Thursday, March 29, 2007

Using Linux to save a Windows PC

Have spent some days rescuing PCs that have not been maintained or protected against virus for months. One had over 1000 virus infected files and could barely start but I got it back to life.

Now today (Wednesday) I got a really tricky case. Whatever virus had hit this PC shut down every program you tried to start or run, including installing any antivirus software or running any software to change startup files etc. So what to do? Reinstall the whole thing and try to save documents etc?

I decided to try another tactic. I booted it using a Knoppix LiveCD, a special linux distrubition not meant to be installed but to diagnose or fix computers. After that I managed to install a linuxbased antivirus software and scan the computer and delete hundreds of infected files, still from the Knoppix LiveCD.

After that it started nicely with Windows, I could install an antivirus and get it up and running. A strange thing to use a free and open source software distro that Microsoft are doing their best to work against to save a PC using their proprietry and licensed operating system.

Overdesigning a good car

Have just driven the latest Toyota Hilux pickup up through Mozambique, Malawi and then Mozambique again and am more than a little bit disappointed.

Why? Well not because of the design or the engine, both really nice (even if the design is a bit over the top) but because it feels really unstable to drive on bad roads. And somehow I thought the type of car Hilux is was supposed to be at its best on bad roads.

But no, it is excellent on a good tarred road. But put in some potholes or drive on a dirt road with or without potholes and you feel like you could lose control at any given moment. The car wants to continue straight through curves instead of turning and a bad pothole makes you feel like the whole thing is about to jump off the road.

Bad thinking Toyota, go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A tired but happy couple in Polokwane

Just thought I would put some photos of us after a looong nightdrive and a day of shopping in Polokwane. This is after shower and a bit of rest though, the "before" pictures will never be shown! Notice the somewhat tired eyes of mr. Sinclair...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mad trip to SA and back

We took a trip to South Africa and back last weekend. The "mad" part lies in achieving the trip in one weekend! Meaning we drove down during Friday night and arrived in Polokwane/Pietersburg around 9 am Saturday morning. Took turns driving down but nevertheless not so fresh.

Spent Saturday shopping around for a good generator (the main reason for going) and other items such as clothes (yes me too...), wine, cooking oil, hardware and so on. It was HOT in Polokwane and I looked exactly the picture; a guy who had not had proper sleep and spent the better part of 24 hours wearing the same t-shirt. Nevertheless, we got the car loaded, refreshed ourselves and had a good dinner and then hit the bed early for a good but short night's sleep.

Off around 6 am Sunday morning, stopped in Musina before the border for car fill-up/check-up and last-minute shopping. Then into the border post. Let me say this immediately: both ways we traveled the staff on the Southafrican side were SLOW, UNINTERESTED and downright RUDE. Example; putting only one stamp on a form instead of the required two despite advising us on where to next take said form. "Go back for stamp". Happened several times. Computer lock-up, supervisor needed. Took near 10 minutes before we managed to persuade the half-sleeping lady at the PC to get said supervisor who looked as if he was still asleep when he eventually showed up. Note it was now after 10 am so not the nightshift or something.

When we finally leave after all is done we are told by the gate guard that we have the wrong declaration form. Same form that had been checked and read and stamped in 3-4 offices! He eventually let us through.

The Zimbabwe side was a positive surprise. Last time I passed through in a car it was full of tsotsis wanting to "help" and bribes were more or less expected and it was chaotic. Now there was only staff and travellers, a reasonably clear path of actions were required, it took about 30 minutes and we had declared, paid and were clear to leave. This despite a problem with some friends faxmachine that we had picked up in Polokwane after it was repaired there. We had all forms we could think of but still were missing one... after some discussing we were let off the hook.

The only other "glitch" on the way back was that I missed the turn-off towards Masvingo/Harare in Beitbridge and drove a few km towards Bulawayo before realising the mistake. Arrived home tired and "carlagged" (see jetlagged) around 7 pm last night.

Now all we need to do is to get the generator installed :-)