Ramblings of this guy you know!

Tech Stuff and random observations on life as I see it….

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Visit to BP HIVE Aberdeen 17th Oct 2014

Dr. Daniel C. Doolan News & Photos

Today I took a group of two dozen, mainly studying for an MSc in IT for Oil & Gas on a visit BP’s HIVE – Highly Immersive Virtual Environment. The visit went through a number of presentations & demos highlighting how the HIVE is used. The visit took roughly two hours – commencing just after 14:00 and finishing around 16:15.

BP HIVE Visit 17th Oct 2014

BP HIVE Visit 17th Oct 2014

It began with an introduction to the HIVE and a visualization plot of all the oil fields located mainly in the north and east of the UK. One outlier happened to be in the south – the only site that wasn’t off shore. After that we were presented with some 3D models that necessitated the use of 3D shutter glasses. Given the images on screen were blurry without glasses I didn’t take any images of the simulation. The models showed one oil field in particular and the structure of the…

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RebelMouse – A Social Media Aggregator

I'm a little bit late to this party as this one has been about for about a year now but it's just starting to come into its own. RebelMouse is a service launched in 2012, allowing users to pull their content together from across social networks. You can find out about it at http://www.rebelmouse.com and sign up for an account for free from any of your existing social networks.

Even of the free account, not only can you combine your Twitter and Facebook feeds but a host of other networks to. It displays your aggregated feed as a personal bulletin board – a bit like a pinterest board – and it is organized by headlines with stories falling underneath. If you want, you can even customize the content by fidgeting with the font sizes or rearranging the posts.

Here's mine at http://www.rebelmouse.com/cbeagrie and the one I did that covers the social feeds from the University School I work for at http://www.rebelmouse.com/rgucsdm.

You can even embed your dashboard onto a wordpress.com blog… Here's the how-to page link here: http://blog.rebelmouse.com/how_to_embed_on_wordpresscom-127145773.html

I managed to embed to them into my blog very simply here https://cbeagrie.wordpress.com/rebelmouse-dashboard/ and here https://cbeagrie.wordpress.com/rgu-csdm-rebelmouse-dashboard/


Apple Mac not shutting down properly? Check the Console

shutdown I’d like to extend my thanks to Killerwolf for this blog post that helped my diagnose the problem – Read it here 

I’ve been having problems for a wee while with my Macbook Air not shutting down properly… It had been happening for a while but I just simply had no spare time to diagnose it and simply hitting Fn-Pwr to close it down… not the recommended route to fixing the problem. Every time I shut down the machine I ended up staring at a grey screen that had the Finder menu up with the services in the menu bar closing down one by one but never actually closing down fully.

My first port of call was to check that all was OK with the software so rebooted and held down the Command (⌘)-R keys and opened up Disk Utilities to do a permissions check followed by a Disk check. No problems there.

Not that I thought there was a hardware problem, but a hardware check wont hurt either so another reboot holding down the D key put me into the hardware test mode and unsurprisingly, no problems recorded there either.

I found a couple of recommendations to try booting into Safe Mode… This seemed a little dubious but it does clear some caches and does a system check on the way up, and heck, nothing else has helped so tried in and although it shutdown fine from Safe Mode, the symptom came back after a normal boot up and shutdown request. So, its nothing system related then.

I started looking at what was in startup by opening System Preferences -> Users and Groups and under my ID look at Login Items… Disabling them all still didn’t help at the next reboot… Still that infuriating grey screen And so finally, I end up at the console log, where I probably should have started and it was there that I noticed reference to three repeating logs about com.bluestacks files… I located these in the ~/Library folder but how best to get rid of them? I could delete them, but there may be other files lying about and thats when I came across Killerwolfs post. Follow these steps to remove all traces of the software. bluestacks-uninstall

  1. Open a terminal
  2. go to cd ~/Library/BlueStacks App Player/Uninstall/Clear BlueStacks User Data.app/Contents/MacOS
  3. then run sh uHD-ClearUserData
  4. hit Delete in the confirm popup

Run to Stuartfield via a roundabout route


Taking the route from the A952 at the Durie/Skelmuir turnoff and run along that road to the end and then turn right and follow round to the Kinnadie turnoff. following this road round to the end you come to the B9030 and turn left and then shortly afterwards tunr right up Bank Road which lead to Maud. Running about 2/3 up Bank Road you turn right shortly after Bulwark Croft and stay on that very hilly road till you get to the B9029 and turn right. Travel along the B9029 forcabout half a mile till you get to the Scrottshill/Aikey Brae trunoff and head on up, up and up some more followed by a long downhill to Stuartfield. From there it’s across countryside to take the back roads to Clola via a hill I call Nemesis and then back to the start.

Total distance : 15.62 miles

Running time : 2 hrs 16 minutes

Run Notes:

  • To date this is my longest run ever
  • After not going along to Aikey Brae in the four years I have lived in the area, I was very surprised when I went passed in on the run.
  • My other half (who is a much more accomplished runner that I am) had to come back a get me on this run so she didn’t get too far ahead… In the end she amassed the huge distance of 20 miles…. 20 miles? Awesome.

Wild Bap!

ImageSpotted earlier today on a run I was on, a very rare scottish animal indeed, the lesser common Wild Bap (Wildicus Bapius). The wild bap has a hardish exterior protecting its fleshy insides.

In the rare occurrence that it is found its head and legs retract into the body and it lies inert in an effort not to be seen.

It can often be seen in the proximity of bacon or beef.


Update: from demand by readers, I have been asked about the difference between Wildicus Bapicus and the more commonly found Bapicus Domesticus.

The Genus Bapicus Domesticus differs from its wild cousin firstly from its more common appearance in bakeries and supermarkets by humans. Human beings have been instrumental in the domestication from its wild form and much like with dogs have altered its appearance to fit in with their lifestyles. Variants include the addition of seeds and grains and sometimes come pre-sliced. The biggest crime against the Bapicus line has been the inclusion of flour to the top.

Reasons to make you sites responsive

Image courtesy of http://www.inc.com

I was having a conversation with an IT manager recently on responsive design and the fact that our corporate website didn’t have one. He wasn’t prepared to budge on investing time to develop one and who didn’t see the need for any corporate website to have a mobile site. “That’s why god gave us two fingers and pinch to zoom” he said… Well mate, just for you here’s the reason you need to invest some developer time to doing it…

Fix Your Mobile Site-or Face a Google Demotion [via Inc.com]

Where I can concede a point is that these sites still need to have access to all the same information, data and settings links that are on the full site as there’s nothing worse than having to hunt for the desktop version link on a mobile site.

The Curious Case of Sharepoint and file uploading

Its been a frazzling sort of morning… We’ve been trying to migrate some of the Schools finance information from a shared folder space tied down with access rights… As its become more complicated to sort out who has access to what, the user rights list has gotten mixed up over time… So I had the bright idea to move it to a Sharepoint area… Me and my big ideas.

We’ve been playing with the Webdav connection and thought that it was going to be a simple process of file copying from one area to another… One of those two minute jobs that took much much longer to resolve than you thought… You know the ones.

The problems began when we compared the files in the original folder to those that were in the new folder… It was out by over 90 files but there had been no error reported back. Tried copying the files and folders again using a sync tool with a report and got a number of “Access Denied” or “<file> to large to copy” messages. It was only when we tried uploading the file manually to Sharepoint that the penny finally dropped

The file name is invalid or the file is empty. A file name cannot contain any of the following characters: \ / : * ? ” < > | # { } % ~ &

OK, so now we have the root cause of the problem, invalid characters in filenames and folders…. But how many of them do we have… Thats when we found that Windows Search is a pain in the arse… trying various incarnations of “&” or “*&*” just yields a result of all files and it was only after finding a random entry in a forum post that we got the answer that must be preserved across time; To find any of the invalid characters listed above, put the following in the search bar:


and you will find all the file with & in the title… Found 11 of those. But when we looked up + we found 90+ items… Passed that one back to the office to fix.

Misdaventures in Computing: Customer Services and the Mobile Phone

After trawling through three shops last week to try and get a replacement phone (unsuccessfully I might add), I wish that my mobile provider had this ideal. As a result its now not my other half's provider and I'll be following as soon as I'm out of contract…


After her phone unexpectedly started playing up last week, there was a rush on to get a replacement… It was an odd problem, SMS messages would come through from our own provider but cross network texts wouldn't come through till the following day… Customer Services really weren't very helpful saying there was no problem with the network or the connection to the phone and the best they could suggest was rebooting the phone regularly and they might then come through… This seems to be a popular solution as Googling the problem came back with the same answer. A second call to Customer services results in no more help other than the suggestion its the phone to blame for the problem… Hmm, yes sure because the imp that's inside has decked that it doesn't like O2 or Vodaphone texts… That's likely.

With no more help forthcoming, we thought that we'd better try a new phone. We have been with our current provider for the last five years since we moved to the country and, at that time anyhow, was about the only one we could use. So, after briefly trawling the online shop I had selected the best phone to choose from with a second choice in there just in case…

The first shop i went to said they didn't stock the model I wanted, but I would go to one of their other shops to see if they had one… No offer to phone them to check if they have, it's all down to me to do it myself. The second shop had the model I was looking for on the stands but had sold the last phone of that type earlier in the week… Also, not helpful…

The final shop I trudged to had the phone… Brilliant! But despite offering two mobile provider options at the front of the shop, I couldn't get this one on the network I wanted. Nor were they willing to swap the number…

That was it…. Final straw reached!!!

Trotted off to a new provider who handled all my requests with no problem and the OH is now sporting a new phone… And very happy with it too… With a little bit of TLC and a willingness to say yes first, instead of no, things could have been very different indeed.


Misadventures in Computing – Outputting a Mic on a PC directly to some speakers

This is a repost of an article I posted on the School of Computing Science and Digital Media.

Over the summer, we went through an upgrade of one of the IT labs… The carpet was looking a bit shabby after some rain last year and we were going to have more students that we could hold in our foundation year lab. The lab was fitted with connectivity through from the big lab so sound and vision could be played throughout.

We have already had problems with the connectivity; the new projectors and connections were fitted first so they could make as much mess as they wanted during the install. Unfortunately when the carpet fitters came in they pulled down the shelves that held the amplifier and disconnected all the cabling. Since putting it all back together, it’s never been totally right.

So, here we are on day one of a New Semester and the lecturers running the First Year lab come through and tell us that there isn’t any sound from the Microphone going through to the second lab… A call to the company that installed the system gives us a date of Friday for the Engineer so we need a workaround NOW!

My suggestion is to hook up a USB condenser mic we have and play the sound through the PC. OF course, by default your going to need some sort of App to play the sound… But through the glories of the Internet one of the sys admin support team came across this nugget on superuser.com (specifically this post)

1) Right click on the speaker icon in your system tray (bottom right of your screen). Go to recording devices.

2) Locate your microphone in the list. I am assuming it is not disabled as you mentioned examples of it working previously. Right click, go to properties.

3) Switch to the “Listen” tab, check off “Listen to this device”. While Listen is checked, your microphone will be audible through your speakers.

Tested it and it works… now we have a workaround to get us through the rest of the week.While Listen is checked, your microphone will be audible through your speakers, and in a more advanced facet, through stereo mix. So if you wanted to record your Mic and Stereo Mix, this is how you would do it, but at the expense of being able to still hear your mic (it throws most people off, like myself).

End of an Era: Apple Computers No Longer Virus-Free | Mashable

This is a bit of a sensationalist title from Mashable: End of an Era: Apple Computers No Longer Virus-Free. Their description of what a virus is, is a tad loose… Perhaps if they had said End of an Era: Apple Computers No Longer Malware free, it may not have gathered the semantic hounds that flooded the comments for this post. However, one point remains true, Apple Mac users are now, and have been for a wee while now, been the target of attacks.

I partially blame technical individuals like myself who, fed up with relations constantly getting viruses, suggested they get a Mac as it was safer.. Nowadays, I’d recommend a tablet (though give it time an tablet and mobile malware will be rife too). Sadly, these relations are still careless with their downloads and still fall for the same scareware scams they fell for on the Windows platform.

But first, the good: In reaction to all these attacks, Apple have responded (albeit slowly) by putting in several protections that culminated with the latest Java updates including a facility where javascript is disabled if you don’t use it for a while and then you need to manually enable it if it needed. This however, doesnt help those that serially click on the required responses whether they know what it does or not.

And so onto the bad: So, its with a heavy heart that I have to agree, you need extra, third party protection on the Mac and here’s two suggestions on how to do it:

  • If you are not that technical (or your relative is) then you want a “set it and forget it” option. Install Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition which seems to run fairly smoothly even on some older or lesser powered Macs. I’ve seen Sophos running on a Hackintosh Notebook computer with only occasional stutter. Be aware however that it will use some of your system resources, mostly while its doing a full scan or an update. Note that the licence here is a personal one and so shouldn’t be installed on Macs in the workplace, companies need to obtain a valid licence.
  • Install ClamXav if you are more technical and still dont believe that you will fall victim to a scam or virus but want to protect that downloads folder, just..in..case. The important thing to do here is make sure you download the software from this link and not from the Mac App Store; downloading the App Store verision doesn’t come with ClamXav Sentry to monitor your hard drive and scan new files as they arrive. The Quarantine tab in preferences will let you define a folder that ClamXav will watch continuously for viruses. This area can be the whole user area, just one user or simply the Downloads folder. There are also options to exclude files from being scanned too. Schedule ClamXav to run at set times, and read the log files if you suspect anything fishy going on.

In the end, the choice is yours to install anti-virus or not. However, if it’s free apps your looking for, one of the above should fit the bill.

Stay Safe out there.

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