Tessa's Tête-à-Tête
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Recent Posts:
September 2005


Battle of Britain

Fertility Treatment

The Plumber's Tale of Woe

Learning to Read and Write

Bureaucracy Gone Mad

What is Really Happening in New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina

The Tooth Fairy Forgot to Come!!!

August 2005

More Surgery!"

How I Met Michael Rennie (1909-1971)

"The Sixth Lamentation" - An Excellent Book

French Onions

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

I'm Recovering Well

Well, I'm Glad That's Over!

Just Me Prattling

The Russian Mini-Submarine

Amazing Animals: The Sturgeon

The Tower Subway

Surgical Pre-Assessment

July 2005

The Coal Delivery

Spyware and Anti-spyware"

Getting Enough Sleep?

An Insidious Cancer

Americans First on the Moon

"The Lion King"

Update on my Biopsy

Have I had my Head Buried in the Sand?


Animal Intelligence

Fl./Lt. Dennis G. Hornsey, D.F.C.

The English Language

London Bombs

Marriage Advice?

My Biopsy

A Message for the World's Leaders

June 2005


A 'Perfect' Day

Amazing Animals: The Emperor Penguin

Crowned on this Day in 1509

A Sweet for a Special Occasion

King Solomon's Mines

Father's Day

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Cockroaches and Human Fertility

World's Best Character Actor

Computer Decisions

Food for Thought


World Ocean Day

Daft as a Brush (or Two)

Douglas Jennings, RAF Evader During WW II

Lord of the Rings

Driving Me Mad

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Wednesday, 27 July 2005
Spyware and Anti-spyware
Topic: Computer
Last week, I started getting pestered with more pop-up ads than usual. In particular, one full-page advertisement about gambling. Every time I closed it down, up popped a little warning box asking me if I was sure I wanted to download "surfya". I most certainly did not as it is probably spyware. A quick check on Google implied that it had caused no end of trouble to many unfortunate people. Thank goodness my system warns me before installing unwanted programs.

I checked all my anti-spyware programs and made sure they were up to date and, in so doing, discovered that SpywareBlaster and Ad-aware both had new versions available. Downloaded and installed the new versions then I ran Pest Patrol and Ad-Aware just in case I had picked up an unwanted 'nasty'. Apparently, a clean PC - but "surfya" was still trying to install itself. Then I remembered that "Spyware Warrior", Eric Howes, who operates the Rogue/Antispyware Website, had recommended installing at least two of everything from his list of Trustworthy Anti-Spyware Products. I had installed SpywareBlaster some time ago. I went back to his site for advice and promptly downloaded SpywareGuard as well. Hey presto - no more giant advertisements appearing and not one hint of "surfya" trying to install. Peace at last!

Don't forget to update ALL your anti-virus/anti-pest software at least twice a week or even daily. My Norton AntiVirus does this automatically which is a great help. Remember, new 'nasties' are appearing all the time and, if you do not keep your programs updated, your protection will become completely useless in a very short time.

Posted by Noviomagus at 11:55 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 30 June 2005
Topic: Computer
I'm always looking up words in the dictionary to discover their true meaning or to find a related word which exactly fits what I want to say. I used to use the Thesaurus section of my Encarta English Dictionary all the time - until my DVD drive went kaput! So, I miss not having it to hand as it was quicker than thumbing through a large and heavy dictionary. Even though calling it up was, increasingly, the last straw for the memory capacity of my ancient laptop (and for its ancient owner!)

However, the normal dictionary cannot help when it comes to finding out what a mobile wallet or FeliCa chip is or what a serial communications interface really does. Yes, I know you can probably find the answers by asking Google but it's so much easier when everything is on the same site. That's why I was really pleased to discover an on-line IT-specific encyclopedia at

Perhaps I can begin to understand what all the 'jargon' really means as I look through the immense choice of new notebooks, desktops and all their peripherals. At the moment, I use a small desk in the sitting room - not ideal as it get surrounded by papers - and it is barely wide enough for my laptop, mouse mat and small notebook (and most new laptops are much wider than my current one). Also, when I want to use my scanner, it is in the way of the door into the kitchen!

Time to do something and we have been! Large wardrobe shoved round in third 'bedroom', Large chest of drawers removed. Single bed and bed frame moved from second bedroom into third - just fits! Phew! Still got to move two bookcases out of third bedroom, move things round in second bedroom, GET RID OF MOUNTAIN OF JUNK and, maybe, I can put a new computer desk upstairs. And, maybe, offspring can be persuaded to remove some of HIS junk which dear parents have been storing ever since he moved into his first digs when he left university, including an antique Commodore 64 and games!. Then, maybe, I can make use of the chest of drawers he never finished restoring and kept saying he would take away! MAYBE....

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:52 BST Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Monday, 13 June 2005
Computer Decisions
Topic: Computer
I was telling myself about 18 months ago that I needed to replace my Toshiba Laptop. Then, in April 2004, I crashed my computer and got it back with a new 20 GB hard disk. The old one was just 6.4 GB - yes, that's right, 6.4 billion bytes! No wonder I had been running out of memory. I decided to wait a bit longer. After all, they bring out new, more advanced models all the time.

Well, I can't wait very much longer. This old machine is moribund and one day, sooner rather than later, it will go to that great network up in the sky. It often hangs on start up and then I get a message to tell me that the Angel Microsoft has 'restored a good registry'. It is incredibly slow, even after defragging. I can't play games like the Scrabble game my husband bought because the Video RAM is, wait for it, 2.5 MB! And now, to add to my woes, I have managed to break my DVD drive!

My problem is which make and model of Notebook to go for - I suppose I am a typical female who can't make up her mind! But it is a confusing world. What is the difference between Intel Pentium M Centrino and Intel Pentium 4 for a start? Well, what do I know that I want? I haven't got much space so a Laptop is ideal - a desktop replacement with a lot of internal memory and the biggest hard disk I can get. I want a DVD/CD burner and a good video memory. I would like to add a Blue Tooth whatever to my HP printer so that I don't have to be within two feet of it! And I would like wireless capability so that I can sit in the garden with my laptop or anywhere in the house. I would like to go Broadband. However, I still want to be able to connect to my 'phone line for the time being as I probably won't be able to set everything up at once. Oh, yes, I must have a mouse - can't get on with things like the Accupoint control this machine has.

I've looked at Toshiba and Sony and Hewlett Packard and Dell and IBM. I was briefly tempted by the Qosmio but I don't really need a computer that is also a television. Now I am looking at the Acer Notebooks - at least that is a British firm. I was warned not to buy from the usual high street outlets (i.e., PC World, etc.) as, although models might be 'good value', they are likely to have sub-standard chassis, or whatever you call them. Also, because they are put together in some remote Asiatic land, you can't get spare parts easily.

I might go for the Acer TravelMate 8104WLMi - it has an impressive 100 GB hard disk and 1024 MB of RAM installed. It doesn't appear to have a parallel port but it does have Bluetooth and Ethernet, and four USB Ports. Is there a modem jack? What is SPDIF In and Out? Perhaps I had better look around a bit more. I bought a couple of magazines on Sunday morning, 'Computer Buyer' and 'What Laptop'. Better get reading.

Posted by Noviomagus at 02:12 BST Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink

Thursday, 5 May 2005
Laptop Perversity!
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Computer
I can see Jeremy Clarkson smashing a computer with a hammer in that television series, "Inventions that Changed the World". Well, right now, I feel like doing exactly the same thing to my machine!! Grrrrr... There I am creating a new entry for this blog. Three other windows open whilst I do some research and look for links. At the same time, I am consulting medium-sized tome. Getting on like a house on fire. Then, muggins, leans book against front edge of laptop computer. Arrgghh... Frozen keyboard. WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?

I know, I know, I can hear Michael Winner telling me to, "Calm down, dear!" — think I'll go to bed and start again in the morning.

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:15 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 20 January 2005
Email Hijacking and Phishing Emails
Topic: Computer
I have had a tremendous amount of trouble with Spam recently. Twice, I have had a large number of emails I didn't send returned marked `undeliverable'. It seems my email address may have been hijacked. The first time this happened was at the end of November/beginning of December. I saw all these emails appearing on MailWasher. I immediately logged on to my Wanadoo Webmail Account and saw that another 260 or so had gone straight into the Junk Email Folder. Panic. I have Norton Anti-Virus (which automatically updates itself when I am on-line) and email protection from Wanadoo, as well, so I was sure it wasn't a virus email that had caused the problem. I did an immediate virus scan - everything was clean.

For a couple of weeks, I used my webmail account instead of Outlook Express. I downloaded additional programs such as SpywareBlaster and Ad-Aware. Eventually, I opened Outlook Express. Of course, all the mail I had read on Wanadoo downloaded as un-read. Then, it all happened again on dates between 30th December and 2nd January. I was worried that Wanadoo might close my account for sending out Spam so I wrote to them for advice. Their reply was vague, just telling me that some Internet users use spoof email addresses and that many viruses also take email addresses from the address books of infected computers. They also told me how to report Spam by copying the IP address from the email header.

In November 2001, I opened an attachment and got the Badtrans.B worm, which immediately emailed itself to everyone in my "cache" so I know about viruses using address books. This 'sporadic hijacking' is different so what is causing it and can I do anything about it other than changing my email address? Have I got something nasty on my computer or is it an external problem? My Outlook Express folders are now in a total mess and I still haven't got round to sorting and deleting all those `unread` emails!

Do you know anyone this has happened to? I would appreciate any advice!

Now, a warning: a few days ago, I received an email telling me that I had just received a virtual postcard from Aunt Edna. I don't have an Aunt Edna, so I was suspicious. BUT, could it be someone I know being facetious? The postcard came from 1001 Postcards so I did a Google search and found the site. A very nice postcard site, I thought, but my pickup code of "35-dodge-treads-aunt" didn't work and I got an "ooops" message. Sent myself a postcard. There were some slight discrepancies between the two emails notifying me of my postcards, not least of which was the address for making a donation at VERY suspicious by now. No way was I going to click on any of the links in the first email. I even went to the trouble of filling in the comment form at 1001 Postcards telling them that I suspected I had received a phishing email supposedly from them. Well, if it was your postcard website, you would want to know wouldn't you? They might want to put a warning somewhere on their pages.

I decided to do another google search and found confirmation. Yes, it is a phishing email. Clicking on any of the links sends you to a Trojan Site and opens a socks proxy on a random TCP port leaving you vulnerable to a particularly nasty trojan called CoolWebSearch. If you get a postcard notification from Aunt Edna, delete it immediately. If your name is Edna, don't send any postcards from 1001 Postcards to your nephews and nieces! They probably will bin them!

Posted by Noviomagus at 12:57 GMT Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 8 October 2004
To Buy or Not to Buy - Zone Alarm Pro
Topic: Computer
My free trial period for ZoneAlarm Pro ended yesterday. First thing I noticed during the trial was that the 'Valid HTML', Valid CSS' and 'Icra Label' links had all disappeared from my pages. That meant I could no longer do a quick check when I uploaded a revised page by clicking on the links. So I removed ZoneAlarm's Ad Blocking for "Banner/Skyscraper ads", which solved that problem but meant I had to put up with the odd pop-up ad appearing. Then I found I couldn't read the "Times OnLine" because it uses cookies so, I unchecked "Block Third Party Cookies". Maybe I could have put this site into Trusted Zones? Anyway, PestPatrol has a "Cookie Cruncher". The outcome is that I have decided to go back to the free version and put up with all the pop-up ads.

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 21 September 2004
Pest and Spyware Protection
Topic: Computer
I picked up two pests whilst reading the news on Google, 'Client Sniffer' and 'RedV', both sitting in Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5. PestPatrol was running and found them almost immediately. If you are worried about removing pests or spyware and you want a free removal program, take a look at this webpage first: Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products & Web Sites. I update PestPatrol regularly but I had never checked to see if there was an update for ZoneAlarm. There was, so I downloaded it there and then. Decided to try the free trial for the Pro version - there is no obligation and I can go back to the free version if I want.

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 8 June 2004
Zone Alarm
Topic: Computer
Delighted with the free version of Zone Alarm, which my son suggested I get. Amazing to see how many access attempts are being blocked! Went to a site called Shields Up yesterday, which I had bookmarked ages ago. I remember failing all the tests miserably. Anyway, this time, the results stated:

"Your system has achieved a perfect "TruStealth" rating. Not a single packet solicited or otherwise was received from your system as a result of our security probing tests. Your system ignored and refused to reply to repeated Pings (ICMP Echo Requests). From the standpoint of the passing probes of any hacker, this machine does not exist on the Internet. Some questionable personal security systems expose their users by attempting to "counter-probe the prober", thus revealing themselves. But your system wisely remained silent in every way. Very nice."

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Sunday, 23 May 2004
All Was Not Lost!
Topic: Computer
Been experiencing a problem or two with the new external drive/old drive. I had done a virus check as a precaution a while back. Decided to do a scan disk of E drive and lots of errors were found and some invisible files and folders were restored. Wish I had thought of doing that at the start - it would have saved me lots of time searching for copies of programs on the Internet, downloading a new Windows Media Player, etc., etc.! Pleased to get back all my fonts, games, screensavers and unzipped folders, which have all reappeared.

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 17 May 2004
How Daft Can You Be?
Topic: Computer
Solved the lack of colour in toolbars, scrollbars and 3d objects! First, I rediscovered how to customise the display properties then, eventually, it dawned on me that I had actually installed a 'Theme' some three years ago. I had completely forgotten about it and I feel particularly daft as I had carefully matched the Windows Media Player embedded in one of my old pages with that colour not realising that it was a 'local' colour scheme. Messed up my Encarta 2001. I had copied all the files over from the old external drive and stupidly deleted them. I must have left something behind though because, when I next wanted to use Encarta, the program reinstalled from the CD and the result is I have lost all of the updates I had downloaded.

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:01 BST Post Comment | Permalink

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