Friday, January 16, 2009

No To All

In another example of me learning things about Windows 2003 after 6 years of using it and just as we start to move away, I've just learned that there is a No To All button in Windows after all. Not something that kept me up at night, but from time to time I've had to click a No button a few hundred times as I copy stuff into a folder and don't want to overwrite, and I always thought it was an oversight. In fact I seem to remember cursing Windows as I developed cramps pummelling the mouse button few times.

I learn today that you just hold down Shift and click the No button and there you have it, it does a "no to all". Intuitive! Now, who thought it was worth programming that whole feature in but couldn't be bothered to make a button for it I don't know, I'm sure it can't have been that hard to go that extra mile! Thanks to Michael Bird for the tip, years too late as it is!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Create PDFs with Office 2007 for free

Why do some of the best features of Microsoft products have to be download separately (if you know they exist) rather than just coming with the product?! Its as if they keep releasing unfinished software or something.


Anyway, just noticed this fine add-on for Office 2007 - "Microsoft Save As PDF or XPS". Now I might live 100 years before being asked to save something as XPS (I assume its Microsoft's PDF killer...) but the PDF one is damn useful, especially for someone like me who has some serious issues with Adobe Acrobat, a program not much smaller than Office itself now.

Jacqui Smith to end privacy for our own sake

In story which appears to have sneaked out with far less fanfare than what amounts to the Death Of Liberty (too much?) would deserve, the government is intending to create a monster database of every phone call, text, email and website visit in the UK. Apparently, these details will be kept for 12 months and the system is estimated to cost a whopping £12 billion (so presumably it will cost about double that). I have a couple of concerns about this:
  • We do live in a free society, don't we? Not content with filming us every time we leave our homes the Government want to track everything we type while in them. I am "not happy" with this.
  • It won't work. The bigger the Government IT project, the more likely it is to never be delivered.
  • Its a waste of billions of pounds? £12 billion between the population of the UK is £200 each. Can I just have the £200 and you agree not to track my every move? Actually, include my whole household and make it £800.
  • I have to come back to the whole freedom and privacy thing. Its worth saying twice. This is wrong.
  • IF it worked, the possibility of a laptop with all my emails and texts and web surfing history being left on a train or sold on eBay or something is just a bit too real.
The usual arguments about stopping criminals and terrorists will be trotted out of course, but fitting 1984 style surveillance into every home in the country could be justified on these grounds. You have to draw a line somewhere, and this is way over any reasonable placing of that line.

This was all announced in November, the new bit to this story is that our wonderful home secretary Jacqui Smith has now proposed that this nightmare Orwellian project be outsourced to a private contractor to reduce costs. So now on top of everything else it will all be handled by the lowest bidder, probably not even a UK company. Not that I'm saying I trust the Govenment with this information either you understand, but this does sound worse.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

UK Police allowed to hack into your PC

Apparently the police are now allowed to hack into our PCs without a warrant.

This is usually achieved by injecting key-logging software or sending Trojans in emails to acquire internet browsing and email habits and is generally referred to by the fluffy sounding "remote searching.

And when I say "The Police", apparently this includes Police from elsewhere in the EU being able to get permission from the UK Police to hack PCs here. While I have as little to hide from the Spanish police as I do from Her Majesty's Constabulary, this is murky stuff.