Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

One of the things I miss about Outlook since I changed to Thunderbird is the calendar. I also had a handy little app that synced it with Google (handy since I use Android on my tablet and phone) and a gadget at the side of the screen that let me know what was coming my way.

Anyway, not only have I lost Outlook but also the gadget functionality that came with Windows 7.

A bit of searching led me to 8GadgetPack a handy utility that allows you to use gadgets in Windows 8, either directly on the desktop or as part of a sidebar (especially handy now I have 2 monitors and space I can sacrifice to have this stuff always available)

This gave me the ever popular analogue clock which saves me having to squint at the bottom corner of the screen, and a range of gadgets that are similar to the ones that came with windows 7, but the calendar options that come with the initial installation seem limited.

A bit of searching brought me to Windows Live Calendar which will happily sync with calendars that use the iCal format (Windows Live and Google among them).

Install the gadget, go to Google Calendar and click “Share” on the calendar you want to add. On the calendar tab is “Private Address” and two buttons next to it. Click the one that says iCal and paste the URL into the calendar gadget. As easy as that.

I’ve replaced 4 PCs this year, one was beyond redemption, but the other 3 still have some life in them.

The first of these three was converted to Ubuntu about 9 months ago. It’s used by three kids with the average age of 7 and replaces an old Windows PC they used to kill every other week. Nine months on and Ubuntu is still running fine 🙂

For years I’d been put off by the geekiness of Linux, every time I’ve had an old PC knocking about I’ve given it a go, but quickly backed off.



Big pluses of course are the price tag (free) and the scarcity of viruses compared to Windows. Add to that that it doesn’t seem to slowly strangle itself as nearly every Microsoft operating system does, and you’re on to a winner.

Ubuntu, pretty much works out of the box. I’ve just Installed it on my old laptop (an Acer Aspire 3630) the only thing that didn’t work straight away was the wireless network card, and all that needed was a bit of time searching through the forums for the one command to download and install the drivers.
Ubuntu itself has a simple to use desktop environment that the kids pick up very easily, and anything you could want to install is available in an appstore like interface. Firefox is there from the word go as is a competent office suite, installed VLC media player and that’s pretty much all they need.

Since the kids use the PC mainly for flash games and internet browsing (same as about 90% of the population) they don’t need the all singing all dancing hardware and now there’s two PCs for them to share.

Anyway for the last PC, Ubuntu Server is my next project, see what I can do with it.



Transferring computers has always been a problematic process, making sure all your data is copied over is probably the biggest issue.

So with a new PC and the resolution to do away with pirated software, it was time to move my e-mails from Outlook to Thunderbird. Seemed like a good idea to start with, I had thought of purchasing office, but the home edition has 3 licences but doesn’t have outlook (probably the part of Office I use most at home) and the version that does have Outlook costs much more and only allows one licence!!!

I tried several solutions from the web to transfer the data but each failed miserably until I came to the Gmail solution. You can access Gmail through IMAP, a protocol available to both Outlook and Thunderbird, so add the account to Outlook, create a folder for my e-mails and drag and drop them across.

Fire up Thunderbird on the new PC and using the same settings the e-mails are now available from the Cloud. Up to you whether you want to copy them across or leave them in Google’s care.

At first I wasn’t sold with this game, but it’s beginning to grow on me now.

Having joined the PS3 brigade just before Black Ops, I played very little MW2, but I can tell you that this has a very similar feel to the gameplay. I remember huge amounts of MW3 players complaining that Black Ops wasn’t as good and I get the same in reverse from this game, but I think it’s a matter of familiarity more than anything else.

At this point I don’t like the maps, but then I was the same with the DLC for Black Ops until I got used to them, and I’m swiftly getting up to speed with these. I can also see the potential, since the maps seem to have more levels and intricacy to them. Give me a few more hours and I’ll be a lot happier with the game.

The upgrades seem a lot more regimented than with Black Ops, meaning you have to get them in the order you win them rather than choosing your own style from the offset, again something to get used to rather than slagging the game off.

All in all, you like this type of game, you’re going to like this one, but give it time.