* Posts by Neil Kay

48 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Feb 2008

Ten Essential... Netbook Accessories

Neil Kay

Best accessory I ever bought...

The best accessory I ever bought is a U2o external battery pack - it will power my Acer Aspire One for several decades (OK, about 5 hours), has a 5V USB output just in case your mobile phone, Nintendo DS, PSP or other gadget needs some juice PLUS because it's a generic battery and the output voltage is adjustable it can be used with other DC-powered devices too - it sure beats buying a spare laptop battery that will only fit one thing.

Long link warning:


Ten free apps to install on every new PC

Neil Kay

Free...as in..

Nice list, but some (at least one) are "Free" as in 'Free for home and personal use only' eg: Karen's Replicator - from her site: "Karen's Power Tools programs are free for personal, non-commercial use. But if you'd like to use the programs at work, you need a paid license."

Also check out (Google is your friend):

deltacopy and grsync: Packaged, GUI-driven versions of rsync that can backup to local and remote locations via the tubes.

iReport: Crystal Reports (ish) without the dosh

Kompozer is a half-decent GUI HTML editor

7zip for most of your compressing and decompressing needs

Inkscape - the poor (but free) long-lost-cousin of Corel Draw

Dia - likewise for Visio

PDFCreator - Do you need a description?

Winsplit revolution - Windows desktop organiser

Tesco VoIP takes numbers to the grave

Neil Kay


Of course it *IS* technically possible for any number to be routed through any provider and terminated where needed.

The problem is that it's just too much of a PITA to setup because the industry's infrastructure to make this easily doable is in a mess and so very few service providers can be arsed to spend the time contacting all the relevant parties to make the changes.

Yes, number database centralisation would be the answer - but centralised with whom? I know of some outfits that would still rightly bodge this kind of thing in an upwards direction.

Open-source Sugar snared by Jobsian code block

Neil Kay

Sod the iPad

Forget all the iCleverness, have they finally managed to implement a calendar that can handle multi-day events, like we've all been begging them since 2006?

I have several potential users that have dropped plans to install SugarCRM when they saw how crappy the calendar function was.

Lords: Analogue radio must die

Neil Kay
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"...Also the scrappage scheme can include a subsidy so that luddites (read Reg readers) can swap their perfectly adequate AM/FM/LW radios for a nice little DAB set that allows you to receive in mono that which was previously in damn good quality stereo - that's if you can even get the radio to produce more than some meaningless burble and gibberish, especially when its raining."


Register.com argues it can't be sued for negligence

Neil Kay
Thumb Up

Weasel Words?

From now on, my work contracts are going to define any mistakes on my part as being 'pretty darn daft negligence' or, worse case, 'WTF were you thinking negligence' so that I cannot be sued for gross negligence.

iPad forces operators to shave their SIMs

Neil Kay
Thumb Up

And coming...

In 1.2.3 "Micro-to-mini SIM adaptors on eBay..."

Bob the Builder slapped with CGI rendering

Neil Kay

Can we fix it...?

Not sure if links are allowed but here goes (Goes to image with f-bomb).


Tory peers to protect kids from anuses

Neil Kay

Seems appropriate...

...considering many believe Mandelson to be the biggest anus in UK politics.

I'm sure I had an invite to a party hosted by David Geffen in one of my pockets..? Nope, just this loan application form.

Delays, password problems hit UK2 email restore

Neil Kay

I feel their pain...

On Sunday afternoon while working on a new system roll-out (not a biggie - 25 PCs and a server + a network switch overhaul), I smelled burning in the room in which we'd based ourselves. I tracked it down to the UPS on the mail server. That server & UPS were not part of the roll-out - they had been there chugging away for for 2 years - so I guess the kit must have just felt left out with all the new stuff arriving and wanted some attention. Anyway, the server was powered down to replace the frying UPS.

On startup, one of the mirrored drives had decided to seize and would not go 'ready', effectively freezing the server. What a to-do: I had to disconnect the drive, fire up the (Linux-based) server on one drive, zoom to the nearest PC World, grab a new 320GB SATA drive (we did not have a spare for that), shut down the server, install the drive, boot up, partition the drive and add it to the RAID 1 array. Total downtime? 2 x 15 min periods. Data loss = zero. Array failures? Meh!

Worse time of my life - stepping into PC World, that is!

Ballmer mixed on Windows 7's success

Neil Kay

OS is not as important as it used to be

OK, I don't speak for everyone, but I spend about 80% of my working day in a browser. NO - not looking at pron, but in the Web interfaces of our many business support tools. I check emails regularly and also do some SQL & programming development. I need to do the odd bit of graphical work and sometimes I am in VNC or an RDP session working remotely on a system elsewhere and....that's about it.

My point? Well, the desktop OS is not important for me. I am currently working on a Vista-based PC because I need to know its ins and outs to support our customers, but beyond that, all the tools I need are available in the Linux, Mac or Windows worlds - in fact, I will probably reboot soon and pop back to Fedora Linux.

Yes, there a number of OS-specific apps that I need to use, but not many (there's always Virtualbox!). It's obviously different for others that have specific AV, gaming or development needs, but I expect a serious number of people really could use any OS to do what they need - and if they could remove themselves from the MS-or-die groupthink then it all comes down to functionality and cost. I wonder if there's an OS that you can get for free...hmmm!

Sony pulls plug on cabled power

Neil Kay
Thumb Up

AirGapMax 3000

Now all we need is a can of "Monster Air" with oxygen-rich particles to improve your power transfer and see crisper pictures with cleaner-sounding audio!

Simply spray Monster AirGapMax 3000 in the gap between your television and the power transmitter for 15 seconds before each viewing session, and then once again for 15 seconds every hour.

A full can lasts almost 5 days!!

Only £37 per 500ml can.

iPhone voted UK's 'coolest brand'

Neil Kay

Do not want

Out of the blue our FD received a brand-new, boxed iPhone 3G delivered to his home address - left unsigned-for!! (Maybe an addressing error or some kind of third party fraud attempt?). He thought it was a mistake by us IT bods and, anyway, being a Blackberry sheep he sent it 'back' to our offices, unopened.

We couldn't wait to get rid of it (box still unopened) ASAP, so we contacted O2 and it's gone.

weDon't either - even when they fall in our laps!

Scareware package mimics Windows Blue Screen of Death

Neil Kay

Nice Try...

I was directed to a site the other day via a Google search only to have a 'reasonably convincing' Windows 'app' pop up in my browser and begin to 'scan' c:\, c:\windows etc. and 'discover' numerous trojans that could then be kindly removed by clicking on the pop-up button (leading to installer.exe).

Trouble was, I'm running Fedora 11 and had just not got around to installing NoScript!

Have to say though that the look and feel of the WIndows app was pretty good - albeit it was in a browser window.

BT brings jobs back from India

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Similar Standards?!!!

“This is not about customer service, as the service in our operations around the globe is of very similar standards."

Message from my colleague the other day...

"Some called from BT for you. I think it was about the line you wanted ceased - I think they said it had been done, but I am not sure as I could barely understand a word they said"

/Paris because, like India, she's abroad

Vivitek readies UK debut of world’s first LED Full HD DLP projector

Neil Kay
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Jeez, for that price, I could just buy every seat in the meeting room its own laptop and still have change from £11K

Microsoft's Bing in travel trouble

Neil Kay

[Insert title here]

The similarities ended when Kayak actually found some decent results and Bing said there were no flights for my specified data range and destination.

Carnalpedia: PR possibly premature

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Page Load Error

Looks like something has gone down on Carnalpedia.

/Paris because - Jeez, need you ask?

Who wants a giant poster of the history of Unix?

Neil Kay

Print your own...

In the spirit of Open Source...


(also includes a view of the poster mentioned in the article)

/I can't seem to fit the 40ft one in me coat pocket!

English vocab poised to hit 1m words

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Let me be the first

Let me be the first to offer my deepest contrafibularities at this achievement.

/Paris, because..well..words fail me.

Itanium: 'A special cause for optimism'

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Proof if you need it

Cost of second hand Dell 3250 dual Itanium server on ebay = £50.

Rackmount rails for it = £95.

Yeah, it says something when the rails are worth more than the server.

It's dead, Jim.

PS: Anyone want a Dell 3250....!

/Paris, because she's off the rails too

Bye bye BlackBerry mail

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

'tis a Joke

The need to have a mandatory - chargeable - BIS or BES account just to pick up mail is nothing more than a lock-in to earn additional revenue considering that every man and their dog (except RIM) has managed to somehow squeeze POP/IMAP and SMTP support into their phones. It''s also incongruous to have to hand over to RIM (via Vodafone in our case) our email account logins and passwords so they can go fetch users' message just to shove them down to the phones. Being cynical, I wonder what happens to these emails as they pass through RIM's hands (data mining, anyone?)

Sadly our company Managers and Directors looked no further than the hype and cock-waving 'mystique' of having a Blackberry rather than the practicalities.

Meanwhile in Support, we 'cope' with our HTC Touch Pros picking up our mail, giving us RDP access to our Windows servers, SSH logins to our Linux servers, FTP wifi tools etc.

/Paris, because she probably knows what it's like to get shafted.

eBay officially not cheaper than High Street

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Surely not

Buying a solar-powered phone charger from Hong Kong, receiving a 4-way USB video camera dongle instead and having to argue with the seller that you won't pay the return postage for the wrong item because a) it's their fault and b) Postage is 4x the value of the wrong item.

What's not to like!?

Seriously though - I have got some good, second-hand IT kit (routers, switches, VoIP phones and racks) from ebay but picking known, trusted resellers. Cheap USB chargers from Hong Kong etc. are also usually OK, but for new stuff I'd always check high street prices and availability first and then still seriously avoid ebay unless really certain about the seller.

In about 4 years of dealings on ebay, I've probably saved close to £10K in IT kit, been shafted once for £45 whcih I couldn't reclaim and had to make around £50 of paypal claims so, on balance, it's been worth it.

/paris because she'll accept any best offer. A+++ would use her avatar again.

El Reg nails rooftop 60-ft todger outrage mansion

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Spotted Dick

When I did a search on Google Earth last night it correctly found the property, pinned as 'penis house'

/just sayin

//Paris - as the subject is relevant to her interests

Snacker discovers Nokia phone in crisp packet

Neil Kay

Nom nom nom

3G's and Onion

BT reprograms biz customers as hotspots

Neil Kay

I'd be outraged

We have 10 BT Business broadband accounts in our orgnisation and I have not seen any emails about this.

I suppose I should be outraged, but I flogged the BT hubs on ebay and installed Drayteks instead.

OpenDNS rolls out Conficker tracking, blocking

Neil Kay
Thumb Up

Great Service

What an excellent idea. We use OpenDNS for all our regional sites (34-odd, I've lost count!) and it's a damn fine service as it is, but this is the icing on the cake.

SCO boss to customers: 'Blah. Blah. Blah'

Neil Kay


Hey, SCO has reproduced, in full, the text of my short story 'Dreaming in a meeting'.

That's a copyright violation.

Where do I send the writ?

Silverlight to follow Obama into US presidency

Neil Kay
Thumb Down


Yep, I too discovered that Ryanair's maps now need Silverlight.

I booked with Easyjet.

Nice work there Mr O'Leary.

Sony rallies chums round proprietary standard

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

What are the chances of that?

"Sony" and "Proprietary" in the same sentence?

I'm shocked!

/Paris - because her developments are open to all.

UFO wind turbine prang site sealed

Neil Kay

I have some information

I am currently working on a defence project that involves lightweight, high-speed, unmanned drones made from secret composhkl a[wNO CARRIER

Enterprise VoIP soars despite Meltdown

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Time for a shakedown

It's about time the enterprise and small business telephony market was shaken down/out/whatever and, hopefully some of the sharks that pass for telephone system suppliers will fall by the wayside:

1) I am called by at least 4-5 telephony companies a month promising me a cost-effective system that has free calls round the galaxy and makes toast. They soon bugger off when I tell them about our in-house managed Asterisk system though.

2) A contract expired in July for a 2-line, 5 extension system at one of our branches. This was a site and system we acquired through a buy-out so I had no involvement in speccing the PBX. The system the previous staff were persuaded to buy is monstrously over-specified and the renewal fee to rent it for the next 5 years was £4.5K. I told the suppliers they were having a laugh and to come and pick up the system (giving the required 30 days notice). They were not best pleased - they kept ringing the site AND neighboring ones warning them they were about to be cut off and that their system would be repossessed if they did not sign a new contract. In the end I had to fax the MD of the company involved telling him what I though of his business practices and I copied the fax to the manufacturer for whom they were agents..

The replacement system I put in was a 2-line, 15 handset (max) DECT PBX with an answering machine in the auxillary port. Maintenance contract? Heck no - I just bought a spare system - and still had change from £500. To make matters worse, the company involved is still billing us for monthly maintenance on the old system AND threatening further action or withdrawal of support services for the system - even though we don;t have it any more.

You might guess that I rate phone system suppliers right down there with solicitors, estate agents and copier salespeople.

--Paris as she's handy with extensions.

IT departments VAT-whacked

Neil Kay

Easy Peasy


I can do a whole server in a few mins!

/I'll get me coat!

Linux weaktops poised for death by smartphone

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Oh dear, Ted's had too much caffeine again

I was going to write a few paras on the smart arse support things I can do with my Aspire One and HTC TYTN II smartphone, but I'll just pause to ask when Ted's work experience at El Reg ends.

/Paris - 'cos she'd knock up a more insightful and accurate article.

OpenOffice 3.0 - the only option for masochistic Linux users

Neil Kay

And your objective was...?

So the author has a hall pass that gets his work on El Reg. Beyind that, what was the point of the article? Did he really sit down and think "My work gets published - I must write something that makes me look like an complete and utter twat"?

Yours etc.

//(Typing on my Acer Aspire One with Open Office 3.0 installed.)

////God, that article sucked balls.

////Yes, I am being harsh - but take it on the chin from a veteran IT Magazine freelancer from the 1980-90 season - constructuve criticism, darling.

/////Tux laughts at your amateur ramblings

Bang&Olufsen slices 300 jobs

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Emperor's New Clothes

Yes, they did/do some interesting stuff for people with more money than sense and a hankering for minimalist designs, but - what was it - £225 for a telephone?

Yeah, right.

Paris - because she knows when she's been shafted.

Becta green lights open source software in schools, at last

Neil Kay

Already started

My Son's school hosts all its student work on a Linux server I installed about a year ago - mirrored drives in caddys and a cold-spare system unit all ready to run - and still a fraction of the price RM wanted for a fully-specced/fully licenced Windows-based solution.

Tux trumps Paris, for once.

Vodafone accused of talkingtoofastinradioad

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

But are there any traces of nuts?

Is it actually a legal requirement to add terms to a radio ad anyway or do they all suffer from the fact that 'x' company did it in 1997 and so everyone else thought they'd better too.

Paris, because $RandomParisJustification

Dixons Group still suffering

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton


Overheard at one PCW store: "Oh, yes - it has a dual core processor so the Internet runs faster". I nearly fell into a nearby stack of antivirus software boxes I was laughing so much!!

I went to buy an Acer Aspire One in Chichester a couple of weeks back (Linux model, of course) - they had one on display, but none in stock. They checked Portsmouth for me and the system said they had 5 so the next day I popped over - they had none on display and had 'never heard of it'. 'You have 5 in stock - Chichester checked', I said.

10 mins later and they gave up looking for the stock on their system, phoned Chichester and got the inventory code from them.

Another 10 mins and, hooray, they had found them - and they price matched Dabs. I kindly gave the salesperson an overview of the Acer as he had no knowledge of them at all.

Next week I went back to Chichester to grab a neoprene sleeve for the Acer - there was nothing ideal in stock except for an ill-fitting, generic one that was something like £14.99. In the end I got one off ebay from Hong Kong for £3 + £3.50 carriage.

Paris - because she's had lots of dabs on her over the years.

Microsoft slams 'sensationalist' Vista analysis

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

I'm not rushing

I would imagine that, like myself, quite a few IT professionals first got their hands on Vista not because they consciously bought a copy, but because a laptop or desktop PC came with the damn OS pre-loaded - and then the IT department had to 'upgrade' a PC in order to support their Vista Users.

Sadly, I upgraded my 2 year-old Acer laptop in response to the trickle of Vista-based laptops arriving in our organisation - and it's been grief ever since. First of all the RAM had to go up from 768MB to 1.5GB to get any decent performance (Processor is a 1.5GHz Celeron M), then I had to debug why remote desktop kept stopping working for a few Managers. 50% of the time my display won' t wake up again after screen-saving and then I have to push the power button to go in, then out, of suspend to carry on working.

Heaven help me if Vista downloads an update and wants a reboot because the cycle of: 'out-of-hibernate' -> reboot -> install updates -> maybe reboot again can take the best part of 20 minutes.

I am often left wondering why a simple task, such as checking or changing network configuration, takes twice as many keypresses under Vista (with default configuration) as with XP. My default printer keeps randomly changing and if I lose my wifi connection it can sometimes take a reboot to get it back..I could go on but you get the picture.

I look after around 200 PCs and it'll be a cold day in hell before I take any direct action to upgrade any of them to Vista - and before you wonder what happens when I have 'no choice' because Vista's the only pre-loaded option well - I am looking at a new core app for our business needs (veterinary clinics) that is wholly java-based and will run on a Linux desktop - even on our ageing PII's currently running good-ol' NT4.

--Paris because she probably knows what it's like to have something unwanted thrust upon her.

Vodafone presents punter with £500k phone bill

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

Bleedin Obvious

"Vodafone hasn't yet responded to our request for an explanation as to how the bill came about, or why it took so long to sort out."

Vodafone's Customer Service email system has a special routine in the reply routine:

if ($F_todays_date - $F_creation_date($mail_id) < 2) then





This ensures a consistent 2 day delay before getting a reply to anything.

--Paris: because you used the word 'punter'

Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

Neil Kay
Paris Hilton

It's Maplin

It's Maplin (singular) - always has been.

No doubt the author also plays with Legos?

-- Paris - because she's been buying batteries for her..er..appliances..from Maplin ever since she bankrupted the Tandy battery club.

Becta schools deal stuns British open-istas

Neil Kay


"Who knows, maybe they just made a very, very impressive presentation."

***...Using OpenOffice Impress! ***

Anyone turning up with PowerPoint was probably docked 5 points before they started

Heathrow 777 crash: Siberian cold to blame?

Neil Kay
Thumb Up

That's some good work their Lou

Keep going guys and we're sure to beat the experts to the answer.

Has William Shatner been interviewed yet?

Vodafone bundles mobile data

Neil Kay
Dead Vulture

About bl***y time

Hope they sort out business data access too - we currently limp by with a 100MB data bundle on our group business tariff that costs a whopping £60/month.

Slashdot website down

Neil Kay

Thank god

Thank god it isn't more serious - imagine a beowulf cluster failing.

FBI issues prosthetic pregnant belly bomb alert

Neil Kay
Black Helicopters


All of a sudden this spam I received a while back makes sense:

"By ordering Penis Enlarge Patch, maximize your gains with our most Explosive Package!



The 'blem wit' error messages

Neil Kay

Netware 3.12

Who can forget the immortal:

"Richard Keil Memorial Abend #27"