Cute Street Party Girlies (by )

Red White and Blue Bean

Jean's school did a street party she was supposed to be dressed in red, white and blue but I discovered we really didn't have anything like that so she had puprly-blue and pinky-red and glittery unicorn white!

Friday I actually sent Alaric with the girls to the village street party at the Black Horse. Jean took her union jack she'd made at school.

Street Party time

The Royal Wedding – I didn’t go but… (by )

The Royal Wedding is currently going live on TV's and computers all over the country - I have sent my family off to a street party to celebrate it more due to the fact it is a community thing than anything else. The truth is I can not imagine anything more boring than watching a wedding on telly. If I'd been well enough I may have gone and eaten hot dogs at the pub and watched the kids parade their hats and flags but I'm not so I haven't - they've gone anyway with a slightly perplexed Alaric.

I find all the hype really really annoying and the plates and things for sale everywhere with their faces on but I think meh it doesn't happen often and I know people from other countries etc... are probably flocking to buy the stuff so that's good for our economy (at uni alot of the oriental students would buy everything with a union jack on it!).

So I feel slightly put out by all the fuss but at the same time I see people getting excited and I feel that it is not right to take this away from them. I have friends who have been sewing (and even crocheting) bunting for weeks, others who have been baking cup cakes like deamons and everyone is pulling together to do community events.

I don't have the right to rain on their parade. Which is one of the reasons that I have been saddened to see some people smirking over the fact that this or that street party looks like it might be a flop. It's not nice - people have put in a lot of work and these things can be alot of fun and anything that gets people to talk to their neighbours is a good thing.

The slightly more alarming thing is the protest - now I like protests and think we need the right to be able to protest and people have this right if they really disagree with the wedding - I can see that in a time of cut backs that the amount of money being spent on police and things for the wedding must chaff. But part of the issue I think is that the media have whirled this whole thing up with encouragement from the government in an attempt to reinstate the constitution of mariage. This means that the main point has been missed - this is Their Wedding - it is them saying they love each other as people. What they have been turned into is celebratese - idols and as such people stop thinking of Will and Kate as well... people.

I hope that bombs are not set off even just 'distruptors' as I hope people will think about how they'd feel if someone did that because they were getting marraide or having a I'm moving in with my girlfriend/boyfriend party. If people had died because of mine and Al's wedding we would have been destroyed as people, it would have crushed us utterly.

As for the issue of weather we should have a monachy at all - I think I should save that one for another post.

And what about the police aka tax payer money going on this? Well one solution that presents itself is that maybe the royal family should pay - now I don't actually know what has happened about this but to me that would be the worse thing that could happen - if they pay for the police help then the police are no longer the police - they become a private army with an agenda that is not to protect the citizens of this country but to look after the interests of the rich. As for weather they should be offered the protection at all in that case - well how would you like it if you couldn't do anything in public for fear of being mobbed to death probably by people who adore you?

I would not swap places with Kate or any celeb to be honest - even before I met Alaric I loathed that celebs have no privacy. I have enough issue with the fact that I rarely go anywhere without being recognised by someone. This can be exhusting and everyone expects you to talk to them and remember who they are as well - and that is just by being me - I am not famous I've got maybe 100 people who follow my writing and art as 'fans' and most of those I've known for years. But even I have ended up having to go to the police about stalkers because people like me too much :/

So just thinking about it - I'll not watch the royal wedding I don't know them, I don't care what sort of dress she is wearing or anything like that but I do wish them happiness and I think it is going to be hard for them to have as all those little spats couples have are likely to be plastered all over the news - the strain that puts on relationships is not good.

p.s. I do like talking to people so don't take this as don't talk to me! Just be aware I get tired especially standing up on crutches!

Womb Infection (by )

This week has seen me back at the hospital with complications from the birth. Unfortunatly I started bleeding very heavily again - I thought the bleeding was stopping as I'd only 'spotted' for a couple of days but then suddenly I was bleeding again. I assumed that as the smear test had come back clear I was alright and it was just a period, I said to Alaric I just wished I'd had a chance to stop bleeding from the pregnancy before I got a period.

But then the amount of blood I was loosing increased drastically. It was now heavier than it had been after the c-section but not what I would call 'life-threatening' ie it was no were near what I was loosing after my delivery of Jean (virginal birth with complications and heavy blood loss). With Jean I only bleed for 10 weeks, you are supposed to bleed for no more than six but I'd had a bit of placenta left behind which came out and all was fine.

But that couldn't be the case with the c-section as they had had to do a big clean out why they were at it due to what they found there. I just thought that was what happened with c-sections.

Anyway - the bleeding got heavier and with a couple phone calls and several referals I got sent to A&E, I was soaking through my clothing if I didn't change my pad about once an hour and I'd started throwing up. Al phoned for me initially as I kept still saying I was fine.

Anyway I wont go into the gory details but it turns out I have an infection in the womb lining and my bodies been trying to flush it out and it was the start of my first period but my body couldn't cope and so the bleeding was really heavy. It's concerning because it wares you down. I have now been bleeding for 12 odd weeks and had four days of extremely heavy bleeding (so far) when I'm already suffering from anemia 🙁

But I am now on antibiotics and (yes again I know) and am going back for more scans and things this week. Hopefully this will have everything sorted out.

IPv6 versus NAT (by )

I was enthusiastic about IPv6 when I first read of it, in the late 1990s. Mainly, I liked the autoconfiguration, and the inbuilt support for anycast and multicast, which are used to great effect: there is s standard IPv6 address for "my nearest time server" and the like, which has various benefits.

However, it comes at a cost. It's a whole new Internet that has to be built alongside the existing one and a careful handover done with complex mechanisms to let them coexist transparently. And the better autoconfiguration of IPv6 isn't that useful in the presence of recent developments such as automatic IPv4 address assignment, mDNS for finding things, and of course, good old DHCP for managed networks.

And it's not working. More than a decade has passed, and IPv6 is still a toy. It's extra work to set up, and the IPv4/IPv6 migration mechanisms you need to be able to still access the IPv4 Internet actually break existing stuff, mainly because the IPv6 side isn't being maintained well (so often breaks without being noticied) and hosts using the mechanisms will prefer IPv6 over IPv4 (as otherwise, IPv6 would never get used, as almost everything that offers IPv6 also offers IPv4) if it's advertised.

So there's little motivation for people to bother turning on IPv6 - it's more work, and it breaks your Internet access (or, if you're a service provider, unless you're careful, it offers an alternate way to access your site that is more work to maintain, but breaks more often as you won't be putting as much effort into maintaining it). This means that the critical feedback loop of people wanting IPv6 because there are good things that are only on IPv6 will never kick in. It'd be stupid to try and be IPv6-only, but until useful things are IPv6-only, there's little incentive to even support IPv6 alongside IPv4.

Now, the main reason people say we should move to IPv6 is because of the IPv4 address space exhaustion. But there are other solutions.

The widespread one is Network Address and Port Translation (or "NAT" for short). Under NAT, an entire network has a single public IPv4 address and the devices inside the network are assigned addresses from a special private range (that can be reused for every private network), and outgoing connections get their source address and port rewritten so they all come from that one address, and when the replies come back, they're mapped back into the private address of the actual device. This means an entire network (which could be an entire organisation with millions of PCs, or an entire ISP with millions of customers) can use just one (or a few, if they need more ports to support all the connections at once) public IPs.

There are issues with this - the NAT device needs to remember what external ports are used by what connections, and it needs to keep track of when those connections are still being used so it can re-use the ports. But if a device is switched off or unplugged or dies, it will never explicitly close the connection,. so the NAT device has to discard connections that just aren't used for a long time, assuming the owner to have died. However, this means that long-lived connections that aren't used much tend to get killed. But since NAT is so widespread now, most apps that open those kinds of connections nowadays send "keep-alives", empty messages that just keep the connection alive so the NAT device doesn't forget them.

And it also means that devices behind NAT can't accept incoming connections; the NAT device only lets incoming connections out and remembers the return path for replies - if an incoming connection comes in, it has no way of knowing what device "wants" it unless it's been specifically configured with a "port forward". Standards like UPnP exists to allow devices to find their nearest NAT router and ask for a port forward to be set up, but they suck for various reasons I shan't elaborate right now.

This isn't a great issue, though. As a laptop user, I am resigned to being behind NAT most of the time. Almost everything I do from my laptop is based around connecting out to remote servers, and for the exceptions, I have an N2N VPN that lets my peers connect to me via an encrypted IP-level relay server. My long-lived SSH connections have keepalives turned on. It works out OK in practice.

However, I think it could easily be improved...

Before NAT became popular, the standard way of doing the same thing was via a SOCKS5 proxy. This worked much like NAT - you'd have a network using private addresses, and a single border device on that network that also had an Internet connection with a public IP. The border device ran some software - the SOCKS5 proxy.

When applications on devices inside the network wanted to connect to somewhere outside of the local network, rather than trying to reach it directly, they'd instead connect to the SOCKS5 proxy. Over that connection they'd send a request for the connection to be forwarded on. The SOCKS5 proxy would then open a connection, from its public IP address, to the destination server. It would then forward traffic between the two halves of the connection, making the device's connection to the SOCKS5 server in effect be a connection to the remote server - and back again in the opposite direction.

So it basically did the job of NAT, except that it required the devices to know about SOCKS5, and to know where the SOCKS5 server was. NAT won, as it was transparent: the NAT box just pretended to be a router offering access to the Internet (the "default route" you have to put in when manually configuring a network, or configured automatically via DHCP or PPP). SOCKS5 didn't really require you to modify the application (although many applications did add support to SOCKS5), as it was possible to write a "socksify" tool that pretended to be the OS's normal interface to the network (the "sockets API"), but which actually made connections via SOCKS where applicable.

But SOCKS5 doesn't have NAT's problems with keepalives. And it has a big advantage over NAT - the SOCKS5 protocol lets a client request an incoming connection, in which case the SOCKS5 server opens an incoming connection port on the public side and reports its address back to the app, along with a notification when the connection is taken up. It's a bit limited, as it only lets a single connection in (while a proper listening port lets multiple connections).

Also, SOCKS5 actually makes it easier to adopt IPv6. When an outgoing connection is requested, the app can specify an IPv4 address, an IPv6 address, or a hostname - and in the latter case, the SOCKS5 server could in principle find an IPv6 server at that hostname (with an AAAA record) and open an IPv6 connection, even though the application has connected to the SOCKS5 server via IPv4 - or vice versa, if the client connects to it via IPv6.

And unlike NAT, SOCKS5 has a login phase:: each connection can supply a username and password to identify the user. Under NAT, all you have is the private IP address of the device. This means that SOCKS5 servers can give better connections to more important users, and better log who did what (where that matters).

So perhaps it's time for a SOCKS5 comeback. The protocol has been extended to support IPv6, but I think it could do with a bit more sprucing up to make it more powerful and modern. Here's what I'd suggest:

  • Proper listening socket support. It should be possible to request a listening socket, and if you are accepted, then be sent messages every time a client connects; but rather than your connection then becoming the relayed client connection, the accept message just gives you a magic token identifying the connection. You can then open another connection to the SOCKS5 server and, rather than requesting an outgoing connection, offer up the magic token to accept the incoming connection and have it relayed. Or just reply on the original listening-socket connection to reject the request.

  • Listening sockets should be able to request a specific port to listen on, along with a flag to specify whether they're happy to accept another, or should just give up the attempt if they can't have the one they request. Such a request might be rejected due to it being already in use, or certain listening ports might be reserved for specific users.

  • Better UDP support. The current UDP support in SOCKS5 amounts to asking the SOCKS5 server to set up a UDP relay. All your UDP traffic must then be sent to an IP+PORT the SOCKS5 server sends in the reply, with a header added to authenticate it; this eats up some of the limited available size of a UDP packet. It'd be nice if the UDP packets could tunnel over the SOCKS5 connection, like TCP connections are, with suitable framing.

  • Ubiquitous support for SOCKS5-over-SSL in clients and servers. Then it can be used as a simple VPN - offer a SOCKS5 server on the public side of your SOCKS5 relay, too, that lets authenticated users who are outside of the office connect in to access servers on the private network. Or just trust your internal network less, as some SOCKS5 connections are better than others (due to being optionally authenticated to a specific user) so are worth stealing. For this use, it'd be nice if a SOCKS5 server could announce (when it's connected to) what addresses it provides access to - for a normal Internet gateway, it'd reply "all addresses"; for a VPN, it'd just report the private IP range.

  • Better support in devices. SOCKS5 should be a standard feature of the sockets library, not something you need to hack in under an app. SOCKS5 should be in smartphones and tablet computers. There should be the option to specify a list of SOCKS5 servers as well as a default route (they can be connected to and asked what address ranges they provide, and connections made via them accordingly). DHCP servers should announce SOCKS5 proxies (there doesn't seem to be a DHCP option for SOCKS5 proxies; am I looking in the right place?).

I think that extending SOCKS5 in the above way (to make SOCKS6!) and then getting a good implementation of it open-sourced under a BSD license and thence it device OSes as standard would be a LOT less work than migrating to IPv6, while also offering an improvement over IPv4 with NAT - and yet also able to coexist happily with IPv4+NAT, as non-SOCKS devices can still be NATed via the default route.

So, how about it? If somebody volunteers to write a decent "SOCKS Next Generation" server (using nice scaleable event-driven IO and all that) and client, I'll volunteer to help you as best I can, and write up a proper draft RFC for the enhanced protocol. If we can get the server into consumer and small office ADSL routers (whose manufacturers seem to be quite open to adding extra features to the brochures), along with advertising themselves as such via DHCP option that clients listen to, it can be come ubiquitous and useful; then we can work on getting the ISPs that to support it (making sure our SOCKS server is happy to pass connections on to an upstream SOCKS server, for when we are proxying to an ISP's own private network). I reckon that'd be a few weeks' development time, at most, then it's all about the lobbying to get it accepted into OSes and routers.

Fame and glory await!

Dear NHS (by )

Dear NHS

I love you, you save my life, keep my children disease free with immunisations and keep my parents going. But sometimes I think you need a big hammer taking to your structure.

The main issue I have today is appointment booking. Getting to the Drs today I booked in and found it was only saying Nurse, I did not worry at first as I had double checked when I made the appointment that I was booking both nurse and Dr. So I finished booking in on your funky touch skin panel and waited for my nurse appointment.

Getting into my appointment I find that the room is double booked and the nurse has to move use into another room she knows is free, then the smear I'm having because I'm still bleeding and loosing gloop 9 weeks after having my baby apparently shouldn't be done whilst I'm still bleeding :/

That all done along with blood tests I've had to starve for I leave - the nurse was lovely but I still felt disorientated which is why when I tried to book in for the Drs appointment I felt I must be doing something wrong and asked at reception - where it turns out I don't have one :/

Now I wasn't thinking so left thinking this was my fault until Alaric reminds me that I double checked and that he hadn't called NHS direct at the weekend when I lost a load of black jelly ribbons as well as blood because I was seeing the Dr this week.

Getting home I check and find that my doctor doesn't actually have a clinic on Tuesdays which I summise is part of where things have gone wrong.

I find this sort of error so frustrating because it shouldn't be able to happen - they printed me out an appointment slip and we noticed it had said just nurse and asked and they said no I was booked for both and they would be one after another which was why there was only one slip of paper. Now I think this was a combination of us not knowing the Dr didn't work Tuesdays and the receptionists not listening and assuming things as I had two things needing doing by the nurse. As a patient I myself made the mistake of assume the two things to be being done in ONE appointment where as they must have been thinking of it as two.

This is not the only time this sort of thing has happened either - I've had cases of letters with dates on them when the hospital clinic doesn't run, or has a day name (Monday, Tuesday) that doesn't correspond to the date given. I've turned up to an appointment at the Drs to be told I'm discharged from a clinic at the hospital I hadn't even known I was supposed to be attending but was supposed to be at a week ago. And so on... some of these things are easy to sort out and some are not. Like whilst at university I waited two years for an MRI scan to sort out my pain and muscle stuff only to find out that in agreeing to go on the pain management course had taken me off the waiting list. To be fair the Dr I had at the time was very angry that I had too wait so long for the diagnostic tests some of which I 'fell' off the waiting lists for three times through clerical error :/

Dr surgeries and hospitals still rely on post to get appointment letters too you - why they can not email, text and post I don't know - they say it's a security risk - and I suppose having neighbours end up with your post and opening it isn't?

The other thing is they are expected sick people to remember stuff which really is not going to work very well.

How they relay information, store it and use it needs an over haul, the amount of money and resources lost due to patients not turning up when they should could be drastically reduced with sending reminders. Plus it would save people having to book so much time off needlessly for appointments that then don't happen.

Plus there have been situations were what I have been prescribed by a locum at the drs surgery never getting into their records - that I find scary - I would prefer all the A&E departments, Drs etc... to be linked up - because I can't remember all the meds I've had and if I'm treated in Essex the Dr in Gloucestershire still needs too know. Obviously there might be need for nominity in say the family planning clinics and SDT treatmets and the whole issue of domestic violence and control can be thorny but there should be a way of exempting people not having it so everyones in a muddle all the time.

I was really pleased when I saw computers appearing in Drs surgeries as I thought this would help but they don't even keep all you files there accessible they still do things like printing out the old stuff and keeping it in boxes in the antic :/ So your entire medical history is not avaliable to them there and then.

This does not make sense to me.

The same as not having the medicines in a searchable data base as to who can and can't take it - rather than have the Drs having to flick through huge books.

You may think this is a mountain out of a mole hill but were the NHS is concerned an error of miss filing can cost lives as we very well know.

WordPress Themes

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales