Monday, March 24, 2008

Outta here for two weeks

Packing my bags for a trip to Dubai tomorrow.

I'll be joining the Pacific Princess for a segment of their World Cruise (sailing to Athens, Greece).

Looking forward to catching up with many old friends on board.

So....... I wont be blogging until my return on April 9th. Just in time for Songkran (Thai New Years).

By the way, for those people who think that Thailand is technologically behind the times, I've just signed a year long contract for WiFi access in my condo for less than $25 a month!

It's not the fastest connection in the world, but certainly servicable. I downloaded the new Open Office 2.3.1 last night (120 Megs) in just over 40 minutes! Not bad.

Internet cafes are on every corner but with the emergence of area wide WiFi service providers I think their future is dim.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A very Important Blog

Although it's dropped off the front page of most newspapers, Avian Bird Flu still lurks in the shadows waiting for an opportune moment to morph into something more easily transmittable to humans.

It may or may not ever happen.

Being aware of the facts and preparing for the possibility of a pandemic could be a life saving move.

To that end, I proudly plug my brother's (Mike Coston) Blog called "Avian Flu Diary" . For over two years Mike has diligently tracked the news regarding the possible flu pandemic and presented it is a highly informative and readable format.

To that end, he is highly regarded in the field and is probably one of the most knowledgeable individuals you'll ever meet.

Take a look at it, bookmark it, add it's RSS to your newsreader and follow it closely.

I do.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Best Freeware 2008 Edition

Note: Last year I listed my favorite Freeware programs. I've decided to update the list. Most have not changed - only new version numbers)

Being a “Software Junkie”, I’m always on the lookout for the best Free software available on the Net. Here are a few of my favorite “must have” programs.
My Top 25 Freeware Downloads

AbiWord 2.4.6 – Just need a good basic word processor? AbiWord could do the job nicely. Lots of add-ons available too (Thesaurus, Language Translation etc.)

ACE FTP 3.0 – There are a number of good FTP clients available on the web. I try them all and keep coming back to this one.

Ad-Aware SE – Keep your system free from Spyware. Update files are provided regularly via the internet

Avant Browser – Based on the I.E. Kernel, this web browser is faster than almost any other browser out there. One of the first (and best) tabbed browsers.

Avast Anti Virus Home Edition 4.7 – Simply the best anti-virus program that money can’t buy. Period.

Audacity 1.2.6 – Truly the neatest audio utility I’ve ever seen. Cut, paste, change tempo, pitch, add echo, fade in, fade out .. it does it all (mp3 & wav)

Audio Grabber 1.83 – Need a simple, straightforward fast program to rip tracks from CD’s? This is the one!

Copernic Desktop 2.3 – Now where is that file and what did I name it? Sound familiar? Copernic Desktop indexes everything on you computer (not just the file name but the file content too) and allows you to search for any word string. It’s lightning fast – like using Google on the Web.

Essential PIM – Currently at version 2.2, this Personal Information Manager is evolving nicely. I won’t give up my registered copy of Time & Chaos 7.0 anytime soon, but this is a solid PIM for the price (free)

Faststone Capture 5.3 – Ever need to capture a map or picture from a webpage. With this little utility, you can save a jpg of anything visible on your screen.

Faststone Image Viewer 3.5 – A great image viewer similar to AC/DC. Simple built in editing tools and fast rendering of large galleries makes is a winner.

Freecalc – A Calculator with a running tape.

Foxit PDF Viewer 2.2 – Tired of waiting for Acrobat Reader to load? Try this lightweight PDF reader (it even works on a USB drive!)

Great News – a very good RSS Reader. Easy to use and update.

Irfanview 4.10 – My “go to” program to open almost any graphic file format . Nice basic editing tools and easy to use features keeps this on my desktop.

Open Office 2.3 – If you want the equivalent to MS Office without the price tag, here it is. You get a word processor, database, spreadsheet, PowerPoint equivalent and drawing program. The download is over 90 meg so have a high speed connection…and patience.

Photofiltre 6.30– Not all the bells and whistles of “Photo Shop” but far easier to learn. Great for touching up photos

QClock 1.86 – Know the time anywhere in the world. This world time program allows you to place as many clocks for specific locations worldwide on your desktop as you want.

Skype 3.6.0. – Talk free with other Skype users world wide or call any telephone in the world for just pennies. Requires a high speed connection.

Stickies 6.0b – Virtual “Post It” notes for your desk top. Couldn’t live without them

Syncback SE 3.2 – Back up your important files or sync files between two drives / folders with this well thought out utility.

Trillian 3.1.9 – You have chat friends on Yahoo, MSN, AOL and ICQ? Don’t open four programs, use Trillian to handle all your major chat platforms.

Weather Pulse 2.17 – Weather forecasts (up to 10 days) for anywhere in the world. Satellite maps, Doppler radar, severe weather alerts included

Winamp 5.53 – Still the standard for media players. Lots of useful plug-ins available too!

I assume no responsibility for anything that may occur from using these programs including loss of data, hardware & software problems or any other damage (including viruses and or spyware). Always use the latest anti-viral software! .The installation and use of any software it at the users own risk.

You can always find the latest freeware at and

There you have it – the best of the best – and best of all, they are all free!

Happy Birthday Marty Allen

March 23rd is Marty Allen's Birthday.... more specifically his 86 th Birthday!

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas & New Years with Marty & his wife Karon Kate Blackwell on the Sapphire Princess. I've known them both for years and the opportunity to work with them once again was indeed an honor.
Marty & Karon live in Las Vegas but work all around the world. And, at 86 Marty still brings down the house!! If you've never seen Karon Kate, she's a joy to behold! Wonderful songstress. pianist and...the perfect "straight man" to Marty's shenanigans.
Here's a pic from New Years Eve 2007

I got home from a cruise in late february and found a letter from Marty including this classic photo from 1964. The occasion of Allen & Rossi appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show with four guys from Liverpoole (wonder whatever happened to them.....)

Where the Hell Have I Been????

Ok, there's no easy answer other than to say I became a victim of laziness over the past 10 months!!

Living in Thailand with it's long hot days and sultry nights tends to make one forget about the little communicating with the outside world!

But, I'm back.

In a nutshell, I've been working the ships of Princess & Holland America Lines and enjoying life here in the "land of smiles".

I now have my Non-Immigrant "O" "Retirement Visa" that allows me to stay in the Kingdom indefinitely (as long as I meet the financial requirements).

I'm heading to Dubai next week to join the Pacific Princess for a segment of the World Cruise (sailing through the Suez Canal to Athens) and then it's off to the Star Princess in late April sailing from Acapulco to Seattle.