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Server updates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Regular visitors will notice that quite a few Garfnet features are looking a bit tired. And you have probably encountered quite a few 404's too. The reason for this is that Garfnet is undergoing a fairly major overhaul at the moment.

  • Moving to a new, better designed and much faster server
  • Dumping dead or unsupported projects
  • Incorporating experimental projects - and some nifty toys from deoss.org.

The .org part  of DEOSS is being parked-up for a while. Meantime the .com tales care of the business side, whilst the .net manages the network, server, vhosts etc. etc. Garfnet itself will continue to host the experimental and unashamedly geeky stuff.

More, when we know more. :-)

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 02:56
 
"This Is HansinUngarn, from Pécs Hungary..." PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

"...playing his favourite music, I hope you like it."

These are the first words you will hear when you connect to the internet radio stream of Radio Pécs International. And I recently had the pleasure of meeting the man behind the show, Hans Randau. His station is located in a small basement room in his lovely home, which overlooks Pécs, a Mediterranean style town about 200km south of the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

"This Is HansinUngarn, from Pécs Hungary"
HansinUngarn, playing his favourite music, 2014-01-07...

Hans is a German citizen who married a Hungarian lady, way back in the days when Hungary was part of the Soviet-dominated "Eastern Bloc" and it was difficult for Hungarians to travel to "The West". Today things are very different. Hungary is now a member of the European Union, enjoying relatively free travel across its borders. And Pécs was the "European Capital of Culture" in 2010. This gave it access to a sizable wad of EU cash - enough to tart-up some of its crumbling monuments, that were so badly neglected under the communists.

Sadly however, some would argue that this accolade was somewhat devalued by the fact that Liverpool (UK) had already been a "European Capital of Culture" back in 2008 - much to the amazement of anyone who has actually been to Liverpool. As one Liverpudlian told me, many years ago, "The world remembers that the Beatles came from Liverpool. However it is often forgotten that the mop-topped superstars all vacated here as quickly as they could!"

But I digress... Wink

A retired teacher and engineer, Hans moved to Hungary with his wife, though he still retains roots in his native Germany too. He has run his radio station from Pécs since 2008. Describing himself as a "citizen of the world", Hans speaks German, English, Hungarian, as well as enough French to introduce a record or to ask for a beer.

Hans now enjoys listeners from all around the planet - though mostly from the Anglosphere: e..g. Canada, USA, UK and New Zealand. He also has fans right across continental Europe.

Tandberg Huldra 10 and Maxell C7 playing Radio Pécs International
Tandberg Huldra 10 connected to a 50-Euro Maxell C7 tablet, playing Radio Pécs International

I can bear testament to his station's worldwide appeal from my brief time in his chat room, where a chap from British Columbia turned up. He was followed shortly by a lady from South Carolina, and another listener from California. Meantime Hans was saying “hello” on-air to more of his listeners in Croatia and Hungary.

Interesting to think that the United States probably has more radio stations per head of population than any other nation on earth. So why do Americans patch-in to a tiny station thousands of kilometres away in central Europe?  Seems primarily his audience enjoy the eclectic variety of music he plays.

As one listener said, "You learn something new every time you listen." Or as Hans rather neatly put it, “World citizens like [radio] stations run by world citizens.” From my point of view, I agree with all the above, plus the fact that there are no commercials!

His stream currently supports a maximum of 25 concurrent listeners and he bankrolls the project himself. However he is puzzled by the fact that his audience suddenly surges when he plays certain songs. This is hard to explain because listeners have no idea what he is playing until they actually connect to his stream. Seems for now, this remains another of life's little mysteries.

His playlist currently boasts over 10,000 tracks and is growing all the time – especially as often goes out to find material that his audience requests.

His radio stream is generated by Nullsoft's Shoutcast, a cross-platform (but proprietary) software application for streaming media over the Internet. The stream hosting is provided by German stream hosts pop-stream.de. Then, a standard desktop PC, a simple mixer desk, a set of headphones with built-in microphone and a copy of DJSoft's Radioboss (radio automation software) complete his simple-but-effective equipment line-up.

His radio stream is compatible with Windows, Macintosh OSX and most popular GNU/Linux flavours, including Red Hat, Slackware, Debian, Ubuntu and Mint. It also plays on most Android devices. However my budget-priced Maxell C7 tablet throws an error, complaining that it cannot play the stream. Then it plays it anyway! Of course, that is just one of many, many Android bugs and has absolutely nothing to do with Hans!

You can connect to his live radio stream 24/7 by typing the following URL into your browser or into favourite internet radio player. Give it a go. You won't be disappointed...

http://s8.pop-stream.de:8120/listen.pls

Radio Pécs International played in the excellent KRadio4 player for Linux users with the KDE desktop
Radio Pécs International played in the excellent KRadio4 player for Penguinistas who use the KDE desktop

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 January 2014 12:15
 
Merry Christmas 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Christmas card 2013

Photograph: "St Faith's Church Havant - in the Snow" by Susannah Dora Majlati

In 935AD, Havant was known as "Hamafunta" - the spring of Hama - referring to the water spring to the south-west of St Faith's Churchyard. The settlement was located at the crossing point of the track from the Downs to the coast and another track running east to west along the coast. By the time of Domesday Book, 1086, Havant was a village with a population of around 100. In 1200, the monks of Winchester Cathedral were granted permission to hold a market in the town, known at this time as "Haveunte".

Much of Havant was destroyed by fire in 1760, leaving only the church and the adjacent 16th century cottages. Some locals argue that today's town centre would be greatly improved if the same fate befell the ghastly-looking Meridian Shopping Centre. The cottages are now a pub called "The Old House at Home". It is said that the two main beams in the lounge bar were salvaged from the Spanish Armada, and that the "Bear Post" had the last dancing bear in England tethered to it. Others say the post is there to help the regulars stay upright after they have drunk a few too many - or if there is an earthquake. That is not as far-fetched as it sounds because Havant did suffer minor earthquakes in 1784-10-25 and 1811-11-30.

Water played an important part in Havant's local commerce - including breweries, water mills and parchment manufacturers. Local tradition says that Havant parchment was used for the 1215 Magna Carta and the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. However, parchment production ceased in 1936. Today, the borough of Havant has a population approaching 120,000 and is part of the Portsmouth conurbation. It is bypassed by the A27 dual carriageway to the south and the A3(M) motorway to the west. Its properties have "PO" post codes and it shares its "(023)" dialling code and 8-digit telephone number system with Portsmouth and Southampton. The city of Portsmouth lies about 9 km to the south-west, Southampton is 30 km north-west and London is 90 km north-east.

The popular holiday resort of Hayling Island and its scenic beaches are a just short southerly cycle-ride from Havant town centre. Hayling hit the national news recently because a holiday caravan was blown over by a very small tornado. Havant's local community radio station, Angel Radio (101.1 MHz VHF/FM) primarily aimed at those of pensionable age has proven more popular with other demographic groups than its station controllers anticipated and currently enjoys a cult following online. Meanwhile, rumour has it that the local football team, Havant & Waterlooville FC, aka "The Hawks" very nearly almost won a match, once...


More goosy nonsense courtesy of Mr.Goose's infamous Webfooted Weblog:-
http://www.garfnet.org.uk/mrgoose

Take a trip down memory lane and browse all our earlier Christmas cards in our special on-line Christmas Card Anthology:-
http://www.garfnet.org.uk/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=634

Image was created/edited using GIMP, a free, open source graphics package bundled with many Linux distributions. Free download for Windows & Linux...
http://www.gimp.org

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 December 2013 01:34
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Stop software patents in Europe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

stopsoftwarepatents.eu petition banner

The patent system is misused to restrain competition for the economical benefit of a few but fails to promote innovation. A software market environment is better off with no patents on software at all. Healthy competition forces market players to innovate. If you value your computing freedom then sign the petition to stop software patents in the EU. Sign petition now.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 18:06
 
About GarfNet PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Eighteen years of GarfNet |1995-08-18 to 2013-08-18

dscf1169.jpgdscf1172.jpgdscf1171.jpgdscf1168.jpg


GarfNet is penguin-powered and full of unixy goodness! Yep! we're "open source" and enjoying every moment of it. GNU/Linux is serving us so well that there is hardly a whiff of the mighty Micro$oft on this site these days. Just penguins and of course, a goose!

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 14:44
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Hot Spots PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageGarfnet has become a huge site with many component parts. Here are some of the more useful bits, complete with nice, short URL's you can bookmark, scribble down on a stick-it note or (heaven forbid) memorise!


Last Updated on Friday, 25 December 2009 14:03
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Why we object to the Microsoft Windows Tax PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Rationale

At the moment, everyone who buys a PC from a UK supplier has to buy a Microsoft Windows license whether they want it or not. One has no choice, it is included in the price one pays. So, even if you are using one of the many free alternative operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian or FreeBSD, you are still forced to pay money to a giant foreign corporation, Microsoft, regardless of whether you wish to use its products or not.

The Microsoft End User License Agreement states:-

"By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit."

Yet retailers are not honouring this. This means that Linux users such as ourselves are effectively forced to pay a what amounts to a tax, to a large foreign corporation even though we use none of its products.

What we plan to do about it

We are conducting a series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Windows Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we object most strongly being forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses.

These studies are being documented and gathered in order to submit a formal complaint to the UK Office of Fair Trading and perhaps even to the EU Commission in the hope these regulatory bodies will finally put an end to Microsoft's monoploy and this iniquitous abuse of the market.

Meantime suppliers will be awarded "penguin points", (named after Tux, the Linux penguin) up to five points for customer care and up to another five for the degree to which they honour the EULA and don't force non-Windows users to pay for unwanted Windows licenses.

Marks out of five for customer care. That is, is the supplier friendly and helpful? Does it answer emails and enquires promptly? Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic
Marks out of 5 for penguin-friendliness. That is, does the supplier either supply its machines OS free or will it refund unused Windows licenses without hassle & argument? Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic Penguin points graphic

Penguin points graphic

Penguin points graphic

Overall rating 10/10 = the perfect Linux-friendly supplier. Unfortunately it seems that such a supplier does not actually exist here in the UK!

Microsoft Vista EULA

UK Sale of Goods Act

Other users who object to the Microsoft Windows Tax

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 04:15
 
Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 1 - Dell UK PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

This is a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses.


Tux with broken Dell t-shirt


We did some research and approached Dell UK to buy some of its rather smart-looking Vostro laptops, OS-free. Now Dell has a reputation for being fairly "penguin-friendly" and that it will build systems to the customer's specification. Moreover, its new Vostro laptops really are nice machines, with a good specification and a business-like apperance. We really wanted to buy some. I even transfered the money into our purchasing account ready to do the deal. Sadly, Dell's UK competely disinterested "sales team" managed to blow away any chances of that. Here's what happened...

Dell's Penguin rating

Marks out of five for Dell's customer care.
(This would have been zero but
Dell did actually manage to call us back once)
Penguin points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Marks out of 5 for Dell's penguin-friendliness Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Overall rating 1/10 = hopeless!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 17:10
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Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 2 - Laptops Direct PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

This is the second article in a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. This week we focus on Laptops Direct.


Tux with broken logo


Laptops Direct is part of a British-based chain, run by Buy It Direct Ltd. whose sites are mostly registered to an address in Huddersfield:-

  • Unit A, Trident Business Park, Leeds Road. Huddersfield, HD2 1VA, United Kingdom

Or registered to individuals with a few kilometres of there. Basically Laptops Direct is an on-line bucket-shop that sells new and refurbished laptops at very reasonable prices. Despite its pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap ethos, Laptops Direct also has considerable expertise in the business and good technical knowledge with regard to the inner workings of Laptop PC's. So we felt that Laptops Direct it would be a good bet for meeting our computing needs. Its site offers potential customers the ability to ask questions to the pre-sales team via an on-line form. So we did, three times between 2009-07-09 & 2009-07-10. Initially it would not respond. When I finally wrote a very stiff email asking why it did not want our business, it finally did respond - although this response was quite astonishing!.

Laptop Direct's Penguin rating

Marks out of five for Laptop Direct's customer care.

Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Marks out of 5 for Laptop Direct's penguin-friendliness Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Overall rating 0/10 = even worse than Dell!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 03:24
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Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 5 - Acer, the most shameful response so far PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

On 2009-11-26, I wrote to Acer UK to establish what its policy was regarding the Microsoft Tax. This was its response:-

Hello, Thank you for contacting Acer.

Regarding your enquiry,

The value would be £33.95 for vista home premium.

This can only be refunded within 30 days of purchase and to get it
refunded you would need to send the laptop into the acer repair centre
to have the HDD formatted.  This would not be covered under warranty so
would cost £51.99.

Regards
Jonathan
Acer Technical Support Team

This is one of the most shameful responses so far and justifies raising the matter with the OFT all on its own. In a nutshell, it means you would end up paying Acer £18.04 in order not to pay the Microsoft Windows Tax. Interestingly, having studied the MS EULA(s) carefully I can find no reference to any of this.


Acer's Penguin Rating

Marks out of five for Acer's customer care.
(By rights, this ought to be a negative number, consdering Acer actually tries to charge you in order to exercise your consumer rights.)
Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Marks out of 5 for Acer's penguin-friendliness Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic Penguin nil-points graphic
Overall rating 0/10 = avoid!



I have written back to Acer UK, requesting that it points me to the part(s) in the Microsoft EULA that say you need to return the machine and that the hard drive would need to be formatted in order to claim your consumer rights, and that you would be charged for doing so. I eagerly await its response.


Last Updated on Thursday, 31 December 2009 06:43
 
It's war! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Two events this week could herald in the clash of the titans as the two global IT giants, Google & Microsoft slug it out for global internet dominance. Or so one might believe.

Google Chromium logo from the Wikipedia

  1. MS started rolling-out its much-hyped Microsoft Online Services (MOS). The new services are scheduled to be available to customers by mid-July 2009. Basically MS is trying to make a series of its applications available on-line. These sit upon the Azure Services Platform, Microsoft' new cloud based OS, intended to rival Google Apps
  2. Meantime on 2009-07-07 Google announced its new Linux-based Chrome OS operating system that some believe could unseat MS Windows from the "top slot"  - especially on lightweight machines such as netbooks.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2009 21:38
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