Wednesday 24 December 2008

Festive greetings from South America

Hello and good morning (or afternoon for those elsewhere in the world).

I just thought that I'd wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I'm really going to miss the UK since this will be my first proper Christmas away from home. All that turkey and all the trimmings, alongside meeting up with the relatives and of course the legendary Boxing Day down at John and Jacqui's.

Tonight we're off to Ale's sister's house for a knees-up. although I don't think it will quite match what I've come to expect of Christmas. Here, there is more of a tendency to celebrate on Christmas Eve (BuenaNoche) rather than Christmas Day as we do in Blighty.

I've not been able to send any presents this year due to a) JB still being out of work and b) not having the necessary faith in Uruguay's postal system and/or Customs (Aduana).

I sincerely hope everyone has a great Christmas, and as you all know - I am ready to field any support calls over the festive period. I'm sure people will be getting lots of tech gifts ;-)

Skype uid is johnnyboydotcc



Saturday 20 December 2008

Sneaky Windows - automatic updates turned back on?

I note that a few of the PCs that I support have had their Automatic Updates turned back on to fully automatic recently. They were then hit again with the nonsensical WGA (Windows Genuine DISAdvantage) tool that incorrectly declares that the PC in question has non-genuine software installed.

Now I know this to be false, and have been able to remove this heinous piece of nagware from the PCs, only to find out it gets installed again. Automagically - good old Microsoft.

So a word of advice - if you do need to use the removewga.exe tool, first check that Automatic Updates aren't set to full autopilot or you will end up going round and round in circles.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Thursday 4 December 2008

AVG8 not working properly?

Something about Invalid CTF file?

Please do the following:

Click on Start, then Run

Type cmd in the box and press return.

Copy the following text and paste it into the box:

del "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\avg8\update\download\*.ctf"

Try running the update again and it should now complete successfully!!


Monday 1 December 2008

ACL permissions - unable to delete file?

I recently came up against a problem after backing up a client's PC to an external HDD. I use this storage for my Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex) system, and after doing some file maintenance, I saw that there was a folder that couldn't be deleted, even by root.

Permissions were set correctly but that wouldn't have mattered anyway since I was logged in as root. I couldn't remove the file by using the INODE trick so I ventured back into the world of Windows XP.

After some rooting around hehe I managed to find a forum post detailing a very quick 2 line cmd file that reset the permissions on the file/folder from a Windows perspective. This led me on to an improved version of similar software that had been written by a guy named Chieh Cheng, released under the GPL:

His scripts enable you to simply drag and drop a file/folder on to the script and then gain control by changing/resetting the permissions. His scripts were an absolute godsend and enabled me to reset and delete the folder in question. I have a feeling that the folder in question may have been created by a trojan/virus on the client's PC.

Hope this helps if you get stuck in the same situation.

Friday 28 November 2008 - a beaut of a perl script

I've recently been looking at a perl script called

To give you some background, the BBC offers the iplayer service online. Normally it would involve downloading and installing a Windows client program, selecting the TV/radio programs you want to watch/listen to and then playing the programs with either the inbuilt media player or (horror of horrors) Windows Media Player.

Now, I don't use Windows so therefore this is a pain. Why should I be excluded simply because I use the operating system of my choice (Ubuntu 8.10)?

An enterprising individual called Phil Lewis has created a perl script which basically does all the groundwork for you. It has been an absolute godsend since it can run as a cron job, and remembers what you downloaded. The perl script mimics the Jesus phone (iPhone) by downloading the H.264 stream and saving it to your hard disk.

Ubuntu - blank screen on boot fixed

I'm very happy now that I've managed to fix this very irritating problem. I have an Acer laptop rigged up to an external LG 17" monitor and every time I 'normal' boot, I see the usual Ubuntu logo and then just about when you would naturally expect to see the desktop - nothing. Nada.

I've been resorting to playing around in recovery mode, using xfix, removing all xorg.conf type files and rebuilding/rebooting numerous times to no avail. lspci revealed the ATI Express Radeon 200 adapter so that wasn't the fault.

I traced it back to the compiz app that was installed. I simply removed it with the following:

sudo aptitude remove compiz compiz-core

Now my desktop greets me every time I login, what bliss. Compiz should certainly be your first port of call if you have blank screen problems like I did.


Thursday 27 November 2008

Octal permissions from a shell

I recently had the chance to resurrect a script from my HP-UX days which listed not only the usual human-readable drwx type permissions, but the octal permissions as well. Very useful when you're trying to teach someone about UNIX file permissions.

Here's a simple one liner that could be set as an alias or incorporated in a script. Personally I have mine created as a script called lsj, as shown below:

ls -l | awk '{k=0;for(i=0;i<=8;i++)k+=((substr($1,i+2,1)~/[rwx]/)*2^(8-i));if(k)printf("%0o ",k);print}'

An absolute gem to be honest and very useful. Works fine on Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex - korn shell).

Looking to get it working so it will display all 4 octal values i.e. SETUID and SETGID, plus the sticky bit. More later.

PS3 dead - again

What else needs to be said.

The PS3 shut down a couple of times yesterday in a spurious fashion, before finally giving up the ghost once and for all. It's what is termed affectionately as the yellow light of death. There seems to be quite a few videos on YouTube with the exact same behaviour so I'm not alone.

Turn power on, red light.

Press power button, fans whoosh, green light, yellow light, red light - 3 short beeps.

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that after a call to Sony in the UK, they are prepared to replace my 60Gb PS3 with another one, even though the unit is out of warranty.I bought the PS3 in April 2007 so this is one hell of a goodwill gesture on Sony's part!

I've been the proud owner of the original Playstation, a slimline PS2 and the first PSP. So I must admit, it has troubled me that the PS3 has been this unreliable.

The bad news is I face a wait of a couple of months. The reason being, Customs here tend to view items like this as items you have to pay import duty on - as if you are bringing the unit into the country to sell, and deprive the government of funds. Not so in my case, and last time I left the country, I had to obtain a special letter from the Customs people (Aduana) to enable me to take the PS3 back to Britain and return without it being impounded.

I may send the unit back to my parents via DHL/FedEx, and Sony UK will then arrange for a courier to pickup/replace my beloved PS3. I'll probably have to wait until friends come over from the UK in January before I see the PS3 again :-(

Tuesday 18 November 2008


I must be at that stage of life where people buy useful rather than exciting presents for my birthday.

That was certainly the case when I unwrapped a huge box the other day, only to discover it was in fact a bread making machine. It was left on the side for a few days before I summoned up the enthusiasm to go and buy some fresh yeast, or levadura as they call it over here.

Three hours later, and I was in possession of a spectacular loaf of bread. Simply one of the best kitchen appliances money can buy. Apart from a dishwasher, of course.

A film to watch

I was hoofing through the channels the other night on TV and came across Elizabethtown, which was a film starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. I've seen a few photos of Orlando Bloom and saw qualities that reminded me of my brother Mark.

Well, watching the film was a revelation. There are several spots in the film where he just looks SO much like Mark. It's uncanny.

Friday 14 November 2008

More interviews and a birthday

Yes, I was 41 on Monday. And of all things best not to do on your birthday, I had two interviews lined up!

The first was with some foreign exchange trading company, based in the exotic location of Montevideo's very own World Trade Center [sic] complete with two mini twin towers. I kid you not...

The first interview was a complete pigs ear due to the fact that they hadn't done their homework. I arrived in good time (in other words, I was early) and proceeded to sit around for 10 minutes in a holding room where Bloomberg TV was blaring out. It was my first real taste of money and I had a good feeling about the office environment. My hopes were dashed after another 10 minute wait in the boardroom when 2 power-dressed women walked in and started babbling away in their native Spanish. With my best puppy dog eyes and a blurted phrase 'Can we speak in English please?', I then discovered that the position was for Spanish and English - although I had pointed out that I only spoke English when I applied for the post. A complete and utter waste of time, and not very professional on their part. I left the office smiling and walked out into the sunshine to meet up with Ale.

The second interview was just across the road for a much smaller company that provided server solutions (goodness - I hate that phrase). The position was for a Solaris (UNIX) administrator to oversee the installation of IT equipment for a client. It all went very well so fingers crossed. Bearing in mind the wheels of industry tend to turn at a slower rate than walking pace here, I will have to wait and see.

Birthday boy had some friends round that evening. One of my prezzies of all things was a breadmaker. Superb! I've always hated the rubbish they produce here that turns to dust when you whack it in the toaster. So I'm going to start experimenting and see if it can make something resembling a 'split-tin' ;-)

That's it for now - off to play with my Puppy Lighthouse linux install on my laptop.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Weekend away in Colonia del Sacramento

We went to Colonia at the weekend. Ale had booked it up about a month ago, and I knew she was looking forward to it as much as me.

Colonia is an old town, with lots of picturesque old buildings and homes. Most of the side streets are cobbled, some more so than others. And when I say some more so than others, the most striking examples have some real ankle-killer stones laid out in a haphazard fashion. I think these streets must be at least 200 years old and Colonia has some real history with evidence of both the Portuguese and Spanish in abundance.

Driving into Colonia is pleasant on the eye, with the last 10km of road lined by massive old palm trees. Life is lived at a slow pace, and the speed limits drop progressively on arrival. You simply cannot drive any faster than 15-20 km/h or all your fillings will come out. This is is no way criticism of the place, it's what makes it what it is!

When you are there, you have a feeling of security and peace. No more car alarms or barking dogs that grind you down when in Montevideo. We walked the streets on a guided tour, and spent some time just exploring. We also went up inside a lighthouse, but I think that Ale is regretting that right now. The 120 steps it took to reach the top have come back to haunt her and her legs hurt. Thankfully, I'm not afflicted in the same way, hopefully because of my old cycling legs ;-)

We stayed at a beautiful 'lounge' hotel right in the centre of the old town. It was an excellent place to stay and thoroughly recommended. Take a look at their website here

Saturday 1 November 2008

Uruguay makes an entrance on the BBC website!

I've told many friends about the good old Fray Bentos canned meat pies we used to have in the 70's, and most didn't know that Fray Bentos is indeed a town in a Uruguay.

and more specifically here:

Fray Bentos - a town in Uruguay

See? I told you so....

Sunday 26 October 2008

Ten-pin bowling supremo

Ale and I met up with some friends last night and hit the bowling alley here in Montevideo.

After some nosebag i.e. the usual chivito, the bowling started in earnest. Now I must point out that they do things differently here, because all the bowling alleys looked strangely bereft of any lighting whatsoever. Even more worrying was the fact that some of the bowling balls were fluorescent and the icing on the cake was when a smoke machine starting pumping loads of guff everywhere.

The smoke machine only seemed to start chucking out thick clouds when it was ME taking my go. I did suspect that someone had had a 'word' with the manager and it was all a conspiracy to put me off my stride. Well, those cunning Montevideans failed in their plan, if there ever was one, of course.

After an initial shaky start where I lost the first match, I won the second match by a small margin. By this time, a couple of people weren't playing and the final game started with the score at 1-1 (one for me, and one for a guy called Nacho Mullin). This game I was on fire, and I got 3 strikes and 5 spares. My total rocketed upwards and I ended the game on an all-time best of 167!!!

It's now early Sunday morning as I write this, and as usual, Ale is inspecting her eyelids. We have the christening for Magui and Nacho's son Nicolas today so I'll probably post back here with a few pictures later.

P.S. Since the clocks went back last night in the UK, it is now officially only 2 hours difference (UK 13:40, URU 11:40)

Saturday 25 October 2008

PS3 media server for Ubuntu

Yay! I finally found a similar application to stream media to my PS3.

I used to use TVersity which is an excellent application, but unfortunately - they don't support Linux aka Ubuntu yet. Since I use Ubuntu as my primary operating system of choice, I was without my music collection of 18 Gb worth of stuff.

I found out about Mediatomb via the Ubuntu forums and promptly installed it via:

sudo aptitude install mediatomb

Server GUI runs on port 49152 on my system, and the server itself on port 49153. After a quick bit of configuration which involved setting the directories that needed to be scanned i.e. recursive MP3 paths, I was up and running. The mighty PS3 picked up the new media server without even scanning, so I assume this is done automagically.

Mediatomb set itself to automatically run on boot, which I was able to verify by popping in to the Webmin server config page.

I'll post back with any anomalies I may discover, but hopefully it will be all plain sailing from now on. What an excellent piece of open-source software!


Tuesday 21 October 2008

The legendary IceMan aka Ian Pinder

I recently managed to get in contact with Ian Pinder, who was also known as the Iceman. Ian's car back in the days was a brown Cortina that was filled to the brim with Earthquake subs and literally blew me away. Whilst most of the other nutters in souped-up cars seemed to spend loads of money getting Carlos Fandango wheels and drainpipe exhausts fitted to their silly little Vauxhall Novas/Corsas, the big guy simply turned up in his Cortina and blew them into the weeds.

I used to go to both the Chelsea cruise and also the one at Dartford - which then became the Lakeside cruise. I must point out that this was years ago, say around 1994-1996. It was all good-natured and there was no trouble, and I really enjoyed it. My car at the time was a Honda Prelude '89 4WS which had been lowered to sit on the floor.

Going back to Ian's car, the sound emanating from this beast really struck a chord with me since I loved the low low bass it was producing but so many cars seem to be either hard mid-bass or loads of tweeters sounding like lasers going off. The situation would normally be that you'd hear the plank coming in his Escort RS Turbo because of the shrieking tsk tsk coming out of his windows, just as he came around the corner. With the Iceman's car, it simply came from nowhere (bass being omnidirectional) like a great big scary monster. Hugely powerful and the only thing I've heard since that came anywhere close was the Cerwin Vega van at the IASCA finals in Dallas, back in '96.

I've since discovered that his latest project puts out around 30,000 watts - perhaps I'll get the chance to see it (or perhaps more importantly - feel it) when I next return to the UK.

As a certain Sacha Baron-Cohen would say, REESPEK

johnnyboy dot cc domain now all OK

I've managed to sort the problems out with my domain, and everything is now working perfectly again so I can afford to breathe a sigh of relief.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Email rejections on

I've no idea why but in the last 2 or 3 days I have been receiving rejections when emails are being sent to my domain. I've raised this with Support at Virgin and hope to get it resolved soon. Please send any emails to my arsenal at adinet dot com dot uy address (email address is obfuscated to stop bots from picking it up, so please reconstruct it replacing the word dot with an actual dot)

I have already changed things at my domain forwarding service to point to another email address so it should resolve itself automagically in the next few hours, dependent on when the change goes through obviously.


Friday 17 October 2008

Queenborough No. 3

I spoke with my parents yesterday, after they had arrived back from a trip on their narrowboat which is moored in Northants somewhere. It was previously based at Stoke Golding but the trip always took a good few hours so they made the decision recently to moor it closer to home. Whenever anyone makes mention of the 'barge' to me in conversation, I always hastily correct them - it's a narrowboat, not a barge. It reminds of of one of my old teachers (Bill Linton) at school who used to fly into an incandescent rage and stated that it was a ship, not a boat.

Anyway I digress as usual. The main reason for posting was to attach the following picture, which I think perfectly shows a lovely autumnal scene, taken from the stern of Queenborough No.3 at Stoke Bruerne, and it was taken during the last couple of days when my parents had some friends stay over on the boat - Brian and Helen Hipgrave.

For those of you that don't know, Queenborough was named after the place on the Isle of Sheppey where my dear Nan and Granddad used to live.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Clown in a Jeep

This one is a classic.

Spotted this old Jeep which had seen better days after travelling back from one of Ale's mum's apartments in the Prado area of Montevideo. When I first saw it, I thought it was on a kerb - the listing was so bad. Anyway, that was nothing.

It pulled away and when we caught up with it at the next junction, the full horror story was revealed. Anyone who reads this blog knows full well my disdain at the decrepit motors on the roads over here. Some of them are just totally rusty, most don't have legal exhausts (if one at all) and as for lights? I give up.

Well, this one was no exception. With an exhaust loud enough to make your ears bleed profusely.

Anyway - I digress. As you can no doubt see from the picture, the Jeep was leaning heavily to one side. The offside rear suspension was totally mullered and just waiting to violently snap. When we got closer, I was amazed to see not 2 people but at least 6 or 7 people jammed into this thing. The only thing I've seen more dangerous is the old pizza bike delivery drivers who seem to excel in driving around with no lights on. If it's a personal choice, then I'd have to question their sanity....


Saturday 4 October 2008

A cinema visit

After an early evening walk along the rambla, we had a phone call from Majo suggesting we went to see a film. After taking a quick peek at the MovieCenter website (apologies for the spelling but it's very Americanised here, or should I say Americanized) - we decided on a film from the UK.

Called 'Death at a funeral', it was a comedy based on the events surrounding a middle-class funeral in a slightly posh area of England, somewhere near Crawley - IF that's possible. Notable characters included the delectable Daisy Donovan (of 11 o'clock Show fame), Kris Marshall (My Family and those bleeding BT ads) and a dwarf! Best performance was from Simon, who was playing Daisy Donovan's fiancee in the film. You'll have trouble believing that he's natively Texan.

It was hilarious and I felt intensely proud that British humour had managed to cross the Atlantic and keep the crowd in the cinema laughing or gasping all the way through. Top stuff.

It was subtitled in Spanish so there were a few moments where the audience started laughing either before or after me, but that's something you get used to. All in all, well recommended.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Holiday over, now back in Montevideo

I was back in the UK for a whole month. Spent most of my time guzzling the world's resources by lumping petrol in the Audi V8 hehe.

I did manage to meet up with Alden for the usual chicken lunch session, and also Paul Connor and Mark Debruin.

On the work front, I've had varying degrees of success. One job for Sabre Airline Services in 2nd line Tech Support wasn't offered to me as I was TOO experienced whatever that means. A back-handed compliment I think! Another job is mine for the taking at an English Language institute here in Nueva Helvecia/Montevideo ( but it's relatively poor money.

My last hedged bet is with Tata, but with the outsourcing arm called Tata Consultancy Services. They operate here in which is a free trade zone with lots of tax perks. The job is affectionately titled VI Analyst which sounds suitably noncey and I went for the interview and landed the job, on a good salary. This all kicked off the day before I left for the UK, so I was told they needed to approach the client (Johnson & Johnson, US) to gain authorisation. End of story, or so I thought. After a month of lazy shenanigans in the UK, I emailed them on my return to be met with the reply that they were waiting for an Oracle DBA so my job is on hold.

Forgive me for sounding pedantic, but when someone rings you and offers you the job and you accept, then surely you start work? Call me an old-fashioned Luddite if you want, but is it meeee???? hehehe

Highlight of my week is going to be meeting up with 5 English people who've made the trip to Uruguay. I think Ale wants me to welcome them with open arms and make them cups of tea ;-)

That's all for now.

Friday 19 September 2008

Huge bumble bee

Spotted this monster whilst staying at my parents house. I thought it was a Chinook flying overhead until I actually realised it was just a bee. Absolutely huge thing it was...

Thursday 11 September 2008

How to remove that annoying AVG8 notification window

Open a command prompt box by clicking on Start, then Run and then type cmd (hit Enter)

Copy the following text and then paste into the black box you have on screen and press the Enter key twice.

ren "C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8\avgmwdef_us.mht" "C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8avgmwdef_us.mht.bak"
ren "C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8\avgresf.dll" "C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8\avgresf.dll.bak"

Et voila! No more annoying pop-down windows for you to spoil the view.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Queenborough 3

I've been up to see Mum and Dad's boat today, as it was having a new cratch cover fitted. That's the bit at the front of the narrowboat, for those of you who are unaware what a cratch is....

Had a spot of lunch at the local pub - perfect - and then on to meet up with the people who had travelled down to fit the cratch cover. My back now hurts since I've driven my dad's Clio now for over 200 miles hehe ;-)

Thursday 4 September 2008

AVG 8 update failing with 'Invalid CTF file error'

Try this method instead:

Click on Start, then Run and copy the following text and paste it into the box:

del "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\avg8\update\download\*.ctf"

Try running the update again and it should now complete successfully!!


Monday 1 September 2008

Back in Blighty

Well, my 6 months was up and I managed to get my ticket booked and sorted within a day or so. All I had to do was go and collect my PlayStation3 from the menders (the 2nd one in as many weeks) and jump on the plane.

My trip was supposed to be with TAM which is a Brazilian airline, and routed through Sao Paulo and onto London. We somehow managed to miss this booking, and got an Iberia flight instead. More expensive, and the initial leg was MVD to Madrid which took nearly 13 hours. In my view that's an enormously long time to be over a vast expanse of water such as the Atlantic!

I arrived after an 11 hour delay and was met by my parents - it was great to see them again. Almost immediately, I was greeted by the sight of all the lovely new motors on the roads, and even saw an Audi S5 in the airport car park. There was a funny moment outside the airport where my Mum and Dad ingratiated themselves with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who was ahtside, havin a faaaag ;-) He's quite a thesp, but rolled back into a rather heavy Irish accent when my Dad made a joke about the situation.

I've already been down to pick my Audi A8 up from Benenden, where it was being stored by a friend. I took Claudia with me, so she could see a bit of the English countryside. Claudia is the sister of Gaby Russo, and she is Uruguayan. She was staying with my parents for a week in order to arrange further accommodation in Kilburn, and my kind parents offered to put her up in the meantime. After seeing virtually no sun all week, Claudia was most happy when Saturday turned into an archetypal English summer's day. It was very pleasant.

My old motor hadn't been started for 6 months, but after a quick hook-up to my sister's Honda Civic Sport and it started first time. Very impressive. Not so impressive was the fact that half of the car looked like it had been resprayed for some reason! I think there are a few questions that need answering on that subject.... Later that afternoon, there was a traditional wedding at St George's Church in Benenden, and we saw a couple of vintage cars namely a Lagonda and an MG.

I'm now splitting my time between Sue and Ian's, and my parents. Sue is the mother of Hannah, and Hannah is my god-daughter.I'm hopefully going to meet up with some more friends this week as I am now officially mobile.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Golden Brits at the Olympics

I cannot believe how well we have done at this year's Olympic games in Beijing, China.

We've achieved the best medal tally for over 100 years which is certainly something to shout about! We're currently in 3rd place on the medals tables, second only to China and the USA.

UUPDATE at 15:14 (GMT): Christine Ohuruogu has just won another gold for the women's 400m. Stunning run, and she came from nowhere...

Go Britain !!!

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Cats and dogs

I've always wondered why there are so many dogs and so few cats in this city.

Perhaps it's because cats aren't that good at guarding people's property in the way that dogs are supposed to. Mind you, having said that - the amount of barking you hear all day long along with the car alarms reminds me very much of 'Peter and the Wolf' syndrome. You hear so much of it that your mind becomes numb to it all that when you do hear someone's alarm going off, or a dog barking, then you just think it's usual.

Anyway, on to the far more interesting story of cats. Or cat to be precise. Since I have a lot of free time and essentially spend a lot of it looking out of the windows, I've struck up a long distance relationship with a cat. Well, it's about 30 ft to be more precise. As you can see from the photo, there is a black cat that sits watching by the drain on the corner of our street, Luis Lamas. He's obviously waiting for a rat or similar creature to pop its head out so he can have some dinner. I love that cat! Hours of painstaking work. He doesn't move.

And on to the subject of dog walkers. This has always irked me since I fail to understand why the dogs need to be walked in the first place. You buy the dog and you walk the dog. You don't fob it off on to someone else to do. That's called responsibility and it's something inherent with the whole idea of having a dog.

Enough of my social rant. I normally get to hear about the exploits of a local dog walker, who seems to think that taking dogs for a walk (and extracting money from the owners for doing so) doesn't actually involve walking the dogs. What a novel concept! This lazy bleeder arrives at the corner of the street we live on, and then proceeds to tie up all his dogs to the lamp posts. Last time I heard all the dogs barking, I took a picture of them all.

He then sods off down the road for about 15 mins and leaves the dogs barking their tits off. Not only that but with dogs being dogs, one of them started humping one of the others. So not only are the owners being short-changed, one of them is going to be the proud owner of a set of puppies, whether they like it or not. Shameful behaviour.

I've a good mind to follow this clown one day, and after he has dropped the dog at the owner's house and left, I'll knock on the door and show them the pictures of their dog being 'walked'. I don't think I'll need to tell them in Spanish for them to get the whole picture!

Saturday 9 August 2008

Indian curry King and Queen of Montevideo!

Hello all.

Last night we took part in the curry contest organised by the Montevideo Players society in Acevedo Diaz. Quite a few people turned up, around 30 at my estimate and the competition was fierce - the same as some of the curries!

Entry #1 was some kind of sweet concoction, with pineapple. Rather poor in my opinion.

Entry #2 took my breath away, as it was chilli-ed up with some real bite. Interesting as it contained apple, and even more interesting - bananas. This was the entry from John, the Scot we've met recently.

Entry #3 was typical of a 1980's interpretation of an Indian curry, complete with the requisite sultanas. Quite pleasant, although it reminded me of the Vesta curries my Dad used to have ;-)

Entry #4 was pretty good. Not much to describe, but medium hot.

Entry #5 was our concoction. I'd prepared the onion, garlic and freshly grated ginger. Ale seasoned the chicken with some rogan josh mix and garam masala, then some fresh cream. It all came together well, although we had to reduce it somewhat. In other words, I spent 20 mins continually stirring it until it had thickened to the required consistency.

After much deliberation and the comment by the judges that this year's contest was one of the closest, first prize went to:

John and Ale !!! Yippeeee !!!!

We won a meal for two at a restaurant in Carrasco.

Pictured above right is Ale receiving the mortar and pestle cup, from Jack - the president of the Montevideo Players society. It shall be engraved in due course, although we'll have to think up a name as per previous winners (Nehru/Gandhi etc.)

Monday 4 August 2008

No sirens but fun all the same

Posted this just so everyone reading the blog can have a laugh at my expense!

The picture taken by my Dad shows the old Bedford CA ambulance we used to have. In the picture, you can see my sister Claire, my brother Mark, me - and in the background, my Mum in the ambulance itself. The dog laying down on the grass is our Pyrenean mountain dog called Belle. Anyone my age will easily remember the legendary children's TV programme "Belle and Sebastian" on BBC2. Hence the dog's name.

My Dad purchased the ambulance from a garage in Clapham (or Clarm if you're posh) and set about converting it by putting in beds etc. One of our major adventures was touring Europe in the early 70's and getting as far as Denmark! How wild and crazy is that? Some of my earliest memories include:

  • Sleeping overnight in Antwerp and watching car transporters
  • Eating chips with mayonnaise somewhere in Holland
  • Meeting up with a friend of Mum's called Elke, in Munster - Germany
  • Eating rhubarb with a liberal coating of sucrose somewhere after I complained about the taste, and my Mum duly tipping the sugar bowl all over my red stringy dessert
  • Teefing some sugar beet from a local farmer's field ;-)
  • And the best - visiting the original Legoland in Billund, Denmark - complete with a trip up in an aeroplane. Very exciting for a young Johnnyboy I can assure you!

We were the local celebrities when we turned up to school in that Bedford. I feel a wave of nostalgic British pride as I look back at that photo to see the Union flag above the windscreen. Ingenious idea by my Dad to replace the previous AMBULANCE lettering!

The picture doesn't show that the Bedford was actually painted two-tone purple and white, very 70's I feel. I loved that vehicle.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Wanton violence in Montevideo

Last night we were the victims of some nutter on a motorbike.

I've always learnt that you should look both ways when pulling out of a side turning, and I look again just to make sure. It's a good habit I picked up from my father a long time ago. I'd spotted a moped coming from our right and warned Ale. I also saw a motorbike at some distance, so after we'd pulled away I said to her that someone was woofing it down the road at a great rate of knots. He was flying.

I didn't think anything more about it until I suddenly became aware of the motorbike rider pulling alongside Ale's window, and he booted the door good and hard. He accelerated away along Jose Ellauri until he got to the traffic lights. At a distinct disadvantage here, I egged Ale on to pull around the waiting cars so we were doubled up at the lights. I managed to get a flash photo of the cretin at the lights and that's when he legged it on his motorbike. I think he thought at that point he'd got away with it, until he got caught at the next set of lights - at which point, I jumped out and shall we say, remonstrated with him [Post censored due to the fact my parents might be reading this]. I don't think he'd seen me as I was wearing a black jacket in the car, and my head literally scrapes the roof of that poxy Chevrolet Celta (Vauxhall Corsa in the UK).

We 'persuaded' him to follow us to the police station, where we gave a statement. Ale didn't think that much would be done about it but the guy was driving with no front head lights. HELLO? If it wasn't for my sharp-eyed reactions in the first place, he could already be one of the accident statistics here.

What a clown. To cap it all, he started getting all airy with the police, who then ushered him away into a back room. Good riddance to Mr 'SEL 861'. If I ever see his bike again at the side of the road, he will mysteriously suffer from a puncture. Or two.

Where is everybody?

I''ll certainly admit that I'm unable to see good old Blighty from here in Montevideo, even on a fine sunny day. Even Buenos Aires isn't within reach. However, I can't see a blinking thing recently, as we seem to have been cursed with fog over the last two days or so.

Dank is one word that springs to mind, and that's a word not often used in the English language.

I sit here awaiting news about a possible job offer, and the weather seems to fit my mood ;-)

At least it seems to deaden the effect of all the noise coming out of the cars, which for some reason over here tend to have blown exhausts 50% of the time. Perhaps the owners need their earwax removed. More than likely, they're simply tone deaf or don't give a flying ....

Grey JB

KDE and Gnome on Ubuntu

For those of you that don't know, these are the names of the two desktops that are primarily in use on Ubuntu. KDE used to be more Windows-like in it's appearance but my view on that has changed a lot since I've installed/tested KDE4.

KDE4 now looks like a toy desktop with oversized icons, and poor response speed. Goodness knows what the developers were thinking when they released this. I've quickly purged all of KDE from my system and I now run exclusively with Gnome, with Compiz enabled.

Compiz allows me to manage my desktop in a rather nice graphical way. For example, I have 4 workspaces available which I can switch to and from, and the transition between different workspaces (or desktops, if you want to call them that) is handled by some rather fancy graphic effects. Mine is set to display a desktop cube, with the four desktops shown on the face of the cube. You can move it up, down, left or right with the mouse or keyboard. It is incredibly useful, and also looks superb.

All the Windows users feel very jealous when I show them what I can do with Ubuntu 64. Who needs Windows in a world without Gates eh?


Thursday 17 July 2008

Old skool for Winamp

This blog post is made especially for Steve Miller ;-)

I have been going through some of the plugins for Winamp recently and became frustrated at the lack of suitable visualizations, as they like to call them. I remembered having a great spectrum analyser installed way back in the mists of time and just couldn't find it.

I spent a while on the Winamp plugin section of their website, and after much digging - I came up with this legendary plugin by Mike Lynch (from Canada) which of course I downloaded and installed immediately!

As a convenience, I've whacked it on my personal webspace here:

Classic Spectrum Analyzer for Winamp (DOWNLOAD)

Simply double-click on the file once it has downloaded successfully to install. Next, fire up Winamp and do Ctrl-P to access the preferences. The spectrum analyzer should now be listed in the Visualization section, where you can start the plugin, stop it and also change the settings. I quite like having mine set with large bars on the default red/yellow as shown in the screen dump shown above right.

Judging from what this bloke's website says, it would appear that it's not being developed any further, which I think is a shame.


Tuesday 15 July 2008

Montevideo Players anniversary party

We both went to Acevedo Diaz last night for the anniversary party of the Montevideo players. If you've read the blog before, you'll know it's the oldest 'foreign language' amateur dramatic society in Latin America.

We were delayed on the way as Ale's mum called us to visit her, as we hadn't seen her in a long time. We stayed for a while and gave her the invitation to Sofia's 2nd birthday party which is happening this Saturday at Manzana Azul (Blue Apple) on Luis de la Torre.

We eventually turned up at the Montevideo Players around 22:30 to find the usual motley crew assembled. A raffle was held, with top prize being dinner for two at some place in Carrasco, which Ale seemed very interested in. Suffice to say, we won nothing ;-)

We were able to meet up with John and Stephanie again last night, as I needed to get some info about immigration. Stefanie seems to know all the information required as she had dealt with it for her Scottish boyfriend. We were also able to exchange stories about how long things take to arrive from the UK. It would appear that 6 weeks for a package to arrive from the UK is certainly not out of the ordinary!

My time here is running out unless I apply for an extension which hasn't been completed yet. Last time I was out of the country was Buenos Aires back in April, so I need to get cracking with this - with the help of Ale of course.

Just as a footnote, today is a beautiful day here, except for the incessant canine discord. It's a lovely change since we are officially still in the middle of winter!


Vero Abella's birthday

We were invited to this event on Saturday, which took place at the Golf Club in Montevideo. Sounded good at the time but then I was told I had to wear a mask. When I discovered that it applied to other people and not just my ugly mug, it seemed like a good idea, much better than some fancy dress lark. If you're sad enough like me to have a Facebook account, then you should be able to track down some of the photos of me.

As usual, Ale looked at her best whilst I did my best English man abroad impression hehe. She danced the night away whilst sipping Diet Coke (or Coca Light as it's called here) whilst I slunk into a corner glugging on the Johnny Walker hehe.

I'm sorry but the music here just doesn't do it for me. Perhaps I'll grow to love it in time. Vero Abella seemed to be enjoying herself, and the night out ended around 4am with a quiet drive back home.

Monday 14 July 2008

Thanks for the mammaries

Well, apologies for the title but I thought it quite apt in the circumstances.

We were browsing at the local shopping centre here in Montevideo, rather stunningly original in its naming convention of 'Montevideo Shopping' when I came across this clothes shop. Apparently, it's like a black-hole where women get sucked in and lose hours of their lives. And come out with nothing useful to show for it.

Obviously something was lost in translation here when the decision was made to name the shop, or worse still, the owners have no idea of the meaning of the word in the English-speaking part of the world. So here it is in all its glory.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Don't cycle in Montevideo

Woke up yesterday to hear a lot of commotion outside, or in other words - lots of emergency sirens. I discovered that there had been an accident involving a cycle and a car, although the car was nowhere to be seen.

It would appear that there were two blokes on one bike, so one was pedalling and he was giving a 'backy' to the other one on the saddle. Not the safest option I grant you, but then again you don't expect to be mown down by a car either.

The aftermath (if you can call it that) was pretty non-eventful with a single police car and two ambulances. Note the rather helpful parking demonstrated by the 2nd ambulance driver.

I think on reflection that cyclists here tend not to have the same importance as the UK to the drivers of Montevideo as you can no doubt see, with the badly mangled front wheel of the bike in front of the police car on the 2nd picture.


Wednesday 9 July 2008

At long last (PayPal situation)

After 4 months of painful 'correspondence' with PayPal, the clowns have finally unlocked my account. It only took 18 emails, a fax and a 20 minute long international phone call to get it sorted. The 20 minute conversation was pointless by the way, as I was eventually told that they don't discuss security details over the phone. Priceless.

The people involved in this hopeless organisation sit behind a stonewall defence of webforms and the game they like to play most, pass-the-parcel.

One day I am in communication with someone called Aurora, the next and it's someone called Ferizchel. And to use the word communication is probably too strong a term.

And all of this occurred because I simply bid/bought for some memory on Ebay from a PowerSeller in Hong Kong whilst I am here in Uruguay. My Ebay account works fine and so did my PayPal until their systems flagged my IP as 'possible 3rd party activity' on my account.

Their logic is patently flawed and it's caused me a lot of problems. Don't whatever you do pay for anything on your PayPal account in a different country or your account will no doubt get locked like mine did. You will then enter a black hole of miscommunication with the automatons at PayPal. You have been warned ;-)

I am going to vote with my feet and say goodbye to PayPal, and hello Google Checkout!


Tuesday 1 July 2008

Party party

Ale arrived home from work yesterday to tell me that we were attending a party for one of the daughters of her close friend Caroli, as it was Federica's 15th birthday. Here in Uruguay, it seems to be some sort of custom to have a party when you're 15 years old - normally they wear a more formal dress, and celebrate by cutting the cake, and blowing out the candles. Last night, Federica blew out each candle in turn, giving the candles to people like her sister, parents, godparents and friends which was a lovely symbolic gesture.

I also got to meet up again with Gaby Peralta and her husband, who seems an avid PlayStation man much like myself. He had loads of suggestions and was talking 19 to the dozen in Spanish so you can imagine how funny that was, with me understanding perhaps one word out of every 20 or so! Still, I think a PS3 evening is on the cards very soon providing it gets fixed or replaced.

My last visit to Uruguay finished with Gaby's wedding, and I got hammered on pure whisky, which seems to be the drink of choice here. Now this was over 2 years ago, but I had a great time. The next day wasn't quite so good (translation - I felt like death warmed up) so it was nice to be able to chat to her under more normal circumstances. She suggested that it would be a good thing to get involved with teaching English to people for use in business, and it's something that I may follow up. It could be quite an easy way to make some money here, as I am currently out of work. We'll see what happens.

That's all for now.


PS3 - a ray of hope ;-)

There's a smidgin of good news about my PS3, which is dead. See previous post for details.

After some detective work by my girlfriend Ale, we managed to find the official authorised Sony Repair Centre here in Montevideo. We took the PS3 there last night to find that the place itself looked a bit worse for wear, with just a few bits of old Sony kit on display. Part of the repair centre was co-habited by Abitab, which is a payment centre where people can pay facturas (bills) etc.

Still, I've got my receipt and said goodbye to the magical black box for the next 72 hours, as I've been told it will take them that long to figure out what is wrong with it. I doubt they have that much technical expertise on the PS3 as it is so new here in Latin America, and I'm left wondering if they will simply replace it, or send it to Buenos Aires which is a possibility.

My only concern with the option of replacement is that my PS3 is the 60Gb version, with 4 USB ports and the ability to play older PS2 and even PS1 games. The version available here I believe is either a 20Gb or 40Gb. The hard disk size doesn't matter to me at all since that is easily upgradeable to 160Gb or even 250Gb, so it will all hinge on whether I can get the backward-compatibility or not. Fingers crossed.

However, an alternative option is available to me as I was able to speak to my insurance providers yesterday back in the UK, and they were able to confirm that I was covered. They were willing to provide a new replacement either here in Montevideo, or back in the UK. The UK option would be best for me of course, as they would be able to source the 60Gb version with all the bells and whistles (I hope).

So Wednesday is the big day for me, when we get to hear from the Sony centre what's happening. Fingers crossed.

JB - bored at home.

Sunday 29 June 2008

PS3 not working - so called 'red light of death'

Yesterday we had some friends round for a reunion, people that Ale knew from a year long course she had taken with them. The scene was set since I had blown them out previously as I was cheering on Arsenal in the Champions League.

About half an hour before they turned up, my beloved PS3 bit the dust. Not as dead as the proverbial dodo, but still pretty terminal. It just switched off with 4 beeps and a flashing red light. After Googling some forum posts, it suggested it may have been heat-related but delving deeper, it quickly became apparent that it was some sort of hardware failure. Switch it on, and it starts up the fans - then a green light for a second or so, and then rather quickly followed by an amber light, then red with 4 short beeps.

Looks like I'll have to eat my words of criticism at the bearded geek in the local computer games shop and see what he can do. Some of the people last night were, shall we say 'disappointed', but one of them knows about a Sony repair centre somewhere near Boulevard Artigas so I guess we can also try that option tomorrow.

Gutted - that's all I can say. I'm sure it's completely coincidental and nothing to do with the numerous power cuts we have here in Montevideo - and the subsequent surge/spike when it comes back on. I think I'll be buying a surge protector 4 gang socket as a priority ;-)

Sad Johnnyboy.

Friday 27 June 2008

GTA 4 - the wait is finally over (for me!)

Grand Theft Auto 4 or GTA as it's more commonly known was released well over a month ago in Europe but it has taken me nearly 6 weeks to receive my copy, all thanks to Dave and Maggie. I've known them both for nearly 20 years and I play online with Dave on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

I did make tentative enquiries at the local computer game shop, only to be told it would take 2 weeks to procure, and it would also cost $180. Blatant greed and profiteering from the bearded geek so I said no thanks. How a game can cost double is beyond me.

Well - on to the game, and it has surpassed all my expectations. Great graphics, and superb gameplay. I now have 5 badboy motors stacked outside my gaff and have completed many missions, although it tells me that I've only completed around 8% of the game so far.

The music on the game is just so good. Most of the radio stations that you can listen to in the car whilst driving around have many of the good old-skool tunes, ones that spawned some of the popular ones that other people may have heard. '2 People - Jean Jacques Smoothie' is one in particular. It features a vocal sample from the Minnie Ripperton song "Inside My Love". There's another tune that is the basis for Ice Cube's Ring Ding Dong but I need to find out who made the original.

No problem - you simply call a number on your cell phone within the game whilst the tune is playing. You will then receive a text back in return, giving you the details of the artist. It's similar to the technology being used nowadays by mobile firms in the UK who offer to identify a certain piece of music.

I've used the same cell phone to cheat on 2 things so far.

OK OK, its the lazy option but guns are hard to come by! I've used the cheat to get full ammo so that I can swagger around with all (tier 1) weapons at my disposal. I've also used the Annihilator cheat (it's the name of a helicopter) and this is incredible fun. I've landed on the top of some of the best buildings in the game, or just simply attempted death leaps out of the helicopter whilst flying along. It tends to make the landing just that bit softer and less terminal if it's over water, of course ;-)

The good thing about using the helicopter cheat is that your wanted level rockets up to 6 stars if you simply go nosing about on the other islands. I can only see 2 of the many islands so far because of the 8% missions complete status. If I could simply land on one of the other islands and get away with it, then it would make the game far too easy.

Some games are all about completing certain tasks, or doing things to make something else happen. Whilst this is also true about GTA 4, there's nothing better than just cruising around, listening to some good music and watching life go by. That is, just so long as you don't forget about driving - like I did, when I rear-ended a police car. All good fun. You can just sit there, spinning the back wheels but eventually they will pop. Similarly, drive through a fire and your car tyres will catch alight and go bang after a short time.

Call of Duty has taken a bit of a back seat at the moment, but I am sure it will spring back soon. I'll probably lose interest in GTA sooner than CoD to be honest, but time will tell.

Nice one Rockstar - a fantastic game!!

Thursday 26 June 2008

Mark's anniversary - 25th June

It was the anniversary of my brother Mark yesterday, so I spent a quiet moment (or several, in fact) thinking of both him, and my dear Nan and Granddad. He died on the exact same day as my Granddad which was the 25th of June, and my Nan on the 26th (today) so they were all in my thoughts. It was the first time that I hadn't been in the UK so it all felt quite distant - but in a way not so distant, since Mark had always been travelling to far-flung parts of the world ;-)

On a tecky note, I received our big screen TV back yesterday from the 'menders' and I was able to do video chat on the PS3 with my goddaughter, Hannah, along with Sue Currrrtis and good old Fuzzy/Beanie aka Ian. It was great to seem them all. The connections dropped a good few times but hey, I'm 6,000 miles way and I'm grateful for small mercies. It makes the world seem a smaller place.

Ale met up with some old acquaintances from the Richard Anderson school last night for a reunion, and she seemed to enjoy it. A bit of a late one for her as she arrived back home just before 2am. You can only imagine how difficult it was for her to wake-up this morning!

And last but not least, I actually remembered it was Neil's birthday yesterday for the first time in ages. Neil has been a mate of mine for almost 20 years, and his birthday is inextricably linked with my brother for obvious reasons. So I made the call yesterday and he seemed genuinely pleased (and surprised). I took the opportunity of winding him up about his age, but the usual retort came back that no-one is as old as me. I'll just have to shrug my shoulders and admit defeat on that one, Fleecy!

Tonight - legendary house DJ Seb Fontaine is playing at a club called Lotus here in a rather foggy and cold Montevideo. Not sure if we're going yet, but it would be a great chance to see one of the pioneers in action from the UK. The DJ played in Chile yesterday, MVD tonight and I believe he's off to Pacha in Buenos Aires tomorrow. Rather amazingly, I looked at his Myspace page and listed under his interests was the game 'Call of Duty'. What a good man!

That's all for now.


Wednesday 18 June 2008

Firefox 3 downloads past 8m mark

Judging from their website, it looks like the Firefox 3 download day went very well. Downloads comfortably surpassed 8 million but the exact figure will be confirmed by Guinness World Records over the next few days.

Initially I like the upgraded Firefox 3, especially the history function when typing in a new address in the address bar, very useful! It looks cleaner and appears to be faster too. Let's see if FF3 handles memory leakage better as FF2 wasn't the best in that regard.

FF2 on Ubuntu Linux fails to pick up any updates so I'm still running FF2 on Linux but FF3 on Windows. Not an ideal situation by any means, but I will look to upgrade over the coming week.



Tuesday 17 June 2008

Firefox 3 released today at 18:00 BST

I'm participating in the Guinness World Record attempt today by downloading the latest Firefox 3 web browser.

See link below for details:

The downloads start at 18:00 BST British Summer Time so that makes it 14:00 UYT for me here in a rather sunny Montevideo in Uruguay.


Friday 6 June 2008

Montevideo Players

Apologies for the late blog, but I've only just got around to writing about where we went a couple of weeks ago. A friend of Ale's at work arranged for some tickets for a play, which was being put on by the oldest English drama society in Latin America. They are called the Montevideo Players, and this production was an affectionate look at 'Allo 'Allo which was a TV series from the 80's in the UK.

It was a good evening, and the cast performed well. Of course, I wasn't upset when two of the parts required short skirts, namely Yvette and Maria ;-) Rounded off the evening by having a pint or two in the bar. Although I found it unlikely that they would have Speckled Hen on tap, I was a bit disappointed they only had the local brew Pilsen - and in bottles. Par for the course ....

Still, met up with a friendly Scot and his girlfriend. Nice chap John, good choice of name. Also met with a few of the cast, and quite by chance - one of them was the VP of Winterbotham here in Uruguay. They also have an office in the Bahamas, so if anything work-wise pops up, it could be very good for Johnnyboy.

There is a chance there will be a curry night soon so we've already put our name down. None of this 'curry' nonsense that Montevideans think is curry, hopefully it will be the real Indian that I've craved since moving to Montevideo 3 months ago. Nothing like the taste of Makhani or Rogan Josh - that's what I say!



PayPal clowns

If you've ever had to deal with the luddites at PayPal, then you'll probably know exactly what I mean.

Ever since arriving in Uruguay over 3 months ago, I seem to have encountered problems with PayPal. My account with PayPal in the UK worked flawlessly up until this point but as soon as I bought some memory from a bloke in Hong Kong - it all went pear-shaped. Their anti-fraud system on autopilot kicked in and limited access to my account, more than likely based on figuring out that I was making payments from a Uruguayan IP rather than a UK one. Ooooh - how dangerous that was of me! Logging in to both my Ebay account and PayPal account and buying some stuff. Inane logic as operated by PayPal.

After about 2 weeks of no memory, I then discovered when I logged into my PayPal account that access was 'limited'. Their decision - not mine, and one obviously based on flawed logic. They deemed it a requirement that I answer 3 questions successfully, one of which was a phone call to my home address asking for the code displayed on my web browser. Despite frantic efforts on my part to get the person living at my address in the UK to answer the phone and quote the code, it was impossible to do. They now want a utility bill sent to them to prove I live there. Good idea in practice, but here is where their logic goes a bit mental.

They've never verified I live at that address anyway! Never received any postal mail or correspondence. SO how can they now accept a document from me (2 years after opening my account, I hasten to add) proving that is my address? It's never been an address that's been verified by the clowns at PayPal.

Hence, we go round in circles. And again. It is now 3 months since they took it upon themselves to lock the account. They owe me money which is mine, and this is something I intend to escalate very rapidly when I return to the UK for a short visit, hopefully in a month or two. IN other words, small claims court request for monies owed.

So much for this global society we live in, eh?

Oh, and their website design is tosh. Makes it as difficult as possible for you to contact them, and then only via some pitiful webform. Respond to an email from them and you then get an email saying they only accept stuff from the website. WHY ON God's green earth did they send me the email in the first place?

Not happy.


Saturday 3 May 2008

AVG antivirus software - V7 to V8 (updated)

Recently, I've noticed popups from AVG Antivirus appearing on my desktop whenever I login to Windows (which is rarely these days, to be honest).

It warns you that support for AVG V7.5 will be withdrawn and offers a link. Now this is a psychological mind-game in an effort to get you to buy the full version. Don't worry, because JB has found out that there IS indeed a free version to download as always. You can't blame them really since AVG is such a popular antivirus program, but I do think it is a tad misleading!

Go via the 'official' route to download the file and visit the AVG website here:

After you have downloaded the file (hopefully to somewhere sensible like your desktop) you can then install the program according to the following instructions.

After much searching around on the internet, I have discovered that two options are enabled by default which could slow down your computer and/or make web-browsing slower due to new functions called SafeSurf and SafeSearch. I've tried with both and would thoroughly recommend you perform a custom install and deselect these options or alternatively - run the following command by clicking on the Start button, then click on Run and copy this into the box that appears on screen:

"C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Desktop\avg_free_stf_en_8_100a1295.exe" /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

Ensure that you copy the complete text above including quotes in to the Run box and then click OK. Wait for a few seconds for the program to initialise and AVG will then perform a custom installation.

N.B. If you simply double click on the file on your desktop, then it will perform a standard installation - which is inadvisable due to the problems mentioned above!

Note that if you have the excellent Radmin application installed, AVG may pick it up as a threat. You will need to 'Add to Exceptions'. Other than that, it should be a very straightforward installation. Some things obviously look slightly different but overall it's still similar to the old version, right down to what I call the Battenburg cake icon.

P.S. If you want to disable the 'pop-under' box notification that appears at the bottom of the main AVG window, simply delete the file at the following location:

C:\Program Files\AVG\AVG8\avgmwdef_us.mht

Next time you start AVG, the pop-under box will have disappeared.


Updating automatically seems to fail with wireless connections I've noticed. Go to Tools | Advanced settings, and then look at the options under Schedules. Open that section and select 'Run on computer start-up if task has been missed' and also put a tick in the box for 'Run the update again as soon as the internet connection is available'.


Looks like updates will now remain available for AVG V7.5 until the end of this year, which is good news for those of you who haven't yet updated to V8:

Posted by: michaelhd - AVG Team
Date: May 5, 2008 10:00AM


This is the official date that support and updates for AVg 7.5 Free will end.

If the date changes we will give you good forward notice.[/QUOTE]



Many thanks on the original AVG7 to AVG8 upgrade niggles go to Claus Valca and all posters on this thread at:

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Latency issues again (updated)

Whilst on the subject of my internet connection, I am experiencing packet loss running at 8% and severe lag (admittedly during gaming on the PS3). So much so, I tend to end up on the losing side in games which is particularly annoying.

I don't hold out much hope of ANTEL upgrading their infrastructure upon receipt of my somewhat terse email but a reply would be nice. This is the third time of contacting them.

They certainly DON'T earn their 35 UK pounds a month that I pay them for a paltry 1.5Mb connection.

UPDATE - Monday evening, 20th May 2008

Amazingly, I was actually able to enjoy playing Call of Duty 4 online last night. Whatever ANTEL have done to fix their problems, please leave it alone from now on !!
Still no reply to my three emails though, it's like talking to the proverbial brick wall.

Monday 28 April 2008

General pikeyness

and Third World motors - click the link below which is a redirect to my Facebook picture site.

Enjoy and tell me what you think. Will keep it updated as I'm always taking pictures with my trusty Sony Ericsson K800i.

Friday 25 April 2008

Call of Duty 4 - new maps!

The Sony Playstation Store finally released the add-on Variety map pack for the PS3. Call of Duty 4 is a great game and I was interested to see what the new maps offered.

Four maps are included and they are:

Broadcast - Middle Eastern TV station. Good for big teams.
Chinatown - small city at night. Great for any mode of gameplay.
Killhouse - Speedball style warehouse interior. Good for small teams.
Creek - Outdoor Russian environment, could be good for snipers.

Personally, my favourite right now is probably the Creek map but I will probably get to know and love Chinatown in due course.

And a big plus this weekend only, you earn double XP!!


Wednesday 23 April 2008

Fog in Montevideo

Left Buenos Aires last night after a lovely 3 day break. It all seemed to be going so well, as the flight from Argentina to Uruguay is only a 30 minute hop. When the plane started to adopt a stacking pattern, I knew something was brewing and sure enough, the pilot told us that there was fog at Carrasco airport and we would be circling whilst waiting for it to clear. After 30 minutes of burning up the world's vital resources we were refused permission to land and had to fly to Punta del Este!

When we touched down, there were 3 fire engines in attendance with their lights flashing. Probably a good move since the American pilot seemed to rip the wheels off on landing.

El Jaguel is Punta's only airport and the terminal is tiny. It was a strange scene, with only a few airport personnel available. No-one from Pluna was there, which was inexcusable.

We had to take a coach for the trip back to Montevideo (again, in foggy conditions). This interminably long trip was made all the worse as Captain Slow was driving and we eventually made it back to Carrasco airport. I'd like to say thanks to the chica that spoke to me in English to tell me what was happening, so thanks - whoever you are!

Skanked by a cab driver who spoke no English and drove like a mad man, and went to bed after 2am, not great considering I left Buenos Aires at 9pm.

Pluna customer services will be on the receiving end of a sharp email from me in the next few minutes, I can assure you.

Not happy.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Thunderbird email client

I am recently a convert to the world of Ubuntu 64 on my laptop, and my email client of choice is Thunderbird.

However, after replying to some emails I noticed that Thunderbird's default behaviour when replying to an email is to place your reply at the bottom of the email.

This confused a few friends so I did a brief Google search and found the solution to setting the reply position on e-mails to the top instead of the bottom.

# In Thunderbird: Go to “Account Settings”
# Select “Composition & Addressing” for the account in question
# Check the checkbox in the Composition group that says “Automatically quote the original message when replying”.
# Once the combo box below is enabled select the option “Start my reply above the quote”

That did the trick. Thanks to this entry on Google:

Very useful tip

Monday 21 April 2008

Tribeca apartments, Buenos Aires

Click on the link to view:

A lovely place to stay if you're in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tango in Buenos Aires

We finally arrived in Buenos Aires, under the strange light of semi-darkness due to the clouds of smoke pervading the air. Our home for the night was a delightful loft-style apartment called the Tribeca - a great choice made by Ale, my girlfriend.

The ceiling in the apartment was very high, possibly over 14 ft tall and all the apartments looked out upon an open-air courtyard which was pleasant. We went out with a friend of Ale's from Montevideo who had moved to BS AS. Ceci's choice was a small funky restaurant in downtown St Elmo. After a great night's sleep and a quality breakfast, we headed off to our next stop which was the Abasto Plaza Hotel, from where I am writing.

We've spent most of the day doing the sad old tourist thing but I actually quite enjoyed it all to be honest. Buenos Aires has a certain buzz (something like London, but not the same) and it is a lot more modern compared to Montevideo.

After much 'Johnnie Walking', I successfully managed to evade the proposed 'Learn to Tango' session in the hotel so I'm quite thankful for that. Ale's hunger for shopping failed to disappear so she's now off trawling the boutiques in the local area. It feels quite safe here which surprised me.

Everywhere seems to offer free wifi on the go but not this hotel. And the cheek of it all is that the wireless access is non-existent. Oh, and did I mention the best bit? You have to pay for it as well...

I will be returning to Montevideo on Tuesday, with Ale returning on Thursday when her Human resources course finishes.

That's all for now.


Saturday 19 April 2008

Stuck in the airport - great

Due to the talented Argentinian farmers who've started to burn all their fields, we're stuck at Montevideo Airport in Carrasco. The reason being, the plane can't fly to Buenos Aires due to all the smoke. How this happens in the year 2008 is simply anyone's guess...

We're due to stay in Buenos Aires for 4-5 days. I'll try not to mention the Falklands hehe ;-)


Monday 14 April 2008

Hardy Heron release - UBUNTU

I managed to 'successfully' upgrade to Hardy Heron release of Ubuntu over the weekend. I say successfully in quotes since although the upgrade itself said it completed successfully, I've lost the ability to connect to wireless networks - which is a royal pain. So I'm composing this on my new glass table in the office, courtesy of Magui y Nacho.

It seems to be a battle between Network manager and WICD, which was already resident on my system. I've already spent 2-3 hours trying to get it working and if I don't succeed, I will revert back to Gutsy Gibbon (v7.10). Let's hope this all gets sorted prior to the LIVE release. It's still in beta so you have to accept these things happening.

One other thing I've noticed is that my browser doesn't initiate when I click on a link in an email on Thunderbird. I hasten to add that I'm running Firefox 3 beta 5. Links worked before so I can only assume it's something to do with the patchy (in parts) upgrade success.

Friday 11 April 2008

Big lip and streaming internet radio...

I awoke this morning to discover that my bottom lip was distended. I was bitten I think by a mosquito who seem to love the 'sweet blood' I have from the UK. It caused me a lot of pain, so I texted my Spanish teacher to say I wasn't attending school today ;-)

Whilst bimbling at home, I set about trying to link up two very useful open source programs - namely StreamTuner and StreamRipper. StreamTuner is an internet radio application that I have grown to love since leaving England. Most music here in Montevideo is Latino so I miss all the different genres. However, StreamRadio (similar to Winamp when using ShoutCast) gives me the ability to listen to a drum and bass station in the UK or for that matter, a folk channel from Finland of all things!

On to StreamRipper - a shell prompt app that is able to listen to the streamed data, save it to an MP3 file and also relays it to localhost:8000 so you can listen as you rip. This is important since if you don't set up the relay locally, you can in fact double the bandwidth you consume. Plus the overhead on the server at the other end. My solution cuts down on that by only taking a single stream and forwarding the data to my XMMS player.

StreamTuner was very useful the other night. We had some friends round from Ale's work and it was beautiful not having to faff around trying to play music from my CD-ripped MP3 collection.

Thursday 10 April 2008

Previous page function in Firefox

I've just found out how to change the default behaviour of my beloved browser Firefox in Ubuntu. I installed the Ubuntu 64 'Gutsy Gibbon' release a couple of weeks ago. For those that don't know, Ubuntu is an alternative operating system which runs on Linux.

Anyway - back to the story. Pressing the backspace key on the Firefox browser in Windows simply returned you to the previous page that you were viewing. Not so in Ubuntu! It does a 'Page Up' by scrolling up the screen, which to be honest is quite irritating.

Judging by the amount of forum posts I've seen on the subject, it seems to have annoyed quite a few people and this default behaviour won't be changing any time soon.

But help is at hand. If you want to change this setting, open up the config pane by entering the following in the address bar:


You'll then see a page of options in techno-speak. Search for one titled 'browser.backspace_action', and the value will be set to 1. Modify the value accordingly by setting it to 0.

You will then be returned to the world of normal backspace action on Firefox.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

ViaAqua and freelance IT work

ViaAqua is the name of a health club here in Montevideo. Since Alessandra (my girlfriend) is already a member, I was able to join as an invited guest. The only problem is that it is for 3 consecutive days! My arms have already started hurting with phantom pain.

My attempts at using the pool for swimming (what a novel concept) were thwarted by an army of rather enthusiastic people doing what appeared to be exercises in the water. I was soon joined by Ale, but after 20 minutes I became bored swimming on my own and decided to join in. It was actually quite good fun although slightly effeminate. That didn't seem to bother the Montevidean men though, which worries me slightly ;-)

Returned home to gather my stuff, then on to Nacho's where we discussed the possibility of freelance IT work via the internet. I hadn't given it much thought before but it's certainly worth further investigation.


Monday 7 April 2008

A cacophony of noise

Noisy bleeders.

That's all I can say when summarising the population of Montevideo. Every weekend, we seem to attract scores of young delinquents drinking alcohol and sitting right opposite our flat on a low wall. Since it's normally quiet round here, their vocal chorus of pisshead songs at 4am doesn't go down too well with Alessandra. Nor me for that matter.

Apparently the police are as useful as trying to wipe your bum on a car bonnet so it's almost anarchy. I've hatched a plan for next Saturday when I intend to mix some honey with chilli powder, plaster it all over the wall - and then sit back and enjoy the results. I probably won't though since the plan is still in my head but hey ho - always nice to think what you'd like to do eh?

Another Spanglish lesson today with reflexive verbs and pronouns. What joy!

Plus a visit to la dentista to sort my gnashers out.


Sunday 30 March 2008

Job possibility

Looks like there's a requirement for a Linux server administrator somewhere in MontyVid. AND they require someone with fluid English although whether or not I fit the bill remains to be seen. Not sure what the money is like compared to the UK, plus my strengths lie elsewhere in the UNIX world.

We'll be meeting up with Maria-Jose Naya later who is a close friend of Ale to get all the details.

I'll probably catch up with Luis her brother as well, to go through syncing his mobile with his PC. All pretty straightforward stuff I think.

Sunday bimbling...

Finally I received my long-awaited packages from the UK containing several useful bits of PC kit. Namely USB IDE/SATA cables and the USB connection for my iRiver HDD MP3 player.

Woke up early after having shall we say a discussion with our cloven-hoofed neighbours last night, who live above us on the fifth floor. Let's just say they seemed to understand my rather terse comment.

I managed to arrange for a card to be given to my niece Esmé today via Mum, as it was her birthday. Seems strange not being able to celebrate these things as I always used to be able to do when in the UK.

Started watching "The Italian Job" (the proper version and not the pale imitation) after finally sorting out the TVersity server on my laptop. This awfully clever software allows a PC/laptop to be able to stream stuff wirelessly to my PlayStation3. The people that created it have been rewarded for their efforts. It also streams MP3 audio plus lets you view digital camera photos on the big screen. I can't rate it highly enough.

Going to check out a 40" LCD later down at Montevideo Shopping. It's incredible how much money they want for electronic goods in Uruguay and it will roughly cost me double the amount I'd be paying in the UK. Sadly, my quality LG 37" was sold before my departure to Kate, a longtime friend. She seems to be very happy with it - no wonder ;-)


Birthday for Nacho Garino

It was Nacho's birthday yesterday so we spent the evening celebrating at their house.

Nacho is married to Magela, who is Ale's sister.

Missed out as usual on watching Match of the Day live, which only recently went live on the BBC Sport website. With the wonders of modern internet technology, and of course a rather helpful proxy set up in London by my good friend Jodie - we are now able to watch feeds previously blocked by the BBC based on my IP address.

Respect to you Jodie my man!

Saturday 29 March 2008


Just returned from a Uruguyan wedding, held at the Yacht Club in Montevideo. Very pleasant it was too, although my Spanglish was called into question on more than one occasion ;-)

Friday 28 March 2008

PC support

Hello everyone. I've eventually got round to doing something with my domain at since I've moved to Montevideo in Uruguay. I arrived just over a month ago a
nd things are settling down now.

Having worked in the IT field since 1988, I have over 20 years experience with computers, PCs, servers and mainframes.

I'm able to provide PC support, either remotely to UK clients or locally in Uruguay.

So whatever your problem, then send me an email to the following address: and I'll deal with your enquiry on receipt.