Saturday 2 February 2008
links for 2008-02-02
Delicious and quite smelly soft white cheese from the Pas de Calais. Highly recommended.
Official Gites de France website, with complete listing of all gites and chambre d’hotes.
Sunday 3 February 2008
links for 2008-02-03
Useful tourist information on France, including pretty pictures.
Excellent descriptive website covering all of France. Not critical reviews though, but good for general information.
Tuesday 5 February 2008
links for 2008-02-05
I find this a little alarming given recent news stories on the lack of proof of benefits of probiotics and possible deleterious effects found in Dutch trials.
Wednesday 6 February 2008
links for 2008-02-06
We would love to go on a tour of Rungis, the largest wholesale food market in the world – but we’d need 18 friends to come along with us. Volunteers?
Thursday 7 February 2008
links for 2008-02-07
self catering on the Isle of Wight
Tuesday 12 February 2008
Out of nappies…
Not Tom, but my business, which celebrates its fifth birthday today.
I’ve certainly come a long way in five years, although some would argue that I’ve not come far enough. It’s taken a long time to get off the ground, much longer than expected, but it is going in the right direction. When I go to trade shows now, I don’t have to work hard to try and get appointments or persuade people to be interested in what I do – in fact, there is generally a good number of people who want to see me and discuss what I do. Now all I have to do is make some money.
Anyway, Hels and I are going out for dinner at the weekend, so I suspect we might have a beer to celebrate the birthday.
links for 2008-02-12
Campaigning to cut through the mumbo-jumbo, misinformation and downright lies peddled by practitioners and celebrities when discussing just about anything. Highly laudable.
The EU has benchmarked software that aims to protect children from the evils of the interwebnet. Personally, I feel there is no substitute for proper supervision.
So, I’ve taken delivery of a shiny new Canon PIXMA MP600R because my old HP multifunction is no longer supported and has no Vista drivers. The Canon does not come with Vista drivers included, but a full set are available from the Canon website. I checked before I ordered, just to be sure.
So, will someone please explain why I have been sat here for four hours trying to get this thing to work? And why, when I call Canon, if I select any option on the menu that would allow me to speak to a human being, I get cut off?
Friday 15 February 2008
Well, there’s a funny thing. For the first time in at least five, maybe six years, I made it to a meeting of blogging types organised by Gordon and featuring an impressive collection of bloggers, some known from years past, some from their writing and some new to me. It was, undoubtedly, excellent. Links to at least some of the attendees as soon as I’m not blogging from my mobile.
UPDATE: I knew that, if I waited long enough, someone else would do the hard work and link to all the attendees.
Monday 18 February 2008
links for 2008-02-18
Aside from the irritating (and,I feel, unnecessary) video, a good and simple recipe for sea bream.
Wishing we had a huge loft
It would seem that it is Scalectrix Day for our local FreeCycle group – about five miles of the stuff seems to be on offer. If only we had a huge loft…
It’s interesting to try and suss out the type of people using FreeCycle. They seem to range widely in age from the really-quite-young (WANTED: parts that mite[sic] be used to make go cart) to the were-young-quite-some-time-ago (OFFERED: silk parachute – been in loft for years). There are clearly some computer enthusiasts (OFFERED: v92 modem), small business people (OFFERED: HP LaserJet 2200 in working order) and hoarders of stuff (OFFERED: large sack full of matchboxes from around the world). Some people have a curious notion of what others might want (OFFERED: bin bag full of plastic end pieces from cardboard tubes used for mailing posters, etc) whilst others are hopelessly optimistic in their desires (WANTED: small car, must be in good order). A few are clearly genuinely needy and will make good use of what they get (WANTED: any baby clothes – number four on his/her way! and WANTED: camping kit – will be the only sort of holiday we can afford this year) whilst others are using FreeCycle to help with their own small business (WANTED: any old bicycles for refurbishment) – an issue which has vexed some users of our group. Some items are snapped up quickly (monitors, TVs, hi-fis) whilst others languish unloved (endless sacks of children’s clothes, used interior doors).
Does it work? Undoubtedly. But I am sure that there are people who have collected all sorts of unwanted junk via FreeCycle to add to their existing junk. It seems that there is a core group of people who repeatedly offer new things and you wonder if they have enormous lofts or garages full of stuff, or if they get things from other FreeCyclers and realise a week later that they don’t really need it. And if it gives unwanted things a final chance at a new life before they get scrapped/recycled/thrown into landfill, then it must be a good thing.
Thrill-a-minute update on my Canon woes
I finally got through to Canon support and went through the usual re-installation on drivers, checking of settings, etc. I spoke with them twice before, eventually, they upgraded my complaint so that it would be dealt with within the UK and not in Bombay (I’m not opposed to outsourcing per se, but I generally feel that you get a better response from someone in your own timezone and not from somoeone sat at their desk at 2am local time).
On Friday afternoon, a Canon tech person called me and we went through the problem. Unfortunately, I could only spend about 45 minutes with them, as I had to get a train to The Smoke to meet with a bunch of weirdos in a pub. We walked through uninstallation and reinstallation, twice, without success. We also verified that everything was working properly. We left it that he would call me back today (as of 3.30pm, the phone remains silent) after he had investigated the problem further at Canon Tech Guy HQ UK. But his last words were "nope, I’ve not come across that problem before", which did not fill me with optimism.
The current situation is this – I can install my new Canon MP600R multifunction on my old XP laptop with the supplied driver and get them talking to each other via USB or via WLAN, both to print and to scan, which is lovely. I can install the downloadable Vista driver (from the Canon website) on my new Vista laptop and get the laptop and multifunction working with the printer driver over WLAN only, not via USB (I have to use the Add Printer function in Control Panel because there is no USB functionality)- and the scanner driver works not at all. I’ve checked the obvious – the USB port is functioning and I have used the same cable that I used for the XP machine, so I know that is ok. Am I missing something?
Tuesday 26 February 2008
links for 2008-02-26
Rather expensive but rather good Italian in St Germain des Pres, Paris. Famous for pizza, the fish dishes impressed us.
Because you’re interested, really
Man From Canon eventually called me last Thursday afternoon. All well and good, except I was at a trade show in Angers, France. Even though I politely explained that I was 500 miles from my non-functioning multifunction, he still tried to talk me through the problem. I politely explained that my WLAN doesn’t have that sort of range and it was very difficult to resolve an issue in a noisy exhibition hall whilst propped against a window balancing notebook, pen, mobile, laptop bag and a collection of brochures. We agreed that he should call me yesterday when I was back in the office.
On reviewing my emails yesterday, I noticed one from Man From Canon. It told me that he would be out of the office until Thursday but had asked a colleague to call. He also offered a possible solution to the problem. Unfortunately, the "solution" was simply another walkthrough of the same steps that we had been over before. For the sake of completeness, I went through it one more time with the same eventual outcome. I emailed a reply to this effect stating clearly what the problem was/is and saying that I was looking forward to a new call and some new ideas.
This morning, he called. Strange, considering he was supposed to be out of the office. Essentially, he told me that, since my multifunction functions just fine on my old XP laptop, it clearly wasn’t a hardware problem. And Canon were satisfied that there was nothing wrong with their driver. And that the problem must be with my laptop hardware – a USB port driver problem, perhaps. So I should call Dell.
What crap. We’ve established that the USB port is functioning correctly and that the issue is that the Canon driver installation software does not complete its process fully.
So, using my not-particularly-extensive knowledge of computing, I’ve got the machine working on my XP laptop via USB and via WLAN to both print and scan. I have then succeeding in reinstalling it on my Vista laptop so that it wil print via the WLAN, although there is no communication via USB and no scanning functionality at all. Thankfully, I use my machine 95% of the time for printing. But for that 5% of the time when I’m scanning, I’ll need to power up the old XP machine, scan the document and then transfer the file to my Vista laptop by email or using a memory stick.
Verdict: the Canon PIXMA MP600R is not a good machine for use with Windows Vista. Canon tech support leaves much to be desired, both online (due to assumed knowledge) and by telephone (whether overseas or in this country – they only seem capable of dealing with known issues and then can only walkthrough the normal setup and installation procedures). In short, I won’t be buying another Canon product and wish I’d forked out the extra cash for the HP C7280.
Wednesday 27 February 2008
links for 2008-02-27
Interesting attempt to modernise Islamic teaching. But I wonder how widely these revisions will be accepted.
A cheese for amateurs? Pah! I think this is great for true lovers of mild creamy cheeses, with a delicious creamy texture and flavour. Who says you can’t be a connoisseur of mild creamy cheeses? There are lots of subtleties to explore.
Interesting. With increased devolution within Belgium, perhaps the idea that Flanders and Limburg will eventaully become part of the Netherlands are not so far-fetched.
Thursday 28 February 2008
links for 2008-02-28
A good guide in plain English.
The Natural History Museum’s project on bumblebees, complete with a simple and useful identification guide for British species.
Bumblebees have 0.000001% of the number of brain cells that you have, but they can find their way to Tesco without satnav.
Excellent reportage photography, principally of Palestine but also candid photos from the Barack Obama campaign trail.
More Canon woes
I have some simple advice for you. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a Canon product. This evening, I have fired off this missive. To say that I’m furious would be an understatement:
Firstly – I have checked with Dell and I have the latest firmware and hardware drivers for my very new and highly specified Vista laptop – and if it runs on my five-year old Dell XP laptop, then there is no reason why it should not run with my newer Vista laptop. I am convinced that the problem lies with your driver software. However, I succeeded, as previously, in copying the settings from my XP laptop (where I installed the MP600R using the supplied drivers) so that I can use the MP600R with my Vista laptop to print over my WLAN. I have no USB functionality and no scanning functionality on my Vista machine – if I need to scan a document, I must boot up my XP machine, scan the document and then transfer it to my Vista machine via a memory stick. This is completely unsatisfactory.
I now have a new issue.
The MP600R will not respond to any instructions from either my Vista machine or my XP machine via WLAN or USB. When using the IJ Network Tool on the XP machine, the printer is “not found” over WLAN. Via USB it is described as “in use”, even when the Vista machine is shut down, there are no print jobs in the queue and the MP600R has been disconnected from the power supply and reconnected in order to reset it.
I have attempted to reset the MP600R via the panel on the machine. It will not permit me to restore or even print the LAN settings (when I press “OK”, nothing happens). If I select “restore settings” from the menu, nothing happens. Clearly the printer believes itself to be busy, but I can not understand why. The laptop is making a status request, but gets no response. There is no paper jam and the ink cartridges are all functioning and adequately filled.
This is a problem with your hardware/firmware. It is not a problem with either of my laptops or my WLAN. Re-installing the drivers is not going to make any difference, I believe, particularly as your Vista driver installer is clearly dysfunctional.
Currently, I am so disappointed with this machine that I would like Canon to collect it from my premises and refund my money – this is no fault of the company who supplied it to me, who did so in a timely fashion and in good faith. So far, I have wasted more than five working days on trying to get it to function properly. I am self-employed and can simply not afford to spend any more time on it. Until now, I have always used Hewlett Packard machines without any problem and I bitterly regret not being loyal to their products.
I have already expressed my dismay to a number of business colleagues. I run one of the UK’s longest-running blogs and have provided a commentary on it there, as well as remarking on the disappointing level of tech support that I have received. As far as I am concerned, this machine is not fit for purpose as advertised and I believe I could take my complaint to Trading Standards.
I look forward to receiving your comments and response.
I’ll let you know what they say. Don’t hold your breath, though.
Friday 29 February 2008
links for 2008-02-29
There shall be beer-battered pollack in our house tonight.