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Busted – Update

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Titanium Bunker Incident Report Form

Oh I’ve got you Mike… Bang to rights!

I filled in the paperwork today to record the recent security ‘incident’.  I’m not a vindictive man however, and I therefore I don’t intend to apply for the death penalty. 😉

Dave Predictions for 2015

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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

Desktop PC

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










The Nostradamus Awards 2015

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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?

Dave’s predictions:
Read more..

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

Read more..

Snail Tales: Part 1

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I have been working for a long time on a short piece of animation. It’s been made longer by my insistence on using purely Open source software to make the animation with.

I decided to use Synfig Studio and set about creating characters over a year ago.

Of course real life got in the way of this. There was a house move, and of course there’s been my work on Elite Dangerous and Zoo Tycoon as well as the work I continue to do for Hoo on Who. but here are some early tests and work in progress shots for the short.

In the original story board the opening shot was much shorter and it was static but I have decided to make it a longer shot to better establish the kingdom in this early test, there are no peasants, I will add a couple of peasants to the fields and village.

the scarecrow I added on a whim. I had watched the Wizard of Oz a couple of days previous and  trying to think what i could put in the environment to help set the scene, I thought it would be fun to animate a scarcrow. I built and rigged a scarecrow and animated him making a little wave and turning his head to look to camera.

A lot of his animation is masked by the tree currently. I might put the tree on the first  hill so it is well out of the way .


In this shot, the Cat detective is being telephoned by the Queen to come find her stolen money. I wanted to give some contrast to the cat detective’s office, so I designed it to look more Noir-ish and forced the perspective. I always though it could be funny to have the cat play with a ball of wool while taking the call, the idea to put the framed picture of a ball of wool happened as I was designing the background. Originally there was going to be a newtons cradle in the foreground, but the scene was busy enough and I didn’t want to pull focus from the cat.


In this shot, the cat detective is looking through his magnifying glass. I used two copies of the cat detective, and used the shape of the magnifying glass to mask out the larger cat



this shot is tricky and is in the process of being re animated.  The cat detective is climbing up a spirtal staircase, following the dragon prints. The Background was a 3d model I rigged and animated in 3DS Max- still frames were rendered out and the cat detective was then animated to look like he is climbing the stairs. I changed the camera angle to better show the dragon prints. so the cat Detective needs reanimating.


Using open source software has not been easy.  There are certain thing I like to do when animating that Synfig forces to you abandon. In order to combat this, Mike and I wrote Synfig Stage, This software will allow us to compile new scenes with copies of the existing characters in the production. expect a video of it in action soon.

Synfig also has a very steep learning curve, but as with all things, the first time you try anything it will always be hard. Subsequent attempts are quicker and some of the newer chacters have taken less time to rig and in some cases these rigs are more complex than others.  I hope to have a few more shots done soon. in which case ther might be other posts about this (which is why its optimistically called part 1).


Barcamp Birmingham 2014

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I attended last year at the Novotel, Bimringham – this year, the venue was theStudio Birmingham. I’d like to say a big thank you to the staff at the studio, who looked after us for the whole of the Saturday – I’m happy to report that the facilities are excellent, the staff were great and it’s a great location. The wifi worked like a dream, and I was able to live post onto facebook all the talks that I saw. I’d suggest that if you’re a local company looking for meeting space that these guys may not be a bad choice.

I’d also like to say a big thanks to Quentin Wright  and the representatives of Floss UK

I proposed a talk about the Ubuntu Ebook template, but unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to present.

Group Discussion on : NSA Security Stuff

There’s no photo for this, as this was a session that we sort of went straight into.  Given the current news articles about NSA security, and the abilities.  We tried to limit ourselves to 30 minutes – however with such a wide ranging and encompassing topic the conversation did (on occasion) meander towards very similarly related topics.  The conversation was ‘chaired’ or managed (if you will) by Tony Brookes, who had a history exposed to military security, and network ‘stuff’.

Mark Johnson on : OggCamp

Mark gave a very quick presentation about the history of the OggCamp un-conference.  There’s not much you can really say about it – hopefully lots more people know about OggCamp.

Ron Wellstead on : Software Defined Radio

Ron Wellstead – local Wolves Lug Hero, attempted to give a talk about Software Defined Radio.  unfortunately Ron had some issues with X and projector compatibility – Similar to the issue that Dave had during OggCamp 2013.  Ron had to abandon this talk, but popped up later.

Jon Knight on : Captive Portals (bumps in the wire)

In this presentation Jon spoke about how he put together sign in systems for wireless access points.  This system allows you to have an open network, but at the same time have some element of audit regarding the usage.  The basic principle is to use a multi homed system and use MAC based routing to identify devices, and then use an authentication system to allow that device to route through to the wired network, and hence the internet.  Jon mentioned chillispot as a potential project to use.  His system was based on the same principle, but also linked to ownership information stored in an external database.

Tony Brookes on : Qgis

This talk examined the package Qgis.  Rachel’s Father is a keen surveyor, and when he worked, did a lot with the local councils to analyse the local geography.  He was a mineshaft surveyor and has a hobby of plotting the historical mine shafts against the current modern maps.  This tool would be an ideal benefit for him, as he currently uses paint.net to trace and convert his maps.  I’ll be experimenting with this to see what it can do, and hopefully it might be of benefit for him.

Mark Johnson on : OwnCloud

Mark gave a talk very similar to this at OggCamp.  in this discussion mark spoke about the challenges he faced when setting up his own cloud, hosted on his own hardware – including the challenges associated with Dynamic IP allocation, port forwarding and cname records.

Ron Wellstead on : Software Defined Radio

Ron finally managed to give his talk about software defined radio.  The big takeaway for me was that the barriers to entry are getting lower and lower all the time.  It occurs to me that if someone wanted to set up a secure private network, that a radio based transmission network, where both ends are configured for encryption this might not be a bad way to go.  I wonder how Teresa May would deal with that?

Chris Ellis on : Postgress

Chris Ellis – who now works on conjunction with Transitiv Technology gave a talk extolling the virtues of postgress as a replacement to MySQL.

Some Guy  on : Samba

I had popped out of the room to get coffee,and when I popped back in this guy (sorry I don’t know who you are) was giving a talk Samba.  I was flagging at this point so I didn’t really get what was going on – something about LDAP?

Pete Cannon on : Podcasting

So that’s community curmudgeon and podcaster of the Dick Turpin Roadshow talking about how podcasting works.

Alex Willmer  on : Bitcoin

Alex gave a talk on bitcoin and how it works. I’d seen a similar talk to this before a couple of years ago, and Alex has now updated his slides to show the progression of time for the bitcoin platform.

Following that we all retired to The Wellington to chat about technology and ITand drink beer, and Chris and I (well mainly Chris) got lumbered with the wierdo on the train – which for once wasn’t me 🙂

SousChef: Recipe creator for windows

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I like cooking, so, when the muse takes me, I will often attempt new recipes.  I use an android App Called Bites to store recipes. The main advantage of this is that there is a companion app called Trolly which can read in the ingredient lists as a shopping list.

So far so good. However I have a whole bunch of free recipe cards that you can collect from outside supermarkets. and instead of them sitting on my bookshelves, taking up space or worse still, being thrown away without trying it, what would be great, would be if there was a way to get these recipes into Bites.

This is where SousChef comes in. SousChefis a windows application that will create recipe files in a format that Bites can understand. The way I tend to use it is to make the recipe file on my desktop and then mail it to myself. It will appear in the inbox on my phone which I can then open it into Bites.

This is a V1.0 release. I will be making alterations to the code ,  but right now it works

The main Ui for SousChef

The main UI for SousChef

zesty prawns in BITES

zesty prawns in BITES


more information about Bites can be found here

more information about Trolly can be found here



Everyday Security

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I been meaning to write this post for a while, but things are a little busy. How busy you ask? How about so busy that there is a little quiz on the latest episode of Hoo on Who where listeners are invited to finish the following sentence

“Dave Hingley is so busy…”

Still never mind.

Another reason this article has taken it’s time being published is that I had some question about whether or not I should actually be writing this. The story is a little about security and I was concerned with other people’s privacy. I ran it past Mike and the general consensus was that all the information was freely available in the public domain. So, here goes.

Here’s a fun story about a couple of delightful tykes who manage to sell their parents home in 6 days without using Estate agents, covered by the pinnacle of journalistic excellence – Yahoo

The original news article is here, but to cut a long story short, Yahoo took a picture of the posters the 2 children put up to sell their home:

Adorable Kids Selling their home

What a cute poster – awww!

Note they blurred out the house number . Very laudable.  And understandable. You don’t want to be swamped with members of the public taking photos or hassling these young kids right?
But what about these adorable kids in question? well here’s the picture that yahoo put up in the same story :
The Kids and Their poster

The Kids and Their poster

Thanks to the paranoia inducing @__freakyclown__‘s oggcamp talk about exif and digital image forensics data The images don’t look like they have any geotagging data in them.

The new buyers wish to remain anonymous, but how hard would it be to find out the name of the occupants, knowing the address?

Well, it seems that it’s entirely possible to trace the owners using tax records or even in this modern age, outsource this data gathering to an external website like findermonkey. and how much would this cost? Depends.  If the new owners where previous bad tenants, then Findermonkey claim to be able to find previous tenants for £65 – and using the information from yahoo would make it a lot easier wouldn’t it?

In the meantime, here’s some more information on the house in question, and here’s a google street view of it.

Looking at the information. it does raise an interesting question. If we assume that the house sale went through with no problems. there should be some kind of record on the Zoopla page right? wrong. Because is appears that Zoopla and other services get their data from estate agents.  as there was no estate agent involved in the sale, then there is no record of the sale.

However there is no way of knowing if the move went well, unless Yahoo decide to do a follow-up story. But think about this for a second. The property was sold without the need of an Estate agent. It was sold at the asking price without an estate agent, the price looks like it was derived from the last sale price , which would have been provided by an estate agent.

The assumption therefore,  is that any estate agent valuing a property in French weir avenue, for example, would look up the property on Zoopla, see what it was sold for and how long ago, and makes up a figure using that data.

How accurate can that model be? When there can be gaps introduced into records of individual house prices? If all that Estate agents are doing is making up a figure, based on previous data, and putting an advert in the paper – why should we kow-tow their expertise? if Estate Agents are such experts in property, why has there been a history of property bubbles and not a stable maintainable market?

At this point Mike got involved. from the information in the article he was able to obtain copies of the title plan and register details from the land regstry for the princely sum of £6 you can find them here and here. This does raise questions about how complex process of conveyancing actually is. I appreciate that buying a house is a lengthy process and as such you will want the protection that comes with a legal professional dealing with your claim. but maybe there is a saving to be made by performing theses types of searches yourself?

Looking at the Land registry Documents, The Penny’s still seem to be the registered owners. It is possible that records might take time to update, but the original story was published on Yahoo on the 5th February 2014, Mike obtained the documents from the Land registry on the 27th March 2014.

At this point. It occurs to me that the Zoopla Sales data  could be gathered from Land registry Register details. as it details the location, current owner and cost of the property and the reason that  Zoopla aren’t currently showing the property has sold, is because:

  • the sale actually hasn’t finalised yet
  • the sale has gone through but the records have not been refreshed either by the Land registry, which I doubt or by Zoopla , which I think would be more likely as its is presumably periodically  polling/scraping the Land registry website for the information
  • The sale has fallen through.

In any case this story had me consider the relevancy of Estate Agents, The ease of obtaining copies of important documents with freely available information and how hard or easy it would be to track someone down with just a few basic bits of information.

And just think, if Yahoo had been consistent with blurring the address of the property in question, I wouldn’t have bothered to do all this digging.


Idea for UI improvement for @AncestryUK

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Adding children through simple gesture (drag down)

Adding children through simple gesture (drag down)


I was completing an Ancestry customer satisfaction survey, when they asked the question :

“What suggestions would you give to improve the website?”

So I thought about it.  I’ve realised that the further back in time you go when researching family trees, the more children and siblings there tends to be.  So a lot of time will be spent adding children to parents or siblings to individuals.  I believe that ancestry could improve the UI for adding children, and here’s how.

The easiest way to add a relative is to

  • Find the person
  • Click on the person
  • Select Add relative.
  • This then prompts you to add a brother, sister, spouse or child.

I believe this could be streamlined to clicking on the marker point in the marriage line and dragging

  • Down to create a child (the parents are those defined in the marriage)
  • Perhaps diagonally down left / right to create male / female children.  Maybe even dragging up for information about the marriage event?


Suggested Drag children option

Suggested Drag children option – drag into the blue section for a boy, pink for a – well you get the idea.

This gesture based control system could be extended to add siblings (drag the user left to add a sister, right to add a brother) or to swap individuals where the wrong individual has been assigned to an event.

This reduces the number of clicks required for the fairly common operation of adding a child, or sibling, and the idea of dragging the marriage marker to create children also seems to to quite nicely into the operation of the site through a mobile or touch based interface – which seems all the rage these days. 


Looking to book a MS Exam in Birmingham UK…

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I popped onto the Prometric testing site to try to book a Microsoft Development exam, and after fighting my way through the interface, I thought I’d share my experience with you all.

Prometric 1

So – first of all we’re asked about our location – this makes sense as I want to book a test location close to a location where I am, or at least where I am scheduled to be.  I am a bit annoyed that the page updates the list of state/province for United Kingdom to contain only — None –.  That would be an ideal opportunity to remove that field if it isn’t applicable.  However it only seems to be applicable if you’re from the United States or Canada – so for the rest of the world – here… have an input box that you’ll never use.

My suggestion : Provide an interface that adjusts based on the user.  If the user picks United states or Canada then show the State/Province options.  How about some map based input?  Perhaps a google map?  So I pick United Kingdom, and select Next.

Prometric 2

Now I am presented with a list of options.  I’m interested in booking an exam, so I’ll pick “Locate a test center.  Quickly and easily find a test centre nearest you.” – hey guys – in the UK we write that as Centre.  Oh – and did you notice that all of the options in the main content of the page, are the same options from the left hand column of the page – but don’t worry – there’s yet more duplication and inefficient design to come 🙂

Prometric 3

And then for some reason I’m asked for my country again. So I’ll just tell you that again….  Hopefully you’ll remember that now…

Prometric 4


And yes – it looks like you have remembered it – and I’m offered yet another way of altering my current location.  So now I need to specify which test I am interested in to determine which tests centres are most applicable for me:

So I’ll pick the appropriate answers here – Microsoft and Microsoft (070, 071, 074, MBx) and I’m presented with another screen.

Prometric 5


Registration?  All I wanted to do was check seat availability.  I’m not entirely sure that this page is 100% required, as I can click Next without clicking on anything else, and I’m presented with another screen.  Notice that the orange banner to change location has mysteriously disappeared.

Prometric 6

So I now search through this large unwieldy list for the exam I’m planning on taking.  What’s interesting is that for some reason, the language and the currency are important for me to know to book availability.   I pick English, and the currency (GBP) from the list that only has GBP in it (sigh) and click next.

Prometric 7

Hey! the orange banner has returned  – welcome back!.  So all I have to do now is find a centre near Birmingham.  In my opinion this is weak.  we should be presenting this geographical information based on nearest town.  Asking for a list of UK test centres isn’t going to help me if I’m based in or near Birmingham and the top of this list of for Londonderry – a mere 394 mile, 8.5 hour drive (and a ferry crossing) away. What would be more practical for this geographical information would be a map based interface – like a google map.

Anyway – let’s look at what availability QA Training, Birmingham have.  So I click on seat availability.

Prometric 8


They have one day – 19/03/2014.  That’s it.  1 day for the whole of this year going forward.

Nothing in April :

Prometric 9

So – I phoned them – If you’re interested Prometric list their number as 44 121 6656465 whereas QA list their number as 0845 074 7821 – Might be worth taking a note of that number in light of the costs associated with Non geographic numbers.

Turns out that QA Birmingham are having the whole of April off as holiday, according to the receptionist that I spoke to, and that the availability is only provided up to 8 weeks.

Well this is news to me as there was nothing on the web page to say that – so I have tweeted the 2 prometric addresses I could find (@PrometricEvents, @Prometric_News ), and sent them an email via their contact form – Trying to find a phone number for them was nay on impossible.  Click on contact us – for phone, it asks you to identify your test sponsor – click on Microsoft, click on contact us and it asks to identify test sponsor again, 

This 8 week availability restriction also might be news to Birmingham University, who have a date in May currently available.

Prometric 10 - Bham University


Here’s what I asked :

Can someone please confirm – when I’m looking at the seat availability, how far is that valid? does it show to the end of the year, or only 8 weeks ? Doesn’t say on your page.


Mike Hingley

Here’s the response I received :

Dear Candidate,


Thank you for your email.


Please be informed that dates availability is subject to change on the website. In order to locate suitable test site as well as testing date, you are requested to either keep checking on the website www.prometric.com or you may contact the Care Department by calling at +0800-592-873 or +31-320-23-9895 on Monday-Friday 9:00-18:00 GMT for further assistance.

Should you have further queries please do not hesitate to contact us again.

We hope this information Is helpful.


So the official guidance is to just keep checking – So you keep checking over and over hoping for an update – not that you’d know there’s been an update because date ranges where there is no data look the same as date ranges when there is no seat availability. If we could know how far prometric has received seat availability data for that would be something.

Notes :

  • To be fair I could only get the “forgetting the country” bug to occur once while recording these screenshots.