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Evil geniuses and world domination are 2 of our goals... we also like Dr Who

frankenputer!

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Remember the sad loss we suffered here at the Bunker mid last year?

 

yes, my trust old Desktop PC died, leaving me unable to do a lot of the video work I had planned on doing. (read the sad details here)  Since then I cast my net far and wide, searching for a replacement at the right price (free)

well, after many months, I now have a PC I can turn into my new Linux desktop box!

lets see the wee beastie shall we?

wpid-20150123_191700.jpg

Well its a Packard Bell imedia 1308  rocking a gig of RAM, and a 160 gig HDD but instead of a Dual Core Processor its got a intel Celeron 2.93GHz processor and seeing as there are no files of mine on there, It is the perfect candidate to become solely Linux mint install! no dual booting here, it wont be as fast as dual core or quad-core processor but for the price (did I mention free?) and what I plan to do on it ( video editing and file management) it should be ok

Firing it up .it’s a very quiet machine, Until now, I never realised just exactly how loud the old PC was!

but looking at it, there’s one small problem there’s no wireless card! it’s also using the built-in video card . I think what I need to do is open up the carcass of the old Pc and perform some gruesome Transplantation!!!!!

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)

 

I opened up the case and extracted the video card and the wireless card.  Opening up the Packard Bell, It looks like the motherboard doesn’t have any AGP sockets or PCIE ports.  I was able to swap out the old dial-up modem card for the wireless card. I  then installed the Linux Mint installer ISO onto USB and did a complete install from there.

The BIOS for this computer made it really easy to override boot order. So getting the iso to read from USB was a breeze. I did however get a message telling me the display wasnt accelerated so there may be  performance issues, going forward. Once at the Linux Mint Desktop I simply clicked the icon to install Linux Mint and selected complete install. Within an hour I had a machine running Linux Mint.

next up to install the software I intend to use on it (Synfig, KDenLive, Gimp,Inkscape)  and possibly a lighter desktop manager. I also got to get a new graphics card on there. At the moment its using the built-in graphics card which is not very fast.  The old graphics card was a PCI express dual head graphics card. but there are only PCI cards. What I need is a dual head PCI graphics card that’s fairly nippy and yet inexpensive.

One of the benefits of using older technology is that upgrading can be inexpensive. The mother board can take a maximum of 2 gig of ram.  The motherboard has 2 slots, so if one slot is used then I need only get another 1 gig memory card (£15 online) or if it’s using both slots, then 2 cards(£30) and already I have increased performance by 200%  and made the desktop nippy unto the bargain.

Of course what I am using the computer for is not necessarily high-end . Yes, rendering video can be processor intensive, but the hope is that the trade-off is increased render times as opposed to not having any renders whatsoever. Once I got the rest of the system set up – including of course the search for a worthy desktop screen, then I can run some benchmarks and try some video rendering – fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

Losing cultural sources

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In previous articles I mentioned the possibility that we could end up losing assets placed on the internet, where we are reliant on a 3rd party maintaining them – here is a practical example of an asset that hasn’t even lasted 5 years.

This is an article on Stack Overflow about copying projects within a VS2010 post build event., and was asked in 2012.  The content was originally hosted on Imgur, but has now been replaced.  Consider that the content that content on Imgur could now be no longer safe for work, and I think this highlights the issues that we can have in relying on a third party to store our content.

Wrong Graphic in Question

Wrong Graphic in Question

Je Suis Charlie.

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I have been thinking long and hard about this post. I feel that I should write something about it as it sort of falls into my sphere of experience.

 

Those of you that know, I am the arty one in the bunker. The dropped paint over there, that’s me. I am happy when I am creating something, whether its graphics for a little game or making the games that I do full-time, or working with animation. I am at my happiest when drawing.

I have always like cartoons and comic books – the first thing I drew where copies of Andy Capp, Hagar the Horrible and a Man called Horace. as a student in Art college, I drew a few strips of characters I createdmyself – characters like Ricky Toucan (a terrible detective with a huge nose) The Ravers (3 Ravers called Larry, Curly and Moe who would get into scrapes trying to get E’s and pull women at illegal raves) Simon Leeke , Sci Fi Freak (sci-fi obsessive who sees alien invasions in everyday events). I even got shortlisted for the Young cartoonist of the year back in the day and last year I drew and wrote a comic book which I will be releasing soon.

So against all this, there were a horrendous attack by terrorists in the office of charlie hebdo The following Sunday, a rally was staged where the people of France stood united in solidarity against extremism and a twitter campaign ‘Je Suis Charlie’ spread across the internet like wildfire. celebrities either held up text or a pen.

here’s the thing, part of me wants to support that sentiment, that free speech is an important right in our lives and we shouldn’t live in fear of intolerance. the thing is, I don’t know if this is possible by holding a pen or writing a slogan.  I been casting about trying to find some understanding in all of this.

Heres what I figured

  • these terrorists are not Muslim – shocker I know. but claiming they are, they  hope to stir up resentment and mistrust in the general community which in turn helps isolate the muslim community leading to more disenfranchised youth that are impressionable and can be radicalised

 

  • in the grand scheme of things it was a waste : Two terrorists didn’t like cartoons published in a magazine, they shoot the people at the magazine and then end up getting killed themselves. and yet, the cartoons are still there. the situation is exactly the same, but now there a bunch of dead people who didn’t need to be dead.

 

  • I think that if you don’t like something challenge it. going around saying you are offended by x,y or z is your problem not mine, you have right to reply to counter the argument,you can make a you tube video demonstrating why you disagree with concept x y or z or write a blog post but to slap a ban or injunction on it – like the Christian Church did with the life of brian, or shoot up an office is totally out of proportion. I mean if your faith that is thousands of years old, is strong like steel and steadfast in its convitction can be shaken by a film or a cartoon in a magazine then its time to seriously look at your faith here. I don’t really have a faith these days. But I don’t like being called a humanist or atheist either, because that is still a form of tribe. you know? Theist and Atheist groups are effectively tribes where one side argues against the other about what each tribe believes. each side thinks their point of view is right and there can be no compromise. I guess if I was pushed I would have to say I do not care about religion

 

  • that all the political leaders who linked arms in a display of support for freedom of speech aren’t exactly shining examples of it themselves, even our prime minister has a less than glowing track record when it comes to free speech. there’s an article here which details the research of Daniel Wickman to name these world leaders and their attempts to stifle freedom of speech. If these leader’s own countries have such bad records of freedom of speech then what does it say about them? that they are a bunch of hypocrites and are here mainly for the photo-op?  does that mean the same for everyone who put a selfie up on twitter holding a pen?

 

  • that sales of Charlie Hebdo after the tragedy were nothing short of meteoric. Why were people buying it?  the act of buying a magazine has become a politcal statement  a way of aligning yourself behind a camp of free speech. or was it some kind of right-on bandwaggon jumping?

 

Finally, seriously, guys after thousands of years we are still doing this shit? have we learnt nothing from history? I guess not. I remain hopeful however that one day we will look back on this period of history and wonder with amazement of a time where intolerance and fear created these moments of violence, in the same way that we act to tales of witch trials

ok, enought of this introspective emotional stuff, next time, FUN STUFF!

A slice of Pi inspiration

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Guess Who's Three - Raspberry Pi Birthday Party Invite

Guess Who’s Three

Dave phoned me from the Cambridge wing of the Titanium Bunker earlier in the week to tell me that we’re going to a Raspberry pi Birthday bash in Cambridge.  I’m really looking forward to attending – Hoping to see what people are using their raspberry pi’s for.  So far I’ve managed to get mine working as a DLNA receiver for Plex and serviio, but as soon as I got the Google Chromecast, it sort of became redundant.

Dave also pointed me at this video featuring Andy Proctor – a guy who modified his delivery truck to make it an internet-of-things device.

So Andy has inspired me to look again at the Pi.  I found myself looking at what he had developed and thinking about potential expansion ideas.

  • GPS – his truck has a tracker installed – so could he hook into the GPS?  Perhaps he could use something like this and get geographical data, and based on his location, send a tweet.
  • He’s only using 4 GPIO pins – would an alarm be something worth having?  Perhaps some form of Lone Worker alarm?  Perhaps a “I’m in trouble – here is my location” button.
  • Could he be affected by thefts from the trailer overnight? Would a Pi Noir camera allow him to keep surveillance on his trailer?  Perhaps motion detection could provide an alarm in the event of theft.
  • How about hooking the buzzer into the cab speakers?  That way the sound output would be way better.

More than than, he also got me thinking about the existing uses I’ve seen Pi’s used for in my day job – as a digital sign.  And while that is cool, I do wonder if we could use them for other things.  I’m currently wondering if they could be used to run Visual Studio Load tests, and therefore provide a cheaper alternative to running load tests from developer machines.  It would also mean that the digital signs (which are on all the time) could potentially provide additional load for load testing without needing developer machines to remain switched on all the time.

So how feasible would it be then to configure a Raspberry Pi as a Load Test Agent?  Well Microsoft has this page which talks about the process for installing a test agent.  Searching in WineHQ does reveal a bug that affected the VS 2010 agents install, but that was  fixed in version 1.7.32 – so theoretically, it might be possible

 

New Year – Old Computers

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gt40_crop_2

So Happy new year everyone. Its been a great Christmas hasn’t it?

Here at the Bunker we are sweeping up the last of the paper chains (over 6 miles of paper chains to be put in the recycling bin)  and are busy getting the Nostradamus Awards for this year and writing down our predictions.

In the mean time, here’s an interesting story on BBC.

So the DWP are looking to recruit a CTO to help update and ultimately upgrade some of their 40-year-old infrastructure

let’s think about this for a second:

some of the architecture used in the Department for Work and Pensions is over 40 years old.

Remember back in 2006 the discovery  Natascha Kampusch, who had been abducted in 1998, then aged 10 years old by Wolfgang P?iklopil.  P?iklopil stored a lot of his files on a commodore 64 and this caused a lot of problems for police trying to retrieve potential evidence from his computer without some form of loss.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/sep/05/austria.markoliver

even an earlier posts here on the bunker about cultural entropy, but also the recovery of Early Warhol works on Amiga disks and the problems they encountered getting data of old data storage,

lets not forget these 2 systems are not too old Amiga was released in 1985,  the C64 in 1982 so 30 and 33 years respectively

Imagine then for a second some of the problems that will no doubt be faced trying to transfer data or preserve data on parts of a system that is 40 years old!

now take a second to think about this:

this is one of many government departments. the reality is there are probably many departments all with crumbling infrastructures

and in the BBC article, journalist Mark Ballard, warned against large IT updates, and rightly so, the last thing a government in power needs is a costly IT failure, especially if they lambasted the previous administration for doing the same

Here’s the thing though. I am convinced that spending on IT systems is seen as a political decision and as the success or failure of IT systems have become a political hot potato. Governments would rather limp along with older technology instead of investing updating what they have for fear of it going wrong or being seen as squandering money on updates.

I am not for a second saying that yearly updates of terminals is going to keep the system in tip-top shape, but regular maintenance and updating of infrastructure would surely be a good thing. If you where to say that no one piece of hardware can be say over 20 years old and that servers are replaced on a rolling basis every few year,swapping out the older servers, you could very well reach a situation where government departments become faster and more efficient. if we had this policy in place right now, none of the hardware in the department should be older than the 90s,  heck if you said that nothing could be over 10 years old, it would still be millennial software and hardware you would be using – the late lamented pc that died last year was bout 6 years old, and I know as soon as I get a new desktop I will be amazed at the lightning fast speeds it will be capable of.

 

 

more thoughts on Cultural Loss: Cultural Entropy

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you might have read Mikes last entry about the preservation of culture here. and he does raise interesting points and whilst I agree with him, that cultural artifacts need to be preserved, I kind of disagree that culture is defined by artifacts

In my view culture is an all-encompassing set of tools we use to consume culture and interact with other members of our cultural group. Having a great play or book is fine, but if you don’t understand the language spoken or even the concepts of reading and writing then it becomes meaningless squiggles on a page.

how about this for an example of loss of cultural knowledge


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Loss of culture

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I’d like to try a thought experiment with you – dear reader.  Imagine that tomorrow you decide to go out and experience some culture.  As this is a thought experiment let’s also assume that money is no object, and that you have the resources to be able to accomplish this – I suppose the question is – what would you like to go and experience?


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Updating the Bunker Wireless

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Macgyver

MacGyver – Role Model for Software Developers supporting legacy systems

I’ve noticed recently that the Chromecast – situated in one of the upper floor habitation pods within the bunker – was getting pretty rubbish Wi-Fi reception.  Why would that be a problem – after all the bunker does have pretty good wired access.

Well the problem is that Chromecast features only a Wireless connection, meaning it has to talk to the main Wi-Fi hub, located 1 floor down – and with the hefty floors of the bunker, the signal has been somewhat lacking.  And this causes a problem when trying to watch MacGyver episodes on Netflix….  This sounds like a job for MikeGyver.

MikeGyver-1 MikeGyver-2

Belkin Share F7D3302 v1 router

Belkin Share F7D3302 v1 router

Just down from the Habitation pod in question, is my main office, and I recently decided that I needed to add more local area bandwidth, as I am currently running a couple of servers.  So I delved into my box-o-bits1 and found an old Belkin Share F7D3302 v1 router.

I was able to get this working locally, but the question was : How do i integrate it with the existing router?  To make this work the router would need to be configured as an Access Point.  To demonstrate this, I’ll draw a quick diagram here:

Titaniumbunker Network Diagram

Titaniumbunker Network Diagram

 

Configuring the Belkin router was easy.  It has an access point mode, which disables DHCP and firewalls.  I reserved a static IP address on the main router for the Belkin Access point.  The Belkin has a 4 port switch on the back which I connected one of the ports through to the main router and boom – I now had wired access.
The next challenge is relating to extending the wireless network to the upper floor, so that smart wireless devices can connect or switch access points.  Currently the wireless is deactivated for the office access point.
Access Point Channels

Access Point Channels

1All IT Professionals have a box-o-bits – Mine’s actually a set of plastic storage drawers.

 

 

OggCamp 2014 Videos

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At this year’s OggCamp we recorded a couple of videos.  We’re still learning – but here’s what I learned about the video production process.

  • It’s really hard to talk and shoot a camera
  • you really need a separate mic to do this sort of thing.

 

 

Poop your pants scary

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In a previous post I commented that I might be getting a little old for bands such as Pierce the Veil, and this post examines more evidence of my descent into old age.  Recently Rach went out and bought Alien Isolation because she really wanted to play it.  It is typical that whenever Rach buys a game we end up playing it as a team – typically a frustrated team when I try and explain some three dimensional movement to get her avatar back to what appears to be an item that she missed when scanning the room.  She tends to play, and I shout confusing and frustrated advice.  Eventually she gets annoyed with me, and I get annoyed with her, and we call time there on the game and pick it up again at a later date.  In a way it’s good – we don’t tend to spend a lot of time playing games.  So far Alien Isolation has been no exception.

As is typical I get back from work to find Rach playing Alien Isolation, sat on her favourite comfy chair

POÄNG Armchair - Ikea

POÄNG Armchair – Ikea

with her favourite cushion.

My Neighbour Tortoro Cushion

My Neighbour Tortoro Cushion

She hands over the controller to me whenever it gets too complicated – which it often does.  As a result I end up only playing the most scary, most complicated parts of the game.  It’s left me feeling as though I don’t want to pick up the game and play it – I just know that were I to load the save game at the current point I could find it almost impossibly hard.  The other night I got back from work, and she was running around with a flame thrower.  I just know that were to attempt to load the game on my own that it would be too nerve racking an experience.  I’d hate to be in a situation where I leave her game in a state where she’s low on ammo, or I missed some important key card to access some area of the map – I suppose I’m scared of breaking the game for her.
Also it’s a really scary game, where basically anything that isn’t you is going to try and kill you.  It must be what living in Australia is like.    My game tastes have mellowed – I recently bought Fez for Xbox 360 and I really enjoyed the sedate nature of the game.  Perhaps I’m getting too old for Aliens and explosions…  or maybe the game is just really scary.