Power Cut 3 – Fall of the machines

Something’s very wrong with the power here. It went off again this afternoon for about ten seconds. Just long enough to mess up all the computers and screw the Internet.

Then it worked for an hour, before doing it again twice. So now instead of sitting in a dark room with no power, I’m in a lit fully working room just with no working network.

I’m writing all this on my Remarkable 2 with its keyboard case. It’s quite pleasant to type on, I should do this more.

Last month I switched my mobile phone from Smarty (budget Three) to Lebara (budget Vodafone) since I noticed our cheapo work phones on Lebara always seem to have signal, and my phone on Three/Smarty didn’t. They do seem better, but it feels like Lebara gets a lower priority on the network than Vodafone. Earlier my phone had a signal but no data, the little signal meter had an exclamation mark in it.

I get to go home in 20 minutes. Today hasn’t been the most productive really.


So it turns out where I work has quite a severe power supply issue. The main cable connecting us to the local substation has failed and it’s causing the power company some issues finding the fault.

We have been running off generator power since the weekend, and the network failed because none of the switches in our building have any power. I’m guessing they use PoE from another part of the building that currently doesn’t have power, or has tripped offline due to the repeated power cycling that’s been going on.

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Power Cut Part 2 – Electric Boogaloo

So I’ve been thinking, this power cut is a bit inconvenient since I’m at work and supposed to be working. Ultimately though I don’t really care, it’s not my problem to fix. It’ll come back on and in a day or two we’ll forget it even happened.

The school is a bit like a scene from a horror movie though, all the magnetic fire doors have released and the corridors are lit by emergency lighting. Lurking in the shadows are small fast-moving shapes, but I’m told that’s just the little kids.

At home I rarely get powercuts caused by things beyond my own doing. If the power goes off at home, it’s usually followed shortly by me going “ohshit. Well the RCD works then, good”. The estate is new, the substation was upgraded about two years ago and for a weekend the entire estate was being run from a single large generator.

In my house is 10kWh of battery power and 3kW of solar panels. I have a lot of battery devices, and on my driveway is my car with its own 50kWh battery pack.

Except I can’t easily use that to run anything. It’s not wired up to power the house in a powercut. None of that energy is available outside the device containing it. The house solar doesn’t run without a grid connection either. My shed has its own batteries and solar panel and can work off-grid, but not for that long and it’s no good having power in there and nowhere else.

Is this how you start out on the path to becoming some sort of crazy prepper? One minute you’re looking at generators on Amazon, next minute shotguns and tinned ex-Russian ration packs?

It’s warm in here with no AC running, and the open windows do nothing to create air flow. Briefly I considered bringing a fan from home, but that wouldn’t be any use!

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Power Cuts

Currently there’s a powercut at work. This is a bit awkward considering I teach computer science. No power, no computers.

Except it’s not so bad, everyone has a laptop. I’m writing this on my Remarkable 2, next to me is my work Surface Pro. And in my bag is my personl Chromebook. They’re all battery powered, and fully charged.

Oh right yeah… we use MS Teams for everything, so while I can work on my own device I can’t access any of the online content because the wifi and Internet have shut down.

My Chromebook is a Chromebook, so without access to the Google hive mind that’s no use.

Never fear, I can teather to my mobile phone and use its data connection. Except everyone in the area is trying to do the same thing so while I have quite a strong 4G signal, there’s no data connection.

So we’re all just sat here waiting with nothing to do. Can’t even get water because the drinking water machines are electric.

At least the magnetic door locks fail safe and we’re not locked in. But we are sat in our separate rooms, spread across a wide area unable to find out what’s going on because everyone communicates over Teams or WhatsApp and you need a functional Internet connection for that.

Fortunately I charge my car at home. There’s staff that use work’s chargers. I wonder if they have enough power to get to the nearest public charger about 10 miles away.

Isn’t modern life wonderful. I’ll report back when the riots begin, not that you’ll be able to read this of course. I can’t get online to post it.

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Copilot – your unwanted everyday intrusion

After last night’s Windows update it appears I have something new to disable on my computer that was installed without my asking…

I asked it how I could remove it, it gave me pointless generic information I could have found using Google.

A bit more of a specific question made it get the point. It’s certainly not as “clever” as ChatGPT.

Why do sites keep telling us to run gpedit.msc when it’s not a core part of Windows, and is only installed on the Pro versions?

I seriously can’t wait for this current AI fad to go away, it reminds me of the voice assistant fad where everything needed a voice assistant until companies discovered nobody was using them.

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Roku Express 4K

Back in the mists of time I used to watch video on my TV using an XBox that I’d modded with a mod chip, running XBMC. It played videos off a Linux file server. While everyone else was playing DVDs on their telly, I was the oddball streaming video.

Things have progressed, and after a few failed attempts at streaming my own video to various media PCs I finally discovered Jellyfin and the app for the Roku streaming media device. Also by this time I was watching quite a lot of YouTube and the Roku was a better way to watch YouTube instead of using a Chromecast. They worked fine, but needed a phone, and could only do YouTube.

The Roku device I owned worked fine until a few years ago when it started buffering, stalling and just plain acting weird. I did a bit of investigation, found some oddities with my WiFi, fixed those but the Roku still wouldn’t play video properly and it was super irritating.

I came to the conclusion video that we watched five years ago was probably at a lower bit rate than what we watch now. And either the 2.4ghz WiFi my Roku used couldn’t cope, or the device itself was a bit underpowered.

Either way I finally gave in and bought the 4K version, and so far it seems to work great. No buffering, no weird black screens instead of video. I did have to force it to 1080p video only though, otherwise Netflix decided to try 4K and my TV doesn’t do 4K so all I saw was a black screen.

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DofE 2024

Where I probably walked more miles than the children, and everyone got very very muddy.

Last weekend was the annual Duke of Edinburgh silver expedition, and once again I was herding children around the Yorkshire Dales. There wasn’t any snow this year, but it was raining and there was plenty of boot-sucking mud.

Normally I spend the weekend bored, sat in a car watching kids roam the countryside using a Spot tracker in each groups’ bags.

This year, they decided they wanted to go off-piste and discover the wilderness by themselves. And I got to do my steps stomping about trying to find them.

Some of these miles were earned simply walking around the campsites, or trekking off from a convenient carpark to find a path junction where I’d planned to meet the kids. You can do a lot of steps if your toilet is a five minute walk away. It kind of shows how sitting still at your desk really isn’t a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to stride off across the countryside to get some exercise, just put things out of arms reach so you have to get up and move a bit more.

You also see some quite amusing things on your wanderings. I wonder what the story behind this road sign is…

These lot probably know… They know everything. They’re probably reading this blog post right now.

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Tech bubbles are so annoying

To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail. I remember when next door’s kid was learning to talk and form his own opinions, everything coming out of his mouth started with “daddy”.

The tech world is just as bad. AI is the new hotness, we’re actively encouraged to use it at work, and it’s creeping into everything from summaries of Amazon reviews to spam comments on my blogs. Can we get over it, figure out it’s crap for writing thoughtful content, but very good for writing summaries of existing text and move on?

I was looking for a plugin for WordPress and everything now seems to have AI shoved into it, even if it’s not a sensible idea.

I’m not saying AI is bad, going to murder us in our sleep or turn into Skynet, but I wish the tech world would stop latching onto the new shiny thing and jamming it in every orifice regardless of whether it fits or not.

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Machine Translation is better than Chinglish.

I don’t think Google is very good at translating Thai. I mean, it’s infinitely better than me at it, but even I can tell this is probably wrong…

It had another go and was somewhat better.

I’m fairly sure this isn’t some sort of game, but it containing berries is likely…

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Hi, I’m a spammer, I notice you are avoiding my emails

To be blunt, Claire I didn’t ask you to email me in the first place so I don’t quite understand the passive aggressive tone here.

Also that amazing article you found was a two sentence Mastodon post about the battery level in my car. If that’s what you consider amazing… yeah maybe hire some decent writers.

And if this is supposedly a personal email to entice me into doing something with you, why’s it got an unsubscribe link? 🤔

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I guess I need a cover for my webcam…

Uh oh, looks like I need to cover up my webcam better… Someone on the Internet infected my PC with some remote access software and recorded me watching non-advertiser friendly video.

Scams today are so tedious and unimaginative…

Hello there!

Unfortunately, there are some bad news for you. Some time ago your device was infected with my private trojan, R.A.T (Remote Administration Tool), if you want to find out more about it simply use Google.

My trojan allows me to access your accounts, your camera and microphone. Check the sender of this email, I have sent it from your email account.

You truly enjoy checking out porn websites and watching dirty videos, while having a lot of kinky fun. I RECORDED YOU (through your camera) SATISFYING YOURSELF!

If you still doubt my serious intentions, it only takes couple mouse clicks to share the video of you with your friends, relatives, all email contacts and on social networks.

All you need is $1200 USD in Bitcoin (BTC) transfer to my account (Bitcoin equivalent based on exchange rate during your transfer). After the transaction is successful, I will proceed to delete everything without delay.

Afterwards, we can pretend that we have never met before. In addition, I assure you that all the harmful software will be deleted from your device.

Be sure, I keep my promises!

If you are unaware how to buy and send Bitcoin (BTC) – Google: Where to buy Bitcoin (BTC), to send and receive Bitcoin (BTC), you can register your wallet for example here: www.blockchain.com

My Bitcoin (BTC) address is: 1EH41rY38ZwshtqCF3hKzjaFQhVaZ7zrNH Yes, that’s how the address looks like, copy and paste my address, it’s (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE).

You are given not more than 48 hours after you have opened this email (2 days to be precise).

As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read. Everything will be carried out based on fairness! An advice from me – regularly change all your passwords to your accounts and update your device with newest security patches.

Like where do we even begin? If you’re going to scam money out of me I’ll need a bit more proof than some words in an email. The Russian ladies on Snapchat at least send photos.

I miss the Nigerian scams, they had a story behind them instead of “send money please or I release your dick pix, thanks”. You could also reply and sometimes they’d reply back to you. I can’t even reply to this boring thing.

It’s like the boring “Microsoft Support” phone calls.

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