Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Organic reactions

The molecules included in this web include amine, primary and secondary amides, primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols, ester, acyl chloride, carboxylic acid, aldehyde, ketone, alkane, alkene, nitrile and halogenoalkane.As part of my revision I have created a diagram showing all or almost all the organic reactions that link the organic molecules relevant to my course.
The molecules included in this web include amine, primary and secondary amides, primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols, ester, acyl chloride, carboxylic acid, aldehyde, ketone, alkane, alkene, nitrile and halogenoalkane.
This diagram is not perfect or complete and most definitely could be improved.
So I will attach all the source files as well as exported final versions.
exported: png, pdf, svg
source: odg (open office draw) , chemtool

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Linux Ubuntu successfull

I have been using Ubuntu on my laptop for a while now and this post has been a long time in coming. I much prefer it to Windows.
Now which part of Ubuntu's amazingness should I start with...
Perhaps with what came first.
It was free to download the .iso which I burnt to CD.
The live CD checked itself, could check my RAM and booted up with a fully working OS running from the CD. Now I know it is possible to get a version of windows running from a CD using ubcd4win, which is useful for fixing windows. But Linux does it beautifully, you can install programs etc. and apart from the slowness caused by the fact you are running off CD it works perfectly.
After seeing that it worked I installed it so that it dual booted with Windows.
Ubuntu does screenshots better than windows it lets you save them to files much more easily, without having to copy and paste them into paint.
Ubuntu does installing software better than windows the great Add/Remove programs interface actually adds programs which are downloaded from the repositories and so checked to make sure they are safe, the downloads are securely verified. There is also Synaptic Package manager for admin type program managing, and apt-get or aptitude for people who like the CLI.
Of course you don't have to use the repositories you can download .deb or .bin files and install them.
Ubuntu does updating software better than Windows, all software you install from the repositories can be updated through the same interface so no silly background processes like qtask on windows periodically checking to see if there are any updates for one program. Instead one unified secure system, with different user interfaces to suit tastes. And no silly automatically rebooting the computer when you leave it for 5 minutes, I hate that so much in Windows I have lost work from that. instead there is a little icon on the panel that just sits there quietly until you are ready. And it is very rare that you need to reboot anyway.
Ubuntu does file browsing better than windows with easy searching inside the current folder just by starting typing - like with webpages in firefox. nice GUI where am I and navigation which is much easier and useful than just having back and forwards, which it also has. Oh and bookmarks are cool.
There are so many other things that are cool in Ubuntu like the great software it comes with like the Disk usage analyzer and Open office and Firefox and lots of games and a better interface for finding programs than the stupid messy all programs list on Windows.
Ubuntu is just great.
And there is a new version every 6 months each better than the one that went before.

Now I was going to write this: 19/12/06, so I have been using Ubuntu for almost a year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The teaching of English

Recently while writing a letter I came to the realization that I had not actually been taught much English at school, despite having studied it to GCSE.
For instance we still had not been taught how to write proper english, or what a sentence is or a lot of grammar. We had mainly just practiced not studied english as an academic subject nor as a vocational one and thus my command of the english language is not as great as it should be, so I will have to get a book and teach myself which is annoying.
I should have written this nearer to the time, I had a great many more ideas and much stronger feelings about it then.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This is what one year of plastic looks like

Over the last year because there is no plastic recycling in Inverness we have collected all our plastic, and because there is no milkman that is a lot of plastic bottles, now our attic has a whole years worth, it is quite impressive.
Attention Highland Council, please could we have plastic recycling in Inverness Invergordon is too far away for it to be sensible to take plastic there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0

09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0

just one more data point, perhaps the most popular 16 digit number on the internet


Thursday, April 26, 2007

It seems our nation crumbles

It seems our nation crumbles
the rock on which we stand
slowly chipped away
by those who should protect it.
Screaming in frustration
as another rock falls
from a wall build over ages
built with bones
and sealed with blood.
And broken by fools
with little pieces of paper
by cameras in dark corners
by whispers in the street
for in the dark halls of power
fools are undoing
what took wise men years.
clinging to power
by destroying democracy,
with a war on terror
not seeing
that if you know no fear
you are not afraid
if you are not terrified
you are not terrorised
if you stand for truth
you cannot tell lies
If you stand for justice
you cannot see injustice done
if you come in peace
you cannot leave in war
If you live for greed
you will die with nothing
and your legacy
Tony Blair

I fear the coming of the night

I fear the coming of the night
Who will light the sun when morning comes?
I fear the coming of the night
fear the last flames will die
who then will light the sun when
the morning comes?
I fear the flickering of the flames
as the fire dies, the embers
grow cold.
Fear the cold and icy water,
eroding the rocks on which it stands.
Fear it slipping sliding downwards.
For, from flames like these
the sun is lit
when morning comes.

Who will bear the fire
in their heart
through the darkness of the night.
Who will hold it deep inside
never let it go out.
Who will let their bones be the rocks
from which to build
another stronghold of the light.
Who will use their blood as mortar
to bind the bones tight.
And who will fight
to hold this rock
to save this place.
Built from the bones of so many
sealed with the blood of ages
who will feed the fire with
their words.
Who will fight the cold
fast waters.
Who will warm themselves
by this fire,
built so long ago
and carry the torch onwards
building new fires
on distant shores
hold the day and save us from
the night.

One life
one chance to change the world
one chance to hold the fire
and pass it on
don't let it falter
don't let it go out.
Hold back the water
stop breaking the ground

You have not yet passed
the fire to me.
And yet you let the
ground crumble
the fire die
and my hands cannot hold it alone.
You must give it to others also
and carry it yourselves
until it falls
from your old dying hands
into the hands of those
who will come after me.
Only together can we
hold back the night
the cold dark waters

hold the fort
we have not yet truly arrived.
We are ready to take our place
to bear the fire
to man the walls
to give of ourselves
to hold this place.
For the sake of those
who went before
and those who will come after
and for ourselves.

We have yet to receive our sword.
But we are ready
we will fight for our lives
but you must hold back the night
we must hold back the waters.
Maintain the fire
even thought the night falls elsewhere
here it must be day
or who will light the sun
when the morning comes?
But you must give us our sword
and teach us to use it
to use our vote
to save our democracy
words are not enough.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

This is a very good article.
"From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all"
It made me very sad to see how a once great nation has fallen so low, and made me fear as I see my own country follow on behind.
Long live Democracy. Let its fire burn through the darkest night. For a fear on this evening as darkness falls that this may indeed be a dark night and it may be a long time until the dawn, and if the fire does not burn all the night through who will light the sun in the morning?
The eternal darkness of a broken world...

Keeping yourself safe online

If you spot any personally identifiable information in this please report this so I can delete this, this is converted from an internal publication and should have had all personally or corporate identifiable information removed before online publication. According to my own rules.

I am going to start from the bottom and work upwards.

First, if you can use your own computer, only then can you know it is safe without keyloggers or spyware hidden on them.

Second, if you can stand the hassle (I can't) use a BIOS password[3] if you forget this you are stuffed but without one anyone can with physical access to your computer access any of your files change your password etc. without knowing anything about your computer.

Third if you can don't use Windows , unfortunately with the some networks that means you have to use mac (which is expensive) or use Windows (which is slightly less so) and the more secure Linux is not allowed the internet :-( Things are looking up here linux can get internet now. [4]

Fourth, if you must use Windows using anything before XP on the internet should be a criminal offence within, minutes it will be turned into a spam bot. Only use a fully patched XP computer on the internet (or don't use windows) and preferably from behind a firewalled router. (XP gets taken over in an average of 16 minutes if connected directly to the internet after just being installed). Vista well I won't go there but it is unstable.

Fifth, don't use any programs that come by default with Windows to access the internet[5], Internet explorer 6 which comes by default with Windows XP spent 280+ days of 2006 with unpatched security holes that would let viruses etc. in (it is still used by most computers). Internet explorer 7 is better but I would still advise against it. Firefox is probably the best it only spent 6 days of 2006 with unpatched security holes.

This goes for email as well don't use Outlook, use Thunderbird or some other email client, or use web mail.

On Windows you must always use the most up to date antivirus and antispyware software.[8]

Sixth, never use your real name online. Unless, you trust the site you are connecting to completely and when you are using it there is always a padlock sign (https:// will be at the beginning of the URL) somewhere on your internet browser (Firefox changes the colour of the address bar as well) and only those on your contact list are allowed to view the page. e.g. If you set your msn space page to be only viewable to people on your contact list then only the people on your contact list, Microsoft (M$) (and any of its subcontractors it allows) the US secret service, anyone spying on your internet connection and anyone who hacks any of the above will be able to view it. (So only a few thousand people (If they could be bothered)).

Seventh, encrypt your connection when on an untrusted network, if you are using a network you don't trust or are using a wireless network[1] and you have information you are accessing that is not encrypted (remember padlock sign). If you don't want to share what you are doing with anyone who feels like listening then you need to get yourself an encrypted connection to a proxy. For real anonymity (rather than security of the actual information) I would recommend the TOR network. (Warning you must trust the proxy you are connecting to completely it can be being used by a hacker to steal your information).

Eighth, Use as little personal information as possible (this includes photos of people).

Ninth, format your computers hard drive before selling it or giving it away. [2]

Tenth, Trust no one and go to a mental institution suffering from Paranoia.

Really I don't expect you to do everything on this list, I personally don't. But remember if you connect to any site (including hotmail) that does not encrypt its traffic then what you read can be read by other people so...


Keyloggers: programs or devices that record which keys you press in order to extract information such as passwords, user names and credit card details.

Spyware: programs that spy on you and your files to make money out of you somehow (or just to be evil).
Firewall: a firewall prevents connections coming into a computer or network unless they were asked for by a computer behind the the firewall or have been otherwise allowed.
Router: a router is a device (can be a computer) that takes all the connections to it from one network and funnels them into another network (e.g. The internet). Simpler than a proxy.
Proxy: something that does something on behalf of someone else in the context of computers it takes requests for webpages from one computer and makes them itself to the site in question and then passes them to the computer that asked for them.
Unstable: in the context of computers this means that it has errors, crashes and otherwise does weird annoying stuff that it should not do.


  1. If you are using wireless then anyone who knows the network key can listen to your connection. If it is WEP encrypted (rather than WAP (which with a good password can take a very long time to crack)) then it can be cracked in 15 minutes. If it is open then anybody can listen.

  2. Some criminals make a living by stealing personal information off old computer hard drives, formatting will remove everything but you will need a disk of some sort to do it with as windows will break if you try to format the disk or partition it is on. You will need to fill it with random junk and then delete and reformat 9 times to be sure that all the data has been actually removed (deleting a file does not actually remove it, the computer just forgets where it put it.)

  3. A BIOS password can be set by entering the BIOS settings (how to do this will be displayed the moment your computer starts up) then poke around until you find it, If you forget this you are stuffed completely. Alternatively a physical lock works quite well :-). Note that fingerprint scanners offer no extra security with the right disk your computer can still be cracked within 20 minutes.

  4. Tests carried out to determine the security of different operating systems found that it was easy to hack into a newly installed Windows computer, slightly harder to hack into a newly installed Mac OS X computer and much much harder to hack into a Linux computer. (search on slashdot)

  5. The reason you should not use windows programs to access the internet is that the bad guys specifically target flaws in these programs to break into your computer (and there are a lot of flaws). I would also advise that using M$ office is probably a bad idea, though not to the same extent and you should probably use OpenOffice (this is free) instead.

  6. Social networking sites are sites that allow you to connect socially with people on the internet through commenting on each others sites and chatting online and numerous other things.

  7. Blogs (origin web log) are many and diverse in what they do but generally they involve people writing things (these can be like articles) and putting them on their blog (usually they are ordered chronologically) they are used to provide information about anything from news to the movement of ants.

  8. At least one person I know is going to have to have their hard drive formatted and windows reinstalled after getting viruses over easter. However users of other operating systems may not need antivirus programs e.g. I used Linux all Easter which does not need antivirus and consequently I was safe. I did not use windows once.

Note: people who know enough about computers and windows computers in particular become slightly paranoid about them or know what to do if they were paranoid but cannot be bothered to do it. (I don't even have a password set or use Ctrl+Alt+Del to enter an administrator account on windows :-)(On Linux I have a password but it logs in automatically the password is only required if I want to do something dangerous))

Oh and the only reason people could hack the pentagon was that people there were really stupid and could not be bothered to change their password from the default of “password” this same flaw allowed lots of hackers in over a long period of time, it might have been fixed by now. Bebo is just as secure as the weakest user that is allowed to view the page (probably quite weak but who could be bothered to hack a silly social networking site?). Then again thousands of people had their Myspace passwords stolen (someone hacked the crackers and told the world) but the Myspace passwords were stronger than those used by employees of companies (who were cracked by the same people).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bug #1 in Ubuntu "Microsoft has a majority market share"

Status: Confirmed, In progress
Importance: Critical

Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace. This is a bug, which Ubuntu is designed to fix.

Non-free software is holding back innovation in the IT industry, restricting access to IT to a small part of the world's population and limiting the ability of software developers to reach their full potential, globally. This bug is widely evident in the PC industry.
Steps to repeat:
1. Visit a local PC store.
What happens:
2. Observe that a majority of PCs for sale have non-free software pre-installed.
3. Observe very few PCs with Ubuntu and free software pre-installed.
What should happen:
1. A majority of the PCs for sale should include only free software like Ubuntu.
2. Ubuntu should be marketed in a way such that its amazing features and benefits would be apparent and known by all.
3. The system shall become more and more user friendly as time passes.

he he he he he :-)
Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution, which I use, it is a amazing, and this is so funny :-)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Microsoft to be fined again

"The European Commission has warned Microsoft that it could face further fines for failing to comply with its anti-trust rulings.

Brussels criticised the software giant for not changing its behaviour since it was fined 497m euros (£331m) in 2004. "

""In the 50 years of European antitrust policy, it's the first time we've been confronted with a company that has failed to comply with an antitrust decision," a Commission spokesman said."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My best advice: Don’t Touch Vista

Bad Vista from the eff badvista.eff.org(There is a glossary at the bottom)

“The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history” Peter Gutmann (IT security expert)

Vista is the new Windows operating system. It is not worth getting, ever. It is like running a large video game rather than an operating system (without being fun). 95% of computers are incapable of running it because they don’t have enough RAM to fit it in (requires 1GB RAM just for itself). It uses 15GB of hard disk space (more than half my hard drive) ten times more than XP and more than 15 times more than (at least) one Linux distribution. It takes a whole minute just to get to the login screen – because of the speed at which data can be moved from the hard drive to the RAM. Have you ever had a large (new) video game running and then tried to browse the internet at the same time, while having several documents open and your emails? No? You don’t want to try, think of treacle (without the sweetness).

It will, like all windows systems before it, have many security holes that will be found over time, but since it is new and much of the code in it has been written from scratch there will be many more especially at the start. It has 9 different ways of being turned off! So you have to relearn how to turn off a computer. It produces security warnings much too often so you are likely to automatically approve them without thinking (according to a security company) it does not tell you how dangerous it thinks the alerts are. It is not built to be secure, it is built to let other computers do stuff that you don’t want them to do to your computer against your consent (such as stop everything except Internet explorer working), so that they can manage your digital restrictions (DRM). “DRM causes too much pain for legitimate buyers [...] There are huge problems with DRM” — Bill Gates. (Yet Microsoft still spent millions integrating it into Vista)

There are 6 different versions, costing from £180 – £370. All of which are about twice as expensive as their US versions, just because they like ripping off British people.

The Licence agreement (EULA) says that you are not allowed to fix the problems with Vista, because they might be deliberate.

Many even new expensive and top of the market sound and graphics cards do not support the DRM and so are disabled by vista causing them to not work. “No-one has been able to identify any Windows system that will actually play HD content in HD quality”(1) If Vista does not like your computer your graphics will be “slightly fuzzy” and your audio “fuzzy with less detail”.

No one will be able to write programs to run hardware (drivers) for free anymore, preventing it from working with anything other than Vista (unless you pay money separately), because all the details have to be secret to stop people avoiding the downgraded quality on Vista.

Vista will disable worldwide any devices anyone manages to make produce the ‘premium content’ without DRM. So if one hacker breaks in anywhere, it stops working for everyone everywhere. And fixing this problem could cause the anti-piracy measures to be implemented, killing your entire computer.

Oh and the hackers got round the whole thing on the day it was released Microsoft spent millions the hackers? Pennies (5).

3 Hollywood studios must approve every single bit of hardware. Why?

A small jolt or slight inconsistency could cause the entire graphics system to reboot (freezing or turning off the screen for a few seconds) and probably crashing programs such as computer games. (This does not happen on any other OS.

Companies are not allowed to include Debugging (problem finding) abilities in their drivers, because this might tell people about the system.

SSL type encryption (used to connect to online banks etc (https)) is used to connect to different pieces of software, this is weird, and slows the computer down e.g. out of 11 different bits of data 9 are just for the DRM and 2 are for the audio and video, 550% more work for no reason.

Every driver has to wake up every 30 microseconds and tell Vista that nothing is happening, just to make sure nothing is.

Vista will release PIN numbers, credit card details etc. but it carefully encrypts video, they care more about Hollywood than the user.
Vista: “an operating system that is insanely paranoid” - Leo Laporte

If your hardrive crashes, you have to re-buy all your CDs, DVDs and online music, if they have DRM.

“The sheer obnoxiousness of Vista's content protection may end up being the biggest incentive to piracy yet created.”(1)

Microsoft could have put all the effort it put into encrypting all video and sound into making Vista secure instead, encrypting content that the user wants encrypting and stopping malware programs from doing nasty things, so much effort wasted on making things worse for the user.

Any other OS will run faster than Vista. Stick with XP (if you use windows) until 2011 when support for it runs out (Vista support runs out in 2012) then move to Linux. Linux is better than windows, it is inherently more secure, it is sane, it does cool stuff, (almost) anything Windows can do Linux can do better, free updates forever, free upgrades forever, thousands of free programs. There is even a version designed specifically for education: Edubuntu. Oh and did I mention it’s free. I now have both Ubuntu and XP on my laptop, as soon as I get the schools (Linux based) proxy server to let me out I’m leaving Windows.


  1. http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html (readable despite being sometimes technical, very informative)
  2. http://badvista.fsf.org/ (provided picture)
  3. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2851 (this really is very good)
  4. Paraphrasing boingboing.net “AACS took years to develop, and it has been broken in weeks. The developers spent billions, the hackers spent pennies.” (this site is good, but not always in the best taste)


RAM = Random Access Memory, this is where the computer stores stuff it is working on.
Hard disk space = the amount of space to save files into.
DRM = Digital Restrictions management
Graphics card = the piece of electronics that turns electrical signals into pictures on your screen. HD = High definition, you will probably have seen lots of TVs saying they are HD Ready (not that there is any HD telly or will be for another 3 years)
Driver = a driver is a program that runs a bit of hardware, e.g. you have a graphics card that is run by a graphics driver.
Malware programs = evil programs e.g. spyware, adware, viruses, worms, Trojans…
OS = Operating System e.g. Linux, Mac OSX, oh and Windows.

See also:

Edit: fixed formatting problems... again.

e petitions

I have signed several e-petitions on the 10 downing street e-petitions site, I have got a response :-)

Freeinformation - epetition reply

28 February 2007

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reject the restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act proposed by the Department of Constitutional Affairs."

Details of petition:

"The proposed changes will restrict the number of requests individuals and organisations can make, and allow Government Department to include 'reading time' in fees calculations, greatly increasing the scope for obstruction of legitimate requests. As the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee concluded, there is no need to change the existing fees regime. Indeed, the cost of the Freedom of Information Act is less than was originally projected by the Government, and the transparency provided by the Act can only benefit efficient government."

Read the Government's response

The Government recognises the importance of public participation and understanding of the functions of Government. The intention of the changes proposed is not to hinder legitimate requests for information or to reduce the effectiveness of the Act. An independent review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to look at the impact of the Freedom of Information Act showed that a small minority of requests and a small minority of requestors account for disproportionate amounts of the cost of answering FOI requests. The proposals are designed to address this issue and to ensure public authorities can balance access to information for all with the delivery of other public services.

On 14 December 2006 the Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, opened a public consultation on the draft fee regulations. The Government is keen to engage as many stakeholders aspossible in this consultation. The consultation paper is available at: http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/dpr2007/cp2806.htm. Responses should be sent by 8 March 2007 to:

Department for Constitutional Affairs
Information Rights Division
6.16 Selborne House
54-60 Victoria Street

basicaly it means, blah blah blah blah. oh well.

Monday, February 05, 2007


(this is slightly old now, I wrote it for something else but will post it here now)
This is a section of lots of short news items (on this occasion on data protection) that I though warranted a brief mention.
The taxman now has the power to listen to your phone calls, read your mail, place bugs in your house and car. Apparently this is something to do with fighting serious organised crime, something that apparently the Serious Organised crime Agency SOCA cannot do – it has these powers and more.
If you fly to the USA your plane company has to give them your credit card details. I know the US has a lot of debt but I don’t think many people would be happy if they started paying for it using peoples credit cards.
If you get a passport/ID card with a RFID chip in it the only way to stop people walking off with your personal details just because you walked within 25cm of their scanner is to hit the chip with a hammer (this will break it) and they will no longer be able to steal it. It is illegal to do this with US passports and although the passport would still be valid, the UK Passport agency would probably not be too happy either).
Some people want to use the NHS national database to get accurate results on obesity, apparently people are not telling the truth about how much they weigh when responding to surveys so instead the people want to take the data without your consent. It is of course vital for your health that the national obesity level can be reported.
The police have the DNA of over 1 million innocent people on record just because they can.
CCTV cameras may have microphones installed so that the security people can listen to your conversation as well as watch it.