Cycling in Scotland: Links to on-line information

I have been gathering information relating to cycling in Scotland for some time now and I thought it was about time I compiled a list of some of the sites and what they offer.


I may add to this as sites come and go.

How to: Get Thunderbird to work with MS-Exchange server in Ububtu

Ever since Ubuntu 7.06 I’ve been using it on my companies corporate LAN and managed, after some digging around to get Evolution to connect to MS-Exchange server and manage all my mail, calendar and contacts. I am now using Ubuntu 8.04 and all was well until a couple of days ago, all of a sudden Evolution started crashing and even crashed X-server. Next thing I knew I could not get Evolution to connect to MS-Exchange at all it kept returning an error Could not authenticate to server (password incorrect?)“. At first I put this down to a recent update for Evolution and did some digging around the forums, I found that many others had the same problem but there were no apparent solutions. I then read a few posts which suggested that Evolution did not work with Exchange server 2007, a quick check via web access to my mail and it certainly appeared that my company had updated from Exchange 2003 to 2007.

I had tried to use Thunderbird in the past but it connects to MS-Exchange server using IMAP and this was not available, so I was left with Evolution which connects using Outlook Web Access (OWA) and this was working fine…till now.

I tried everything with Evolution but eventually gave up, I did however discover an open source alternative in development called OpenChange which has an Evolution plug-in due for release in Gnome 2.24 so I might go back to this.

I thought it was a long shot to try Thunderbird again but if the Exchange server had been upgraded then perhaps IMAP connections were now possible, so here’s what I did.

There is a good explanations of the basics at, and McGill university. some of which I’d followed the last time I tried to use Thunderbird.

In Thunderbird select File>New>Account (if it hasn’t already prompted you to do so) and select new Email account, fill in your name (I used my LAN user name here) and email address. Next select IMAP as the server typeserver type, you only have the choice of POP or IMAP anyway. That’s the basic account set up, now you have to configure the server settings etc. Click on the account name in the left pane then select view settings for this account in the right pane. This gives you a whole load of things you can configure for your mail account but first thing to do is select server settings. Here make sure your server name is correct, usually something like Under security settings the settingsguides I’d read previously recommended setting this to ‘Never‘ but this just didn’t work for me so I tried ‘TLS, if available‘ and bingo, it worked. All the other settings are up to you. You’ll also need to input the correct address for the outgoing SMTP server. In my case I got this by going back into MS-Outlook and in the mail account properties you’ll see the server name. Also in my case this requires a user name in the security and authentication section and again I chose ‘TLS, if available‘. That is the basics of the account set up now I had to select which folders on my Exchange account I wanted to view. I did this by right clicking on the account name in the left pane of Thunderbird  and selecting ‘subscribe‘ all being well this should open up a window showing all the folders available, just check those you want and click OK. I now had access to my Exchange inbox, sent and deleted folders.

The next stage was to get the global address book connection. In Thunderbird click on Address book then select File>New>LDAP Directory. global address bookThen fill in the details, I called mine ‘global address list’ the host name is usually the server name where your global address book (gab) is located, again this can be found out by going back to Outlook in Windows and looking at the properties of the global address book. So for example if the address was then put gabserver in the Hostname box. In the Base DN box the rest of the address is added in the following format dc=ad, dc=company, dc=com The Bind DN is your DOMAIN\username and the port number defaults to 389 but this did not work for me, on they suggest port 3268 which did work for me. You should now be able to search the global address book and you’ll be asked for your password. You should also set up the global address book in the auto complete section in Edit>Prefernces>Addressing check the Directory Server box and you should see the address book you created before in the list. This means that as soon as you start to type a name in an email address bar Thunderbird will search your global address book for possible matches to auto complete.

Because I’d been using Evolution for some time I’d backed up a lot of email locally (~8000) as we have mailbox limits here so now I needed to get those into Thunderbird. I thought I’d just have to import but it wasn’t quite that simple. Thunderbird needs a plugin called MboxImport to be able to import emails in the Mbox format. Once this is installed it’s fairly simple though, select Tools>Import/Export in Mbox/eml format then point to the local directory where Evolution stores your mail (usually Home/Name/.evolution/mail/local), that’s it.

But what about the calendar? I here you ask, good question and so far it has me stumped. Thunderbird has a good calendar available as an Add-on called Lightning lightningbut getting this to connect to the calendar on MS-Exchange is another matter and one I’m still struggling with. There is a solution posted at but this involves direct access to the mail server which I don’t have. I tried a few things like logging onto my mail through Firefox (OWA) right clicking on the link for the calendar looking at properties and using this address to set up a new calendar in Thunderbird. Click the Calendar icon in the bottom left then right click in the left pane and select New Calendar>On My Network>Next. There are three options ICS, CalDav and WCAP, none of which worked for me at all, but  you may have more luck. I’ll keep looking and maybe I’ll find a solution or maybe if the Evolution plug-in is finished soon I may go back to Evolution. I have to say that given a choice I’d go for Thunderbird over Evolution but the fact is whichever one I can get to work with MS-Exchange is the one I’ll go for and for the time being that is Thunderbird, albeit without a calendar connection.

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How to Transfer Thunderbird Profile from Windows to Ubuntu

One of the tasks I faced in moving completely from Windows to Ubuntu was to transfer all my saved emails and my profile from Thunderbird. In Windows locate your Thunderbird profile, this will usually be in Documents and Settings>YourName>Application Data>Thunderbird>Profiles. The profile folder will be named with a random 8 character name and a .default extension (e.g. htg34gtd.default). You should be able to access your Windows partition from Ubuntu so once you’ve located the profile folder just copy it across to your Ubuntu partition.

Now go to your home folder in Ubuntu and select View>Show Hidden Files look for a folder named .mozilla-thunderbird. This may already have a .default folder in it, if it has then delete it then move the folder you copied from Windows here. Last thing you have to do is create a profiles.ini file in the .mozilla-thunderbird folder, in my case Thunderbird had already created this file so all I had to do was replace the text with below with the correct .default name;


Where oooooooo = the 8 character name of your folder.
Now run Thunderbird, all being well you should now see all your emails etc as they were in Windows. This was not the case for me however, Thunderbird decided to create a new profile .default folder but all I had to do was delete it and rename the one I copied across to the one Thunderbird created…voila!

How to record streaming audio with Audacity in Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron)

I’ve been transferring everything I do with computers both at home and at work from Windows to Ubuntu Linux. Volume ControlOne of the things I did regularly in Windows was to record either streaming audio or audio from a device plugged directly into my sound card. I have a long term project to get all my old cassette tapes digitized. In Ubuntu 8.04 I installed Audacity from Synaptic, then selected each input device in turn under Edit>Preferences>Recording but none of them worked or produced an error.
The solution was however quite simple and not with Audacity at all. I opened up the master volume control on the Ubuntu panel by right clicking on the icon and selecting Open Volume Control then selected Edit>Preferences.Volume Control Preferences Next make sure the boxes marked Mix and Mix Mono are checked then Close. SwitchesClose the Volume Control and then re-open it and select the Switches tab and check the box for Mix and close again. Finally in Audacity in Edit>Preferences set the Playback and Recording devices to ALSA:default. That’s it, now anything playing through the sound card be it streaming music or from an external device such as a tape player can be recorded.

Politicians break the law they made

In August 2005 it became illegal to demonstrate in and around Parliament Square without prior police permission under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA). So far Maya Evans has been prosecuted and a number of others have been threatened with legal action. The law states that it only takes one person to constitute a demonstration, so the question arises , if every time a politician (including the PM) gives an interview in Parliament Square are the breaking the law? Mark Thomson the political comedian thinks so and has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions calling for an urgent investigation. Mark has also written an article in the Guardian (13th Dec) explaining.

This is an absolutely crazy law which was used to get rid of Brian Haw, Maya Evans was prosecuted for reading the names of British and Iraqi dead at the cenotaph and people have been threatened with prosecution for displaying a cake with the word PEACE on it. Mark Thomas even had to get permission to where a red nose on Red Nose Day.

If you want to help, you can. If you live, work or are visiting London and
walk past College Green (opposite the House of Lords entrance) and you see an MP giving an interview then:

Some of Googles ‘hidden’ functions

Here are some other useful things you can do with Google that may not be immediately obvious.

Red Dear Close-up

Red DearOn a recent trip over to the Isle of Skye we stopped off at a car park on the A82 where we often stop to take in the view and stretch our legs, only this time there were a couple of red dear quietly grazing right on the edge of the car park. I’ve walked and cycled all over Scotland but this is definitely the closest I’ve ever got to these beautiful creatures.

Essential Tools, Sofware and Resources

I’ve been bookmarking sites with lists of essential resources for some time now, some are lists of open source software, others to resources with hosts of information for web designers etc. All of them are useful and help you find resources and software you may not have previously known about. So this is a series of links to many of the lists I’ve found useful recently.

BBC told to make iPlayer available to a range of operating systems

A recent e-petition on the Prime Ministers web site called for the BBC to make it’s proposed on demand TV service player available to work on any operating system. The BBC had previously suggested that the iPlayer would only be available to Windows users. We wait to see how long this takes.

The Petition:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the BBC from making its iPlayer on-demand television service available to Windows users only, and instruct the corporation to provide its service for other operating systems also.”

The Government Reply:

“The Government set up the BBC Trust to represent the interests of licence fee payers, and to ensure good governance of the BBC. The BBC Trust has responsibility for ensuring that the correct degree of scrutiny is given to all proposals from the BBC Executive for new services (such as the iPlayer) and any significant changes to existing services. To fulfill this duty, the Trust conducted a Public Value Test on the BBC Executive’s proposals to launch new on-demand services, including BBC iPlayer. This included a public consultation and a market impact assessment by Ofcom. In the case of the iPlayer, following the consultation, the Trust noted the strong public demand for the service to be available on a variety of operating systems. The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC’s on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, and has given a commitment that it will ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible. They will measure the BBC’s progress on this every six months and publish the findings.”