rashbre central: 2021

Sunday, 11 July 2021

getting wired

It started with Cat 5 and then Cat 5e . The cables that everyone uses to connect their wired ethernets together. Nowadays many people don't even bother with wires, preferring everything to be beamed over wifi. 

They are the ones who will eventually lose their photos because they forgot to back everything up. 

I've got cabling as well as wi-fi and some of it is built into the house.


The electricians who wired it used Cat 5e cabling, which can run at up to 1Gb. I've noticed though, that on the long run between upstairs and downstairs, I sometimes get a negotiated 100Mb (ie 1/10 of the speed). 

That is where the length of the cabling starts to have an effect and is why more recent specifications up to category 8 are increasingly include better shielded cable twisted into pairs. It is quite different from the ancient Category 1 bell-wire.

Now I can't really justify having the house cabling ripped out, so I'm looking at other solutions. Roll-up IEEE802.11bz. It incorporates a clever way to squirt faster speeds down a lower speed-rated cable. Get the Category 8 effect from a Cat 5e cable.

The downside is that no-one supports it yet, or at least doesn't publicly feature it in their advertising. I looked around and found that 'Multi-Gigabit' seems to be an alternative name for a similar technology. And thus I found a little box which can slam 2.5Gb down a 1G cable. 

I hope it works!

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Synology NAS with Final Cut Pro - Using Sparsebundles to make everything work.

Another post about the LAN changes I'm making at rashbre central. 

I still do quite bit of video editing but wondered about running the video edits across the LAN. The Synology server is quite fast, with up to four times 1 Gigabit ethernet links and about a half Gigabyte of cache memory. 

I have run a directly attached Drobo 5 with Thunderbolt, but I sense that the physical device is now becoming a little erratic, so the Synology solution should be more reliable.

Except that Final Cut Pro gives an error message when Network Attached Storage is used as the source for editing.

Luckily, I remembered what is, in effect, a hack.  I can create a sparse disk image on the NAS and then mount it to the iMac I'm using as if it is a local drive. Then I can add libraries from FCP directly to the sparse image. With 'proxy' switched on in FCP, it will use a 'proxy image' (ie smaller version) of the files I am editing and then only reassemble the full sized edit when it is time to 'Share' it.

I should add here that there are other solutions to this which involve changing the SMB settings on the iMac and typing a bunch of commands into the Synology server, during which at least one red screen pops up.

I'll regard this as a solution 'for the rest of us', which is intuitively easier to understand and for which the various files created are always restorable.

So here's what I've been doing:

1: Create a new sparse image using Disk Utility, on the LAN Server: I can make it a sparsebundle which takes up little space but specify a much bigger size (like 2 TB) so it has somewhere to expand.  This is my creation of the 'My example disk image' into a folder called VV_Video on the Synology NAS.

2: Now I can use the freshly created sparsebundle (ie disk image), which will have mounted itself automatically, as the target for an FCP editing session. And because it mounts to the iMac, it looks like a local file. It won't be 2TB either, but much smaller (20Mb?) and will grow as more files are added to it.

3: In FCP, I can create a New Project on the newly mounted "Disk" - ie the sparsebundle.

4: Then I can ingest video with the Proxy setting 'On' and away we go with happy editing. I can observe that the speed and 'scrubbing' through the video is as as fast as anyone would need it. It's not discernibly different from the Thunderbolt attached Drobo.

5: A spin off advantage is that I can now name my various video projects in separate disk images in VV_Video and keep all of the other files together. There is a real danger of becoming organised.

6: Happy days, although be aware that this is a hack and ideally will be replaced one day when  Synology and Apple talk to one another about video.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Boxed in?

Still on my reconfiguration of servers, I realised a silly thing. I was keeping a spare drive in a cardboard box, on a bookshelf, in case one drive failed. I took a look at the server.   Surely I could configure it with a hot spare instead? 



I received this notification today. We now have new and immensely useful bureaucracy associated with being outside of Europe. Our new domestic goods regulation regime is in place. 

Instead of using the CE marking to sell certain products in Great Britain, industry must take action before 1 January 2022. to get everything retested for conformity to UKCA.

At the beginning of the year, the UKCA (i.e. not GBCA) marking was introduced for selling goods in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). There are now only six months to go until the UKCA marking becomes mandatory for most goods being sold in Great Britain that currently use the CE marking. 

For Great Britain products to continue being sold in Great Britain from 1 January 2022, it is essential to ensure product compiance with the UKCA marking as soon as possible. 

Do I hear the sounds of cut and paste?

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Knock-on effect

[Technical alert - bypass this post if not interested in computer topics ] 

I use my computers for a variety of tasks like music, video, photography, authoring, plus the regular tasks that people get up to like email and browsing. No wonder I've accumulated some data over the years.

So I knew that the replacement of a large amount of my disk storage required a more detailed rethink of the rashbre LAN. Old mainframe systems used to have so-called batch runs which could take hours or sometimes days to run. I'm hoping to stay away from this for rashbre central.

The existing Drobo disk storage units have a one Gigabit ethernet connection, but the new Synology has 4 Gigabits. which can be bound together. That's an obvious thing to do, except I need (a) fast Category 8 LAN cabling (b) enough slots on my switch to be able to plug them all in. Yep, done - and with fancy coloured cabling too so I know which are the really fast links.

Then I have to think about the size of disks to be used. The Drobo units are set up with 5 times 6 Terabyte disks. I used to use a certain financial sum as the sweet spot for disks, but I now realise that 6 Tb is about the maximum I want to be copying around, at least until the rest of the infrastructure catches up.

It also means I can dip into my spare disk drives to start the population of the Synology unit.

Then I'll be interested in adding in a couple of RAID1 M.2 cache, which could speed the whole disk access to the device. They are like 2 mini-disks dedicated to caching the access to the device and using two means they are read-write RAID1 compliant 'fail-safe'.

Then, for the main disk units, I'm using the Synology SHR hybrid variety of RAID which allows a Drobo-like mix-and-match of drive sizes with less waste than a vanilla RAID configuration.

I've also got to think about 3-2-1 backup. That's the approach which says have 3 copies of data (the working data and 2 backup copies) on two different media (disk and tape) with one copy off-site for disaster recovery. Except tape is a bit old-fashioned and I'll have two variants on different disk formats.

That's where a Drobo can still be useful: to run the second backup, suitably off-site.

...And I realise that this is the type of post for which 'blogs' were originally invented!

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Another one bites the dust

It's finally time to replace the second of my Drobo 'Data Robotics' units. They are disk drive enclosures that support NAS functions. There's been various ways that they seem to go wrong.

  1. Power supply dies. It still switches on but doesn't deliver enough current to restart the whole set of drives. I've replaced power supplies and kept spares, but the connector type is different on different units, which adds to the pain.
  2. Drive dies. Inevitable that a drive would die from time to time. I have the Drobos set up with data redundancy so that one drive can fail but the system can continue to work, until I perform a hot swap.
  3. In a long-serving unit, the physical act of replacing the drive seems to disrupt the motherboard and then will signal perhaps a different error, which forces a more complex automated rebuild.

The first, say, five years seem to be okay, but after that period I wonder if the heat affects the motherboard in some way, reducing its reliability? My prior failed Drobo wouldn't restart at all , even after a new power supply unit was added and I took the number of drives down to one WD Red unit

So now I'm trying Synology instead. Some say that Synology are more complicated to get running, but I've found it pretty straightforward so far.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Ice creams on the beach

A fun thing about living in the West Country is seeing the local news coverage of the G7 talks. It's all about the Queen getting off the train at Saint Austell and Joe Biden eating an Ice Cream.

We've had odd looking planes buzzing overhead, even as far away as Topsham. A couple of very strange looking ones flew over in convoy as well as a few helicopters.


There's so many extra helper-people in Cornwall that they ran out of accommodation in St Ives, and had to hire a cruise ship to provide the extra beds. Now, some might know that there's a flotilla of empty (ghost) cruise ships all around Torbay at the moment. Admittedly it's around the coast from St Ives, but not a long journey. 


Cornwall Live reports that Governmental procurement swung into action and instead has hired extra beds from the Estonian firm Tallink who run cruises in the Baltic. MS Silja Europa has been procured to sleep 1,000 of the 6,500 security people present.


I think the old Beano word is 'spliffication'.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Take a moment to behold

A fun trip is the one from Ballater to Tomintoul, over the little pointy bridge, pausing at the interesting shop that sells soup,  past Corgarff castle and then ascending the Lecht ski-slopes, before heading down the far side and into Tomintoul. Its around a 30- mile journey.

Part way along it, after Corgarff, is an installation known as The Watchers, which look out across the River Don and towards the distant Cairngorms. 

I'm not sure if these 'Watchers' have links to the ones in the Marvel Universe? Maybe they are an Independent Wonder? 

The Watchers were said to be one of the oldest species in the universe committed to observing and compiling knowledge on all aspects of the universe. 

 In Marvel, their policy of total non-interference came into existence due to a former, well-meant attempt by the Watchers to bestow advanced knowledge on the Prosilicans, who used the nuclear technology gained to create weapons and destroy themselves. 

 When the Watchers returned to Prosilicus, the survivors blamed them for causing the catastrophe by giving the Prosilicans nuclear technology before they were ready for it. The Watchers then took a vow never to interfere with other civilizations. 

 Or, simply sit in one of the cocoons sheltered from the wind and enjoy the view.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

The L.N.E.R. don't stop here any more

We finally made it to Scotland, as part of our UK travel itinierary. The less populated areas had footpaths which seemed to be used more by the sheep. 

But that's okay. We'd have to make do with the decommissioned railway lines, past the Railway Station tastefully converted to a restaurant and along train lines which were now cycle tracks.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Gallows in Ripon

We decided to make the journey to Scotland more like one of our road trip holidays. 

Instead of taking the most direct route, we'd let ourselves wander, and here we are in Ripon, about which I knew very little. 

Ripon was once famous for making spurs but in the 1500s saw the most macabre side of the Reformation. George Bowes was ordered ‘to invade, resist, subdue, slay, kill and put to execution of death by all ways and means.’
Here's the order from the Earl of Sussex to round up 300 or so men from Ripon and to execute them on Gallows Hill, in 1570.

It wasn't only this city where these deeds occurred. There was a list of towns and the accounted-for number of victims like some grotesque spreadsheet exercise.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021


This time we've been in Derby, which is one of the homes of the industrial revolution andwas once famous for locomotove buildding. My picture is of a humble Fowler Tank engine, a 0-6-0T 'Jinty' class 3F. 

These were a favourite small engine included with many Triang and Hornby railway sets, back in the day. 

I followed the fortunes of the GWR more closely than the LMS, but aways had a sneaking admiration for this small hard-working locomotive. 

And that's not to say that Derby with it's Rolls Royce and Bombardier manufacturing is entirely industrial; take a look at the pretty view from our hotel.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Wild times

 Here we are, back in Topsham, with the rewilding of the field opposite in full swing. There's poppies, cow parsley, buttercups and emerging daisies as well as the pond flitted over by dragonflies.

Thursday, 20 May 2021


The next day we looked around other ex stomping grounds like the emerging Battersea West , with its new shops and cafes. The new glass apartment blocks are almost complete and being filled with freshly laundered money. I noticed that our ex-apartment was under renovation.

So, I'm not sure that London has properly awoken yet, despite what the news shows are saying. 

I'll still think of myself as a Londoner, albeit one who happens to live in the West Country. 

Wednesday, 19 May 2021


That evening we tried Searcy's at the Gherkin. 

Great food, great view and it was full. 

So much so that we were in the private dining area (great views across London etc.)

Then a cab back through once more deserted streets, intrigued by the Bus Gates painted on the road and the ever-increasing amount of cycle lanes and scooters.


We hopped onto an Uber-Boat along the Thames and sprinted towards Westminster, where the vessel decided to turn around. No service to Battersea? We'd have to make alternative arrangements.

Westminster. Quiet. Parliament. Deserted. London was playing hard to fill.

Then on towards Sloane Square where suddenly everything became normal.

People. Cafes. Bustle. We decided to have a late breakfast at Colbert. "We can only give you the table for an hour," explained the waiter. At least somewhere was busy.

Similar along the King's Road and in Peter Jones. I looked at the carried carrier bag count. Shoppers were out in force.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021


Zedel's is a good seceret place around Piccadilly - and busy with Londoners. 'How was it yesterday?' I asked as the waiter explained it had picked up that very Tuesday evening. Then the jazz band kicked in. Afterwards, we sauntered along to the Bar Americain.
After a few cocktails and in my case reckless absinthe we burst back into the night of Piccadilly.
It was after midnight, but no-one around. We were witnessing empty streets like it was 4am.

Yayoi Kusama

The next day we were along to Tate Modern for Yayoi Kusama. Note the polkadots.

    It was also quiet. I can remember other shows where the line snakes all around the outside of the Blavatnik building, but for this it was a simple walk down the ramp, with our pre-booked tickets.

The infinity rooms are special and it was a joy to be Filled with the Brilliance of Life and to be whisked reflectively into Kusama's Chandelier of Grief. It's a selfie, by the way.

That evening we visited one of my regular haunts/work canteens at Zedel's in Piccadilly. It's an underground palace of mirrors and light and was reassuringly rammed with people getting back into London living. 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Testing the un- lockdown

Posted after the events, but in the interests of completeness...

The nail-biting continued as we wondered whether the Hitachi locomotives would be back in service after the mysterious cracks were discovered. Fortunately, they were repaired and our train to London did the trip comfortably in 2h14. Then from quiet Paddington across to the sedate South Bank. 

We were staying in a ritzy hotel, but it was like we were the only guests. We'd booked a casual supper along the Thames but needn't have worried. The usually difficult-to-get-into Italian was almost empty. Useful to know, but still necessary to book for most places.
Yet, on the news channels we were seeing reports of everywhere being busy again with outside and inside drinking and general revelry. Not our experience.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Debt of Gratitude

Not sure if there is a scale for this. And anyway, nobody seems to care. He's got a likeable haircut.
  •  £0 = no debt of gratitide 
  • £535 = Irksome small fry - not even worth answering the CCJ s about this one - probably only a round in any case. Make it 'of no merit'. Bullingdon fodder. 
  • £15000 = Family(sic) holiday to Mustique, kindly donated via an intermediary who happened to have a friend's 2-week let of a property standing empty, valued at £15k. Those telco boys know their way around the taxation frameworks. 
  • £50,000 = Okay, a game of tennis, but that's your lot.
  • £??,??? = Nanny fees, except the target for this one had higher principles than our man.
  • £85,000 = A meaningful comma amount for this flat refurb, which would've stayed quiet except that the Press found out. Still, a backdated cheque should cover it nicely.
  • £126,000 = Debatable benefit bestowed upon an erstwhile girlfriend with a a pole in her office. 
  • £2,600,000 = Curious donation to a Russian firm of stage set builders, who re-rigged a room in Downing Street with perhaps £600,000 worth of equipment
After that, we start to get into the realm of friends needing friends.

I didn't think of any of these in my novel Corrupt, but it would have been considered fanciful fiction if I had.

Corrupt, by ed adams

Sunday, 9 May 2021

JUMP - some kind of future

Yes, it's time to reveal the story of Juliette Häberli and Matt Nicholson. Matt was first featured in my novel Coin, where he helped invent the cyber currency which introduced him to Amanda Miller from SI6. Matt eventually moved to Geneva, to work for Brant/Biotree and that's where he met Juliette. 

They were working together on Artificial Intelligence projects intended to augment Human Intelligence. HCCH - Human to Computer to Computer to Human in the jargon.

Some parts worked but others failed spectacularly, although rival labs were most interested in the project and sent people to recover it in An Unstable System.

Fast forward to Norway and there's an entirely different proposition in play, although Matt's friends in the lab are intent on keeping it under wraps.

Part of the RightMind collection. 

Friday, 7 May 2021

Fixing a QNAP when the App Center disappears

It has been a curious week for disk drives. Chatting to friends, they suggested it was almost as economical to keep things in the cloud now, as to to have them stored on local file servers.

I explained that I'd donated a few ex-file RAID5 server disks to the local museum recently. Not as exhibits, but so that hey could set up their own file server with cloud access.

This  is on a Synology system and I can access it over the internet for routine tasks such as maintenance. 

Then there's my own QNAP server, which I really only set up as an experiment. Weirdly, it lost most of its control panel recently, in an automatic systems update and I had to change all of the DNS server from to and back again to rescue it.

 It's working fine now, but has almost too many options for the device that sits in the cupboard underneath the TV.

Then there's my Drobos. Data Robotics. So simple to use, and yet the company has been acquired and the product line almost stopped.

I reckon they were so fault-free that people would just buy the number they needed and then be content. 

Except in my case, I recently moved one. And groan, a disk in it stopped working. At least the drives fail at different times. 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

in a flat spin from the money tree

We can see the No 11 flat refurbishment being packaged into a couple of neat transactions. 

First, the £58k which was donated by tory donor Lord Brownlow but later squirmingky paid back by Boris once others had spotted the sleaze potential. Add to that the £30k allowance that he could take, and Bada-Bing £88k. 

Of course, that is just to replace Theresa May's furnishings, and there is still the other £200k for general refurbishments as well. If Bozza forgot about the £58k donation, it begs the question bout what else he has overlooked. 

Still, £88k is a bigger budget than Angela Scanlon usually gets on the TV makeover programme 'Your Home Made Perfect', but I guess Carrie must have such demanding standards. 

The Electoral Commission have said it would mounting a formal investigation by Lord Geidt, but smoke and fire and bolts and horses phrases spring to mind. He's going to advise on any further registration of interests that might be needed. Oh, that's all right then.

I'd have thought a quick peek into the property would be one way to tell if there had been suspicious spending, but come to think of it, that new Russian-built £2.6m recording studio inside Number 10 looks reassuringly tawdry. 

And we have Michael Gove's journo wife Sarah Vine implying that a John Lewis furnished flat is now living in a skip. Well, Bozza and fiancée Carrie Symonds are reported to have felt the decor they inherited from Theresa May was “a John Lewis nightmare” - and Gove is still trying to take over from The Bozz.

I don't really care about the flat and its content, except that it is another microcosm of the elitist chumocratic operation of our system.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Look behind you. The callous pantomime continues.

So sad to see the dangerous clown on his new stage. The backdrop, which we all assumed had been made that blue colour so that it could be used for chroma-keying, clearly isn't suitable. And the way the serial blusterer has to sit right on the edge of the raised stage where someone could push him off can't have escaped the eyes of one or two cabinet members.

I can remember when I was part of a local Community Committee and we needed a new stage and some lights, I think we did a better job than this and for less than a couple of thousand quid. But we were a charity and maybe didn't have to pay VAT. If the new room and stage is a metaphor of how things are getting done around here then it is not a particularly comfortable one.

I can't help thinking about a whole string of other situations now, every time I see this pinnacle of our government:

  • £200k Flat refurb
  • Mystery £58k payment to Downing Street Trust
  • 'Let it Rip'
  • 'Pile em high'
  • £2.6m Briefing room 
  • Jennifer Arcuri free access
  • Pole dance flat payment
  • Hands under the table
  • Chumocracys all round
  • Fast lane unaccountable procurements
  • Use of long grass for enquiries
  • Long-term old personal phone use
When Michelle Obama and Samatha Cameron sat in the "Cameron" £30,000 refurbishment of Number 11, it didn't look too bad, but I maybe blustering Boris has wreaked havoc since those days?

And he knows we'll never know what is really going on.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

invisible democracy

We've got the elections in a few days. London has that fancy booklet for the Mayoral decision, but most places are bereft of information. My ward is a case in point. We have four candidates. Three of them don't show a face at all on the whocanivotefor.co.uk page. The other one shows a Conservative man who looks convincingly startled that a dark wig has just been dropped onto his head. 

If we drill further, then the only candidate with comprehensive coverage is the Conservative, from whom we also received a leaflet and a shabbily reproduced letter. At least there is a different picture on the leaflet, and probably it was taken in the last decade.

The Labour candidate also has some blurb, and it reads as if he is from around here. The other two don't seem to have anything. No blurb, no links. 

It makes voting in a democracy quite difficult when the information isn't available. I guess we can conclude that:

a) They don't think they will win so why put up the information?
b) They don't have sufficient money to mount a case?
c) They don't have sufficient organisation to mount their case?

My conclusion is that most people will simply vote tribally, and probably be slightly influenced by whose Parliamentary representative is the best at getting thrown out of pubs or concealing sleaze.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Invasive methods and integrity vacuums

So Labour are trotting out the old accusation towards the the government of “fighting each other like rats in a sack”. I don't think it is as good as the Conservative's Dominic Grieve's own one of (roughly) the PM being like a vacuum of integrity. Far more racey.

Meanwhile Boris has apparently chopped new kindling to create a smokescreen around his dodgy doings. Dominic Cummings (for it is he) said the prime minister had behaved in a way he considered “mad and totally unethical”, and warned that he would happily give evidence under oath to an inquiry.

The pantomime leadership continues. Boris tries to hoover up his text messages to Mr Dyson, many of which apparently are from Boris's alternate phone. Normally this would be called a burner, but Boris has kept the same number for more that ten years. His hotties line, perhaps? 

And Boris is doing a Trump and calling out 'the chatty rat' who provided the leaks, except it seems (allegedly) to be one of Carrie (his girlfriend's) chums. If it is Henry Newman, then Boris could be accused of clowning around with the investigation too, although Nr 10 has bothered to issue a statement that Boris has never interfered in a government leak enquiry.

Of course, the lockdown leak was at the centre of what must be an entirely embarrassing situation for BoJo, apparently causing him to authorise the cabinet secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak. 

But I remember that Boris doesn't get embarrassed about anything, and seems to weasel his way out of any tight spot, Name of South West Mayor Candidate? Loan for fixing up the No 10 flat? £350 million a week to NHS? Cover-ups, sleaze and corruption. The way ahead.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021


I've been out driving along motorways again. 

First of all, they are 'lightly loaded' with traffic. Secondly, there seem to be many more electric cars around. I noticed this mainly by the number of Tesla cars zooming along the outside lane. In prior years it would have been Audis, or before that Vauxhalls. Each with one company representative in them.

I decided to take a quick peek and can see that Tesla drivers do get some advantages.

All Tesla cars have zero emissions and may be eligible for financial incentives that encourage clean energy use in the UK.

Benefits for All Tesla Drivers:
  • Exempt from London Congestion Charge
  • Access to clean air zones, including the London Ultra Low Emission Zone
  • Up to £28,000 interest-free loan (Scotland only)
  • Vehicle Excise Duty

Benefits of Tesla for Business:
  • 1% Benefit in Kind (BiK) (compared with the normal 20%-37% BiK)
  • 100% First Year Allowance deduction
  • No car fuel benefit charge
  • Reduced National Insurance contributions
  • Eligible for salary sacrifice schemes (like bicycles and gym membership)

I was reminded of driving around in Norway a few years ago, when the Teslas were being trialled there and had massive benefits to their users. It looks as if a company car scheme is yielding similar benefits in the UK now.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

cat mathematics

Time to meet Juliette Häberli. 

I've been working on my next novel, which is a really odd one. I decided to plug Coin into my evolving universe of stories and used the last novel - An Unstable System to feature Matt Nicholson (from Coin) along with some the Triangle folk (Bigsy, Clare, Jake, Christina) in a story about inventions. 

I sent them to Geneva, but then, right at the end of the story, some of them left for Bodo, Norway, which also features in Pulse and some of the Edge stories. 

Now the only thing is, Pulse is set in the future (maybe 100 years away) and Edge and Edge, Blue/Red are even further (some 300 years later).

It would be impossible for characters from the near-now of An Unstable System to bridge to these later times. 

Did I say Impossible? Or merely Improbable. 

I'll need some Big Science to help me with this conundrum. Drum roll for solutions to Poincaré's conjecture, provided by Grigori Perelman using Richard S. Hamilton's Ricci flow solving the problem converged in three dimensions.

Imagine a ring doughnut with a bangle trapped on it. Throw in some quark-gluon plasma leakage.

"We are back to cat mathematics," said Juliette, "We are now dealing with problems outside of human comprehension, in the same way that most arithmetic is outside of a cat's comprehension."