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31th of May 2003

Some good news is that just a couple of days ago the country of Russia fell to my control under my Global Domination Plan (see the Special Offers page). And since I felt the need to update those three related pages about this fact, then so did I add the other recent claims for Canada and Thailand at the same time.

So my mega-lo-manic plan to control this entire planet goes on, where it is quite surprising how many different countries I have now shipped to. Unfortunately, on a more global picture my control of Asia and Africa can be classed under "weak" and South and Central America comes under "non-existent".

Still, since you cannot win the entire World in a day, then my two and a half years of Economic War should be considered as very good. Certainly a long way to go, but then I have no plans of going anywhere, which means that I just have to count the number of years until this entire planet is mine.

Apart from that I have just updated the USD and EUR on-line currency rate once again, which I seem to do every weekend. And the good news for my E.U friends is that the Euro rate seems to be at about the best value ever at 1.3885 EUR to 1 GBP, which means that it is a question of spend, spend and spend again now that this currency has extra value.

On the other hand I would have classed the US Dollar rate of 1.636 USD to 1 GBP as the worst rate ever had this currency not been much older and seen ever worse times than these in the past. So spending your "George Washingtons" on imports at this time is not such a good idea, but if you are beyond goods in the USD from your own currencies, then go right ahead when this odd currency situation cannot last long.

Well things are going on like usual, where there are no stock issues. So if you have the desire to place an on-line order, then unless you do so later in the afternoon, then so would your order be dispatched that same day.

No doubt tomorrow I will update this site to the new month, which will result in even more news.

9th of May 2003

I can say that the last couple of weeks have been one of my most busy times for a long time.

First of all since No2 is no longer looking after my network (I look after the files the server provides) then recently I have had to take over control myself. And the first thing that I wanted to do was to sort out my software firewall, when the ports I desire never seem to be open.

Since my firewall is password protected and as No2 never bothered to provide me with that very password, then so my first and easy option to open the ports I needed for a short time was to just kill the task of the firewall. As that required a password as well, then so my next idea was to uninstall the firewall and to reinstall it again with myself in control of the password and ports this time.

That worked out well enough, but I soon found out why No2 only ever started the firewall after the server had booted up. The reason as I soon found out was that enabling it on boot the first and every time the server is rebooted produces Microsoft's hated blue screen revealing an attempted write to a ROM address.

Kind of an idiot program to do that, but as I could not boot up to remove it, then so were my options limited. The first choice of boot from the last known good configuration was the worst possible choice, when I soon found out that Win2K is a lot different in this area from WinXP. What I mean is that WinXP will save the last known good configuration each time you reach the reboot point without error, but on Win2K this saving has to be done manually.

And as No2, in his never have looked after my network correctly way, has not saved the last configuration for very many months, then so did my first reboot highlight that things was not what they should be. Since the first of these was that my network had changed from direct IP to DNS in this time, then the restoration of old settings took my entire network out of action.

If you remember that I only wanted to open some ports on my firewall, then taking the whole network down in the process had me think "this is just not good".

This problem took several days to sort out, when my server was providing no access to the Internet or any other computer on the network. And the first success I had was when I figured out that trying to change any setting at all would not get it working, which is why the manual was binned and I deleted the network card for my cable modem.

As by then I could recite my entire network system settings by heart, then the act of reinstalling this network card had my Internet connection working first time. All I had to do then, or so I thought, was to get the other network card for the rest of the network working as well. By deleting and reinstalling this network card as well I soon managed to do that, where soon enough the other computers on the network could talk to the server again.

The final problem was the hardest to solve, where none of the computers on the network beyond the server could access the Internet. As for some odd reason the server was now not forwarding data from the Internet down the network and the right network data back out. Following the manual again it was the Network Address Translation (NAT) that was to blame, but every single setting I tried in it got nowhere. And what was most unhelpful was that I could find nowhere an example of what the correct NAT settings should look like.

As after a couple more days NAT was getting nowhere, then I decided to print out my complete network routing details to see how data already moved between the hardware in my server. And after linking up all these setting I saw how everything worked with routing to a couple of extra locations, where I have totally no idea what they are.

Anyway, since trying to bridge some of these setting to get the data flowing as I wanted was not working out, then I decided to investigate the one thing that I was not sure about when I restored the network card to my switch and then to my LAN system. As when I restored this device I set the IP address to 192.168.1.10, which certainly appeared to work fine.

However, since just about every other option had been exhausted, then I decided to change this to a different value. And the first value I tried was to enter the main server address of 192.168.1.1 instead. To my surprise it worked, when all computers on my network could now see the Internet, but why it worked I do not know, when I can see no setting that separates these two.

Still, recently I did notice an addition in the NAT area, which may have been created automatically during that last change. What I can see from it now is that a lot of data has been moved from my Workstation1 down and out the cable modem. Anyway, best not to touch that area now that I have what I want working.

Well after days of hard work sorting out my server I do have a couple of improvements. First of all was that previously I could not see my Server within my Domain, when all I could see was the other computers that I was using. Now as if by magic all the computers on the network now appear under this domain, which certainly helps connecting to the required computer.

The second thing is that my network speed has increased, but there is still some way to go before I come close to 5 mb/s.

Anyway, I have since reinstalled the firewall, where I just have to find the time to sort out the ports I need. And at least everything is now working as it should, even if I am not fully sure exactly how.

I may risk switching from the 192.168.1.x address to the 10.x.x.x range, when these seem 'cooler' like with 10.0.0.1. And I noticed during my research that these could be used as well, even if they are aimed at very large networks. No doubt I will do that when I have a few days spare just in case things to do work out, but if not I hope that my existing settings can be restored without hassle.

The big problem I have at the moment is terminated connections to the server. For example if I am copying across a large file and I happen to click on another file contained on the server, then this large transfer is terminated with the error "The specified network name is no longer available".

I think it really means that something interrupted the transfer, when I can still connect to the server no problem. And of course I have many background transfers going on without issue during all this, when it is only explorer transfers that it does have problems with. So in these cases I have to remember not to do anything else with explorer during a transfer, when if I do the first transfer normally gets killed.

That should not be happening though, where I believe that I have now ruled out number of accesses that the server allows. Maybe one day I will figure that out, but for now it comes down to doing one explorer transfer at a time.

Anyway, if my talking over control of my network provides as much improvement as my taking over control of my file sharing on the server, then my network is soon due a huge performance increase.

The next large issue is that I have now updated my Order Forms to the Royal Mail's latest prices, which came into force yesterday. Prices seem to have increased between 3 to 5% in general, but the cost of International Recorded has gone up by all of 25p. That as I have seen means that there is now no more £3 Recorded & Insured International option, when the minimum is now all of £4. As it already costs me very much more to ship an order to say France (like 50 miles away) then it does to say the Channel Islands or the far end of Scotland, then I am not pleased that this price to obtain a signature on arrival has just increased from £2.60 to £2.85 + postage.

Well one day I hope to see an EU wide postal system, where I could ship down the road or all the way to Romania for the one single price.

Despite all these changes most of my prices will not really change due to the rounding, but the one pricing that has greatly change has in fact got lower. What I mean is that for a very long time I have been sending out all my orders using the letter rate, which I now see was kind of silly, when I certainly can use the small packets rate instead. As long as I remember to write "Small Packet" on every package in large red letters that is.

What this means is that say shipping a heavy package to the other side of the world in say Australia will now cost half as much. And so you can see that doing this one small change will provide great benefits when the international shipments start to get beyond the lightest sizes.

Oddly enough the SwiftAir Recorded option has got cheaper, when the difference between International Recorded and SwiftAir Recorded used to be 90p, but as International Recorded, as we know, has gone up by 25p and as SwiftAir Recorded has decreased by 20p, then there is now only 45p difference.

As I am reviewing my postage options, then I may add a fourth postage option for the heavy parcels. This 'Standard Parcel' service offers 3 to 5 day delivery for the UK, but it can certainly deliver the heavy one for a lot less than with the first class options. I have seen that my business collection can handle them, but unless these deliveries are signed for, then it would not be worth offering the slow option for general use.

Also I would have to find an International equivalent for handling the heavy boxes in a slower time than normal, where I guess up to two weeks would be acceptable.

Since I have now updated the main currency rates once again, then I see that the Euro rate has now fallen below 1.4 EUR to 1 GBP. This is quite amazing when only near the end of last year was this at the much worse rate of over 1.6 EUR to 1 GBP. That is course is the rate that the US Dollar is currency at, when it seems to have slipped back from its former 1.57 USD to 1 GBP position.

Well if you want to transfer your Euros to US Dollars, then there is no better time to do it, when given time this currency situation will switch around again.

And of course as people paying me in the Euro now save 20 Cents for each £1 worth of goods, then paying me in the Euros is an extremely good idea. No doubt you save a fortune on local rates, where there is no better time to spend your Euros now that they have real value.

One other piece of good news is that I have recently received my Echostar AD3000IP Viaccess receiver back from repair, when this broke like a year ago and I have been using my older Nokia 9602S model since then. Well as it died from Echostar's famous EEPROM failure fault, and as it failed three weeks after the warranty expired, then it was a problem when I felt that Echostar should repair it for free.

Anyway, after highlighting the point that it would have failed within warranty had I not taken steps to stop it happening, then so over a year following the warranty running out that they did in the end repair it for free. This means that I am now slowly tuning in all the stations, where so far I have completed the Thor satellites at 1 west.

It is always a good idea to start at the location closest to true South after all, where you can then work outwards. However, since I have to replace my reed switch (I blew it up when I swapped in my old receivers) before my Echostar can control my dish once again, then I have a feeling that I will be buying reed switches very soon.

Then we will have some fun leaning over the edge of the roof; opening my main actuator, removing the old reed switch, inserting the new one and then sealing my main actuator once again. No real rush to do that though, when I can already manually move my dish dish with my big power pack with left and right buttons.

The final thing I can think of is that as a batch of v1.04 upgraded CAMs arrived back here yesterday, then today I will send these CAMs off to these customers. And they work fine with the latest v1.11 of course, which reminds me that my own v1.04 CAMs will now come flashed with the v1.11 firmware.

And naturally due to legal reasons I have removed the Conax key, where there is a certain law against providing an active piracy device. Well the earlier that Ushtar removes that feature the better I believe, when there is no need anyway now that the pirates use the M2 ( MegaPIC2 ) card for Conax.

Well as I have lots to do, then it won't get done if I keep writing here.