

The bookseller makes use of Amazon's affiliate program (or others such as Smashwords.) Here's how to do this:
  1. If you, the bookseller, have not already joined Amazon's associate program then sign up for it at:
    UK -
    US -
  2. If you do not have a Twitter account then sign up for that at
  3. Add the site stripe to your Amazon account
  4. On your computer navigate to a book's page at Amazon and click the Twitter button on the associate site stripe toolbar
    Copy the text as far as the 'via@...
  5. Paste that text into a QL generator page on Internet. I use the QR Code generator at
    At this stage you can edit the text to include the price and any other details you wish to include.
  6. Copy the QR code generated and paste it into Word for further editing as follows:
  7. Print this out on a self adhesive label and fix it inside the back cover (or on the back if there's space). You might also need to make a few posters advertising your ebook service and where the customer can get a free QR code scanner app for their mobile phone. (Try QR Droid
Customers browsing your books can scan the QR codes and buy the books immediately using Amazon's 'one touch'. You get the commission on the sale. 

Of course there is no reason why this should be restricted to using Amazon as an ebook provider. If an author comes into your store promoting his/her books negotiate a deal with them to sell their ebooks through Smashwords - Not only do they support more reading devices but they provide a higher royalty rate to the author - 85% and the affiliate rate can be set so that you get a higher commission on the sale than you would get from Amazon 30-40% would seem fair.

You might even end up making more money from ebooks than you do from paper books and you won't have to do a thing at the till!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Extending a wireless network (and curing Kindle dropped Internet connections)

After lots of experiments with different router settings I've come to the conclusion that Amazon Kindles just don't like connecting to BT Home Hub 3 routers. The problem I have is compounded by my house having three feet thick stone walls. If I'm lucky I'll get a three bar wireless signal. I finally decided that if I was to avoid tearing any more hair out, the way to cure the problem was to add an additional wireless router to my home network.

What you will need

Over the years I've moved homes several times and changed ISPs several times too. I've acquired a number of wireless routers so I didn't have to buy a second router. This is what you'll need:

  • A 2nd wireless router. I had a spare one already but if you need to buy one expect to pay about £35 for a new one or £20 second hand. Ebay and Amazon both sell them as do computer shops.
  • A length of CAT 5 Ethernet cable with an Ethernet plug on each end. Get the length you need plus a little extra. These can be bought ready made, in various colours, quite cheaply on Ebay.
  • Cable clips to fit your Ethernet cable.
  • A short Ethernet lead (one probably came with your routers)
  • A computer to change the settings with.

Position the second router

Decide where you need your extra router. It needs to be near a power socket and also somewhere easy to run a cable to. For the moment lay out the cable which will connect the routers without fastening it down or connecting it at either end.

Find out some information about your current router

Now you need to find out the IP addresses that your existing router uses. On your computer go to a command window and type in  IPCONFIG then press Enter. Make a note of your 'gateway'. Here's what I got typing this in on a laptop - the red arrow shows what you are looking for:

Next go to a web page and type the gateway address into the URL/address bar. In my case
You will need to know the router admin password. Usually this is written on the back of the router or is blank. On a BT Home Hub 3 its on the pull out tab at the top of the router. If you can't find it then read the manual which came with your router or go to the manufacturer's site and find the default password there. If you changed the password (as you should) and forgot it, then reset the router, usually by pushing a paperclip into the reset hole and holding it in for 10-15 seconds. Your router should be switched on while you do this.

Type in the password to get access to the router. Find out two things from it's settings:
  1. The channel number the router uses. It may be set to auto. My BT router used Channel 6.
  2. The DHCP network range of IP addresses the router uses.
    On my BT Home Hub 3 I found this by going to Settings > Advanced settings > Home network > IP Addresses. The addresses on mine were -

Setting up the second router

Now we need to set up the second router. Connect it to it's power supply and connect the short Ethernet cable from it to your computer. Use one of the 4 sockets grouped together on the router NOT the one marked WAN.

You'll need to know the second router's IP address, administrator name and password. Again get this from the router manual or the manufacturer's website. Reset the router to it's factory default if you've forgotten a password you set.

I was using a D-Link router which used as it's IP address, admin as the username and the default password was blank.

You need to make some changes to the second router's settings:

  1. Find where you can change the router's IP address. On my D-Link I found this under Setup > Network Settings. Look at the gateway address you found and the DHCP network range of IP addresses the 1st router uses. Choose the nearest number to the Gateway IP address
    My BT Home Hub 3 gateway address was
    The DHCP network range of IP addresses the router used was -
    The nearest IP address was then
  2. On your computer open a command window and type in ping (or whatever number was your nearest available one). IF that IP address is unused you'll see something like this:

    This is exactly what you want to see. Set the second router's IP address to this value

    If the IP address is already being used you'll get something like this:

    If this is the case you'll have to choose a different IP address - change the last part of the number only.
  3. In the same area of settings (2nd router) look for DHCP server settings and disable the DHCP server
  4. Save the second router settings. At this point your connection to the second router will end.
  5. Disconnect the second router from your computer and connect it to the first router using the long Ethernet lead. Again avoid the WAN ports on both routers.
  6. Back on your computer, in a web page type in the new IP address you gave the second router. Again enter the username and password to access it.
  7. Change the Wireless Network Name (or SSID) of the 2nd router. Choose a simple to enter name but not one which contains personal information or the router type. On my D-Link router I found this under Setup > Wireless settings > Wireless network Name. I resisted the temptation to call it 'GoogleCameraCar' or 'MI5van'
  8. Set the Wireless security mode to WPA-Personal or WPA/WPA2
  9. Set the wireless access key (on D-Link routers this is called a pre-Shared key) to something cryptic, at least 10 characters long, and using both letters, numbers and symbols. Don't use a word found in a dictionary or a name. Make a note of this key!
  10. Set the wireless channel to be different to the one used by the first router. If you have an older Kindle don't use channel 11. The further away the channel numbers are from each other the better. I used 6 on my main router and 10 on the 2nd router.
  11. Save your settings again.
  12. Now you need to set a new administrator password for the 2nd router. On my D-Link I found this under Tools > Admin. Again set this at least 10 characters long and make it a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. NOT 'Password', blank, your car registration, your mother's maiden name, your pet's name, your date of birth or anything else easy to guess. Make a note of this password!
  13. Save your settings again!

You should now find you get a MUCH stronger wireless signal and should be able to connect your ebook reader to the new network. If you are using a BT Home Hub 3 - no more lost Internet connections on your Kindle devices.

Tidy up those cables

The final job is to tidy up the Ethernet cable and fix it in place so that you don't trip on it. It's a little more complex than fitting a telephone extension cable because it's thicker and you should try to avoid sharp bends in the cable. These will slow the signal down. I find it's OK to hide it under the edge of carpets, or tack it in place using cable clips.

If this post has proved useful to you would you do me a favour in return? Download a FREE copy of the book I co-author - a romantic technothriller called 'A Vested Interest'. Even if you don't read it it will help our ratings. You can get it at and if you want to read it, you can use a phone, a tablet, a computer or even a Kindle.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mother. Go home and let me work!

Translation: Let those without sin cast the first stones
Mother, go home and let me work!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Wrong time and date on a Kindle Fire HD?

Here's how to cure it:

  • Press and hold the power button for a full 20 seconds
  • Release the power button
  • Switch back on
When it restarts it will get the correct time from Amazon. You won't lose any of your downloaded books.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moans and confessions

It's a while since I had a good moan about the things people leave outside my house (See If I Were JayDax Almighty) but today there was something new.

I live on a main road and just outside my house is a small lay-by (US: 'lay-by' = 'roadside parking spot'). It seems to be a favourite spot to clear their cars of the rubbish they gather in them. Every few days I go out and clear the grass of the stuff people throw there.

It's 22 miles to the nearest MuckDonalds, but that seems to be just the right distance for people to eat their fries and drink their shake. presumably it either takes longer or shorter to eat their burger because I never find the empty wrappers for them.

Despite it being illegal to drink and drive in the UK, I always find a few empty beer cans.

Soda bottles and empty crisp (chips) packets I get by the sackful.

Each day there are five to ten empty cigarette packets. I always wonder why smokers seem to think that they are not litter.

Every week or so I collect a used diaper - If I'm lucky it's wrapped up.

I could have gathered a fair collection of CDs (some even play but definitely not the one chewed by a dog). I've found two mobile phones, both broken. One DVD player - also broken. A black and white portable TV - which still worked and even had charged batteries.

And today's new item? A packet of four Viagra which brings me to the confession bit.

Expect me to confess I need Viagra? Not me! I may be ancient but I've not had that problem (yet). My confession is that once I built a website for a person selling Viagra and other prescription drugs online. You know - the sort of site that spammers try to send you to today.

We built the site back in 1998 soon after Viagra became available. At the time I'd never heard of it. I was asked to research it and make a website to sell it. Now at that time spam wasn't a big problem so I didn't see anything wrong in making the website. Apparently many people in the US didn't want to go to their doctor to talk about this nasty little problem they had so on-line sites sprang up where you could fill in a questionnaire. A doctor (we had a real one in California) would look over your answers and write you a prescription. The pharmacy would then send you Viagra (again the real stuff) anonymously. The site lasted about a year before the state of California decided it was against the law to sell the stuff in California online and prosecuted it's owner.

Would I do it again today? No way! Anyone buying Viagra online has to be some sort of fool because:
  • there's no guarantee that you'll get the real stuff - apparently it's often faked
  • it's invariably promoted by spam and I hate spam!
  • giving your credit card details to a spammer is just asking for trouble.
  • you really would be better getting checked out by a doctor who can do blood tests and check blood pressure e.t.c.
OK moan and confession over. You can go back to whatever you were doing. Oh - one last thing. The doctor we used a picture of sure gets around. The same picture was used in 2010 as part of a National Front campaign in the UK.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Solving Facebook Game Problems

Solving problems which prevent Facebook games working properly (Applies to all Facebook games)

For game issues try:

  1. Refresh the browser page
  2. Clear the browser cache See's-Cache
  3. Can you not see all of the game screen or see an uneven edge to it? Try resetting the screen view size. First click in a blank area of the window. Then most browsers will let you reset the screen size by holding down Ctrl and tapping 0 (zero key but not the one on a number pad). If this doesn't work in your browser try doing it in Google Chrome browser. You'll find this resets the screen size of Flash in all browsers.
  4. Is movement jerky and difficult to control (referred to as 'Lag')? Restart the browser completely. Make sure you close ALL browser windows before reloading the page.
  5. Clear the Flash cache at
  6. Try a different browser. Chrome seems to work best; Internet Explorer seems to cause the most problems although Internet Explorer 9 has solved most of them.
  7. Check to see if it's a Facebook issue at
  8. Restart the computer
  9. Check to see if there is more than one version of Flash installed and delete any older versions. (Current version is 11.2.) If you are using a 64 bit browser then you may find things are helped by installing the 64 bit version of Flash available from Adobe.
  10. Check the page This page tells you if you need to update your Flash player. If you right click in the Flash area (the bit that moves) you will get a menu which gives you the option to 'Show all'. Make sure 'Show all' is checked.
  11. Are you using Firefox and any add-ons? Mozilla have a web page about add-ons which slow down a browser. You should disable any of them you have installed to improve speed. The list is at
  12. If your browser is still slow then turn off the music, the sound effects, animation and reduce the graphic quality using the game options (often a gear cog icon).
  13. If your game fails to load completely or you get a server error message - There are often multiple servers hosting facebook games. It's possible that one may need restarting.
    If you find this problem affects you, try this:
    a. Close down ALL BUT ONE browser window
    b. In the last window log off Facebook
    c. Shut down your computer
    d. Re-start your router/modem - if that gets you a new IP address (does for most)
    e. Restart everything, log on again and restart the game

    Hopefully that will get you on a different server but you have a chance of getting the same bad one so you may have to do it again :(

    The same method MAY work if you are badly affected by lag.
The above steps fix most problems but if this doesn't work then:
  1. Panic and raise the problem on the game's discussion board.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Artists - I need advice on a painting

Some years ago I was wandering round a car boot sale in Essex and saw what I thought was a print of a lake. Closer examination showed it was a painting not a print. I bought it for just £8.00.
Now I'm no artist and I have no idea what medium this painting used. I don't think it's a watercolour but it has a dull surface, not shiny like a varnished oil painting.

Here's a close-up of the signature:
I can't make out the artist's name either. You might be able to see a little of the texture of the paint though. Those fine branches are raised out of the surface and easily felt.

The painting is done on canvas and is full of colour but as I said, the surface is dull. Does it need varnishing?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Allen Banks

I'm quite proud of this picture. it's of a bridge over the River Allen near where I live. The original picture is very large (2048 x 1536) and makes a great desktop wallpaper. If you want a copy of it you can download it free here. The reason I'm so proud of it is it was taken with a low resolution camera. It's actually four pictures stitched together. Bet you can't see the joins! There's more of the picture - a 360° panorama at this location.

The area, Allen Banks, is owned by the National Trust in the UK. It is a great place to go for a walk on a hot summer day. It's not too bad on a winter's day either. I'm just waiting for about four inches of snow and I'll be back there to take more pictures - but this time I'll take a better camera.

I have no idea who the people on the bridge are. I'm glad they were there though because the image wouldn't have been as interesting without them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The night I saw a ghost

I didn't believe in ghosts. I'd always told myself, 'There's always some sort of explanation.'  Either it would be an over-active imagination, something misinterpreted or just the words of a liar trying to sound interesting. Graveyards at night held no horrors and ruined houses? Only a fool would enter in poor light where they might easily hurt themselves. Ghosts? No such thing!

At least that's what I thought until the night I saw one.

I was driving in Northern England at about ten at night. There were no street lights and few cars sharing the road from Allendale to Hexham. I was on my way to Hexham, the site of a famous abbey. There was no Moon, an overcast sky and a slight mist. The road was mostly downhill though, fairly straight and the sort that it's easy to speed on. The council had even improved the road by taking out the sudden rise and dip which left your stomach behind near the racecourse turnoff. As I came round the corner near the turnoff just before I dropped down to the long straight stretch to Low Gate I saw it. A vaporous cowled figure with outstreched arms and two glowing red eyes. It was approaching rapidly and I was going too fast to stop!

Icicles ran down my back. I could feel my hair rising and with awful dread at that moment I BELIEVED IN GHOSTS!

Then I figured out what it was. The road although straight, had a sharp rise and fall in it. A car, hidden from me behind that rise, was lighting up the mist with it's headlights and the trees on either side of the road were the exact shape to frame the mist into the cowled figure. The two glowing eyes were the tail lights of a car in the distance braking to turn the corner at Low Gate.

The effect had only lasted a second or so but in that second I didn't know what I was looking at and jumped to the wrong conclusion.

I still don't believe in ghosts but I can now understand why some people do.
The ghost road in daylight (Google Earth image) Even in daylight you can't see the hidden dips in the road.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oops! I just broke US law. Hope they don't extradite me.

When I click the 'Post' button on this blog I will have broken US law by linking to a site which hosts copyright material. Now that's not illegal in the UK where I live but the US has some pretty stupid laws and that is one of the things that they've made illegal. 

Richard O’Dwyer a a British computer student has just fallen foul of that law. He produced a website which listed sites where pirated material could be downloaded. Note he didn't host any of this pirate material on his website, he just linked to sites which do host it. The US says he made money from his website and that's against US law.

The US applied to have him extradited to stand trial in the US and used the Extradition Act, passed in haste by Labour in 2003, designed to allow terror suspects to be extradited. Richard and his family naturally objected but the law is the law and final approval now rests with the Home Secretary.

Now let me invite you to watch a video at this point which tells you about this. It's about ten minutes long so watch as much as you feel you want to, then I'll explain how I'm breaking the US law.

Did you find that interesting? It's hosted on YouTube and I just linked to it from my blog ...and that's where I broke US law!

You see there are often copyright videos hosted on YouTube. They are not hard to find and most shouldn't be there because the person who put them there did not have the permission of the copyright owner to do so. Now YouTube is aware of this problem and frequently takes down this pirated material but as fast as they do so, someone posts it back up.

Now linking to YouTube isn't illegal. You tube even were nice enough to give me the code needed to embed it in my blog. The problem is I posted it on blogspot and down the sides of this post you'll find some advertisements from which I make a few coppers a month. Heck just to make sure I'll post an advertisement for some of the books my wife and I write below:
Take a touch of humour, add some genetic science and nanotechnology. Steep with conspiracy and stir in murder and despair. Season with romance between three people in a secret location. Garnish with morality.
The result is 'A Vested Interest', a novel series by John and Shelia Chapman
Now if someone decides to buy one of these items advertised here (Please do!) then I will have made money from a web page which has links to sites hosting pirated material and that's against US law!

This is a classic example of  'reductio ad absurdum' or taking something to a ridiculous but logical conclusion. It's a stupid US law and the UK allows another stupid law to compound it.

Now SOPA and PIPA...?

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