08 March 2013

Langrex keeps the rebuilt Colossus computer working 

Extremely rare supplies, to save the worlds first electronic computer, Colossus, have been donated by Langrex, based in Billingshurst, West Sussex.

A public appeal was launched for rare and delicate parts by The National Computer Museum, in Bletchley Park and this week have received the first delivery of a charitable donation of 100 glass valves from the West Sussex business who specialize in obsolete and discontinued valves and intergrated circuits.

Colossus, built in 1943 is now known to be the worlds first truly electronic computer after top secret government records about it were declassified in 1975. It is thought that 10 decrypting Colossus computers were made but were all disassembled after WWII during which they were used for deciphering communications between Hitler and his generals, in Bletchley park.

Due to the delicate nature of the materials required to run the machine and age and scarcity of the parts this donation has become essential to keep the machine running for visitors to the museum.

Phil Hayes, Chief Engineer of the Colossus Rebuild said “It’s significant for us, at present we can keep it running for ten years.”

Images and sound bytes can be found at Ben Mail

11 February 2013

Duesenberg (via Richard Hawke) 



                    An Engineer's Engineer

This is truly remarkable!

Anybody who has any sense of the dedication to a job done to the nearest level of perfection, who sees beauty in such purism of craftsmanship, who can appreciate the dedication and love of a person for such an impeccable job, who can relate to the ability of a single person to do what Lou has done with after years of dedication, all these people must applaud Mr. Louis Chenot for having accomplished such a task.


A miniature functioning replica 1932 Duesenberg  by Louis Chenot



No, it's not a real full-size Duesenberg, but rather a beautifully constructed 35" long working model made in 1/6 scale.

Louis Chenot has spent the past ten years building this incredibly detailed 1932 SJ Duesenberg LaGrande dual-cowl phaeton. Not only does it look good, but the engine runs, the lights work, the top mechanism functions and the transmission and driveline are complete. Lou started his research on this project over fifty years ago with the purchase of a book and through the following years collected many drawings and studied a number of Duesenbergs while they were being restored, taking photos and recording dimensions.



Here's a shot of the finished car from the side on its specially made display table.

The model weighs about 60 pounds.


Lou's 40 year career was spent as a mechanical engineer. In the 1960's he spent 7 years restoring a vintage 1930 Cadillac convertible that was on the show circuit for years, but now he prefers to work on smaller projects in the comfort of his home shop.



The bodywork is all metal, not fiberglass. Here is the car in Lou's shop before the brass coachwork was primed or painted. Lou is not adverse to remaking a part that doesn't meet his standards. He started over on the especially difficult brass radiator shell nine times.



Here is the engine removed from the model and sitting on its test stand. The transmission is in the foreground.

Most running models are built at larger scales like 1/3 or 1/4. Working in the smaller 1/6 scale magnifies the problems caused by miniaturizing certain parts. Remember that these scale parts are 1/6 as long, 1/6 as high and 1/6 as deep as real parts, making them 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/216th the volume of the original part. By comparison, a 1/3 scale model is 1/27th the volume and a 1/4 scale model is 1/64th the volume. Further complicating the prospect of building a running engine at that size is the fact that fuel molecules and electricity don't scale. It is very difficult to get tiny carburetors and little spark plugs to work like the big ones.



Inside the straight eight engine are all the correct parts custom machined to scale from steel, cast iron and aluminium. Here we see the block and crankshaft at the top. Arrayed below the block are the cast iron cylinder sleeves, pistons, wrist pins and assembled connecting rods.



Even though there would be no way to tell once it is all assembled, the cylinder head shows that Lou didn't cheat. The engine has 4 valves per cylinder--32 totals--just like the real one.



Here is the head (before painting) with the camshafts in place--there are 16 lobes on each shaft. (The apparent curve of the upper shaft is caused by the camera's wide angle lens.)



The gears inside the differential will never be seen by anyone, but Lou cut them as actual hypoid gears like the real one rather than machining simpler bevel gears.



This is the dashboard and interior with the body primed but not yet painted.

Note the detailed instruments and engine-turned finish on the dash.



The complicated convertible top mechanism is shown in the lowered position before

the canvas top material was installed.



Louis Chenot (Left) and Joe Martin (Right) inspect progress on the chassis and engine

at the NAMES show in Detroit in 2007.



Lou was presented with a special Lifetime Achievement award by the craftsmanship museum in 2009. The model was nearing completion but the engine had not yet run. Now that the engine runs and the model is completed, Lou has been selected as the foundation's "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year."


The award includes an engraved award medallion and a cheque for $2000.00. Lou is the 15th person to receive this coveted annual award. Because it is likely that this could well be the finest running model car ever built in this small a scale, Lou's award this year will be presented as the "Craftsman of the Decade." 



Why not forward this message to anyone you know who likes fine craftsmanship,

car models, miniature engines and/or Duesenbergs.


21 January 2013

Anagrams (via Gerald) 

This has got to be one of the cleverest
E-mails I've received in awhile.
Someone out there
must be "deadly" at Scrabble.
(Wait till you see the last one)! 
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:
When you rearrange the letters:


When you rearrange the letters:
Bet your friends haven't seen this one!!!

16 January 2013

Poem of the year (via Don Cooper) 

The computer swallowed Grandma,
Yes, honestly it’s true!
She pressed 'control and 'enter'
And disappeared from view.
It devoured her completely,
The thought just makes me squirm.
She must have caught a virus Or been eaten by a worm.
I've searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind;
I've even used the Internet,
But nothing did I find.
In desperation,
I asked Mr. Google
My searches to refine.
The reply from him was negative,
Not a thing was found 'online.'
So, if inside your 'Inbox,'
My Grandma you should see,
Please 'Copy, Scan' and 'Paste' her,
And send her back to me.

This is a tribute to all the Grandmas & Grandpas who have been fearless and learned to use the Computer.........

They are the greatest!!!

We do not stop playing because we grow old;
We grow old because we stop playing ..
NEVER Be The First To Get Old!

14 November 2012

How to Replace Mouse Balls (via Roger at the Mucky) 

I don't know how they wrote this with a straight face. This was a real memo sent out by a computer company (IBM) to its employees in all seriousness. It went to all field engineers regarding a computer peripheral problem. The author of this memo was quite genuine. The engineers rolled on the floor! Especially note the last couple of sentences.

"To whom this may concern Re: Replacement of Mouse Balls.

If a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static-sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately. It is recommended that each person have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items. Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an unhappy customer."

19 June 2012

Ponder on these imponderables (via Jo Glapinski) 

1. If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented?

2. If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

3. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

4. If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

5. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

6. Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

7. When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?

8. Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person who drives a racing car not called a racist?

9. Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?

10. Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?

11. Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety one?

12. 'I am' is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language Could it be that 'I do' is the longest sentence?

13. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

14. What hair colour do they put on the driver's license's of bald men?

15. I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?

16. Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the postmen can look for them while
they deliver the mail?

17. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

18. No one ever says, 'It's only a game' when their team is winning.

19. Ever wonder about those people who spend £1.50 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards: NAIVE

20. Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?

21. If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhoea, does that mean that one enjoys it? 

14 June 2012

Only Android users care when the iPhone gets features late (Credit: James Martin/CNET) 

Whenever Apple introduces a new version of iOS, it's guaranteed that Android fans will protest that Google's operating system has long had most of the new features. Apple is late again, they'll say, and only following Google down the smartphone innovation trail.

Truth is, I don't really blame them for making that case. Indeed, I've done the same when reviewing iOS updates (most recently with CNET's iOS 6 First Take) so I understand where their fervor is coming from. But as right they may be, Android fans forget one important thing. Apple may be late to a feature party, but iPhone users really don't care.

Of course, iPhone owners will gripe when their phone is missing an important feature. The wait for real notifications, for example, was particularly galling and it took until iOS 6 to add a button for attaching a photo to an email that you're already writing. But even with those complaints, most iPhone users will forgive Apple and be patient. Because deep down they believe that when Apple finally delivers the feature, they'll get a better experience than their Android friends. Tear off the front page, but Apple takes its time to deliver the experience it wants. That's how it's always been and its customers know it.

Of course, I'm not saying that Apple always hits the highest mark--the iPhone's multitasking is still a bit of a mess--but sometimes it does. It took a while to get video editing, for example, but it was a dream when it arrived. It's those moments that really matter to Apple users. They'd rather sit on the bench than get a half-baked product. To them, Apple doesn't have to invent it as long as it adds the signature Apple touch that customers expect and love.

In the end, it's really about two distinct philosophies of a smartphone user experience. On one side you have an OS that can do almost anything, offers oodles of choice, and is exhaustively customizable. But at the same time it can feel messy and a tad unrefined. That's fine for some people, but others will prefer an OS that's less buggy and that's tightly integrated and exceedingly easy to use. Sure, that same OS also is limiting and occasionally less powerful, but users should be allowed to choose what works for them.

So, yes, Android users, I feel your pain. When Apple announces a feature that you've had for months, I know that it is frustrating. And when Apple gets only thunderous applause in return I see why it makes your blood boil. But even though that's the reality, Apple fans won't hear you shouting. Their new iOS feature may be late, but to them it was worth the wait.

09 May 2012

Angela Merkel (via Andrew) 

Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control at Paris airport. "Nationality?" asks the immigration officer. "German," she replies. "Occupation?" "No, just here for a few days."

03 May 2012

Via Windows Secrets online Magazine, even if you don't read all of this then try the test at the very bottom of the article. 

Top Story

DNSChanger is not the end of the world
Woody LeonhardBy Woody Leonhard

DNSChanger virus spells 'Internet Doomsday' … The end is nigh, according to the FBI … 'Internet doomsday' will strike us all on July 9 …

That's what a couple of popular websites had to say about the DNSChanger virus. What a crock!

I've been writing about viruses for about two decades, and I don't think I've ever seen headlines that ridiculous from sources that should know better.

DNSChanger is a real piece of malware — it's a variant of the TDSS/Alureon family of Trojans — and it was a real problem until taken down Nov. 8, 2011, in a joint FBI–Estonian police action code-named "Operation Ghost Click" (FBI site).

Since then, it seems, DNSChanger has hit headline after headline — with dire warnings. Even local TV news programs have covered it in breathless terms, as if it were the worst thing to ever infect your computer.

Lemme tell ya. It's easy to write scary headlines such as "New Mac Trojan makes your clicking finger fall off!" (no doubt because Mac mice have only one button) or "Log on to Windows and lose your life savings!" It's not so easy to examine the threat, digest it, translate it into terms we can all understand, and make a few simple recommendations.

That's the goal for this column. Is it true that, as a Huffington Post U.K. headline put it, "The end is nigh, according to the FBI!"? I don't think so.

Exactly what does DNSChanger do?

With an estimated four million infected computers — 500,000 in the U.S. alone — DNSChanger was one of the largest botnets ever disassembled. However, despite what you may have read, this botnet wasn't designed to steal your credit-card numbers or bank-account passwords. DNSChanger rerouted your browser to websites that mostly sold little blue pills, antivirus products that didn't work, and other scummy stuff.

The people behind DNSChanger received commissions from these fake pharmaceutical companies, rogue antivirus sites, and other unsavory cyber characters. The FBI avers that these "commissions" amounted to more than $14 million.

Typically, DNSChanger infected systems by posing as a codec needed for viewing videos streamed from adult sites. When you clicked to view these bogus videos, Windows Media Player would complain that it didn't have the right codec. Users then downloaded the codec from the site, gave permission to install the codec, and — well, there you go.

(Given the amount of unauthorized Web surfing on business PCs, it should not be surprising that half of the Fortune 500 companies and roughly half of all U.S. government agencies now have one or more PCs infected with DNSChanger.)

As befits a TDSS/Alureon variant, the infection is a nasty one — full rootkit behavior that's hard to detect and even harder to clean.

On Windows, the infection changes your computer's DNS server, usually by hacking the Registry. (If you aren't familiar with Domain Name Servers — the White Pages of the Internet — check out Susan Bradley's April 5 Top Story.) With a subverted DNS server, you might type www.google.com into your browser — any browser — and end up at www.buyonlinepharmaceuticalsifyoudare.com. The bad guys set up several DNS servers that did exactly that.

Naturally, if you tried to go to common Web addresses that offer antivirus help, AV scans, patches, advice, or even news about DNSChanger, you were rerouted. Effectively, your browser belonged to DNSChanger.

DNSChanger meets its match on two continents

As scary as that DNSChanger sounds, you no longer need fret over it — you no longer have to worry about DNSChanger changing your PC's DNS server. The FBI and many other organizations — in the U.S. and in Estonia — took DNSChanger down. You might still get an Alureon infection, but it won't be DNSChanger.

Although it took years, the FBI succeeded in identifying the people directly involved in the scam — six men in Estonia. The agencies also found the IP addresses of the DNSChanger servers: all were located within the U.S.

In a complex, well-coordinated action, Estonian police arrested most of the bad guys, who are now facing extradition to the U.S. To minimize Internet service disruptions to those four million infected PCs, the FBI and Internet Systems Consortium (the nonprofit company that maintains the ubiquitous DNS server software, Binds) pulled off an amazing technical feat: they quickly replaced the malicious servers with legitimate DNS servers. (Many PC users might still not know they're infected. But at least they're getting to their intended websites.)

Operation of the DNS server farm was given to a new organization called the DNSChanger Working Group, which consists of representatives from the computer industry and law enforcement. That left the FBI in the position of running a DNS server farm — and also left a nagging question.

The take-down aftermath, and what you can do

For those four million PCs, what's the smarter move: leave users unaware that they're infected and maintain the servers indefinitely, or gradually shut down the servers and cut off small numbers of users at a time?

It's a tough choice. There's no right or wrong answer, from my point of view. The FBI and BINDS could perhaps try to intercept a handful of webpages and put up warnings on them. But that might scare the daylights out of a lot of people and leave them with the task of changing to another DNS server on their own.

The FBI and the DNSChanger Working Group originally had court permission to keep the server farm running until March 8. As the deadline approached, people fretted that shutting off the remaining infected machines (still millions of them, at that point) would cause a lot of panic. So they sought, and received, a court extension to July 9.

Will the DNSChanger Working Group look for another extension after July 9? I think it's highly likely that they'll ask for — and receive — an extention. Remember, though, somebody has to pay for running the temporary server farm.

So while we wait for an Internet Armageddon that will never come (at least not from DNSChanger), here's something you can do (and have all your friends do, as well). Go to the DNSChanger Working Group Detect site and click the link at the bottom for your language or country. (Because you're reading this in English, you'll most likely click through to the main DCWG test page.) When you get to the DNS Changer Check-Up page, you'll see a large graphic — if it's green, you're fine; if it's red, you're infected.

There are lots of DNSChanger-fixing programs out there. I've not run across any infected machines yet; but if I do, my first choice for cleaning them would be Windows Defender Offline, which I wrote about in my Jan. 5 Top Story.

Yep, this is one of the tests even your Aunt Martha needs to take so do it now!. DCWG test page

17 April 2012

All very logical (via Bruce Munn) 

Wife texts husband on a cold winter's morning:
"Windows frozen."

Husband texts back:
"pour some luke warm water over it."

Wife texts back:
"computer completely knackered now."

30 January 2012

WiFi (via Andrew Lancaster) 

12 January 2012

Puns for those with a Higher IQ (via Gerald) 

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine .

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.

Practice safe eating - always use condiments.

Shotgun wedding - a case of wife or death.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.

A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.

What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway.)

In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.

She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but broke it off.

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.

Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture is a jab well done.

16 December 2011

Ventriloquism (via Andrew) 

A young ventriloquist is doing the New Jersey night club scene.

With his dummy on his knee, he starts going through his usual dumb, blonde jokes.

Suddenly, a blonde woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting, "I've heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype women that way? What does the colour of a person's hair have to do with her worth as a human being? It's men like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community, and from reaching our full potential as people. You and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes, but women in general ...
pathetically all in the name of humour!"

The embarrassed ventriloquist begins to apologize, and the beautiful blonde yells:

"You stay out of this! I'm talking to that little runt on your lap!"

19 November 2011

Drugs Test (This was written by British Soldier) 

I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to earn that pay, I train for war and eventually deploy and I may be killed. I am required to pass a random urine test... for drugs, with which I have no problem.

... What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a benefits cheque because I have to pass one to EARN IT for them?

Please understand that I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do on the other hand have a problem with helping someone sit on their arse drinking beer and smoking dope.

Could you imagine how much money the government would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a benefit cheque?

Please pass this along if you agree or simply delete it if you don't. Hope you will pass it along though, because something has to change in the UK!!!

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