Archive for May, 2008


Quacks like a duck

May 31, 2008

In a landmark test case last week, a Washington (state) judge ruled that a person selling software on a site like eBay was entitled to sell it. Some of the commentary about this says that Autodesk (the company that sued the reseller), was hard-pressed to pass the ‘straight face’ test when they asserted that their software was licensed and therefore not able to be on-sold to another party. It seems Autodesk’s own website talked about ‘purchase’, ‘buy’ etc. when referring their software, so to play the ‘licensing’ card in bringing action against the eBay seller was stretching it.  As one commentator said,  “Kudos to Judge Richard Jones for seeing that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.”

I wonder what the long-term implications of this decision are for software companies in how they sell and license software. Almost every piece of software I have worked with or purchased has one of those very long EULAs (End User License Agreement) full of incomprehensible legalese, which you have to click “I Agree” to to install it on your computer.

You can read more about this decision here:

[Thanks to Grant H for alerting me to this decision and some of these websites.]


Magnificent food illustrations

May 31, 2008

For sheer beauty, check out these food illustrators:

Some of my favourites: Matthew Holmes, Fiona King, Derek Grinnell.

[This article was first published in the September 2006 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Software for portable devices

May 30, 2008

A friend showed me a couple of neat little programs for my PocketPC. Both are fairly cheap and are downloadable from the internet.

  • Passwords Plus: A password database that synchronises with your desktop and PocketPC. And it’s password protected so you can keep prying eyes out. In addition to passwords, you can store all sorts of other information such as Frequent Flyer numbers, bank account numbers, as well as all those website registrations you have to keep track of. Available from; cost: $29.99 US. (Price rechecked Dec 2007 – still the same!)
  • CityTime: A great companion for travellers or anyone needing to know the time in another city quickly. You can have up to 16 cities predefined, and can click on a world map to see the current time at many more locations. Also gives you the distance between cities, international telephone dialling codes, sunrise and sunset times, and ‘at the minute’ time zone shading to tell you whether it’s day or night in the city you need to contact. And daylight saving time in all locations is automatically updated on changeover. Available from; cost $14.95 US (price rechecked Dec 2007 – still the same!)

[This article was first published in the December 2004 CyberText Newsletter; links and prices rechecked in December 2007.]


Google search ‘mashup’

May 29, 2008

Google has a new search site ( that adds results for images, blogs, videos, and Wikipedia entries in the sidebar of your standard Google search results.

Pretty neat!

[This article was first published in the March 2007 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Outlook: Changing your working week

May 28, 2008

Do you work part-time, or work different days than the standard Monday to Friday? Did you know that you can change your work days in Outlook 2003?

Here’s how:

  1. In Outlook, go to Tools > Options, then click the Calendar Options button on the Preferences tab.
  2. Select the check boxes for the days you work; clear the check boxes of the days you don’t.
  3. If you don’t start your work week on a Monday, or don’t work usual business hours, change the First Day of the Week and your Start time and End time settings too.

[This article was first published in the September 2005 CyberText Newsletter.]


Are you being copied?

May 27, 2008

Copyscape ( is a service that finds copies of your content on the web. Simply type in the URL of the page of your original content and it goes to work, finding matching content in seconds. If you find pages that are plagiarising your work, there are also helpful articles and links to legal sites to guide you in what to do.

Update December 2007: For more information on what to do if your website, blog postings. etc. are being copied, see

[This article was first published in the September 2004 CyberText newsletter; links last checked August 2011]


Love oxymorons?

May 26, 2008

If you love oxymorons, then you’ll love this site:

[This article was first published in the September 2004 CyberText newsletter; site last checked December 2007]