Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Been a good run!

So I started using Stack Overflow as a user back in 2013 – I’d lurked before, but never contributed.

The collapse of the traffic on B&B UK meant that I’d finally taken the plunge and learnt .net.  This was a blessing in disguise, now 3 year later we are producing (together with MVC) the best website/applications I’ve ever made.
 
Anyway.. So I was playing around with some Java libs and this happened.




Well.. actually it didn’t.    I noticed within a few days that I must have been mistaken and it didn’t make any difference to the amount of memory.

The thing is.. with SO you need some reputation to “highlight” questions – get them answered sooner.  You can’t pay or bribe or offer favours.  Nothing but reputation.  So I was getting a few pluses..  And my family needed me.  So I just left it.   Clock, Clock – Even though’ the answer is wrong.  I keep getting more reputation!!

Which means I can ask questions (and giveaway reputation) which means they sure-as-hell get answered.

Stackoverflow is a very well made site:

  •  - It (and this little bit of naughtiness) has been one of the reasons I’ve been able to get my new site (http://redplanet.travel) off the ground
  •  -I’ve also incorporate the banging “reputation” system into Red Planet Travel to encourage contributions.


So there it was.   I going to have to deleted it now…   Let’s see what it does to my reputation?!

Hmm.. I deleted it.  I’m supposed to loose my reputation.. but nothing appears to have happened.

Maybe it go later.

Thanks anyway for all the fish!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Playing fast and loose with Sterling

Frustrating times here.

"If you believe you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what the very word "citizenship" means."

-         Theresa May Conference Party Speech 2016

Well I tell you Mrs May.  I am a "Citizen of the World" and I am affronted by your narrow minded, xenophobic views.

My mother was born in Finland to a family that had emigrated there from Sweden.  My Father was born in India to an Irishman and his French Indian wife.  I grew up in London but was able to freely move to nearby my wife's family in Spain when my children were born, and have had the privilege of moving to Andorra and enjoy all its advantages.

We've not stopped either – I look at the World with unlimited vision.  If my business or my desires take me – we will move to wherever we are made to feel welcome and can contribute.

Where I can tell you I won't be going, or considering setting up subsidiary countries, is the UK – or whatever will be left of it when you finish.

My main income remains GBP Sterling due to my business that I set up there in 2001.

You and your party's anti-business and anti-immigration views and rhetoric is having a real effect on me and my businesses now.  Maybe you will liberalise and educate the English in needed skills to make England a place where I will be able to find workers with the skills I require – bi- and tri-lingual IT engineers who show initiative and work at globally competitive rates in 10 years' time?

But right now – I need to pay for these kind of people the world over – and they don't accept ££s.

By wreaking the currency you are putting my investment program in jeopardy. 

Look at the sterling's decline in the past year.


These rates were already discounted due to the impending referendum prior to June – and now look!  If we take from the high in November my capital investment reserves have dropped by roughly 30%.  This is killing me.   Stop now!

I've still got 20/25 years of work at least ahead of me.  I also have a good memory.  Do you think I should invest more or less in the UK in these coming years Mrs May?  I leave the answer up to you.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FW: The State of My Inbox

OK, this is a pretty bad day.  Normally I have a couple of pages but sometimes it comes like a tornado.  Today it seems themusiczoo.com has been targeted. It is not a brand I’m familiar with in Europe, but maybe better known in the US.

 

The Receipt(numbers).zips will contain a virus payload that will encrypt my documents and then the hackers will expect an anonymous randsomware payment by bitcoin to unlock it all.

 

As you can see I run a @catchall address on my old karlomeara.com and bendecko.com domains – companyname@bendecko.com etc.   Most of these aliases have been scraped from websites e.g. the paypal one – that one, for example, on an old site where I offered some products for sale:  It is used in the Url sent to PayPal.

 

Others, like the LinkedIn alias, were not.  I was aware of a leak from LinkedIn years before it was in the news – because I could see Spam like this addressed to the my LinkedIn alias – which was only ever used to login to Linked in’s website.  They had to be source of the leak.

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pizza and Coke and Programmers

My post today is about programmers and pizza and Coke.

I just realized why programmers are  always eating pizza and drinking copious amounts of Coke-a-Cola.

It's not that we like pizza or Coke particularly. Although they are both very pleasant things.

Possibly not so good for the middle-aged waistline as for the young lad that I used to be, and living the married life my routine is dictated by children and wife.

I noticed that the morning session is by far the best for productivity. Come lunch-time living in Iberia we normally have a siesta. This is in part due to the large amount of carbs in the lunch time meal.

Quite often, when deadlines that time I have tried to work through this period.  Quite often with disastrous results - either I write terrible code,  or don't write anything at all.

So the family's been away for the last couple of weeks,  and I have to get used to living like a teenager again.

Now finally I see the benefit of the pizza and coke diet.  If I am constantly topping up on pizza and Coke I can work continuously through the day.

I better just watch that belly-line!

[This post was dictated out to the Chrome browser using https://speechpad.pw/ - best transcription I've found so far]

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The UK missed a trick with EU institutions way back

So I wanted to write a quick summary of where we are at with the Brexit situation.
I’m a committed European: my mother being Finnish and my father with his part-Irish (and Indian) heritage, I am an avid war-history reader and keen business person.  To me leaving the European Union is complete madness.  
Since attaining adulthood I have always been saddened by the United Kingdom's reticence to join the institutions of Europe with real vigour.
For example, I could not understand why London as the centre of global commerce would not to host the European Central Bank?  Similarly the United Kingdom with its long history of developing democracy and legislature not wish to be the home of the European Parliament or European Courts?
When these were suggested in the ‘70s and ‘80s, why didn’t we say “Hey great idea this 'Euro' - let’s have the ECB in London”, or “You know what, European Court of Human Rights? - yeah bring it on - we’ve got some lovely old buildings here in London.”  We could have reused the old GLC building across from Westminster Palace for the European Parliament.
If public institutions as these had been sited in London from the outset and Britain had been wholeheartedly committed to the European project then we could have moulded it in a way that we could never have done from the backseat always trying to make tweaks but not actually taking part.
I love the Schengen area which means we blast over the Spanish/French border on the péage at 130Km/hr - no queuing, and once there; the Euros in my pocket are just as valid as they were in Spain.
Anyway, we’ve Brexited - that’s it.
The UK never got it, so we’re out. Probably for the best now.
We need to make the best of it.  Younger people in the UK seem to have been positive -but didn’t vote in the required numbers to sway the vote: Understandably as general politics seems to have turned into “soundbites-only” and they will have felt disaffected.  This will have translated into in-action on the referendum poll.
British people never wanted open borders - happy to wait in line and show their passports, and also never wanted to share the currency - again at the mercy of currency traders and the uncertainty that brought.
Since the 2008 crisis Sterling tanked nearly 30% so inflation (and key housing inflation) ran wild.  I could feel it most keenly living in Europe during this period - but people back in the UK might not have noticed (apart from their houses leaping in “value” - whehey!)
Back to the problem:
England has always been a country of tolerance and pioneering ideas. Britain has accepted immigrants from all over the world, it was one of the leaders in championing the abolition of slavery and has maintained a policy global policy that has intervened for the growth democracy in Europe for many centuries; at great cost to itself and people.
So there was an English guy on BBC Panorama the other night: A local guy having six children who had previously worked in Industry; He was dreaming that now that the immigrants will be leaving he would a row he will be able to get a “good job” and be able to support his family.  I have to say that I think he is dreaming.  Who in their right mind expects to be able to support 6 children in today’s day and age (with all the associated costs), and secondly given the level of state support he currently gets - rented house - child benefit; how has the situation got so bad?  
It is incredible that a guy like that could vote for the ultra-far-right wingers of the fiscal policies who will have no truck with the bad-planning, laziness and sloth that he is exhibiting. These are the people that are now about to take power in England.
The best we can hope for is that England would negotiate trade deals with members of the Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand and maybe set up some form of free trade area between these. They do all seem a long way away however and the question has to be asked though with all the talk about immigrants - it will be impossible to have all free movement between these nations, and satisfy the baying of the Brexiteers.
The pound has once again tanked, and lots of business will be affected negatively.
Ultimately, however, England (after losing Scotland and N. Ireland) will probably emerge stronger - the EU or Immigrants cannot be blamed for any ills, and people will have to work longer and harder.   It may be able to act more in it’s “international-pivot” role it has played in more recent centuries again.
The EU too (as long as it can hold together in the short-term) can now march forward to the ultimate (unstated, but should have been) goal of the complete federation in the United States of Europe.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fakes on Upwork

Let me start off by saying upwork.com has transformed my business (freelancer.com was good too).  They cost a fair amount 10% but do add value!

Anyway so there will always be scammers around, and here’s a live one!

I posted up a job, helping out a friend of mine at http://masmirobiofarm.com, on a new account.  Got a few enquiries – one from this guy “Bullen Nicholas”.  I’ve had some good results from US contractors on Upwork so was excited.

A few things stood out – 0 hours worked, and 0 jobs.  That’s a warning.  Although I have a similar guy from the US who was just starting out and needed some work history – so was able to give me a great deal and I gave him his first job.

But the picture and the text were the giveaways; web developer with a mutilated avatar? LOL, and the text “working as web developer from last 6 years”.   Maybe education standards have slipped in the US over the last few years, but that is inexcusable.

So I did a bit of “forensic analysis”.  Grabbed the “guy’s” image.  Fired up old trusty Paint Shop Pro.  Resized the lateral proportion by 80%.

Then using my favourite plagiarism/fake analysis tool Google Image Search..  Give it a whirl..



Hey this guy does look a bit familiar.  I know… my old flatmate's favorite show back in Uni.  “Dawson’s creek”

Wow.. James Van Der Beek is looking for work on Upwork under a pseudonym.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Out with the old (domain names)

As many a webmaster, web-designer, web-entrepreneur knows: You "collect" domain names over the years.

This happens almost by accident.  You think of a idea, product, or brand - fire up your favourite webregistrar - and *bang* there goes $10 and you've got a new domain.com or .net or whatever.

This is fine.  Except that very often, very very often, nothing comes of it.  It goes onto the "projects backburner" list and never comes off.

Well sometimes.  And it is always "deleted" - very very rarely will a domain progress beyond the backburner to progress.

They just sit there, year after year billing $10 or whatever the renewal fee is - "ah.. one day I'll do this project" you say to yourself - but it never does.

So today is clean out day.


I've had a few domains in my time, and these two I'm getting rid of today have been with me a while, 10 years - 2004 I just checked the WHOIS for "onewaylinkexchange.com" and less for "prodmatrix.com"

I'm blogging about them because they are two special ones for me, as I did actually develop "stub" sites on them: in 2012 for onewaylinkexchange, and 2014 for prodmatrix.

They are 2 sides of my web development life - the former is a horrific HTML table based site (clone from a site that was designed in 2004 - an old even at birth), and the latter was my first foray into MVC.net

Look at all that licence-free artwork on the page.  That probably took a week to grab each image and save out.

onewaylinkexchange.com

I also leant not to use *any* SEO service - at the time "any link was a link", but it soon became apparent that some links "are not good".  I subscribed to some link sharing thing, only to discover that lots of links were pointing to my site, and I could not get rid of them - the linkexchange service was no longer manned, or maintained, but the links still pointed at my site!

Today you can "disavow" links, but it's a load of hassle - nobody got time for that - as they say.



Prodmatrix.com

Prodmatrix.com was borne out of the frustration of buying someone on impulse in hardware store, bring the equipment home, using it one or twice that season - always breaking, and generally requiring a lot of effort.

Then the thing (the first outing the following year's spring) completely breaking.  Out of warranty at this stage.   So I just google'd the product code - up come LOADS of review sites, like Amazon etc, with lots of people, none of which has a good word to say about the strimmer in question.  AGRGGH!

I was kicking myself, because money was tight (still is!), and my daughter's birthday was coming up and the garden a mess.

This is what I wrote:

My name is Karl, and I'm just a usual guy: I'm a programmer, and a husband, and a dad. I work hard every day. I certainly don't have money that I can just throw away. Now I happend to spend a considerable chunk of money, like 2 days earnings, on some garden equipment - that turned out to be completely useless. This made me real mad, since I wasted that money, and still have an overgrown garden, but I also have bits of junk in my yard. But I was even madder when I looked up the items on the Internet, and found that lots of other people thought they were useless too! Why hadn't I checked before spending all that money?

I needed to set in place some "protocol" for purchasing

How to do this? As a programmer, a techy, and someone who generally does things the hard way I was thinking of all sort of elaborate Apps that geolocated you in the hardware store, and other non-sense etc.

Photo Credit

Being a Programmer I was thinking of all sorts of complicated solutions to the this problem. "How to remember when buying something of value, to check it online, before parting with the cash", yes, how indeed? Well it finally came to me while sitting on the toliet! And it costs nothing. Click the video to see how...

However sense prevailed - why not just put a damn sticker on my bank and credit cards - "Hello dufus - what are you doing?" would suffice to remind me, that if this was a big purchase, to check online and make sure that it was not a "lemon" as they say about some cars in the US.

OK, so you've at least been made to think... Are you happy to buy this product now and risk disappointment or leave it, do the proper research it justifies and come back to the store later?

Prodmatrix.com was then a set of tools that would metasearch common websites like Amazon or TripAdvisor to give specific info fast.  The Windows Phone app was particularly good as it will launch 5 or 6 browsers at once, and you could just tab through the loaded pages really quick rather than having to enter search terms for each website you wanted to check.




Here is a link to a full size image

But what about Online purchases?

It is just a likely that you buy a dud online. A quick search (via my meta-search engine) will quickly determine if the product is any good. But how to remember to do that search before actually making the purchase?

Yeah it's real easy to just forget to do any research when buying stuff online - even in places like Amazon where they are often reviews - any reviews for YOUR PRODUCT?

So I figured  - real easy reminder - just add something in your password for e.g. your Paypal account to remind you.  The reminder tag was going to be [:]  square bracket, colon, bracket - which signifies "product" and "matrix" - from your math's classes... remember?

Why did I call this site the "Product Matrix" or ProdMatrix for short? And what is with all the [ brackets and : colons?
The long term aim of the site is to create a community of reviewers and purchasers who help each other to make great purchasing decisions.
I wanted to use a simple logo that could be typed with a keyboard and also have a strong meaning... 

So there is it.. in a nutshell.

I even went as far as getting some images of wallets done with that logo, from a online store where you can upload graphics and they print it on items of clothing etc.

Here is the store screen in all it's glory:

http://tinyurl.com/prodmatrixstore

All's good

No doubt other people will register these domains again - good luck with onewaylinkexchange! and let's see what appears at prodmatrix....

I've got my new Red Planet Travel project, and it has benefited from lots I learn't along the way with these two sites - so it's not with regret that I shut them down...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lumia 1020 hi res mode

I was talking with my brother-in-law about the Nokia Lumia 1020, and remarked about the 10mb image size.  I’d zoomed them before, and not really seen any benefit, but this weekend I’d taken some well-lit shots of the kids, and it does actually seem to have some benefit.

 

Here’s the original frame.

 

 

 

I could quite easily zoom in several times and still get a good clean image e.g.

 

 

And taking it too extremes a real close-up face and the ~1mb comparison image.  At these levels I probably woundn’t want to have to present these to anyone, but at least the image data is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 18, 2016

no Friends-Reunited

So farewell then FriendsReunited!  Typically British invention totalled by superior American effort.

 

 

Here are my musings on there, before they get deleted.

 

 

Went to Nottingham to Uni - realised there was a lot more cash and fun in computers rather than biology!

Updated 2001 - Changed my career direction, and stayed in Nottingham for many years. Recently returned to London and work in a .com in the city. Live in Oval, Kennington and would love to hear from anyone who I had a laugh with at Shrewsbury, Epsom or college.

Updated 2002 - .com went under. hehe. so cleared off travelling in SE Asia. Found an interesting new job in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and am still here. Got a pet-project website www.bedandbreakfasts.co.uk which I do on the side.

Update 2004 - Been contracting back in the UK for a while. Itchy feet feeling coming on again.
I can be spammed happily at - bendecko at h*tmail c*m with the word NOSPAM in the subject line

Uodate 2006 - Now in Tarragona Spain, have the most amazing son Henry O'Meara, and a wonderful lady Tanya. Living in top floor flat overlooking a park with views of the Mountains. Will get round to learning Spanish (and maybe even Catalan) at some point. Right now tho' spend most of my time looking at laptop screeen and on VOIP phone.

Update 2009 - Family growing. Isabel O'Meara born 16.6.2009 Still in Valls, Tarragona but now in a house. Still can't speak Catalan. Still looking at laptop. 

Update 2012 - Seems like FR has been usurped by FB. We in Andorra now and can be found on FB and linkedin. FB profile picture is not me, but a mustachio'ed man I admired in my youth. It is me anyway and I'll connect with anyone that remembers me or thinks I might be a useful contact today.