Where Does This Remind Me Of…?

Posted by Chalky on Mar 23, 2009 in Work


Dogbert the CEO!

Hmmm…. I wonder!

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Google Street View is GO!

Posted by Chalky on Mar 19, 2009 in Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Technology, Work

James found this little gem on the BBC News website today.

Google have made their first set of UK Street View images live including Sheffield and, rather suprisingly, Scunthorpe.

Greenhill Avenue

I noticed that from the photo that I’ve still got Percy the Punto, which dates the Street View car’s visit before 21st July which is when I took delivery of Clarence the C3. However, when being extra sad, I noticed that my friend’s new car is in pride of place on her driveway which narrows down the visit between 18th July and 20th July. Narrowing it down further, one would assume that the area was done on the 18th July because Jill’s car isn’t there, indicating that she would be at work! You will also notice that all the car’s number plates have been blurred out, they have also blurred out people’s faces if they are quite close to the Street View cameras.
As mentioned before, Scunthorpe also features in Google’s lineup of cities that have been Street View’d including where I work:
John Leggott College
It was nice to see it was such a sunny day! From the fact that the Adult Courses Enrolment banner was outside, we think this photograph was taken in September time.
The only little flaw that I did notice is that the disadvatage of it being a nice sunny day is that you actually see the reflection of the Google Street View camera post on the top of the car:
Google Street View Camera
Either way, it’s all pretty cool stuff. Of course, this has already generated some media coverage in terms of people’s privacy. As I mentioned before, people’s faces are already blurred and I don’t really see what the problem is! Admittedly, we did manage to see James’ partner through his bedroom window which was a bit of a suprise!



Black Marble Technical Update 2009

Posted by Chalky on Feb 7, 2009 in Computer, Technology, Work

I really need to get into the habit of finishing writing entries, rather than starting them and leaving them for weeks where they’re not really relevant anymore!

Black MarbleA few weeks, I attended the Black Marble Technical Update for 2009. It was held at the Leeds/Bradford Holiday Inn. The Hotel itself is in a nice setting, outside both Leeds and Bradford surrounded by trees and fields. I think that if I go to the Conference again next year (which I’m hoping to) then I might treat myself to a night there!

A big thumbs up to the Black Marble team and the Holiday Inn who put on a great spread for the Delegates. A large selection of cake, chocolate bars, Seabrooks Crisps and sandwiches. It is also one of the few events that I have been to that actually catered for people who don’t drink tea or coffee with a wide range of soft drinks and fresh fruit juice.

The first part of the event, was mainly for Business Management and the tools Microsoft provide to facilitate this. As me and Mark weren’t really interested in this, we didn’t go in favour of staying at home!

Windows 7The second half was the bulk of the Technical Update. We got to have a sneak peak of the latest Windows 7 BETA which I was pleased to see was running on a couple of DELL Mini Netbooks. It was great to see it running on generally low powered Hardware that I knew from experience wouldn’t run Vista. As a result of the event, I have installed Windows 7 on my work HP Compaq nx6310 which has also failed to run Vista in the past. I am hoping to finish writing up an entry for that soon. We got to see some of the features that will be included in Windows Server 2008 R2 which gave me and Mark a renewed interest in the Server Operating System after our initial enthusiasm had been wiped out! The Black Marble team walked us through the Road Map for these and other Microsoft Products including a very brief look at Microsoft Office 14. There was also a look at Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s rival project to Amazon’s EC2.

Ed Gibson - Chief Security Advisor (Microsoft UK)The evening session was a talk from Microsoft’s Chief Security Advisor for the UK, Ed Gibson. This was by far the highlight of the day. Being an ex-FBI Agent, you’d expect a very serious presentation. However, Ed presents himself in an amusing way but still get’s his point across very well. He presents his information is a story-like fashion and makesman links between different subjects that you would never normally link but leaves the impression behind that makes you wonder why you never did in the first place. The fact that he doesn’t use technical jargon nor any equipment, not even a microphone makes this man even the more interesting when he speaks. He doesn’t hide behind PowerPoint Presentations and booming speakers. Just him and his thoughts. A truly great speaker.

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Dilbert’s New Business

Posted by Chalky on Jan 19, 2009 in Work

To lighten the mood a little, we’ve had the Daily Dilbert cartoon on the College Intranet (based on Sharepoint) for a couple of months. I like the Diblert cartoons because, although lighthearted, are very true to life!

Today’s particularily struck me as being sneaky and clever with a subtle advert, as all adverts should be:

Clever Advertising

dilbertfilesThe domain is valid and hosts a new MegaUpload type site but seemingly aimed at more advanced/corporate users with a plug-in for Outlook to help you send large files to friends and colleagues without having problems with upload limits on your e-mail system.



How Not To Save Energy with Windows Server 2008

Posted by Chalky on Nov 26, 2008 in Computer, Technology, Work

Having read Microsoft’s documentation on how Energy Efficient Windows Server 2008 is compared to Windows Server 2003, I thought I’d show my findings with some Real World Testing. In the documentation found here (yes, you can only read it if you have Microsoft Office 2007), the graph below is presented:

The following footnote is also included:

Power comparison of server unit only. Does not include external drive arrays. 

This immediately made me realise that the results of the graph would be inaccurate as this means that they will have not installed the Operating System onto the local hardware but a SAN-type array. Meaning that the power usage for the discs would not be included. Anyone who has used Windows Server 2008 or indeed Windows Vista will know that there is excessive disk usage even when the computer is seemingly idle.

Read more…

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Clarence in Disgrace

Posted by Chalky on Oct 9, 2008 in Bad Luck, Driving, Scunthorpe, Work


Clarence, a literal shadow of his former self

Clarence, a literal shadow of his former self

On Monday, I took the extremely long way home, via Recovery Truck! I 

Whilst on the M180, I began to smell a funny smell. I’m almost certain it wasn’t actually my car that was causing the smell but by this time, I was so paranoid about the whole thing that I didn’t really want to carry on. I pulled onto the Hard Shoulder and called the AA. They said that I would be placed on the High Priority list seeing as I was stranded on the Motorway rather than being in a safer location. An hour later, a Recovery Truck pulled up behind me.

The Recovery Man was a very friendly man and had lots of interesting things to talk about. He had been a roofer for 22 years and then one day, a voice inside him said that he couldn’t do it anymore and explained that a few of his friends had had similar experiences, ignored them and then died a few weeks later from accidents at work. He decided to follow the voice in his head and gave up in favour of his current job.

We also talked about the current drinking culture in the UK and about Christmas and the New Year. It certainly made the journey a lot easier as I had visions of sitting in silence for the whole one and a half hour journey. 

After arriving just across the road from my house, we un-loaded the stricken Clarence and, after directing him to the local KFC, limped the C3 the rest of the way home. 

I’m currently using Percy, my Mk. 1 FIAT Punto to get me to and from work. Thank heavens I hadn’t got round to selling it yet! Looks like I’ll need to call in a few favours with my Uncle when he gets back of holiday! 

Thanks to Nitesh for suggesting my car should by called The Giddy-me-up to KFC Chariot instead of Clarence… He knows me so well!



Last Day in Scunthorpe (sort of!)

Posted by Chalky on Sep 14, 2007 in Scunthorpe, Work

At some point, I will get around to actually deciding where I actually live and restore some sense of normality!

Today was my last official day working as IT Help Desk Technician at John Leggott College. However, I will be going back in a week’s time to go and install a Mac OS X Tiger Server and Leverage Open Directory and Active Directoy. I’ll then be creating a new image for the iMac clients and installing it to all of them. If I have time afterwards I will be running some training on my Windows Media Services project. All this and more in the space of 3 days!

Although I’ve had a lot of problems in Scunthorpe, it felt weird leaving there but I don’t really know why. I’m sure it’s just the realisation that I’m not going to be doing something that I’ve been doing for a year solid. Does that makes sense? No, I guess it doesn’t! Oh well!


The Theremin

Posted by Chalky on Jul 2, 2007 in Music, Work

Today, I was reminded of a musical instrument that greatly interested me last year. Today Donov asked me if I knew what a Theremin was. I said that I hadn’t heard of it but immediately looked it up on Google. I found that I had actually seen one of them before and that I had been very intrigued by them.

I saw one at The Plug last year. We had gone to see the Offbeat DJs but before their set was due to start there was an awful band playing. However, the one good thing about this band was this bizarre instrument that was played entirely by the person moving their hands around at pair of “antennas” one point vertically and one pointing horizontally. At the time I was mesmerized by it because it was so unique and interesting. I never found out what the instrument was until today!

Below is a video showing a Theremin in action, performing a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Enjoy!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


My Blue Peter Moment

Posted by Chalky on Jun 28, 2007 in Work

As the end of the college year draws to an end, the IT Department are in the limbo of waiting for the students to finish before we can start playing with new kit. Jobs are at an all time low as no-one can really be bothered to report anything and hardly any of the equipment is being used.

This has lead to me getting a big fat pile of crappy jobs, including tidying the Help Desk, making lists of laptops that we will be FOGging (getting rid of) and such like.

However today, Andy (my boss) gave me a job that really does scrape the barrel. It’s been decided that the Help Sheets I have made clutter up the Help Desk a little bit and the tray used to store students’ work in on behalf of a member of staff are untidy. The decision has been made to get some ‘In’ Trays to store all of this work. The problem is, our Finance Department is now closed and we cannot make any orders until August. I’ve e-mailed around some of the offices to see if anyone has got any lying around but to no avail.

My task today, set by Andy, was to construct some ‘In’ Trays out of unused paper box lids (the boxes that hold 5 reams of A4). Now those who know me well will know that I am absolutely useless at anything craft-based but, I gave it a go anyway! I started them yesterday, constucting the first two sections and then added the third section today.

Below is a sample of my work, which demonstrates wonderfully, why I am an IT Technician and not an artist/builder/other such profession! I have to admit though,I did quite enjoy it!



R.I.P. Floppy Disk

Posted by Chalky on Jun 27, 2007 in Computer, Work

You may all say the Floppy Disk has long since died a death but in Univerisities and Colleges, it is a reality that these are still used. For some reason, students all over the globe are using this redundant technology, sometimes leaving their only copy of their coursework on them dispute them being so unreliable. I’ve lost count of the amount of tears and frustration that these little buggers have caused students whilst I have been working at JLC.

However, today was the beginning of the end for the use of Floppy Disks within JLC. James and myself destroyed all of the old ‘lost’ Floppy Disks that have been handed in over my year there and destroyed a number of other random Disks that were lying around. I don’t really think we needed to bin as many as we did, I think we began to enjoy it a bit too much!

The new DELL units that we have purchased to go into the Open Access area will not be having Floppy Drives installed as this is an optional extra which we would have to pay extra for and would probably increase the lead time in us getting the units.

I think this will be met with a few complaints but, to be fair, you can pick up a 2Gb USB Flash Drive for about a tenner these days. There’s really no need for Floppy Disks, USB Flash Drives are very cheap these days, more reliable and can store a hell of a lot more data (2Gb USB Flash Drive = 1422 Floppy Disks)!

The Floppy Disk Mountain!