Blog has moved

Finally moved my blog away from wordpress to Jekyll. Maybe I’ll actually blog again at some point.

Amazon Yesterday Shipping

So, it seems that I've managed to have something delivered 2 weeks before it was ordered.

I had a chat with the Amazon agent - transcribe follows

You are now connected to Aiyswarya from
Me: Tracking info says that package was delivered 2 weeks before I ordered it.
Aiyswarya: Thank you for contacting My name is Aiyswarya. May I know your name, please?
Me: my name is Martin (as should be given on account)
Aiyswarya: Hello, Martin.
Due to an error the tracking information of the City Link is given as delivered.
In this case, I will contact City Link to deliver your parcel as soon as possible.
Me: tracking information is given the wrong tracking number. Therefore I cannot track the package.
Can you please have the information updated with the correct tracking information
or provide the correct tracking information to me.
Aiyswarya: I've checked the tracking information of your order and it states that your parcel is still in transit.
In this case, I will contact City Link to deliver your parcel as soon as possible.
As soon as we hear back from them we will update you via email.
Me: To check the tracking, you must have the tracking id?
Aiyswarya: Your tracking ID is <redacted>
Me: using that tracking information - that syas the parcel was delivered on the 12th December. to London
that was 2 weeks before I placed the order.
Aiyswarya: 27/12/12 18:38 Details of the consignment have been received from the consignor, but the collection Depot has yet to scan any goods.
12/12/12 16:59 These goods have been successfully delivered.
Me: So, my package has travelled in time?
Aiyswarya: Yes
You will receive your parcel on the estimated delivery date.
Me: but it says It was delivered on the 12th - I didn't receive it.
You've just confirmed that it's a time travelling package :)
Amazon Yesterday shipping :)
Aiyswarya: Yes you are correct.
I understand your concern that the tracking states it was delivered on December 12, 2012.
Due to an error the City Link information was incorrect.
Now the issue has been resolved.
The current tracking information states that your parcel is still in transit.
I hope that you will receive your order on estimated delivery date, that is December 28, 2012.
Is there anything else I can help you with?

So, it seems that I've had something delivered by Amazon Yesterday Shipping

Adventures with the Galaxy SII

Good morning all!

It feels like forever since I last blogged.... Which is extremely bad of me *slaps own wrist*. However, I'm been horrendously stupidly busy.  As some of you may know, I'm very much an Android fan.  Recently, I've gotten myself a shiny Galaxy SII.

Given the fact that alongside my day job of being a Web Developer for an Online Retailer, I'm also a Voluntary Ambulance Person I thought it'd be useful to ask my current workplace if they'd provide me a mobile phone cover for my new phone.   Of course, work were more than happy to provide me with a shiny Samsung Galaxy S2 case (I actually went for the Case-Mate Barely There in brushed aluminium).

Being a voluntary Ambulance Person, I regularly have to go to random places to pick up an ambulance/attend an event.  Because of that - I rely quite heavily on Google Maps and it's navigation features (Free Sat Nav - in my opinion, the killer feature of Android).

Having only had my phone a week, I started to find that there were a few problems with the GPS.  Whereas previously, I'd been able to lock on almost instantly, It'd now take me about half an hour (literally) to get a lock on anything.  I tried Googling, I tried everything I could think of, but to no avail.  I downloaded GPS Test, and it was showing that while it was picking up a couple of sattelites, it wasn't picking up enough to get a decent lock

The image above is a screenshot of the GPS test from directly outside my front door, taken after it had settled down.

As you can imagine, I wasn't happy - and was ready to send the phone back.

Then, for some reason, a brainwave hit me (It doesn't happen often).  What changed from when it was working to now? I know! The Case

*takes case off, tries GPS test again*

It can be amazing what happens when you realise that shiny case you have is mainly made of aluminium.  Guess what works well at deflecting radio signals and the like... You got it, aluminium.

So now I need to decide whether to get another case or whether to just take the case off when I need to do sensible things.

Other than the case problem, I'm finding that the Samsung Galaxy SII is a great phone (as soon as I got rid of Touchwiz).  I'm not a fan of the OEM Samsung crap that's been bolted onto the phone, and will, as soon as there's a decent release, be putting a copy of CyanogenMod on the phone (I've already made most of the tweaks - I just want rid of SNS)

In other news - I've started more and more gaming again. If you're interested in a couple of rounds of TF2 or some SC2 (or some Portal 2 Co-Op) then give me a shout with your Steam ID / ID and I'll see what I can do.  I'm thinking of starting doing some "Let's Play" Videos, as my Youtube Channel is looking a bit sparse!

I'm going to try and start blogging a bit more aswell - so if there's anything you want to see me blog about - pop a post in the comments below!

Till next time..

Google+: Part 1 - Circles

So, I haven't read the planets in a couple of days - but I'm going to guess that, like twitter, a lot of people are going to be raving about Google+.

For those of you who haven't heard about Google+, it's a new Social Networking site from Google - and it brings a new take to the world of social networking.

In real life, we communicate differently to the different people in our social contexts.  For example,  most people will converse differently to their work colleagues than they will to their family.  They'll converse differently with their drinking buddies than they will with their Family.  There are things that you want only certain people to know, and there are aspects of your personality that you only want to show to certain people.

I think giving an example here might be better.   This is an example of a friend of mine, who we'll call ... Fred.  Fred is a teacher.  Fred also likes to go out of a weekend and party till dawn, while consuming lots of tequila.  I, as Fred's friend, am on a night out of drunken debauchery, and I've my camera with me, and decide to post lots of pictures online of the night's revelry.

The next day, one of Fred's colleagues logs into a Social Networking site, and sees said pictures in Fred's profile.  Now things aren't looking so bright for Fred.  He no longer gives across that professional image that he should do at work.  Some may say that this is Fred's fault for going out and doing these things, but everyone's entitled to a personal life, right?

At the moment, on Fred's social networking site, it's an all or nothing option.  If he allows you access to his profile, he allows you access to see anything and everything that might show up on there.  (It's a bit more complicated than this, but let's keep it simple for now).  Every time Fred has someone add him as a contact - he has to make that decision "Do I want this person to be able to see everything I may or may not get up to".

Put simply, how many of you have refused someone to add you on the Social Networking site 'du jour' because what you show on their may be harmful to you, or give over an impression that isn't what you want to give across.

Enter Circles.  Circles brings to the social networking scene the way we interact with people in real life.  We show a different aspect of our personality to different people we interact with.  I'm a bit of an organisational freak, and I know that there are different groups of people that either for the fact of portraying a persona, or not annoying everyone else, I might want to push in different ways.  For example, I might want to send out a "BBQ at my house, bring lots of alcohol" message to all my friends, but don't really want my co-workers coming along and making it so I have to be on my best behaviour.  Below is a screenshot of my (current) circles.

As you can see - I have a fair few, and only a relative few people.

Now, let's say that I wanted to send out that BBQ message...

As you can see - I've the option to send this to the 5 people that are in my "Friends" group (it's currently mostly geeks on there - there are only a few of my real life friends on there so far!)

Now with only a few clicks, I've managed to send out a message to just those few people that I want to :)

Over the next few days, I'll write a bit more about Google+, but I thought I'd start with an introduction into the Circles feature.  I'll be giving a bit of feedback about what I like, what I dislike, and also making a few suggestions for what I'd like to see happen in the future (and probably use the word "siloing" a fair bit!)

For now, toodles.


Japan Disaster

It seems that once again, the squirrel has it right:-

For those of you reading this via a planet, or similar, please click on the title of this post to see the video I've embedded above. (Please note, may contain language that offends some)

20 Easy steps to cook your Christmas Turkey

  1. Go and buy a turkey.
  2. Take a drink of whisky (scotch or bourbon).
  3. Put turkey in the oven.
  4. Take another two drinks of whisky.
  5. Set the degree at 180 ovens.
  6. Take three more whiskies of drink.
  7. Turn oven the on.
  8. Take four whisks of drinky.
  9. Turk the bastey.
  10. Whisky another bottle of get.
  11. Stick a turkey in the thermometer.
  12. Glass yourself a pour of whisky.
  13. Bake the whisky for four hours.
  14. Take the oven out of the turkey.
  15. Take the oven out of the turkey
  16. Floor the turkey up off the pick.
  17. Turk the carvey.
  18. Get yourself another scottle of botch.
  19. Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey.
  20. Bless the saying, pass and eat out.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Why Google Apps might not be right for your Enterprise

A few months ago, my company made the decision to switch from our previous mail provider, to use Google Apps. It was a no-brainer really, most of the company were using it already, for the calendars, and Documents, and well - we were a bit fed up with our previous mail provider.

So we made the move. As an online retailer, we obviously get a lot of Financial related emails, and our Accountancy Department has an email address setup as a group, where the group sends to all the members in the Accounts Team. A pretty simple setup.

However, for the last 2 months, I've been fighting an uphill battle to get this to work properly. When an email gets delivered to a Google Group, it stops there, and then Google re-sends the email to the people in the group. Somehow, this triggers the receiving account to believe that it's originated from the Google Groups servers, rather than the actual originating server.

Google Apps emails have a pretty nifty spam filtering service. For those well-known services on the web, it'll check whether it actually came from them (I think through some combination of DKIM and SPF), and bounce it if not.

Can you see where I'm going yet?

Google Groups has a nifty feature to stop it attempting to send emails to addresses that don't exist. If an email address bounces at a certain rate, it'll flag it as undeliverable. If all the emails in a group are flagged as undeliverable, it'll bounce that email to the original party, so that they know no-one received it.

The Accounts team are setup to receive information regarding Paypal Payments, Disputes, etc etc.

A couple of days in, I had our Financial controller tell us that the Accounts team had stopped receiving emails. Well, being who I am - I sent a test email out - guess what I got back?

Hello <redacted>,</p>

Your message could not be delivered because of previous failures during delivery attempts to this mailing list. Please update the list with valid addresses.

This is an example of some of the bounces we received:

Recipient: [email protected]

550 550 5.7.1 Unauthenticated email is not accepted from this domain. u22si29486554yba.55 (state 18).
Message-Id: <[email protected]>

Recipient: [email protected]

550 550 5.7.1 Unauthenticated email is not accepted from this domain. u22si29486554yba.55 (state 18).
Message-Id: <[email protected]>

Recipient: [email protected]

550 550 5.7.1 Unauthenticated email is not accepted from this domain. u22si29486554yba.55 (state 18).
Message-Id: <[email protected]>


*sigh* - time to play with the group. I change the members of the group to use one of our alias domains instead of the - this gets emails working again.

2 days later.... our Financial Controller comes to me and complains that clients are complaining that they're receiving bounce emails when sending to his team... I check, and once again, get the same message.

Time to open a support ticket.

That was in October... since then - we've tried everything... Changing to user-defined groups and switching off the spam filters, whitelisting the groups, setting up DKIM on our domain, changing the spam levels, clearing bounce statuses... all to no avail... I've been back and forthing with Google Enterprise Support for 2 months - and have still not found a suitable solution ... *sigh*. I must say however, that the person dealing with the case at Google (Josephine H) - has been professional and helpful all the way along, even with my rising frustration at the issue.

Today I ended up calling their service unusable number, after having tried a couple of times to change the groups so that the Accounts Team could receive emails again... and finding that none of my previous tricks worked. While on hold, I found that I could use a local part extension to an email address, and the group would recognise it as a new email address - and therefore have no bounce status. I've now made a script using the Provisioning APIs, and a bit of python-fu that will generate a local part extension based on the current date/time, and replace the users in the group for the Accounts team with those. Say for example, the primary email address for a user was [email protected] - it'd add a user of [email protected]

This is set to run each day - so it's pretty much the same as "resetting the bounce status" (which fixes things for a short while) on a daily basis.

According to my latest email from Google Enterprise support:-

At the moment there is an incentive going on to fix this outright as messages from Paypal etc have been causing bounce's for other domains. This fix is supposedly due very early in the New Year and will solve this problem indefinitely.

I wait with baited breath - but for now, I'm happy with my hack.

New VPS & Shameless Plug

Due to the fact that my previous VPS was well out of date (Ubuntu Intrepid!!!) - I'm currently in the process of moving everything to a new server.

I've had lots of fun re-setting up my email - and it's now very shiny and easy for me to use :) (I'll be writing a tutorial at some point in the near future)

Other than that - I'd like to give a quick shameless plug to my VPS provider, Bitfolk. They're awesome, and have a great policy for Migrating to a new VPS.

How bad tech support makes me feel

Dear Lord, please grant me the ability to punch people in the face over standard TCP/IP

Freedom in Creativity

One of the things that I love about our Local LUG is the people. At our LUG, we have our resident geek artist, Antonio Roberts (aka hellocatfood) who, on the odd occasion, gets harassed into doing a talk for us. His talks are always fairly awesome. His previous talk about FLOSS + Art is the video with the highest views on our video archive, and tomorrow night, Thursday 16th September, at 19:30pm BST, he'll be delivering his next talk about his experience in the FLOSS community as an artist to us.

Freedom in Creativity

In his own words:-

This talk extends greatly on what was said and goes into issues of copyright and what experiences I’ve had as an artist in the open source world

His previous talk was a bit of an eye-opener to me, as a pure geek with barely a trace of artistry in me, and it's always good to see the FLOSS world from the eyes of someone who doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of what you'd normally expect to see.

The video will be available after the event, at some point, but for those who're interested in gaining an insight into artistry and FLOSS, we'll be broadcasting the talk live over the interwebs.