New Toys : Part 2 – ASUS EeePad Transformer TF101

ASU15002-13ASU15002-14ASU15002-15ASUS Specs

ASUS EeePad Transformer TF101, a set on Flickr.


New Toys : Part 1 – HTC Sensation


HTC Sensation, a set on Flickr.

Auberge Du Lac

Once a year my wife and I treat ourselves to a meal at what many consider to be the best restaurant in England. It’s not cheap but Phil Thompson is an absolute food wizard. This is what was on the spring tasting menu tonight, each course accompanied by a different and perfect wine.

– Pesto & Cream Cheese
– Walnut & Apple Salad
– Chicken parfait on toasted brioche
– Seared Tuna with Candied Orange Peel and Pomegranate

Amuse Bouche
– Leek and Chive Panna Cotta with Truffle Egg and Herb Foam

First Course
– Caramelised, Hand-Dived Scallop, William Pear Tart Fin, Crispy Pigs Trotter, Sherry Caramel & Thyme

Second Course
– Port & Armagnac Marinated Fois Gras Torchon with Gingerbread, Malt, Peanuts, Banana & Nougat

Third Course
– Morel Ash Coated Loin of Monkfish, Carpaccio of Cheek, Charred Spring Onion, Samphire, Mussels & Bacon Vinaigrette

Passion fruit sorbet

Main Course
– Serrano Ham Rolled Breast of Poussin, Honey Glazed Wing, Brocolli, Roasted Onions & Oregano


– Butter Poached Best End of Little Braxted Hall Lamb, Rosemary Steamed Bun, Goats Curd, Yoghurt & Candied Olive

Champagne Jelly, Blackcurrant Jam & Vanilla Foam

– Glazed Dark Chocolate & Pear Ganache, Pear Jelly and Puree de Malt


– Cheese Trolley <= has to be seen to be believed

Coffee & Petit Fours

Trying a slice of Blackbird Pie

Just trying out the Blackbird Pie feature on WordPress that lets you embed tweets.

Implementing a REST-ful service using OpenRasta and OAuth WRAP with Windows Azure AppFabric ACS.

I’ve been building prototypes again and I wanted to build a service that exposed a fairly simple, resource-based data API with granular security, i.e. some of my users would be allowed to access one resource but not another or they might be allowed to read a resource but not create or update them.

To do this I’ve used OpenRasta and created an security model based on OAuth/WRAP claims issued by the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service (ACS).

The client can now make a rest call to the ACS passing an identity and secret key. In return they will be issued with a set of claims. A typical claim encompasses a resource in my REST service and the action(s) the user is allowed to perform, so their claim set might show that they were allowed to execute GET against resource foo but not POST or PUT.

In my handler in OpenRasta I add method attributes that indicate what claims are required to invoke that method, for instance in my handler for resources of type foo I might have the following method  :

[RequiresClaims("com.somedomain.api.resourceaction", "GetFoo")]
public OperationResult GetFooByID(int id)

In my solution I have created an OpenRasta interceptor which examines inbound requests, validates the claim set and then compares the claims required by the method attribute to the claims in the claim set. Only if there is a match can the request be processed.

After a few tweets with @serialseb I refactored the above into an IAuthenticationScheme that validates the claims, leaving the original OperationInterceptor to check the claims required by the method to be invoked. I also added an extension method so that the whole thing can be fluently configured like so :


I was going to write a long blog post about how to build this from scratch with diagrams and screen shots and code samples but I found that I couldn’t be arsed. If you’d like more info more on how to do this just drop me a line. In the meantime I’ve dropped the source files as follows :

Getting the hang of hooks

wire-coat-hanger2I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if I were to ask you which part of a wire coat hanger the “hooky” bit is, that is to say, the part of the hanger that endows it with all its “hookiness”, you’d quite reasonably tell me that it was the part circled in green and labelled A in the picture opposite. However, I have a theory that it is in fact the part circled in red and labelled B. Furthermore, it is a theory that I can back up with evidence from a simple, repeatable experiment which you can try for yourself at home.

1) On a school-day morning as you are trying to leave the house take the last clean school jumper one of your children owns and get them to drop it down the back of a radiator.

2) Run to your wardrobe and attempt to extract a wire coat hanger from in amongst the contents. You will notice that the hanger becomes repeatedly hooked on pretty much everything in the wardrobe. The rail, other hangers, clothes, itself, your hand. Even the very air itself seems to snag as you wrestle the hanger out of the wardrobe. It is, in short, a very hooky thing.

3) Now proceed to unwind section B and bend the hanger out until it is a long piece of wire with a hook on the end.

4) Finally attempt to hook the jumper out from behind the radiator. You will notice at this point that the hanger has lost all its hookiness. You might as well be trying to get the jumper out with a slice of cheese.

You see ? Same hook, same wire but once you undo that twisty bit in section B…useless.


Amazon recommends…

Hi Bert, this is the Amazon Recommendation Selection Engine or A.R.S.E. Today we would like to recommend :

  1. Things you have already bought from us because you can never be too careful or have too much stuff.
  2. Things that are almost identical to things you have already bought from us because, God knows, once you bought a second one of the thing you already bought a third slightly different one will be hard to resist.
  3. Things you have already bought as gifts for other people and that were obviously gifts because they were completely outside of your known buying patterns.
  4. Things that are almost identical to things you already bought as gifts for other people just in case they need two of everything too.
  5. Things that you looked at accidentally or only because someone sent you a link entitled “LOL! Look at this ridiculous, furry, raccoon-head ski helmet“.
  6. Things that are similar to ridiculous, furry, raccoon-head ski helmets but probably a lot less LOL.
  7. 1 item that is completely inexplicable.

Basically I think that the A.R.S.E is an algorithm modelled on the Junk Lady from the film Labyrinth.

Feeling the pinch

My broadband is getting worse and worse. When I moved into this house 5 years ago I got 4 mbps from an 8 mbps service because I am 1962 metres from my exchange. I’m pretty sure I haven’t got any further from my exchange in the last few  years but I just ran some speed tests and they make depressing reading. Basically, my Vodafone 3G is now faster than my broadband.

5 years ago I was with Bulldog. Bulldog got bought by Pipex who got bought by Tiscali who I think have now been acquired by TalkTalk or something. Either way I’m getting the shitty end of this market consolidation stick. Last time I complained they actually admitted that as part of one of the mergers I was downgraded from ADSL2+ to regular ADSL as part of an “exchange modernisation programme”. Now I’m just waiting for them to deliver my penny-farthing and take my car away as part of a “transport modernisation programme".

Here’s the news :

Network Download (mbps) Upload (mbps)
Broadband 1.45 0.42
O2 PAYG 3G 0.78 0.48
Vodafone Contract 3G 2.02 1.26

Even crappy O2 pay-as-you-go internet beats my broadband for upload speed 😦


Scrummerfall. n. The practice of combining Scrum and Waterfall so as to ensure failure at a much faster rate than you had with Waterfall alone. – Brad Wilson.

I like this definition 🙂

Azure AppFabric ACS Gotchas : Longest Prefix Matching

I recently got bitten by a bit of Access Control Service logic related to the way it identifies which scope to issue claims for.

I have a service namespace foo. My Azure Service Bus scope for this namespace is therefore When I create the solution for this namespace two ACS instances are created. One is which is a general ACS and the other is which is scoped specifically to the Service Bus. This second ACS has a default Token Policy and Scope which I cannot change. NB : this has now changed. When you provision an AppFabric namespace now you can sepecify which services should be available (ACS, Service Bus and Cache). If you specify Service Bus you will get the bus-scoped ACS instance. You only get the generic ACS if you specifically request ACS as a service.

In my Service Bus solution I am exposing endpoints at and I have an issuer (Alice) with claims for the scope who is able to create endpoints at both and I have another issuer (Bob) who is able to send messages to endpoints at both and

I introduce a new issuer (Ivan) to whom I only want to grant access to To this end I create a new scope specifically for and create claims for Ivan in this new scope.

Here’s where I get bitten. Alice can still expose endpoints at and Bob can still send messages to them. Ivan can send messages to but not to which is exactly as intended. However, Alice can no longer expose endpoints at and Bob could not send to them even if she could. The reason for this is that although Alice and Bob have claims for when they try to access anything at they automatically fall into the new scope, for which they have no claims. The ACS matches scopes using the longest possible prefix and if there are no claims it will not check parent scopes.

The solution is simple – add new claims for Alice and Bob in the new scope, but the problem is, at first, counter-intuitive.

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