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Nigel Tolley

[ website | Rubber Tree Plant ]
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The stuff we own ends up owning us [05 Feb 2014|10:54pm]
I actually had to go and look up the password for this account. Well, due to networks and stuff, I didn't actually physically move... Well, fingers, but yeah.

It seems it is nearly 4 years since I was last on LJ. Hirez, hi. Jarkman, hi. Just read a few of your posts which all make mine look like tripe - The problem when those that are left are soooo much better at writing up their hijinks!

Anyway, if you are looking, my blog is at www.discreetsecuritysolutions.com for work stuff - locks, breaking in to random houses, etc. and my personal blog is still at www.rubbertreeplant.co.uk, though that's now running Wordpress instead of my frankly aw(e)ful(l) coding from years ago!
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Rapid prototyping! [18 Oct 2010|10:49pm]
I've decided that the RepRap and other DIY 3D printers are simply too much hassle, as well as being far more expensive than anyone tells you (bought a high current stepper controller recently?), and so, when I saw the new UP! 3D printer, I looked at it very carefully.

Once a few people had theirs, I was convinced it wasn't vapourware or a scam, so I sent off a wire transfer to deepest China, which my bank promptly stopped. One short phonecall later, and they were happy that I'd not been hacked, and the payment went through, with my order number 98 just 2 shy of the price doubling when the first 100 were sold.

I feel I should mention how tolerant opensourceress is. I think I mostly got away with it by explaining that I can make rattles for the baby for cheap, out of white ABS plastic.

The maths, is, of course, compelling. I only have to make the child 1000 £1 rattles for the machine to completely pay for itself. ;-)
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New ebay phishing scam [15 Oct 2009|11:06pm]
[ mood | amused ]

Here's a good one!

Very nicely done, they only messed up in a few places.

Cut for image sizeCollapse )

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HAR was fab! [22 Aug 2009|03:55pm]
I could write screeds about it, but the title says it all.
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This is a sick use of the law [13 Dec 2006|03:01pm]
Read http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/10/nbook10.xml You will be gripped. It is a tale of a medium sized dairy not far from where I sit. It got closed down. So what, you think? Well, the EU closed it down. Then the UK guys checked it, and found nothing wrong. Turns out the EU guys misread something. You need to read this.

A little later, this was passed, in the Scottish Pparliament.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2006/20060512.htm

Scroll down to part 3, and be amazed.

Now, write to or call or email an MP. At the very least, put this on your blog. Law like that is nothing but evil, and for the people hiding behind these rules to disregard not only the rule of law they profess to love so much, and the judges who rule on them, is sickening.
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Ruddy Microsoft! [11 Aug 2006|11:16am]
Well, I'm getting into some hardcore software development, and have been really busy. Sadly, the vast majority of this has been me being totally out of my depth trying to understand the topic, and the other half has been me trying to install the required software.

Now, I'm running Windows XP Home, so imagin my suprise when I find I can have the Microsoft SDKs for free, as well as a copy of Visual C++ Express Edition 2005 because I've had a Hotmail spam box for the past ten years or so. Brilliant! So I start the downloads.

About a day later, I'm installing them, and finding the cracks. The SDK I downloaded clearly states it works on WinXP Home, but it won't install. It requires IIS, along with a bunch of other stuff I've already pratted about installing. So I try to get IIS running. Oh, I can't. According to the Microsoft website, IIS, which is only suitable for home development and is capped to 10 users, requires a copy of XP Pro to either run or install. Ok...

So I've got a 500Mb zip file that I've unpacked but can't install despite being told it would work!

I've also installed the mess that is Visual C++. The first thing this did was tell me it couldn't do anything without the SDK... Circular argument anyone? Without windows.h, which is part of the SDK I can't install, I can't actually write anything much more than "Hello World" without it throwing errors, and certainly nothing that actually uses the GUI. I certainly can't compile the huge C++ basic program set that I need to tweak.

You can "make" a file without trouble on a Linux box. I guess I'm going to have to switch.

So, topic for debate: Are Microsoft evil or just very incompetent?
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How time flies! [09 Jul 2006|12:36pm]
Two years ago, BAE Shit^H^H^Hystems:
Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 84%

Your job is a disaster - it's surprising you've lasted this long.
You need to quit if you can, even if you don't have another job lined up.
As far as stressful work situations go, yours is off the scale brutal.
Almost any job would be better than what you've got!


Today, as a self-employed locksmith:
Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 16%

Sure, no job is perfect - but yours is pretty close.
You're resepcted by your co-workers and boss.
Plus, you usually get credit for your succcesses.
Don't quit, unless you know you've got something better lined up.


I love being a locksmith, it's a fantastic job, you learn something nearly every job you get, and you can turn down or walk away from anything that looks like it is out of your league. Not that I do - I've turned down one job since I started in August that wasn't too far away (an ignition change on a Ford, which is a bugger of a job!) and to date I have drilled three locks, of which only one was actually a working lock, and not full of epoxy.

I have (a lot) less money, true, but I have more freedom, time and certainly a lot more fun!
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Really low expectations beaten by incredibly poor software... [24 Jun 2006|12:03pm]
Well, I didn't expect much, and I didn't want much, but I got so much less!
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Does anyone else think the "Knife Amnesty" is a piss take by Tony Blair? [28 May 2006|08:40pm]
I've carried a knife with me, everywhere, since I was in school. It sits on my belt in a pouch, next to the other knife I carry. I use it every day, pretty much. I have yet to stab anyone, even violent chavs who threaten to cut my throat, and the only time it has been drawn was a time long ago when three guys tried to mug me at knifepoint on an Edinburgh bus.

As a locksmith, I find having the Swiss Army Knife and a large leatherman clone to be very, very useful. It saves me a trek back to the van to solve a small hiccup in a lot of lock-outs, often times when I am not really in a position to wander away and come back in 5.

The issue, just like guns, is that there are bad people who use them to do bad things. Licenses, insurance, bans and all forms of terrible law won't change that. But something must be seen to be done! And as long as it involves further disarming those who might well have to look after themselves, it seems to be the answer.
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Posting again? So soon? [25 May 2006|10:28pm]
Hi again.

I've just found something quite amazing. I'm a cider drinker, and so I sample the various brands and marques of cider available in various places. Tonight, I'm drinking a bottle of "Old Rosie" from Westons, via Sainsbury's, and I'm barely 2/3rds through the bottle. I'm taking a heck of a long time to type, too, as I'm missing keys and typo's are happening rather more often than normal, on account of this single bottle containing 4.8 units of alcohol! So two bottles of it are more than the recommended weekly intake of alchol for a girl, and almost that of a guy. Wow. For £1.89, and it's really nice!
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Once again, the government moves the goal posts [25 May 2006|01:11pm]
I'm noticing more and more that the police and the various government agencies are giving themselves free passes to put people in jail. Having just got my van back from MOT, I now notice that on the back of the "new style" printed certificate is the following "advice":

1. This document is a certificate telling you that an MOT Test pass result has been recorded on VOSA's database of MOT Test results. It is this entry, not the certificate, that will be used for legal purposes...

Fantastic. So yet again, just like your passport, your firearms license and most other bits of important paper, they don't actually mean anything, since they can
a) be revoked or removed in a heartbeat, and
b) if you have an argument with one of these agencies, and they take you to court, possession of the bit of paper telling you explictly that you *can* have or do what you did means nothing at all, because they decided that it doesn't, and didn't bother letting you know before your arrest.

Perfect repression instrument for a police state, don't you think?

"Your ID card has been revoked, we are arresting you for failing to produce ID."

"But that's it right there! It validated ten minutes ago!"

"No, it's not valid, I've just had it revoked because I don't like the way you wear that turban/veil/star of David/thinkgeek T-shirt, even though you got it properly from the government. You're nicked. It's off to the gulag for you, sonny."
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Ever wondered the *real* reason your fancy colour laser printer wants to know the time? [24 May 2006|12:35am]
I was a bit suprised the other day. I was reading MAKE and read that my colour laser printer might well be spying on me!

So, I grabbed a surplus print, my torch and a set of filters. Tiny, tiny dots! arely visible, even under the blue light, but they were there all right!

I use an Epson C900 Aculaser for colour prints, which is on the list of "spys" listed at the EFF page. Some clever so-and-so has managed to decode the Docucolor messages.

I found a simple way to test your laser printer, though. Simply pop the suspect print from your laser printer (or the work one you tend to "accidently" send things to when you want a nice colour print) onto your scanner. I found that the dots are clearly visible at 1:1 when scanned at 2400 DPI. However, I found that scanning at 1200 DPI was better, time-wise. Now, simply do a CMYK split, invert the Cyan and Magenta channels, and recombine (if you want). The pattern is clearly seen, if present.

So there you see the raw scan, contrast played with.
Read more...Collapse )
What's your printer saying about you?
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Apparently, hanging a man from a tree in Zimbabwe is fine, but profiting from it isn't! [12 May 2006|03:01am]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/suffolk/4754515.stm

This guy makes gallows, and sells them for £10K each, or £100K for the mobile lorry version(!). Apparently, this is appalling, and the EU have banned it as of July. Yet the UK sells arms to dictators around the world, but that's fine.

I'm sure that the dictators in those nasty dictatorships are going to be stopped from hanging people due to the lack of proper rope and straight timber on expensive import for, oh, probably years, whereas we should sell them jet fighters because not selling them would slow them down for no more than 10 minutes 'till they get a new wing and some avionics from the local hardware store..
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One for anyone who needs "corporate motivation" [11 May 2006|03:56pm]
Read this. It is both accurate and disturbing, and well worth ten minutes, if you have ever been to anything that started "Corporate fun...".
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Instructables and Makezine [06 May 2006|03:03pm]
Check out my first "Instructable" on the Instructables website. Then you can have a look around at the dozens of creative and brilliant ideas for modifying and making lots of interesting things.

Further, check out "Make:" magazine at www.makezine.com for a dedicated quarterly magazine for make:rs and make:ing!
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He's scared, he *knows* she calling for back-up... [01 May 2006|10:39pm]
...but he's trying to hide it.


From http://www.flickr.com/photos/cabernetbaby/135759310/
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A fascinating short film [30 Apr 2006|12:38pm]
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-461990723502527420 is a film from 1946, from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Watch it (it's ten minutes long) and ask yourself where you would put modern Britian on these scales. Then ask yourself where you would put it without the internet.

Rather scary questions, even scarier answers...
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Bank Holiday? Wish I could make as much money by *not* working for a day! [27 Apr 2006|11:29am]
Bloody banks!

So they take a couple of days off, and don't bother doing anything for the best part of a week - 4 days - so that payments from one account to another, which always take two days, suddenly take six. But needless to say, they don't do the same with direct debits, which somehow kick through on the exact day, or, in case of bank holidays, they simply appear the next working day.

Which charges me £38 for bouncing an electronic transaction (WTF? If they charged me £38 for going over, then perhaps, but for *not* doing anything?) and then the mortgage company (yes, it bounced the mortgage payment!) bills me for £30 as well. So that's £68 gone, even though I knew it had happened on the day, and tried to correct for it. Of course, the payment in arrived the next day, and the next payment arrived the day after! Sods. Lazy or cunning, but sods.
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In 20 years at the range, I've never even seen this happen, let alone happen to me! [01 Apr 2006|12:14am]
I got hit in the forehead by the bits to a rifle cartridge this evening.
I've been shooting for more than half my life, and I've never had a cartridge cato - until tonight. I've got about 7 small holes in my forehead and minor powder burns, which is very funny, since I'm at a wedding in the morning (fortunately not mine!)
Glad my glasses are bulletproof.

Basically, I was shooting a friends .22 underlever, knocking down some card rolls that we use like skittles. He took 3, then gave my the rifle. I shot about 8, then as I closed the action, and pulled the trigger, the cartridge CATO'd. The flame blew up and back, out of the rear of the barrel at the insection with the action, and hit my head, and I sort of dropped the rifle out my shoulder, and turned away.
The owner was stood there, and I'm saying "it hit me! Take the rifle!", so I'm bleeding a little, and waving his gun down the range, and he's stood there like a divvy. Anyway, he took it, and I sort of recovered, but the action was jammed, and the next round was in the chamber because he opened the action to try to clear it, and it jammed up solid. In the end, we had to strip the rifle down to the bits to get this live round out, and the barrel is plugged at some point. The interesting thing is, the only part of the CATO'd cartridge we found was the base, and it is clearly struck by the firing pin, and the E is still visible. They were cheap ammo, made using bought Eley .22 cases. We won't be buying that brand again!

I'm ok, got a bit of a headache, but we still hit the pub afterwards with some other friends. I suppose the one advantage of not having my license is that I can do that now!
Bah.
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The robots are coming! [28 Mar 2006|03:07pm]
The whole robot thing is amusing me greatly. When people say "Where are the robots?" it always makes me smile.

First, there was the simple tool. It was used by a man to allow him to do something a bit better, or much better, or even something impossible otherwise. Then came the addition of power, and so we had the first proto-robots - machines that allowed a man to "walk" 500 miles in a day without issue, or cut down a tree 100 times as fast. Next came the robots that took a small army of men to oversee, while they carried on doing work that was difficult, tricky, or impossible (the fun stuff) or too boring (the non-fun stuff). Soon, it came down to just one man and some computers running all the robots.

Next, that one man will be surplus. See the DARPA Grand Challenge II, or the NASA space exploration plan.

Walking robots are here. There are two approaches, both getting places fast. One is the Aiebo/Asimo/Robosapien type of walking, with a very rigid leg system and tonnes of processing power, and low efficiency. The other is the free hinged pendulum, seen in older toys for kids, which is far more fluid and efficient, but can't walk up stairs, etc. at all, even slowly. Within two years we will see robots that are a hybrid of the two, and we will rapidly see walking robots all over the place.

Within five years, we will see AI systems get more powerful, with the massive power of computer systems used to break all but the hardest of problems with "realtime" results. Already we see (but ignore) hundreds of things that the human mind and body is poorly adapted for, like the assistance of a calculator, or using a mobile phone to boost voice across miles, working in high radiation or high g environs, or on nanoscales. We tend to ignore these things because there is no "intelligence" behind it. Even Google, which picks the right stuff from about 8 billion pages, and tries to interpret conversions, locations, wants and needs from a few words sent in remotely, isn't considered "smart" yet. A human who could do such a thing 20 years ago would have been very, very sort after! 300 years ago, he would have been accused of witchcraft...

I think once we see the first robots doing human interface jobs, face to face, people will wake up and realise. Of course, most will say "It's not very good, is it?" and make the usual remarks that prove them stupid, when they couldn't draw a better face, let alone program the left eyebrow movements, and they will just carry on regardless, until they find no job for them in the call center, no job for them with a spade, no job designing things (if they are even qualified), not even fit to flip burgers next to the vendomaticbot...

What will happen then? Will there be a major backlash, with governments passing laws to fetter AI? It would be anti-competitive, but popular, on the back of promises to return jobs to people. Or will it find the government using these new tools as agents of oppression and power, where the new nanny state enforces its compassion to all with an iron robotic hand? Robot armies, as we already see doing flights of UAV armed with missiles, already have power of life and death over humans, so where will it end?

Now there is a topic for debate!
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