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

Titanium bunker office refit.

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We decided that the Birmingham annex could do with a face lift.  Here’s what the main development office looks like at the moment.

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That’s Henry, one of the bunker cleaning droids, and he seems very happy with the new carpet.

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.

 

 

New year weight loss – Hopkins style

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Well a new year is on us and as usual,  we are beset by advertisements for gym membership to lose the pounds piled on over the Christmas period. Against this backdrop, opinionated twitter user and non-winner of the apprentice, Katie Hopkins has decided to teach the nation that weight loss is easy and that idle fat people so simply have to move more and eat less.

In order to back up her claims that she, as an expert nutritionist, have made, she then proceeded to gain a load of weight  in order to show how easy it is to lose.

Well at the bunker, we love looking at data, especially if there is a chance of a bar chart or two (we at the bunker love a graph)

So let’s look at the facts shall we?
Katie’s staring weight was 8st 13lb (56.7kg). she planned to gain 4 stone and over a period of went up to 11st 13lb (75.7kg) according to an interview on BBC radio 2 an equivalent of a quarter of her bodyweight.

A quarter of Katie’s starting weight is 14.175 kg if she had gained 25% of her body weight then her final weight would have been 70.875kg

BMI analysis

Despite my own personal misgivings of the BMI system and mistrust that a system used to analyse the weight/height relations of a population of people being used to judge individuals. Let’s look at Katie’s BMI at the start of the experiment shall we?

On Katie’s wiki page her height is 1.7 meters and has her age as 39 (I know, I thought she was much older too) I put that information into NHS bmi calculator
And it looks like Katie has a BMI of 19.6

It also says that her healthy weight range is 8st 6lbs to 11st 6lbs

The weight was put on over a period of 90 days with a daily Calore Intake of 6,500 Calories and To do this Katie was pretty much continually eating.

When Katie finished the weight gain part of her experiment, her BMI was 26.2 a healthy BMI should be below 25 she was classed as overweight. How much would she need to lose to get a healthy BMI ? A little over 8lb will bring her BMI down to a healthy level.

In order to put on this weight Katie had to travel to America to put the pounds on . it seems that Katie had great difficulty putting on weight in the UK. This is where Katie’s central message seems to become a little unfocused. The original argument that Katie puts forward are that fat people are lazy and feckless. However with minimal resources people in the UK are the second fattest in the world. And we do it without having to jump on a plane to America . surely jumping on a plane and flying to a load of buyer joints in America is a lazy way of getting fat?

Katie then lost all the weight she put on to really nail her central message across that losing weight is easy right? well, turns out she finished the experiment 11 pounds heavier than at the start meaning her final weight was 9st 10 lb  and she ended up with a BMI of  which is pretty much nice in the centre for her.

conclusion

1. Katie didn’t actually put on that much weight, She was underweight to begin with  at her heaviest she was 8lb overweight.  the title of her show is misleading, as she was never fat you could argue a little overweight, but hardly obese right? maybe the show should have been called ‘my average weight story’

2 Katie didn’t slim down to her original weight, which proves it’s not that easy losing weight. especially if you are losing weight for a specific deadline – in this case 24 weeks for the show(12 to put on the weight, 12 to take off the weight)

3. even with the residual weight gain, Katie’s current weight was healthy.

4. Katie’s central argument was a little unfocused, if anything she had to put some serious effort and some air-miles into piling on the 3 stone

5. Katie’s weight loss regime apparently consisted of running three times a week for an hour , doing 20,000 steps a day and eating only when hungry, about 1,500 calories a day. which if we are talking about skipping meals and fasting can not be a good thing.

lest look at those steps shall we?

if we assume that the average step is say, 32 inches and there are 5280 feet in a mile, there are 1980 steps in a mile so 20,000steps is roughly the equivalent of 10 miles. the average human walks about 3mph so in order to walk these 20,000 steps a day Katie would have to walk for 3 hours a day.  and lets say an hour for a run 3 times a week, Katie is essentially exercising for 24 hours in a week, roughly 3 hours a day presumably an hour walk before work, an hour walk during lunch (skipping lunch) and an hour in the evening – and an hour Run crowbarred in there too.  Presumably her family are fine with her not being there

6. Enough of this vile woman already!

So ultimately Katie Hopkins ended up approximately 6lbs overweight and then lost the weight before returning to an end weight of 9st 10 lb
Which is probably the same story many people have in the new year. I generally put on about a half stone over the Christmas holidays. Before losing a couple of months later. I know it’s not all lost quickly but then I don’t have a TV show to sell.

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