Time up!

Well a night of study and now its to bed for some sleep before my CCNP SWITCH exam.

Hopefully by the time of my next post I will be one third of the way towards achieving my CCNP.

If I’m honest I have not been impressed with the Cisco Press books, or the BOSON test exam, both I have found many errors in. (Hopefully the fact I spot the errors means I understand the topics)

But all going well I will be back with a little something on getting the CISCO SDM to work in Linux soon.

A new way to navigate.

Unfortunately I can’t get the full paper on this, however the link below is to the article on new scientist.

An alternative to turn by turn

I should point out this is not for car drivers, but for pedestrians walking through city’s and towns. Although I can see how it could easily be adapted for cars. The Idea is simple, with most turn by turn based solutions on our hand-held devices you are directed the most direct way to your destination. This invariable takes you on the main streets, or even worse down some back ally where all the shops are throwing out there rubbish.

In Swansea university they developed a new method. Rather than displaying a map, the device simple vibrates when you point it in the direction you need to take to get to your destination. So if there are several routes your device will vibrate across all of them. Although apart from the strength of the vibration and with of its field, the idea seems to be there is no way to “know” which one is quicker. You simple chose the one you like the look of and continue on your way.

Now I know for many people the best was is the fastest, no matter what you see along the way. But for people on holiday in a new city, often the reason for visiting a city is to see the sites. A system that will keep you pointing in the right general direction, while allowing you a choice of the exact path I think could become a standard feature on hand held devices.

I can also like I said see it being used in cars, Of course we have to be careful here as you don’t want drivers spending to much time worrying about what turning to make. However we already have the ability to avoid motor ways and toll roads. but these still give us a fixed route, and although system will re-root if we take a wrong turn, they don’t upfront give us any information about the alternatives. My be a system where you can set an acceptable % increase of journey time for alternate route to be suggested. Then as you approach a turning where the alternative falls with in this limit, the system alerts you to the alternative and tell you how much time it will add.

I really like this idea as I love to see new areas, but I am hopeless at direction. I hope it makes it through to a hand-held device near me in the future.


Music to the Cloud

So came across this today.

Moving music to the cloud

I wonder if this is just another one of those ideas that will disappear in to the ether, or will it actually take of this time.

It’s all we seem to here now, “the cloud”. But the issues is always going to be that even if there is 99.9% coverage. The times you want to be listening to your music are when driving / holiday / walking, there very times you are most likely to be out side of the coverage areas. And the only way to cope with this is to have off line local storage that you can carry around with you as we do right now.

May be the way to manage a cloud based music system if not to charge for how much music you have access to. But how much you can store off line. So you would pay for a set amount of off line storage that you can save to your music player. Each time you download a song it is subtracted from your allowance and each time you check a song back in it is removed from your device and you account is re-credited.

So you still always have access to all the music, and you can keep your favourite music local to you for those time when you are out of coverage. With the artists getting paid depending on how often there tunes are played through the cloud of when they are downloaded .

But can cloud music possible bet the piracy? In my view Piracy is not winning because it is cheaper (although this is a big factor I grant you), but because there are no ties. Once you have a tune, it is yours, you can leave one piracy site and go to another and you don’t lose what you already have. No one likes to be tied to a company, and this is why I personal dislike I-tunes, the idea that music purchased through it is tied to it. So if a better offer comes along or a better player you can’t take advantage of it.

In my view this is what has got to change and is what will bring people in from piracy, that once you have purchased music it “belongs” to you, or at least for you to listen to how and when you want to. For this to happen there has to be an open DRM standard that all of the industry sign up to. But while all the different companies fight to get customers and then lock them in. Piracy will only get worse.

I like the idea of cloud music, especially the peer to peer model, but I will be surprised if this takes of in any really big way, or really changed the music industry.


Do you like the Pretty links?

Getting the pretty Permalink’s to work on this blog has been a bit of a pain, According to word press you click on the format you want under the settings and then they should all work nicely.

so rather than have a link that looks like


you can have the same link looking like


Pretty 🙂 right.. 😉

So how did I get it all up and running?

I found out when first trying to activate it that I came across a “page not found error” suggesting that the mod_rewrite module in Apache was not running correctly. And after lots of searching around I found it this is to do with the “Allowoveride” directive in Apache.

The default setting for the directive in the virtual site file in Unbuntu is,

<Directory />
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None

Further reading suggests that with this set to none, the .htaccess file that is needed for  mod_rewrite to be able to work will not be used.

Searching the net lots of people suggest changing this to “Allowoverride All”, which after a restart of Apache will work fine. But for a little more security I found “Allowoverride FileInfo” will achieve the same thing.

And that’s it, one little word change is the difference between it all working fine and page not found!

The same can be achieved by editing the httpd.conf and associated config files, but as I use virtual sites I prefer editing these directly.

Thank fully the old style links still work just find, the mod_rewrite simple takes the pretty version of the link and translates it back to the ugly version behind the scene. Leaving you the user with a more pleasurable browsing experience.  🙂


A step up from Minority Report interface.

OK so the real life Minority Report interface did not do it for you?

Well lets try a bit of Brain control!

OK so its not perfect yet, but I have been following these over the years and they are getting better and faster to respond year by year. I remember when the most they could flip the colour of the screen by thinking about a CAT?! To think it can learn an action in 8 seconds, and if its any think like Voice recognition software, I know from experience practice really does make perfect.

I still think there’s a long way to go yet, but we are getting close to being able to sit at our desk and control objects on the screen with our mind.

However I think the use I would most like to see the research go to first if for helping disabled. Controlling wheel chairs is only the beginning, Imagen those people with diseases like Stephen Hawkins, who currently can only communicate by moving his eye lids. Returning some ones ability to move is a great thing to be able to do, but returning some ones ability to communicate would be something truly amazing.

Plus I want one cause they look cool!!! 😉


Slip Streaming XP,

Today I was upgrading some from windows 2000 to XP, and 99% of the upgrade I was able to do over the network. The only part I needed to go out to the PC was due to the network card not getting picked up correctly. While the PC is in the building next door this is not really an issue. But the next block are on some farms a mile or so from the main site.

The system I was using to install is straight forward.

First copy the i386 folder from a windows XP CD to a network drive and make it available via a share. The users who will be running the install needs read access to this folder.

Second go in to your group policy editor and create a new policy called “upgrade XP”

Edit this policy and chose User Configuration  –> Software Settings.

Right click software insulation and chose new –> package.

in the box that pops up browes to the i386 folder on the share and choses the Winnt32.msi file. Click OK.

Now when you log on to a windows 200 PC, and either the user or the PC has that GP applied to them, by going in to add/remove programs and then clicking Add new Programs, you will see the upgrade to XP insulation.

But as I said the big problem is the default XP CD does not have many network drivers and many PC’s although will run the upgrade will not be able to connect to the network, requiring a you to visit the PC’s with a pen-drive and a copy of the correct drivers.

Many years ago I remember slip streaming office on to an XP CD, and I remember at the time it was a right pain and took me for ever to get it working, requiring manually editing config files and many attempts before I got it to run. But knowing that slipstreaming drivers is possible I thought I would take a look at how things are now.

All I can say is Nlite, This tool has come on massively and even tough it has not been in active development for a while now, it still does every thing you need. Where are before slipstreaming was copy this there, edit this file, run this, copy that back there……

Now the process is simple.

Install nlite.

Copy your XP insulation CD in to a folder on the hard drive.

Run nlite and point it to the folder.

Chose what you want t0 add/remove, drivers, packages, set up default settings…

Decided if you want to build the boot-able ISO image

Click GO.


And its all done for you…

If you still do install from disk and you find your self having to do the same tidy ups after every install, slipstreaming is a great method to automate the process.

Now I can upgrade the PC’s remotely and they pop back on to the network after a reboot to let me complete the upgrade, going to save a few miles of travel 🙂

Old but still useful.


The Peculiar case of the missing bandwidth.

Where I work we have a slightly strange network set up, as an agency of the government we run under what is knows as the GSI (government secure internet). What this means in practice is that our main site + the 16 or so regional sites have there WAN routers managed by a central government IT centre, and all traffic to the outside world has to pass through there systems. This in its self causes no end of issues in terms of restrictions such as no VPN access and no FTP allowed. But leaving that aside it does mean we sit behind a very secure gateway. All you really need to understand is that we have  “10mbs” full duplex fibre as our primary link of the main site, through which both internet and WAN traffic is routed. Oh and of course we have no access to the WAN router to see what is going on.

Well last Friday, the network grinds to a screeching halt..  What was a 20msec latency link to the regional sites has now become 4000msec (yep that’s right 4 seconds!!). As I say no access to the WAN router but from out 4506 that connects to it I can see the link to it is looking fine. So nothing for it but to call the service provider, after a short chat they agree that traffic has dropped and latency has shot up and start looking in to it for me.

A few hours pass (well 3 days to be more correct during which time we have moved over to the 4 mbs backup link) and they finally come back saying that the link seems to have dropped and the most data they can push through it is 1.6mbs, and they think it is a routing issue on our sites subnet as latency to the outside address of the router seems fine.

Now at this point my mine is saying 1.6mbs??? hmmm why does that number sound familiar, may be if they measured it a bit more accurately they would find it was actually 1.54mbs which of course is a T1 link speed.  Which suggests to  me either some one added a bandwidth policy along the link or the route had changed to pass across a T1 link. But no “defiantly not!!”, I am told with absolutely certainty that no changes have been made to the configuration and some one will attend site to test it out.

Following day the service provider has an engineer on site, after hours of testing the local loop section on the fibre can’t find anything wrong signal strength is perfect and router on site has low latency to next hop. After hours on the phone and a few more suggestions from me that 1.6mbs suggests a T1 link some where along the line. I am told again there have been no changed to the configure or routes, but he say he will call head office and have them check the configs. He come of the phone and says he will try one last test… And what do you know the Link is suddenly back working, latency’s dropped back to the 20msec region and pushing about 9mb of data across the link.

So what did they change? “Nothing”, all they did was set a 10mbsec bandwidth policy on one of the interfaces along the router… So why did it drop in the first place “no idea, some times these things happen”. Hold on so they are telling me they changed nothing, the link just stopped working on its own, and where as it had worked fine for the last 4 years with out the policy configured, it now just happens that adding it has solved the issue??

Forgive me for feeling that someone made a cock up, and had to fix it in a hurry, and I have not been told the full story.

So great after 4 days all back up and working. Or is it? For a long time now I have been suggesting that we don’t have the 10mbs full duplex link we have been paying for. In tests I have never been able to get more than 9mbs total throughput. As I push the outgoing traffic if pulls the incoming down. (Of course as I said I don’t have access to the routers so all I can do is push traffic from our devices at either end). But one of the engineers mentioned in passing that our link was 2 X 4.5mbs??? Which  is exactly 9mbs which is what my test show… So not only did they muck up the link for 4 days but for the last 4 years they have not been providing the service we pay for!!

Not really impressed with them over the last week (not that I have been overly impressed with them before, although a few members of there staff I have to say have been very helpful to me over the years), but maybe some thing good will come out of it and I will have the full 10mbs full duplex link promised.

It is also quite nice in the sense that I informed management and the service providers of my consern’s about the link speed, about 2 years ago when I first really had reason to look at it. All of who dismissed me, and told me it was a 10mbs full duplex and that I was only seeing 9mbs due to the type and volume of traffic. So I would be laying if I said I didn’t slip the “as I told you 3 years ago” in to my report to management this time round. 🙂

I still can’t believe that no one can hold there hands up though and tell us what really happened last Friday. This is where network device management accounting comes in handy, can’t even log on to my devices, let alone update config with out it getting logged. It’s not just I like to spy on people, but if all changes are logged on the syslog server, then if some one does make a change, and the next day when they are off it all falls apart. I can view the last 24 hours, 3 days, etc, of changes at a glance and see what has happened. No need for them to remember to document every change they make, that’s all done for them.

Well I wait to see what come of this episode. But after this I not sure I will ever trust a service provider again.

laters all


TED Ideas Worth Spreading

I have had this site in my book marks for ages, but only today have I had a proper look in to it. IT is a non profit organisation who have got together with many world leaders in the fields of science, technology, politics, business and more to produce hundreds of short videos on there chosen field. (How about learn what the higgs boson partical is in 10 minutes, as well as see the ultimate formula that describes the whole universe written on a single page here! I do like my physic)

TED Ideas Worth Sharing

Defiantly a good site for the lunch time bookmarks.



I had to come bacck and post this video from the site.

The Beauty  of data Visualisation

And for thoses of you interested in news then you might like this page, this one kind of leads on from the video above.


SSH port Forwarding (or how to Remote Desktop over SSH)

I found this one out quite recently, but wish I had come across it years ago.

Image you have SSH access to a device inside a remote network, what you really want is a remote desktop to a device inside, but firewalls are blocking RDP and you have no way to change there setting (maybe you need to be on the desktop to configure the firewalls?)

Well as long as you can meet the two basic requirements below then fear not, because another of SSH’s little tricks is to allow you to tunnel traffic over it.

  1. First you must have a SSH client on your local station that can carry out port forwarding. such as Putty or Teraterm.
  2. An SSH remote client that is allowed to send traffic on the RDP ports to the final end station you want to remote desktop to.

All set then lets go..

First you need to set up the local telnet client. Here I will show it with Tera Term, as its the one I have installed, but the settings for putty and others are straight forward to match. What we are doing is mapping a local IP and port for Tera term to catch data sent to, and then relay it across the SSH connection to the remote SSH client where it will be forwarded on to the destination remote desktop client using the IP and Port set up.

First open up Tera Term and chose Setup then SSH forwarding from the menu, once the box pops up chose add. For the local forwarding port you can chose any random valid port, for this example I will use 3390. For the remote IP enter the IP of the machine you want to remote desktop to and the RDP port it is set to listen on, by default this is 3389 so we will use this.  (hint if you want to RDP to multiply remote hosts, simple set up a different local port for each one) Click OK and you should have a screen something like below.

Now click on the OK button.

The final steps are easy, in Tera Term click on file new connection, and connect up an SSH session to the SSH remote host as you normally would. While this connection is active open up the RDP client on the local host and enter the computer to connect to as shown.

Note the use of the Local port we configured above. Clicking on connect, Tera Term will now tunnel the traffic over the SSH connection where it will be forwarded on to the remote desktop host.

Yes you can achieve a more user friendly set up using VPN’s and I would not suggested it for end users. But I have found this very helpful in admin situation. And your remote SSH client can be any thing that supports SSH, Linux box or Cisco device all work just great.

Well hope you have all had a great Saturday and have good things to look forward to tommorrow.

Night from the Devil.