Sunday, January 27, 2008

Geni Family Tree

I've been a user of for a while now, and my (recorded) extended family now numbers 134, due mainly to the efforts of my uncle Peadar. It's a great way to keep track of all the Cassidys all over the world, as well as a tool to show my kids the generations before them.

Although not generally accessible without invitation, Geni recently introduced a sharing feature, allowing me to show below my "immediate snippet of family tree.

Anyone reading this and related to me who has not yet got an invite, let me know :-)

Liam the clapping crocodile

Here's a video of Liam clapping along to singer Liane at the Kurpfälzer Trabantan's Prunksitzung.

He wasn't the only one who was impressed with the evening's entertainment. Rosalie outed herself as a hard-core Mickie Krause fan by squealing along excitedly to "Finger in Po Mexiko".

As well as the video clip, there are a few photos of the eveining on my Picasa gallery. I particularly like this one of Liam with a clown whom he didn't quite recognise as his aunt Tina:

For comparison, here she is without the clown makeup

It's not hard to understand his confusion :-)

All in all it was a fun night for the whole family.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Google Analytics

As this blog nears its first birthday, I thought I'd share some of the Google Analytics statistics from the last 12 months. Although Google Analytics is far from perfect, as it misses all the RSS readers, and anyone like me who runs NoScript, it does provide a pretty graphical view of traffic.

The visitor overview below shows that throughout the year we're averaging about 10 visitors a day, with the obvious spike in interest after Rosalie's birth in July.

The dashboard view below for the last month bears this out with some interesting stats on Pages/Visit, average time on site etc. Of course, the accuracy of these figures are limited by the manner in which they are gathered - for example a single visit may be read for a while, but will always be recorded as 0 seconds if the next page is off-site, but these are standard deficiencies in web analytics.

One graph I always like to check out is the Map Overlay, below the city view is shown. This blog has been viewed on all continents, and from 52 countries. A warm welcome to all readers in Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Chile, United Arab Emirates and Senegal. Just why there was a visit from Quantico, Virginia, USA is still a mystery to me - what interest could the FBI, Marine Corps or the Drug Enforcement Administration have in me? Surely not my harsh stance on copy protection mechanisms for Digital Media :-)

On a lighter note, it's fun to see what browsers visitors to this site are using. Internet Exploder remains the top weapon of mass distraction, but at just over 33%, Firefox is gaining ground.

BTW, it's not depicted here but the OS split is 94%, 5% and 1% for Windows, Mac and Linux respectively. There's still some work to do for Linux on the desktop ;-)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Secure your USB Stick

If like me you like to carry sensitive data around on a USB stick you'll know the following two facts:
  1. It's incredibly useful to have your data with you.
  2. It's only a matter of time before you misplace the USB stick.
In order for this to be not a drama, you need to have the sensitive data encrypted. I've been using truecrypt for this purpose for a while, and it's a fantastic solution, with one major drawback - you need administrator privileges on the host machine - mostly not possible on client sites.

So I was glad to hear on the latest Security Now about omziff, a little non-installing app which can be used to encrypt and decrypt files. Simply download the exe, encrypt your sensitive data, pop the encrypted file plus the omziff.exe file onto your USB stick and you're good to go.

The feature set is not large, but what's there is done well. All the major modern open encryption standards are covered (e.g. Blowfish, IDEA, Rijndael, Twofish), and make no mistake, encryption with one of these algorithms is safe.

An extra feature which I really like is the shredder, which eliminates your sensitive files from the host machine after use, by writing random characters over the disk space multiple times. This is a program to help you sleep at night :-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Apps for a new machine

As mentioned in the previous post, I just got my hands on a new Lenovo laptop courtesy of my new employer, and I thought I'd post details on my priority apps that I installed asap. And to you, Mr Concerned-IT-Helpdesk-Guy, please look away now...

1. Firefox: Unlike 62.84% of visitors to this site, I do not like to use Internet Exploder for browsing. I appreciate that version 7 is improved, and it's not as unsafe as it once was, but I simply prefer the Firefox experience. BTW, extensions NoScript, Foxmarks, Googlepedia, PasswordMaker, Cookiesafe, GSpace and GUtil are as important to me as the original program.

2. Google Pack: A bit of a cheat this, as it includes many must-haves such as Adobe Reader, Google Earth, Picasa, Skype, Google Photos Screensaver, etc. A no-brainer, though I don't take the browser toolbar or the spyware stuff, as I prefer other options for those.

3. iTunes: I listen to a lot of podcasts, and it's simply the best PC experience to doing so. One downer is the migration of iTunes playlists and account from one computer to another - not as nice as it should be.

4. PureText: This little app is just so elegant, it's no wonder Microsoft never thought of it themselves. Don't you mostly prefer just to cut and paste text, and not the surrounding formatting junk? Especially between Office apps, this is great. Cannot recommend highly enough.

5. FreePDF XP: The kind folks in the IT department included a PDF generator in my software load, but it doesn't measure up. FreePDF simply works in a simple, intuitive and useful way.

There are other apps which I'll install over the coming weeks and months, but these are to me the important ones. If you know of further great apps and/or Firefox extensions, please let me know in the comments.

New Year, New Company, Old Job

I wisely took holidays up till Monday 7th January, so I can enjoy the full benefit of my children's colds. When I do go back I'll be working for sd&m AG rather than Capgemini Deutschland GmbH, and yet I'll be doing the same job.

The key to this conundrum is that the Telco unit, of which I am part has been integrated into sd&m, a more technology-focussed subsidiary of the Capgemini group. The integration has been going on for a few months, the official handover happened on 01.0.2008.

It's going to be an interesting time ahead, merging a consultancy unit into a bespoke software development company. My feeling is however that the two companies have more in common than they realise, and that it'll end up enhancing both portfolios. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I'm glad to say that my laptop has been specced up considerably from the Capgemini model. The minor downside is that I now have a German-language OS and Office apps.