IBM need help with statistics

Look at this infographic

The way I read this, before and after were the same.
The way I read this, before and after were the same.

So,”Stockholm convinced the skeptics to pay for a faster commute.”?

I’m assuming that means pay for an IBM traffic management system as I’m not exactly sure what was being paid for.  I’m don’t I agree the skeptics were convinced though from reading their infographic. The two key bits of data to prove their point are: “Before: Over 50% say no.  After: Over 50% say yes”

Now, I’m not a statistical genius, but I don’t imagine they’re doing too much rounding on these numbers.  If 60% said no, I’m sure they’d have told us. If 55% said no, I’m sure they’d have told us.  We don’t know how accurate their data is either, did they ask everyone or try for a representative survey?  They may be out by 10% anyway (let’s hope not).  To keep it clearly written,  let’s replace the word “Over” with “About”. Does that sound reasonable? Well it does to me so let’s do it.

Now let’s put the ‘after’ into the same context as the ‘before’. As “Over 50% said yes”, that’s the equivalent of “Under 50% said no”, or replacing Over/Under with About, that’s the equivalent of “About 50% said no”  Let’s rewrite their phrase:

Before: About 50% say no.  After: About 50% say no.

At least, that’s how I read it, but maybe it’s me that needs the help with statistics.

Caught in my spam trap –

I’ve decided to start naming and shaming the people who spam me. I have an email address hidden in the code of one of my web sites. It doesn’t display to visitors but robots will read it.  To give the spammers a sporting chance, the email address is nospam@….mydomain… I then email them to ask where they got the address from.

Their response to asking where they got the email address from?

No reply from  (also the address on the web site)

Email headers

Delivered-To: nospam@....
Received: by with SMTP id zp7csp11088oab;
        Sun, 6 Jan 2013 13:22:30 -0800 (PST)
X-Received: by with SMTP id lz9mr93095986wjb.43.1357507349814;
        Sun, 06 Jan 2013 13:22:29 -0800 (PST)
Return-Path: <>
Received: from ( [])
        by with ESMTPS id y7si7407329wix.34.2013.
        (version=TLSv1 cipher=RC4-SHA bits=128/128);
        Sun, 06 Jan 2013 13:22:29 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of client-ip=;
       spf=neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of
Received: from [] by with NNFMP; 06 Jan 2013 21:22:29 -0000
Received: from [] by with NNFMP; 06 Jan 2013 21:22:29 -0000
Received: from [] by with NNFMP; 06 Jan 2013 21:22:29 -0000
Message-ID: <>
X-Yahoo-Newman-Property: ymail-3
X-YMail-OSG: sLH2K_UVM1kwPXZM0.Ah8akr8wNQ930om9q9JK4WB4hdc8u
X-Yahoo-SMTP: 5XLkSliswBDaNmfSrYcmC2Iyqy2G6up4yzBofV05ID6qaACd56g3sp0-
Received: from IAN-LAPTOP2 (ibenson@ with login)
        by with SMTP; 06 Jan 2013 13:22:28 -0800 PST
From: "Ian Benson - Building Mergers" <>
Subject: Design, Construction, Fitting Out & Maintenance Businesses For Sale
To: "nospam" <nospam@.....>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="winmDNq44pC1H=_jEWoPgurp494tw2s4he"
MIME-Version: 1.0
Reply-To: "" <>
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2013 21:22:19 +0000

This is a multi-part message in MIME format

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Content-Disposition: inline

=EF=BB=BFBuilding Businesses For SaleBUILDING
Design, Construction, Fitting Out
& Maintenance Businesses For Sale

We market design, construction, fitting out and maintenance businesses=
 for sale across the UK. These include retirement sales, disposals by =
larger firms concentrating on core activities plus sales by entreprene=
urs who have built up businesses and wish to embark on fresh challenge=

Installing a new hard disk in a Mac = not fun

So I had to upgrade my mac hard disk. 12 months and I filled the 320Gb disk so I treated myself to a Seagate Momentus XT 750Gb disk.

It has NOT been fun. Problems so far include:

Initialise disk over the internet and restore from TimeMachine – fails to restore the recovery partition so cannot use FileVault2. Correct way: initalise disk over the internet and reinstall OS X Lion with a new temporary user that has a different user name (not one that’s within your TimeMachine backup). Then restore Mac from TimeMachine, then delete temporary user to keep things tidy.

BootCamp has been a nightmare. I eventually bought WinClone which has made things slightly easier. I got dual boot working, then setup FileVault2 which managed to prevent me logging in to the windows partition. I’m sure I had FileVault2 running before on the old disk with bootcamp and without any problems. Trouble is it takes hours for the encryption process, hours to clone the windows partition, hours to restore the windows partition. I have yet to get that working.

Now, I want to do some ruby coding and discover TimeMachine doesn’t save my ‘path’ information so Git didn’t work (it was backup up). TimeMachine also didn’t backup my /etc/hosts file (I had entries that weren’t important but finding them gone is a little disconcerting) and at the moment I can’t compile some software for a variety of errors.


Results are in, WordPress gets as much spam as movabletype

That didn’t take long.  Last night I pointed the domain name to the new WordPress server. This morning I had 50 spam comments held for moderation.  I was impressed the spammers had noticed the blog change so quickly, then I thought the robots probably change their behaviour depending on the comment page. Clever those spammers.

Still, there are plenty of solutions. Before I get into writing some unique code I found a simple plugin. If you want to comment you now have to answer a question. I’ve begun by asking you to type the number 6. You can answer with any of: 6, Six, SIX, six.

If the spammers decide it’s worth adding that answer to their bots then I can change the question.


Block web spammers by their IP address

Every so often someone tries to post spam to this blog using a computer program. They never manage to because even if their computer does solve the captcha I manually approve every post. It’s not like there are a lot of posts here after all.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning for a long time to work out how to ban them from accessing web pages anywhere on my server. I always knew it wasn’t difficult, just a case of reading, testing, then making a note for the future. For future me, here’s how:

iptables is already installed and running
as the root user, running:

iptables -I INPUT -s -j DROP

where is the IP address to block, will block the user. If it becomes an issue, I can also block ranges and subnets and things… perhaps I’ll block the whole of China which is where most of the spam attempts seem to come from but that’s not very nice to 99% of the Chinese people, one of whom may want to find out what an English red mushroom with white spots looks like.

To check the rule has been included:

iptables -L -n

the -L tells iptables to list all the current rules it’s working with
the -n tells iptables NOT to try and work out the hosts name using DNS. Whilst my own office IP will resolve quickly, spammers generally don’t bother to setup reverse DNS and the list will take ages to display.

Another thing, I *think* I set up iptables to save it’s configuration when the server is shutdown and reload it when it starts. It certainly remembers the important rules I setup a couple of years ago. However, I’m not really worried if it forgets these IP blocks as I don’t have to do it very often.

While I’m here, I haven’t blogged at all lately. I’ve been very busy working on our new business web site (which will be at sometime very soon). I thought it would only take 2 weeks over christmas to do but it’s turned out to be harder and more complicated. It’s been fun though, so not long and I’ll be able to write about thinks like the arduino based water flow meter I built for work (that was tough and fun too!)

Brother Dave goes on a cycling holiday, we track his position live by GPS

280-live-gps-track-via-internet-thumb-300x185-279.jpg Brother Dave decided to go on a cycling holiday, from Oslo in Norway to Copenhagen in Sweden. His Nokia phone has built in GPS and with a little software from and a not inexpensive data contract with O2 (mostly needed so we can pester him with work email while he travels) we’re able to watch where he cycles in real time. You too can see him cycle slowly up hills on a scrolling map the wizz down the other side.

To find out where he is now, or where his last section finished, follow this link: , or visit his blog for anything else he uploads (he’s going to try and geotag his photos…..).

Special thanks to the developers of, it wasn’t possible to link directly to the latest route yesterday so I sent an email asking for it to be added to the wish list. Less than 12 hours later and they’ve added it already!

I'm still scared of speaking in public

It must be around 4 years ago I first heard about Chaucer Speakers Club. I remember a man named Jim visited the BNI group I’d set up and gave a very confident and clear presentation. He spoke of his involvement with the Chaucer Speakers Club as a place where anyone can visit to learn ways of improving their presentations. You can deduce how well presented that 60 seconds was as I remembered it until I met Jim again when he joined Rotary at the same time as me in March this year.

Last week Jim gave a presentation to our Rotary club on what makes Jim, Jim. He bought with him 3 visitors and those visitors made notes throughout his presentation to give him constructive criticism at a later date. He brought 3 people just to criticise him speaking on a subject he should know well? Yes, and they all came from the speakers club.

So, 4 years after meeting Jim I joined him tonight for a Speakers Club meeting. About a dozen of us met in the Kent and Canterbury Club and I must say it was a very refreshing meeting. There were 3 people prepared for long presentations of around 7 minutes. I say prepared, two were prepared in advance and with specific goals of achievement, for example, one had to present a topic with humour. However, one person had the unenviable task of presenting for 7 minutes on a topic she was to be told just 10 minutes in advance.

After these three had spoken, another three members gave a critique of each presentation. Stating the goals, highlighting good and bad within each part, the critique was like a presentation in it’s own right. Then a short interval and some 2 or 3 minute presentations on a topic given on the spur of the moment. Geoff (who is also a Rotarian with Jim and I) acted as compare nimbly starting a theme of music then responding to details within each presentation to create the next topic. For me (he had asked me if I wanted to speak on a topic before hand, and despite the fact I force myself to do it so often I still have a fear of presenting things) he said in his booming orators voice, “I recently discovered that the Whitstable Players are having trouble recruiting songsters,… Steve, ..tell us why you haven’t yet joined.”.

I thought I made quite a good start. Everyone else had a formal introduction..”Mr Topic Chairman, Speakers, …” and on they went. I figured that I already had an introduction with Geoff’s question and beside I had no idea what title’s were being used so having stood, I looked at some of my audience and went straight in with “Perhaps the reason I haven’t joined the Whitstable Players that I’d never heard of them until now. Now I know about them they’ll have to join a long line of things waiting for me to do. Jim invited me to the Chaucer speakers club some 6 years ago…..”. No one knew the 6 years was an on the spot over estimate and Jim never corrected them (though I guess my impression on him at that meeting was far less than his impression on me!).

I continued into describing my first presentation, which was really a Christmas reading in front of the High Sherif of Kent and how, as I read that for the first time, my knees shook so much I could feel both sides of each trouser leg and how I had begged to do the reading again they year after so I could do it better. I said how I have to work on something until I truly understand it and that I couldn’t join the players until I have some other things completed. I finished with a sentence something along the lines of “On the subject of presentations, I still have to learn to speak slower.”. And then sat down to polite applause.

After everyone had spoken on a topic, a member gave a review of each presentation. I was quite correct that I speak to fast – it’s a known flaw that I’ve been working on for years.

At the end of the meeting another member gave a critique on the meeting as a whole. Picking up things both good and bad with the way the chair had run the meeting, how the critique of the 3 minute topics took 13 minutes when the member knows the goal is to critique in 7 minutes. Analysis was on the verge of over analysis yet at the same time was full of gems, not just “That was poor”, “That was poor because….. try…..instead”. Really useful things to have as feedback. Things in a lot of company people just wont tell you for fear of offending.

It was so refreshing to see the whole meeting honestly review itself in different ways. Some very accomplished speakers were plying their trade. They knew they were good but they were seeking out ways of being better. No skill in life is easy and this club is like a training ground for speakers as a football player will practice penalty shots.

At the end I got more feedback from Suzie who reviewed all the mini topics. In addition to speed, when pushed she identified a limited vocal range. Going so fast also gave me little time to make full use of gestures. This nugget in itself might help me slow down – ensuring a gesture is put to full and good effect. I also found out that of my 2 minute target time (they gave the new boy a smaller target) I spoke for exactly 1 minute and 48 seconds. Not bad! Especially as I didn’t look at their traffic light timing system as no one had explained it to me. It would have been too much to think of anyway.

All in all this was a great meeting to have been to. Everyone supportive, a real fellowship of self improvement at work. Oh, I haven’t mentioned the several hundred page binder they have which sets the challenges and the skills to work on. Turning the art of presenting into a science of subtle but definitive objects.

On reflection, I’m still scared of speaking in public, but I’m better at speaking than kicking a football – The difference is just where I’ve been training myself.

One of our Australia photos was photo of the day on another web site


When sister sharon got married, the whole family flew out to celebrate with her and watch the big day. While around sister my fantastic parents paid for Rhonda and me to go in a helicopter flight around sydney. I’m not sure who took the photo (I think it was Rhonda) but we have a nice a photo of sydney harbour, opera house and city from the flight. I posted it in my Australia holiday postings and I just discovered it’s was posted as picture of the day on this persons blog. It’s a great feeling knowing things we do and share are appreciated.

Movable Type 4 upgrade

I’m updated the server software to movable type 4 from movable type 3. I’ll be using their default templates for a while but will eventually return a few of the nice things back (well, things I think are are nice, like the rotating photo banner).

Who created $foo $bar?

During my recent programming course on PHP, we had to use variables to store data. The content or use of those variables wasn’t significant to the thing we had to learn, so as is common in coding circles we used variables $foo and $var. I wonder who first used the variables $foo $bar?

In terms of the word “fubar” or “foobar”, I first heard it mentioned in the film “Saving Private Ryan”, and a quick google search lead me to this page that has some interesting notes/theories/ideas? on the origin of the term.