Archive for August 27th, 2005

Here’s the Schnappi video

It would appear that Google are directing a heap of people who want to see the Schnappi video here, simply because I keep mentioning it’s progress on the ARIA charts…well fine, here’s the link, Enjoy!.

And just to make life easier, I’ll put the link in the sidebar as well.

Samuel

August 27th, 2005 at 08:13pm

Prizes Arrive…Finally

I don’t think I’ve ever discussed this here, so I’ll start the story from the beginning.

Back in the February 2005 edition of Australian PC User Magazine there was an article about networking for small business which appeared to be recommending various Windows servers and seemingly expensive ADSL router/switch devices.

Whilst there was nothing wrong with this per se, it did seem odd that the aim of the article was to save small business money, but was recommending various relatively expensive options. This prompted me to write a letter.

Hi,
In your February edition, you had an article which discussed choosing
equipment for a small business network. In it, you appear to recommend
broadband routers and Windows Servers.
I have an alternative suggestion for businesses that are a bit more
conservative with their money.
Forget the $150+ broadband router, dig out an old PC, throw a couple
of network cards in it, get a cheap 1 port broadband modem, and put a
copy of SmoothWall Express 2.0 firewall on the PC from
www.smoothwall.org. SmoothWall, being a standalone Linux distro, will
protect your network with a minimal amount of setup, and provide a web
proxy, DHCP server, etc for free.
As for the file/print server, try ClarkConnect from
www.clarkconnect.org, the Home Edition is free (and can be used
wherever you want), and provides a windows file server (samba) plus
mail server, web server and more, again for free as it is another
Linux distro. CC also requires a minimal amount of setup.

If you consider that a broadband router with enough ports for your
entire network can cost over $200 and that Windows servers retail for
$900+ and have rigid user restrictions (more users costs more),
meaning a total cost of over $1000, and that my suggestion would cost
just enough for a couple old PCs, and an ADSL modem (my D-Link DSL300G
cost under $90 from citysoftware.com.au), a total of under $300, less
if you already have the old PCs, I know which option I would choose.

Incidentally, I run SmoothWall and ClarkConnect at home, and it runs
without a hitch. And these free products can be modified, and usually
have a lot of user provided addons that extend their functionality.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
(Address & Phone Number removed)

When I picked up the March edition of PC User I started reading it and noticed that something looked vaguely familiar, and after looking at it a little while longer, realised that they had published my letter as the “Letter of the month”, albeit in a cut down form.
Letter Of The Month, March 2005, PC User Magazine
For this I won a 512MB flash drive.

Needless to say I was rather pleased with myself and eagerly awaited the arrival of my prize.

A month passed, the next issue of PC User arrived in the mail, and I still didn’t have my flash drive, I decided to phone PC User magazine. I phoned them numerous times over the next few weeks, always being informed that “The supplier had difficulties” and I should have my flash drive soon.

More time passed, and with the Linux conference and other things, the flash drive slipped my mind. Eventually, on May 31, I sent them the following email…needless to say, I was masking my frustration with sarcasm.

Hi,
You might remember me from the March 2005 edition of PC User, I wrote a letter about free software and old computers being useful for servers. My letter won “Letter Of The Month” and my prize was a Lexar JumpDrive Sport 512MB USB flash drive.

I waited a little while thinking that it might turn up in the mail, and after waiting a few weeks and receiving nothing I gave your offic a call, I was informed that you were waiting for the flash drive to arrive from the supplier, so I waited a checked again a few weeks later, you were still waiting, a few weeks later you were still waiting and I was assured that it would come soon. I’ll admit, I’ve been busy, and I had forgotten to check on the progress of my flash drive, and to this day I still haven’t received it, in fact the only thing that reminded me was that I received my copy of PC User in the mail today.

I’m guessing that either your supplier has forgotten about the flash drive, or you have. Either way I am still waiting, and would appreciate an update on the progress of the flash drive. If it so happens that your supplier is incapable of delivering a flash drive, perhaps another supplier would be useful.

I would also imagine that after all this time, my details may have gone missing, so I thought I should probably give them to you again:
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
(Address Hidden)

Phone (H): (Hidden) (I spend most of the day at college, but you can probably get me on this number after 4:30pm most days)
Phone (M): (Hidden) (A lot of the time is class, but you can always catch me between 10:50-11:10am & 1pm-2pm)

And naturally my email address: smoothwallsamuel@gmail.com

Thanks,
Samuel

To my surprise, I got a reply the very next day

Hi Samuel

When did you speak to us?

It was a rather dismal reply, I agree…I replied to it

Hmmm, good question. From memory it would have been a few weeks after receiving my copy of the March issue of PC User in the mail, and then again a couple weeks after that, and a couple weeks after that again.

But with school work and being involved with a Linux conference it all just slipped my mind.

Thanks,
Samuel

I never heard back from the unnamed person at “ACP Tech Titles”, and after another period of time in which it all slipped my mind, I put in another phone call, however the people I would have spoken to were “unavailable” and I never got to speak to them.

A little bit more time passed, and eventually (on July 25) I got an email out-of-the-blue from Anna Raciti, deputy editor of PC User Magazine

Dear Samuel,

Our sincerest apologies for the extremely long delay you’ve had to endure on this. You have been more than patient with us and we really do appreciate your understanding.

Today we’re sending your prize and a few extra goodies in an attempt to make up for the hassle and inconvenience you’ve had to endure.

Please accept the prize and the extras with our sincere apologies.

If you have any more problems, please don’t hesitate to write back to me and let me know.

Again, thank you for your patience and sorry for the extensive delay,

Regards,
Anna Raciti

To my absolute amazement, she had replied to my email from May 31, indicating that my email had been circulating for quite a while.

After a little bit more time, my prize and extra goodies arrived on August 16. It turns out that PC User eventually just went to an officeworks store and bought a flash drive off the shelf, they also packed in some other goodies…here is a photo:
Prizes for PC User Letter Of The Month
Top Row:

  • A note saying “Apoligies for the delay, please enjoy!”
  • The 512MB Techworks Flash Drive

Bottom Row:

  • A book about music & video downloading
  • A DVD of the movie “Willow” which I remember seeing on free-to-air while I was sick, good movie.
  • A Microsoft Wireless Mouse “With the look and feel of leather”. The interesting thing about this mouse is the box says “New” in many languages, and then says “Copyright 2003”

Well, I just wish to thank Anna Raciti for finally sorting it out. It was an interesting adventure, and I’m glad it has finally come to an end.

Samuel

August 27th, 2005 at 07:50pm

City Ads (News) uses the right picture

I love stories I can tie in with previous posts!

You may recall that a couple weeks ago I declared that City News is the worst newspaper in the country, and then regular commenter John B1_B5 noticed that they were using a picture containing some unknown model to promote a theatrical presentation (albeit supplied by The Canberra Theatre Company and not checked by City News).

Well this week they have a picture on the cover of “The Canberra Review” which promotes a new presentation of Romeo & Juliet and others by the Russian Ballet (you may recall from a previous post that some of this will be “the most captivating and sensual nude scenes ever”). On this occasion they appear to have the picture correct, which suggests to me that The Canberra Theatre took notice of John B1_B5’s phone call and/or City News want to retain at least one shred of credibility.

The real estate section, “City Property” is interesting this week. A quarter page ad semi-formatted as an article on page two, a quarter page article on page 16, an almost half page opinion piece on page 17…and the rest? You guessed it…Ads!

1 comment August 27th, 2005 at 06:37pm

Thankyou to 295% of the readership

It has been interesting over the last few days to watch the various statistical reports that my hosting provider provides coming online and providing conflicting reports.

It seems that none of them can agree on how much bandwidth the site has used (it ranges from about 5MB to 15MB) and they all seem to want to tell me different things about how many 404 errors there have been.

The most interesting statistical anomaly so far is that AwStats is estimating that 295% of the readership have added the site to favourites. If it is true that, on average, each reader has added the site to favourites 2.95 times then I am very pleased, but I suspect it is just AwStats having problems with it’s estimation calculations.

I am still continuing to use the offsite statistics collected via javascript and an image (Webstat & Nedstat) for the moment. Whilst they don’t provide the purely accurate statistics from the webserver logs, they do measure page views pretty well, and are much better at counting visitor numbers due to the use of cookies. (Don’t worry, I have checked the privacy policy of these companies and they don’t even look at the data they collect.)

I will probably download the raw logfiles and analyze them myself with something like Pyflag which is (at least partially) the brainchild of Michael Cohen, organiser of the Security Miniconf at the recent Linux.Conf.Au. PyFlag will provide me with the power to find out what I want to find out accurately, which is more than I can say for the other statistics in use which do their best, but aren’t flexible enough….plus I get to have more fun this way.

Samuel

August 27th, 2005 at 12:11pm


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