Max Batten on the Web

This page was written around ten years ago and has received only minor update since.

However, you may still find something interesting amidst the waffle, so don't let me put you off!

To get this page off to a good start, here's a (fairly) recent picture of me: of course I am much better looking in real life!

the writer

Click on the image for a larger photo, if you are really keen.

Listed below, in no particular order, is information about, and links to, pages or people on the 'net which you may find either useful, interesting, both or neither.

London TransportThomas the Tank Engine
Software for freeKeeping Safe on the Internet
London Weather (Live!)Searching the Web (and the Universe!)
Jamaica Web PageFunny ha-ha, Funny peculiar
Finding E-mail AddressesThe Open University
Flying The London EyeCuring Athlete's Foot

London Transport
As a former employee of London Underground Ltd (LUL), I would encourage you to visit London Underground which provides a lot of useful information for visitors to London, including the famous Underground Map.
For a more general picture of transport in London, try Transport for London. If you are really, really keen, you can learn everything else that can be known about London Underground from CULG!

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Thomas the Tank Engine
There are presumably unfortunate people around the world who didn't grow up reading about Thomas, Edward, Gordon, Henry etc. When I first connected to the Web, I searched unsuccessfully for this page - I couldn't believe setting up a Web site for the Isle of Sodor hadn't been a priority! Anyway, its been put right now, so put on your anorak and push Thomas to relive your childhood!

And if you are of a nostalgic turn of mind, you might want to check out web sites, there are many, covering two of my all time favourites, Noggin The Nog and Captain Pugwash!

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Software for free!
Depending on how you got on to the 'Net, you may or may not have all the software you need to explore it, check for anti-virus programmes, JPEG interpreters, etc. Even if you have all the software you think you need, maybe you should really have something better?
Try Tucows where you can choose from a wide range of shareware and freeware goodies. A similar site worth a try is MajorGeeksMajor Geeks!

There are also all sorts of freebies scattered around individual sites, often commercial companies will offer a basic free product in the hope that you will upgrade to a newer/better version, for a fee. I found this one recently which, although rather old and clunky might enable you, if I am on line and I have remembered to switch everything on, to see me at work, composing more gems for these pages! Click for the webcam here and hope!

Athough it is using a webcam, it appears only to send a small image file every 10 seconds or so - so don't be surprised if I look a bit lethargic.

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Keeping Safe on the Internet
Unfortunately, whilst surfing the 'net and downloading software, you can attract the attentions of weird people who find amusement (I assume) in causing your PC and you problems of various kinds, from programs misbehaving and your PC seizing-up, to loss of data and significant time and effort being needed to restore your system to working order. This is particularly true for people with broadband, always-on links. However, the situation is not totally hopeless even for mean people like me who dislike having to pay "protection money" to the various manufacturers who purport to have the answer to the problem. There is no single solution and the two main things you need to do is to have defence in depth, and to keep your defences up-to-date!

First, of course, you need a virus checker. For several years I used AVG AVG which seemed to do the job, but recently I have switched to Avast! Avast! which, so far at least, seems to be equally effective and a little easier to use. Make sure you choose the free version, both sites offer upgrades to more comprehensive systems but the basic freebie is fine. If you choose not to have automatic updating, do make sure you check for updates at least once a week. Secondly, you should have a firewall, a program which monitors all the bits and bytes which pass through your Internet connection and stops those that look suspicious. You will need to "train" it to let through those programs, like your mail for instance, which are OK but this is not a difficult task. Again, there are a number of free programs you can download but most surveys seem to agree that Zone Alarm is the business and it has been looking after me for quite a while! Thirdly (I did say defence in depth), you should install and use a program to deal with what is generally called spyware. This can cover a multitude of programs which may track what internet sites you visit, what keystrokes (including passwords!) you enter, deluge you with advertising or, for example, change your default home page to one of its choosing. Very often you don't realise anything is happening at all until the damage has been done. Again, there is a wide choice and I haven't tried them all, but two popular (and free) programs are Ad-aware Ad-aware and Spybot Spybot. Both these programs have to be run to clean up your PC of any threats but another way to prevent "infection" is to have a program running in the background, just like the firewall, which will stop known threats at they arrive. For this, I use Spywareblaster Spyware Blaster and I would certainly recommend its installation. Note, it is worthwhile having more than one of each type (although virus checkers can start complaining about each other) since no one program will pick up or stop everything. It should be noted, by the way, that the free versions of this software are normally available only to single, home users. Companies and organisations are expected to pay for their copies!

All these tools need to be supported by you and commonsense! Keep them up-to-date, run them regularly if they are not in constant operation, don't download programs from dodgy-looking sites and don't open unexpected email attachments - either delete them or save them to disk and let the virus checker have a good look first! Finally, of course, keep important data backed-up regularly so that, if disaster strikes, you can clean the machine and restore things back to where the were, almost. Incidentally, if you do find yourself stuck with something unpleasant which none of your current programs can sort out, don't panic. You are probably not the first person to have the problem and someone may already have written a solution - do a search on the Web first, before you call in expensive outside help!

Finally, and by no means least, make sure your operating system is patched to include the latest updates which often include specific modifictions to prevent malicious damage to the programs and general operation of your PC. With Windows XP, for example, you can set your updates to be installed automatically, or at least be alerted to them being available, so make sure you install the changes as soon as you can.

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London Weather
To find out what the weather might possibly be like in London today, press here for the latest forecast (and other information). You can also find out what's supposed to happen in the rest of the UK. To actually see what the weather is like in the London area, try Virtual London which shows a picture of Covent Garden. There are other camers set up in central London continally sending pictures to the web. For example, for Beatles fans (who?), try Abbey Road and this (if you click on "Web Cam" is Covent Garden with the London Transport Museum in the distance, which has its own web camera!
For a satellite view of European weather, try the Met. Office infra-red picture.

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