ST Professional Plumbing And Heating responds to security concern with “blah blah”.

February 12, 2015

(See attached image)
Suppose you are concerned about your fancy internet-connected home appliance. You might have seen that film in 1995 called “Hackers”. Therefore, you voice your concerns to the supplier. If your supplier was a professional, the supplier might say that every precaution is taken to reduce and mitigate the risks. The supplier might even say there is a report available from an independent tester which shows the security of the system.

On the other hand, I present the example shown here where the supplier (that’s ST Professional Plumbing And Heating of Flookburgh, Cumbria) say “blah blah” to your concerns. They seem to think that you must ‘take their word for it’ in their arrogance. I wonder if they are suggesting that the average man on Clapham Common is unable to understand and consider the risks.

I will not be employing them, ever. I ask you to consider the nature of the company you are considering employing in the future. It’s not national security at risk. It’s your personal security, and when you are in your own home it is your castle. I believe that when you are in your own home, you need to put the security of your family and yourself first.

As a side-note, I would expect that the people in charge of national security have probably got it sussed by now.

2015027_ST_Professional_Plumbing_And_Heating_responds_to_security questions_and_fails

Optical Express ignores Information Commissioner’s Office warning about spam texts.

February 2, 2015

After this:

High Street optician Optical Express has been admonished by Britain’s data watchdog after thousands of customers complained that the company was sending them nuisance text messages.

Guess what landed in my mobile phone box today?

So that has been reported to my mobile provider’s spam-reporting service.
I can not see any reason for me to ever use Optical Express, ever. I’ve never agreed to receive junk mail from them in any format.


January 31, 2015

Just a note of thanks to the authors of Qalculate! because I’ve just discovered it today. My elderly Casio fx-7700GB has started to consume batteries like Smarties. With Qalculate! I can continue to do calculations with fractions so I don’t lose precision to decimals in my Circuit Theory homework.

Installing it on Ubuntu (assuming you’re using the default window manager) makes it less pink as well.

Cheers Hammond!

January 26, 2015

The BBC’s Top Gear is back for another series, they are spoiling us with 10 episodes.
That’s not (exactly) why I’m here in front of my computer, although Top Gear is certainly entertaining.
What I’m actually here is to express my disappointment over Richard Hammond’s “shouty angry man act”. I ride a bike to work, and I’ve seen some inconsiderate and dangerous driving (from drivers and cyclists alike). Perhaps it’s a symptom of age (although he’s about five years older than I am) but I felt his yelling and cussing did nothing to improve the image of cyclists.
I find that a directed look of calm derision is much more effective at making me feel better, rather than chasing the driver down and tearing a strip off him or her.

I also felt Hammond’s occasional cycling-in-the-door-lane sets a poor example. I’d want to be further away from the door of the parked cars, experience teaches this sort of thing just as well as the UK’s Highway Code.
(Highway Code, rule 67 paragraph 2)

Having the tools is not the same as using them.

January 19, 2015

In a first of its kind case a student accused of attempting to pirate the 3D movie Gravity has been completely cleared by a court in the UK. The presiding judge said there was absolutely “no legal basis” for the case and instructed the jury to find the 28-year-old not guilty.

The muppets at FACT are particularly petulant in their response, because people never take cameras in to the cinema. Nope, never happens, right?
(I’m deliberately mocking how most cinema-goers will take their camera-equipped mobile phone with them, and often use it during the show)

Being more practical about this case, if the student in question had intended to record the film then I understand that the alignment of the two cameras in terms of the precision in convergence would make the enterprise prohibitively difficult.

When I worked in the cinema industry (which seems like a long long time ago) I interrupted a few people with various cameras and mobile phones. Not because of the potential for piracy, but because it was against the admission policy on mobile devices. At the time people were downloading films from the internet, as they do today. Why take the risk and record it yourself? Lunacy.
By the way: Happy new year! I have been in full-time employment since September 2014, so I have less time to write compared to when I was working a part-time job in between leaving the cinema industry and now.

Dropper seat post and where to put the rear light.

October 27, 2014

I have just changed the seat post (and seat) on my mountain bike to a dropper seat post. I was a bit skeptical about dropper posts, but I’m a convert now. As I’m a bit of a traditionalist, I like to have a rear light on my bike.

Not attached to me.

Not attached to my bag.

Not attached to my bike helmet.

In any of these places the light may be pointing at the ground, or the sky.

I did see a post on the singletrack forums which gives a cheap solution, and there is this post on another blog which is the same idea. My version is made from plastic pipe, with two notches machined from it, and two zip ties:

Home made bike seat rail mount for a rear light.

Home made bike seat rail mount for a rear light.

Little surprises in electronics.

October 4, 2014

On a cheap Yuan Hung Lo MR16 LED lamp, it was a pleasant surprise to find silkscreen print on the tiny PCB showing the orientation of the surface mount rectifier diodes.

SMT diode replacement on a MR16 LED lamp.

SMT diode replacement on a MR16 LED lamp.

I had taken a photo of the board before starting work, and I will be cleaning off the flux before putting the lamp back in to service. At this stage I had only replaced two of the four diodes.

Creating multi-page PDFs with free software.

September 27, 2014

This is another of those posts which are mostly for my reference, but I’m happy to share also.

The task was to scan a multi-page letter, and email it to someone. As I’m not keen on spending money, I look to free software to get the job done.

Requirements: Linux and ImageMagick.

As the letter was a simple monochrome document, I will convert all the scanned images to the Grey colour space first, and then compile them in to a multi-page PDF. The file names are of the format “page01.jpg” “page02.jpg” “page03.jpg” etc and the input format is not important.

mogrify *.jpg -colorspace Gray -compress JPEG

convert *.jpg Filename.pdf

That is it. Really. It’s that simple.

I have not tested it, but if you have colour input images then you ought to omit the mogrify command.

Royal Mail, Barrow-in-Furness sorting office.

August 19, 2014

It seems to be impossible to find the opening hours for my local Royal Mail sorting office (142 Abbey Road).
I’m putting them here for my reference. I hope others find this useful.

Monday: 10:00 – 17:30
Tuesday: 08:30 – 17:30
Wednesday: 08:30 – 20:00
Thursday: 08:30 – 17:30
Friday: 08:30 – 17:30
Saturday: 09:15 – 14:00

Their phone number is 01229 841737, but bear in mind they are unable to answer if they are busy.


July 11, 2014

I don’t seem to receive much spam email, and that’s good. On the other hand I notice that there seems to be a lot of spam coming from , and it has been going on for some weeks now. I keep flagging the messages as spam but talktalk don’t seem to be doing a lot about it.


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