Musings from a small IPP

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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Microsoft do not Phone

by on Nov.07, 2011, under Operations

So when someone phones you up, saying they are a Microsoft Technician, or someone employed by Microsoft you can be sure it is a fraud attempt. I suggest you say “Hold on a moment, be right back” and put aside the phone without hanging up so that their bill keeps growing.

The current scam is quite clever. The caller will ask you to run a program “eventvwr” which will show you the log events handled by your operating system in normal operation. They will then try to convince you this demonstrates a problem that you should pay them to help you fix.

Typically they will ask for £49 for a program for you to download. This is a really bad idea, you do not want this malware on your computer, or to give them your credit card number.

Microsoft have a system called “Microsoft Updates” for sending you patches and fixes , which you should be running regularly anyway,and the £50 the caller is asking you for is about the same amount that you paid for the Windows Operating System, bundled with your computer.


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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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Hotmail ignoring MX records

by on Sep.02, 2011, under E-Mail hosting, Operations

One of my customers reported a very focused failure.

They could not receive emails from Hotmail.  Everywhere else seems to be fine, just hotmail returned immediate failure when mail was sent to them. The same hotmail account could send mail to us, and to other customers.

The thing that was different with this customer was an A record for their domain, a practice I try to discourage, because I could see this happening with mails from out of date systems, but  as far as I was aware, not an issue with major providers. The customer has the domain-level A record because their website supplier thinks it uncool to use www. in front of the website (a mistake made by WordPress-mu as well)

It was very simple to demonstrate the fault.  We removed the domain level A record from the DNS and the mail immediately started to come through.

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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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Vacation Time

by on May.20, 2011, under Operations

Just a reminder to all customers to send support issues to the support e-mail address, rather than to personal mailboxes.  Especially over the next few months with holidays coming up.  The support mailbox is covered even when someone is away.  Personal mail will wait for the return of the addressee.

Thank you.

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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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Joomla programer needed short term

by on May.04, 2011, under Uncategorized

Does anyone understand the mess of side effects called Joomla enough to write code?

I need to quickly replicate some functionality from a hacked Mambo system into Joomla.
Mambo code exists and is available.


  1. Check in external table for criteria which would allow account creation, and create a link table entry if successful, in addition to creating the account
  2. Link searches of the external table into the Joomla search, presenting (some of) the data — varying by whether other user / self / administrator (see also 4)
  3. link to an external program to take subscription renewal, or print a membership card (program exists)
  4. Allow users to edit(some of) their entries in the external tables and notify Administrator of changes made by email
  5. Nice to have : Chain to renew subscription if logging in after subscription has expired.

This is a very short term job, no on-site requirement. If interested please contact us


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Fed up with Feed Proxy?

by on Apr.27, 2011, under Operations

It’s really nice that so many people share their thoughts on a regular basis, and only fair that they should get some idea of where their traffic is coming from. As a reader I’m getting massively fed up with failing to read the blogs on blogspot whose RSS feed comes through feedproxy:

Error message when feedproxy goes to sleep

Feedproxy out to lunch 40% of the time

often one can wait 2 minutes and click refresh and the redirect comes through, but I wonder how many false impressions are being recorded, and worse, how many readers are being turned off?

That’s why I run WordPress directly, and offer it to OA5‘s web hosting customers at no extra charge.

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The end of the Internet is nigh

by on Mar.22, 2011, under Operations

The last block of IP4 addresses are handed over

This was the ceremonial handover of the last block of addresses available in the Second Internet Addressing Scheme (IP4) at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden on Tuesday 22 March 2011. This marks the end of the Internet as we knew it and the start of a lot of hard work to make the switch over to IP6 invisible to the users. There are no free address blocks remaining. The end happened about 5 years later than I expected, mainly due to the massive use of NAT in Home and Business networks.

On the right Nigel Titley accepts the addresses on behalf of the European Internet Resources Centre (RIPE) from Leo Vegoda on behalf of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

This is actually a scary moment. Be afraid, be very afraid.


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