Over 27000 photos and over 124GB later, the transfer of our digital photos from our self-hosted gallery to is complete. I am sure you’ll find the new photo site easier to navigate and a lot faster. See if you can find yourself at

Security Questions

DSC_0618It seems that a German person is not generally compatible with security questions. One of my online banking facilities recently asked to update details, including the provision of answers to three security questions. I could chose the three question from a pool of over a dozen of pre-defined questions. Wishing to provide memorable answers gets me thinking:

Where was your first job?

Well, it depends. Do you mean the first occasion where I earned money for work, or the first real job with a contract, or the first …

What was your first pet’s name?

Well, it depends. Do family pets count, or would it have to be my pet? What if I had a pair of hamsters?

Where was your first holiday?

Well, I’d say, it depends. Do you mean the first time my parents took me on a summer holiday (I don’t recall the location), or the first holiday that I remember, or the first holiday without my parents? Do boy scout camps count? The first holiday with a spouse? Is a weekend trip considered a holiday?

Today, I might chose one of the many possible answers to each question, but how can I be sure that, in case of need two years down the line, I will make the same choice?

I end up choosing an answer, not necessarily from the truth, and write it down in my personal files (in a secure manner). Since my mother’s maiden name isn’t exactly a state secret, answering security questions with made-up answers is the most secure way to handle these anyhow, but it leads to the final security question, the hardest of all:

Where do you keep your written-down security answers?


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Online Fun

I don't believe in war (graffiti) Did you ever notice that LEO, the brilliant and free online dictionary, also sports voice output? I wasn’t sure about the correct pronunciation of a word, and the tool came to my rescue. Brilliant.

This appears to be based on the Linguatec Voice Reader, an impressive piece of kit that reads text out aloud, supporting a great number of languages. Most impressive.

I have no need for the Linguatec Voice Reader, but it can still make my day. You’ve got to try this: Go to the voice reader demo site (it’s right here), then enter a text of your choice. I chose this from last Friday’s post: Talking on the mobile phone while sitting in a toilet cubicle with the trousers round the ankles is, I find, hugely borderline and a sign of disrespect for the party called.

I am sure you’d be impressed by the tool. I am also sure you’d be hugely amused having it read text of one language using the language setting for another language. For example, have an English text read in French.

Cheap, harmless yet highly effective amusement. Thanks, Linguatec!

A Very Special Service

thistle I mentioned coffee a few times already, so you’d be right to assume that I really like a really good coffee. I normally buy roasted beans from, and found the Ethiopian Sidamo just the perfect choice.

When I re-ordered not too long ago, the coffee was lame, so I spoke to the lady who runs the shop in order to find out whether the previous or the current batch were ‘standard.’ Turns out the first batch must have been roasted too dark, and the lame stuff is the norm.

You’d normally expect the story to end here and now, but not so Carolyn. She made a test roast (“Special Dark W7 Sidamo”), overshoot the mark (too dark), and hit the perfect spot in the second attempt.

So, now I get my very special Ethiopian Sidamo W7 Medium-dark Roast. Brilliant, innit? Stop by for a sample.


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Dear Music Industry

rome Media informs me that you are in a dire situation, with You Tube, iTunes, peer-to-peer file sharing, illegal downloading, and all that. I am truly sorry, for I understand all this modern technology means you are no longer holders of the monopoly of distribution, and you can no longer sell outdated technology in the shape of a flat piece of vinyl or silvery plastic at prices that you dictate.

Now, listen up. Here’s where you’ve got it right for a change:

Recently, I watched a documentary on the telly, telling the story of Genesis’ 2007 European tour. I liked what I saw, and bought an official copy of the Genesis When In Rome DVD set. Three DVDs for £15, featuring the aforementioned documentary, three hours of a very fine concert, and lots of background material and extra features.

I will happily pay the same again for a similar product. This is a good product, well worth its money. Compared to a single 50 minute playtime CD, which you used to sell at the same or similar price, this is a lot of value for the money.

Well done.

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A New Toy

hattrick I mentioned Pandora some while ago. Pandora is a fantastic online music service, but sadly, Pandora is no longer available outside the USA. For the same reason –conservative RIAA and record label‘s protectorate, I guess-, Rhapsody also never (yet) became available outside the US.

But, Spotify is now available to everyone in the UK, so that’s progress! Compared to Pandora and Rhapsody, the name Spotify is a regrettable step back, but as far as technology and content goes, it’s great.

It’s free and unlimited if you tolerate an advert every 3 songs. Register with them, download their player, search for an artist, select the album, hit Play – done.

Advert-free options are also available for a fee.

Go, Spotify!

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The Web Revolution

A Keyboard Have you noticed how the world wide web has revolutionised us?

Of course, there are the well-known and much acclaimed revolutionary aspects of the web. Google and blogs and the multi-medial information overload come to mind, the motivation for "broadband in every home" government programs, and advise how to cope.

I am fascinated by the way the web made us change the ways we write and read text. Did you notice that the text above is full of hyperlinks? Did you notice that you were expected to read two words at most, then to find a "hmmm…. I really should click here to get all this important extra information" hyperlink, follow, get side-tracked and unable to complete reading the initial statement?

It’s all very fascinating and, without doubt, delivers a lot of useful information, and fun, among all the rubbish, but I find it interesting to note just how far reaching the impact really is.

Maybe this is the single truly essential hyperlink in the online world today. Old but still good.