Will I live through browser incompatibilities?

February 20, 2007

Living in the 2st century can be very trying sometimes – is this just me? After posting my PC problems last week I’ve found that I’ve been plagued in numerous other aspects of living in the 21st century as well. No, I’m not talking about those people who use mobiles on quiet railway carriages, by the age old problem of browser incompatibles.

No, I’m not talking about bad rendering of HTML code on a particular browser, but the much more pernicious writing of services that will only work on a particular browser.

Nobody would particularly mind a new service that has problems; you would just swear and move on! But honestly, to come across a service that has had millions of public money spent on it is another matter.

I’m talking here about the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). They have introduced a service that allows a patient to book their own appointment. On the service this sounds great, but honestly the fact that it only works with Internet Explorer is not brilliant by any means!


All I wanted to do was to make a hospital appointment using Firefox…

Another example was when I thought about early retirement a couple of year’s ago – if only! Great I thought, you can do it on line but Microsoft Visual basic enevitably decided otherwise!


To round things off, remember the eye glasses I broke last week in my ‘PC problem’ week? I went for an eye test at Boots this morning to get them replaced. All was going swimmingly well until I discovered that they had just installed a new IBM system based on – guess what? – Windows. I thought I might crack a joke to the receptionist but I held back. Then, guess what, right at the end of the consultation, up popped the usual little Windows style error message containing the message Abort! Well, the system did just that and dropped out losing all the imformation about my prescription just entered.

I promise to return to normal service soon and return to talking about positive aspects of technology and stop being a grumpy old man. Maybe I should swop to using an Apple (everyone else in my house uses an Apple) but what about the rest of the world?



A typical week living with a PC?

February 16, 2007

My problems are your entertainment, so here goes. and no that’s not me on the left!

It all started on Sunday I guess. My dog pulled me down my garden steps which resulted in me banging my head on a step. This was followed in the afternoon when, tidying my garden, I managed to poke my eye with pine needles. The rest of the week was spent with one bright red eye!

On Monday. I made the mistake of reading the postings here all about computer problems.

On Tuesday. Resisting putting pen to Outlook, I decided that it might be a good idea to clear the inside of my computer of 12 months of fluff and dust.

Boy, there was a lot! I have no idea why, but when I rebooted my now rather old PC, inevitably it wouldn’t! Lots of garbage on the screen and a complete failure to boot. After fiddling around for a couple of hours, I discovered that my graphics card had blown up, replacing it made the computer boot properly. Phew.

On Wednesday. The machine has been running like a dog for a number of months now so it was time to upgrade. My son has a number of machines floating around the house, so he built one up for me with twice the clock speed and delivered it to my desk.

On Thursday. Spent the day on that unenviable task of reinstalling all those applications and devices connected to the USB port. Trying find to find all my registration codes – well you know the problem. By 6 o’clock I was quite happy with most things working. Then, bloody hell! I got up from my desk and caught the cable going to my USB hub with my foot. I didn’t yank in the direction that would just pull the plug out – oh no – I yanked in opposite direction and it destroyed the complete USB socket and the screen went blank. My son was out at the time, so I tryed to repair the motherboard with no success. It looked like I had shorted the +5V line and computer #2 would not boot. When my son came home, I had to say to him “I’ve some bad news…”

On Friday. Fortunately, we could get a new motherboard from PCWorld which is 1/2 a mile from my house. My son rebuilt the machine and found there was no further damage. I completed installing all the apps including Norton Antivirus. Now, I am very well aware that Norton has a well earned reputation for slowing machines down but I have never had any problems myself (Maybe I had with my old machine but I didn’t notice). On Friday afternoon my new machine virtually stopped working because it had slowed down slow much – by a factor of at least 100. I was tearing my hair out by now.

Another significant problem I had was that Firefox 2 just would not load. I clicked the icon several times but it just would not load. Looking I also had this problem – though not quite so severe – on my old machine.

After several hours of frustration I decided to disable Norton Antivirus and wow! Suddenly Firefox loaded instantly and all my delays vanished and I was left with an appropriately fast machine. Thank heavens! I have no idea why this should be so – interrupt lock-ups perhaps? Anyway, Norton was uninstalled and replaced with AVG and everything was hunky dori. I’ve been using Norton for more than ten years so this is quite a step for me.

My son came into my office and I explained that I had got to the bottom of my problem. While doing so I was fiddling with my eye glasses in my hands. Crack! my nice new frameless glasses cracked in half…

On Saturday everything seemed to be working but I refused to get in my car for a few days!

Whatever you do, please DON’T clean your computer.

Postscript: Well maybe my story is not over. My PC would not boot this morning with the message ‘NTLDR not found’. This, of course, is the main Windows boot loader program stored at c:/. We copied the file over from the Windows CD and I ran full virus and spyware scans but no problems were found and so ends week two!

Postscript #2: Would you believe it? On March 15th the new motherboard gave up the ghost and stopped working. An exchange of the motherboard did the trick and I’m up and running again. How long will this saga go on!

Cingular to AT&T renaming spoof video…

February 8, 2007

After posting about C&W renaming, C&W’s UK rebranding and another post on creating company names, this spoof YouTube video about the convoluted AT&T branding history will definitely make you smile.

Each new management team who arrives on the scene has its own branding ideas as part of the ‘turn around’ strategy so I guess we havn’t seen the end of this in this age of consolidation in the telecommunications industry!


Virgin Media near a Cable and Wireless tie-up?

February 8, 2007

The newspapers are full of rumour about C&W and Virgin Media – arn’t they always?

In this case its “Virgin Media is close to announcing a strategic tie-up with Cable & Wireless (C&W) to help it provide telecom and television services to homes not served by its existing cable network.”

Virgin Media, let us not forget, is the new name for NT who merged with Telewest…

Let us also not forget that Mercury Communications changed its name to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in 1997, to bring it closer from a brand perspective to its parent company C&W. Along with the CWC rebrand, Dick Brown C&W’s CEO at the time, acquired three cable companies.

In 1999 CWC sold its consumer assets to NTL. It was these cable businesses along with Mercury’s consumer telephony business that was sold. The reason given at the time was that CWC wanted to focus on UK business services.

After CWC sold its consumer business, it was merged with Cable and Wireless and renamed it C&W. You can see a logo history of C&W here.

Then came the Bulldog and Energis acquisition and the sale of the customer bit of Bulldog to Pipex in 2006 to concentrate on UK DSL wholesale deals (C&W UK kept the co-location assets).

So somewhere in this is, perhaps, a bit of irony that C&W UK might sign a wholesale agreement with NTL to provide infrastructure to NTL – whoops, Virgin Media – who want to outsource, if that is the right term, their DSL infrastructure. Will this also include the original Mercury telephony network sold to NTL I wonder?

No maybe, on reflection after a cup of coffee, I’ve got it all wrong and I’m just confused!

Trevor Baylis and Virgin Galactic – huh?

January 25, 2007

I just received an email from Mike Southon famous for his book The Beermat Entrepreneur and his regular evening network meetings. Mike could sell, as well as talk, a hind leg off a donkey and he is always an inspirational speaker in his own right. In this month’s newsletter, he provided a link to an MP3 interview with Trevor Baylis.Of course, you will remember Trevor as the inventor of the clockwork radio from a few years back. In the free podcast you can hear about his early life, but if you want to get up to date you will have buy the full interview.

That interview reminded me of the IT Futures conference for CIOs that I attended in November. It wasn’t so much the formal technical presentations that stuck in my brain, but the two special presenters they brought in.

The first was Stephen Attenborough who had the fabulous job title of VP, Astronaut Relations! The company? Virgin Galactic of course! If you go to their web site choose the flash version (Now that is definitely a first for me).

Virgin Galactic is the world’s first spaceline.  Giving you the groundbreaking opportunity to become one of the first ever non-professional astronauts.  Virgin Galactic will own and operate its privately built spaceships, modelled on the remarkable, history-making SpaceShipOne.

Virgin’s vast experience in aviation, adventure, luxury travel and cutting-edge design combined with the unique technology developed by Burt Rutan will ensure an unforgettable experience unlike any other available to mankind.

Stephen’s presentation was one of the most entertaining I’ve seen for years. It had nothing to do with IT, but I guarantee everyone in that audience of CIOs will remember the IT Futures conference for years.

You can see the movie about the $1,000,000 X-prize and even book your $100,000 seat for your personal trip into space! SpaceShipOne made three flights into space with altitudes greater than 100km during 2004, culminating with X Prize winning flight on 4th October 2006. Quite mind blowing and such positive PR for Richard Branson as the sponsor and for entrepreneurial UK.

The second guest speaker in the lunch break was Trevor Baylis and I had the luck (or initiative?) to sit next to him for lunch. Trevor now focuses on helping inventors, entrepreneurs and designers to evaluate ands protect their ideas. His business is called Trevor Baylis Brands.

If you ever have a chance to meet Trevor you will certainly have an experience to remember. He is brilliantly outspoken, non-PC, opinionated, full of anecdotes and totally passionate about what he does. He said “why shouldn’t I be?”… “I’m beholden to no one, in my 70s and I want to prevent other inventors from being screwed.”

He’s had other ideas than the clockwork radio but the mobile phone charger built into the heel of a shoe “wasn’t received too well” several years back!

That conference was organised by Richard Tribe of Revolution Events and if you need a memorable conference you couldn’t do better than to give him a call.

Now what was it that Sun was talking about after the Virgin Galactic presentation? SOA something? No, I’m only joking. As Sun was one of the sponsors of this excellent conference I was all ears…

A BT game, or what?

January 19, 2007

You might like to play this BT game received via an email today. It looks like updated space invaders and it is quite entertaining.

However, its really a survey in disguise and you will also have to agree to BT’s terms and conditions as there is carrot of a prize. Methinks that this viral marketing initiative has been passed through BT’s large lawyer department!

Anyway, this is what the email said with the advertising for BT’s ExpertIT service removed. Enjoy!

BT Business IT Manager invites you to take revenge on your IT problems with the fast paced game Office Warfare, and win a fantastic day out for your and your colleagues.

It’s man against machine, or machine against man – if you can’t hack it!

It’s time to crash the computers. Click on the link to play.

Monkey Returns – PG Tips advert

January 10, 2007

For UK guys only, I just couldn’t resist posting this excellent advert! It really made my day!”