Monday, 9 December 2013

Geisha Girls - Nippon Bunka Film co LTD

Found this box of film slides "Geisha Girls" - Nippon Bunka Film co LTD  from 1963.  The text is from the booklet insert. The slides are dated 1963 and the colour has faded despite a "Auto colour" adjustment in photoshop.  There are a few more boxes in this set so let me know if you have an interest in this type of archive materials.

Introduction text reads : 
Geisha are women who attend on guests at banquets or drinking parties, serving wine, keeping merry conversations with the guests and entertaining them with music and dance. Geisha meaning women in of arts or entertainers who add to amusement with their music and dance appeared first during the middle part of the 18th century. Discriminated from the yujo or courtesans who solve favour in the red light quarters they were known as machi geishas (entertainers of the town), and were strictly disciplined in their arts and good manners. They were called for to restaurants as well as to banquets held at private dwellings and added to the atmosphere of merriment with their gay appearance and behaviour. Their bright appearance still remains as it was in the feudal age, but recently they are gradually decreasing in number.

One.  To the guest house by rickshaw. 
Rickshaws which were popular in the late 19th to early 20th centuries have been replaced by motorcars but they are still now favoured by geisha girls. The unique attire of the rickshaw man also remains as it was in the good old days.

Two. About to enter the guesthouse. 
Called for by guests through the restaurant office gave geisha go the appointed place carrying requisites for entertainment.

Three. New Year. 
In the New Year déjà dressed even more brightly than ever. They universally dress their hair in traditional Japanese style and we are specially luxurious dresses which add to their charm.

Four. At the banquet. 
Geisha waiting on guests at a banquet, comfort them with their rich smart conversations and tender services.

Five. entertaining the guests with dance. 
When the guests begin to feel merry geisha girls entertain them with dance or simisen music and song.

Six. Salute to the guest.
Upon entering the room of their guests to geisha greets them politely and thank them for their favour.

Seven. Samisen geisha music instrument. 
The samisen is a musical instrument indispensable for the geisha. Her pose tuning the three strings and playing it on her knees is full of classical grace.

Eight. The Beautiful nape. 
Everything is beautiful with the geisha girl, but the most charming must be her nape seen below her black hair.

Nine. Prayers at a shrine  
Geisha are generally pious believers in a divine power. They frequently visit Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and offer prayers to god whom they believe to be their tutelary deities.

Ten Dance exercise. 
Geisha girls study music and dance throughout the year and display their arts at e a theater at least once ever year.













And finally the box inserts showing the other pictures in this tourist series.




Sunday, 1 December 2013

Had a (un)lucky break repaired by insurance claim

I bought a shiny new 27 inch Acer monitor for the home office a month or so ago. However during a minor reorganisation in the office managed to whack it squarely on the side with the metal base of a wastepaper basket.  Doh! that really gave the sinking feeling of £200 going down the drain.


The damage was obvious and immediate, a black bruise about a 1/3 of the way down on the left hand side and picture interference from that point down.  In action this looked just as bad.



The monitor was new, being less than a month old, but concious prevented me from going back to the vendor and saying it had been damaged in delivery.  However just before going out to buy a replacement I called up the credit card issuing company to see if they had any cover for newly bought articles.  Some cards have a new item insurance cover built in as a benefit of the account. This benefit was not mentioned on any statement but was in the small print of the card agreement. Turns out I was in luck as the item was covered for 30 days from purchase for fire, theft and accident. A couple of emails later with photos, a note from a local IT supplier saying item cannot be economically repaired and the claim was granted.  Given the £25 excess and £10 for the repair estimate I got back £165 of the £200 cost for a new replacement.

However this claim could have gone badly as buried in the small print of the claims process were some sweeping exclusions.....


I could understand if "Services" purchased from the internet were not covered but any items purchased online seems to be a very broad unnecessary exclusion. In this case the monitor was bought over the phone from a shop that has bricks and mortar stores and delivered a few days later. The purchase could have been made directly at the store, over the phone for collection later, or just as website mail order deal. Really not understanding how some of those purchase mechanisms are covered and other not when the goods are the same. Indeed many big box stores settle purchases using order delivery from a warehouse for in-store purchases.

Anyway the claim was paid so thanks very much Co-op Platinum new purchase insurance cover. 

  








Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hunting down a spam host and it was Mattias Kaneteg CEO of Crystone AB (Sweden)

==================== Update ===================
5 Days after this post, and some direct follow ups with Crystone.se, no more spam was received.
20 days (19 Dec 2013) later crystone.se was seen to have vanished from the Spamhaus ISP bad boys list.  Thank you Crystone.se for the change in direction, Keep up the good work.
==================== ******** =================

In Reverse from the top ..

Mattias Kaneteg is CEO of Crystone AB (Sweden) Sends spam. Source Linked-in.

Crystone.se hosts spammers website and domains

Source 
Multiple Traceroutes to adriute.com and multiple other spammer domains

gannett$ traceroute adriute.com
traceroute to adriute.com (193.182.254.192), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
 1  skyrouter.home (192.168.0.1)  1.544 ms  1.340 ms  0.871 ms
 2  * * *
 3  ip-84-38-37-16.easynet.co.uk (84.38.37.16)  21.820 ms  21.911 ms  22.029 ms
 4  ti9002b300.ti.telenor.net (195.66.237.107)  20.723 ms  20.606 ms  21.009 ms
 5  ti3003c400-ae3-0.ti.telenor.net (146.172.105.37)  62.745 ms  63.474 ms  62.462 ms
 6  ti3002c400-ae2-0.ti.telenor.net (146.172.100.69)  62.495 ms  62.093 ms  62.579 ms
 7  ti3002d400-ae0-0.ti.telenor.net (146.172.102.186)  62.145 ms  62.389 ms  62.576 ms
 8  ti3083a210-xe8-1.ti.telenor.net (146.172.107.206)  238.273 ms  170.280 ms  205.565 ms
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  60.298 ms  59.874 ms  59.797 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.240 ms  55.152 ms  55.127 ms

11  www.adriute.com (193.182.254.192)  54.996 ms !Z  54.934 ms !Z  54.741 ms !Z


Email and embedded link direct to domain adriute.com.
Source - My mail box



 This is just one of many similarly formed emails sent to the same private address from various domains hosted in the same way. Each one of these email comes from a different domain on the list below.


Luckily most of these emails are correctly recognised as junk mail, probably using internet based blacklists.

The well respected Spamhaus Agrees with this conclusion. Getting to number three on the worst ISPs in the world list does not happen overnight, that's a policy choice by Crystone. Either the CEO is in on the deal or is incompetent by not knowing how his company's reputation and therefore shareholder value is being trashed.


This particular operation is known as a "Snowshoe Spam" operation spreading out the evil across a large number of domains and IP address. Other ref.  A bit dumb/obvious to use the same hosting company.

And adriute.com is not the only domain with the same infrastructure leading directly back to crystone.se. List of bad poison spam domains:

xsmwkj.com
tmdti.com
livspan.com
jizbell.com
myilt.com
prkco.com
poszg.com
aemgt.com
urlpp.com
siinco.com
wzztq.com
ndzstzw.com
adfilmz.com
pzjdl.com
erqjgz.com
ctdserv.com
siinco.com
germanyideal.com
clickbebo.com
dealzez.com
tmacsdeal.com
tuclicka.net
marrge.com
laurabs.com
padilladeals.com
gozumuz.com
freesouzi.com
ctdserv.com
freeschin.com
cqrcity.com
gamezonefree.net
readtreefree.com
oyoob.com
ndzstzw.com
adriute.com

dommc.com

# The last couple of lines of trace routes to each of the domains above. See how the hop before the domain is se.crystone.net.

9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.938 ms  59.773 ms  60.001 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.242 ms  54.538 ms  54.193 ms
11  www.xsmwkj.com (192.36.142.156)  54.893 ms !Z  54.927 ms !Z  54.714 ms !Z
--
--
 5  195.66.224.243 (195.66.224.243)  19.762 ms  19.656 ms  18.724 ms
 6  crystone-hy-demarc0.cr1-r85.hy-sto.se.p80.net (83.140.244.62)  52.234 ms  52.283 ms  53.344 ms
 7  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  52.373 ms  52.808 ms  52.737 ms
 8  www.iyaadura.com (83.168.194.20)  52.663 ms !Z  52.856 ms !Z  52.392 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  60.007 ms  59.859 ms  59.779 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.284 ms  54.230 ms  54.971 ms
11  www.livspan.com (192.165.239.156)  54.994 ms !Z  54.860 ms !Z  55.214 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.737 ms  60.418 ms  60.507 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.324 ms  54.005 ms  54.594 ms
11  www.jizbell.com (192.165.241.236)  54.521 ms !Z  55.583 ms !Z  57.872 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.289 ms  59.946 ms  59.709 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.509 ms  54.840 ms  55.578 ms
11  www.myilt.com (192.176.207.195)  55.279 ms !Z  55.214 ms !Z  54.608 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.549 ms  59.600 ms  59.348 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.192 ms  54.132 ms  54.476 ms
11  www.prkco.com (193.180.252.202)  59.890 ms !Z  59.208 ms !Z  59.736 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.416 ms  59.694 ms  59.120 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.472 ms  54.137 ms  54.049 ms
11  www.poszg.com (192.71.169.205)  59.239 ms !Z  59.896 ms !Z  59.981 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.867 ms  60.153 ms  61.110 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.518 ms  54.594 ms  54.633 ms
11  www.aemgt.com (194.14.131.149)  54.495 ms !Z  54.621 ms !Z  55.185 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  58.929 ms  59.151 ms  59.249 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.759 ms  54.167 ms  54.162 ms
11  www.urlpp.com (192.176.207.194)  59.663 ms !Z  58.709 ms !Z  60.622 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.348 ms  59.144 ms  59.879 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.513 ms  55.052 ms  54.716 ms
11  www.siinco.com (192.36.6.139)  54.996 ms !Z  54.822 ms !Z  55.087 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.526 ms  59.423 ms  59.946 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.846 ms  54.218 ms  54.200 ms
11  www.wzztq.com (192.36.255.147)  59.913 ms !Z  59.531 ms !Z  59.834 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.765 ms  59.880 ms  59.692 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.548 ms  53.978 ms  54.033 ms
11  www.ndzstzw.com (192.36.0.158)  55.119 ms !Z  54.192 ms !Z  54.453 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  60.320 ms  59.976 ms  59.273 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.609 ms  54.403 ms  54.521 ms
11  www.adfilmz.com (192.165.1.207)  59.666 ms !Z  59.363 ms !Z  58.671 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.843 ms  59.128 ms  59.969 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.130 ms  54.133 ms  54.898 ms
11  www.pzjdl.com (193.182.146.177)  60.026 ms !Z  60.110 ms !Z  59.340 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.487 ms  60.069 ms  59.261 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  53.990 ms  54.784 ms  54.338 ms
11  www.erqjgz.com (193.235.158.152)  59.536 ms !Z  58.948 ms !Z  59.653 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.462 ms  58.891 ms  59.351 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.876 ms  53.835 ms  54.425 ms
11  www.ctdserv.com (193.180.122.181)  59.695 ms !Z  59.643 ms !Z  59.426 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.308 ms  59.587 ms  60.403 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.489 ms  55.207 ms  55.422 ms
11  www.siinco.com (192.36.6.139)  54.374 ms !Z  54.569 ms !Z  55.574 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.575 ms  60.202 ms  59.797 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.263 ms  54.152 ms  54.277 ms
11  www.germanyideal.com (193.182.118.131)  54.833 ms !Z  55.190 ms !Z  54.726 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.159 ms  59.682 ms  59.919 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  56.716 ms  54.940 ms  54.636 ms
11  www.clickbebo.com (193.234.239.143)  54.824 ms !Z  54.038 ms !Z  54.226 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.317 ms  59.761 ms  60.198 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.759 ms  54.642 ms  54.522 ms
11  www.dealzez.com (193.180.12.35)  55.268 ms !Z  55.842 ms !Z  54.634 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.464 ms  59.471 ms  59.698 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.286 ms  54.641 ms  54.965 ms
11  www.tmacsdeal.com (192.36.205.28)  54.647 ms !Z  54.832 ms !Z  54.307 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.997 ms  59.215 ms  59.942 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.138 ms  55.422 ms  54.875 ms
11  www.tuclicka.net (64.88.144.13)  60.363 ms !Z  59.824 ms !Z  59.515 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  95.477 ms  59.686 ms  60.840 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.989 ms  56.219 ms  54.925 ms
11  www.marrge.com (193.181.3.199)  55.003 ms !Z  54.725 ms !Z  54.784 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.504 ms  59.530 ms  59.129 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.260 ms  54.725 ms  55.408 ms
11  www.laurabs.com (193.235.96.178)  55.966 ms !Z  55.302 ms !Z  55.169 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  74.485 ms  59.173 ms  59.911 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.884 ms  62.431 ms  55.052 ms
11  www.padilladeals.com (64.88.140.14)  59.455 ms !Z  59.988 ms !Z  60.061 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.760 ms  59.477 ms  59.664 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.079 ms  55.013 ms  54.857 ms
11  www.gozumuz.com (193.182.163.129)  55.060 ms !Z  54.918 ms !Z  55.155 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.739 ms  59.915 ms  59.895 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.929 ms  54.641 ms  55.545 ms
11  www.freesouzi.com (209.152.170.14)  54.135 ms !Z  55.157 ms !Z  54.617 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.202 ms  59.153 ms  59.642 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.748 ms  53.843 ms  54.696 ms
11  www.ctdserv.com (193.180.122.181)  60.132 ms !Z  63.625 ms !Z  59.352 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.564 ms  59.489 ms  60.529 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.821 ms  55.380 ms  56.989 ms
11  www.freeschin.com (193.181.3.22)  59.340 ms !Z  59.794 ms !Z  59.790 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.004 ms  58.898 ms  58.860 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  55.750 ms  54.899 ms  54.764 ms
11  www.cqrcity.com (194.71.187.152)  59.678 ms !Z  60.438 ms !Z  59.383 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.361 ms  60.035 ms  59.802 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.947 ms  54.457 ms  54.142 ms
11  www.gamezonefree.net (209.152.161.14)  54.779 ms !Z  54.408 ms !Z  54.975 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.584 ms  59.536 ms  60.145 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.730 ms  54.272 ms  54.727 ms
11  www.readtreefree.com (192.165.34.72)  54.514 ms !Z  54.784 ms !Z  54.688 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.448 ms  60.417 ms  60.366 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.812 ms  54.940 ms  55.151 ms
11  www.oyoob.com (193.235.96.179)  59.646 ms !Z  58.652 ms !Z  59.216 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.437 ms  59.358 ms  58.978 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.739 ms  54.528 ms  54.172 ms
11  www.ndzstzw.com (192.36.0.158)  55.046 ms !Z  54.264 ms !Z  54.444 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.859 ms  59.425 ms  59.671 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.291 ms  54.262 ms  55.050 ms
11  www.adriute.com (193.182.254.192)  54.756 ms !Z  54.268 ms !Z  54.133 ms !Z
--
--
 9  static-213-115-123-44.sme.bredbandsbolaget.se (213.115.123.44)  59.812 ms  59.230 ms  62.396 ms
10  dr-8.hy-sth.se.crystone.net (83.168.243.156)  54.874 ms  54.886 ms  54.733 ms
11  www.dommc.com (192.165.53.200)  59.172 ms !Z  59.079 ms !Z  59.369 ms !Z

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Broken in Mavericks - scanning with HP scanners

Scanning in OSX Mavericks using HP scanners and all-in one printers has taken a turn for the worse after the install of Mavericks.

Main symptoms is that it all looks like it is working but the saved image comes out as black (or white) with horizontal lines on.

Hopefully the really anoying 1% power drain caused by the  HPScanJet manager button monitoring process will also be fixed.  As the scanner is only plugged in when I need to scan why TF would a scanner specific process be active when there is no scanner attached ?

Some folks have worked around using Preview or Image capture but some models of scanner are not supported by those applications. However other workarounds using the

HP Scan -> scan to print -> Save print as PDF
or
Using Adobe Acrobat full version -> Create PDF from scanner then Save image as JPG.

Software updates are being made available by HP in batches of scanner types. Check out here for new software for your scanner.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Broken in Mavericks - Major widespread Data loss situation - Mavericks + External Drives + WD Western Digital software

Please be aware that there are serious data loss issues ongoing with Mac OSX Mavericks and Western Digital drive sofware. Both the Apple support and WD forums have multiple customer reports of total external drive data loss.
The data loss is not limited to systems activly using the WD software and drives, other vendor external hard drives are being lost. 
Personally I just lost 1TB of Time machine backups on a Iomega external drive. I did have a WD myBook for a while about 2 years ago but was not aware the WD drive software was still active on this machine.
Current advice from Western Digital is to uninstall the WD drive software before going to Mavericks. Uninstaller is here 
This situation as already caused a lot of digital pain, loss of data and as a technical person makes me sad in so many ways.
This is the set of ugly messages from Disk Utility as it fails to repair the damage to


Only solution Erase, Repartition and make a new volume. The disk was stuck for in a not mounted state and not able to be erased saying disk could not be "Un mounted." Fix for that was to find the running fsck_hfs process and kill it. Pointed TimeMachine at the new volume and replaced the Old volume name.

To the data distruction digital hall of shame we add ....... Western Digital
and for lack of governance and oversight of vendors ... Apple
You really ought to do better.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Giraffe Profile pictures

Here are some Giraffe profile pictures just in case you need them ;-)


Provided cost and rights free. All taken at Hluhluwe game park in South Africa 2011










Tuesday, 8 October 2013

3 Villains called "Rabbit"

Recently came across three separate, and as far as I know unrelated, stories in which the major villain character is called Rabbit.
Coincidence or conspiracy ?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fold back the unmapped world

Google mapping and Streetview is not considered new technology but has recently evolved to include more portable mapping devices. These backpack and bike mounted camera+gps devices will fold back the areas of the unmapped world and capture a snapshot of how places are.


Photo above from Google who used the backpack mounted "Trekker" to map the Grand canyon in USA.

Just like buses, wait for one mapping car then three come along at once.


The Streetview story is a geeky cocktail of  technology and a real determination to innovate in the mapping and visualisation of earth. Currently available in selected countries from all continents the mapping and remapping continues. With the combination of maps, Streetview and Satellite imagery the real joy is being able to locate and view a location from all different angles. When viewing the images be sure to note the Mapping/Image dates as places can change dramatically through the seasons and in a few years.


Cheers

Gannett

Monday, 5 August 2013

Exmoor Explorer 2013

Had a great if somewhat wet and tough time on the Exmoor Explorer this weekend. The 20+ mile mountain bike event that was entered by over 300 people starting from Minehead rugby club in North Devon.

Having not done an organised mountain bike event before I was not quite sure what to expect. Things did not get off to a great start as after the first climb the chain snapped but I was soon back on the trail with a bit of help from Toby with a chain tool. The event route was well selected just about every type of terrain Exmoor has to offer. Some of the downhills on lumpy grass track were perilous resulting in a roll in the heather ( and not in a good way).

The hardest part was getting up Dunkery beacon, the ground was vertical and the rain horizontal. Even after all that effort the view was just misty.  Other parts of the course were better as later on the rain cleared and stunning vistas across Exmoor opened up.


It's important to know your limitations and for me that was getting to the half way tea stop. Most of the return section seemed like an uphill struggle even if the profile shows otherwise. Cramp was biting and grit & mud had got in everywhere. However the best technical sections were on the return leg with a couple of glorious woodland trail descents, just needed a bit more oomph to make the best of them.




By the end of the day the back brake had faded, the rear gears were jamming but the tyres and wheels held up well. For next time I would prep the bike better, remove saddlebag and not bother taking cheese and pickle sandwiches. Flapjack, cake and tea were provided at the tea stop and end of the event. 

Overall was pleased to have finished in around 290 out of 380 position.  Thanks to the organisers for a great event.




Monday, 29 July 2013

Silverstone Classic 2013




Had a really great time at the Silverstone Classic last weekend. A heady combination of show cars, historic races and time to go round the pits to see the racers in preparation. The bands in the evening cranked out familiar tunes to pass the darker hours.

Like this lad, petrol heads never lose that fascination with super sized motors.




Go see 30 + Lamborginis jostling to get out the car park on YouTube  or best of the rest gallery of cars here.

Compilation of Video clips from weekend.




Cheers

Gannett





Saturday, 13 July 2013

Publishing - revolution

My sister published a book today. It took 20 years to write but just a couple of hours to publish to the world.  No fancy software was required just MS Word and a web browser to upload to the Kindle self publishing store.  Preparation of the manuscript takes the usual effort for writing, proofing and simple formatting but then upload and publish is really straightforward.

To work best as an eBook simple consistent formatting is required. A page break before each chapter and use paragraph styles to format the headings helps build a live link "Table of contents" page.  That along with some cover artwork makes the complete package.

No more waiting for publisher approval, no more slaughter of trees, the kindle publishing platform is direct and all electronic process.

Originally the development of DTP was all about being able to emulate the technical requirements needed for paper and ink publishing but for ebooks, where the page is formatted on the fly, almost no formatting is needed.


I haven't examined all the commercial arrangements, and I don't know if there are fortunes to be made, that probably comes down to promotion and marketing but the ability to access such an efficient publishing platform is a true revolution.

And the book ....  It's a tale for youngsters told from the view point of Nipper a brave sheepdog that saved 300 cows and sheep from a barn fire.  Over in the kindle store ...  







Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Not surprised by this.


The Independent newspaper reports ...

British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows

Research shows public opinion often deviates from facts on key social issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration ....


It's probably because more folks read the Daily Mail than The Independent and Daily Telegraph put together :-). The Daily Mail, like much of the press these days, is a shameful paper that will print what it thinks the public wants to read regardless of the facts of a situation. Specialising in taking opposite ends of a story in the same week it has the morals of a crack den.

Newspapers have a guiding influence on public opinion, so the research above proves how badly they are doing there core function.

Gannett

Friday, 28 June 2013

What to look for in a good knowledge base article.


Continuing the theme of knowledge base articles here are some hints to build a great knowledge base article.

What are the conditions that lead to the event described ?
What are the conditions exclude the event described ?

Build a compelling article by showing the
            The evidence needed to identify the issue
            What you see in that evidence,
            What you understand from that evidence
            What you recommend in this situation
            What does a successful outcome look like ?
            What reference material should you refer to.

When reviewing the document before publication
           Does the document read as fact or opinion ?
           Does the document standalone or does it need to be linked to other information.
           To what versions does the issue and fix apply.

Cue the shared knowledge picture :





What to look for in a technical case that would make a good knowledge article.


Knowledge base articles can help divert calls, improve the time to resolution and provide research material when working on technical troubleshooting calls. Good KM articles work well for support folks and customers servicing themselves.   

Every support engineer has cause to be grateful to his colleagues that took the time to generate the knowledge base articles that helped with a tricky case. These articles often derive from previous casework. 

Here are some notes about what to look for in a case to see if it is a good knowledge base article candidate.

Lost –Functionality of product is different from that expected by the customer.  Describe the feature functionality in a way that would avoid confusion in the future.

Missing – Data lost or corrupted by unintentional action of a customer or rogue product. Describe the conditions that lead to the data loss and how it can be avoided. These technotes can be the most contention so be sure to get senior technical advice on theses ones. Some times these KM articles will be promoted to product alert status for direct distribution to customers.

Gaps – Holes in a documented procedure or process that substantially impact the success rate of that process. Describe the purpose of the procedure and how the gap in the process can be avoided.

Scrolls – Documentation errors that are substantially misleading or dangerous to the integrity of customer systems. Be specific as to the documentation reference Book, Number, Page, Paragraph title.

Alien technology – Other vendor problems which impact our software.  Document the events and versions involved link to the vendors support site.

Found – New features or functionality can have unexpected benefits and/or consequences.  Describe the upside of the new feature but also include any Trade-off that come with the new feature.

Wisdom – At the end of a case ask yourself "If you knew at the start what you know now how much better would that case have gone ?" Write that KM document to save your colleagues from the same pain.

Knowledge base articles are the golden nuggets of technical support documentation, learn to find cases and forum threads from which to build them.


Cue the Knowledge base picture :


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The speed and size of a hotrod PC's in 2012

I have been thinking about the speed and size of my favourite computer as it crunched it's way through a combinatorial monster of a problem. Looking at the differences between the parts of a PC can really help to exploit the performance characteristics of the machine.

The system in question BB02, previously seen in Gannetts Folding hall of Fame, is quite a beefy box that was assembled at a cost of about £2000 and has recently had some memory and storage upgrades.   


Starting off with memory and Core i7 Gulftown processor we can see in the top left of this screenshot, taken from Memtest, that the processor has three levels of cache and 16GB of memory.  The cache levels decrease in speed as they increase in size.


Memtest results


The speed quoted for the memory at 9600 MB/s sits a bit under the max speed shown in the reference table below that shows DDR3-13333 at 10,666 MB/Sec. Not having all the same memory modules in all 6 slots may account for part of this 10% discrepancy. Thanks to http://www.hardwaresecrets.com for the data.

Memory speed table

The motherboard, an Asus PT6 Delux V2 has 6 data ports that have been loaded with, an older 5400 RPM drive, a 7200 RPM drive,  a Corsair Force 3 SolidSateDrive and three new Seagate 3TB 7200 RPM drives.  The Seagate drives have been configured as a RAID 0 stripe group using the Ubuntu MultiDevice technology. Using a stripe group shares the I/O load across all the disks in the group. The tests were performed across 2 and 3 drives.  
Asus P6T Delux V2

The evolved and well known filesystem & disk speed utility Bonnie++ was used to access the disk performance. Bonnie tests through the filesystem layer, rather than exercising the raw disk, giving better real life performance numbers. 

Here are the consolidated results converted to MBytes for the sizes and MBytes/second for the transfer speeds. 


We can see in the table, for most levels, that as speeds go down as the size goes up. The impact of using faster drives in a RAID configuration results in at least 3 times speed up over the older single drives.


Plotting the results on a chart also gives some insight into the numbers.  Having memory as the crossover point we see the step down between CPU and storage speeds and relative sizes. The vertical axis is on a Log scale showing the progression from the 32K cache size to the 9Terra Bytes of the 3 way stripe storage.

Sizes and speeds of processor caches, memory and various storage.


Looking at the sizes of the various elements we can see that the variation in size between largest (3 way stripe) and smallest L1 Cache is much bigger than the difference in speed scale.  Interestingly the difference between main memory speed and the slowest disk is about the same order as between a cheetah and a tortoise.

Other comparisons are:
Max Differential speed scale2472
Max Differential size scale281250000.00
Diff Mem/L2 cache6.82
Diff Mem/ Fastest Disk49.66
Diff Mem/ Slowest Disk362.26
Diff Speed  Cheetha/ Tortoise411.76
Diff Size Stamp /football pitch5000000.00

Also included in the main table above are the seek operations per second numbers for the storage drives that clearly show the distinct advantage of SSDs technology in a read situation. The ability of SSDs to maintain full transfer speeds in a read (and random read) situation make them particularly useful as database index and system drives. 



Corsair SSD



Windows 7 has a performance comparison utility built into the Control panel that scores elements of a system between 1 and 7.9. The system under consideration scores a respectable 7.8 on all elements except 7.6 on Disk Drive speed.



For real cpu work Folding at home gives a system a real work out. For this system over 36 Gflops are delivered. 36 GFlops is more than a Cray T932.

Writing final coordinates.
[02:51:00] Completed 500000 out of 500000 steps  (100%)

 Average load imbalance: 0.7 %
 Part of the total run time spent waiting due to load imbalance: 0.4 %
 Steps where the load balancing was limited by -rdd, -rcon and/or -dds: X 1 % Y 0 %


Parallel run - timing based on wallclock.

               NODE (s)   Real (s)      (%)
       Time:  17278.673  17278.673    100.0
                       4h47:58
               (Mnbf/s)   (GFlops)   (ns/day)  (hour/ns)
Performance:    711.518     36.599     10.001      2.400 


When looking at network speeds be sure to register the distinction between MB/s (MegaBytes) and Mb/s (Mega bits)/s. Long distance lines and telcos will often quote as Mbits/s but payloads are usually measured in MBytes. A high res photo is about 6Mbytes so would take either 6 seconds on a 1 MByte/s line but would take 40 s on a 1Mbit line.

In the house there is Gigabit wired networking and Wireless infrastructure.

Wireless - 8.9 MB/s


Wired ( Gigabit) 70 MB/s


The numbers above are obtained using a simple shared folder drag and drop file move. Whilst a good indication of real world performance the wired number is missleading because the file transfer speed is capped at the disk speeds of the PCs involved.

Using the iperf network test utility that just sends network data between the same two machines we see on the wired network gets over 900 Mbits/s ( 113 MByte/s).


------------------------------------------------------------
Server listening on TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  4] local 192.168.1.2 port 5001 connected with 192.168.1.11 port 53619
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  4]  0.0-10.0 sec  1.05 GBytes    906 Mbits/sec
[  5] local 192.168.1.2 port 5001 connected with 192.168.1.11 port 53620
[  5]  0.0-40.0 sec  4.28 GBytes    920 Mbits/sec
[  4] local 192.168.1.2 port 5001 connected with 192.168.1.11 port 53623
[  4]  0.0-40.0 sec  4.27 GBytes    916 Mbits/sec

and the wireless route gets up to about 100Mbits ( 12MBytes/s) when forcing a large packet size.

$ iperf_Intel -c p.local -w 256K
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to pup02.local, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:   257 KByte (WARNING: requested   256 KByte)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  5] local 192.168.1.70 port 63886 connected with 192.168.1.68 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  5]  0.0-10.0 sec    122 MBytes    102 Mbits/sec

Out to the Internet we have a good service from BT Infinity giving 64Mbits/s ( 8MBytes/s) download and 2 MBytes upload when testing with the well respected Speedtest.net That is about the same as the internal wireless connection.  Using a wired connection about 70Mbits/s is seen.