ICUFR Website Updated

ICUFR logoThe ICUFR web site has been updated to link into a new online membership database that Chairman James Kalassery has developed.  The previous 'Join us' registration page has been removed from this site and instead there will be a link to the membership site (not yet available).  This will speed up processing of applications and quickly put new members in touch with the rest of the fellowship.

There are plans in hand to develop new content, but for the relaunch of this site we have copied over interesting material from the last three years to offer a 'Best of ..' selection.

Rooting my Galaxy Note

A couple of times spam has appeared in the calendar of my mobile phone – a Galaxy Note running Android ‘Jelly Bean’. This was unexpected as I thought that app was private for my use only. Looking on the web I soon discovered that calendars are shared with your business colleagues, family and apparently the whole world. But that was not what I wanted.

The Superuser AppWhen you install an app you are asked to allow it access to various functions on your phone. The calendar app comes preinstalled on the Note and I found that it could ‘add or remove accounts, Google mail, use accounts on the device, add or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without owner’s knowledge, read calendar events plus confidential information, read your contacts, and read your text messages’.

I like the Note’s calendar (S-Planner) but I certainly didn’t want it to do anything that required such wide ranging access. I’ve no idea how the spam was inserted into my calendar but it was pretty clear that if I wanted to stop it happening again I needed to restrict those permissions. However this is an app that comes preinstalled and you are not allowed to alter what it can do or even uninstall it .. unless you ‘root’ your phone.

This is not as dramatic as it sounds. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 introduced the idea that you could not install, remove or update software that might impact on other users unless you had ‘administrator’ rights. In Linux (from which Android is derived) the administrator is called ‘root’ and to make the changes I wanted on my phone I needed to be ‘root’.

The Benefits Of Desktop Virtualisation

This article is about desktop virtualisation - running your own personal cloud computing environment at home. I've found it easier to describe how to do it than to explain why you would want to. It may help if I set out my problems and how virtualisation has solved them.

Old PCs under the deskOver the years computers accumulated under my desk at home. A Windows Home Server (WHS) streamed music around the house and backed up my home network. It had recovered my wife's PC following a hard disk failure so that box was essential. A Linux system backed up the ICUFR and other web sites on my internet server and ran an IMAP mail server. My old office laptop running XP had Quickbooks, Garmin maps and a few other applications that I needed from time to time. And finally there was my main machine - originally XP but now upgraded to Windows 7.

All three PC's and the laptop were wired into a 4 port KVM switch which let me switch the keyboard, mouse and monitor between them. At least two and usually three were always on. They kept my electricity bills high, contributed to global warming and were very noisy.

The raft of machines also raised security issues. None of them had mirrored hard drives and the WHS and Linux servers only got backed up now and then when I remembered. I used Windows 7 to access the internet and worried about ever more sophisticated viruses, trojans and rootkits. If my free AVG let some malware through could I restore to a clean system? - not without wiping to metal and doing a full reinstall.

A friend suggested that I look at virtualisation. Three out of four of my machines were idle for much of the time - exactly the situation that gave rise to virtualisation software for commercial installations. But could it work on a desktop PC?

A free local web server on your PC

XAMPP LogoWeb sites have moved on from a collection of pages to complex systems that store pieces of web text in a database, organise graphics in separate folders, and serve up pages on demand with scripts and programming tags. These content management systems (CMS) have matured into off-the-shelf packages and there are a number of free, community supported packages that you can download and try for yourself.

The problem is finding a web server to try them out on. Typically they need a fully configured Apache server, MySQL database and the PHP programming system. Rather surprisingly you don’t need to rent an internet server. This article will help you set up a free, local web server on your PC or laptop using a package called XAMPP that you can use to try out Joomla and similar CMS web sites.

You don’t need any technical knowledge to set it up so let’s get started. Go to - http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html and click on the version for your machine. XAMPP is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris. It provides a full web server installation in a single directory that will serve pages for you to browse with your usual web browser. It is the ideal way to develop and test a web site at home. It is designed for ease of use with minimal hassle – so there are no passwords. Do NOT use it as a live system on the net!

In what follows we will be describing the use of XAMPP on Windows, but the Mac and Linux installations create similar installations and provide the same facilities.

Font Explorer

Font ExploerI recently wanted to update the masthead of the ICUFR website, but couldn't remember what font I had used for the lettering. No problem I thought - someone on the web will have a site that identifies fonts. Sure enough there was www.identifont.com and the Linotype Font Finder (which looked very much like Identifont). These lead you through a series of questions that whittle the possibilities down to in my case about 30 possibilities. Unfortunately none of them were the font I was looking for.

Over the years I have let fonts accumulate and I now have 696 different fonts. So looking through them one by one was going to be a tedious business and I needed help. Windows 7 has a nice display of fonts installed on your machine, but it isn't suitable for managing hundreds of fonts. So Googling for font utilities led me to Font Explorer which I downloaded from Cnet.

This little utility is quick to download and install (on Windows 7) and ran without any problems. It displays your fonts page by page, but is smart enough to let you specify filters such as symbol, script, Roman or Swiss. The last two select serif or sans serif fonts. This cut down the number of fonts to examine and running my eye down a page of samples fairly quickly found the font I had used: "Impact".

This fellowship is not an agency of, or controlled by Rotary International.
We gratefully acknowledge Rtn Tord Elfwendahl's creation of our new logo and his other graphics used on this site.