Category Archives: Useful Links

welcome to : your everyday vacation

welcome to : your everyday vacation

Here’s a novel site I just found, they have several free video clips of relaxing scenes, such as plants waving in the breeze, the sea crashing against some cliffs, sunrises, sunsets, and the classic fireplace videos. You can enjoy a few moments of something different and you may well wish you could book a holiday in Hawaii afterwards.

Pluto is Dwarfed

I used to be keen on the stars and planets, as a child I spent many a night looking at the craters on the moon in my 40x magnification telescope. I always planned to have my own observatory built into our mansion when I became a multi-millionaire… I would have observed the nine planets of the solar system and taken amazing photos of them through my enormous telescope… well, I guess that just won’t come to pass now as there are only eight real planets in our solar system. Pluto has been voted out by a group of about 2,500 scientists meeting in Prague! They’ve tried to lessen the blow on Pluto a little bit by introducing a new category of “dwarf planet”, of which there are now at least three in our solar-system including Ceres between Mars and Jupiter.

Link: BBC News Story: Pluto loses status as a planet

Broadband Deals

Once you have learnt where the on switch is on a computer everybody asks you for advise on how to do things such as how to make a website that will bring in millions of pounds a day, how to use Microsoft Excel on Windows to print a Document that was written in an Arabic version of Quark Express on the Apple Mac, and how to take remote control of US Satellite Defense Systems. Another among such common questions is the matter of which UK broadband service provider to go with for personal use. I chose one fairly recently so I do have five suggestions here…

Firstly, I don’t believe in less than 4GB usage per month as being worth while, so prices I mention are for packages offering more than that.

1. PlusNET. £14.99/month + BT Line Rental
This service has a 4GB limit during peak hours (4pm-midnight) and no limits outside those hours. You are don’t even have to commit to a year but you have to pay a deferred activation fee when you leave which could be as much as £47. I’m with PlusNET, so if you join them by following this link you will save me a few pennies a month (only pennies).

2. Sky Broadband £20.00/month (£5.00 if you already subscribe to Sky) + BT Line rental
This is a great deal, you get almost unlimited use, you get Sky TV and you pay less than many other companies charge for broadband without the TV service. The actual package is £5.00/month for Sky subscribers and Sky subscription starts at £15.00 for which you can get all the best entertainment and documentary channels. (£20.00 activation fee)

3. NTL/Telewest. £17.99/month
If you don’t have a BT telephone line then cable is the way to go, it’s slower but its unlimited and cheaper than paying for a BT line and broadband on top of that. Cable only covers some of the country, availability is limited. Unfortunately “cable is not available in [my] area”, though it is on the other side of my street!

4. Talk Talk. £19.99/month
It’s almost unlimited and the price includes your BT line rental, you also get great deals on your phone calls. The catch… it’s an 18 month contract and you will be using Talk Talk instead of BT for all your phone related matters.

5. BT Broadband. £22.99/month + BT Line Rental
One of the things about broadband is that when something goes wrong you want it fixed, and the people who are best at getting things fixed when they go wrong, generally speaking, are BT. They are the more expensive option but they are reliable and they are in control of everything you are using, if you use BT and have a problem then it will never be a third party’s fault.

Free DVD player software

If you have a computer with a DVD drive but no DVD software you may spend ages searching the web for some free DVD codecs without joy, they all cost money, but there is now a free DVD player that does not rely on third party codecs, that is VLC Media Player. I have been trying to set up the Sonic Cineplayer DVD codec pack on a friends computer for the last few days because I have seen that working very well, but even though the product is registered we can’t get it to work because their activation servers are not responding and their backup email solution is rejecting emails, so I downloaded VLC Media Player and gave it a spin, it’s not quite as user friendly as using Media Player with codecs and I found it a little jumpy, but that is on a 400MHZ PC with a lowly 4MB graphics card, I was impressed that it worked as well as it did, so, to clarify, if you want to be able to watch DVD’s on your computer for free and you have a DVD drive attached then VLC Media Player is your solution.

Link: VLC Media Player

Jimbo the Grey

I generally cut my own hair with clippers, and see a pile of my own hair build up before me in the process. Usually this is brown hair but somewhere between February and April a large bulk of it turned grey.

I was inclined to think it was down to the intense stress that the early part of this year has given me but it seems scientists generally disagree with the idea that stress causes grey hair, its an aging thing and presumably a coincidence when an increased onset coincides with a period of heavy stress, but there are still some who ask questions over the possibility that the underlying chemical processes of aging may also be triggered by stress.

Re: Can stress really cause (contribute to) whitening of the hair?: “stress “can probably contribute” to hair whitening in some genetically predisposed individuals”

Flickr Photo hosting

Ladan, James, Simon and SuzanneFlickr, a photo hosting service with many nice features. Although it is probably still much smaller than Webshots, there are many different ways of browsing through, and finding, interesting photos. I’m using a free account which has its restrictions, but some people send daily posts from their travels around the world. A particularly neat feature of Flickr is its extensive RSS support, If you have software that supports RSS feeds, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, you can subscribe to people’s photo collections or even to the results of a particular search. Webshots seem to be making a few changes of their own to keep up with the improving opposition.

Link: My Flickr Account (elbraw)
Link: My Webshots Account (thenames)

Best Freeware for Windows

Some of the very best “free” applications that run under Microsoft Windows, in order of how much I have used them:

Firefox – Popular web browser with useful enhancements
Thunderbird – Fully featured email client
AVG Anti-Virus (Free Edition) – Virus protection for home use
GIMP – Photo manipulation software that rivals expensive packages
MSN Messenger – Quick and easy communication with online friends
Ocean – Quickly search through the texts of all major religions – Complete MS Word/Excel compatiable office suite
Americas Army – An advanced war game with real army training

Star Wars funnies

Coming back from Peterlee late at night I often slump in front of the tv wanting to unwind with something funny or light-hearted. Dissapointed with the choice I recently turned to the internet and found a couple of short films made by Star Wars fans which are quite well made and entertaining if you are familiar with the six Star Wars movies.

Sith Apprentice – This merges Star Wars with the American version of The Apprentice, the show where Donald Trump offers a well paid job to one succesful applicant after a series of tests, the main difference between the US and UK versions of The Apprentice is that the US version ends with live a show in a large theatre where the final decision is made.

Pink Five Strikes Back – This follows the journey of a girl who was a fighter pilot in Episode IV “A New Hope” in the battle against the Death Star, during that battle she chatted to Han Solo and now calls him her boyfriend. Having failed to listen properly in the pilots briefing she doesn’t know where to go and follows “new boy” Luke Skywalker to a strange planet where she meets Yoda. Her story fits nicely, if occasionally a little too obviously, around the real Episode V “The Empire Strikes Back”.