Category Archives: OperatingSystems

Windows breaks everything again

Last week I booted Windows 7 on my Dell Laptop. It is not something I do very often and now I can't remember why I did. Generally I only use Windows 7 for very complex Powerpoint presentations (Openoffice does not import complicated MS Powerpoint animations perfectly yet) or new bits of hardware that don't come with proper Linux support (eg TomTom for map updates).

As I boot Windows so rarely it always needs to update the anti-virus definitions and update windows. It always takes an age.

Last week it did a big set of updates and then needed to reboot. Problem was that somehow in the process it broke Grub (the software installed by Linux that presents a menu allowing me to choose which Operating System to start up). So when Windows rebooted the system Grub crashed with an error and I was stuck.

I had to leave it for a while due to a combination of being sick with a cold and then a few busy days. However, I got to it this evening and fortunately there was straightforward help on how to fix the problem. So now everything is hunky dory again. Ubuntu has of course installed a few updates while I have been typing this and I'll be installing the brand new version of Ubuntu next. I am confident that it will be a simple process (it has been every other time) and I am certain it won't break Windows. I'll have a better system, it won't have cost me anything and will be fully legal).

So why does anyone still use Windows?

Changing the World

If there is one thing I am passionate about it is this: 

The world needs to be changed. 

I hope that comes through clearly in the things I write here. I also hope that it is clear that my motivation for this passion is just as clear. 

I believe the world needs to be changed because I follow Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

However, I also believe that many other people who do not have the same motivation also want to see the world changed and have many of the same goals as me. So

I will gladly work with people who have similar goals but do not share my faith in Jesus.

The changes that I want to see include:

  • Utter destruction of Poverty everywhere
  • Justice for all people
  • Peace throughout the world
  • All people to be valued, welcomed and included
  • Protection of the planet and its resources for future generations
  • Building of communities around these goals.

For me as a Christian these changes form part of what I understand as the need to be part of the building of the Kingdom of God and also preparing for the return of Jesus. However, I believe that many others would see these changes as desirable, certainly as worthwhile and maybe even as essential.

Does my life show commitment to changing the world?

I have been reflecting on how my commitment to these changes becomes real. In other words what aspects of my life make concrete contributions to these changes. Alternatively "what do I do?" and "what am I?" so that people can see and experience my commitment to these goals.

As I look at the very public side of myself in the contents of this blog I hope that my commitment can be seen in four main areas

  • My lifestyle as a disciple of Jesus
  • My work within the Methodist Church (and wider Christian Community) to encourage change and growth
  • My support for and contributions to Free Software
  • My commitment to cycling as transport

In some ways these may appear a mixed bag of general and specific, they may also leave you wondering if they are connected and even how they might support the changes I am committed to.

So I want to explore each of these four areas in a series of posts before then considering more generally how we can change/should the world. While I hope all my thinking is theological I also hope that it is still relevant to those interested in changing the world who do not share my faith perspective.

One of the reasons for this series was a post by a friend (Dave Faulkner) Seth Godin: Without Them « Big Circumstance and the comments that followed. In them I mentioned that I try to bring change in the way Seth Godin suggests and that I refer to it as "being easier to get forgiveness than permission". Dave asked me to expand on what I meant and in particular on the importance of motivation and process in doing this.

However, that is not the only reason. Through reflecting on these issues I also hope to find it helpful for me as a review of where I am and how well my life actually fits with what I believe is important. Therefore this is not fully planned and worked out so diversions and changes should be expected on this journey. Hopefully that taking stock will be of interest and perhaps help to others too.

Please feel free to challenge woolly thinking as we go and for that matter encourage anything good as well :-) Helping me be honest and thorough is good for me and should make this more generally useful as well.

Presentation Software in preaching

I found The Use of Power Point in Preaching reasonably interesting. Personally I never use power point in services. However, I do often use OpenOffice Impress.

Why OpenOffice Impress?

  • It is free (I can give copies of the program to all church members so they can legally use and contribute to the presentations)
  • It runs on Linux as well as Windows (handy as I mainly use Linux)
  • The Document Format is an open ISO standard (That safeguards my data by ensuring that other applications can use it)

What do I use  OpenOffice Impress for in services?

  • Hymn and Song words (many elderly people find it easier to read than hymn books and you generally get better singing using a projector than books).
  • Liturgy: responsive readings, prayers etc (people don’t get lost as easily, flexible and environmentally friendly)
  • Pictures (mostly during prayers and sermons)
  • Bible Text (for reading & during sermons)
  • Notices

I almost never use it for words during sermons. The only exceptions would be

  • quiz questions in a sermon
  • A few headings to help people can follow structure (I never read these slides)
  • Bible Text
  • Maybe (very occasionally) a relevant quote eg from Martin Luther King Jr.

Hat tip: Transforming Sermons: Pitfalls of PowerPoint.

Moving 42 onwards

At the start of another calendar year (by the way: Happy New Year everyone) I have decided to make a few adjustments to the way that 42 works.

Some of these are simply acknowledging what is already happening and others are new directions. Some will take effect immediately and others will take time to filter through.

None are particularly radical and they should not radically change the nature of 42 from what it has already become.

Firstly, I want to recognise that the content on 42 has changed considerably since it started back in August 2003. There now a far greater focus on Christianity and on Cycling with all the IT technical areas in significant decline. I’ll probably write a "state of the category" post for each existing category outlining the future of that category within 42.

Secondly, I am going to do a split. Initially I am having a separate cycling blog called Cycle Life at I will have more cycling content on there than I have had on 42 recently and it will have a slightly wider focus. Not just recumbents or fixies but also news and wider implications of cycling (environment, health etc).

Thirdly (eventually) there will be a design update to recognise the lack of recent content in some categories (Java, Python etc) and hence the overall change in focus that has already taken place.

Fourthly, I may move 42 (complete with all existing content) over to WordPress (or possibly another weblog application) running on my TextDrive hosted server. I am just upgrading my Lifetime hosting there for an awesome price and will have enough capacity to run 100′s of blogs like 42 (oh and also close my other hosting accounts).

That’ll do for now (but don’t forget to go a subscribe to Cycle Life to catch all the good stuff about to come there).

What is coming in the next Ubuntu?

It is not very long since the current release of Ubuntu, that has a support life of 5 years. However, the next release is now in beta and it looks good. See EdgyEft/Beta – Ubuntu Wiki.

I am particularly looking forward to the F-Spot to manage photos with support for Flickr.

So how long have you guys been waiting for Windows Vista :-) This will have been my fourth major release of Ubuntu in 2 years. They install automatically and so twice a year my operating system takes a big leap forward at zero cost. Oh and sorry that you will need to buy new hardware whereas I won’t.

Of course not only will an automated install work for me but because we use Sun Ray thin clients the one upgrade will update all of us at home.

Oh yes and not only all that but so far every update also gets faster. This time the startup and shutdown speed has had significant attention so much it seems they are going to drop the shutdown sound as there is not time for it to play anymore!

By the way the most enjoyable way to track lots of gossip and interesting stuff about Ubuntu is to subscribe to Planet Ubuntu.

And if you have not subscribed to a feed before just try this button to subscribe to Planet Ubuntu (it is free):
Subscribe with Bloglines

You will notice that there is a similar button in the right hand column of "42". In case you have not noticed it then this button will subscribe you to "42":
Subscribe with Bloglines
so far there are around 50 people subscribed to "42" with Bloglines (approx 1/3 of the total).

You can also use Bloglines to subscribe to the comments feed of "42" to make sure you don’t miss out on the wisdom that gets added here. This button will do that for you:
Subscribe with Bloglines

Of course you do not need to use Bloglines, there are many other newsreader applications about (Firefox can do it, Google have one and there are 1,000′s of others too).

Oh and "42" also has separate feeds for the different categories (see the orange icons in the right hand column) so you can subscribe to cycling only for example. Given that "42" tends to be quite wide ranging you may prefer to only read some subjects which is why there are so many feeds.

Nowadays you can also get "42" by email, just one email a day containing all the latest posts. Use the box in the left column to get you daily dose.

Feed tidy-up

Just done a little tidy-up.

  • You can now see proper feed icons, all over 42
  • The feeds that were not working are now
  • All the old RDF feeds are gone for ever, I have not been able to redirect them so if you are subscribed to them, in which case you probably won’t see this message anyway ;-)
  • You can now subscribe to 42 by email