November 4th 2014

Some Recent Shows

I’ll start off by saying that I’ve been appalling at updating my blog recently. I’m making a concerted effort to catch-up on everything so I thought I’d start with a few of the shows I’ve seen over the last few months. There’s more geeky stuff to follow, I promise!

 

Minor Delays, Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, 1st August 2014
My first (and only) visit to the Fringe festival this year. After wandering around all afternoon, my friend and I had no idea what to see, despite the fact that we’d been bombarded with flyers. While walking through the Bristo Square area, we were offered a free promo ticket to see Minor Delays. We bought a second ticket and off we went.

Minor Delays was a comedic sketch show, put together by former members of the Cambridge Footlights and the Leeds Tealights. During the intro, I wasn’t too sure what was happening but it soon became evident as we watched the fast-paced show. It had the added bonus of cellos for dramatic music and there were no props therefore the focus was on the performers. I loved the show- plenty of laughs, some unexpected twists and we left with a smile on our faces.

 

Annie Get Your Gun, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 6th September 2014
I almost didn’t get to see this show. I’d had tickets booked for the Aberdeen show for months and I’d watched the film in anticipation. Unfortunately, the organisers pulled the last 3 weeks of the tour; Aberdeen happened to be one of those weeks. After a few days of planning and receiving a refund from HMT Aberdeen, we managed to get 5th row seats at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. When we arrived, it was clear the theatre was still under renovation- some of the toilets were portacabins on the street (although it did look as though the renovation work was nearing completion).

On to the show! Really enjoyed it, plenty of great songs and comedy. I thought Emma Williams was fantastic as Annie Oakley. What a voice- very, very powerful! I was amazed at the length of time she managed to hold a note during “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”. Jason Donovan on the other hand….I was disappointed by his performance. I saw him earlier in the year as Tick in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and I thought he seemed rather tired/might be having an off day back then- the rest of the cast overpowered him. I struggled to hear him throughout Annie Get Your Gun this time around too. Like I said, disappointing.

 

Top Hat, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 4th October 2014
This was a bit of a gamble for me. I’d never seen the original film and fancied a day away at the theatre. I made a good choice though. I can only describe the level of comedy in the show as a farce. I mean that in a good way- it reminded me of the episode of Frasier at the ski lodge where there’s a number of crossed wires, resulting in hilarity. The dancing and singing in the show was phenomenal and it was great to hear a live orchestra play. It’s a show I definitely want to see again!

October 7th 2014

Cyberforensics Conference, Glasgow, June 2014

In June, I attended the Cyberforensics 2014 conference in Glasgow.  The conference was spread over two days, and featured talks from academics, companies and those involved with law enforcement e.g. members of Police Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and NCC group were in attendance.  One of the talks that sticks in mind was entitled “Temporal Analysis Anomalies with iOS iMessage Communication Exchange” by Kenneth Ovens – I found it particularly interesting (for starters, I was completely unaware the Messages app utilised SQLite).

The conference proved to be a valuable experience in terms of my PhD work, providing me with the opportunity to network with other researchers in the field.  Constructive criticism regarding my presentation has given me some issues to consider when working on my research too.  I really enjoyed the conference and I’m looking forward to attending it next year.

Link to papers- https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/george.weir/cyfor14/papers/

June 27th 2014

Keeping the Raspberry Pi Connected via Wi-fi

A few months ago, I set-up my Raspberry Pi with a wi-fi adapter. More recently, I’ve noticed that the wi-fi connection occasionally drops out, and the adapter never attempts to reconnect to the network. This is a problem if I’m trying to access the Pi via SSH.

At this stage, I’m still unsure as to why the wi-fi drops out. Initially, I thought there was an issue with my interfaces file however, adding “auto wlan0″ to it in an attempt to force a reconnect failed. Trawling through the syslog files revealed that when the wi-fi dropped, a “link beat lost” message was recorded. I was fairly certain it wasn’t a power supply issue messing with the USB ports so my next idea was to create a cron job to check the status of the wi-fi adapter. This solution worked and I have outlined the steps I used below.

First of all, you need to create a new bash script in the following location (note, I’m using nano as my text editor):

cd ~
sudo nano ../../usr/local/bin/wifiscript.sh

The file has the following permission (the user can execute the file)

sudo chmod 0100 ../../usr/local/bin/wifiscript.sh

Next up, here’s the script I used to check the status of the wi-fi connection. What does it do? The Pi attempts to ping Google. If the Pi cannot successfully ping Google, then the script ensures the wi-fi interface is down before bringing it back up. Else, the wi-fi is connected and no action needs to be taken (yay!).

#!/bin/bash
 
TESTIP=8.8.8.8
 
ping -c4 ${TESTIP} > /dev/null
 
if [ $? != 0 ]
then
    logger -t $0 "WiFi has gone down- run ifup"
    ifdown --force wlan0
    ifup wlan0
else
        logger -t $0 "WiFi is currently ok"
fi

Now we need to create a new cron job to schedule when the wifi script runs. The new cron job goes here:

cd ~
nano ../../etc/crontab

How to add the new cron job to crontab:

*/5 * * * * root    /usr/local/bin/wifiscript.sh >> /var/log/syslog 2>&1

The above line writes all the messages generated by the wifiscript.sh file to the syslog file (so “WiFi has gone down- run ifup” or “WiFi is currently ok”). The cron job is also scheduled to run every 5 minutes.

…and that should be it! Well, not quite. It’s probably a good idea to test if the script actually works.

Take the wi-fi interface down:

ifdown wlan0

Of course, this will break your SSH connection. Wait 5 minutes and the wi-fi interface should come back up, allowing you to SSH back into the Pi.

One last check. Have a look at the syslog file. You should see where the wi-fi disconnected and where it reconnected.

nano ../../var/log/syslog

Now you’re done!

Note: this is my first attempt at writing a bash script and a cron job so comments and criticism is welcome!  In the process of writing this blog post, I found Arne’s Blog to be particularly helpful.

June 1st 2014

Montrose Music Festival, High Street, 24th May 2014

High Street Montrose

After a great show by Status Quo the previous day, we headed to the High Street stage as part of the Montrose Music Festival. A large portion of the street was closed, with food vans and stalls (great atmosphere).

I was rather tired from the night before so I only managed to catch a couple of bands. The first one I saw was Estrella. They’re an 70’s/80’s inspired rock band, reminding me of Van Halen. I enjoyed their short set and ended up ordering their album when I got home. The second band I listened to was Millsyeck, hailing from Dundee. They’re also a rock band who performed a great cover of Sweet Child ‘O Mine.

It’s a pity I was so knackered on the Saturday- I wish I could have taken in a few more bands!

June 1st 2014

Status Quo, Montrose Music Festival, East Links, 23rd May 2014

Status Quo Montrose

Here’s my quick review of the brilliant Status Quo concert in Montrose as part of the Music Festival.

We arrived around 6.20pm, met up with a few folks and found a place in a crowd (centre). First up was the Montrose Pipe Band who played in an area to the right of the stage. I’m tiny so I couldn’t see what was going on although I heard them. Next up was the support act, The Holy Ghosts. I’d seen them in 2013 when they supported Toploader and I thought they were excellent (they were the best band I saw last year; Toploader were disappointing). The Holy Ghosts played a cracking 30 minute set including one of my favourite songs by the band, Don’t Come a Knockin’ On My Rock n Roll Coffin. When I got home that night, I ordered their new album.

After a short wait, Status Quo appeared on stage around 9pm, kicking off with Caroline. They ran through a number of their hits, with everyone singing along (I’ve included a setlist at the bottom of this post). I’m not going to go through every song but my highlights were Caroline, Beginning of the End, Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over the World. The Quo were on fine form with good, old bluesy guitar solos though they mentioned several times throughout the show that it was freezing (given that the Links are right next to the beach, I’m not surprised!). The show ended around 10.40pm after a storming encore.

But it wasn’t quite over yet….Just as everyone turned to leave, a fireworks display was set off from the surrounding sand dunes, which was beautiful. Definitely one of the best endings to a gig I’ve ever attended!

My only gripes: the fence surrounding the arena wasn’t covered up (apparently a health and safety issue- it was a little breezy). Cheapskates who hadn’t paid for a ticket were standing right next to the fence, watching the show for free. Well done for failing to support your local community folks. They were closer than some of the people at the back of the crowd who had paid for a ticket. The drunken behaviour of a few audience members was disappointing too (drunk people climbing on each others shoulders, almost falling on to other audience members).

Status Quo playing in Montrose is one of the biggest things to happen in the town. A fantastic show. I’ve got no idea how the Montrose Music Festival committee are going to top that!  Here’s to next year!

Setlist
———
Caroline
Paper Plane
Hold You Back
Rain
Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You
Beginning of the End
Medley: What You’re Proposing / Down the Dustpipe / Wild Side of Life / Railroad / Again and Again
Big Fat Mama
The Oriental
Creepin’ Up on You
In the Army Now
Roll Over Lay Down
Down Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin’ All Over the World

Encore:
Junior’s Wailing
Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny