Blast from the BBNPlanet past…

While doing a bit of technical research (read: running traceroute) for the post on IX Scotland, I came across this blast from the past…

bbn-scotlandSo, not only do we have a bit of a blast from the past in the reverse DNS, but does this really make it look like Scotland is behind a L(3) (ex-BBN/Genuity) Fast Ethernet port?

Actually, it’s more of a testament to how infrequently ISPs check and update their reverse DNS zones, and sometimes how infrequently networks change their transit providers.

The “scotland” referred to here is actually going to be Brightsolid (the former Scotland On-line – changing it’s name more often than changing it’s upstream!), and if you look carefully at the latencies between the highlighted hop 5 and the previous hop 4, you’ll see that hop 5 isn’t actually in Scotland, but will be very close to hop 4 – so actually in Manchester itself. Hop 6 is actually the first hop in Scotland, 14 ms away.

Reverse DNS zones – that’s IP address to hostname lookup, rather than the other way around, which is more common – are notorious for being neglected, containing stale data or sometimes scarcely being populated at all.

Yet, they provide important diagnostic information. For instance, it’s not just the domain and customer info which is out of date, but I suspect the interface information is as well. It’s unlikely to be a Fast Ethernet port in this day and age.

Sadly, the situation seems to be even worse with IPv6. With those awkward long addresses, some just seem to be “not bothering” with reverse entries at all.

If you run a network, reverse entries are really useful tools to both your own netops folk and to your customers and peers, and deserve to be maintained.

Anyway, just a bit of trivia that caught my eye…

The difference between a consultant and a contractor

Last Sunday I was enjoying a coffee and a slice of home-made carrot cake (her baking, not mine) with Sally, a friend who runs her own small digital consultancy specialising in product development, especially in the area of mobile and tablet apps.

We were talking about our businesses and settled on a rather good explanation of the difference between a consultant and a contractor. I know I’m sometimes asked the difference.

A contractor usually works >60/70% time for a client, and generally comes into the clients office to work a fairly standard 9-5-ish workday. They generally work an entire day for that client. They may only have one or two clients on the go at once. If the client hasn’t got any work for them that day, they still get paid (while they sit there and, if it’s their kind of thing, download pictures of cats).

A consultant works for several different clients at once. When the client buys a day off them, it may not be delivered in one day, but spread over the course of several days. Consultants generally get to turn up when they say they will, rather than exactly when the client wants them to, but the corollary of this is that the consultant doesn’t generally get paid more if the working day is greater than 7.5 hours long (or am I just doing it wrong?). If the client hasn’t got any work for us, we don’t get paid, and have to earn our money by working for one of our other clients.

25 tune iPod shuffle

Remember this doing the rounds on Facebook a few years ago? Thought I’d do another… retro is good, right?

I put my iPod (other portable media players are available) on shuffle – here are the first lines (excluding “ooh-ahh-baby”-ing over the intro) from the first 25 songs (non-instrumental) that it played.

Your job is to name the song and the artist. No cheating. 🙂

Be warned, my music taste is eclectic and this iPod has over 5000 songs on it.

Put your answers in a comment, or tweet me. Have fun…


1) Good times bad times, baby you’re trouble.

2) My heart is empty, you’re eyes are dull.

3) Downhearted and confused because baby you’ve been starting to lose.

4) You’re a law unto yourself, and we don’t suffer dreamers.

5) Tongue tied I’m short of breath don’t even try

6) Who wants to be right as rain, it’s better when something is wrong

7) Out of a million seeds only the strongest one breathes.

8) I want to run, I want to hide.

9) Save some face, you know you’ve only got one.

10) Waking to these sounds again, I wonder how I’ll sleep

11) Day starts with a blast of feedback.

12) I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks.

13) I can’t see you Mama but I can’t hardly wait.

14) Your life is a story I’ve already written, the news is that I am in control.

15) How ever much I push it down it’s never enough.

16) I love you, steel painted eyes.

17) I had a picture of you in my head, it kept me warm when you were not there.

18) While my mind is at rest, while my mind is at rest.

19) Here I go, out to sea again.

20) Sittin’ here eating my heart out waiting.

21) Every time I think of you, I feel a shock right through.

22) Before you go and leave this town, I want to see you one more time.

23) Never had a point of view because my mind was always someone else’s, mind.

24) He’s on the phone, and she wants to go home.

25) Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back.

Helping someone having an Epileptic seizure

Something completely different than what you might expect to find here…

My partner is an epilepsy sufferer, and was very open about this early on in our relationship, while we were still really at the dating stage. Her epilepsy had been under control for a long while and she hadn’t had a seizure in over ten years.

A couple of years ago, the seizures started to happen again. Still relatively rare, with a long gap (of a few months) between them, and usually with a fairly clear initiator: in her case the seizures are triggered due to lack of rest, so they would happen if she’d just flown a ‘red-eye’ flight in economy class and got no rest, or if she’d had very broken sleep because of some other problem such as a bad cough, cold or flu.

A further complication is that every time an epilepsy sufferer has a seizure and crumples to the ground, there is a chance they will hurt themselves when they fall. In my partner’s case, she almost always falls to the same side, and it’s caused problems in her right arm and shoulder.

This has the ability to initiate a “vicious circle” – have a seizure, hurt your arm, have the pain from your arm affect your quality of sleep, to the extent that you have another seizure, and your arm which was slowly recovering is now even more painful. Lather, rinse, repeat…

So this was the position we found ourselves in. The seizures becoming more frequent. One problem exacerbating the other.

Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see someone you care about have an epileptic seizure. I’m a (lapsed) First Aider, and even though I’ve helped someone having a fit in the past, it’s different when it’s a person you know going through the process of a seizure. It really is quite a shock as the person you expect to find is “absent” during the seizure, but for their sake, you have to try and stay calm and keep a lookout for them until the fit has passed.

Here’s a few hints to help you help someone having a seizure:

Continue reading “Helping someone having an Epileptic seizure”

A local map for local people

Nothing for youuuu here!
A Local Map for Local People

I love maps.

I’ve been fascinated by them ever since I was a child. We’d get the appropriate maps out of the local library and play along with Treasure Hunt on the TV. It had nothing to do with Anneka Rice in a jumpsuit. I was more interested in the maps, the tech (remember those colossal two-way radio packs?) and the helicopters. At least initially…

I could spend hours pouring over maps and atlases, and make boring rainy days indoors simply flash by.

In the UK, official maps are published by the Ordnance Survey, a UK Government department which is the official mapping agency for Great Britain – but not Northern Ireland, if the omission of Northern Ireland confuses you, then CGP Grey can explain – not why the OS doesn’t cover Northern Ireland, but the whole UK/GB/NI distinction. Anyway, I digress.

I live on the edge of South East London, well if I ask the Post Office I live in Kent, even though I’m a resident of a London Borough, have to pay for the Metropolitan Police, and get to vote for the Mayor. One of the advantages of living out here is that there’s lots of lovely green belt to go walking through.

Now, the disadvantage. The OS make lovely 1:25000 scale maps (the “Explorer” series) which are aimed at outdoor leisure. The downer is that I live almost on the join of four of the map sheets, so when I go for a day out walking, I often need to take at least two maps, and as many as all four, with me, along with their extraneous detail of places I’m not going to, such as Lewisham, Peckham, Barking and Croydon.

Before anyone asks “Why don’t you use your phone?”,  even though you are tantalisingly close to civilisation and 3G (or even 4G) mobile data, you’re not that close. Deep in the woods, you’re far enough away to have poor or no service, and most mobile mapping products don’t have things walkers need like contour information.

So, as quaint as they may seem in this age of satnav and gps, paper maps it is for your weekend amble through the local countryside.

The boffins at the OS have a solution to “living on the join”: Custom Made maps (ta-dah!). You go online and define what area you want covered by the map (e.g. plonk your house, or somewhere close to it, in the middle if you like) and they will print it from the digital source maps, after you’ve given them some money (£17 in this case).

You get to choose what it says on the front, and you can even upload your own cover image (or choose one from their library of inoffensive landscapes).

Now that Summer is allegedly round the corner, I thought I had a perfect excuse to get one. No offence to Lewisham intended, but I’m tired of carrying you around in my day pack.

They laser print it on some humungous laser printer, maybe have a bit of a laugh at your choice of subtitle, package it up and it lands on your doormat a few days later. Exciting, eh?

For those who love geeky details, it even gets it’s own ISBN number. Coo. Right, best find my walking shoes…

Product placement vs. artistic statement

If anyone has happened to watch a Lady Gaga music video, you can’t have helped notice the appearance of commercial products.

So, the question is…

Is it just blatant product placement to help defray the costs of making a music video?


An artistic statement by Gaga about the commercialism and consumerism of our everyday lives?

Shallow? Or deep? Just wondering…

Looking at the “back” of a city

Anyone else notice how a train journey in or out of a city such as London, is a view of the “back” of the city?

The view from the windows is almost always of the “back” of things. Backs of houses, back gardens, faceless backs of warehouses, shops, offices, interspersed with car parks, yards and allotments, with glimpses of the “front” peeking through the gaps.