Tuesday, 7 October 2008

What I'm Watching: Deceiving Innocence

In 1992 issues of Time were still dropping through my parents' letterbox, as the subscription my recently deceaed Grandmother had taken out was still active. On the cover of one issue was a man in chains and the grim headline: "This man might be innocent. This man is due to die." And so I was introduced to the story of Roger Coleman.

Despite a mass media campaign and apparent doubts about the case Coleman went to Virginia's electric chair on the 20th May 1992, declaring his innocence right to the end. For people who don't agree with capital punishment - myself included - his story was a cause, a reason to show that innocent people can be executed by flawed human beings.

There was one small problem with that. In 2006, nearly 14 years after his execution and 25 years after the murder of Wanda McCoy, DNA evidence showed that Coleman was the killer. Or if you're really sceptical the chances were 1:19,000,000 that someone else did it.

This Friday on the Crime and Investigation Channel (that's channel 553 if you have a Sky dish) they are showing a documentary called Deceiving Innocence which looks into Coleman's case and quite why so many people felt - wrongly - that Coleman was innocent. I think it is going to be pretty interesting.

Deceiving Innocence is being shown at 4pm on 10th October 2008 on the Crime and Investigation Channel.

Roger Coleman - Time Cover [TIME]
Roger Keith Coleman [Wikipedia]
Crime and Investigation Channel [Official Website]

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What I'm Running

Somewhat inspired by this Lifehacker post I thought I'd have a run-down on what I'm running at the moment. Now that I'm back online at home (hurrah!) everything is back up and running at full speed, and I'm back working as I should be.


N.B. I install and check out loads of programs. Rather than give you a full and boring comprehensive list I've decided to cut this down to the programs I use most.

Firefox - My web browser of choice, mainly because it is so easy to customise it with extensions and themes.

Thunderbird - The Mozilla e-mail program, which finally saw me move away from trusty old Pegasus Mail. Again easy to customise and with superb support for multiple mailboxes, including access to Gmail though IMAP, which is fantastic (and somewhere where Yahoo! Mail lags well behind - they presently don't even offer this to paid customers).

Filezilla - Free and it works. Absolutely doddle to use for FTP. Love it.

Adobe Photoshop - I'm still learning with this really, but I love the power of it and the results it can produce. At the moment it is proving useful for things like birthday presents, re-touching photos and basic web work, but I want to extend my knowledge far beyond that.

Wikidpad - I'll admit, I'm a compulsive note-taker. However too often when I started taking notes in notepad I wouldn't save it, and then I'd lose my notes thanks to the beast that is Windows Automatic Update restarting my machine while I sleep (thanks for that, Mr Gates).

And so I tried Wikidpad, found it automatically saved what you typed effectively as you went along, and have used it happily ever since.

iTunes - I fought this for a long time, then gave in and began to use the Apple application. And to be fair I've come to love it. Plays music, check. Can be a one-stop shop to buy music, check. Has the power to generate playlists automatically, check. Downloads my podcasts while I'm asleep, check. Makes a cup of tea when I get up... oh, it can't do that.

PHP Designer - Ok, I should probably re-think this as although it is free the version I am using is two years old. However when it comes to editing PHP files I find this the easiest program to work with (at least among those I've tried to date). I periodically look for something better, but to date I've yet to find something I think I would prefer.

Microsoft Excel - I'm laughing a bit to myself in typing this, because when I first used Microsoft Office I probably used everything but Excel. I typed letters in Word, stored addresses in Outlook and went "Ooh!" at the catalogue of effects you could put in Powerpoint.

Then I moved away from home and real life took over. Excel has been vital for years, from wedding costs, to nursery plans and even Fantasy Baseball draft lists (there's the reason I learnt to develop outputting PHP to a .csv file!). I have my day-to-day expenses held in a password-protected Excel file. On an everyday basis I couldn't be without a program like Excel (and don't recommend Open Office, because I've seen people use it at work and to put it mildly, I'm not a fan).


Office PC
- PC, built from barebone unit bought from Novatech. Runs Windows XP Home. 1 x 80Gb hard drive + 1 x 20Gb hard drive, backed up via SyncBack to a 500Gb external hard drive. 1 x CD writer drive and 1 x DVD dual layer writer. Five USB ports, two in the front and three in the back (insert your own Hector Brocklebank impression here).
- 1 standard keyboard, 1 Microsoft optical mouse (had for five years - never had a problem with it).
- 1 Kyocera 3600+ printer (still going!) & 1 HP printer/scanner.
- 1 x LG 17" LCD monitor.

- Toshiba Satellite Pro. Runs Windows XP Professional. As a matter of personal preference I also bought a small optical mouse to use with it, as I'm not a fan of touchpads.

I sync my e-mail in what most people would say is a pretty odd way. I setup Thunderbird on both my laptop and desktop, and on my laptop I set the accounts up to leave messages on the server. I setup the same accounts on the desktop and set the accounts up to leave messages on the server for a day before deleting them. To date this has worked pretty well.

I also run all my e-mail accounts through Gmail, so I hopefully don't miss anything important if I'm away from either my laptop or desktop.