Monday, April 25, 2011

Is it the done thing to RT without attribution @asabenn ? I don't think so. #SuperInjunction

Last night I posted the following tweet:
"An Englishman, a Scotsman, and a Welshman walk into a pub. Nothing happened as there was a #SuperInjunction"

It was designed to hint at the names floating around, without falling foul of either the injunction, or twitter's desperate measures to comply with it; and with luck amuse some people It seems it did, as I'm embarrassingly chuffed to see it retweeted more than any other tweet i can remember posting.

I was not so chuffed to see earlier today that @asabenn had tweeted it letter for letter without attribution, why a simple RT could not have been done I do not know. But it would appear that despite working for a newspaper (albeit as politics editor for a student newspaper), Mr Bennett does not feel publishing without attribution is important. Or is plagiarism and disrespect for other people's work overwhelmingly common and unembarrassing in student life these days?

I am open to the possibility that similar minds think alike, but given the presence of several RT's only a minute or two before Asa tweeted with the same hashtag, it seems plagiarism is the most likely explanation.

I did tweet him earlier, but got no response.

Actually I'm not really that excited, but I think it's an interesting area, made more so by the bio of the miscreant.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Start the clocks - 1 year on

If I've done this right this post will be appear 1 year to the minute since Dad died.

If you're familiar with Auden (or more likely - Four Weddings and a Funeral) you'll know of the poem Funeral Blues [discussed (but not reproduced) at Wikipedia] by W H Auden, it starts with the famous words "Stop the clocks".  It is (so I hope) legally reproduced here: Funeral Blues

Well, the day before Dad died was a Friday, and that's the day I wind the clock in my office.  I've even a repeat appointment in my diary to remind me (you'd think I'd remember!).  But on this Friday I'd spent most of the day at the Hospice with Dad, although (to be honest), he wasn't really with it any longer.  I got a few moments of conversation with him, but the morphine and other drugs were by now leaving him largely asleep or  detached from the outside world.  Still, it was good, and right, to be there.

However, towards the end of the afternoon, I returned home as we had a long standing dinner engagement with some friends (who, having been through this recently would be able to a) pass on their experience, and b) provide something different from the last week whilst Dad had been at the Hospice).  During the meal, I turned my phone to silent (I cannot bear phone calls in restaurants) and enjoyed their company.  However, after coffee was ordered I looked at my phone and saw I'd missed a couple of calls.

I went outside to check them, and they were from the my family at the Hospice - they were visiting Dad and things seemed to be getting worse.
We quickly abandoned further plans for the evening, and I took the car and rushed down to be there.  Dad was more poorly, but (sort of) stable.  For hours we stayed, talked, and tried to decide what to do.  In the end, two of us stayed over and slept in the lounge area, to be close.  With very clear instructions to be woken if anything should change.

In the morning, things were pretty much the same, and we spent the day waiting to see how things would develop.  I suspected (although I could not confirm it until over a week later), that during the morning Dad was placed on the LCP (Liverpool Care Pathway).  His condition deteriorated with almost imperceptible progress.

During the afternoon, suspecting I'd be spending a further night there, I called my wife, and arranged to meet midway to pick up a bag of clothes and so on, so that I could feel a little more human.  And then returned to the Hospice.

That evening we took dinner in shifts, so that someone would always be there, and as the evening wore on, I decided to stay down there again.  As we were making arrangments, and sorting things out, we were called back to Dad's room with some urgency. At 22:01 he died.

Over the next few days we did what you do, but eventually I had to return to the office to sort out some work stuff and there I discovered, that having forgotten to wind my office clock, it had stopped about 1 hour before Dad died.  For some reason I wasn't eager to start it.  No psychobabble, or soft hippy sentiment here, just plain didn't want to.  Only a few days later I recalled the poem.

Over the coming months, nothing changed.  But a year on, it's time to move on a further step into the "new normal".  About now, I will wind the clock, think of Dad, and remember.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

But speaking of Doctor Who...

I've two issues with tonight's first episode:

1. River Song - The Doctor did not know her at first, but (despite all the timeline complications) we know he met her in the guise of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) in the Library before she died. So we know that he knew her already. Mistake? Or some complexity in the timelines that is to be explained?

2. If (and Stephen Moffat was very clear about this in Doctor Who Confidential) the Doctor we saw die, really is dead; then producers have handed his agent a big fat weapon. If there can be no more actors in the role after Matt Smith, then when he goes, the series goes.
Personally, for some years I have thought that the production team would find a means to a "super-regeneration" that would reset the regeneration count back to 0 so that the series could continue indefinitely.
Or maybe Moffat and co have some trick up their sleeve so that he's not really dead; or it was a Doctor from another reality (remember Tennant is still stuck with Rose in an alternate reality already)


So, Doctor Who's back. And there's something I'd forgotten for years.

Whilst looking around at the net after the news of Elisabeth Sladen's death I found this web page: - and I had completely forgotten about him.

As a kid when the credits rolled at the end of the programme I got a vicarious thrill of seeing my name appear week after week. My family would disabuse me, and maybe say it was my Uncle Peter. But I experienced the thrill nonetheless.

Friends and family might be more amused if they read the entry more carefully (email me if you don't see why!).

Word from the wise on BitLocker...

1. Allow plenty of time when un-encrypting a mounted VHD of 300GB or so...

2. When un-encrypting an external USB connected SATA drive that is the internal drive for another laptop, try not to juggle the USB cable.

Not a good technical ending to the day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Pimms o'clock

Had enough of BitLocker now!

Am I really asking too much of Hyper-V VHD boot and BitLocker?

I have a laptop on which I originally had a BitLocker secured Windows 7 installation. I've replaced the hard disk with something bigger, and gone for Windows 2008 R2 to give me the ability to run 64bit clients under HyperV.

To add in a complication this laptop does not have a TPM, but by using local GP I've enabled BitLocker in the OS and use the USB key to boot.

Want i want to do is run the old Win7 install as a VHD. Either as a guest of the OS, or a boot from VHD.

Primary Challenge - Run a guest OS
Challenge 1: image the BitLockered disk.
Solution: external USB chassis for the SATA drive and connect to the machine, run WinImage to convert the hard disk to a VHD.

Challenge 2: boot the VHD in a VM (remember it's a BitLockered drive!) when HyperV does not support USB devices.
Solution: use WinImage (again!) to create a .fdp file of 1.44MB and copy the BitLocker startup key file to it, DON'T PANIC - it's a floppy image that is itself hosted on a BitLockered drive so is no less secure.

Challenge 3: get the guest to boot.
Partial Solution: attach the .fdp image to the machine and it boots OK past the BitLocker bit, but the OS boots crashes out with bad hardware. I tried another boot and it blue screened on me. Fortunately i could attach a Win7 ISO and boot into the repair phase (still able to unlock the BitLockered drive with the .fdp floppy), but the repair option does not fix anything.

Interesting Challenge: HyperV has hot key combo of Ctrl-Alt-<left arrow> to release the mouse from a dos window. When this is the rotate combination for a touch laptop... C-A-D is your friend releasing control back to the host OS

So, that challenge was paused for a bit

Secondary Challenge - boot from VHD instead
Challenge 1: image the BitLockered disk.
Solution: already done!

Challenge 2: create the BCD entry
Solution: follow the many helps out there - this is the one I followed

Challenge 3: get it to boot
Solution: that didn't work either. BCD entry is corrupt - i guess this might be the BitLocker setup that is confusing the boot sequence.

So, if you reached this far.. Is it possible to have have a BitLockered machine, that can either:
A) boot a guest OS that is also BitLockered ?
B) alternatively boot to VHD with a BitLockered VHD?
And all on one partition 'cos I cannot be bothered to guess partition sizes for now!

FWIW I think a) is unnecessary (i can remove bit locker on the original build and create a VHD) but b) is desirable as otherwise this OS install is exposed to data loss if the laptop is lost or stolen.

Ideally I'd like option B because then the VHD build has the full hardware environment, especially USB drives and so on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An interesting gotcha on the WSUS front

In my test labs i have a full AD setup with Windows, Exchange, SQL, TMG, WSUS.  All in all over a dozen servers.

Last year i upgraded the ISA box to TMG, well sort of.  I created a new TMG box, upgraded the rule set to a backup of the ISA server (no 32 bit to 64bit migration possible), and let things roll.

To make life simpler I created a DNS alias for the ISA box pointing to the TMG box.  And assigned the IP as a secondary on TMG,  so in theory any old reference to ISA (called Baldrick "deny everything Baldrick"!) would work,

This weekend I found it didn't.  I've not done the diagnostics, but I found that the WSUS box stopped synchronising a while back.  Being labs, the system was set to approve automatically, and just keep the network up to date.  Well, it hadn't, and over 11GB of downloads were required. However worse was to come - when the entire virtual infrastructure started taking heavy hits for patching, the CPU load was, ahem, slightly more than average :-)

It's all OK now, but instead of taking things easy this weekend, I've been firefighting a set of interesting problems.  At least I fixed them; although the final thing and the root cause - why doesn't WSUS synchronise - still needs to be sorted.

52 weeks ago today... Chinese Grand Prix

I drove down to Harlow to visit my father in the Hospice. Since he'd become quite ill with the cancer that was to kill him, I'd used sporting occasions to provide a reason to go and visit and spend some time with him, without turning it into a "visiting the sick" scenario. He knew and understood that, and was grateful for it.

During February and March it was, of course, the Six Nations Rugby, that provided the reason. We'd watch a match or three, criticise England and the BBC, but have a (as much as possible) good time, it meant a lot to me, and I believe it did for him.

After the rugby comes the Formula 1 season with it's generally boring processions around circuits. Our fascination with it had diminished over the last few years as off the track stuff (politics, strategy, pit lane stuff) took over from raw driving to make it less of a spectacle.

But a year ago I drove down to watch the replay of the Chinese Grand Prix with dad, when I got there he was in a deep sleep, but the TV was on - sound muted. I sat quietly, not daring to read my paper in case the rustling of the Sunday Telegraph might wake him; and gathered what I could of the race from the footage. An hour or two after the race finished, dad woke, fairly briefly and i discovered that he'd watched the live broadcast that morning having been unexpectedly awake early. We chatted for a bit, and he went back to sleep. I stayed a few more hours, hoping he'd wake again, but he slept heavily. So eventually I left him to it and returned home.

Today was the Chinese Grand Prix again, and this time it was chock full of excitement, good driving and entertainment. I don't recognise last year's race from this at all:

Dad would have liked it though.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SMS for seniors

Alison Pearson in today's DT. There's one or two there i could recommend to some !

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

So you thought petrol was pricey in Shetland! @ChrisMasonBBC

Wonder if anyone can beat this as a ridiculous petrol price. Today, Three Holes, near Wisbech.

Monday, April 04, 2011

"At the fair" - I'm quite pleased with these shots - one has a (handheld) exposure of 1.6s, can you tell which one?

On our hols last year we came across this weekend fair that was quite unexpected.  I happened to have my camera with me (unusually for dinner on a Saturday night!), and thought I'd see what I could do.

All in all the results were much more pleasing that I expected.  I was especially pleased that without a tripod or any other means exposures of 1/2 to 1.6 seconds all came out well.
I attribute that to the shooting I do - an accurate small bore rifle shot and a good long exposure camera shot both require good slow gentle breathing, the knowledge to stop about 2/3rds exhaled, and a well constructed stable platform.

I hope you like them.