So here’s my list of things that rocked/things that sucked and my predictions for 2015
Things that rocked:
ELO & war of the Worlds
Miss Vicki and I went to the ELO convert at Hyde Park. It was a great day out and something of an emotional experience for me. I also took Miss Vicki to see a performance of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, performed in Cardiff. I got the tickets the beginning of the year and managed to keep it a secret right up untill 8 hours before the show started. Whilst we where in Cardiff, we took in The Doctor Who experience, Ianto’s Shrine and missed meeting up with the Staggering stories team (they where driving in as we were driving out)
I am a technical animator on Elite:Dangerous and this project is great fun. People seem to like the game and I am developing an interest in astronomy as a result of working on this game. I was at the launch event that streamed over twitch and was proud to hear the guests who turned up enjoying the game.
Things that Sucked:
Again this year , miss Vicki lost someone close to us. I hope that we have a year off from this – please!
I had a couple of DIY projects I had to do in our home, and to be honest they were not that bad, but having just moved into the house, it’s very easy to panic about these sort of things. Throughout the year, I have realised that While I can replace kitchen taps, such a job is best left to a saturday morning, as opposed to a saturday afternoon. Not necessarily sucky, but stressful
My PC finally bought the farm earlier in the year. It was old and I really should get a brand new one, but for the moment I am using a ‘Frankenputer’. this meant though that there was enforced hiatus of shows on Titaniumbunker TV.
Film and TV
- Avengers: Age of Ultron will outperform Star Wars 7 at the box office
- Doctor who will return for series 9. Jenna Coleman will return for the whole season but this will be her final season. I also predict the retun of the Meddling monk
- After Jenna leaves, the next companion will be male (probably a physical type like Ian Chesterton to the first doctor)
- Broadchurch will finish and will not be picked up for a third one. I predict Claire killed the girls and the Joe killed Danny
- Tesco will stop selling and producing the Hudl. Tesco will be forced into selling them off cheap in order to get rid of them.
- The market will become flooded with cheap android tablets
- Oggcamp will run this year but it will probably be the last one.
- with the demise of the Doctor Who podcast I predict that Doctor Who:Podshock will be the next Doctor Who podcast to shut up shop.
- the general election will result in a win for the Conservatives although they may have to forma coalition.
- oil prices will continue to fall, or at least level out, making for less pressure on hard pressed families, hopefully leading to more confidence in the high street
Well it’s that time of year again, when we try to act all enthusiastic about a new year, make numbers resolutions to join a gym and try to get fit ( i give 3 months!) and where we here in the bunker take a second to reflect on the year that was, and see which of us predicted the most er stuff.
So let’s go through the predictions shall we?
We’re off the the Raspberry Pi Birthday party at the end of the month, and I’m really looking forward to it. Raspberry Pi is 3 this year, so there should be lots of party games, and Jelly and Ice cream – so what’s not to like.
In an effort to continually polish the content that we produce, we’ve splashed some cash for some new AV equipment – well Audio equipment anyway.
We did an interview with PepperTop Comics back at OggCamp, and it was our first interview – but it didn’t really look as professional as I would have liked it to look. There were a number of things that were wrong with it :
- Preparation – We didn’t prepare. We thought we could have a chat, film it and bash it out on line.
- The camera work was less than great, not helped by a lack of tripod
- The audio quality wasn’t great
Well – we’re going to try to hit all three of these issues for Raspberry Pi’s 3rd Birthday. Dave already has a tripod, so hopefully the camera work should be less shaky, and allow us to frame it better. And Dave has already started writing up questions for interviews. Today the latest investment in TB Tech turned up :
First up – a new Microphone. the last video recorded used the internal microphone from the Camcoder, and while this was fine – it could have been better.
Next – A small 8 gig Mp3player/Voice Recorder. it has a 6.5 mm microphone socketand comes with a lapel mic It also connects directly to a computer via USb which also charges it.
m.3mm to 6.35mm monos socket
Finally – a 3.5 mono to 6.35mm mono adapter Which should allow us to connect the mic to the voice recorder and put it in a pocket while we record
The plan is, that the recorder will record out voices, which will be synched up the video from the camera. In order for it to synch, we will need a clapperboard to create a synchronisation event. does Dave have one I wonder?
AW YEAH HE DOES! this should be an interesting weekend filming at the raspberry pi birthday bash- If you are there and you see us, why not say ‘hi’ we might even interview you too
In case you are interested, Here’s our interview with Pepper top:
I booted my PC up today and got this rather strange looking popup…
Start Menu Update
It was funny, because I didn’t see any Microsoft alerts that there was an update to install – particularly a critical update. So I decided to take a look at the new terms and conditions – clicking on the terms and conditions presents (eventually – after a redirect) a page hosted at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YdPF7mGw2HM7jDdE28wAD-T7h3Q9Yqa-wWscqR79ZDM/pub?embedded=true. That’s right, the terms and conditions are being hosted on Google Docs – and surprisingly the start menu isn’t written by Microsoft – no. This Start menu is created by a company called SweetLabs. This was surprising to me, as I was sure that windows 8.1 now featured a Start Menu. So – it appears that My laptop is running a start menu from a company other than Microsoft.
In fact some research revealed that the system in question is Pokki. Lenovo has been shipping Windows 8 with pokki start menu systems as standard since late 2013 – see Engadget article here. Confusingly in “Programs and Features” the publisher is given as Pokki, and the application is listed as “Start Menu”
So – the application is called Pokki, and is published by Sweet Labs, but you’ve called it “Start Menu”
So – A quick scan through the terms and conditions reveals nuggets such as this :
2. USAGE. You agree to use the Services only for the purposes that are permitted by this Agreement and by any applicable law, regulation, or generally accepted practices or guidelines in any relevant jurisdiction (including any laws governing the export or import of data or software to and from the United States or other relevant jurisdictions). You may not use the Services, if you are under the age of thirteen (13) or you are a person barred from using or receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other relevant jurisdiction.
So – if your parents bought you a laptop for school you can’t use the start button. Or woe betide you if you happen to be barred from receiving “the Services” from other relevant jurisdictions – wherever and whatever they may be.
Here’s some thoughts I have about this :
- The screen gives me no information about what critical fixes were applied.
- If I have no choice why ask me to make a choice?
- I can’t pick any option but to accept the terms and conditions
- But the terms and conditions say that I accept them by using the software.
So – I don’t know what to do about this. They updated terms and conditions that I never agreed to in the first place. So for now I’ll just leave the pop up on my screen. I’ll try talking to Lenovo tomorrow at work.
We decided that the Birmingham annex could do with a face lift. Here’s what the main development office looks like at the moment.
That’s Henry, one of the bunker cleaning droids, and he seems very happy with the new carpet.
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?
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!!!!!
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!
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
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!
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
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.
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.