Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Black holes?

OK, so watching the CERN status of the LHC, and I am not at all paranoid, and I know that

2199 gigaelectron volts = 8.42061673 × 10-11 kilocalories

So I am not worried.

Then suddenly the display goes totally black - eeeek!!!!

Looks like they just changed a display setting and selected different graphs and it was black for a moment. But they really shouldn't do things like that should they!!!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Changing clocks

I just made the mistake of walking in to the front room and they are discussing changing clocks on TV. i.e. make UK UTC+1, and UTC+2 in summer.

WTF?!?!? For a start, we defined time. Greenwich defined it. WTF would we want to do to change that definition. Are they saying the Greenwich observatory was wrong?

But then they are going on about benefit to farmers. What the hell?? OK, If you work in an office and have to be there 9am and leave 5pm (local UK time), then changing clocks would affect the daylight you see going to and from work at some times of year. But why on earth would a farmer work on a clock and not on reality. If working when it is light is beneficial, work when light FFS, not by the clock. What does it matter what number is on the clock for a farmer working on his farm. Like animals or crops care what we call a time of day?

If there is real concern (as they claim on this program) is over the "evening rush hour being in the dark causing accidents" then encourage more flexible working to spread out and make earlier rush hour.

The claim was "it could save 100 lives a year". Really? I bet more people die from cucumber related incidents than that! Lets inconvenience millions of people to save 100 lives a year. Oh, and lets not forget that you can be sure that changing the morning rush hour will have some detrimental effect as well.

As if "summer time" is not bad enough in the first place.

I mean, why not go the whole hog and make UK local time start at local sunrise = 8am all year round, just for fun.


School anti-wikipedia dogma

OK, my daughter (14) has had it drummed in to her by the school that "we aren't allowed to use wikipedia because it can be updated by any member of the public"...

You only have to mention wikipedia and she blurts that out!!!

The fact that any member of the public can register a convincing domain name and put up a convincing web site with total drivel in it, without peer review, making them less reliable than wikipedia, seems to be beside the point. They are allowed to use any other web site as reference apart from wikipedia.

The fact wikipedia articles normally have a long list of external references, which are the very web sites that they are allowed to look at, so they can check the sources (even though those themselves could be bogus) does not seem to matter either.

I may write to the school...

All hail the reverend

WTF was that weather.
That was mental!

I had left my hat at the house.

Hail so bad it was setting off car alarms all down the street.

They are taxing air now!!!

Looking at duty on cider, as is topical, and before the latest changes announced yesterday...

1 litre of still 8.4% cider, duty 47p
1 litre of sparkling 8.4% cider, duty £2.07

That's £1.60 to the government for the bubbles in a litre of fizzy strong cider (such as K).

So they are finally taxing thin air now!!!!

What the hell will they tax next.


P.S. I don't think I am misreading that reference. £2.07/litre duty on 8.4% fizzy cider. So 4x440ml of K cider is £3.64 duty (1.76l). Yet Tescos sell 4x440ml of K for £4.08 (£3.47+VAT). How?
P.P.S. Yes, I know it is probably CO2, but there is CO2 in air so it is close enough.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Safety information

On a USB 3G dongle... [Huawei Technology Co. Ltd]

"Do not use your device if using the device is prohibited." [twice]
Well, duh, is that not the very meaning of "prohibited" and does it really need repeating.

"Observe local laws and regulations when using this device."
Err, again, I know I have to observe the law already. Do I need telling again. Or are they implying I can ignore all local laws and regulations when not using the device?

"Note: Observe the national local regulations in the location where the device is to be used."
So if it is "to be used" in, say, China, I have to observe the Chinese regulations even though I am not there yet because that is where it is to be used? Or what? I am confused?

"On a stormy day with thunder, do not use your device when it is being charged, to prevent any danger caused by lightening."
Wow, that actually prevents any danger caused by lightening, how simple! Oh, and how does one charge a USB dongle?

Oh, and use at least 2.5cm from the body!

"Read this information carefully before using the device"
Err, if I did not, I would not have read the above would I so how would I know I was meant to have read it?

"No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of Huawei Technology Co. Ltd".
Tough! Mind you, I could try complying, i.e. asking them for permission to quote from the leaflet, but how would I tell them which leaflet without saying the title or document reference number, which are part of the document and so I could not say or email or write to them when asking... Thankfully section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 says "Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work, does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement" so I don't have to agree to that restriction :-)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ethernet to the premises

Well, there have to be some perks if you live adjacent to the MD of an ISP.

I'm heading round to the neighbour's with a nice SRS drill and long 10mm drill bit, and some exterior grade cat5e shortly to provide them with our first "Ethernet to the premises" over copper...

Pictures to follow :-)

OK, so far, just run through windows as a proof of concept. Holes in walls tomorrow maybe.

Well, managed it without making holes! Just need cable clips now.

Attacking our favorite telco with a huge sword?

Well, our customer relationship manager is level 80 and is Horde!

Sadly not the same server as the AAISP (alliance) guild, else we could gang up on him and have a battle... It is almost tempting to move some characters to the same realm as him!

Restricting battles to the virtual world is probably a good idea though, though casting some of the spells my mage has on them in real life could be entertaining (polymorph penguin perhaps).

We'd have to get a few more decent players in the guild though before we could have a proper battle.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

OFCOM can't even write their own phone number correctly


Your news item on
ends with :-
(+44) (0)300 123 4000

That is *NOT* the right way to quote a telephone number, and OFCOM should know better. How can OFCOM expect telcos to follow any of the rules if they themselves cannot follow the simplest of ITU specifications?


Working with our favourite telco

Well, this is fun! I am off to an internal management meeting as I have been invited to talk about the problems we have with them...

It is good that they are prepared to talk to us now.

It's kind of giving free consultancy, but for now I am interesting in improving matters for my customers, so it's worth it.


Well, a good reception, and staying for drinks in the evening. Sounds like they do actually want to improve things and are interested in our ideas...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Address from PO Box

I understood, from hearsay, that one could get the address from a PO Box.

The terms RM publish say that they will release it. And in fact have special handling for things like charity or women's refuge, etc, to hide such details.

So I emailed RM and they are idiots! They said "Data protection" means they cannot give it out.

1. Their terms say they will, so no!
2. The details are a company, so not applicable.

They do not reply !!

Any ideas?

Sunday, 14 March 2010


OK, I know why they changed the way checksums are done on IPv6 ICMPv6. It makes sense.

The change is that, just like UDP and TCP, the checksum includes a pseudo header (IPs, length and protocol).

But if you are daft enough to try and write code to map IPv4 to IPv6 it is not funny. Adjusting the checksum means allowing for adding and removing the pseudo header. Its complicated but doable.

That is, until, you try and map fragments! An IPv4 fragment (first fragment) needs the same changes but you don't know the total ICMP length from just the one fragment so you can't do the checksum adjust! Arrrrg!

Thankfully the fire-wall code collates all the fragments for a whole packet and processes as one, so it is able to just add up total ICMP size and make the adjustment.

So, now my 6/4 mapping code handles fragments and MTU cleanly.

The last bit I have to code is mapping ICMP errors so that you can traceroute through the 6/4 mapping. This is also important for basic things like no-route errors. That will be fun as I have to fake the quoted packet as well as the headers and do checksum adjusts. Of course if the error was for a fragmented ICMP I cannot actually adjust the checksum as I have no way to know original length, but that should be (a) rare, and (b) hopefully not checked by anything looking at the ICMP error anyway. Had hoped to do that today, but had a lie in.

So, soon, I'll have 6/4 mapping finished!!!

OK... Monday morning, all working!!!

[adrian@excalibur ~]$ ping -n -c1
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=58 time=4.07 ms

--- ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 received, 0% packet loss, time 0ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 4.076/4.076/4.076/0.000 ms
[adrian@excalibur ~]$ ping6 -n -c1 2001:8b0:6464::
PING 2001:8b0:6464:: 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 2001:8b0:6464::d43a:e28f: icmp_seq=0 ttl=56 time=6.24 ms

--- 2001:8b0:6464:: ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 received, 0% packet loss, time 0ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 6.245/6.245/6.245/0.000 ms, pipe 2
[adrian@excalibur ~]$ traceroute 2001:8b0:6464::
traceroute to 2001:8b0:6464:: (2001:8b0:6464::d43a:e28f), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 (2001:8b0:0:31:ffff::) 0.522 ms 0.494 ms 0.481 ms
2 (2001:8b0:0:31::51bb:1ffa) 1.479 ms 2.653 ms 3.827 ms
3 (2001:8b0:0:53::5a9b:3506) 7.419 ms 8.636 ms 9.811 ms
4 (:: 11.222 ms 12.413 ms 13.580 ms
5 (:: 15.015 ms 16.693 ms *
6 (:: 19.553 ms 4.434 ms 5.076 ms
7 :: (:: 5.909 ms 7.090 ms 8.473 ms
8 (:: 11.037 ms 11.841 ms 13.024 ms
9 (:: 14.410 ms 15.580 ms 16.753 ms

Monday, 8 March 2010

I hate being ill

Damn cold, or whatever it's called these days man flu?

Bunged up ears and nose and soar throat and aching and tired and temperature. Not so much in the way of a headache for a change.

And I have a nasty feeling it is getting on to my chest now. Spent half the day asleep in bed!

It just means more work to do when I feel better and the emails are already mounting up.

So bloody annoying, that is all.

Wednesday - still not any better, but I have had some expert medical advice...
Thursday - definitely getting a bit better...

Well, going in to work tomorrow (Monday). I have a soar throat, cough and headache, but way better than I was at the start of the week.

Arrrg, cross site scripting security

OK, I know it is there for a good reason, but there are sometimes really good reasons why you want a web page to go and get data from a different server or even a different port on the same server.

Seems I am not alone. This page has some ideas I am about to try...

What gets me is why they bother. You can include images from another site, javascript from another site, iframes from another site. The ways to exploit things are there.

What is even dafter is there seems to be a really noddy way for a script to get data from another site by a simple document.write("");

FYI, what I am trying to make is a push server that will update lots of web browsers with new data in real time. It seems you can drip feed browsers with a new line every 10 seconds or so to keep them waiting forever, and then feed the data when you have it. The idea is the server can push one XML object to a thousand waiting browsers that all get the data at the same time and don't have to poll for it! I can see loads of uses for this, including little things like live updates on fault notes and diagnostics tests on the A&A control pages, but there are loads of applications.

I'll update this when I understand the rules more.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Well, I am glad to be back doing a bit of coding, even if it does mean getting in to the office before 6am to get some done before the day starts.

Having fun with firewalls and all sorts. Next big job will be writing OSPF from scratch, which will be, err, fun...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Virgin offer

Well, Virgin have sent an offer. If I go in with my existing phone, TV and broadband bills and they are unable to offer me a better deal then they will pay me £50. The comparison is based on a like for like comparison of services...

Hmmm. Tempting to go in with A&A staff price bill for fibre link to house and see if they can better that... But maybe not worth the hassle.

However, it occurred to me, reading their terms, that you don't actually have to have a cheaper price service now to get the £50. They simply have to be unable to offer you a better deal, and one way they could be unable to offer a better deal is if they don't actually offer the service you have now - i.e. are unable to offer any deal that matches what you have now.

Now, do they do native IPv6? If not then you go in with A&A bill and keep asking how much for native IPv6 on your broadband until they confirm they can't do it. At which point it is "so you cannot offer me a better deal on a like for like service? I'll have my £50 please...".

The same may well apply for blocks of IPv4 addresses, or reverse DNS delegation, or any number of things which (I assume) they don't do, or don't do at a sensible price...

You have to get the junk mail to take up the offer, but I'll be fascinated if anyone tries this.

Clampers reply

Well, they left it to the last minute but they have replied saying they have considered the appeal and unfortunately the penalty for parking without a permit stands.

Yes, that is right, they call it a penalty in their letter!!

They should know better. Companies and individuals cannot impose penalties, only courts can do that, and contacts do not allow penalties either. It also means their supposed contract has no substance, only penalties which probably (IMHO) means it is not actually a contract. I may have to read up.

They don't talk of their signs being clear (they are not, and are not lit), but that another sign saying "Tollard Court" is clear (it is). They go on about James parking on private property. They seem to miss the point that parking on private property does not allow them to impose penalties, it allows them to ask him to leave. They clearly had no intention of mitigating the trespass as they stopped him leaving!

I'll write back explaining this and pointing out that we will use their letter (stating it is a penalty) in the county court claim if they do not pay up.


Statute law is great isn't it! The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 scheduled 2 part 1(e) "requiring any consumer who fails to fulfil his obligation to pay a disproportionately high sum in compensation;"

I think £150 for failing to display a valid permit is disproportionately high, IMHO..

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Lost without email

It really is a nightmare not having working email during the day - yes I can catch up in the evening, but I spend half my life on email during the day and it is mad without it.

Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of the crazy issues we are seeing with email being so slow shortly. I can really understand the frustration caused to customers as we use exactly the same system.

I mean, what the hell are you meant to do when you plug a server in to a switch and just see loads of packet loss? Changing cable, switch, server, ports, not helping. In the end we put it in to a different make of switch to get it to play. And all this was moving cables to reduce number of switches involved in the NFS disk server LAN. And after all that it did not help!


Yah! I have email now!!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

NAT is evil

OK, "NAT is evil" is probably my catch phrase and I have put it on t-shirts and coasters and all sorts.

But WTF - I am today accessing IPv4-only internet hosts via NAT from IPv6. We finally got totd (Trick or treat daemon) working and I finally got the basics of our carrier grade IPv6/4 NAT gateway working in the FireBrick FB6000.

TOTD basically acts as a DNS proxy that answers AAAA (IPv6) queries when the host only has IPv4 by mapping the answer to a specific block of IPv6 space (2001:8b0:6464:: in this case).

The FireBrick FB6000 does the clever IPv4/6 session tracking and mapping.

I have yet to sort traceroutes, but pings work. Traceroutes will be hard as it means mapping all of the ICMP and ICMPv6 code/types. And we still have to fully handle fragments. But we do have a TCP MRU fixup so that basically everything just works. And over the next few days we expect full ICMP support and MTU and fragment issues resolved.

It's on the A&A status page, but anyone can try as we have not actually locked it down. It will be locked down at the first sign of abuse, don't worry. DNS 2001:8b0:6464::1 and 2001:8b0:6464::2 and you are surfing an IPv6-only internet.

I mean, just, well, WOW!!!