humyo.com on Ubuntu Server… [update]

March 7th, 2011 No comments

A few months have passed and it is about time I resolved a problem I’m having with WebDAV access to humyo. I found myself reinstalling ubuntu a while back and in my rush to get things up and running I skipped the setup of WebDAV and my humyo mount. However time has come to pull my finger out (as it were!)…

If the truth is known, not much has changed since my original post [here]. However humyo look to have been messing with their security settings and the ‘https’ access is failing… Doh!!

Though not ideal, the best solution is to change the ‘https’ settings to ‘http’. Hopefully this problem will be resolved in the not too distant…

Lipotrim Update

July 28th, 2010 No comments

Here is an update on the Lipotrim diet I have been following…

I have hit my target weight of 13st 7lbs, and I am very pleased! It took me a total of 51 days to lose 3st 9lbs, an amazing thing whichever way you want to look at it.

I am not going to pretend it was easy. Yes, there were times when I considered stopping and thought it wasn’t working, but these ‘blips’ (for that’s all they were) soon passed. I never once felt physically hungry, but there were moments when I could have taken a big bite out of a burger, not because I wanted or needed it, but emotionally I wanted it. Again, these cravings passed, the trick was to pursue a new train of thought and not get buried in thoughts about food.

It may sound counter-intuitive but I took to reading books and watching TV programs about food. The River Cottage [link] and The Hairy Bikers [link] were particular favourites. I believe I have developed a new respect for food as a result of this diet. The only way to keep the weight off and stay healthy is to cook better food. I have even started to bake my own bread, even though I was unable to eat it! Although I have been told it tastes good.

Categories: Diet, Health & Fitness, Lipotrim Tags:

The Lipotrim Diet

June 23rd, 2010 No comments

It was recently suggested (by someone who shall remain nameless) that I may have been a little too heavy. And I wasn’t in any position to disagree, having reached 17st 2.5lb (109kg), not I might add the heaviest I have been, but still far too much.

Now, I’m not a dieting type person, I like my food. So the standard eat less and exercise more regime was never going to work for me. I’m not ashamed to say I have tried Weight Watchers, and yes it did work for a few weeks and I did lose a pound or two. However, human nature being what it is, temptation is always waiting around the corner. Diets like these (without sounding too cynical) are not designed for permanent weight loss, they draw you in, show how easy it is and then wait for you to flounder.

It was at this point that my wife (who happens to be a nurse) suggested I try the Lipotrim diet. Lipotrim is a total food replacement regime. The general principle is that you stop eating normal food and drink a shake as a replacement. After 48hrs your body goes into Ketosis (link) and begins to burn fat as a replacement energy source. The shakes contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals your body requires. For men you drink two shakes a day and for women three, which provide you with about 500 calories. If at this point you eat any regular food your body will drop out of ketosis and weight loss will stop. The speed of weight loss is very impressive, the average for women 1st (6.3kg) a month, and men 1.5st (9.5kg).

This diet sounded perfect for me, as you basically stop eating, thus removing any temptations. To join the Lipotrim programme you have to register at a pharmacy that is participating. Lipotrim is not available over the counter or on-line.

I started the Lipotrim diet on the 1st of June and by the time of this post (23 days later) I had lost 2st (12.7kg). It sounds too good to be true, but I am not making this up, it is genuine…

If this sounds like the sort of diet for you then I would seriously suggest you take a look at the Lipotrim website: http://www.lipotrim.co.uk

Categories: Diet, Health & Fitness, Lipotrim Tags:

A walk around Kinder…

April 30th, 2010 No comments


View Kinder Walk in a larger map

Categories: Dave Hilton, Friends, Health & Fitness Tags:

humyo.com on Ubuntu Server…

April 12th, 2010 4 comments
humyo.com

humyo.com

Introduction

I have been searching for a secure and reliable online backup service for some time now. There are many providers offering very similar services, and it has always been a balancing act between price, support and security. I have finally opted for one that ticks all the right boxes. I have chosen humyo.com which is located in the UK. As I am using both Windows and Linux systems I needed a service which works well with both. Humyo doesn’t currently have a client application for Linux, however they do support WebDAV which is ideal…

Setup WebDAV

In order to access the storage using WebDAV we need a WebDAV client. I have chosen to use davfs2 due to FUSE support. At the date of this post the latest version of davfs2 is 1.4.1 and installation is very simple.

sudo apt-get install davfs2

However, there are a number of small configuration changes to be made. Again, nothing too complicated. We need to remove the root access limitation and add account credentials. To add credentials first open the following file:

/etc/davfs2/secrets

Then add your account settings:

https://dav.humyo.com    <EMAIL ADDRESS>    "<PASSWORD>"

As Humyo doesn’t support file locking we need to disable it in order to remove the warning every time a file system is mounted. This can be done either on a per-system, per-user level or in a specific configuration file. Consult the mount.davfs manual for information how this can be changed.

man mount.davfs

To disable the file locking, open the davfs2 config file:

/etc/davfs2/davfs2.conf

Change the option:

# use_locks 1

To the following:

use_locks 0

Finally we need to configure the SSL certificate. Execute the following command:

wget -O - "https://support.comodo.com/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=downloadfile&downloaditemid=10" | \
sudo tee /etc/davfs2/certs/addtrust_ab.pem

Update the config file:

/etc/davfs2/davfs2.conf

And add the following line:

servercert /etc/davfs2/certs/addtrust_ab.pem

Mount

We are now ready to create a folder and mount point. I have used a standard path:

sudo mkdir /mnt/humyo

To mount the humyo drive execute the following command:

sudo mount -t davfs https://dav.humyo.com /mnt/humyo/

To allow users to access the mounted folder and remount at boot we need to modify the fstab config file:

/etc/fstab

And add the following line:

https://dav.humyo.com    /mnt/humyo    davfs    user,auto,rw    0    0

If all goes well you should now have access to humyo storage drive…

Google…

January 13th, 2010 No comments

There has been some concern raised about the comment Eric Schmidt made on a CNBC interview recently. However, like most things the press and the general public get their hands on, it has been grossly misinterpreted. Here is the quote everyone is going on about:

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

However if you look at the original transcript/video of the interview it makes a little more sense and isn’t as outrageous as previously thought. Here is his full answer:

Q: People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?

A: I think judgement matters… If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it’s important, for example that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

Here is a clip from the interview:

Granted he did make a mistake, the “you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place” bit is misleading. However he was answering a very specific question, whether or not you should treat Google like a friend. I believe that anyone with half a brain can understand what he was trying to say. What he should have said is something along the lines of:

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be discussing it on-line in the first place.

What I find most difficult to understand is the innocence and naivety of the on-line community. Google (and their like) are service providers, they deal with data, they search through it and index it. At a very basic level, they bring order to chaos…

Imagine (just for a moment) that the internet didn’t exist, and instead, we had massive notice boards on every street corner, where anyone could leave a message, ask a question or stick a picture. Google would be the company that goes around collecting and collating the contents on each and every one of these boards. It would then publish a directory listing the contents. Now, if you didn’t want anyone to know about something specific would you put it on these boards? I think the answer would be a universal “No!”… And you’re back in the real world!

I think the problem we have is with the anonymity that the internet appears to give us. We have access to the internet in the relative privacy of our homes and we project that feeling of security onto the internet. When we’re browsing onto the Financial Times, Fred’s Blog or any of the billions of pages available, we are doing it in the privacy of our home. There isn’t anyone looking over our shoulder watching our every move! You would see them, right?

Wrong… Every request that your computer makes over the internet has the potential of being recorded and logged. The internet is a tool, nothing more. It links and exchanges data between two or more computers. It is this that the innocents must be made aware of. The internet isn’t your friend, there is no such thing as privacy on the internet (unless you really know what you’re doing*).

There is one area where I do have some sympathy for the naive users and that is the intrusion and interception of email by Google and their like. It would be the same as postal workers opening your mail, reading the contents and pushing mailshots through your door based on what they had just seen. Here in the UK we have very strict laws related to mail interception, with lengthy imprisonments, the postal workers even have to sign the official secrets act.

When you sign up for an email service on-line you waive your rights to privacy and to me that is unfair. On top of that you are also forced to adhere to whatever laws are in place in the country where the company is run, independent of where you are located. For example, if you had a Google email account and lived in the UK, your messages could come under the US Patriot Act, giving the US government unrestricted access to your data.

This is a very complex area, with solid arguments both for and against and it needs discussing. International laws need to be agreed upon regarding personal on-line privacy. As we shift more and more of our personal and working lives on-line the safety barriers need to be in place, the primary goal should be the education of on-line users in security and privacy matters. Ignorance is most definitely not bliss!!

* Securing your personal data is a relatively simple process. There are applications freely available that enable the encryption of data and emails such as PGP and TrueCrypt. For more information see my section of personal privacy.

Categories: Culture, Musings, Politics, Rants & Raves, YouTube Tags:

George’s Global View…

December 7th, 2009 No comments

I have just found this clip on YouTube by George Carlin about his view on climate change and the human condition… Be warned it does contain some strong language!

While comic in nature, I do believe it sums up the message I was trying to get across in my last post: The Anthropogenic Problem

The anthropogenic problem…

December 4th, 2009 1 comment
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

I am very worried! Everyday I am bombarded by Climate Change arguments, both for and against. Experts from every part of the scientific community are producing data sets, charts, graphs and illustrations. One ‘fact’ is rebutted by another ‘fact’ and then another, and another, ad infinitum. What should be a scientific problem has leaked into the public domain. A domain where logic and reason have no place. The Climate Change debate has become a battle ground, a survival of the fittest, where the groups that shout loudest win…

Whether we are partially or completely responsible for the recent rise in global temperature is not the issue. The real issue is our humanocentric bias, our opinions and our beliefs. It is human nature to think we are somehow central and important to our world and its events… Is it not ‘our’ world after all? Are we not the dominant species? Are we not its master?

The biggest problem we have is our inability to agree on even the simplest of things. We have study and research groups all around the world, producing raw sets of data. The problem doesn’t lie with the collection, but the analysis and presentation. When we analyse this data we apply rules and methods that are by default biased. This is where the beauty of peer-review comes in, where any erroneous methods are spotted and highlighted. The problem we have with the Climate Change debate, is our inability to agree on what is erroneous.

Another major problem is ego. People are putting their ego’s ahead of the scientific method. As a result, the debate is quickly becoming a slanging match. This is not the scientific way! If you are unable (or unwilling) to reason and debate without your ego being bruised or getting in the way then please excuse yourself. Science has no place for your personal feelings. You may not like it, but you can not argue with its logic and reasoning.

As mentioned earlier, the scientific debate has spilled over into the public arena. This is a very bad thing! The people rule by mob mentality, reason and debate are utterly useless. As a result, one of the first fatalities is the ability to distinguish between correlation and causality. If we were to look at a graph showing temperature and co2 levels over time, the correlation is unmistakable. However, just because there is a correlation doesn’t mean there is causality. To understand the causality, you have to understand the processes driving the temperature and co2 levels. Plotting data on a graph does not prove it. This is where both groups (the ‘warmists’ and the ‘denialists’ *) are failing. They produce nice looking graphs showing how {x} is directly effecting {y}. The public sees this graph and BANG, its proof of causality!

The next problem is the politicization of science, the manipulation of data and results for a political cause and end. A perfect example of this is the dismissal of a scientific advisor by the British government after he said that drug {a} was less dangerous than drug {b}, something which went against the party line (see link). A recent climate change revelation was the hacked email archive from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (see link). I am not going to comment on the contents of the emails, as I do not know the original context in which they were written, and I would just be falling foul of the very problem I’m trying to highlight. Whichever way you wish to interpret the meaning or reasoning behind the posts, it is not difficult to see the humanocentric and ego related problems at work yet again.

One complaint put forward by the sceptic groups, is the closed nature of the data sets and analysis processes. I can see their point – “The results of a climate model study have been published, proving that we are directly responsible for climate change. However the raw data has not been made public, neither has the source code for the climate model used to test the data”.

If this were true then it would be the equivalent of an eminent organisation proving the existence of God, refusing to provide the data or method that proves it, and simply saying ‘trust us’ were the experts. By restricting access to the raw data, you add fuel to the sceptics fire. What could you be hiding from them? Again, not very scientific! If your theory is correct, and the results match your prediction, and it passes peer-review, then what have you got to hide? If on the other hand, your results do not match the data, do not fudge or hide this fact from us, instead publish it. You can advance science by proving you were wrong. Do not let your ego get in the way of scientific progress.

If this is to be a public-political-scientific debate we must all share the same data, be allowed to run whatever tests we see fit, and we must all publish our findings (right or wrong). Only then, when all the data is on the table for everyone to see, can we truly begin to understand the implications.

* I personally detest the use of ‘warmist’ and ‘denialist’, I feel it detracts from the whole debate and lowers the tone. Can you not hold a differing opinion without being labelled as some kind of heretic?

An observation…

November 11th, 2009 18 comments
Escalator going up...

Escalator going up...

Something interesting recently caught my eye and has forced me to think more about stairs than I ever have before. To explain: I use public transport on my daily commute and to get from street level up to platform level in the train station I use two sets of stairs. Running parallel to these stairs are pairs of escalators (one going up, the other down).

Perhaps I’m going into too much details? Anybody who has ever been to an airport, bus depot or train station knows what I mean. Anyway…

Most people (85 – 95% *) use the escalators instead of the stairs. Nothing inherently wrong with that I hear you say. However, this week one of the escalators wasn’t moving. There were no signs or barriers preventing people from using it,  however everyone had switched to using the stairs. I find that odd. Why switch to the stairs when you could just as easily walk up the steps of the escalator? It looked to me like they were deliberately avoiding the escalator. It would appear that people are only willing to use the escalators when it is moving.

The thing I find even more surprising is the herd mentality that most people appear to adopt. Maybe I’m reading too much into it? Perhaps it is just one of those naturally occurring events that nature throws at us now and again. Personally, I think it is a tiny indicator into the human condition…

* Based on my own personal observations.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> UPDATE <<<<<<<<<<<<<

Ok, after several comments on this post about ‘step height’ I decided to check it out. Granted, given the location and circumstance, it is not a valid scientific study, however I do believe it will suffice.

It was suggested that step height was a major factor in people opting to use the stairs instead of a non-moving escalator. So at great personal risk (of denting my pride more than anything), I checked the step height. I did this two ways:

First, I counted the number of steps on the escalator and stairs. If there are the same number of steps on each then they must be a similar height (as both escalator and stairs rise by the same height over the same distance).

Second, I just looked at them both. Granted they weren’t absolutely the same height, but close enough as to make hardly any difference. One thing that was striking was the depth of each step on the escalator, probably half as deep again.

However, what ruled out the step height suggestion to me was the conclusion of the wonderfully titled research paper: “Odd Sensation Induced by Moving-Phantom which Triggers Subconscious Motor Program” [link]. It is an interesting read…

These results suggest that it is not step-height but stepping on an escalator itself that is essential for the emergence of the odd sensation.

I will freely admit to feeling the sensation described in the paper. However it hasn’t effected my walking/running up the escalator while everyone else uses the stairs. No doubt when the escalator is fixed people will go back to queuing and standing on the escalator steps while they are whisked off at 0.5m per second!

My (probably very obvious) conclusion is that people, on the whole, are lazy and if something happens that changes the natural course of things they get freaked out and will copy what everyone else does.

Categories: Musings Tags:

The Freedom of Belief

September 24th, 2009 No comments

An interesting story appeared on the Guardian website recently [link] which raised a number of interesting questions for me.

First a little background. The article in question was about a man named Daniel Jones who founded the International Church of Jediism, a religion inspired by the Star Wars films which has 500,000 followers worldwide. While shopping at a local branch of Tesco he was asked to remove the hood he was wearing by security. Daniel refused, claiming that his religion dictated that he should wear the hood in public places.

Now, here is the interesting thing. Although I have no religious beliefs personally, I appreciate that many billions of others do and I respect their opinion whatever if it (so long as they do not try and force it upon me!). I would even defend their freedom of belief if I felt it was justified. And this is the point. Tesco appear to be judging which ‘religion’ is valid and which is not. Granted the source of the Jedi religion is of unconventional origin (the typewriter of George Lucas), but as far as I am concerned it holds just as much weight as any of the other older religions. So, who decides the validity of a particular religion?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines religion as:

religion – noun

1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

2 a particular system of faith and worship.

3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion.

If we apply logic and reason to the task of validating a religion then there won’t be many that survive. It can’t be down to its age, some ‘accepted’ religions are quite young relatively speaking (Christianity was young once). Neither can it be the number of followers, granted the big three have huge followings, but the smaller factions are still valid are they not, besides it only requires one believer to make it a religion.

It is a belief, that’s the point, it requires no proof, no evidence, just an unquestioning obedience. As far as I am concerned Jediism is as valid a religion as any other. I can hear the screaming battle cry now, “but Jediism isn’t a real religion!”. My only response would be “prove it”.

If we are to go down the path of grading the various forms of religion then I can honestly say hand on heart “good luck”. All religious faiths require an element of mysticism and require the believers to take many things on face value. The moment you start to question the doctrine too hard you will find holes. This is the problem, it is also where the hard line atheists (of which I am not) are failing, all a religion requires is that you believe in it. Bertrand Russell used as an example a teapot floating in space, you can’t see it, the chances of ever finding it are impossible to calculate, but it is also impossible to disprove, it only requires faith that it is up there.

Back to my original point. I honestly believe that Tesco have discriminated him based on his religious beliefs. By forcing him to remove his hood they are making a judgement on which religious attire is allowed and which is not. Can you imagine the outcry (and bad press) if they had asked a Muslim lady to remove her Hijab or Burka, or a Christian nun was asked to remove her Wimple, or a Sikh his turban, we could go on…

Don’t get me wrong, I can see Tesco’s point of view. They asked the fan of a classic sci-fi film to remove his costume. Where’s the problem in that I hear you ask? What if they had asked the fan of a classic work of fiction to remove his costume? “I’m sorry your eminence, but you can’t wear that Mitre in the store!”. If you except one religion and the fashion associated with it, then you must except them all, no exceptions…

Here endeth the lesson for today…

Categories: Musings, Philosophy, Rants & Raves, Theology Tags: