So, better update this thing really.

Life has been going on (as it does you know) with not that much of note happening. One thing that has been getting some of my attention however is my final year project. As part of this project I have to keep a log of it as I go along. This being me I am doing this in the form of a blog which I will then print at the end.

This blog has been up for a little while now, but as I’m starting to make some progress I thought I would draw peoples attention to it now. For those who are interested I suggest reading the first couple of entries at least as they explain what I am trying to do in the most simple terms i feel I can muster at this point.


Project description:

I am kind of winding down for Christmas (which as per usual seems to have crept up on me again. I don’t know why it let it do this each year, it’s not like I don’t know the date). As is always the case I am disgusted at how soon some decorations have gone up. There was a house on my walk to uni which had decorations up by mid November. This is taking “too far” to a whole new level.

I myself will continue to do my best to play scrooge until i am at least not in uni but home for the holidays. Otherwise it is just not that special.

Oh, another little project I am have been working on is the new version of my gallery for my site. I won’t link to it as Google will pick that up, but if you put a “2” at the end of the current pictures link you will see it. It almost certainly won’t work very well. (well, actually, I tell a lie, it will work well, it just won’t look very good).

Right, time to go battle this damn cold or whatever it is… bring on the z’s


Dumb smart

I feel like a very stupid clever person.

Let me explain. Last year I did my final year at university. Clearly that didn’t go too well given I’m still here. Last year one of the major contributing factors in me decided to skip the year and start again was my final year project got out of hand. It was too big and I focused so hard on building it I would have never got all the documentation done and would have almost certainly failed it, despite having a fairly in depth and working product. As I think I have explained before, my system was called SORT (Scouts Online Records Tool) and it was for my scout group in particular but really, for any group. The idea was to get all their records online for the leaders to access in one place. It also contained a messaging system allowing them to e-mail parents and parents contact them.

Now this sounds a lot like a webmail to me, so being me I went and built one. I built an integrated webmail system that handled connecting to an IMAP account, getting headers, reading if they were new and un-read, handling importance flags, handling the replying, forwarding, the replying to all, the sending of attachments as well as the downloading and viewing of received attachments.

This is all a lot more complicated than it sounds. Almost every e-mail client sends e-mails in slightly different ways, and yet more ways depending on if you have them set to use HTML etc. Then yet more ways if you send an attachment and yet more ways after that if you send more than one attachment. In short, making your e-mail client(webmail in my case) work with every other one is very very complicated.

Being me, I went and did it. I built this system. It worked. It worked with every e-mail client I could find to test. It worked with attachments and without, it supported HTML e-mails and plain text. It was all pretty smart stuff. It took me just over a week in total.

Today I had a meeting with my project leader about my new final year project. I was pinning down the structure of my project as I’m not a great fan of repeating mistakes. I recounted this story to him. He then explained that a year or so ago he was the tutor for a masters student who did a whole project on just solving the getting attachments, plain text and HTML issues I had with all e-mail clients. He did a project on something I solved in 2-3 days.

In short, less than one sixth of the deliverable I designed which I did in 2 or 3 days was someone’s whole masters project.

I feel like a very stupid clever person.


First week back

OK, so I’ve effectively had my first week back at Uni now. I say effectively because although it is only Thursday all my lectures for the week finished yesterday. In fact, I only have 6 hours of teaching booked in on my timetable per week. (4 hours on Tuesday and 2 on Wednesday). Suffice to say this is a very short week and far from representative of all the modules I’m doing.

I have 2 hours a week in something called “advanced internet application”. I have another 2 hours in something called “data management” and then a final 2 hours in “web mastery and network management”. I then also have a module called “managing the e-enterprise” which is an online module which involves an essay a week which is submitted and then feedback is received a week later. Then I have the heap that is my final year project.

Now it has to be said that in picking my final year project last year I seriously overstretched myself. It was in a lot of ways my downfall last year. I undertook a system of which each one of the 6 components was bigger than anything else anyone else took on. One of these components was a fully working webmail system to give you an idea of scale.

This year I have already made my pitch to the head of the school for my project. In fact, I did it Monday afternoon. This year my project will be an investigation into moving the functionality of a CMS from within the front end scripting language (such as PHP or C#) into the database engine itself taking advantage of the new levels of power and control in modern query processing engines and T-SQL.

The beauty of this project is it takes advantage of my interest in databases systems as well as being new, interesting and most importantly, without limit and as such, without end. This way I can work on it as much as I like without it having a clear end for which my result to be measured against. I agree there is a danger in this approach that I would fall short of the requirements, however, this is part of what the tutors roles is in helping me manage my project.

This first week has not been without it hiccups and oddities though. Firstly i was reminded over the course of a few lectures and tutorials how many stupid people are still out there. I saddens me to think that the last two levels of the course have not weeded them away. My favourite moment was when we were talking about Biztalk server (which is basically a business process manager. It allows you to set up the middleware or business processes of your applications in one place and it controls the workflow. Someone then asked if this was like exchange server… You what… you mean the e-mail server…. how in Gods name did they come to that conclusion. The two are so very far removed that you would have thought at least a level 3 student would see that…

Anyway, I’m sure I will get over it… Or they will go away…


Pavle Bataveljic

Well today was a good start and yet a rubbish start to uni.

I went into the school office to sort out my module choices for this year. I hadn’t done at the end of last week because I wanted to talk to a few people about what I’m allowed to do. One of the things that came up when discussing me staying on and re-doing the year is they might place restrictions on which modules I could do. I had never managed to find this out so far. So, I went into the school office, picked up the form and then as a side note asked which office Pavle (who is my course head) was. I was told that he has actually died last week.

Now I didn’t know the man that well, but he was the person who helped negotiate with the university for my re-doing the year. I had several length talks with him about what went wrong, what I would do differently etc. He managed to put me at ease over something which had worried me for some time. He gave up a fair bit of time to help me best he could and it would be fair to say that without his help I may not be getting this second chance.

I thanked him many times for his help, but I can’t help feel I didn’t thank him enough. I credit this man with my second chance, he even wrote a letter of recommendation to the course board on my behalf.

This is very saddening news to myself and anyone he worked with him I’m sure. Before today I was planning on going back into university and thanking him again.

Note to self, take opportunities when they present themselves, you never know how long they will be there for.


Time is a lot easier to pass than exams

I’m not actually sure how lecturers do it. They manage to stand there and accept stupid questions from people who obviously missed large numbers of concepts talked about over several months. I don’t think I could ever be tolerant enough to reply with anything other than profanity in their direction.

Some of the more aware of you will notice I haven’t posted on here for a while. The vast majority of you hadn’t noticed and even if you did, didn’t give a shite.

This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been at a computer, nor does it mean I haven’t done anything worthy of an entry. It just means I could not be bothered to type about it.

I now have a short amount of time which has no real world use other than emails (and I’ve checked those) so I feel I should at least make a start.

The main event during my “break” has been holiday. This has come in the Easter flavour and has involved being off from uni.

The events have been as follows:

  • Advanced drivers course/day which included time on a skid pan.
  • Visit to Elkanah’s and Pete’s with Jen in London.
  • Visit to George’s in Ashford (real pictures to come, but this one will do for now).
  • Visit to Craig’s (not me, the other one).
  • Geo caching with Thomas.
  • Holiday with family in Norfolk.
  • Eating Easter eggs.

Each of these events in themselves really deserves their own write-up’s, but the world doesn’t always work as it should.

I will also take this time to draw your attention to my gallery (particularly with “Photographs” folder) which has been slowly growing. It now stands at the grand total of 179 images.

I’m sure there are many more things I could be writing, but I think for now I shall leave those for when I have work to do. I just wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t procrastinating from something.


People Evacuate Silly Times

Mornings have never really been a time that agrees with me. I have always tended to be much more at my best in the evening. If you have a quick look at the times of my journal entries you will see evidence of this. I find that I tend to come up with most of my ideas late at night and then I work on them late in the afternoon of the following day (or same day if you go by the clock as apposed to my sleep pattern). The majority of the time the only thing mornings are useful to me for is checking emails, reading news entries and eating breakfast.

Unfortunately the world is not keen on my ideas for how the day should be structured and as such it likes to give me things to do at silly times that are not emails, news or eating. In the case of university it likes me to have lectures. Now most of the time I find myself as one would expect at such a time, half asleep. Thursday mornings is different. I have one of the most wonderfully engaging and funny lectures I could imagine.

He is one of those people that’s just a joy to listen to. He is very scatty, fast talking and a real wonder to behold. He also loves to mutter under his breath so I always ensure I sit within earshot. Today he came up with a little gem which I found particularly amusing given my state of drowsiness. He was talking about a PEST diagram which stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis”. He seemed to be getting a blank look back from people (again, not surprising given the time) so he asked “Anyone know what a PEST is? Other than a lecturer asking annoying questions at 9:30 in the morning”. I could not help but let out a little smile and then continue to ignore the question.


Breaks aren’t all they have cracked up to be

How can anyone not be in awe of a TV series where one episode ends with an enraged, lunatic surgeon hurling milk bottles and shouting “you haven’t even got a cock!” at two women walking down the street (possible nuns) whilst driving a milk float.

Anyway, how was your week then? Mine was ok. There have been a few hiccups however:

For example, on Friday I went to badminton (as is often my custom) and I used my nice brand new racquet which I have been using for a few weeks now. Last game, singles, very fun, winning, SODDING STRING BREAKS! ARGH! This is just typical me. I have never (by some miracle) broken a string before, so a few weeks after breaking my frame, I go and break the string. The only good news is that I will get the chance to get some better string on it. Normally however I prefer to dictate the timing.

Oh, back tracking a little, Uni has been ok this last week, although getting a bit boring as we approach the holiday, such is life. I have spend most of my time working on upgrades for my gallery (with a decent admin section being top of the list, although a search and “recently added” will soon follow).

Anyway, back to Saturday. Went off to London with a friend to the science museum. Not fully sure how this all came about, I just got a text asking me if I wanted to go (out of the blue) and then less than 24 hours afterwards I was there. Funny how these things happen. So we toured almost the entire building reading all of interest and eating over-priced sandwiches.

Having “done the museum” we took the tube to the ex wobbly bridge (which I never got to go over when it wobbled (bloody engineers)) and then wandered (in the rain) to Merrill Lynch and then Oxford street shops. Suffice to say the place was busy. So much so the police (community support “not real police men (people)” officers) had shifted into “crowd control mode” and seemed to want to have parts of it one-way. As I’m sure you can imagine, having parts of a street at one-way pedestrian wise will always lead to a mess. Sure enough it did.

Alas, we brave soles fought tooth and claw through the masses to make it to that mecca on the day before mothers day, the chocolate shop. The deed was done and we moved homeward (via a nice pub for supplies).

True to form (with the clocks changing that night) I slept late on Sunday morning and forgot to give said present which kind of defied the entire point of Sunday (bar lunch). Thank god for Mondays.

Oh, and a friend of mine has been kind enough to make me look like an Ork.


It’s the little things…

Did you know that the atom is in fact not atomic…..

It’s wonderful the things they can teach you in databases lectures nowadays….

Atomic means “cannot be split up” and as we all know, Rutherford split the atom in 1911.


It all comes at once

I feel like shit warmed up and run through a blender.

Bodily functions are being dropped down to a minimum. For now that leaves me with breathing and writing powerpoint presentations.

I hope later to continue at 2 functions by replacing powerpoint presentations with sleep.


UTP lunch

First things first, I just overheard someone on their phone saying “yeah, I’m in the library”….umm, no your not, your in a computer room, I would know because I’m here. The nearest library is well over 200meters away and in another building across a car-park and small park with water feature….I do wonder at times how some people manage to direct food into their mouths.

Anyway, to the matter in hand. I didn’t have the heart to make this entry yesterday, I was far too sleepy (not that I feel any more awake now, but I do have a 4 hour gap between lectures today).
Yesterday is my day off from Uni, and as such, I go to work. Work for me means run the network of a small primary school.

The network consists of about 30 desktop machines (1 for each classroom, a room with 17 of them in, a library machine and a few in the admin block) it also has around 35 laptops (maybe 10 of these are teacher laptops and are stand alones, the rest are either held by admin staff, or are part of the recent batch we were given which I yet to do anything with bar stack).

Now most of the network machines are on a workgroup based network with a variety of shared drives (soon to be NAS) providing files. The desktops run win98 and RM window box (which is like an attempt at a shell replacement, but RM style, so pants). Yes, I know this is a crap setup, but it has to stay, as these machines are used by children starting at 4years old (and it was like that when I got there). The laptops all run either XP pro or 2000pro bar one machine which I have on fedora core 4 for kicks.

Now yesterday was an inset day so the only people in were staff (and they were doing training in the hall), so I came in as normal to do 3 hours or so. When I entered the building I was informed that one of our switched was down (we have 3, 2 shit ones and one very nice cisco). Well, when I wandered into the store and had a look at my nice cabinet I could not help but notice that all the switches were on and the one in question (a 36 port beast) had a lot of lights on. So after about an hours worth of routing around etc I found, under a desk in the computer room the cable I keep plugged into a spare port (which I had there for when I’m working on laptops (pre wireless network)). When I followed this cable to its other end (which is normally meant to be free) I found some little bugger had plugged it into another spare port. Suffice to say, on of the little buggers had created a loop-back on one of my shit switches. But because it had been done the other side of my patching it had been very hard to trace.

It was at this point I thought “fuck it” and I took apart my whole network (pulled every jack out of every plug in my cabinet and spent 3 hours putting it all back in again). This achieved several things

a) my network was plugged together the way it should have been done had it not been pissed on by several engineers over a period of 3 months which they installed out fibre line and terminators for out internet link.
b) I allowed me to move around a few items in there (about 8U’s worth of kit in the end, just to give it a more logical layout.
c) I managed to have the cables neatly done using the cable management, as apposed to just run everywhere.

If anyone ever considers doing this to their network, don’t! and if you have no choice, do so much work beforehand. I went round with a laptop and drew up an excel spreadsheet of every port in the school, what room it was in, if it was used, what it was normally used for etc. I haven now have which port on which switch each item patches to….

Ok, I think that is enough for now. Although I will add, it did work after I did all this and I even managed to get the right lines going to the right IP phones…..I was so happy, so was reception…


Let the war begineth

Ok, I can’t take it anymore, I have to write something about this, just to vent at least. I am currently on the computing floor of the watts building (Brighton University). I am sitting/working in the section with all the dual screen computers (there are about 50-60 of them). Now as I look around this section, and in fact, every time I have looked round this section I have noticed that I seem to be the only person that has either noticed there is another monitor or who knows how to actually use it. This is driving me up the bloody wall. Why can these people just piss off and use other computers, ones that their pea sized intellects can comprehend fully….ok, so as yet there haven’t been enough of them to stop me using a PC, but one day I tell you it will happen, and I shall hit the roof. I seem to be one of a rare breed that understands the beasts and actually uses them to make my life easier and faster (in stead of the growing number for whom the other monitor just provides yet more space to loose the mouse).

While I’m having a go at them (and as I still have 3 hours till my next tutorial) I shall take this chance the note down my other pet peeve with them. As far as I am aware, we have actually advanced beyond the 60Hz refresh rate these buggers insist on providing us with. I have never understood this. The machines on this floor are in identical groups and there is a different build for each group, so there is no skin off any sys admin’s nose if they set the refresh to the highest the monitor can handle at its chosen resolution. Now, granted, for many machines this does bugger all as they are TFT’s, but for those on CRT’s (which is the higher spec machines (as they tend to be for graphics)) they have just left them on default. These machines are for top end graphics for Gods sake; these people will never notice the benefit of having a CRT if some tart cant set it up correctly.

EDIT: ok, ive been at this computer for almost 3 hours and i have yet to see another person use their other monitor (many of these people have been using flash and photoshop….) *grinds teeth*


think about it

If all red, boiled lobsters are dead, and all dead, boiled lobsters are red, does it follow that all red, dead lobsters are boiled?


Belbin Test

I recently did something called the Belbin test. This was devised by a bloke called Meredith Belbin and was first suggested in a book which he published called “Management Teams“. He decided upon 8 types of people that were needed to make up a good team, and a good team must contain all these types to function properly. These types are quite separate, so most people find themselves being a mix of several, although, not normally more than three. I came out to be very strong in the direction of a “plant”. This apparently means im an ideas man. I’m also a bit of an “Implementer”, which means I get things going, but am not quite so good at the finishing……I would like to point out that im writing this from memory, so im not fully sure……except i defiantly was a strong plant. If you would like to test yourself then you can find the test on Belbins wedbsite, although unfortunatly you will have to pay.