All roads lead to Whipsnade Zoo via Google

Whipsnade Zoo, in Bedfordshire, have hit on a new way of getting Google to literally drive traffic to their doorstep.

I noticed this when plotting a route between Stevenage and Tring (both Hertfordshire) for an upcoming job. Looking at an overview of the route using Google Maps I could see a large kink in my journey. Like any former FIA president knows, large kinks are best avoided so I looked closer at the map to see why I was being sent on a detour….

The Great Whispnade Detour

The Great Whispnade Detour

Despite many attempts at trying to drag the blue line to snap onto the rather conveniently named Tring Road (B489) I could not get a route that avoided the aroma of animal dung.

I’d been to Whipsnade Zoo only the year before and as part of a few days away in Milton Keynes*. Although I’d love to go back I’d got work to do and didn’t fancy walking around the place again (my poor legs!).

In the end I decided not to trust the Google Navigation on my Samsung Galaxy S2 and reverted back to my Nokia / Ovi Maps combo which didn’t suggest locations for me to go other than the ones I’d asked for.


*Yes, I chose to go to Milton Keynes for a short break. It was great because I went to Bletchley Park (mmmm codebreaking), the National Museum of Computing (mmmm computers!) and then did some indoor skydiving at Airkix (mmmm vertical hair drying experience). The next day was my leg achingly interesting day out at Whipsnade Zoo.

Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle

Another Humble ‘Donate-what-you-want’ Bundle is available offering another cool game (Frozen in fact!)……. I’ll give you a moment let that sink in…..

If you give more than the average ($4.80ish at time of writing) then you will get all the games in the previous Humble Bundle too! Steam, Desura and Direct2Drive keys can be provided if needed.

Go!     Fetch!      Good Gamer 😀

Reading Raw Disk Images with 7zip

Despite using Linux most of the time 7zip has been a staple utility on any Windows system I work with as it is very versatile and much more than a simple archive creation and extraction tool.

It’s very good at doing what you’d expect; Handling all of the day-to-day formats you tend to come across (such as Zip and RAR) as well as plenty of less well-known or older formats (lha!).

The interface is clean and the OS integration isn’t very intrusive (and you can remove it anyway if you’re not a fan of items cluttering your context menu).

I’ve always been impressed how I can extract files that don’t even look like archives and use 7zip as an extra security tool. I’ve successfully avoided many trojans by extracting an executable file to find the real setup file inside. The wrapper executable was just a delivery vehicle for something malicious.

I’ve also loved the way you can treat an ISO image as an archive and open it up to get at specific files. I store a lot of ISO images on my fileserver so now get the best of both worlds: the original ISO images for faithful reproduction along with the ability to access files as almost as easily as a standard folder.

Finally, the most recent thing I discovered and the reason for this post of praise is the ability to open up and access files in a raw hard disk drive image!

I’d made a backup image of a failing 160GB HD using ddrescue and saved it to my server. I then needed to get access to some files on the image and mounted it using the loop device on Linux. The image has multiple partitions so I found the partition I needed, calculated the offset and mounted it. I then got sidetracked and didn’t get round to getting the files and shutdown the PC.

The next morning as I raced to get out of the door on time for a change I remembered I needed some files and logged onto my Windows computer (which was already on). The backup folder was already open and the disk image showed the ImgBurn logo as the .img extension is associated with that.

Imgburn couldn’t open the file but seeing the 7zip entries in my context menu led me to try the ‘Open archive’ option.

Amazingly it could see all the partitions of the RAW image dump and. It took a minute to do as it read the partition info but I could even double-click on the NTFS partitions to see the individual files and folders contained within.


7zip In Action

7zip In Action