I recently managed to get the server for my work web site upgraded to handle PHP and MySQL. I am used to MS Access databases and so MySQL was quite new to me and I found the administration of the database through MyPhpAdmin quite foreign. I searched for some free MySQL admin tools and found a great one in MySQL-Front This gives a much more familiar front to the database. I also had the problem of having a number of MS Access databases which I needed to convert to MySQL, I did this by using the MyODBC driver for Access, but on a few occasions this process caused MS Access to crash. So I searched again for an easier way to do this and came across another MySQL administrator called Navicat although this is not free ($95) it does look great. As well as being a front end to MySQL database it can also import MS Access databases, so all the functions I need in one tool.

First cycling crash in ages

Crashed my bike this morning, as usual with these things it was all very avoidable but nevertheless inevitable. I cycle along the busy A91 to work each day, which in itself is quite hazardous, but the accident happened in a much safer place. I had arrived at work at the University of Stirling and was cycling through the campus talking to a colleague. I said goodbye and cycled off only to hit a patch of wet grass cuttings on the road with my front wheel and over I went. I grazed my hand, bashed my knee and now I have a bruise developing on my left shoulder. Thankfully my bike appears undamaged.
Like many tumbles of this nature there was a large audience of people arriving for work and i did feel a bit of a twit…..Ho Hum.

Cycling…the joys and the perils

I’ve been cycling for over 40 years now…I remember my first 2 wheel bike, my mother took me into town to buy it and because we didn’t have a car and couldn’t get on the bus with it I rode it all the way home and my mother walked. Over the years I’ve cycled round Scotland a few times, around Ireland and most of Europe. But these days most of my cycling is restricted to going to and from work.
Cycling in the UK as a form of transport is both a pleasure and to say the least life threatening. The dangers clearly lie in the fact that the majority of drivers either don’t know how to deal with cyclists or, more likely there are impatient, rude, arrogant, ignorant… stop me if I’m ranting but I’ve come close to death a few times due to bad or at the least lazy driving. There have been many great developments in cycling in Britain by such organisations as SUSTRANS and the CTC but it has been an uphill struggle. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of political support for cycling initiatives. Sure there have been old railway lines turned into cycle paths etc. but these are mainly for recreational riding. Where local authorities do actually install cycle lanes along normanl routes they are invariably poorly thought out, badly constructed and even downright dangerous.

The Open CD

For some time now I have been involved with a local charity here in Clackmannanshire called ClacksNet. The main purpose of ClacksNet is to assist local community groups and organisations create a web presence for themselves. Rather than doing all the work for a group the idea is to train them to do it. We run training sessions in web design to show people how to create and maintain their own web sites. In the past we’ve used various programs to teach this but the problem has always been that people couldn’t carry on the work at home if they didn’t have the software. Enter Mozilla, I had the idea to use Mozilla to design and build web sites and as it’s free and open source we could give copies to our students. The next step was to offer not only Mozilla, but a whole range of free software to the students, so I set about creating a list of what we could include. Then I happened upon the Open CD project. A dowloadable CD image of free open source software (FOSS)….just what I was trying to come up with. I contacted the people at the project and told them that I wanted to give their CD away to students at our training events…no problem, in fact they even offered to let me change the splash screen on the CD to incorporate our logo, which I did.
ClacksNet Logo

The CD is packed with all sorts of open source programs, including Mozilla and the GIMP which are the two we’ll use during the courses.

The latest version of the CD promotes software freedom day

software freedom day

The idea is to promote the use and dissemination of FOSS (Free Open Source Software). I’m a keen advocate of FOSS and am glad to do my small bit to spread the word about software that is not only of very high quality but FREE.

Browse Happy

browse happy

This is the latest endeavour by the web standards project (WaSP). A strange title as I have never thought of browsing and an activity which generated emotions. Nevertheless this is an attempt to show the vast majority of people using MS Internet Explorer that there are other, better, nicer, cleaner…..alternatives out there. I posted my own story there a few days ago but haven’t heard a thing, so they probably won’t use it. Any effort to convert people to the ‘better’ browsers has got to be supported in my view, so I’m chipping in my pennies worth. Why not have a look and see what all the fuss is about?