Friday, December 14, 2018

Resistance is futile. Brexit end game.

How will Brexit play out?

Theresa May has just survived her leadership challenge.  The meaningful vote on her deal has been kicked into the long grass and is now scheduled for early next year (2019).

I've been thinking about what the possible eventualities could be.   And I must as a Remainer I'm pleased with what my crystal ball is telling me.

As a "hard-remainer" I'm actually tempted not even to bother pushing for a #peoplesvote.  I'll tell you why:  Living in Spain and Andorra for the last 13 years I can tell you the Euro and Schengen are the two BEST parts of the EU that you can appreciate on a daily or weekly basis.

The ability to travel across borders without any passport control, and then being able to spend the money that is already in your pocket without visiting any bureaux de change and losing a % in the process is wonderful.

As a programmer I like logical flows, so I've knocked up a little flow chart to see what will happen depending on if there is a Norway+ deal, May's Deal, No Deal or a People's Vote.



In the event of the UK actually leaving the EU, all paths lead back to EU membership; either because of the "Vassal" state - which is pointless as all EU rules have to be obeyed but with no ability to change any (Norway+ or May's deal and backstop), or utter economic chaos, such as the "elimination of UK manufacturing", destruction of the welfare state (that means no benefits - what did you expect voting for Rees Mogg, Redwood & IDS??) with "no deal".

Norway+ means single market, free movement, customs union; no "free trade deals" etc.
May's deal means single market, free movement, customs union because the "backstop" will kick in (that's why it's there), and the same arguments about "max fac" or any other nonsense will remain as they do now and have prevented any free trade deal.   Only if the border is in the Irish sea will it work, but the UK government will never accept that because of the Scottish problem - Edinburgh will (rightly) never accept that one part of the UK gets the benefits of EU membership, and they don't.  It is difficult to silence an angry Scotsman.

If there is "no deal"... There will be total carnage.  In a way I would like this outcome.  It would restore some faith in the (mainstream) politicians who argued to remain, and shine a light on the "sun lit uplands" that the extreme Brexiteers promised.   It wouldn't be the eventual outcome for long.  As inflation would soar, the Pound going less than the Euro, interest rates hitting the roof, unemployment would rise, pensions would shrink.  The people that believed the hype would soon turn on their masters.   They would be begging to be go back to what they had before - and that is EU membership.

However things have moved on over in EUland.  If we want back in... all new members of the bloc are required to sign up to Schengen and adopts the Euro.    For me... not a problem,  for some others... well let's say not the outcome they were hoping for.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Website Change Detection Monitoring

I woke up this morning to receive something I have been expecting for some time.

The "death knell" of changedetection.com

I've made a video walkthrough of the site in case someone wants to duplicate it's functionality.   Please plan on making it ad-supported - in most cases private users like me will not stand for a paid for product - certainly not one that costs as much as I pay for groceries for the family on any particular day!


There were a couple of pages (from the top navigation), that I missed on the demo.

The Webmasters link

This must have been useful for self-generating marketing for changedetection.com over the years.

Webmaster's were able to get some generated HTML code to paste into their site.



The Directory Link

This page gives some indication of the scope and capacity of ChangeDetection.com

Today it is monitoring over 2 million pages.  I was monitoring 50 pages (but am probably quite a heavy user).   If we guesstimate average 5 pages per user:  Maybe there are 400,000 users on the system.



There is then an Alphabetic and Chronological list of pages in the Public directory (the majority of pages are however non-public).



The chronological list is quite sweet as you can see early pages being added back in the year 2000



The first proper entry that still exists appears on 23 Feb 2008 and is a link to http://cprr.org/Museum/notify.html (Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum)  That site still exists (although it is showing it's vintage in it's design).




























The Compare Page

This page looks to pull out some of the functionality of the site allowing visitors to manually check the difference between 2 public pages.


There are options for:


  • Full page - HTML changes are shown hilighted on the new version of the HTML document.
  • Text Extracts - A block of text is returned with spans indicating existing, new, and deleted text. Text is ellipsed and limited in size.
  • All Text - A block of text is returned with spans indicating existing, new and deleted text. All text is included.


And Finally the email notification

Alerts are sent via email.  This is an example of the very useful notification I used to get when the local weather site now includes the word for "snow" (I mentioned this in the video above - very handy to have a notification like this!), and a link to the page itself - where I was able to see what day the snow is due.


So long ChangeDetection and thanks for all the fish!

I've archived my list so when I find a decent replacement I can copy them over.  Anyone want to chip in join me?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Would Churchill have supported Brexit?

There has been a terrific amount of drivel written about Britain needing to engender some wartime spirit and defeat the enemy during Brexit.

There has been some good commentary in the press for example this extensive research in E-International Relations by Alistair Steward.

There is also, of course some complete horlicks floating around mainly in the Brexiteer press and the comments sections.


This comment by Euan Scott: First sentence correct, second sentence complete make believe.


Here another comment from the Telegraph newspaper on this article.

Here Simon Coulter uses the same technique as the first comment - write some genuine text then make up some "analysis".

Churchill may have shifted his opinion over the years, as many do, but after the war he became more in favour of a United States of Europe and all that that entails.

At the first Congress of Europe Churchill said:

..."Mutual aid in the economic field, and 'joint military defence', must both 'inevitably be accompanied step by step with parallel policy of closer political unity"....  "It is said with truth that this involves some sacrifice or merger of national sovereignty.' 1

 page 407 Gilbert, M.

So there we have it.    I would like to add that I find it incredibly frustrating when I hear Brexiteers cry... "We don't want to be ruled by Germany!"   Do they not understand that for every bit of "ruling" the Germans do of Britain... we are "ruling" them back in equal measure?

Did Churchill see Britain's role in Europe as a "great trading nation with our European friends?"  or did he see some closer union?

For the avoidance of doubt whether Churchill meant to include Britain in the United States of Europe - which some commentators seem to assume he didn't.  Please read the analysis of Churchill's speech from a debate on Foreign Affairs in the House Commons on March 28, 1950 p520

"There could be 'no hope' for a United Europe without Germany, and there was 'no hope' for Germany except within a free and United Europe.  Britain, France and Germany should, by combining together, make the 'core or nucleus upon which all the other civilised democracies of Europe, bound or free, can one day rally and combine'".2

So I hope that settles it.

1 page 407 Gilbert, M  Winston S. Churchill VIII, Martin Gilbert 1988
page 502 Gilbert, M  Winston S. Churchill VIII, Martin Gilbert 1988

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How to deploy a standalone .net forms website as an application

The Story (for coders only)…

I need an application to manage background services on a website I run.

These services are still in debug/development mode so I create them as Windows Forms applications rather than true “windows services”.

This works well as I can breakdown the tasks and build single applications to do e.g. clean up tasks or schedule Tweets with them. 

Each application has a thread, and if one is misbehaving it doesn’t take down the whole system.  I can Debug/Step through applications in Visual Studio and see where they going wrong, then restart them easily enough.

So I currently have an “Orchestrator” application that controls all these background service apps.

Current System

The server is set to autologin using sysinternals autologon.  Then I add a scheduled task to fire up this Orchestrator application.

The Orchestrator then queries the server to see the runstate of each application in it’s list. If one is not running it will fire up the background service.  I can easily change the required state in the Orchestrator and if one if running it will kill it.

I wrote the existing one in VB.net forms… Not something I do very often, working mainly with web technologies like MVC,  JSON dumping Webservices and Javascript clientside to test my service code.

It is a bit of pig.  It doesn’t use a database (I didn’t want a runaway DB from breaking my application), so all the config is stored in a JSON file - which is cool, but the datagrid is a pain and I’d much prefer to work with ashx-es.

Just for fun here is the old Orchestrator application screen shot.


The background services are in the DGV labelled 1.  When I click on a row the application’s details appear in 2.     Logging for the currently viewed application in Listbox 3  (this is transmitted to the Orchestrator via UDP)

Label 4 shows the Launching/Killing activity of the application and the controls in 5 allow me to configure the running properties of each background service.

New system

I want to control the application using a webbrowser and build the GUI using web technologies not all this VB forms stuff I’m not familiar with.

But how to do that!  After a lot of searching around and wild good chases  I found this article about Cassini.   I’m not that bothered about Framework 4.0,  it is only going to run on my server, and I can send a keep-alive pulse to prevent it going to sleep – permanently.

So here is how to deploy a standalone .net forms website as an application.

Create a Forms application targetting .net version 4


Then create a new web project in the solution explorer


Add a start index.aspx page.


Search Nuget for CassiniDev-AnyCPU.dll


Install it into the Form application

In the form application add the Imports CassiniDev statement then put the following code


Change the path to the path of the website project you added.  In my case it was \OrchestratorWebManager

You will need to build the website so it functions when you run the solution.


Run the Form application and there you go!


So… now the fun part.. migrating useable code from the old application to this new very basic forms project and the internal website.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Cannot login to Windows 10 safe mode password incorrect

If you have to login to Windows 10 in safe mode and it tells you your password is incorrect.

Try using a previous password!

Yeah.. mad as that is... That is the case with me.... Oh dear Microsoft... 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How to change Organisation Owner to different account in VSO

Visual Studio Online (now know as AzureDumpO or something too) is free for 5 users.  It get's expensive the moment you start to pay.

You can create a new VSO account with an email address from the project you making, and then add yourself into the project.  You've "lost" a seat however with the email address from the project.

"Organization admin cannot be downgraded to stakeholder license" is what you get if you try to downgrade that account to Stakeholder.

You can get round it by going into VSO as the user who owns the account (user@projectsite.com)

Click Users.. Security.. Project Collection Administrators.. Members..

Then add yourself in there.



Once you've done this logout and login as yourself.

Then hit the clog, and Settings.. Adding yourself as the Organisation Owner.


You can now downgrade the user@projectsite.com to stakeholder.

Not you should go back into the Project Collection Administrators and add the account back in there (it will tell you they don't have code access... that fine) so you don't get locked out.

On site Build Agents

If you use On-site build agents to deploy code it appears you can stilll use a PAT generated with what now a stakeholder account.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

5 point plan for Microsoft Success

I'm a lifelong Microsoft user: From early beginnings with GWBasic..  thenVB3&4 at university, classic ASP, did an NT4 MCSE and most recently VB.net MVC..

IE was a disaster, so was Windows Mobile & now Windows Phone.
I lost Office when the damn ribbon appeared.

Visual Studio/Visual Studio Online/VB.net MVC are what keep me in the MS World.  (I also have Ubuntu installations...)

Here are 5 points that if implemented would make life a lot simpler again; and probably make Microsoft even more money:

1) Dump the "Store" and let .exes run directly on WP10

Like you can on Windows Desktop.  Sure there might be the odd virus or other problem.  But it's no different from the Desktop OS.

2) Put the bloody toolbars back on Office. In fact put the toolbars and buttons and everything else back where was on Windows XP, for me "intuitive" means "guess" & "digging about".   I'm happy to have everything in menu that I can scroll through and buttons that are obviously clickable.

3) Make Bing work better.  It is terrible...

4) Show the Url/Location all the time on Edge - I don't want it "disappearing" and having to find it.

4a) On that note:  Don't force people to try to use Edge.  If it's better people will use it - sly tricks and nasty popups just make me more determined NOT to use it.

5) Please give me MSN messenger back. Skype is utterly useless, slow to unusable, bugs and errors all over it.