My Desk

My desk at work. Which merely confirms my suspicion that I'm a hardware hoarder. First off, there's a Dell Optiplex GX260 (2.4 GHz P4, 1 GB of RAM, Intel 82845G graphics controller), running Windows XP SP2 ...

Dell Optiplex GX 260

Windows RDP and the Network Swiss Army Knife

Consider the following scenario for a moment; you have a home network, hooked up to a broadband connection. You've done your homework and have a firewall with little or no inbound access. You're like thousands of other people and have a Windows PC running XP Home or XP Professional. You'd like to be able to get at your Windows PC when you're at work but you don't want to let all of those script kiddies at your network, and besides you've heard bad things about letting a Windows PC loose on the internet.

Enter the swiss army knife of the network; SSH. That's the Secure SHell, not a polite request to shut up. Here's what to do ...

John Peel’s Demographic Was Wider Than You Thought

Alison bought me John Peel's (semi) autobiography The Margrave Of The Marshes for Christmas, which was a superb present as the venerable Mr. Peel was responsible for the formation of a sizeable percentage of my musical tastes.

Competing with The Margrave was an unofficial biography, John Peel: A Life In Music by Michael Heatley, which was offered up as one of the "if you like this then you might like this" choices by

Interview with

Some people are sufficiently well quoted that they have their very own press cuttings folder, some are not. I'm definately in the latter category but I have been interviewed by's Jay Lyman about cross platform development, as a result of my current employer's use of MainSoft's Visual MainWin.

Despite my involvement they actually published it in the IT Manager's Journal and it can be read in all of its' glory here with an unsanctioned mirror below.

Interview with

NewForge Logo ThumbnailAlthough both and the company I used to work for, FormScape Software, are now both defunct, I was interviewed by Jay Lyman about cross platform engineering practices for NewsForge’s IT Manager’s Journal. It’s reproduced here as an un-sanctioned mirror.

Latest Musings

It's not often that I have to struggle to finish a book but it's taken me over a month to finally reach the end of Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln's The Messianic Legacy, which is supposedly a sequel to The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail.

The original was a work of genius; I didn't believe a word of it but it was as plausible as most politician's platitudes and it played to the inate conspiracy theorist inside me.

The sequel is nowhere near as controversial as the dust jacket would have you believe; unless it's controversial that the authors actually got paid for their work. This isn't a sequel. It isn't even a coherent book. It's three disparate sections, bound as a single volume, and which have a, sometimes tenuous, connection to THBATHG.

The BSD on Alpha HOW-NOT-TO

New hardware, new operating system. I'd managed to get hold of a DEC Personal Workstation 433a, which housed a 433 MHz Alpha processor and decided that this was an ideal machine to test out the various flavours of BSD.

Both FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD support the Alpha chip in a variety of hardware configurations so I figured this would be a good learning opportunity.

The machine in question hails from the time when DEC were in a very tenous partnership with Microsoft and DEC produced 2 variants of the Personal Workstation (aka the PWS or the Miata). Each PWS was named according to the speed of the Alpha chip it contained and whether it was targeted at running Microsoft's 64-bit port of Windows NT on Alpha, or running DEC's own OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX operating systems.

For example, the PWS 500au was a 500 MHz box designed for OpenVMS and Tru64, whilst the PWS 433a was a 433 MHz box destined for Windows NT.

One important thing to remember is that the PWS is most definately not a PC, however the external look may decieve you.

This Week’s Musings

Two ways to make money. The first, find a stray rabbit and ransom it on the net; give me $50,000.000 or I eat the rabbit. If you've got any spare cash then Toby's owner would love to hear from you.

The second way is software licenses. Windows licenses to be exact. Microsoft has finally started to come clean on its strategy of licensing Windows. Which you can read about in all of its patronising glory here. Or you can read another version of the same information here. Which would be funny if it wasn't so damn accurate.

The bottom line is, want to run Windows cough up your cash. Cough it up quickly in a large sum or more slowly in smaller sums, it's all the same. Time to start thinking about making a business case for Linux or BSD.

Conspiracy Theory … Or Not?

Last week I suffered a major hardware failure. We're talking catastrophic failure here; a drive which does nothing but emit plaintive clicking noises and which won't even show up in the BIOS.

The drive which failed hosts this web site. Backup? Well, you're amongst the poor deluded few who actual read this, so yes there was a backup.

This is good.

iPod and Windows - Eventually

I recently got my hands on a 3rd generation 15 Gb iPod, thanks to my wife buying me one as a birthday present. Not having access to a Mac (at the time; this has all changed since I wrote this post originally) meant it would have to be connected to a Windows box, which hasn't been an easy path to follow.

I wanted to try out the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), which meant installing and managing the iPod through iTunes, which is only available for the Mac or for Windows, which meant I was restricted on my choice of hardware, most of which runs some form of Linux or BSD distribution.

As far as Windows machines were concerned I had a choice of either a desktop machine, a Dell Dimension 8200, running Windows XP Professional SP1, with a 2.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor and 512 Mb of RAM or a laptop, a Dell Latitude D600, running Windows XP Professional SP1, with a 1.6 Mhz Intel Pentium processor and 512 Mb of RAM.