A Gardener Writes

Interesting stories and lots more!


Some time ago a writing friend recommended The Inkwell Group as writing website worth checking out. He was right http://www.Inkwellwriters.ie is a very good resource for both the published writer and the aspiring writer. I’m particularly interested in Ebook publishing as this is fast becoming the medium through which many books are published. You’ll enjoy reading the information on the Inkwell Writers website.


New Blog Post

Tonight I decoded to update the appearance of my WordPress blog. I chose the theme ‘Manifest‘ because it does exactly what it’s creator intended:

Manifest is a clean and streamlined theme, with great care for typography, that focuses on the content and not the distractions. It comes with support for several post formats, including image, link, and aside, with the option of adding a subtle header image to bring a personal touch to the design.

The Gravatar photo is from:


The plan is that cosmetic changes such as this will encourage more regular blogging.

Denis Nolan, Clock Maker, Dublin

Denis Nolan was a clock maker who loved his work and also did an enormous amount of good for people. His company was called Precision Clocks of Dublin. I first met Denis through a mutual friend in Drumcondra. He encouraged me to take up hill walking. It was through Denis that I go acquainted with three other people who would in time become good friends. About once a month we would meet up for some hillwalking in beautiful County Wicklow. Those walks were terrific mainly because our little group would discuss many topics as we enjoyed the majestic scenery. Yes we all have fond memories of Denis as he loved to explain everything to do with clocks. Whenever our group goes hillwalking in county Wicklow we will remember Denis with great affection.

Denis Nolan passed away on Wednesday 24th August 2011 at his home in Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland. His funeral mass took place at the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun on Saturday 27th August 2011. He was still young and had many years of life, work and play remaining. Sadly this was not to be.

Whenever you see a nice clock on a church or indeed any public building take a closer look, if there is no name then the clock was designed, built and installed by Denis Nolan.

May he rest in peace. Amen.

Russian Hackers

Last night there was an extremely interesting radio programme on the BBC World Service about Russian computer hackers who are considered the best in the world. Here is a direct transcript from the BBC website.

Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Moscow and Tomsk, Siberia

Andrei is a young man with immense power at his fingertips. He’s a reformed Russian hacker.

Back hunched, eyes fixed on the computer screen in front of him, he demonstrates what he can do.

“Look, here’s the log-in and the password,” he says, pulling up a Georgian government website.

“This site has already been hacked, I’m just demonstrating the vulnerability. But it’s easy if you know how.”

At just 20 years old, Andrei works for an information security firm. He says he does nothing illegal now, but he used to.

“I started when I was 14. I hacked a series of military resources, the US army, some Russian departments. I wanted to examine how well protected they were.”

Andrei sees nothing wrong with what he did, as he made no money from it. Hacking for him is all about the technical challenge and the thrill.

“It’s like when you have a maths problem,” he says. “You don’t know what tools to use, you know nothing. But you want to master it, understand it, and then use that knowledge in the future.”

Technical skill

Andrei is not alone in his passion. Yevgeny Kaspersky describes Russia as a nation of “super hackers” and he should know.

Mr Kaspersky has made his name battling the world’s cyber criminals. The computer security guru says hackers in China and Latin America generate the greatest number of cyber-attacks.

The most sophisticated come from his own country.

“Russian attacks look more professional. The malware and design is more complicated and more technical,” Mr Kaspersky says.

“I think it’s thanks to Russia’s technical education. Its graduates are probably the best.”

Four hours flight east of Moscow, the next generation of those graduates is in training.

In the snow-coated Siberian city of Tomsk, one in every five residents is a student. Information security is what they excel in. But in college corridors here, students talk of hacking with respect, even reverence.

“Hacking is an art, the art of breaking-in,” Alexei says. “A true hacker strives to learn something new. It’s the art of constantly achieving new heights of expertise.”

The students don’t learn this art directly in class. Alexei says his institute only “helps him in the right direction”. But there are plenty of opportunities to hone your hacking skills on campus.

One, is when the Sibears do battle.

The cyber-warriors of Tomsk university consistently finish among the top three teams in international information protection contests. They train each week, hunting for flaws in each others cyber defences.

“I’ve found lots of flags! It was a successful attack,” Zheniya whoops as he identifies a weak spot in his opponent’s system. “Now I can get access to their database,” he grins and prepares to swoop.

Cash call

For these Siberian students, hacking is a test of their knowledge and ingenuity. As Zheniya explained, you can’t defend a system unless you understand the principles of attack. But there is another illegal market for their undoubted skills.

The team members say they’ve never been tempted but back in Moscow, Andrei admits that when he started hacking, he was constantly approached and offered money to hire his services.

First, friends and relatives wanted him to break into e-mail accounts, or destroy websites.

Then the demands became more serious.

“There were people who wanted me to infect a large number of users who were clients of a certain bank, so they could use their computers to transfer money,” Andrei remembers, but says he refused. “That’s not ethical.”

For those who are lured by the promise of riches, Russia’s cyber police insist there’s no such thing as anonymity in the internet. The department claims it has uncovered more than 7,000 cybercrimes in the past nine months.

Others fear that’s only scraping the surface in the fight against a crime that knows no international boundaries.

That’s why Mr Kaspersky is arguing for some form of government control of cyberspace.

“We depend on this network now, and we don’t control it,” he says, and suggests the introduction of internet passports for every user. For him, security concerns are more important than preserving full freedom.

That would certainly have complicated life for Andrei once. But he says he’s abandoned criminal hacking now, and makes a living out of internet security services instead.

“It’s still hacking, but because I get paid it gives me more pleasure. It’s better than hacking illegally – and for nothing,” he says.

But he estimates there are at least a hundred serious Russian hackers still at work.

And now a whole new generation of cyber-specialists is working its way through the country’s colleges.

Soon, they too will be faced with a choice: whether to set their minds to creating sophisticated information protection systems, or join the ranks of Russia’s hackers for hire.


Yevgeny Kaspersky the famous Russian computer / IT guru who has made his name battling the world’s cyber criminals:


Here are the top 5 websites where you can learn how to hack like a pro:


#1 – CyberXtreme: Hacking and Warez

#2 – EvilZone Hacking Forums

#3 – Hack a Day

#4 – Hack In The Box

#5 – Hack This Site!

Microsoft DOS format command


Will Self

On Monday I listened to a very interesting interview with Will Self on Open Book on BBC Radio 4. He has gone back to doing his writing on a typewriter. Why has he ditched his computer? He says that a writer who uses a computer does his thinking on the screen; whereas a writer who uses a typewriter does his thinking on the page which involves a lot of rewrites therefore a computer is no advantage. I would have to disagree because a computer is indispensable when it comes to editing your writing. He also revealed that his spelling had deteriorated due to using a computer – did he never hear of ‘spell check’? Self’s new novel is called Butt which is set on a bleak island which is reminiscent of the movie ‘Mad Max’. The story is influenced by Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. His novel, Butt is being published on the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War. He wants people to think more about the moral status of our actions – eg. the consequences of flipping a cigarette butt! He maintains that the war in Iraq did not impact too severely on people’s lives in Britain – people still went

on about their daily lives. Ofcourse people went on as best they could.

What did Will Self expect people to do? Really I find his angle insipid to say the least.

Anyway he the writer is entitled to his opinions. Aren’t we all – writers or not?

Virtual desktops; Sticker Lite; 7-Zip; FileZilla; BitTorrent

This evening I downloaded 2 free programs for Windows XP: VirtuaWin Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows & Sticker Lite (Desktop Notes equivalent to yellow paper sticky notes).

VirtuaWin is a virtual desktop manager for the Windows operating system (Win9x/ME/NT/Win2K/XP/Win2003/Vista). A virtual desktop manager lets you organize applications over several virtual desktops (also called ‘workspaces’). Virtual desktops are very common in Unix/Linux, and once you get accustomed to using them, they become an essential part of a productive workflow. VirtuaWin is designed to be simple to use and be highly configurable.

Click on the following links to download these fantastic free programs:

VirtuaWin The Virtual Desktop Manager = http://virtuawin.sourceforge.net/

Sticker Lite = http://www.morun.net/www/products/sticker/lite/sticky-notes-freeware.html

And now to some free programs I promised a friend. He was particularly interested in software which would unzip files (compressed files). 7-Zip comes highly recommended.

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.  http://www.7-zip.org/

7-Zip is an free open source file archiver designed originally for Microsoft Windows, and later made available to other computer operating systems. In the form of p7zip, the command-line version of 7-Zip has been ported for use on Unix-like systems such as GNU/Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X as well as AmigaOS. It is also compatible with DOS via either a DOS port, or by using the HX-DOS extender to run the Windows command-line version.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7-Zip

FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. FileZilla, the free FTP solution. Both a client and a server are available. FileZilla is open source software distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. http://filezilla-project.org/

The FileZilla Wiki is a documentation base aimed at helping those that want to download, install, compile and use the FileZilla Client and FileZilla Server software to transfer files across the Internet.

FileZilla Client is a free, open source FTP client for Windows. It supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS). The client is available under many platforms, binaries for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X are provided.FileZilla Server is an FTP server supported by the same project. It supports FTP and FTP over SSL/TLS.  http://wiki.filezilla-project.org/Main_Page

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) communications protocol. BitTorrent is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting, and bandwidth resources. Instead, when data is distributed using the BitTorrent protocol, each recipient supplies pieces of the data to newer recipients, reducing the cost and burden on any given individual source, providing redundancy against system problems, and reducing dependence on the original distributor.



Learn what a Wiki is: A wiki is software that allows registered users or anyone to collaboratively create, edit, link, and organize the content of a website, usually for reference material. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. These wiki websites are often also referred to as wikis; for example, Wikipedia is one of the best known wikis.[1] Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and for Knowledge Management. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as “the simplest online database that could possibly work”.[2]


I sincerely hope that this information is of use to people out there in the online world. Good night!

MacBook Air

Recently at Macworld 2008 Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new MacBook Air – the new ultra thin notebook which is currently taking the web and the world by storm. Just try YouTube and you’ll find a plethora of video footage exploring every aspect of the new MacBook Air.

Apple.ie in Ireland are selling the new MacBook Air from a base price of Eur1,699 – great value because this new piece of kit from Apple is perhaps only the beginning of more fantastic hardware and software that has yet to appear. I would urge anyone interested in Apple software to go along and see a demonstration of this magnificent piece of technology. Who knows you might even buy it there and then.

Check out the new MacBook Air on Mac Life (Create, Share, Enjoy) the online version of the magazine of the same name.  And for your daily dose of all things Mac click on MacSlash

On the form side of things you have the incredibly useful Mac-Forums (The ultimate Source for Your Mac).

Am I converted I hear you ask. Absolutely! Should have bought a Mac computer years ago.