Maths Theory Bags Lotto Jackpot.

October 31, 2006

MOST of us believe winning lotto is down to the luck of the draw, but a syndicate of university professors and tutors in Britain thought it could also be related to the principles of mathematical probability and their theory was spectacularly vindicated this week when they matched all six numbers and scooped the $13 million lotto jackpot.

The syndicate, made up of 17 staff members at Bradford University and College, bagged the big prize by using two boxes, 49 pieces of paper and a large amount of brainpower.

But it was far from an overnight success. Syndicate leader Barry Waterhouse, 41, who works at the design and printing section of the university, explained that the syndicate had been doing the National Lottery for eight years without conspicuous success after it started in 1994 with each member picking his or her own line. “We just weren’t winning with the numbers being picked that way, so we thought of a different method which would mean all 49 numbers would be used,’ Mr Waterhouse said.

The syndicate then set up a computer program to check the numbers every week. It took four years and a total outlay of $8700, but on Saturday, the formula succeeded.



Acer: Vista Home Basic is a Lemon.

October 31, 2006

Microsoft is effectively smuggling through a price hike for Windows Vista – by making the entry-level version so poor that no-one will want to use it. So says Jim Wong, senior veep at Acer, the world’s number four PC maker, who told UK hack Jon Honeyball: “The new [Vista] experience you hear of, if you get Basic, you won’t feel it at all. There’s no [Aero] graphics, no Media Center, no remote control.”

Read article…

Billionaire Aims to be ‘First Nerd in Space.’

October 31, 2006

When former Microsoft developer Charles Simonyi goes into orbit next March, he’s not merely aiming to be the first guy from Forbes magazine’s billionaire list to fly in space. He also plans to lay claim to the title of “first nerd in space.”

Simonyi is going where three rich men (and one rich woman) have gone before, but this time the price tag is a bit higher. The standard quote of $20 million is going up to $25 million, and Simonyi is paying a fare somewhere between those two figures.

Although Simonyi has waited a long time for his chance, his biggest claim to fame came as a computer scientist and software engineer rather than a would-be astronaut: He emigrated to the United States in 1968, at the height of the Cold War, and played a huge role in promoting WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) approaches to software design. In 1981, he joined Microsoft and oversaw the development of some of the company’s biggest products, such as Word and Excel. (Microsoft is a partner in the joint venture.)

Simonyi retired from Microsoft in 2002 and now serves as president and chief executive officer of Intentional Software, based in Bellevue, Wash. He is also a philanthropist, making multimillion-dollar contributions through his Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences.

This year, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1 billion, putting him 746th on its list of 793 billionaires around the world. Space Adventures’ past orbital clients — California investment adviser Dennis Tito (2001), South African dot-com tycoon Mark Shuttleworth (2002), New Jersey physicist-businessman Greg Olsen (2005) and Iranian-American venture capitalist Anousheh Ansari (2006) — aren’t on the list.

Although the unmarried Simonyi said he saw himself as the “first nerd in space” — which is a judgment call, to be sure — he does get around. He’s is a licensed pilot with more than 2,000 hours of flight time in planes and helicopters under his belt, and reportedly owns one of the largest private yachts in America.

His educational efforts would be focused on a newly established Web site —

Read full story…

Should You Buy The 2003 Student and Teacher Edition Now?

October 29, 2006

There’s an interesting case for buying the Office 2003 Student and Teacher edition now, instead of waiting for the equivalent version for Office 2007 (due out in retail boxes early 2007).

You would think that waiting to get the 2007 edition would make more sense except there’s a key difference between the 2003 and 2007 bundles .

Office 2007 Home and Student Edition does NOT have Outlook . At present the Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition comes with Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. The main four Office apps at a good price.

Office 2007 drops that bundle and name to replace it with a ‘Home and Student edition’ which has Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. Although OneNote has been a clever addition to the Microsoft Office range, it is no replacement for Outlook and most people would prefer to have Outlook over Onenote. Of course, that’s exactly why Microsoft has removed it from this low cost package – to encourage people to go for the more expensive Office Standard 2007 bundle (2007 versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook) at US$399 retail.

Both the Office 2003 Student and Teacher bundle and the coming Office 2007 Home and Student edition retail for US$149 – though you can get it cheaper than that.

There is NO upgrade path from the Office 2003 Student and Teacher edition to the Office 2007 equivalent.

If you want the core Office 2003 programs you might want to consider buying Office 2003 Student and Teacher edition now – before it is withdrawn from sale. It comes with a license for 3 computers (not just one) and has the four main Office programs, including Outlook.


What About FrontPage 2003?

October 29, 2006

Frontpage 2003 doesn’t exist in the Office 2007 suite at all. There is Sharepoint Designer 2007 which, as the name implies, is targeted at tweaking Microsoft’s Sharepoint collaboration sites.

We’ve tried using Sharepoint Designer 2007 with regular (non-Sharepoint) sites and they work but not very well. We’ll have to wait until Microsoft releases their ‘Expressions’ software for regular web site creation.

In the meantime, we are pleased to see that Frontpage 2003 installs happily on a computer with Office 2007 Beta 2 or Technical Refresh. The two seem to co-exist without any troubles.

Let’s hope that continues in the final release of Office 2007. Since FrontPage 2003 has no direct successor it is more likely that people will want to mix the two products on the one computer.


Installing Office 2007 Beta 3 AKA Beta 2 TR.

October 29, 2006

The Office 2007 ‘Technical Refresh’ is out as a free update for anyone who has the Beta 2 version.Microsoft calls it ‘Beta 2 Technical Refresh’ or B2TR for short.

B2TR comes as a mega-patch over Office 2007 Beta 2, that means you have to install Beta 2 first, even if you immediately apply the TR patch afterwards.

B2TR for the core Office apps is a 494MB download from there are separate downloads for other Office 2007 beta products.

The instructions on the Microsoft web site are not all they could be, after warning people that B2TR is not a one click upgrade they proceed to omit any explicit instructions – instead there’s some warnings of possible problems that you can use to infer preliminary steps. KB923718

As a precaution Microsoft suggests that you clean up your TEMP directory, before installing the Technical Refresh. To find your Windows temp directory, right-click on the My Computer icon, Properties | Advanced | Environment Variables.

At least 2 GBs of free disk space is required for the Technical Refresh update.

The B2TR was found to be considerably more stable and faster than previous releases -but given that Beta 2 wasn’t that speedy or stable, that’s not saying much. Outlook in particular needs much more performance work before release.

To get the full Outlook 2007 ‘experience’ you’ll need to install the latest Windows Search beta for XP. This additional download provides the ‘instant’ search option inside Outlook. Download and install it from here KB917013. This download isn’t required for Windows Vista. If you haven’t installed Office 2007 before on that Windows XP computer we suggest you use this order:
* the Windows Search beta first
* Office 2007 Beta 2
* Office 2007 Technical Refresh update
* Save to PDF and/or XPS updates from

We’ve always thought that having separate downloads for the ‘Save to’ features to PDF and Microsoft’s new XPS format was a pointless inconvenience for customers. A triumph of corporate machinations (between Adobe and Microsoft) over common-sense. Once you’ve installed B2TR that’s even more obvious because on the Save As option is an explicit link to download the PDF and XPS features.

If you’re trying Office 2007 Beta 2 you should update to B2TR without delay, there’s no point in using an old beta.


Viewing all Messages as Plain Text.

October 29, 2006


This is the easiest one to change. Go to Tools | Options | Preferences | Email Options and check the option ‘Read all standard mail in plain text’.

A nice option is to display digitally signed email in the original format, leave the ‘Read all digitally signed mail in plain text’. Sadly too few people send emails with digital signatures.


The next version of Outlook has the same feature as Outlook 2003 but the switch is in a different place – Tools | Trust Center | Email Security. Check the option ‘Read all standard mail in plain text’. A nice option is to display digitally signed email in the original format, leave the ‘Read all digitally signed mail in plain text’. Sadly too few people send emails with digital signatures.


In Outlook 2002 (in Office XP) you need to have Outlook 2002 with Service Pack 1 or later. Sadly changing the feature isn’t as easy. You need to change the Windows registry and, as always, be very careful doing that.
* Close Outlook entirely, which means disconnecting any PDA’s that link to Outlook.
* Start RegEdit
* Find HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Outlook\Options\Mail
* Choose Edit | New | DWord from the menu to create a new registry entry
* Label the new entry “ReadAsPlain” – without the quotes
* Double-click the newly created ‘ReadAsPlain’ entry so you can edit it.
* Enter the value “1” – again without the quotes.
* Close Regedit
* Restart Outlook.

If all messages don’t show up in plain text then carefully check the registry setting or if Outlook was truly shut-down.


The only versions of Outlook Express that can force plain text display are version 6 with Service Pack 1 and any later. Go to Tools | Options | Read tab,choose the ‘Read all messages in plain text’ check box under Reading Messages.