Musings from a small IPP


Perpetual Membership cards

by on Jan.02, 2014, under Technology

Apropos of nothing in particular I was musing on the question of membership/ID cards, and how one cannot readily validate them.  This in conjunction with signing in yet another  access log led to a thought.

Why not harness the web, and mobile technology?

The method involves using QR codes or similar technology that can be scanned by an app on a smartphone to encode a vCard with the details of the bearer, and containing an https secure link to the validating organisation’s website, where the bearer’s photo, contact details (which should match those encoded) and their status [ member / lapsed | employee / contractor /no longer valid ] can be shown.

It does give rise to the meta-discussion about how far one can trust a website SSL certificate, but it does put some validation tools in the hands of the person presented with the card.

And it gives rapid data-fill for the log.

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2 signature blocks

by on Feb.01, 2013, under Technology

I smiled when I saw these 2 signatures juxtaposed. The first is my own, on the basis of a government sponsored seminar on copyright and intellectual property, the second is clearly imposed on the sender by their company…

Any claims made at this point in a message are completely invalid as they are presented after the information they attempt to assert rights over has been disclosed without prior caveat

This e-mail (including any attachments) is intended for the above-named person(s). If you are not the intended recipient, notify the sender immediately, delete this email from your system and do not disclose or use for any purpose.

In the second case, if the sensitive information is solely in the attachments, and the attachment is flagged to be an attachment vs an inline body part, then it might have some slight weight as the contents will not yet have been disclosed.

Really though if you are sending private mail you need end-to-end encryption

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WordPress article background picture

by on Jun.14, 2012, under Operations, Technology

Question from Grayson TipSquirrel

Tweet from Tipsquirrel

Should be easy, right?  Slight problem that the result is going to go under the article text, but not the heading, but this should suffice for most purposes.

As always with this sort of question the devil will be in the detail.  For instance on our blog here the background is dark, so any background image also has to be dark or risk losing the text.

Proposed background

So with this image the problem is the white in the flag, a black layer and a hard light blend soon fixes that.  Then upload the background, without inserting it into the post, but pick out where it is stored in the wordpress backend — see the screen shot

Location URL when inserting a photo


The Link URL text is by default the location of the image. Copy this, then cancel out of “insert image”. Now all you have to do is put in a little bit of raw html round your text.

Click the HTML tab at the top of the editor and at the top of your article paste in the url of your background in amongst some magic like this:

<div style="background-image:url(/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/UnionBunting.jpg);
background-size: contain; ">

The background-size: contain element matches the width of the image to your article width. You might also want background-repeat:repeat-y to repeat vertically or background-repeat:none to only put the image in once

At the bottom of your article you need to put in a matching </div> to end the area that will have the image

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Edimax Network Printer Port

by on Jan.05, 2012, under Operations, Technology

After 10 years of use my Kingston Print server gave up the ghost for no discernible reason.  At this point I discovered what a rare thing a parralel print interface had become.  Still that was what was needed for my trusty old LaserJet 6MP (main virtue unchipped toner cartridges)

Quickly went on the net and found the Edimax PS1206P which plugs straight into the parallel port, and presents an RJ45 socket for the network lead.  Unfortunately it also has a wall-wart PSU, which is however switched on the low voltage side!

The only trouble with the unit is how the manual lies about the defaults.  Rather than coming up with DHCP enabled as stated, it came up on  That was fun to find.

The validation on the advanced configuration is rather too well aligned with the low unit cost, but now configured it is working nicely.  If you use windows, and don’t worry about what you are doing it will work well for you.

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Just plug it in

by on Oct.30, 2011, under Operations, Technology

Sometimes I don’t think English is adequate.

“Here it is, I’ve configured it for you, you just have to plug the bits in.” I said.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving all the ancillary bits in the box.  Next thing I hear is it coundn’t fit as there were no ports.  Router has 4 ports, 1 PC, 1 printer, 1 cable for laptop therefore 1 spare port.  “Huh?”

Then I hear “It kept getting to a screen, then not going any further.”  I should have confiscated the CDs.

This customer is extremely intelligent, but gets annoyed, and feels their mental competence is being attacked, whenever one attempts to diagnose a problem. They definiely will not pick up the phone to ask, which is why I spent 3 hours making sure that all they had to do was

Just plug it in

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2g = second rate experience

by on Jun.01, 2011, under Technology

I’ve just experienced the perils of being left behind by Moore’s law, and lack of commercial incentive.  I’ve been on holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Let’s say upfront that the cellular network provision was significantly better than the essentially non-existant service here (30 miles from London), but none the less it was appalling.

In the early days of cellphone networks, 1-2-1 as was (T-mobile now) was subsidised by Highland Enterprise to actually get some coverage up the West Coast of Scotland, and they did a good job of getting PCN (higher frequency GSM) rolled out to these areas which really need wireless phones. For some reason I had assumed that this deployed infrastructure would have been updated with 3g service as it became available.

I can attest that it is possible, though slow, to use 350M of tethered download on 2g over a week, but it’s advisable to go for a walk when Adobe spring an upgrade to LightRoom on you leading to a 100 minute download.

I also discovered that my subscriptions to some on-line training sites absolutely require high-speed broadband, as the video feeds are designed not to buffer (an anti-piracy measure I presume).

Of course the area also has no DAB Radio, and has only this month switched to Digital TV, with significantly fewer channels than in the south, yet a massive step up from the four analogue channels that were all there was last month.

All in all a disconcerting experience. The communications links, be they road, rail, or data are essential components to ensuring the commercial health of an area, and will not happen at the behest of those already functioning in an area. They will either live with what is available or relocate. It is a job for the community as a whole (ie government / Enterprise boards) to make sure that the basics are in place to attract and retain commerce.

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The next stage for delivery?

by on May.12, 2011, under Operations, Technology

Sometimes one can’t go out because something is due to be delivered.

With International shipments one does not get the luxury of the 1 hour timeslots offered by the responsible on-line grocers, and sometimes the truck’s depot can be 40 miles away in dense population areas, and more than 100 miles in more open areas.

But as the truck progresses on it’s route and the various drop-offs sign for their packages,it is in continuous contact with fleet management reporting when each delivery is made.  I know that emergency services vehicles check in even more frequently giving their GPS co-ordinates to allow the dispatchers to select the best-placed  responders.

As someone waiting for a parcel I would just like to track the truck’s progress by delivered postcode translated onto an online map to at least know when it is in the area.  Not, I think, a difficult re-use of data that is already to hand.

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