Funniest Birthday Card…

IMG_7410.png

Knowing my love of all things Apple and an impending birthday, a friend sent me what I think is the funniest birthday card to date.  #WellPlayed 🙂

Advertisements
Posted in Personal, Ramblings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I go ?

Possibly one of the most confusing traffic signs I’ve seen in a while.  I shot this just before I was due to go on stage at a conference in Madrid to give a 40 minute talk on Security…

If you’ve watched the film “Team America” then you know that “Change is Inevitable” (in the style of South Park’s creators voice over of Kim Jong-Il)…  I know you’re playing that accent over in your mind right now aren’t you?

I often reflect on this picture when making decisions that have an impact in my life or those around me.  Choosing the right path is never easy, given there’s 50 shades of equally good and poor choices, there’s often no right or wrong path.

If only we had the natural intelligence of great foresight, hindsight would become a thing of the past.  We often have to make poor choices to understand and learn what went wrong and how we can improve our decisioning based on experience to change our lifes journey.

Red is associated with Stop, No and Danger, whereas Green is Go, Yes and Safe.  Maybe I should include Amber for procrastination, indecisive or Maybe…

Or in the words of “The Clash” :-

If I Go there will be trouble (Si me voy, va a haber peligro)
If I Stay it will be double (Si me quedo, es doble) …

Maybe it’s the start of a mid-life crisis, I’ve not yet got the hankering for an open-top hairdressers sports car to pootle around town, however I am sat reflecting on the choices I’ve made from my teenage years to present day and even started playing the what-if game, how much different my path would have been had I learned from past mistakes and changed my decisioning rather than being a trusting fool that I am.  Would I still be doing the same job? Would/Should I have been more driven? Should I have discarded the false promises and hope that organisation and people consistently failed to deliver?  Would I have chosen a different career path?

Of course I won’t know the answer, I can dream of different outcomes, the only real tangible answers are the decisions I’ve made to date, but how do I break a pattern of choices and improve on better outcomes?  Would they have been better outcomes than the decisions I’ve faced?  I don’t know, I have more questions than answers at the moment and unusually don’t have the clarity of thinking I once had.  Am I alone? Maybe I should relax with a good bottle of Single Malt or JD and mull these things over…

What mechanisms do you use to resolve difficult decisions?

Your’s confusingly….

 

 

Posted in Personal, Ramblings | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Email and ISP Hell…

SlovokianWeddingShot.jpg

I chose to leave my ISP last month and move to a new service that actually delivers high speed 200mbs broadband… unlike my incumbent whose promised broadband faster than 3mb for the last 4 years and consistently failed to deliver.

In the style of Austin Power you may say “Whoopdy Doo”

However leaving my incumbent supplier of 26 years turned out to be more traumatic than it should be.  I’d like to think it was more incompetence rather than petty tactics, that my email briefly ceased to work, in fact email for many days now gone astray to the great white data processing cloud in the sky and at this point its pretty much unreliable.

At first they were putting whitelisted mail in the Spam folder forcing me to logon to my ISPs web mail service (something I rarely do) to discover this when some important emails hadn’t been received (No I’m not a fan of IMAP and do prefer POP3), so who knows how much has been lost over the years before I discovered their over protective SPAM measures….

The next phase is no emails at all, and it came to ahead over the weekend when I gave the security firm I was engaged with, a hard time for not sending me quotes for a new CCTV system installation…

Of course, since I have left the service, I have very little to none negotiation or influence with my old supplier…

Losing email addresses you’ve owned since the mid 90’s is a real bind and damn frustrating… I don’t know the way forward….

Grrrr so frustrating….. Anyone else have horror stories when leaving their ISP’s? or is it simply just me that attracts these kind of issues?

Ah, you’re probably wondering why the photo accompanying today’s blog? I was trying to find a photo that best symbolised the fiery depths of hell and failed, so chose one of candles in a paper bag which I took during a wedding in Slovakia (Bratislava) a couple of years ago.

 

Posted in Personal, Ramblings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stolen Mountain Bikes, Please Help…

The two images below will give you an idea of the two bikes I had stolen from me on 29th February 2016.

The Landrover Discovery Zamora is not a common bike for sale on eBay or Gumtree and hopefully much easier to identify/track down.  The Carrera (the photo is representative of the bike) is a 2006 Carrera Mes with 16″ Wheels.

If you have been offered for sale/trade these bikes since 29th February 2016, please contact your local police on the non-emergency number of 101 (UK).

LandroverDiscoveryZamora.png

Carrera2006Example.png

Both bikes had Mud Guards (front and rear), Reflectors and LED lights (front and rear), Shimano Gears, Water Bottles.  The Zamora had a cycle lock fitted to the frame and a black bell.

Both had been in Storage and only used a couple of times and so were in near mint condition (before the theft).

I would dearly like to get these bikes back, and with your help, I would ask that you share this post far and wide and help me get my property back.

Thank you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?…

DSC_5691.jpg

Unfortunately I was a victim of crime at some point overnight.  

I’d discovered that my Garage door had been Jemmied open and the thieves stole two bikes, a Land Rover Discovery Zamora with mud guards, Shimano Gears, Disc Brakes, LED Lights front and rear, water bottle and cycle pump, the other is a Carrera (Both Mountain Bikes) and kitted out with the same equipment.

So I called the local police using the non-emergency number and spoke to the operator, explained the situation…  It seemed they were more interested in my Date of Birth, Nationality and Ethnicity as opposed to my address, the items stolen and any relevant information.

Eventually, they advised it would be unlikely they will send anyone round to investigate, here’s a crime reference number and good luck!

Has policing gotten that bad over the years they are more interested in speeding motorists?  The lady explained to me that they are unlikely to get finger prints or anything useful so no point in trying….

In 1990/1991 the flat I was living in was broken into over winter, when I returned home at midnight and discovered I’d been burgled, I called the police, within an hour CID turned up on my doorstep, took statements and dusted for fingerprints, within three months I’d received a follow up that they’d caught the burglars and within a year I was sent another follow up saying they’d prosecuted and sentenced the toe rags …  Fast forward to 2016 and crime has become a mere statistics game, no investigation, issue a crime reference number for your insurers and don’t darken our doors again…

Ok, so the items are insured, but now it becomes a balancing act doesn’t it?  Everyone has an excess to pay on the insurance, when you factor that in, the cost of the item and depreciation, along with your premiums going up on renewal and your postcode becoming a crime hotspot, the loser is still … me!

The criminals will probably never get caught with today’s lethargic policing, so the criminals sell the bikes on and profit and continue unhindered their criminal careers…

Muggins here on the other hand, has property stolen, increased insurance costs, the time and hassle of sorting everything out…

So the winners are the Criminals (Free goods), The Insurance Company (Price Hikes) and the Police (don’t bother investigating but can report some lovely annual statistics to insurers).

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Posted in Ramblings, Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

First Love?

AmstradCircuitBoard.png

We all remember our first loves don’t we?  Whether its the kid in the same class at school as you, 80’s taste in music, or your favourite pop-star…  Well, technically this isn’t my first love, this computer has survived more house moves than I can remember.

As a kid in the 80’s I’d save my pocket money for an Amstrad CPC 6128 Computer and eventually became the proud owner after purchasing from our local retailer.

What made it special? It was one of the first to come with its own colour monitor and a disk drive, this was more affordable than the superb BBC Micro Model B computer we had a school.

The Amstrad CPC also came with a “grown up” operating system called CP/M at the time (the pre-cursor to MS-DOS) so you had the best of both worlds.  Over the next couple of years I learned to code almost anything in Assembly language and created programs and games that were published in the 80’s.  I spent an inordinate amount of time learning the machine inside out, its circuitry, the hardware, the firmware, the hidden op-codes, you name it I studied and understood…

Then along come the 90’s with better music, Oasis, Blur, Snap, Adamski, The Beautiful South, Vanilla Ice, 2 Unlimited, Shakespeare’s Sister etc, the clubbing scene took off and I set aside my trusty Amstrad to pursue clubbing, girls and I bought my first PC, an Escom 486 DX4-100 with 8MB of memory and 540mb hard-drive, and finally my Amstrad was relegated to the back of the wardrobe for its final time.

Fast forward to today and the 8-Bit revival Scene is truly underway with many of us 80’s gamers, coders and enthusiasts forsaking our emulators and sourcing the real thing!

I dug my Amstrad out of the Garage where it sat for many years in non-ideal conditions (for storing hardware).  I wasn’t hopeful she’d survive the order, but non-the-less with screwdriver in hand and compressed air I took the Amstrad apart and cleaned her up.

AmstradDiskDrive.png

The drive will most likely not work and I have ordered replacement parts.

Although today’s emulators are rather mature and emulate the Amstrad and other 8Bit machines very well, the real reason is to transfer my source code for many of the programs I’ve written transferred to SD Card/USB Stick with the intent to share the original source and release a number of games I’d created but never gotten round to releasing.

Because the Retro scene is thriving, there are a number of solutions available that enable me to take advantage of modern hardware like SD Cards to transfer data either way.  (more on this in a future article).

The next phase was to examine the monitor.  My initial thinking is a family of spiders have probably made a home for themselves near the tube, so I expected it to be more dusty and cob webby inside.

AmstradMonnitorPreClean.png

It could have been a lot worse, but with a vacuum in one hand and compressed air can in the other, I manage to get a resemblance of 1st stage clean to the circuit boards and inside the monitor casing.

AmstradMonitorCleanUp.png

I let both the computer and monitor acclimatise inside the house in addition to using Silica Gel sachets to absorb any moisture inside the hardware.

Will this piece of kit that’s been in storage for over two decades still work?  

I have to admit I was a tad nervous that it would… go up in smoke… fuse the electrics or worse…

As a precaution I plugged the monitor in on it’s own and powered it up, at first I didn’t think anything was happening, when I switched the power off I saw a familiar white flash, so thought something was working.  I then plugged the computer into the monitor and powered up.

The result was astonishing!  It actually worked!  I was so excited I put the camera down, typed in a quick program and executed it as you can see in the video.

The video shows the initial test.

So what next?

Well the Disk Drive needs a repair to get that back up and running, after that I will start the task of copying my disks of old to memory stick and start sharing the code.

What could go wrong?

Lots!

The drive might not be repairable…

The Disks may have become corrupt or corroded…

To name but a few…

The project may take all year to complete though, due to my day job taking me to work around the world, so a lot depends on what time I have available to work on this project.

The most surprising thing is that 80’s may have been a bad music era (That’s not surprising), but Amstrad, Sinclair et al, certainly knew how to build computers to last!

So who/what was your first love and what fond memories do you have today?

Posted in Amstrad, Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Beginnings?

IMG_4011wm.jpg

As I sit with my empty suitcase in front of me, I have to decide what to pack and what to keep on the next part of life’s journey.  You see, I’ve picked up a consultancy job out in Europe which means several things…

Travel… Lot’s of it! Planes, Trains and Automobiles…  You do get to see many familiar faces at the airport, business travellers making ends meet, a scene not dissimilar to the film with George Clooney “Up in the Air“.

Decide what essentials I need to pack to make the months away in hotels and leased accommodation more bearable….

The possibility of weekend exploring new locations…

You do get the initial rush of excitement and anxiety of going to new places, meeting new people, making new friends and experiencing different cultures, you also get to miss old familiar faces and friends.  Thankfully in today’s technological age of Skype its even easier to stay in touch (provided you have an internet connection), and the time difference isn’t huge in Europe, compared to working outside the EMEA region.

Any hoo…  As doors of opportunity open and close fairly regularly, I was reminded of this photo I took in Slovakia (The map to its location is below).  The strange thing  was the proportions of the door.  You’d think I’d applied a Tilt-Shift lens effect to the picture, but no, this is the unprocessed image of that one door.

Who knows what opportunities lie behind the door, if only we’re brave enough to take that step and look inside.

Posted in Bratislava, Slovakia, travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment