nPing – Diagnosing Lotus Notes network problems

Update October 2011:  nPing can no longer be downloaded, see this workaround.

Lotus Notes client didn’t work at the Frensham Pond Hotel, when I stayed there.

Long story short

  • Ports 80/443 worked, so I was able to “surf” the web.
  • Port 1352 blocked

How did I know?

  • I used nPing.exe, and this is what a failure looks like
  • A successful nPing looks like this:
    (and your Lotus Notes client should work)

The fix?

  • None, unfortunately.  The Hotel’s ISP blocked everything except ports 80 & 443.

nPing is part of the NotesConnect toolset and can be found via this weblink:
Testing TCP/IP connections with NotesCONNECT
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Over one million items! The Unclaimed Baggage Centre

Unpack the Bag - Barbie Bonus - a story from The Unclaimed Baggage Centre Something you can say about the USA is that things are so much bigger.

Ever wondered where unclaimed baggage goes to?

In the USA, it can end up in the Unclaimed Baggage Centre.

Amazing. If I ever get back to the USA, I’m going to check it out.

The website is here, and the street address/phone is:
509 West Willow Street, Scottsboro, Alabama 35768.

The trip back – returning home from England

Qantas 747 interior There’s not a Qantas counter at Heathrow departures. You line up at the British Airways counter.

It was good to start the journey home. Had a quick look though the duty free shops. It’s all junk, trust me. Stocked up on water. BA airline club was jammed packed. Had a shower to wash all the grime off.

Onto the aircraft, another aisle seat, but it was a centre aisle seat which meant that the couple next to me could exit out the other side.

Dial up the A/C vent, strap myself in, and watch the safety presentation. That’s the last I remember until waking up 3 hours later, feeling hot and bothered.

The A/C vent was off, not sure how it happened, but I do feel awful.

Churchill's Bodyguard - Walter H. Thompson Get up for a stretch and walk. Get back, turn the A/C vent back on, and start reading Churchill’s Bodyguard.

A/C goes off, as the woman two seats over closes my vent.

“Excuse me, but what do you think you are doing?”
‘It’s cold’
“It can be adjusted, you should have asked first”
(thinking to myself, ah so this is the phantom vent closer).

The British Airways/Qantas club at Singapore has metal knives. Amazing. Metal knives are considered too dangerous to have at airline clubs in Australia, but here’s a selection of them in Singapore. good thing I’m not a terrorist ain’t it.

The “free” telephones don’t have a dial tone. Spent 25 mins trying to find a work phone. Found one in the business PC area.

Singapore to Melbourne
Back on the aircraft, Mervyn has swapped seats with his wife, the phantom vent closer. Turn A/C vent up full and belt in.

Finish Churchill’s Bodyguard, and arrived into Melbourne.
The landing? That’ll will be the pilot’s three “touch and go’s” for the year.

Queued up for customs – Answered YES to two questions on the customs form

Been to a rural area? Any foodstuffs?

Which guarantees being sent down the “something to declare” line. The customs guy asked where I’d been (rural England) and what I had (BBQ sauce), and after a bit of a conversation, said “Fair enough, off you go”

Melbourne airport to home
The taxi driver was an Aussie!, not a new Australian.
Dropped my work gear at work, and travelled home.

The dogs were happy to see me. Slept.

Cabin photo pinched from here.

Going to London to Visit the Queen

Oh I wish, don’t think that’ll happen while my bottom is pointing to the ground.
City of London Shield 
Left Baggage Sote - Heathrow But the first thing I did was drop my bag at Heathrow. There is a bag storage service, all of £8 it cost I think. Well worth it compared to dragging a suitcase around the city.

Not to mention that some places won’t let you take a large bag in.

Heathrow Tube - Piccadilly T5 Extension sign Each of the four airport terminals has a train station, which makes it really easy to get into London City (about a 40 min journey).

The Station Assistant noticed I looked puzzled, and suggested I buy an all day off-peak ticket, saving about £10.

The Big Bus Company Now you can aimlessly wander around London like I did for an hour, or you could get wise and catch a tour bus like "The Big Bus Company"
(that reminds me, I wonder how Cassie’s bus is going …).
For £22, they will drive you around 30 different sights, with commentary. See here for a list. I gather that they aren’t the best employer though…

Memorable things
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe London First started in London in 1971, by a couple of Americans’ who couldn’t get a decent burger. Some people in the past have said, "the foods crap these days, but it’s worth a look at the memorabilia".
I didn’t.

Downing Street
Home of the British Prime Minister, and lots of heavily armed police, who take a dim view of photographs.

Cabinet War Room
War Room - London This is where Churchill direct The War from. Only actually slept there three nights.

At the end of the war, the lights were switched off and people went home.

Some of the more memorable sights, the sign telling people what the weather was like above ground, the map room with the "beauties" still there and the Churchill Museum.
Things I purchased: set of cufflinks and the book "Churchill’s Bodyguard".

London Eye
The London Eye World’s largest observation wheel. With 2 hour long queues. £14.50. No thanks.
If I had more time, I would have.

Field Marshall Slim
Governor-General of Australia, 1953 -> 1960.
Statue of Field Marshall Slim There is a story about Slim when he was our GG.

He was returning from an official function, and glanced at his NSW Police Motorcycle Escort several times.
As is customary, at the end of the trip, he was asked to review the escort. On his particular day his war wounds had been giving him heck:
"When I looked at your uniforms, I thought you used them to clean your motorcycles.
Now that I’ve looked at your motorcycles, I see that I was wrong."

Royal National Theatre
Royal National Theatre - London As one person said, it’s "a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting".
It looks horrid. The most notable thing are the statues on top of the buildings. Even after having a search of the internet, I still can’t work out – why?

And lots of other things, which I’m not going to bore you with.
The London Underground train system is impressive, but grubby
Tipping, yes some places expect you to tip. Dang curse of the Americans.

Heathrow Luggage Storage
Event Horizon
The Cabinet War Rooms
Hard Rock Cafe London
London Eye
10 Downing Street
Field Marshal The Viscount Slim

Food – while in England

The Nelson Arms Surrey Monday Night – The Nelson Arms, Surrey

A typical English Pub, except I didn’t see any warm beer. It was established in the 1700’s.

It’s claimed the wooden ceiling beams are timbers from an old sailing ship.

I had the Beef Chilli Burger (9 GBP) and several T.E.A. beers.


Tuesday Night – Meal at the hotel.

Nothing to see here, move along 🙂

Wednesday Night – Ghurkha Raj Doot, Aldershot

Want some traditional Ghurkha food, then this is the place.

The decor is mid 70’s Chinese kitchen table style.

Glad to say I was able to have the hottest dish in the place, and didn’t break out into (much) of a sweat.

Cost, about 15 GBP.

Zizzi Restaurant Farnham Thursday Night – Zizzi Farnham

An Italian restaurant chain, but still a great feed.

The garlic bread for ""starters"" was a meal in itself. I would recommend not have it as starters if you’re going to have something else.

Such as the Diavola Pizza, which had Pepperoni, Chillies, Mozzarella and Tomato.

Total cost: 20 GBP, including drinks.

(Zizzi photo pinched from here:

Next post: a day in London …

It’s off to work I go – first work day in England

Next morning
It’s a bit of a lurk on the company’s behalf. That is, if the hotel throws in breakfast as part of the accommodation deal, in means a 20% reduction in the Travel Allowance rate

Travel allowance is supposed to cover "out of pocket" living expenses, meals and such like.  20% is a large amount, trust me. Especially in a expensive country like England

Now you COULD lie when you submit your travel claim form, but as issues around cash is one of the three things in life that can get you into trouble … so you don’t.

Restaurants So off to breakfast, breakfast consisted of cereal, toast, cold meat or bread rolls.

The team consisted of three poms, an American and a Canadian. (sounds like the start of a joke doesn’t it)

All seemed good blokes. All wearing suits. So glad I didn’t wear a bluey, stubbies and thongs to breakfast, cobber.

To the office
The office was about 30 mins from the hotel. The poms had their cars, so we were chauffeured by a couple of them.

The office is HUGE. We even have a "greeter", which is the sort of thing you see in some stores (WalMart). And a cute receptionist, sexist but true.

What can I tell you about my work, it was boring, oh there were some funny moments.
Like when I said, "I’ve just been shifted on the ""org"" chart, and no-one told me"
So, the joke became "Dale will be doing that, unless he’s been shifted again."

The social aspect of the trip was much more interesting, and I’ll cover them in the next post.

Arrival – Wonderful Heathrow Airport

Heathrow - Google Earth image As we were four hours late getting into Heathrow, we missed our booking for a terminal arrival gate.

So, shades of Adelaide, they rolled up a set of stairs to the aircraft, and we all deplaned onto the tarmac. Onto the crowded bus for a trip to the terminal.

Heathrow is HUGE, don’t let the size of the terminals fool you.

British Passport Control was interesting, the "West African" woman running the show seemed on a power trip, "Don’t do that, do this. Do you have your customs forms?"

You can’t tell these people to get stuffed.
Well you can, but you’re off to having an interview with Mr. Latex Glove.

The queue was an hour long, I can see what Douglas Adams meant when he said the British were used to queuing.

As my bag was first on the aircraft, it was last off. Intact no less. No signs of abuse at the hands of the Qantas ground staff.

Through the "Nothing To Declare" door, and since I was almost the last passenger, there was no HM Customs staff. In one door, down the corridor, and out the next.

Grab some cash
Straight to the ATM to grab some cash. I was going to get some GBP before I left Australia, but the ANZ bank was most unhelpful.
"Need to see Photo ID with a signature on it"
But I’m a customer! I have my work photo id.
"No good, for anything over $200, we need (a driver’s license)"

So the ATM it was, as I prayed to the ATM God "Please please please make my plastic card work"

It did, and 200 GBP later, it was off to see the guy picking me up.

He was easy to spot

He was the one holding the (not-EDS) sign.

"You must be Mr. Dale" No, that’s my father, call me Bruce 🙂

Imagine a guy 5ft short, in a grey double-breasted suit, with a cockney accent.
Ian was his name.

The "motor" was a Chyrsler 300C diesel, darn nice car.

Heathrow to the hotel was about an hour journey.

Hotel Room The hotel at 3pm.
3 star rated, I’ve stayed in better, and I’ve stayed in worse.

The door handle fell off. Repaired and fell off. Maintenance was not a strong suit.

Had an early night, I was bushed.

Hey, at least it’s not us!

Round About I was on the 55 tram heading to Parkville, stuck at the Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade. It’s not as bad as the Magic Roundabout, but it has it’s moments.

"What the f$%& do you think your f$%*ing doing you f%*^ &**^s" floated in from a car driver.

"Hey at least it’s not one of us being talked about!", piped up a Yarra Trams instructor. The whole tram laughed. Wouldn’t have heard it if I wasn’t travelling to Parkville.

I have always found the Yarra Trams inspectors courteous. Connex inspectors on the other hand.

POETS day. Think I’ll work from home on Friday. It’s been a heckish week, and I’m going to catch up on some "me time".

The Daily Puppy

Awww, how cute. saydee the beagle

The beagle on the right is Saydee. Beagles are such cute, clever dogs. And the Daily Puppy is worth a visit.

I'm with stupid t-shirt And as one thing leads onto another, I think I’ll buy this t-shirt. It’s sums up the whole "not enough for two brains" argument.

There’s two things that just can’t be rushed

As Kolchak once said, in an episode of Night Stalker, and they were:
anyone who is paid by the hour, and an office-building elevator.

I’d add a third to that, people using those Kodak “”Instant Print”” kiosk photo printers.

I only wanted a couple of photos done, but Monkey Boy in front of me wanted 11 of the things, WITH borders around the edges. Half an hour later… …

The downside of making things easier to use, is that it tempts clowns to do so.

surfers paradise (taken when I was at a conference in Surfers Paradise)

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