Category Archives: Comment

Mobile Phone Recycling

Last year I traded in three old mobile phones that had been sitting in a drawer “as spares”. Television advertisements kept telling me that I could help save the planet by recycling my old phones, and earn a fortune in the process, so I visited the website of one of the most frequent advertisers and, carrying out the simple instructions, I swapped my phones for a grand total of £15.00, not quite the fortune the adverts had implied, but at least the drawer is less cluttered. Continue reading Mobile Phone Recycling

The Undiscovered Brain (revisited)

Human BrainIt has been a while since I reported and commented on progress in understanding the minimally conscious state. Over recent months some exciting news reports have appeared which I feel it is appropriate to refer to here.

Firstly this article appeared in The Guardian last November about Rom Houben, a man who laid for 23 years, assumed to be in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), the state of being unaware of everything around you, oblivious to the world, when in fact he was hearing everything. A neurologist at the University of Liège (Dr Steven Laureys) examined him with new scanning technology and found that his brain seemed to be working quite normally. Most of the article continues to talk about an ability to communicate that was also thought to have been found, which it is now thought was a mistake, but a notable point comes toward the end of the write-up. The Guardian article quotes Dr Laureys, who is very experienced in these cases, as saying that of 44 patients he examined who were diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, 18 of them responded to communication. Furthermore, while it is not uncommon for patients with reduced levels of consciousness to have as little as one assessment by a professional which will determine their diagnosis, Steven Laureys said that such patients should be tested ten times, and that such states were like sleep, having varying stages which need to be monitored. This is an observation that I fully support from my experience with Ladan, there are times when Ladan is clearly out of it, there are times where there seems to be some very basic responsiveness to what is happening around her, often including to actual words being said, and then there are much less frequent occasions where for about 30 seconds or so she can interact with her eyes.  There is a clear difference even in Ladan’s appearance when she is in the most responsive state but it would be impossible to make a plan that would ensure  an expert examined her or scanned her during such an infrequent opportunity, even if she was tested ten times that moment would probably not be caught, but such a policy would probably suffice to catch Ladan at a time that she wasn’t at her least responsive. Luckily for Ladan she was found to have a degree of awareness on her second clinical neurological examination, but it could have taken more.   The more accredited professionals do generally maintain that there is no sure test that can prove an individual is not aware of what is happening around them, all the tools that science has can only help to make an educated guess and, more importantly, attempt to discover if somebody is suitable for a programme of rehabilitation. Unfortunately finding  some degree of awareness is not in itself sufficient for finding a rehabilitation method.

In this blog post a few years ago I referred to a study in Cambridge that, in the long term, may offer hope of rehabilitation techniques to the least able of minimally conscious patients, as well as uncover signs of consciousness in patients otherwise held to be in the persistent vegetative state.  I also looked at some of the potential dangers of misdiagnosis of PVS. That posting referred to a study by a team in Cambridge, including Dr Adrian Owen, in which a woman who was thought to be in a persistent vegetative state was asked to imagine playing tennis while she was scanned using a relatively new technique (fMRI) with an MRI scanner. The resulting changes in the  images on the scan were much the same as the changes witnessed in a fully conscious individual carrying out the same request.

At the beginning of February Channel 4 News ran a story about further research into this technique by teams led by both Dr Adrian Owen from Cambridge and Dr Steven Laureys from Liège.  Again taking a patient formerly thought to be in PVS, the same request of  imagining playing tennis was made to the patient but this time it was to be used  by the patient as a tool to indicate yes or no responses to questions.

“It works like this,” Dr Owen said, explaining the idea in this  Sunday Times article back in 2007, “Say you have a patient who responds positively, with proven volition, to the command ‘Imagine you’re playing tennis.’ You can then progress to an easy yes-no response.” […] “To coin a phrase, it’s a no-brainer. If the answer to a question is yes, the patient thinks of playing tennis; if it’s no, the patient doesn’t think of playing tennis.”

Below is a news clip from Channel 4 News adding a little more detail about the successful experiment:

Where this technique is currently going to be most important is where it will make a difference to the long term plans for the patient. Here in North-East England the policy of medical and care staff is – as I understand it – to act on the assumption that even somebody thought to be in PVS may actually be aware and understanding everything around them, obviously there is no extra harm that will come from talking to somebody who can’t hear you, but it is not kind to completely ignore somebody who is fully aware of everything you are saying. Ladan is known to have some awareness and the nursing home she is in would, as a rule, treat her on that assumption even if she had been diagnosed as being completely unaware, but still I get disheartened when occasionally a carer will come into her room and assist with her needs without saying so much as a “hello” to her. I cannot imagine how much the frustration of being unable to communicate would be made worse for an individual diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state if it was acceptable to ignore them as a matter of policy because of their misdiagnosis. But beyond the doctors and carers there are – of course – the families, and a black and white misdiagnosis of PVS may make them even more likely to just stand and stare at a relative who would actually love to hear them talk to them. Dealing with trauma in a family is difficult enough as it is, if a family are informed through a misdiagnosis that their presence cannot possibly be known to their loved one, then the chances of the patient losing the support of their family must be greatly increased. It is important that families are not given assumptions of probability as fact, they have tough decisions to make ad should know the full picture, even if that picture is full of  “probably not“s and “we don’t know“s, rather than definitive statements.

It should be noted that finding the ability to communicate with an individual formerly misdiagnosed as being in PVS is rare, even when some degree of awareness is found it is not usually a guarantee that they fully understand everything that is going on around them. It is possible that somebody who can communicate in a scanner may also not be fully aware of what condition they are in, though they may even falsely believe themselves to be, but what this offers, even at its most basic, is access to more facts upon which assumptions about a brain may be based. At its best it gives a patient a voice, though possibly not a say, in decisions over how they should be treated.

Looking into the future, these discoveries may help to provide rehabilitation techniques to those people in minimally conscious states who cannot react with the outside world in a consistent way. Current rehabilitation techniques need something to hook onto,  a consistent physical response, such as a finger that the patient will almost always move when requested. fMRI is still a relatively rare and very expensive facility, but it offers that ‘something’ to hook onto in patients who have a reaction that shows up in the scanners imaging, and that means that either by using fMRI scanning regularly as part of a rehabilitation programme, or by finding other ways to detect the responses that using fMRI scanning has uncovered, the potential exists for a greater number of individuals who fall into a minimally conscious state to embark upon a programme of rehabilitation.

Trial of seven Baha’i “leaders” in Iran.

I have been closely watching the news relating to the trial of seven innocent members of the Baha’i Faith who were arrested and held for one year before any charges were made against them.

The Yaran

Referred to as leaders for ease of reference, the seven Baha’is served on an ad-hoc committee dealing with the basic administrative needs of the community, such as marriage. The more official National Spiritual Assembly had been voluntarily disbanded some time earlier when it was ruled by the state, which refuses to recognise the Baha’i Faith as a religion, that it was illegal.

Having been in prison since the first half of 2008, and having had a few trial dates set this year then postponed indefinitely, Monday 12th January finally saw the start of the trial. No observers were allowed into the court. A film crew was seen going into the court with interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence but, it is reported, even the lawyers for the Baha’is – who had virtually no access to their clients over the last two years – had to argue their way into the court. The families of those arrested had also been promised a chance to meet their loved ones, this was also denied, but another meeting was arranged for this on Thursday and this did, I understand, take place.

In the court on Monday the charges against the seven Baha’is were read out, they are espionage, “propaganda activities against the Islamic order,” the establishment of an illegal administration, cooperation with Israel, the sending of secret documents outside the country, acting against the security of the country, and “corruption on earth.” The last charge carries the death sentence.

These are all baseless allegations which, for the most part, are often made against the Baha’is. It is generally recognised by institutions and human rights organisations around the world – who have again raised their voices in support this week (including Muslim groups) – that Baha’is are arrested for no reason other than their Faith which the Islamic regime in Iran does not approve of. Iranian media reports have accused the Baha’is of being behind recent protests in Iran, along side Western governments and political activists, and of disseminating images around the world of the protests on the streets. They also suggest that it is obvious that Baha’is are spies for “zionist” Israel because we have a Shrine and gardens taking up a large area of Mount Carmel in Haifa and our world-wide administrative base is there.

Baha’is, and friends of the Baha’is around the world have been keeping these seven Baha’is in their prayers and I have no doubt that the power of these prayers was felt and gave strength to the seven as they stood in the court room to hear the charges.

Unfortunately there has been no date set for the continuation of the trial and the seven “leaders” remain in prison indefinitely, awaiting what is expected to be a show trial with a pre-determined conclusion. There has, meanwhile, been an increase in the arrests and harassment of Baha’is as the media play an increasing role in spreading allegations and misinformation about the Baha’i Faith and its Iranian community.

Link: Baha’i World News Service, Iran Update

Self-Centred Technology

“James Herbert is writing a blog entry.”

Does that interest you? In fact, since you are reading this entry, I can give you an update on that:

“James Herbert has now published a blog entry.”

Perhaps you would be more interested if I told you something you couldn’t work out for yourself:

“James Herbert is looking forward to enjoying the culinary skills of Ladan’s aunt this evening.”

I have always had the feeling that blogging one’s daily thoughts on a blog, tweeting one’s moves on twitter and updating one’s status on Facebook  is to presume one’s life to be fascinating to a significant number of Internet users.

For this reason the bulk of my blog posts, when I was more active as a blogger, leaned more toward being news stories about the Baha’i Faith, but then the number of people and sources providing such news increased and, again, I found myself asking why people should find my version to be worth reading when there are now several official versions available at the same time.

I want to start bogging again, about life, Ladan, the Baha’i Faith, and technology, but have a hesitance about being too presumptuous that I have a voice worth hearing,  that others will be interested in what I am interested in.  I also do not want to write things about circumstances I am in that upset other people for the wrong reasons, as has happened with my Ladan updates in the past. So, I am coming back, but this is why it has been a slow and sporadic journey.

When is Naw-Ruz?

20th March at Sunset vs  Spring Equinox

Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Ruz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee.”

For Baha’is in the west, the festival of Naw-Ruz is always March 21st (from sunset on the 20th), in Iran the new year celebration of Naw-Ruz starts at whatever time the Spring (Vernal) Equinox occurs, which will be at 3:14pm in Tehran tomorrow (or 11:44 GMT).

The Baha’i calendar also places Naw-Ruz at the same time as the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, but rather than beginning at the time of the equinox, the Baha’i Naw-Ruz celebration is intended to be celebrated on the Baha’i day (sunset to sunset) during which this occurs.

“The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries, even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.”

However, this aspect of the calendar has not been implemented yet and was left for the Universal House of Justice to implement. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, stated that this would require that a particular spot on earth be chosen as the standard for fixing the time of the spring equinox. Otherwise the festival of Naw-Ruz would fall on different days according to where you lived in the world, for example this year Naw-Ruz would fall on March 20th for Baha’is living in Iran, Europe and the USA but would fall on March 21st for Baha’is living in Australasia.

The Universal House of Justice, aware that Baha’is in Iran use the time of the Spring Equinox to determine the start of Naw-Ruz, have stated that they do not see this as an urgent matter and that, until such a time as this has been decided upon, the Baha’is of the West should observe Naw-Ruz on 21st March (from sunset on the 20th), whatever day the spring equinox may fall upon.

“Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.”

(All quotes from Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas and Baha’i Prayers)

Thinking about Poverty on Blog Action Day

It’s  blog action day, where thousands of bloggers share their views on a common topic, and this year the topic is poverty.

In thinking about what to write on this subject I have started to feel that perhaps (financial) poverty is not the real problem, rather it is a condition typically associated with certain greater problems, such as lack of food, drink, warmth and education.  A bird, for example, may make a comfortable nest in a large tree, easily find seeds to eat and feed its family, and fly freely over any land it wishes, it has no money of course, but it will never suffer from poverty. A baby, likewise, has no money of its own, yet if the parents can afford to offer it good food and shelter it will be okay.  By that same token then, if everybody was offered adequate food, drink, shelter and education by the government, financial poverty would not be as significant an issue. It is a simplistic statement and not something I propose should happen, but the point is that money, and in turn what is generally considered poverty, is not really the core problem.

In Britain it is known that many families considered to be in poverty still have a television, they may also run a car and it is not unusual for “poor” families to even pay for cable or satellite television services. Giving money to somebody may offer a potential solution to their inability to pay for food, warmth, health or education, but these may not be seen as the most pressing financial needs by the head of the family in receipt of such funds, be it income earned or handouts received.  Likewise, it is probably the case that if everybody in the UK donated one pound a week we would raise enough money to ensure food for an entire medium sized African country, but when we sent the head of that country over three billion pounds a year in funds they may well have other ideas on what to use it for.

It is easily argued, then, that money is neither the problem nor the solution when we speak about poverty. It is clearly linked in an important way but the actual problem, and the actual solution, are both more human in nature.

If you travel through a village in an undeveloped country where the locals could be said to have little or nothing to their name, genuine smiles abound. If, in the most developed of countries, you travel down a classy city street, filled with successful wealthy people, you are more likely to see straight faces and frowns than you are smiles.

While I was rushing out for a little shopping earlier I was listening to a radio debate about our global financial crisis and what has to change. A fashionable viewpoint was being put forward that we must realize that our world has a limited quantity of resources and that, therefore, we need to accept that if some people are allowed to gather an unrestricted share of the planet’s wealth then others will lose out.

The Baha’i Faith teaches that while people should be rewarded in accordance with their contribution to society, the extremes of wealth and poverty must be abolished.

My own extrapolation of this is that it should feel unacceptable that one man holds enough unrequired money to  shelter, feed and educate a thousand children while a thousand children are actually without shelter, food or education.  The acquisition of wealth should be limited to the point where society as a whole, not just at a national level but on a global level, can remain above the poverty line.  Such an endeavour requires a will on the part of those able to acquire massive wealth to see it limited in the interest of social development.  At one level this can be a view forced upon us by seeing the consequences of an unbalanced global economy, but at a more fundamental level it is a question of how every citizen on earth views the rights, and values the existence, of every other member of human society.  We need to be as concerned for the welfare of the starving in the developing world as we would be for those in our own country, and should be as concerned for the welfare of the homeless man in a box under a local bridge as we are for that of our own friends. Ideally we should be as concerned for the basic human rights of every individual on this planet as we are for those of our own family. Baha’u’llah (prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith) wrote a lot about the essential unity of the human race, here are a few snippets:

“The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established”

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The One true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words.”

“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

The End of the World

Is it coming? Should we fear it?

At 8:30am on September 10th I turned on my radio to hear the moments and activities that preceded what some had predicted to be the end of the world, the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, a 17 mile circular tunnel in which scientists planned to collide particals and recreate some of the conditions present at the creation of the universe.Large Hadron Collider Collision

As is widely known, the fearful were concerned that the high speed collision of particles might result in the formation of a black hole into which the earth, and everything on it, would be sucked. The fearless felt sure that, even if a black hole was created during the experiments, it would be extremely tiny and only last for a very short time.

What had not been made very clear to the public was that the ceremonious switching on of the Large Hadron Collider did not result in a conclusion as to which school of thought had been correct. The switch-on merely tested that a beam could be succesfully sent around the large tubular ring using 1232 special magnets to curve its path. I say merely, I am sure that this is a huge achievement and well worthy of attention and celebration, but there was no percieved danger – from any quarters – of it being the last party on earth.

As for the collision of particles, the potential “end of the world”, that still hasn’t happened. The Large Hadron Collider has been running into some technical difficulties and has been getting repaired. The actual moment when the first collisions take place and the most worried groups of scientists become pleasantly suprised that they can still breathe will not take place until Spring 2009 at the earliest. This whole event has, however, made me want to write a long blog entry about the end of the world.

High speed particle collision is not the only non-violent threat to humanity’s existence. We have already been warned that on March 21st 2014 there is a 1 in 909,000 chance of a giant asteroid called “2003 QQ47” hitting the earth, and in October 2028 a mile-wide rock called “1997 XF11” has a 1 in 1000 chance of striking our planet. There are many small groups of religious or UFO enthusiasts who have also predicted the end of the world and a large number of predictions have already passed without incident, which will hopefully be the case with the Large Hadron Collider. Beyond the scientists, the spiritualists and the ufologists there are a very high number of people who believe that we will eventually destroy our planet, either by war or carelessness. Many look at the troubles in the world and beleieve we are all too selfish to get along, and with modern weapons an inevitable third world war will wipe out all civilization.

Standing prominent among those that predict that the “end of the world as we know it” will come some time are many established religious groups. For religion the cataostrphy, or Armageddon, is not the focus of such teachings, but rather the focus is on what happens after the event. Many Christians, for example, look forward to a time when Jesus wil reign over God’s Kingdom on Earth and…

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” [Isaiah 11:6]

Baha’is also take the view that world peace is not only possible but inevitable. Baha’u’llah foretells of two states of peace, a lesser peace and a most great peace. In the lesser peace the world will recognise the essential unity of the entire human race and will be protected by an internationally governed system of collective security. The most great peace will, as I understand it, come later and be a more spiritually grounded state of peace throughout the planet.

“Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.” [Baha’u’llah]

Since the day that Samuel Morse sent his first telegram the world has been getting ever smaller, with transport and communication taking place at speeds that could barely be dreamed of a century ago. The United Nations has established itself as a forum that brings all the countries of the world together to discuss major issues, and basic human rights are considered by most to be a cornerstone of civilized society throughout the world. There are several encouraging processes at play in the world, and many Baha’is are actively engaged in some of these.

The view then, of the Baha’i Faith and of other religious groups, is that the end is in sight for this world… but it is the end of the world that none of us like, an end to the world that favours one race or nation over another, an end to the world where weapons are a tool of negotiation, where wealth and poverty are both permitted to reach their worst excesses, an end to the world that so many fear will destroy itself. That world will end, and a more united one will endure in its place.

My personal view (not that I am good at applying it to my own life) is that when something is wrong it needs to be dealt with or the consequences will catch up with you and force you to deal with it, and where laws or systems are in place that favour improving the quality of life for any one individual, race or nation at the expense of another there needs to be a re-adjustment.

The current financial crisis is a case in point. Governments can offer funds to save us from potential disaster but unless the underlying problems that get us into this situation are fixed we will arrive at this point again in the future, and next time it may be too costly for even the wealthiest governments to save the day. We have the chance now to start developing a more sustainable model of global finance, or we can be forced to build a new one from the ground up after a more thorough collapse in the future.

Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, predicted that…

“The process of disintegration must inexorably continue, and its corrosive influence must penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of a crumbling age. Much suffering will still be required ere the contending nations, creeds, classes and races of mankind are fused in the crucible of universal affliction, and are forged by the fires of a fierce ordeal into one organic commonwealth, one vast, unified, and harmoniously functioning system. Adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals, war, famine, and pestilence, might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disdained to recognize and follow. A paralysis more painful than any it has yet experienced must creep over and further afflict the fabric of a broken society ere it can be rebuilt and regenerated.” [Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 193]

The unity of the human race is never more aparant than in dealing with calamity. The closest I have been to this, thankfully, was after the great gale that swept southern England in October 1987, everybody pulled together to clear fallen trees and get the town back into working order. On television we see people clubbing together to help in disasters, physically and financially, without fear of differences. The task now lies before us to build a society that can function justly at a global level, it is essential to our survival and somewhat inevitable that we will not survive unless we do it. It is a widely held view that no country can survive in complete isolation from the rest of the world, and if the whole planet was was all but destroyed tomorrow such that we all had to build a new civilization from scratch, we would no doubt incorporate principles that recognise equal rights to a good quality of life for every citizen of the planet. The hope has to be that we do not need to be forced to such a drastic starting point before we can find a path to a fairly functioning global society.

Baha’u’llah, the Prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith, left some vision of what first steps might be taken:

“The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement of its peoples, hath written: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation. We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny. …The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential. It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” [Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 248]

Windows Search vs Google Desktop vs Copernic Desktop

A couple of months ago I put the three leading free desktop search utilities to the test to see which one was the best.

The following versions were tested: Windows Search 4, Copernic Desktop Search 2 and Google Desktop Search.  The test was done using WIndows XP. WIndows Vista has Windows Search built into it and that is an improved version, as far as I understand, of what I was testing on XP. First to the test was…

Acronis Disk Director 10.0Google Desktop Search

Google Desktop has two main features, a desktop search engine that will index the files on your computer and search through them instantly, and side bar similar to the one that comes with Windows Vista, to which you add lots of gadgets including news readers, email notifications, calendar, slide shows… the list goes on. Personally I find side bars distracting and I have enough distractions off-screen without a side bar giving me more, but this feature is easily disabled. Once Google Desktop Search has indexed the computer it is extremely fast to find results in most file formats including Outlook emails. The software can be accessed in several different ways, my favourite method is as a search box docked onto the task bar at the bottom of the screen. As you type a search query into the box the search engines starts to provide matches to the partial word you have entered. What is particularly good about Google Desktop Search is that the results are all shown with a content preview, showing the text that surrounds your search string where it has been matched, this makes it extremely easy to find the very document you are looking for. The only problem I found is that not all the documents on my computer were being indexed. I uninstalled the software, re-installed it and ran a full index and still found that many of the documents I had were not indexed by the Google Desktop Search.

Windows Search

I was optimistic when I installed this given that the product should be as well designed for Windows as such a product could be. Windows Search did index all of my files but it lacked the context to the results on the search bar. When used as a full application the software offered the ability to open the found documents in a preview window so that you could then search for the result inside the document and realise the context, but this worked very slowly. On the whole I didn’t feel that Windows Search 4 made searching much easier than using the search features already built into Windows and Outlook, having used Google Desktop Search I had had a glimpse of how quickly a search tool could work, and by comparison Windows Search was painful to use.

Copernic Desktop Search

Copernic Desktop Search is similar to Windows Search in appearance and in its interface, it does offer filename matches very quickly from a search box on the task bar at the bottom of the screen but in order to get context you have to use the application Window and preview the matched document in a preview window, this was, however, considerably faster in Copernic than it was in Windows Search. Copernic also seemed to index every one of the files on my computer, including Outlook email, and the application interface is very easy to use. I found that once I had used Copernic a few times I was able to use its features to find the documents and emails I needed very quickly.


My favourite desktop search for WIndows XP is Copernic Desktop Search. I found the instant contextual results in Google Desktop Search superior to both Windows and Copernic but the incomplete indexing made it inadequate at the most important task of searching files on my computer. I did check through the support forums but,  like others before me who had had the same problem, I could not find, nor was offered, any solutions. Copernic was fast and intuitive, had I not seen the way in which Google presented results I would not have even thought it might be lacking in any department.

My tests were limited to the free version of Copernic Desktop Search 2, they have since released version 3 and that appears to offer “results as you type” in the commercial (non-free) versions, their web site does not specify if these are contextual results or not. If Google added an option that would allow you to force indexing of files and folders it had missed out then Google Desktop Search would be my winner, but at the time of testing there was no known way of doing this.

Links: Winner: Copernic Desktop Search, Second: Windows Search 4, Third: Google Desktop Search

From Blogger to WordPress

I have decided to make a few changes to my blogs.

Firstly, I have moved across from using the Blogger software to using WordPress, that is why everything suddenly looks different. I will probably be modifying the look quite a lot over the coming months, and some elements of the navigation too, I apologise if the blog should go off-line or become difficult to read while I am making such modifications.

I have also decided to merge my three main blogs into one, so my Baha’i related blog and my Branches blog are now part of the main warble blog. WordPress offers categories for each post and (at the time of writing) these can be found near the top right corner of the page, from here you can choose to only see posts relating to the Baha’i Faith or to Ladan. Because my Branches blog contained my more trivial postings and, naturally, some of these will be related to the Baha’i Faith or Ladan, it is probable that you will find posts in these categories which would not have otherwise made the Baha’i related blog, or the main warble blog.

Please let me know of any problems you encounter with the new site. Almost all of the old posts have been imported. The old posts are also available from these links: Warble (main), Bahai related and Branches.