Category: Technology

Technical Writings; Information and Communication Technology Posts

BBC NEWS | Technology | How to make friends on Facebook & Cornwall Holiday

BBC NEWS | Technology | How to make friends on Facebook

What a shocker! I’ve just been away for the last five days to Cornwall for a nice holiday with my family (all eight of us) and I come home to find myself quoted on the BBC. Nice suprise – now all I need to do is convince Rory to run a piece on the benefits that facebook have in using open source software.

Cornwall was fantastic. The weather on the first night was terrible though, and my sister and I arrived a day late as she’d had a night out planned on the aturday. Getting down to Cornwall on Sunday afternoon only took us 3 1/2 hours, so didn’t really have any complaints. However, when we got there the family were out and the awning to the motorhome was collapsed. I wish I’d have taken a photo. Needless to say ten minutes later my parents and the rest of the family arrived back to a motorhome that was awning less as I’d put it down and in the back of my car.

Apart from the lovely cycling, walking, swimming, kayaking, golfing and sunburning, the only other thing I did of note was karting. This was excellent. We went to the St. Eval Kart track and had a quarter of an hour session. The karts went a max speed of 70mph, which is rather fast to be going in a little kart. It was great fun though – and the best lap I set was only a few seconds of the best of the day.

The second time we went was wednesday, and unfortunately my little sister had a nasty crash on the first lap. The “pro” in front of her crashed on a blind (but open) bend and she was slipstreaming him. 6 hours in Newquay and Truro hospitals and luckily all she escaped with was some heavy bruising and whiplash on the left side of her neck. Initially it was a suspected broken pelvis. Phew…

So now we’re back in Brum after a 5 hour drive (weather has been atrocious today). Back to work.


I thought I’d write a little post on my experiences with the virtualisation transfer.

The first thing I did was stick in a different HD, so I could set the Virtual Machine up…  my initial plan was to run the main VM software off this disk, and then have the other VMs mounted on my old HD.

I started of by installing ubuntu-server (as it was the only CD I had available to me, and I didn’t have any spare CDs to make a new boot disk)..  This went well, in so far as I got it installed, but looking at Xen, decided the best thing to do would be to run it off the CDs.

At this point, my brother returned home so I was able to nab a couple of blank CDs off him.  Stuck Xen on them and was away.   I quite like Xen, in that it was all very easy to configure, as with my past server being CentOS, the Xen OS appeared to be very similar.  It recognised my network card right away, which was excellent, however, I’d had issues with getting my atheros card to work in Centos, and as after 30 minutes of trying I was getting nowhere close to finding a rpm for the madwifi drivers for Xen, I decided to give up and go back to ubuntu.

I went back to ubuntu and installed it with as my router assiged address for the wireless, and for my room’s switch.  (I don’t see the point in sending everything up and down a flight of stairs to the router, when I can create a small network to run all my devices off in the study).  I then installed VMware Server.

I’d only used the player before, to run a WinXP machine inside Gentoo for some development work I was doing.  This worked out nicely, and the server client software allowed me far more freedom than the player does.  It worked fantastically well, and if I was going to be creating a server from scratch, this is definately how I’d have done it.

However, issues came when I had to transfer data off my old server into the VMs, therefore I went with option 3.

Option 3 was one that never really occured to me before, as I didn’t want to be running VMs off my current server (as it’d just add extra load) but I soon realised this was to be the best approach.

The reason why I’d say this was the best approach, is that it makes it so much easier to move stuff from a live-server into a VM than having to purely copy stuff of an empty box.  So far I’ve just migrated the mail server to an ubuntu-zimbra VM.  The next stage will be to move my mysql databases into a separate VM, which is fairly straightforward (my only concern being that i’ll have to create the same username/password combinations on the new server that were on the old, or else many web-apps may start to not work).  Once that’s done it’s a case of copying most of the other data across, then I can simply put in another HD, stick ubuntu and VMserver on that – then load my VMs, all of which can probably be acheived with less than 30 minutes downtime.

I would love to be using Xen, as VMware isn’t open source – but for the purposes of what I’m aiming to do, on the hardware I have I’m reasonably pleased with the current setup.  I should imagine now that I’m post-uni I’ll be able to save up something in order to get myself a better server (with virtualisation built into the chip), and my own place (where I am able to physically attach my server to the router – then hopefully a Xen set-up should be on the cards.

Help Find Madeleine

I hope that there are enough people that read this blog, or read other blogs of people that read this blog in order to help find the poor girl Madeleine McCann.

Today, it is her fourth birthday, and as you can see from the news, her parents must be find it so hard to cope.

Recently, a small button appeared to support the missing Alan Johnson is Iraq – and I thought it would be a good idea to create a similar one for Madeleine, to show our support for her search.

If you want to put the code on your site, click here to download the code.

This will put the following image

onto your site, with a hyperlink to Madeleine’s search at if you click on it.If you can make a better button, please do.. but it is purely the demonstration of support that is important.

God Bless Madeleine and let’s all pray for her safe return.

Linux Server Virtualisation

Ok, in order to explain what I want to do, I probably need to give people a bit of background information.

I currently have a fairly basic Celeron 3.2, 1GB DDR2 with a 160Gb hard disk as my server in the flat. It’s running Centos 4.4, and has never really let me down. However, given the choice of distributions and different things I want to do with it (such as test out a Zimbra Server) which requires an empty (virtual) machine, I’ve decided to opt for the virtualisation route.

Now, I’m probably a bit naive in that I know that performance isn’t likely to be amazing on a Celeron D 3.2, but I want to know if I should give it a go. I’d probably run two virtual machines constantly (one for me email and websites, and the other for messing around with). I’m aware that upgrading the RAM is probably going to be needed in the near future, and that is something I’m willing to do, providing the processor is likely to last..

My personal understanding of what virtualisation entails, is that the server runs on a lightweight OS, and the virtual machines run as processes upon that. I want to know if anyone has experience of implementing virtualisation, so I can be directed to some good documentation.

Hope to hear from you guys soon!

Badis-Badis Eggs Hatched

Had an exam this morning, so was completely focused on that, but when I came back, I got a torch and had a look in the upturned pot with the eggs in. They have now hatched, and it appears that there are some tiny black tails sticking out of what can only be described as mini-splodges. They won’t be free-swimming for a couple of days. But these dudes are tiny.

I would love to take a photo, but I don’t want to disturb them, and it is far to difficult to get the camera to focus inside the tiny hole.

I hope to report some free swimming badis-badis by Thursday Night!

Breeding my Badis-Badis

It’s been quite an exciting day for me today. Since I have been up, I’ve moved my African glass catfish out of the tank that my badis-badis eggs are in, so that there will be no mistakes with bigger fish eating the fry. There is a real sense of excitement developing in the tank. With approximately two days left until the fry hatch, the females are being chased around the tank by a rather colourful male badis-badis.

His role in the birth and hatching of the fry is to protect them. As shown on the previous blog, I placed an upturned plantpot (with a hole put in it by my own fair hand) into the sand, so that the females would have somewhere to place the eggs. I’m 100% sure that this part of the breeding process is complete, with some of the females tummys looking rather smaller than they did two days ago.

The male guards the pot to make sure that no-one interferes with the eggs – you can see him sticking his head out in the photo below.

Dark Male Badis-Badis

I will hopefully be able to update you with more pictures as I can take them. If anyone fancies a particular photo being taken of the fish (such as one of the females .etc), please leave a comment and I’ll try to take a half-decent one for the blog.