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Published 23-May-2002

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  In the paddock  

The U.S. Farm Bill, the weather and whether this year we'll see an El Nino are topics being talked about at great length at the moment.

You can find background information to the U.S. Farm Bill 2002 at There is a large list of documents and papers that discuss considerations that went into the final determination.

Of more interest, however, will be the Environmental Working Group's database of where all the money goes for U.S. farm subsidies. When you're at this site, firstly look at the the top U.S. recipients of certificate subsidies on the opening page. Once you're over the shock of who makes up this group, choose the option to list the commodity certificate subsidies by state. Then there's the list of unlikely recipients and the millionaires club recipient list. At the bottom of this list is the average figure a farmer might receive - about $US5,000. Finally, the site offers summaries by county, city and state.

As for the weather, the Bureau of Meterology's Season Ahead site provides a range of information: the three-month rainfall and temperature outlooks, the state of the SOI and the status of the El Nino.

For more information about El Nino and whether or not it's going to affect our weather this year, see the news stories "El Nino is back?" from March and "El Nino is coming" from a couple of weeks ago. The latter has a good diagram to explain how the El Nino generates.

Since Australia has no satellites of our own, much of our weather and climate is sourced from the U.S. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. So the NOAA site is worth visiting for more in-depth analysis and to see where and how the data is obtained.

  Hoax check  

Sadly, we still have the Wild Wild West aspect of the Internet showing up now and then. Chain letters, hoax viruses and junk mail are the main areas where we get affected.

When you want to check any information being passed around, particularly in regard to viruses, use the HoaxBusters site at

At the moment, the virus mis-information being passed around the 'Net is that users should delete a file called "Jdbgmgr.Exe". This is a valid Windows system file used by the MS Java Virtual Machine - deleting it will probably cause unexpected errors, particuarly when you're browsing a web site that uses a Java applet. Use Internet Explorer's repair facility to replace the file if you've deleted it. If this action doesn't work, you'll need to re-install the Virtual Machine.

  The world game  

Eight days to go! On May 31, the world's largest sporting event begins in Korea and Japan. The final thirty-two teams will contest soccer's most-coveted trophy from a tournament that began about two years ago with 195 teams.

Australia's most authorative source for national and world soccer is the SBS team of commentators and guests. Beside watching the games live on SBS TV, you can fulful your appetite for everything soccer at the SBS web site, The World Game.

For those more interested in the RoboCup, which begins today, visit the official site at

  Line news  

Almost daily, webDotTrainSim is updated to feature news about the best and latest free downloads and short tutorials on how to get the most realistic performance from your MS Train Sim locos and rolling stock.

Free locos and rolling stock from the past couple of weeks include a NSW double-decker electric intercity trainset, British Rail class 56 electric trainset with opening/closing doors and flashing pantographs, French Ter X72500 diesel loco with TGV shape, and the 1955 classic Canadian Pacific Rail trainset.

Some of the new topics covered at webDotTrainSim include how to overcome the broken coupler bug, what you can do to add variety to activities, a report, with pictures, on the 12,000 tonne coal load hauled from Shelby to Whitefish, and a tutorial on what data each loco uses from the engine file.


A free wordprocessor with features like MS Word may be of interest to those of you who don't need all the capabilities of MS Office. Not only is Abiword available for Windows but for other operating systems as well.

Ned Kelly is being discussed again. Visit a site called Bailup which proclaims "Let the truth be known: all things Ned".

Other sites to browse over the next couple of weeks include an all-encompassing update for IE, some humour at Computer Stupidities, Powertoys for Windows XP, and the Scrabble tool box which uses the official Scrabble Player's Dictionary.

An item of information that is not a hoax regards Mac users playing copy protected CDs. In some cases it seems that some Macs suffer hardware damage. See the CNET news page for more details