Category Archives: Random

Disaster Recovery on the move!

An interesting topic arose in the office today regarding disaster recovery and making them more mobile. Sun Microsystems are currently deploying disaster recovery mobility in the form of using shipping containers but the mobility of a shipping container is questionable. A lot of time and preparation would be needed to maneuver the shipping container onto a HGV and then deploy the HGV to a site. Here are some ideas that arose from a random office conversation.

DR in a Car

There is one company operating in the New Jersey/New York City area where they will copy your backed up data on to new servers and deliver these servers to your site, obviously as the name suggests, by car. But why not take this one step further and have the ability to have a mobile data centre operate literally out of the car? Ideally the car would need to be of the size of a Land Rover Discovery – big enough to install at least a 22U rack in the back – but the idea would be to have all you storage and servers already backed up and ready to be deployed. Couple this idea with Google’s and Volvo’s current development in self-driving cars and you will have a fully automated, mobile disaster recovery solution deployable to anywhere in your country, whenever you need it.


Marketing at its best with this one. Disaster Recovery using drone technology! Obviously enterprise scale storage would not be possible using a drone but an idea that was banded about would be to utilize a mesh of drones and interconnect them all using LTE connectivity. A couple of drones could be placed around an office offering a SSID to connect to the “DRone” network then off the back of these couple of drones, a meshed network would find their way back to another data centre where a back of all a company’s data will reside. The scale and cost of this would be quite high, but again Google are making head way in the metropolitan wide 802.11 networks.

Value added technology

SSIDs can be broadcast, as mentioned previously, to onboard a customer and secure their data further whether it is deployed in a car or via a drone, and a Captive Portal could be used to authenticate a user and a Citrix desktop could be used to access data on the company’s DR data centre.

Both ideas have a certain ring and marketing slant on DR – maybe I should head on over to the IPO and get it registered 😉




UK Spy Bill

The UK government have introduced a new “Spy Bill” which will keep tabs on all your communication on the Internet for the next year. All ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will be forced to comply and this idea behind this is to track a user’s browsing habits. I suppose the thinking behind the Bill would be to proactively monitoring extremism and terrorist activities earlier, potentially cracking down on paedophile rings and capturing users who access pirated material. The downside to this if you are a “law abiding netizen” would be that your browsing habits are being tracked for no reason whatsoever. It is believed that the information stored would be the root domain of the website you have visited (for example but none of the child domains (such as for example). This does not make the spying any less worrying.

There are ways to obviously circumvent the unnecessary snooping of your browsing habits and potentially disrupt the data collection and I am here to share these with you.


To circumvent the UK government Spy Bill, you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which basically establishes a data tunnel from your computer to a router anywhere in the world and you will be browsing using an IP (Internet Protocol) address of the provider in that country. The UK government then cannot track your web browsing information because you would essentially be browsing the Internet from another location in the world.

The downside to this would be you are putting all your trust in data security and encryption on the provider of the VPN therefore it would be recommended to look for a paid VPN service rather than a free one and would abstain from checking online banking via the VPN tunnel. We will provide some reviews on the paid and free VPN services in a later blog post.


If there is an anarchist in you and you want to “protest-browse” you can always visit random websites that you would not typically, or ever, visit in order for the ISPs to get false browsing habits and in essence begin to collect more data than they initially planned to do so. If you were to browse to nine random website for every one normal website you visit, the ISPs will have to store ten times the amount of data than they would have done previously; and if everyone does this… (evil grin)

I will be putting together a small app that you can download to your PC that will browse to random, low bandwidth websites and intervals that will rack up your browsing footprints at the ISP and I will release this in a later blog post also.


The Spy Bill will inevitably worry some people, and it will not worry others, but it IS mass surveillance of a nation and if you are an aforementioned law-abiding netizen (and even if you’re not!) you should be given the opportunity to protect yourself and keep your browsing history private.

GNS3 and ASA

Recently, I have encountered the need to acquaint myself with the Security world of Cisco and due to an insufficient amount of funds to buy myself a couple of ASAs, I am using simulated ASAs using GNS3. If you have never used GNS3 before, it is an absolutely must-need for any networking student or professional. You can download it here

So, to begin with, you will need to obtain the initrd and kernel files for the ASA ISO (which can be found using your Google skills). When booted, you are more likely than not, going to encounter a nice little issue whereby if you assign an IP address to an interface and issue a “no shut” command, the IP address fails to register when you enter the “show int ip brief” command.

Now, this might be where I show my inexperience with ASAs, and it actually took me a very long time looking on forums for the answer, but the answer was indeed very simple. If you enter the interface configuration mode and enter “nameif xxxx” the interface will auto-magically come online!

I will add screenshots later to clarify this but I hope this helps you out!



Convert Epoch time to UTC in Excel

I have found myself today needing to convert the ugly Epoch time that Unix loves to use in to UTC to make date/time origination of calls within Call Detail Records more human readable and I stumbled across a nice little formula that will allow you to convert this in to UTC.

Below is the formula:


If you substitute J2 with the number you want to convert and then change the format of the cell to a date/time format, you will get the UTC date/time.

Pretty handy!




The Apprentice 2014

Today, I have started my application to be on BBC’s The Appentice 2014. I do not want to disclose too much information as I really do not know if I have the time to complete the application but I have had an idea of a business that I wish to start up but the initial start-up costs are quite astronomical. I will obviously keep you up to date if I actually make it any further in the process. Here’s to remaining optimistic!


Video: Lego Computer

Whilst browsing some of my favourite programming forums, a user posted this video up which is absolutely fantastic. The physical representation of the different computational gates is mind boggling and is definitely worth a watch.



Another project idea

I swear I need to set my office up in the shower!

All my good ideas or inspiration always materialize whilst I’m in the shower. Innovation Excellence investigate this phenomenon here. Anyway, this morning I had a wave of inspiration of finding a way of disguising a PC in my living room. For a while now, I’ve had a low spec PC acting as a media centre where all my movies and TV shows are stored, but in all honesty, it is an eyesore and has horrible blue LEDs flashing whilst it is powered on. The PC has a micro-ATX motherboard which, I think, would be perfect to fit into another chassis or case and make it a little bit more… “cool”.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo Entertainment System

My idea is simply this: why not fit the micro-ATX into… wait for it… a NES case?! Genius I thought. Being an 80s child, I grew up in the 8-bit world of the NES. It was my first ever games console and I spent hours playing games such as the original Super Mario Bros, the one with Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros 3 and Kirby’s Adventure.

The only problem I envision at this moment is whether the micro-ATX motherboard will fit into the chassis. If it doesn’t, my alternatives include boards such as the Raspberry Pi or the OlinuXino.

I’m currently watching a few NES auctions on eBay for spares and repairs so hopefully I will have one in my possession to rip apart and measure up the motherboard. Stay tuned =)

– M^