Author Archives: Nick P

Messaging enthusiast and Microsoft Certified Master|Exchange 2010

Tachyon v8, from 1E; a brief look.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all content was written by me and is my own, personal opinion.

If you’re in the market for an endpoint management product, 1E’s Tachyon may be for you.

What is 1E’s Tachyon?

Since its inception, Tachyon was built to be an endpoint detection and response Digital Experience (DEX) platform. 1E positions Tachyon v8, in particular, more as a competitor to Nexthink and Systrack but with a load more user and monitoring features.

Tachyon’s big selling point is its speed. Since the monitoring and response logic is largely in the 1E endpoint client, it responds more quickly than similar platforms. You’ll find a nice video explaining this concept here, with help from Rocket Raccoon.

Main Features in Tachyon v8

I recently watched a 1E webinar explaining all the new features. It’s well worth a watch if you’re in the market for endpoint management or the more sophisticated DEX platform, or already use the Tachyon platform and are thinking of upgrading.

1E focused on four feature sets in their latest Tachyon v8 release.Picture1

  • Analytics and Insights – This feature set collects metrics around networking, boot, login times, and application response times. There are some nice features around SaaS monitoring, which allow you to track the responsiveness of applications like SAP and Salesforce over time, and see whether performance is drifting away from a baseline.

  • Resolution Acceleration – This feature set looks particularly whizzy. I’m intrigued by the “quadrant” feature, which allows you to plot endpoint devices on two axes and identify particularly problematic examples.

    If Tachyon can plot endpoint devices per user, over multiple devices, it’ll be brilliant. I really like the sound of the “side by side” feature for configuration comparison between good and bad devices, and will be keeping an eye out for the Tachyon Tuesday video on that as promised. I’ve spent too much of my life with WinMerge!

  • Action & Prevention – This feature set is about what Tachyon calls “Management Packs”. Management packs are automation routines that can be deployed to endpoints to address particular problems such as updating drivers, changing networking information, and so on.

    This concept sounds like something that can be done with group policy and scripts. But Microsoft’s Group Policy and scripts are hard. I spend more time troubleshooting that stuff when it’s gone wrong than I want!

  • Engagement and Empowerment – 1E is particularly pleased with these new features and it makes up a lot of the webinar content. There are a lot of new features around user engagement and interactions, and they claim to have “closed the ITSM loop” by integrating with Servicenow and automated ticket management.

    They say that the platform can open and act on tickets. The endpoint client can gather sentiment analysis through surveys and allows the end user greater autonomy when fixes and updates are applied.

    Admins also have the option of interacting through the 1E client to make announcements, for instance announcing fixes that can be applied, updates downloaded, or even installing new software packages.

    Picture1 (1)

What Pieces Interest Me

From my perspective as a support engineer for the last two decades, the resolution acceleration features were the bit that really floated my boat. However. there are two things in User Engagement that made me sit up.

  • The identification of “champions” – Through the monitoring capabilities you can see which users are early adopters, and “lovebomb” them during software or patch rollouts, so that they will hopefully influence their peers and promote whatever-it-is you want them to do.

  • “Employee wellness” – You can use Tachyon to monitor “engagement”, and determine which employees are spending too many hours working. You can then tag these users and monitor their activity as a group to determine whether your actions bring their work hours down to a reasonable level.

Now, 1E seems like a company with good intentions. I’m sure it’s never crossed their minds that an application that monitors users who are working too hard might also be used to monitor users who are working too little. Or that “too little” is highly subjective.

A long time ago I worked on the first few Blackberry implementations in the UK. The original Blackberry server came with a whole host of user monitoring features such as whether or not users had their device switched on, GPS capabilities (with time tracking) to see how long they were spending in locations, and a bunch of other things. I know some companies got very excited about these features.

I’m not suggesting that 1E wants their platform to be used to spy on users but it looks like it could be. Similarly, a tool that identifies “champions” can also identify “laggards”. What a company chooses to do with that information is surely their own affair, but it would be nice if they chose to treat them sympathetically and understand why they are reluctant to implement changes, rather than just cudgel them into compliance. In fairness to 1E, they make this exact point.

1E is offering the user engagement features as a way to combat “the great resignation”, by making the hybrid workplace more pleasant and reducing the friction experienced by home workers when they interact with the IT department. From a user standpoint the monitoring might, however, feel heavy handed and intrusive.

I’m not sure how many people would be persuaded to stay by a company buying into the “experience economy” for its employees. A good friend of mine who recently left the company I work for was moaning about their new employer’s IT, and how poor it was in comparison. “You could always come back…”, I said. No answer, came the stern reply.


    In summary, Tachyon v8 is an exciting next-generation Digital Experience tool with some great monitoring, automation, and powerful user engagement capabilities. But… with great power, comes great responsibility.

    suppressing external errors

    I’ve been playing with powershell a lot lately. i say playing…  one of the things i keep coming up against is errors when i call external programmes. With a powershell cmdlet, it’s easy to suppress an error; just add

    –errorAction silentlyContinue

    after the cmdlet, and the pesky red text is quiesced.


    however, this isn’t possible when calling an external program, so, one way to do it might be to change the ErrorActionPreference variable so that all errors are suppressed:Capture2


    what am i doing there? fiddling with my default gateway. nothing to see here. move along.

    the important bit is that if the routes i am trying to add already exist, it’ll throw a huge amount of crimson mess all over my screen, which i don’t want it to do. temporarily setting the $EAP to silentlyContinue before the loop runs, and returning it afterward will suppress the errors and ensure that the rest of the code will throw errors as intended; thanks to the good people at Get-PSUKUG for suggesting that method.

    however, if you write gruesome code that’s all over the place, like what i do, you may find yourself repeatedly calling that construct. it might get old, fast. so luckily there is another way; directing STDERR to null. you what, now?

    since the middle ages programs have used three standard communications streams:

    • #0, STDIN, which by default takes input from the keyboard and directs it to the program,
    • #1, STDOUT, which takes the output of the program and directs it to the screen, and
    • #2, STDERR, which takes any error the program produces and again throws it to the screen


    lots more about Standard Streams on Wikipedia.

    so, what do you do with it? redirect it, in my case, to $null:


    and hurrah – the ghastly errors are gone.

    exchange stuff may 2016

    Hi all – it is traditional to start this with “it’s been a while”…


    Rollups and cumulative updates

    Useful and interesting links

    Blog articles

    Interesting kb articles

    Hot news…

    FREE exchange 2016 online training course provided by Microsoft on edX, complete with exams and hands on labs (but no videos- it’s all reading, by the look). There are three pretty cheap ones there as well as the initial infrastructure course. It looks like about 20 hours of free stuff (they reckon…). Given the lack of 2016 material on MVA at the moment (all MVA exchange stuff), it’ll have to do, I guess. Give it a go. It’s free.


    First up – We appear to be falling behind a bit with our rollup rollouts, so it is likely there will be a new Exchange Stabilisation project shortly. For the avoidance of doubt, I’ll restate the Microsoft support policies:

    Exchange 2013/2016 – you are supported by Microsoft on the latest and next latest CU only.

    Exchange 2010 – if you are on service pack 3 you are in extended support until November 2020

    Exchange 2007 – if you are on service pack 3 you are in extended support until November 2017

    Exchange 2003 – you are unsupported. No, really.

    With 2007/2010, while you may be supported on sp3 rollup1, it is my experience that unless the problem is a simple configuration issue you will be asked to update to the latest rollup as part of the troubleshooting process. They hate analysing old code.

    the latest rollups were released March 15th, and are here:

    Useful and interesting links

    As part of an investigation last week, I came across a highly useful article that references loadbalancer settings for exchange 2013 – they are the same as for 2010, but it’s nice to have that stated explicitly – it also suggests a great list of other useful and exciting things to do to stave off ever having to log a support call. I know I sent it out earlier, but it bears repeating.

    Our colleague Mark Bodley has hunted out a number of extremely useful links:

    Database corruption and dirty shutdown decigeons* tree on Exchange server pro. There’s a picture. It’s great. print it out and stick it over your desk.

    He emailed a reminder of how to upgrade the CU on Exchange 2013 and 2016, along with some extremely useful links to scripts written by our friend and colleague, Michael Van Hybrid (yes, he’s on the GAL!):

      Not sure if you are aware that the recommend steps for installing CU updates on E2013/2016 are a bit different to what we may have gotten used to with Exchange 2010 – assuming that your local hostile SDM ever agreed to an update!!

    There’s an article on the steps required for Exchange 2013 SP2 2016 at with 2013 being quite similar. Confusingly though Exchange continues to ship with the StartDAGServerMaintenance.ps1 scripts, these appear really to be for 2010 and should not be used on 2013 or later.

    Michael van Horenbeeck has written 2 scripts for starting and stopping maintenance mode on Exchange 2013 and as they support a multi-role deployment they should work for 2016. Certainly looking at the above article, the steps for 2016 are the same as for an E2013 Multi-role server.

    The scripts are at :-

    · Stop-ExchanegServerMaintenanceMode.ps1 :

    · Start-ExchanegServerMaintenanceMode.ps1 :

    The exchange 2010 search troubleshooting guide – invaluable. Note this is for exchange search, not instant search – outlook uses exchange search in online mode, and instant search in cached mode – instant search is based on windows search, and searches the .ost file, not the server. Shall I bore you with exchange store search…? No? ok. Be aware that exchange 2013 has a different search engine again – Microsoft search foundation. try this article.

    Understanding the Outlook Connection Status window. Recently (slightly) updated.

    How to troubleshoot free/busy issues in a hybrid deployment of on-premises Exchange Server and Exchange Online in Office 365

    The latest guided walkthroughs for Office servers – lync, exchange online, office 365 etc – are here. Some of them are brand shiny and new, others are a little long in the tooth. PF repl for 2003? Wow.

    Blog articles

    Rhoderick Milne explains why Network Location Profiles are giving you neckache – I’ve come across this myself, it stops Exchange working properly, and is tricky to spot.

    The PFE Exchange 2013 tips and tweaks post (also Mr Milne). The 2010 article was a standard. You need to read this if you look after 2013, or are about to. CSAs should read it also…

    Anyone looking at moving from 2007 to 2013 should review the links from this 2013 upgrade workshop.

    My friend Ingo has an update to his activesync user script here: Get-ActiveExchangeUsers 2.0

    Released: March 2016 Quarterly Exchange Updates on the official “you had me at EHLO…” blog.

    Deferred Lagged Copy playdown in Exchange 2016

    Messing around with how powershell proxying works causes headaches. Read this to make sure you are aware of how cu11/cu12 will affect you.

    Exmon is finally available for Exchange 2013 and 2016

    Interesting KB articles


    May 3, 2016, update for Outlook 2016 (KB3115101)

    Office 2016 Applications crash or cannot start

    Lync 2013 (Skype for Business) or Outlook 2013 Crash after installing the april 2016 upates

    Performance problems when you try to access folders in a secondary mailbox in Outlook –I know at least one account is struggling with this.


    “The remote server returned an Error 404” or "HTTP request has exceeded the allotted timeout" error when you move a mailbox from on-premises Exchange Server to Exchange Online

    Intermittent "500" error occurs for EWS requests in an Exchange Server 2013/2007 coexistence scenario

    "Cannot display the folder properties" or "could not be updated" error when Exchange hybrid deployment users open a room calendar in Outlook

    Can’t open a shared folder in Outlook on the web in Exchange Server

    Users in your Exchange 2013-based hybrid deployment experience mail issues after April 15, 2016

    Incorrect output when you run the Get-CASMailbox cmdlet to view the HasActiveSyncDevicePartnership attribute

    "Cannot display the folder properties" or "could not be updated" error when Exchange hybrid deployment users open a room calendar in Outlook

    "Nullable object must have a value" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "Execution of the Get-WebServicesVirtualDirectory cmdlet has thrown an exception" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    Exchange Online users cannot access free/busy information of users in a non-Internet-facing Active Directory site

    "The user isn’t assigned to any management roles" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "Secure Mail Certificate on server is not bound to the SMTP Service" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "The SMTP address template is invalid" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "The length of the property is too long. The maximum length is 64" error message when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "RequiredTls flag should be set to true if TlsCertificateName is specified" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    "The remote server returned an error: (403) Forbidden" error when you try to move mailboxes from on-premises Exchange Server to Exchange Online

    "The term ‘Get-HybridMailflowDatacenterIPs’ is not recognized" error when you run the Hybrid Configuration wizard

    On-premises users in an Exchange hybrid deployment can see availability but not capacity or description information of a resource when they schedule a meeting

    Can’t reserve a resource for a meeting after the resource mailbox is migrated to Exchange Online

    "An error occurred while working on your domain" when you try to verify your domain in Office 365 in an Exchange hybrid deployment

    Users in a hybrid deployment can’t access a shared mailbox that was created in Exchange Online

    Out-of-office replies and voting options in email messages between on-premises users and Exchange Online users do not appear correctly in a hybrid deployment

    Slow mail delivery in an Exchange environment that has transport rules configured – I’m particularly keen that you understand this article – I’ve been asked a few times lately about transport rules, so anyone thinking of implementing them needs to understand that they can have a performance impact.

    Outlook Anywhere users prompted for credentials when they try to connect to Exchange Server 2013 or Exchange Server 2016

    Information about the Calendar Checking Tool for Outlook (CalCheck)

    Feedback is of course welcome.


    Roderick, by John Sladek. Probably my favouritest book about robots ever.


    My God, it’s full of RSTs…


    I had a bit of a debate with a network engineer last week. We’d taken a trace from a load balancer to try and understand why outlook anywhere sessions were getting blocked and terminated randomly (short answer; port exhaustion because there were insufficient IP addresses in the NAT pool on the server facing side of the load balancer, but that’s not important right now). I pointed out the reset packets coming from the load balancer. He countered with “Well why are there so many resets coming from the CLIENT? EH? EH? yeah… you heard me…” etc etc. They do go on, network engineers. And he’s right. Outlook does pump out a bunch of RST packets. On purpose. Allow this trace to illustrate – this is me opening a colleague’s calendar in Outlook, and then closing it.

    outlook session temrinating with RST

    So why does it do that? First, we need to talk about how TCP sessions are *supposed* to be terminated. The machine that is done talking sends a FIN/ACK, and goes into the FIN_WAIT_1 state until it receives an ACK to it’s FIN/ACK, at which time it goes into FIN_WAIT_2. The receiving machine sends an ACK, goes to the CLOSE_WAIT state, and then sends it’s own FIN/ACK. It will stay in the CLOSE_WAIT state until the application sends a close(). The first machine ACKs that FIN/ACK, and goes into the TIME_WAIT state for about 4 minutes (according to RFC793). This is supposedly to wait for any stray packets, but it’s actually because they are lazy.


    So it’s possible to have the socket open but useless for minutes – one side waiting for the application to notice the socket is ready to close, the other waiting for a period equal to twice the maximum segment lifetime to expire (this is all explained MUCH more clearly here:


    This is wasteful, to say the least, so many applications choose not to use FIN/ACK, but to issue a RST/ACK instead, which has the huge benefit of closing the socket down on both sides immediately, with none of that messy waiting around. This allows server ports to get recycled much faster. On the downside, it grinds network engineers’ gears. (is that a downside? really?)

    this is documented (although not explicitly for Outlook) here:

    There’s a good Microsoft article on TCP states here:

    and advice on what you can do if your application insists on sending FINs, and you’re suffering from port exhaustion (it’s for SQL server, but you can’t have everything, right?):

    getting node.js npm to work behind a corporate proxy

    I’ve recently been having fun with the Prince’s Trust, running a workshop for the Get into Tech programme, playing around with Arduinos and smart phones and stuff. My boss suggested for the next iteration, we look at maybe getting a light to tweet its state. this sounds like excellent fun, and i recalled watching a youtube video where Rodric Yates gets something similar running in five minutes… awesome.

    so… i thought i’d install node-RED on my work desktop, and see if we could do something similar.


    issue 1 – the standard install (once you have node.js installed, that is) uses npm, the node.js package manager. we’re behind a corporate firewall that requires authentication. to get npm to work through a proxy, find the .npmrc file somewhere in your profile folder:


    open it up with notepad and add the line:



    proxy = http://nickparlow:P4$$w0rd!@my.default.proxy.local:8080

    yeah. that’s my password. i am sooooo 1337. (do the cool kids still say that?)

    you may also struggle with https, even after you’ve added a line like:

    https-proxy = http://nickparlow:P4$$w0rd!@my.default.proxy.local:8080


    strict-ssl = false

    in which case, give up and use:

    registry =

    which bypasses ssl altogether.




    A Jolly Trick

    Sometimes in the course of my job it is necessary to sanitise evidence before passing it on to other parties for comment. The recent upgrade of wireshark, and change of file format, has made this a little tricky (basically i can’t get traceWrangler or BitTwiste to work with pcapng files), so I’ve had to go back to the old ways. a hex editor. Sigh.

    EDIT: tracewrangler does work. i am, apparently, an idiot. Soz, bois.

    So… how to sanitise a packet trace with a hex editor – take it away!

    First – get yourself a hex editor – I’m using HxD

    Make a note of the ip addresses you need to change – mostly i don’t need to lose the whole address, just the first few octets, which is nice.

    Open your pcapng file in HxD


    Open calc also, unless you can do dec to hex conversion in your head. i know a guy who can, but no-one talks to him much.

    Use calc to convert the octets you need to bowdlerize: becomes ac.10.1.8. write this down. Hopefully, you’ll not have too many subnets in your trace, eh?

    Open search and replace in the hex editor:


    Type in the octets you need to replace as character pairs, with spaces between – e.g. AC 10 01 08. Put in something obvious, like 65 65 65 01. Set the type to Hex-values – text won’t work – and hit replace. Oh wow. Look how lovely that is:



    Truly, a thing of beauty. The other truly beautiful thing is that this method edits ALL references, not just the headers.


    “Oi, Admin! you’re not as clever as you think you are!”, or, the importance of doing simple things right.

    just had a call from a customer who was having terrible trouble exporting discovery search data to pst from Exchange 2013. The search was apparently running fine, but the download failed with a long error message.


    i asked for problem steps recorder output to see what they were doing… (this is from my repro):


    if you can spot what they’re doing wrong without reading the error message, well done. have a muttley medal.

    this throws the error message:

    PLATFORM VERSION INFO Windows : 6.2.9200.0 (Win32NT) Common Language Runtime : 4.0.30319.34209 System.Deployment.dll : 4.0.30319.34274 built by: FX452RTMGDR clr.dll : 4.0.30319.34209 built by: FX452RTMGDR dfdll.dll : 4.0.30319.34274 built by: FX452RTMGDR dfshim.dll : 6.3.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623) SOURCES Deployment url : /">https://localhost/ecp/15.0.1076.9/exporttool/<servername>/ ERROR SUMMARY Below is a summary of the errors, details of these errors are listed later in the log. * Activation of /">https://localhost/ecp/15.0.1076.9/exporttool/<servername>/ resulted in exception. Following failure messages were detected: + Downloading /">https://localhost/ecp/15.0.1076.9/exporttool/<servername>/ did not succeed. + The underlying connection was closed: Could not establish trust relationship for the SSL/TLS secure channel. + The remote certificate is invalid according to the validation procedure.

    so… what’s wrong there? well, the remote certificate is invalid. fine… but it’s the local machine… the url says “localhost”…. oh… sigh.

    they’ve done the standard admin shortcut of going to localhost because they can’t be bothered to type out the unfeasibly long servername, and the client then throws an error, because “localhost” isn’t a subject alternative name on the cert, unsurprisingly. the little red address bar in the screenshot above is a clue, there.

    sure enough, when they use the servername instead of the url, everything works like a charm:



    the lesson there is “do things right”. localhost will throw errors with https other than just needing to click through a cert warning, so don’t use it. if you are using it, and you get weird behaviour, try attaching to the site with a url that is actually on the SSL certificate.

    also, a post script: when it says “if you experience problems, try clearing cookies and signing in again”, why not try clearing the cookies and signing in again, before you ring me up and tell me it doesn’t work? 😀

    Archiving Stuff to .PST

    it’s the time of year when we grow up, put away childish things. childish things like the email we sent and received in 2014, so we can focus on the far more serious email we received in 2015 (Nynke, i promise i’ll reply to the mail you sent me in January). i was asked to help out one of my senior colleagues in this task, so i put together a little guide for him. you might find it useful too. He needed to move a years worth of items out of his general purpose PST file and into a archive archive.

    i expect there’s a better way of doing it. feel free to call me an idiot.

    Part 1 – getting stuff out.

    1. Go to the file tab in outlook:


    2. Select “Open and Export”, and select “Import/Export”


    3. select “Export to a file” and click next:


    4. Select “outlook data file (.pst)” and click next:


    5. Select the archive pst file you want to export from, in my case it’s “Archive Folders”, and click “filter” (NOT “next”). Make sure “Include subfolders” is ticked:


    6. Select the “Advanced” tab, and click the “field” drop-down, then click “received”:


    7. Select the “between” condition, and put the dates in – it will export all the items from the first date, but not the ones from the second, so to get all the items received in 2014, set a filter like the one below, and click “add to list”:


    8. Create the same rule for sent items:


    9. You may well wish to save appointments as well. In the “field” chooser, select “All Appointment fields” and “Start”:


    Sorry about the picture of Mr Hayward. You should now have a set of rules that looks like this:


    10. Click “OK” which will return you to the “Export Outlook Data File” dialog and click “next”:


    11. Give the export file a name – in my case, I’m calling it “2014”, and click “Finish”:


    12. You can put a password in if you like, or click “OK” with the fields blank to proceed. If you click “Cancel” it will dump the whole lot, and you’ll have to start again.

    Outlook will now be unresponsive for a bit, while it chews things over. This may be a few seconds, or ten minutes or more depending on how modern your machine is:


    After a while, though, you will see it start to process items:


    13. Go and get a cup of coffee, it may be some time.

    14. Once it is complete, open the new archive file; Go back to the Open and Export page, and select “open outlook Data File”:


    15. Browse to the file you just created, and click “OK”:


    16. It will open in Outlook as “Outlook Data File” – this is a rubbish name, so right click it, select “Data File Properties”, then “Advanced”, and change the name to something more suitable:



    17. Click “OK” and “bingo”.


    Your data is now sitting in a new archive PST file. Don’t put it on a network drive, eh?

    Part 2 – deleting the stuff you’ve exported.

    Now, that’s all very well, but it hasn’t shrunk the original archive file any. So…

    1. Click on the archive you want to shrink in the left hand folder pane in Outlook, and click to select “subfolders” in the quick search bar:


    2. In the search tab, click “More” and select “Received”:


    3. Type the year you want to delete items for:


    And marvel at the items listed. By default, it won’t show you everything, you’ll need to click “More” at the bottom until you get back to the 1st of Jan:



    4. Then you can simply use ctrl+a to select all the items in the column, and shift-delete them. Don’t soft delete them, as they’ll just get moved into the deleted items folder in the archive, achieving nothing.

    5. Repeat the process for sent items – most will probably have gone already, but it’s as well to be sure.

    Has it worked?

    This is what it was:


    This is what it is:




    I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous new year.

    Android Studio 1.4, Gradle, and bloody proxies.

    Today, children, we’ll be buggering about with Android studio 1.4. AND we’ll be swearing a lot. Why will we be swearing a lot? because it means we have to play with gradle, from behind our corporate firewall. when you install Android Studio, you have to set it up to play with your proxy. you do this here:



    but gradle doesn’t pick them up from here. Gradle needs them in the file in your project:


    and save, and restart android studio…

    or you can alter this file here:


    oh, and don’t be trying to do this:


    it will error. you need to escape your slash like so:



    for the avoidance of doubt – you need “\\” not “\”.

    Herts BCS meeting, October 2015; Ada Lovelace Day

    adanewseventsimages Me and Megan (daughter, 17, got A* for maths and further maths at GCSE… just saying… :D) went to the BCS lecture on Tuesday night at the Lindop Building, University of Herts. I particularly wanted Meg to go as it was the Ada Lovelace Commemorative Lecture to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, and I’m always keen that she gets to hear about great role models. She never believes a dam’ thing i tell her, so it’s best she hears this stuff from someone else.

    The main lecture was delivered by Professor Dr Kersten Dautenhahn, of the Adaptive Systems Research Group at UH. It was a (too) brief overview of “social” robotics – that is, robots in society, rather than a twitterbot. She discussed two particular areas of interest – robots that we care for, such as Aibo (RIP) and Pleo, and robots that provide care for us. The lecture focussed largely on the work being done at UH in the latter field. In particular, three projects – the Care-o-bot and the robot house, which explore systems for the care of the elderly, and KASPAR, article-1364585-0D852328000005DC-103_468x315a “minimally expressive” robot, were discussed. I found the work being done with KASPAR and autistic children fascinating. Autistic children may find the unpredictability of human behaviour confusing and frightening. The minimal expressions and predictable behaviour of KASPAR, whether acting in a semiautonomous mode or under the remote control of a parent, teacher or even another child are reassuring and allow for enjoyable interaction. I’d urge you to watch the video here.There are now 32 KASPARs, including twenty of the latest model, working with two hundred children, and the University is looking for new partners in their research. 

    Like’say, i really enjoyed Professor Dautenhahn’s lecture. I wasn’t so keen on the short eulogy to Ada Lovelace; don’t get me wrong,  i am extremely keen on Ada, ever since reading her (fictional) adventures in “the difference engine” by Gibson and Sterling twenty years ago, then discovering her life was actually far more interesting. However this short talk was not great. i don’t think it would have done much to inspire any young ladies present. luckily, the only young lady* present in need of inspiration was Meg, and i can lend her my copy of the fantastic book by Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. despite much of the book being fictional steampunk, the first part is a well researched, brilliantly written and fantastically illustrated biography of Ada, Countess of Lovelace. There are copious footnotes, fitting for a subject who is mostly famous for producing a work where the notes were by far the most substantial part. It doesn’t even dwell on the opium addiction, the inveterate gambling, the unhealthy interest in mesmerism or any of the other peccadilloes that make her so fascinating.


    *this is a bit of a shame. Most Herts BCS lectures i go to are heavily attended by men nearing retirement, and male UH computing students. An Ada Lovelace Day lecture delivered to year 9 would be something far more useful… or possibly even year 6.


    illustrations copyright Sydney Padua. hopefully, seeing as I’m plugging her excellent book, she won’t mind…


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