DC to Gunnison, CO

The alarm sounded even harsher at 0400, but we resisted the temptation to stay in bed, instead we were soon heading to Reagan airport for the flight to Denver,CO.

Regan Airport was surprisingly busy at 0515, but with relativly little hassle we were all checked in and sitting around for the flight.

Frontier Airlines

Very nice indeed, smooth - well planned, nice seats. And in 3 hours and 45 mins we were in sunny (it was honest) Denver.

Bags and Car needed

The bags eventually arrived and we found the Advantage car desk, despite having booked with Eurocar (always a worrying sign).

All the car rental shops are about 6 miles outside the airport - and within a few minutes we had our car - which for a small upgrade fee was now a full size SUV - a Toyota 4Runner.

The planned route

The Route

There are quicker ways to get to Las Vegas (flying for example) but I wanted to see some places I used to live (bad mistake) - plus the Rocky Mountains are really beautiful at this time of the year.

Colorado Springs

Wow !! I did not recognise the place. So much more built up (it has been 20 years), and super busy with traffic.

My old office was still there but some general Business park, no longer a large corporate machine.

Mountains beckon

As my driving and photo skills are not to be trusted, Juliet got the job of shooting some images.

Open RangeMoutain HomesMountain High

Possibly the high point was the Monarch Pass - a mere 11,300 ft !!!


A quiet mountain town, which no doubt is busier in the skiing season. After grabbing a room, we headed out to see some of the countryside.

Wildlife Viewing areaJulietLooking for supper

There are some more photos available.

Smithstonian Zooological Park

As I had dragged a large camera and some even larger and heavier lenses with me - not surprisingly I had lost something - an eyepiece from the Camera. But not all was lost as there was a very good camera shop listed on Google - and close by was the Smithstonian Zoological Park. It looked a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Embassy Camera

What a great shop with a good Web Site, and easy location (Metro to Dupoint Circle on the Red line then a 5 min walk up Constitution heading towards the National Zoo) - the staff were bright, helpful and very knowledgeable. I was sorted out within minutes; Juliet had spotted a chinese restaurant next door - so she too was happy.

After a rather too filling lunch we headed up the road to the Smithstonian.


A walk on the wild side

The park was an open air set of enclosures, which felt far less claustraphobic than most animal enclosures, with great infomation boards, and easy walking - the whole expierience was very well laid out.

I will make this more of a photo montage. All photos were taken using a Nikon D600 and a 200-500 F5.6 Lense.

What a great day out !! And it was free.

Spotted CatBeaverBald EaglePanda2Panda3

Bye bye DC

We have had a great time in the capital but we move on tomorrow morning. however More images are available.


Lincon & Arlington

The famous Lincon memorial, is very close indeed to the Arlington national cemetary. So todays morning plan was to

  • get some exercie
  • See the Lincon memorial
  • Visit Arlington cemetary
  • Get back before breakfast finished.

"Lee mansion"

Monday Morning

Washington DC for the previous 2 days, has been a very sleepy, quiet even tranquil place. So we were rather rudly surprised at 0640 the streets were full with people jogging, cycling and walking to the office. Even the homeless were up and moving about.

We walked past the White house - which at 0645 was still empty from tourists. The Secret Service staff chatting amongst themselves still. And down the the Relection Pool - which leads you to Lincon's memorial.

Lincon's memorial

We have all seen pictures and movies of this iconic statue - it is housed withing a Greek Style building - and the statue itself is very large and looks quite imposing. The view is excellent looking across the Reflection Pool toward the Capital Hill.

I would have said that 50% of the daily visitors are joggers who seem to time themselves in running up the steps.

"Mr Lincon""Julet & Mr Lincon"

Hidden Attraction

At the base of the building there is a tucked away small set of rooms with some of the history of the area and the famous events that have taken place there - not least being Martin Luther King's rallies in the '60s.

To Arlington

The map made it look easy - you head across the Potomac river, and then over Columbia island (until you arrive in the state of Virginia) - then there is Arlington.

The walk was quite long - but the Lee Curtis mansion made a good landmark to head for.

The National Cemetary

As you would expect there is a sense of sombre reflection and an expectation that people will behave here. The park is massive - with markers for people who have surved in the US Military as well as those who were married to service personelle. I am not sure that the British war graves cater to "wives" - but this is the same system as used in Manila - I rather suspect that they borrowed or were given the idea by the US.


The park is immaculatly kept - with endless rows upon rows of simple white grave markers. A few had US flags and flowers on them - I (fear) and suspect that thos graves marking the most recent fallen were more decorated, but we did not attempt to go and see here they were.

The Kennedy's

Their grave sites are in a most prestigious setting, surrounded by some wonderful views.

Should you not fancy walking around there looked to be a very popular bus-hop-on service run my the park staff.

"Kenndy resting""Kennedy resting 2"

Getting back to Central DC

We hopped on the Metro and joined the morning rush hour commuters. Which in London terms was very civilized and not at all crowded.

More photos

As usual "more images" are available.

Baseball time

"Play Ball !"

One of the nicest things I remember from when I used to live in the US was watching baseball, and I had already been scanning the dates of where we were likely to be with regard to seeing a game. The only oppertunity was 20 hours after having landed here - so assuming that the weather was going to co-operate, that would hve to be the day.

"Baseball Park"

Getting there

The stadium is a few kms south of where we are staying - it is accessed by a Metro station called Naval Yard - so once we had worked out how to get a subway ticket - there were plenty of Americans also trying to figure it out at the time as well. We arrived with over 2 hours of spare time.

Buying tickets

I could have bought them over the internet - but buying them on the day could simply not have been easier. The cheapest (stanging only) tickets were $5, ours with some shade set me back $44/each which for a major sporting event is about what you would pay in the Uk.

The game was good with the Colorado Rockies maintaining a comfertable lead, and our seats game us a good view of the game.

The breaks inbetween innings were very inventive and funny - keeping the crowd engaged even when their team was not doing especially well.

"Baseball Car-Park"

As always full photos are available at

more Images


Unicode is supposed to make things better - however it is still not very widely used. The Linux world has started to get to grips with this - And Oracle have also been very good in handling this.

English in Unicode

The "English" or better ASCII character set can be represented in Unicode - despite it only having 255 (actually less 26*2+10+20) letters

  • 26 Letters
    • Upper
    • Lower
  • 10 Arabic Numbers
  • 20 Special chars i.e. ,;:& etc

The Letter A in

Base Value
10 65
16 0x41
64 0x00 0x41

Arabic in Unicode

The Arabic alphabet is much more complex - not only due to start-middle-ending forms - but also due to the diacritics that are applied to the letters also.

The Alphabet is 28 Characters long (Farsi is 29 - the extra charactre being Peh)


Letter Aliph - or A It represents 27% of all letters in Arabic - making Arabic Grmatically weak from a Crypto-Analysis point of view.

Base Value
10 1575
64 0x06 0x27

Unicode Data Decoding

The following is a small program that takes an Arabic Sentence (a PANDROME - one with all the letters in it) - and sends it to UNICODE - then CONVERTS back to UNICODE.


#July 7

#Some Poetry I think
#This is UNICODE
phrase="هلا سكنت بذي ضغثٍ فقد زعموا — شخصت تطلب ظبياً راح مجتازا"

def uni_chop(ucode):
    #Format as 4 Digit Hex
    out="%0.4X" % ord(ucode)
    #Return a Tuple - of MSB LSB
    return (out[:2],out[2:])

for l in phrase:
     #Read 1 unicode letter at a time
     print("%s %s "%(tup_hex[0],tup_hex[1]))
     #Build up HEX DATA String

for l in phrase:
     #Read 1 unicode letter at a time
     print("%s %s "%(tup_hex[0],tup_hex[1]))
     #Build up HEX DATA String

print(str.format("Fake Hex is ... <{}>",fake_hex))

#Lets Reassemble
for loop in range(0,len(fake_hex),4):

print(str.format("Back again is ... <{}>",out_str))

Running it

This is what the output should be

06 47 
06 44 
06 27 
00 20 
06 33 
06 43 
06 46 
06 2A 
00 20 
06 28 
06 30 
06 4A 
00 20 
06 36 
06 3A 
06 2B 
06 4D 
00 20 
06 41 
06 42 
06 2F 
00 20 
06 32 
06 39 
06 45 
06 48 
06 27 
00 20 
20 14 
00 20 
06 34 
06 2E 
06 35 
06 2A 
00 20 
06 2A 
06 37 
06 44 
06 28 
00 20 
06 38 
06 28 
06 4A 
06 27 
06 4B 
00 20 
06 31 
06 27 
06 2D 
00 20 
06 45 
06 2C 
06 2A 
06 27 
06 32 
06 27 
Fake Hex is ... <0647064406270020063306430646062A002006280630064A00200636063A062B064D002006410642062F0020063206390645064806270020201400200634062E0635062A0020062A063706440628002006380628064A0627064B002006310627062D00200645062C062A062706320627>











Back again is ... <هلا سكنت بذي ضغثٍ فقد زعموا — شخصت تطلب ظبياً راح مجتازا>


Backup is one (if not the) most boring subjects in the whole of IT.

Here's why

  • It looks simple
  • It looks easy

If you are thinking this - then Backup/Restore have already got your IT system marked for a disaster.

Problem with backup

No-one likes doing Backup's for lots of reasons

  • Takes time
  • You need to be methodoical
  • Need to be organised
  • Easy - therefore "beneath me"
  • Simple - only an idiot can get this wrong :)

Ah - yet more reasons to be very worried.

Reality of Backup

If you mess up

  • Fired
  • Company goes bust
    • Re-Pay bills
    • Re-Order stuff
  • Lost time/CPU Hours

Types Of Backup

There are basically 2 types of Backup

  • Full
  • Incremental

As often in IT there are good and bad things with each

Before I look at the types of Backup - you should be aware that there are generally 3 areas where you can backup to

Backup Media

  • Tape
  • Disk
  • Software with Tape/Disk

In the movies - you may have seen old large tape drive - well they still exist - but now come in small Watch-Sized boxes. They are efficient - cheap - reliable.

Tape drives however do need maintenance - and occasionally go wrong.

You can also back up to Disk. This is the fastest, easiest to add to the system (tape drives can be driver specific - and troublesome). Disk drives however can fail - and adding RAID-5 to them adds more to your costs.

Software with Tape/Disk. As your Backup's get bigger - then the usefulness of Software defined backup increases. This extra functionalty however will cost you $$$$'s but save in your disk/tape spending.

medium good bad
Tape Cheap Slow
Tape Been used for long time Needs maintenance
Disk Fast Expensive
Disk Easy to add/Expand Raid 5 more $$$
Software Lessens the backup Costs $$$

Full Backup

This is the easiest way to do a backup

You have a Computer system

  • Full Backup
  • We are now OK ?


You can not back up a live system and expect it to be rebuilt - the system devices/files/logs/password files etc on many Operating systems would not be compied correctly.

A full backup would only be suitable for a Data Directory/Files. And then only when the system is not being used.

Incremental Backup

The word incremental means "added to" - so an Incremental backup would only backup files that were added/modified (A directory would record that a file has been deleted).

This system is good - because it reduces the size of the backup's (after the first "Full Backup") - but if you then have 100 Increametal backups - and then your system fails. You will have to do a full restore - followed by 100 "Adds". The chances of this working well - are not good.

If you did a Full backup on Sat - and then 5 days incremental - this would be a better solution.

Backup Frequency

Usually most organisations have a

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly

Backup policy.

I do know however some places that use a 1 hour backup policy !!

1 Tape from the Daily "Pool" - gets added to the Weekly "Pool". Then At the end of the Month - 1 Tape from the Weekly "Pool" gets added to the Monthly Pool.

This mechanism is sometimes called GFS


GFS stands for

  • Grandfather
  • Father
  • Son

Backup Understood

The #1 issue with backup is this

  • Never Checked
  • Never Tested
  • How Long will this take ?
    • London 1997 Bombing
    • 2 Days you went broke

It may be working in Jan 2014.... but things are different in July 2015.... New directories/Disks - Has your backup been updated/Checked.

Even if the backup's are checked - have you really tried to restore ?

Hardware changes Spare Machines needed

Even if you have this - do you have time ?

  • Developers do not like this work*
  • Ops staff a best for this

Keep the tapes where ?

The Tapes (obviously you can not move the disks) should be kept in adifferent location.

So Machines in 1 Building - tapes should be in another.

Dx Cluster filtering

Show Filters

Quite simple


I can see this

 filter1 reject on uhf
 filter2 accept on hf/cw
 filter3 accept on hf/data

Add A filter

To only allow US calls

set/filter k/pass

TO Only allow hf/cw

set/filter hf/cw

Remove all filters


Contest Time

accept/spots 1 on contesthf
accept/spots 2 on contesthf/cw
reject/spots 3 pm uhf

Normal Day to Day setting

accept/spots 1 on contesthf
accept/spots 2 on contesthf/cw
reject/spots 3 pm uhf


Day 4

After an amazingly busy day 3 (Sorry no post yet - it will arrive one day I promise), we are trying to have a quiet day.

When I say trying - I mean we got up at 0700, and went for a hours walk to try and get photos of the wildlife we have not been able to see;

Rush Hour

I think it is fair to say that the Seychelles has a relaxed attitude to most things, in fact it is something that the locals seem very proud of "this place, is for relaxing" - I have heard several times.

So it was not surprising that druring our time out walking we saw only 2 vehicles - the place was literally still sleeping.

Good Eyes

It is always a little annoying when you show someone a skill (or item), and instantly they become so much better than you at it !! Today Juliet saw every bird / mammal at least 10 seconds before me (maybe as it was too early) - She was just saying "XYZ, mid tree " and was even indicating - sort of a hyped up Springer Spaniel.

But thanks to her eyes - we now got a better image of the Madagascan Fody.

alt text

And the rather poor image of a Seychelles Sun-Bird

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Is it a bird ? or a plane ...

No it's a Bat-Man - sorry poor joke.

The island is full of Flying Foxes, also know as a very large bat. Which rather surprisingly flies around in the day, and seems to fly over the sea quite a lot. Just what they eat (I was assuming fruit) I have no idea.

They are not the easiest of things to photograph - but early in the morning we managed to find 2 places where they were nesting - I mean hanging around (ha ha ?).

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Previous Sunset

The night before I toiled quite hard to get some sun-sets photos. Alas no tri-pod makes things more difficult - the humidity was incredibly oppressive - as the skies opened about 20 minutes after these were taken.

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Some people of course - sat in the restaurant - and just watched !!

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Road Trip

I was greeting with this site outside the villa...

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Road Trip

It should be easy on an island that measures 27 Kms long and 8 kms across to have a gentle drive around it... So we though when we collected the Dhaitsu I10 (If you so not know what this is - think of a very small box on wheels)

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With only 7 Petrol stations on the Island - finding one was the first order of the day. After squeezing in 210 Rupees into the car - we were all set.

Narrow Roads

Many years ago I used to live in Devon - a place synonymous with small narrow winding roads, that used to scare the tourists and were on great fun to the locals. Today it was my case to be worries ... narrow roads - and the National Bus company must employ really like trying to keep to a schedule.

The drive was simply breathtaking - the views and beaches are just amazing.

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We arrived in the middle of a seemingly never ending rush hour - and found a car parking space - only to find we had to go to the Post Office to buy a parking ticket. 10 Minutes later - in the wonderfully Air Conditioned Post Office - we purchased a picked $1.80 Usd for 4 hours parking. The ticket was a work of art... requiring you to circle the day, hour, year, day of the week and minute that you arrived.

Being legally parked we then embarked on a voyage of discovery around Victoria - which was frankly much less spectacular that the views of the coasts and mountains.

Hot, sweaty and hungry - we did surprisingly find time for some souvineers.


On the way to the North point, we stopped at Lucky House Chinese restaurant, where after a very pleasant lunch (and surprisingly cheap for the Seychelles) Juliet spied a Madagascan Fody (It sort of looks like a Robin) - well I had not seen one properly - so I set off in persuit. After several minutes I had managed a decent picture... As the Fody was about 20m above me - this was my best attempt.

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Mountain Roads

Very impressive road over the mountains, and bends after bends. In the sky you can spy Flying-Foxes and White-Tailed Tropical bird (they are on my photo list...) soaring. There are no wild mammals here - so Monkey avoidance etc was not necessary.

Eventually we descended to the coast...

Stunning Beaches

We now found even more lovely beaches

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A Gallery with more photo's plus these is available at Gallery

SC Day 1

It's time for a break

Our summer holiday seems a long long way away, and despite having a short but very enjoyable Break at Christmas a few days to charge our batteries seems in order. The only problem is- where to go?

The decision where to go has been made a little easier by sub contracting the choice to Juliet! And so I write this NA very pleasant room, approximately 60 m away from the Indian Ocean whilst sitting on a small island off the coast of Africa. The expression “you just booked somewhere” was taken literally - not that I am complaining.

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We are on the island of my Mahe, just about at its southern point staying in a hotel called Chez Batista.

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The short flight from Abu Dhabi unfortunately had a stopover 140% longer than the flying time - so door-to-door Muscat to Mahe took 16 hours - that was on top of the days work as well !! I think that some of the Europeans had a far easier Journey here.

We have done little today apart from sleep and have some excellent sea food, we did meet some of the locals and the pictures follow.


Just some critters we spotted around the place.... I am working on the Flying-Fox pictures.

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Wow !! I know you have seen photo's of them from the Seychelles but literally on the doorstep is an amazing beach - we rather mis-timed the walk as we had to share the beach with the rising tide.

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More to follow.

A Gallery with more photo's plus these is available at Gallery