Saturday, 13 December 2014


It's been the week from hell.

Normally at this point I'd write about the myriad of things that have happened. However some of them must remain private and frankly I'm not emotionally strong enough to write about any of them.

I'm at my lowest ebb.

And I'm still digging.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ever increasing progress...

Earlier today I was sitting in our lower office waiting for the kettle to boil as I was simply desperate for a cup of tea. Idly I glanced at the reference book shelves and one tome in particular caught my eye...

Managing Gigabytes

I chuckled, "what, you mean like I have in my phone?" I suggested to one of my colleagues (not the hot perm) that it must have dated from the 90's at worst maybe the early part of this century. But, being a lazy cow I couldn't quite bring myself to have a look.

Until curiosity kicked in.

1999. To be fair it was the second edition, the original was 1994 when a gigabyte was quite a lot, I remember buying 105MB IBM disks for my company at the astonishing low price of £100 each, just a pound a megabyte! I even remember when in late 1995 at Millennium Interactive having a 1 Gigabyte disk sitting on my desk in a massive Micropolis AV enclosure. More data than you can possibly ever imagine.

My phone holds 32GB.

The micro SD card I keep inside my purse for carrying big lumps of data and reference source code around is 64GB. It cost me about £20.

I don't think I could have lifted 6 of those 1GB drives never mind holding 64. In my purse. Tucked in a corner.

What struck me though was that in 1994 this book was described as being guidance for dealing with large-scale information systems. Or phones as we call them now.

I know I shouldn't be surprised, my career has followed the wave from when 1K was considered powerful, through that first 10MB disk and on to the point where now I am responsible for ingesting and dealing with thousands of energy readings a second. As I write we stand at 4,328,418,436 readings, in the time it took to write that we passed 4,328,424,158.

Quite a lot then.

Our ability to generate data has grown to match our ability to store it. I suppose you could argue that it's the other way around though I suspect that it would be a teensy bit inconvenient to have your storage being permanently full as you await the next technological burst.

And the inevitable march of ever increasing progress.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What the actual PDF

At lunchtime I took a moment away from writing stuff that monitors energy and did a little more of a Skunk Works private project that is making old WI documents available online.

The trouble is a few of them were what can only be described as uncooperative. Or what we refer to in the trade as bastards.

In a nutshell they were what look like Microsnot docx files that had PDF attachments. But I don't have Word. Awkward.

Even more awkward because whilst Google Docs was vaguely aware it had an OLE in the docs it had no way to display it. And as for Open Office, well, they know narrthing. Blank pages. Grr.

So: Plan A.

Consult my local friendly librarian, aka my lovely flatmate. I asked if I could email a file to see if she could get at the object and save it before finally sending it back. But then I had a moment of inspiration, I remembered that Microsnot had made Word available online, woo hoo go plan B!

Plan B.

After numerous attempts to remember by Microsnot Live password I admitted defeat and got them to reset it for me, scampered off to the online Word, eventually worked out how to upload a file in to their OneDrive and then looked at what I needed to look at...

Oh FFS. Didn't work. Back to Plan A.

Plan A: reprised

So my flatmate loaded up her Word, opened the file, saw the PDF and tried to get the file out. I bounced with glee when she said the file had been dragged to email, hurrah!

The email turned up, I opened it, I got excited when I saw that I did indeed have what looked just like what I would expect...

Until I clicked on the PINK.pdf and the iBastard preview tool showed me... The icon.

Not the PDF.

What the actual...

I will laugh about this later. So I curtailed my lunchtime entertainment, and went back to feigning being clever and actually trying to work out what stuff I have available that can then be used to improve a client tool.

And then there was Plan C...

A little later I had a sudden recollection that a docx is actually a zip file. Oh.

I skipped back to my terminal window and...

  • copied the file to
  • opened the file in the iBastard finder
  • navigated to word/embeddings and saw that there was a big fat file called oleObject1.bin
  • I said ooh
  • And then renamed it to oleObject1.pdf and...
  • Opened the PDF!
Yes it's a bit of a faff but it did mean my archiving project can continue.