Querying The Dac with PHP

I see the same thing over and over, and some people imply or suggest its easy or incredibly hard to connect and query/poll the Nominet DAC (Domain Availability Checker) to get basic data about a domain.

There are a few reasons you would want to do this, the main ones are to build a drop list database or build a drop catching script, but both are built on the same foundations.

Before you can use this, you need to be a Nominet Member, and have a DAC Subscription, but you can access the DAC Testbed for Free without Membership or Subscription.

I’m going to use a high level language for this example, which in this case is PHP, but Perl is faster, and a low level compiled language like C would be way way quicker, but PHP is more than adequate for database building and non-prime drop catching.

Basic Connect to and Poll the Dac

The above code will result in the following output, it really is as simple a half a dozen lines of code,.

You can now act upon the returned $resp variable, explode it into manageable chunks like…

This will return an array of 6 blocks numbered 0-5, which will be…

From here you can put it into a database…

Query a List of Names

Its most likely you would want to add some sort of loop to load a list of names…

Thats the basics covered where most people seem to strugle, its really endless where you can take a script.

I may revisit this code in future and expand on it, but for now, lets see what you do with it.

 

Body Power Expo 2016

Body Power Crowds

Body Power Crowds

I recently attended the Body Power Expo in the capacity of a Photographer, this were my 4th Annual Body Power event. Its interesting to see the Fitness and Health scene in the UK Evolving as this expo is almost like a “snap shot” of the industry; you can almost watch its growth and diversification.

Early Gyms and Expo

In some ways it reminds of my first Gym 1996/7, what looked like an old public toilet on the edge of an industrial complex (Mirrlees Blackstone), it had concrete flooring, a bit crap cord like carpet, a radio so old I’m saying a wireless, it were stuck on local radio which were KISS or Galaxy. No heating, no showers, a toilet with the box like 7ft high. I think 2-3 machines a bike, an form of elliptical and a basic rower. Hardware wise, a dozen bars, a tonne of plates, half dozen benches oh and a Rack in 1 corner and that were it. Many gyms were like this to various extents.

Strongman Arena

Strongman Arena

Fast forward to my current gym 2016… 2 floors, 5 different types of exercise bike, chest press machines, diverging lat pull down machines, lateral raise machine, cable pod, 8 stack, trx, rope trainer, loads of machine, video based music, studio place, brightly lit, toilets, showers, kinds small on the weights but still 2 racks, 2 smiths, a dozen benches etc, and its open 24/7.

Product Launch

Thinking back over Body Power its the same thing. This year there various brands some old and some new choosing to launch their brand or new product at the show. My first year, there were literally no newbies, it were all the old guard as it were.

I think the first major new brand I saw launch there were NOVO who make protein bites, which look like a quaver only smaller, don’t taste as good as a quaver though, but its protein and snackable. It falls in the “flexible dieting” and “protein snacks” categories.

Reflex Protein Coffee

Reflex Protein Coffee

This year existing companies were launching new products, Reflex nutrition launched their new protein coffee, with a stand dedicated purely to the 1 product. Mars were pushing their new Snickers and Mars Protein ranges and various others. On a smaller scale, some new brands like “Serious Ammunition” with their Bullet Reloaded product, then “Active Sport Nutrition” were  launching Zombie Juice, another new brand were TNT. There were sooo very many others which I can’t list here.

Some of the past product launches are now rapidly growing into major brands; NOCCO is one which stuck in my mind. I commented on in another blog post, which is an awesome product. Another would be NOVO who make protein bites (crisp), 3 yrs ago their stand were small, it were about 5-6x bigger this year with some fairly big name athletes on it such as former Miss Netherlands Dounia Rijkschroeff.

USN Stand

USN Stand

The Big Boys Roll In

This year also some of the old guard attended for the first time like MyProtein, who came packing mini-guns to mow the competition down. I think they literally brought EVERY athlete they sponsored.

USN were dominating the expo, they sponsored the main stage, the pro IBFF show, they had their own little mini stage, which were HUUUUUGE. One their newer products tastes amazing the B4-Bomb Extreme (Cherry). I tried sooo many of their products.

Which I guess is the point of all the samples, to try them all so you pick the brand for life. I must have tried 40 different proteins, a dozen pre-workouts, 2 dozen bcaa’s and various cookies, muffins, doughnuts and bars of the weekend. A few different products I have gone on to purchase.

CT Fletcher

CT Fletcher

This year there were strongmen, insta-famous, inspirational, physique, bodybuilders, body transformers, bikini, clothing, equipment, supplements, food, snacks, MMA, boxing and even medical services making the event what it is.

The list of names is, and were endless, the top of their game. I really wouldn’t know where to start with such a list.

However some of the biggest pullers were Paige Hathaway and Michelle Lewin on the FitFuel Stand, Steve Cook on the Optimum Nutrition Stand and Christian Guzman on Alphalete Stand.

Below is a 360 view of the queue for Paige Hathaway, the queues for the others were equally impressive but had no vantage point.


The fitness and health sector in the UK is growing at a crazy pace, a truly astonishing rate.

The take away from the whole show were about inspiration, and improving your health and learning. I saw girls meeting Michelle Lewin who were close to tears and gushing. Telling her how they were inspired to lose weight, hit the gym, overcome bullying and more. I saw guys telling CT Fletcher he helped them to push harder

NOCCO – No Carb Company Drinks

NOCCO Girls with Mathilda on Right

NOCCO Girls with Mathilda on Right

A few years ago I met Mathilda from a company out of Sweden called NOCCO. She were launching a brand of Carbonated (Fizzy) Drinks which contained BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) with and without Caffeine, or KOFFEIN as it were listed back then, with names like RODA BAR and PARON, none of the cans were in English but they tasted great.

Body Power Explosion

The stand NOCCO had at the Body Power Expo were not more than the size of a Box Room, with Mathilda and I believe 2 maybe 3 staff, fast forward to 2016 and the stand were 3 maybe 4x larger, with a mountain of NOCCO which were probably bigger than the original stand. All the cans are now in English with the same nice print quality, with a semi mat finish, which made them easy to grip even with wet hands. I think there were about 7-8 Staff including Mathilda who says she’s loving the expo and plans to get bigger and bigger each year.

Nocco - Old and New

NOCCO- Old and New Designs

What I found interesting from a marketing perspective is, Mathilda tackled the show with what I could only describe as blixtkrig as the Swedish say or blitzkrieg as we’re more familiar as, which “lightening war”. A number of stands told me, she visited them and dropping a case or two off for the stand. This meant NOCCO had “peppered” than expo, it were EVERYWHERE, almost every Athlete on every stand were drinking it.

One athlete told me, they were fuelled purely by NOCCO, although the can says not to mix with Alcohol, another athlete told me its amazing with a certain Russian drink. This does kind of negate the zero carb thing though.

Product Flavours and Nutrition

Now the drinks themselves are 330ml  and come in Pear, Peach, Mixed Berry and Citrous and Elderflower Flavours, all are Carbonated (Fizzy) and all but the latter are Caffeinated with 180mg, and contain ratios of 4:1:1 or 8:1:1 of Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine and some have L-Carnitine, and Citrous and Elderflower is Caffeine Free, no Carnitine, and 4:1:1 blend of BCAA. I’ll add some Label information soon along with some product photo’s too.

Mountain of NOCCO

Mountain of NOCCO

They all contain, between 3-6g-ish of protein, along with Vitamin D, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12, but what is most shocking for example is Citrous and Elderflower is 20 kcals NONE of which come from Carbs in fact none of the flavours contain any carbs, the 5g of protein in the citrous is the source of the 20kcal (4kcal per gram), the other flavours have various amounts of each vitamin, protein and mineral, but all around 20kcals and zero carbs.

I have to say, this is one of the best products I have sampled, certainly the best fizzy drink, and most impressive stats, I’d say top 3 products from the expo and potentially the best marketing.

At some point I’d like to talk more in depth about branding, company name, and product development, not to mention working out the tastes. Many of these drinks frankly taste horrendous, others taste so chemical and artificial its shocking but this seems to be bang on.

Nominet Zone File Released

The ZoneFile (ZF) from Nominet has been released, it also appears nominet have gone for “zonefile 2.0” by including domain names without name servers assigned, in the form of a database dump in addition to the zone files for all the Nominet controlled second level extensions (.net|org|me|plc|ltd|co.uk).

Nominet Zone Files

Nominet Zone Files

I believe the zone access is available to Nominet Members only, and like other zone files it includes only the domains, and name servers. You can access it by going to your account, and then under “Account Settings” there is an option to sign up to zone file file access. You have to agree to about 29593 pages of small print, but as a member you would already be aware of the basic rules so they need only a speed read.

Historic Records

What is interesting is, Nominet appear to keeping historic copies, its not know exactly how many days, weeks or even indefinitely worth of records. Which means Diffs and other comparisons between snapshots can be made.

The other main use for this data is if you wished to build a drop list from it, or some other application you would need to be a member with DAC access, not to mention able to write the relatively simple application to query the dac, and build a database.

Such an app is as simple as preparing and opening a socket, connect to Nominets DAC (Domain Availability Checker), send your string, read the reply, parse the domains 1 by 1 within the quota (432,000 per day, would take approx 25 days to scan whole zone), then write the result to the database, then search said database.

There are a bunch of rules surrounding data retention and distribution; I think these rules maybe due for a review given the release of the NZF. For now there are kind of controlling rules.

 

Beard Oil and Balm

I have had a beard for about 15 yrs now, generally I look like cross between a Brian Blessed and Hagrid, I would totally be at home in a cave.

Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)

Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)

Since I started to want to tame it a little, I was told I needed to use oils and balms to bring it in, along the lines of deep conditioning, and styling products. I have always washed my beard fully and conditioned with hair products not not with specialist products.

The Hipster Pound

I were a little dubious, given the recent raise of hipsters and trendy beard growers, I were thinking the beard oils and balms are more about tapping into the hipster pound, which is reminiscent of the 90s trying to tap into the “pink pound” and the “yuppy pound”, one soared and one flopped.

My mind has been slightly changed, and heading toward a full u-turn, but not necessarily for the reasons most would expect.

I change my aftershave scents a few times a year, from spring-summer-autumn-winter I move from green-y, ocean-y, to fruity, citrus-y, to wood-y, forest-y, to spicy, warm scents. For example in Summer is Clinique Happy for Men and in Winter Viktor and Rolf’s Spicebomb Extreme.

Khal Drogo

Khal Drogo

Enhancing Aftershave Scents

I have now found I can match my aftershaves up to beard oils, and balms; More so I can enhance my aftershaves, for example Tom Fords Tobacco Vanille, I think is missing something, so a little Munro’s Bourbon Beard Oil, and a Melt&Smelts Cocoa and Benzoin balm and it really is quite magical. This can be applied to Paco Rabanne Invictus which needs a more woody smell to help with the syrupy smell, so add Cedarwood, Bergamot and Grapefruit beard oil, along with a Sandalwood Tache Wax and works amazingly well.

I would say you can add to your fav scent, or even enhance your favourite scent. I also don’t see why you couldn’t do this if you only have a Tache, Mutton Chops, or even have a stubble, I would even bet you could do your eyebrows, your skin still needs moisturising either way.

Aside from that, my beard is definitely softer and its slowly taking shape with a little topiary skills, less Hagrid and a little more towards Seneca (Hunger Games), well not quite, but Khal Drogo coming up.

Back Up and Contingency Plans

There have been a few stories in the media recently about various companies back up plans being entirely inadequate, the biggest being Marco Marsala. One such company is within the Domain Circle which is HEG which own various companies including Heart, Domain Monster and the company at the centre of the back up fiasco 123-reg. What these companies have in common is that they are some how “I.T. Professionals” in charge of YOUR websites and domains and should know better.

Back Up Failure

Borrowed from BrassBolts

This is a perfect example of why I invested quite heavily in my home back up processes, and I used to be a “hosting company” which used to be a Reseller of services by a company called DonHost way way way back. Back then with a 64kb ISDN Line, I used to download nightly back ups of all client sites, and when the back ups started taking over 12 hours, I moved to bi-nightly downloads and so on.

This were in addition to the hosting companies daily, weekly making around 31 days worth of back ups (7 days, and 4 weeklys = 11) and the weekly “off site” back up to a non accessible hosting account with another company which had its own back ups too.

Non-Accessible Back Up

This non-accessible back up, is technically against lots of hosting companies T&C these days but it weren’t back then. Many hosts include a clause that you can only use a certain percentage of your storage for “storage” that is files not linked publicly by a web page hosted within the account.

This is to limit peoples illegal file sharing, but affects legal use too.

I think this a croc, if I pay for storage, I don’t expect the company to tell me, I can’t keep legal items in there. Obviously illegal stuff and things which breach rules is one thing, but to say I can’t store private files and then want to double the charge to allow me to store private files is a croc, but that’s another issue.

Synology NAS Units

Anyway fast forward 15 or so years, and now I use Synology NAS Units with Hitachi Touro External Hard Drives which perform nightly, weekly functions for local back ups. Many Synology units have a USB port which can be mounted and included in back up scripts, I have a rugged USB Waterproof Pen in there with important files on. The USB drive is stored around 8ft away in a cupboard.

Once I can get fibre (NOT cable, I don’t trust Virgin after the Virgin Media cView issues), I will start to use cold storage like Amazons Glacier or similar, but stuck on ADSL the upload speed limits me, but with fibre there is no excuse not to use a service like this.

Not ideal or business purposes but Google Drive is 1tb for £60 per year, and Google Photos allow unlimited free hi resolution image storage. These should be used for non sensitive data, always worth using.

Hitachi Reliability

In addition to my own storage, I want to touch on hardware Hitachi, I were around when IBM Death Stars (which went on to become Hitachi Deskstars) were literally melting and vaporising themselves, but now Hitachi Reliability is Legendary. I make a point of buying the same drive from multiple sources or on various different days so they are the same drive but different batches. I were also a little irked when Western Digital took over Hitachi, I feared WD would take over Hitachi’s tech but seems WD bought Hitachi for the technology to improve their own.

When you are building your storage needs and requirements, you should research the brands you use. I am a fan of  2tb Samsung F4 Drives, and Hitachi Deskstar’s. I try to replace critical drives every 2 yrs, but I have some Samsung F4s in my media units which have 50,000+ hours of 24/7 running, and some Hitachi’s in similar conditions and they have 0 faults, and clean profiles.

Given how much effort I put in both my person and my business it astounds me that companies 10 to 1000s of times bigger than I were can make sure reckless actions.

Bottom line is, learn from their mistakes and take steps, losing everything is horrible!