Droning on... Forestry Commission Scotland

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Well done Forestry Commission Scotland Hot on the heels of the ridiculous attempt by Ashdown Forest to try and regulate airspace, Forestry Comission Scotland announced that drones were not permitted in their forests; Flying drones (unmanned aircraft) as an informal activity or hobby is not allowed on Scotland's National Forest Estate. This is because this activity is often incompatible with responsible access under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, particularly in a working forest environment, instances where people are enjoying quiet recreation, or where it may impact on people's privacy. I r…

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Paxton Net2 + Slack Hack (Updated)

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A couple of years ago I documented our hack that is used to get Paxton Net2 to send messages when doors are opened into Slack, recent changes to Net2 break this and require some changes; Changed endpoint The endpoint changes from http://ws.textanywhere.net/ta_SMS.aspx to http://www.textapp.net/webservice/service.asmx Remapping Hosts Most operating systems provide a 'hosts file', a simple way of hardcoding a hostname to an IP address, negating the need for a DNS lookup - this allows you to hijack traffic intended for somewhere else. You'd think by adding the following line to C:\Windows\System3…

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Taxpayers are not paying for a wedding!

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Seen so many posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc about “the taxpayer paying for the royal wedding” 🙄 Ok, I’m not a 'royalist', but I am generally quite pragmatic, so firstly; No, we’re not. However, unlike all these ridiculous posts, I tend to like to support my argument with evidence Firstly, the royal family do receive money from the Government, yes. This is the “sovereign grant” and is typically 15% of the total profits of the Crown Estate from two years prior. It could hardly be called a 'hand out', however. The Crown Estate is land, properties, assets owned by the royal family. ALL the profi…

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Why do we keep paying for Eurovision when we will never win?

This is the recurring sentiment by loads of posts I've seen on Facebook and twitter, and they're beginning to grate a little. Most of the time people make stupid outlandish claims like we pay for 1/5th of the cost of Eurovision wherever it's held etc. No, we don't. To all these people complaining about “how much it costs” and “waste of license fee” etc. Do you actually know how much it costs? Or just basing your views on a biased opinion of the BBC or other unsubstantiated anti-Eurovision rhetoric? The BBC doesn’t “pay for it”, but makes a contribution to the EBU which does. The actual costs…

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Ashdown Forest and "Drones"

Now, some might accuse me of droning on (sorry) but yes, I'm opinionated. I also fly light aircraft for fun, and also own a couple of SUAs or, as they tend to be known "drones" and fly legally and considerately. One thing that annoys me is people who band phrases like "because it's illegal" about (usually relating to Health and Safety) when it, invariably, isn't and self-important organisations that try to use "bye-laws" to limit the power of things they can't. Increasingly the legitimate use of SUAs is one of these. This was posted today by Ashdown Forest Centre…

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"Pure Spam" - Or, a lesson in shared hosting and DNS.

I maintain, or am associated with, a number of websites including some quite high profile and well respected ones. Imagine my shock when one of these disappeared from the Internet (well, Google anyway) entirely overnight. Logging into Google Webmaster Tools I could see this was the result of a "Manual Action" by Google's team, specifically that my website was considered to be "Pure Spam" The site appears to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or other repeated or egregious violations o…

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SIP Rejection Testing

Every now and then I throw together quick little one-off scripts for testing things that might benefit a wider audience. Sometimes it's handy to test how particular devices or platforms handle specific rejection codes, so I threw together this little tool in node. Basically, it runs at the command line and listens on a non-standard port (8877) and replies to every SIP INVITE message it receives with the rejection code you enter on the command line. You can change the rejection code just by entering a new one at the prompt, thereafter any calls will be rejected with that new code. It's not perf…

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Argos (again)

The expression "too many cooks" comes to mind. Anywhere I've worked, people take ownership of a customer's case - irrespective of how it arrives. There's usually some sort of ticket which can be transferred between people, but it's not a rabble of individuals all chiming in their own $0.02 My recent experience with Argos just got worse when they tried to be helpful, largely because - it seems - no-one has a clue what anyone else is doing. I want to eMail someone at Argos about this, and try and get a sensible response, but they don't have an eMail address apparently, they only take c…

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Security Theatre and the Airport

I've previously ranted about "security theatre" that we all suffer every time we fly anywhere so imagine my surprise that I write this airside at a major airport holding a bag that's not been X-rayed... how did I get here? That this is even possible, even as an exception, would seem to support that the hassle we go through at the airport is largely pointless. How did I get here? At security I followed the usual requirements like a good sheep (remove my laptop, iPad, don’t have any liquids etc etc) and yet my bag still ends up in the queue to be searched manually. Due to understaffing…

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