Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Attempting to send emails through Gmail's SMTP servers returns "The SMTP server requires a secure connection or the client was not authenticated. The server response was: 5.5.1 Authentication Required"

If you're tying to send emails through Gmail's SMTP servers you may see an error similar to the following

The following error is generated by .NET's SMTP client class.

System.Net.Mail.SmtpException: The SMTP server requires a secure connection or the client was not authenticated. The server response was: 5.5.1 Authentication Required. Learn more at
   at System.Net.Mail.MailCommand.CheckResponse(SmtpStatusCode statusCode, String response)
   at System.Net.Mail.MailCommand.Send(SmtpConnection conn, Byte[] command, MailAddress from, Boolean allowUnicode)
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpTransport.SendMail(MailAddress sender, MailAddressCollection recipients, String deliveryNotify, Boolean allowUnicode, SmtpFailedRecipientException& exception)
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient.Send(MailMessage message)

For this to work you will need to login to your Gmail account and set the following setting

Allow less secure apps: ON
Some apps and devices use less secure sign-in technology, which could leave your account vulnerable. You can turn off access for these apps (which we recommend) or choose to use them despite the risks.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

BREXIT PART 2: Trade deal opinions in 2 minutes

So having covered basic facts here's some review of those facts

If we leave without a deal we'll just go back to WTO rules?
Well no, the tariffs and quotas we have with the WTO are actually bundled together with the rest of the EU so we first need to extract our share, this is not going to be super simple, already WTO members have said we'll need to start from scratch

But the WTO rules to trade with the EU are just fine?
Well at the moment we can trade as much of anything we want with the EU

You can take a look at how complex the WTO is here

To give you an idea the WTO isn't just a case of "OK so you have a 20% tariff on trade" each tiny thing has to be tracked tarrifed and quota'd, you can see here down to the level of "Cocoa shells, husks, skins and other cocoa waste"

But we want to stop all these EU rules?
Well it depends, the view is that the UK is a rule taker at the moment but the fact is that the whole of the EU are takers of the rules this provides a level playing field. This is somewhat advantageous for the UK because we're quite good at working to rules.

BREXIT PART 1: Trade deal basics in 2 minutes

So I'm going to try and explain trade deals in 2minutes

So what is trade?
Countries don't make everything they need or have the all the basic resources available to them - for example some countries are rich in certain metals whereas others not. So countries buy and sell products from each other, this is trade. Trade is good.

What is protectionism?
Britain and France start to trade, and the UK starts selling jam to France. The French don't like this, they want French people buying French products not British products.

What's a tariff?
The French's first move is to apply a tariff to UK jam which is a tax on it being imported - let's say 10%, this makes British jam still available but less attractive to the French, so the French sell more jam. Win.

What's a trade war?
The British are not happy at our jam being snubbed so we apply a tariff to French cars, let's say 20%. This is the tedious process of a trade war.

What's a quota?
OK say the French we'll reduce the tariff on jam... but we'll set a quota (the maximum number of jars of jam sent to France) of 10,000 jam jars a year.

What's a free trade deal?
Before long the UK and France a bit tired of putting various tariffs on jam and cars, and agree to scrap all tariffs and quotas so we can make and sell as much as we like, whoever makes the best products sells more and makes more money.

What's a customs union?
The UK wants to buy Humvees from the USA and charge 20% tariff, the French do a behind the scenes deal with the USA for 10% and pocket the cash, then sell the Humvees to the UK with the UK getting no tariffs. This is obviously bad for the UK so you draw a line around the countries in the free trade agreement and agree a tax for everything coming into the free trade area so it's fair, and the UK doesn't get dicked over by other countries.

What's barrier free trade?
Trade is now fast, but the sneaky French are trying to sell cheap imitation jam to the UK, undercutting our better, proper jam, so the UK and France agree rules that says what jam is.

Must be at least 80% fruit
Must be at least 10% sugar
Must be tasty

Once you're all working to the same rules you don't have to tediously check every jam shipment, because you know it meets the same rules.

What's the single market?
The single market is a free trade deal, a customs union and rules to make frictionless trade and more.

What's the WTO?
Without your trade deals remember the big list of tariffs and quotas, the WTO is effectively a big list of those tariffs and quotas and the organisation that listens to complaints that countries have breaches their tariffs or quotas.

What are goods and what are services?
When you make a trade deal you normally specify goods (physical things like cars) as separate from services (things banking services).

Thursday, 8 November 2018

What is the meaning of the book Gnomon? Ending of Gnomon explained....

So I've just finished the book Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and people are having trouble understanding the symbolism and the characters (myself included so I've tried to simplify it here).

Obviously, spoilers...

Here is the story re-organised into a timeframe that makes sense

Annie Bekele and Colson create a video game that uses the latest technology and the design assistance of her artistic grandfather.

The government moves to take over their project in the interests of the nation.

Shortly after Annie and Colson are attacked and firebombed in the grandfather's home and they begin to split in their ideology, Colson become more of a fundamentalist believing in the control of the system.

This eventually becomes the System and the Witness, the system being the entire system including the democracy, with the population being requested and required to participate in the democracy, the Witness being the software AI that monitors and supports the system.

The system is imperfect because people can't be trusted to make decisions so the system has an overriding function called Firespine whereby a small comitee of people can directly influence the democracy when the populate makes an emotional and "incorrect" decision. The "correct" decision is typically deteremined by the Witness.

Though she created the System, the Witness and Firespine eventually Annie has a change of heart, the System is fundamentally wrong, people need to be able to make stupid decisions so decides to bring the System down.

The System is too protected and has failsafes so any attempt to stop it will be detected so she turns against the System, then gives herself up for interrogation.

She knows this will give her a direct link into the core of the System, however the system will spot any malicious code so she obfuscates her intentions by spinning up multiple stories in different parts of her mind each containing part of the destructive code the "Desperation Protocol"

The alchemist
The painter
The librarian
Anne Magdelana / Lonnrot / Gnomon

Colson walks in on her interrogation, without her he no longer has access to Firespine so wants her access, but sees the computer is failing to rip her access code out of her.

Ironically the System is unaware of Firespine as it is it's own blindspot so is unaware that it is assisting in attempting to get access to it's own backdoor which undermine's it's own stated purpose.

Colson fabricates an inspector called Neith to try and stitch back together these stories or personalities currently running in her mind like three versions of a software application running on a computer and then she'll be able to

Neith then (though appearing to be viewing Hunters memories in the present) is actually a character injected into Annie's mind. Colson think's that Neith is doing his work and will bring him the key to full access of Firespine but infact Neith absorbs each of Hunter's stories she becomes more like her and eventually turns to Hunter's side.

Looking through Anne's eyes Neith and Hunter together combine the narratives and the the source code is executed against the Witness and the System falls allowing the wonder of "true" democracy to come flooding back.

Annie finally wakes from the interrogation, and Inspector Devana Benedis is sent the files of the interrogation and the proofs of the voting coruption.

Is Neith Real?
No, but she is probably a virtaulization of Inspector Devana Benedis as it is mentioned that her name "appears in various forms" in the interrogation files.

Anne Magdelana / Lonnrot / Gnomon
Anne Magdelana could have been invented or could have existed and was a "victim" of Annie's interrogation of her which  which was one of the things that pushed her to break from the system. The

What is the Chamber of Isis?
The chamber of Isis is the link between the virtual stories, this symbolises a link point where the underlying source code connects together to form the complete Desperation Protocol.

Unpacking of the stories into Neith's mind
The stories are unpacked into Neith's mind as an alalogy of to you reading the story and then thinking about it, and it taking hold and rewriting some parts of your mind. The same goes for Gnomon which takes a person and absorbs it, so you absorb a story and it becomes part of you and you become greater because of it.

Where do Mielikki Neith and Lonnrot go?
The version Mielikki Neith is created by Smith and running in Annie's head (Hunter doesn't exist either) so when Hunter refuses to subsume Mielikki that is one fictional character not subsuming another.

Lonnrot in the story is the outcome of Annie's interrogation of Anna Magdeleana, whether there is a Anna Magdeleana that is real, and whether there is a Lonnrot in the real world is unclear, however *this* Lonnrot is another fictional character.

I think they are left running around in Annie's brain and technically they are both living within a bubble within the Hunter bubble within Annie's brain, hence why Hunter could pull the plug on her surroundings. I think Lonnrot is leading her out of Hunter's little miniworld and up a level.

I think he's drawing parallels to computer virtualization here where traditionally you would have multiple operating systems running on the hardware and can also have those nested so that the nested operating systems think they are "real" and have direct access to the hardware, where they haven't it's all pretend.

I think I've confused myself.


  • One of the points is that when you read a book you execute the "code" of the book, so effectively you have made the characters live in your mind. This is the point that Gnomon makes at the end you have absorbed a bit of him and will always have him.
  • What is conciousness and could a conciousness exist separately in your mind if you were able to partition your mind off and give resources to that conciousness.
  • A Gnomon is the pointy bit of a sundial, here's a picture notice the link to the shark here.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Get-PhysicalDisk (MSFT_PhysicalDisk) and Get-Disk (MSFT_Disk) OperationalStatus values

We've recently had an issue that values were missing from the OperationalStatus property of the MSFT_Disk WMI class documented here.


It seems that this list is missing a number of values.

You can see more values that are available with this PowerShell command
Get-PhysicalDisk|Get-Member -Name OperationalStatus | SELECT Definition -ExpandProperty Definition

This reveals the inner code that the cmdlet is using to provide a display value for the operational status. Here you can see a number of values that are not documented in the page above.

System.Object OperationalStatus {get=$_status = @();
          foreach ( $status in $this.psBase.CimInstanceProperties["OperationalStatus"].Value )
            switch ( $status )
              1 { $_status += "Other" }
              2 { $_status += "OK" }
              3 { $_status += "Degraded" }
              4 { $_status += "Stressed" }
              5 { $_status += "Predictive Failure" }
              6 { $_status += "Error" }
              7 { $_status += "Non-Recoverable Error" }
              8 { $_status += "Starting" }
              9 { $_status += "Stopping" }
              10 { $_status += "Stopped" }
              11 { $_status += "In Service" }
              12 { $_status += "No Contact" }
              13 { $_status += "Lost Communication" }
              14 { $_status += "Aborted" }
              15 { $_status += "Dormant" }
              16 { $_status += "Supporting Entity in Error" }
              17 { $_status += "Completed" }
              18 { $_status += "Power Mode" }
              19 { $_status += "Relocating" }
              53252 { $_status += "Failed Media" }
              53253 { $_status += "Split" }
              53254 { $_status += "Stale Metadata" }
              53255 { $_status += "IO Error" }
              53256 { $_status += "Unrecognized Metadata" }
              53269 { $_status += "Removing From Pool" }
              53270 { $_status += "In Maintenance Mode" }
              53271 { $_status += "Updating Firmware" }
              53272 { $_status += "Device Hardware Error" }
              53273 { $_status += "Not Usable" }
              53274 { $_status += "Transient Error" }
              53276 { $_status += "Starting Maintenance Mode"}
              53277 { $_status += "Stopping Maintenance Mode"}
              53285 { $_status += "Threshold Exceeded"}
              53286 { $_status += "Abnormal Latency"}
              Default { "Unknown" }

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Yellow exclamation mark on C drive on Windows 10

You may find in My Computer that there is a yellow exclamation mark on a drive in Windows 10

Windows 10 unhelpfully provides no contextual information about this.

This typically occurs if BitLocker protection has been paused. To resolve the issue simply right click the drive and select Resume BitLocker Protection.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Mouse moving and clicking by itself on Windows 10 - disabling the touchpad and pointing stick on a HP ZBook mobile workstation G5

So I've had some problems recently with a new HP ZBook 17 G5 workstation running Windows 10 where the mouse was moving by itself and randomly clicking. This is immensly annoying and also quite a security risk - for example if you're in online banking it has the habit of clicking things you really don't want clicked.

It turns out that the issue was caused by a faulty pointing stick (the mouse that's stuck in the middle of the keyboard). On this model of laptop it has its own buttons below it (and above the touch pad).

The easiest way to fix this is to disable the touchpad and pointing stick (instead of having to get a replacement keyboard from HP).

Open the ALPS settings from the start menu

Turn off the enable tap

In Device Manager right click any of the ALPS devices and disable them