Pets and Animals

The pets that you get as a kid in Sudan or Iraq, at least under empire, are a little different than the cats and dogs in england.

My father often talked about his pet “antelope” in Iraq, which had to be kept in a tall cage to stop it escaping… and then there was a Mynah Bird. Lord only knows what they were feeding him! Not the bird, my father.

The pictures with the donkey are presumably in Sudan. I don’t recall hearing anything about the donkey… or the help. What a strange arrangement.

It seems incredible to me that such an ordinary family (my Grandfather worked as a furniture salesman when they eventually returned to england) would be in a position to have servants. A generation before they were working as servants in a house in Chelsea – wouldn’t it have seemed odd to them as well?!

Edit: this probably deserves a better scan, but i really like it.

Babylon Baghdad

These were fun to work out. The first is a statue of King Faisal I on horseback. There are a few other similar shots, one of which is on a postcard franked in 1953. The palm trees look the same. Case closed!

Next is the Lion of Babylon, which is famous enough for me to have known about, and to have a wikipedia page.

The final one required some effort. It’s not exactly a great photograph. There are some animal forms relief carved into a brick structure. It looked kind of familiar, but not much to go on. There were some other pictures that made me wonder if this was part of the temple complex of Abu Simbel, but the style is very different. After several hours distracted by that, i went back to searching for Babylon related things and finally realised why it looked familiar: it’s part of the Ishtar Gate, currently reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

The above, by the Dutch archaeologist Machteld Johanna Mellink, shows the same section of wall.

And about Abu Simbel. There are no pictures. Even though i can remember my father mentioning it… but usually in relation to some tall story about fishing off the Aswan Dam with twine and a meat hook and catching a huge Nile Carp.

Well, apparently he wasn’t making it up! Lets just ignore that he appears to be throwing a very unfashionable salute out of frame… nice pith helmet kid!


That’s just a good photograph! No idea who is doing the ‘Temple of Doom’ walk towards the propellers but it seems a bad way to go..

This one has a call sign, which means there is something to look up… which leads to another similar, but different, shot. My guess is that it was not taken by my grandfather but something he bought. However, the information on that site says that this was taken in Hatfield, England. Really? The background doesn’t look particularly England, and the shadow seems very strong… most odd.

Cars Of My Ancestors

One of the things that was really obviously while scanning family photographs was that cars were a very important part of last mid-century life. There aren’t many pictures to commemorate events (birthdays, wedding, births, deaths, etc) but my grandfather obviously loved his cars!

Grandfather did something in the army or airforce, probably catering not really sure, and was stationed variously in Sudan, Iraq and maybe some other places. Is this where empires go to die?

As most of the people in the photographs are unknown to me and the chronology is hard to determine, the below are in an order that reflect my limited information.

This might be a Wolseley Hornet (we’ll start to see a pattern here – i don’t know much about cars) and maybe in Baghdad, or Khartoum? I’m not even sure that the above are the same person… the one on the left fits the image of my grandfather, the on the right does not.

The first image is the only one that has grandfather wear any kind of uniform – and obviously in jest. My guess is that his “duties” were mostly civilian. The image infront of a sign is RAF Habbaniya, which according to wikipedia, “(originally RAF Dhibban), was a Royal Air Force station at Habbaniyah, about 55 miles (89 km) west of Baghdad in modern-day Iraq”

The last image is kind of wild – driving in some sort of convoy through a river. The same car appears in Baghdad and England… maybe he drove home? Seems unlikely.

There are pictures of my father in Khartoum (with a pet antelope!), but none in Baghdad. As soon as he old enough he was probably sent home to boarding school somewhere in Yorkshire.

Now more Wolseley’s in England.

There are two number place HGK 391 and HXR 137, the second of which appears to be the same car / model as the one in Baghdad. It’s probably a Wolseley 18/85 or 25 but i’ve not be able to find pictures where the back looks as square as it does in the picture with the stag. Perhaps that’s a different car again? It would be good to know…

To wrap things up, here is a Ford Consul. Perhaps this was my father’s first car… not sure.

Wow it’s an ugly one!

Unscrupulous DM-SMR Shenanigans

At the end of last year i put together a Synology NAS containing Western Digital Red (NAS) drives. My goal was to pull all of the data scattered across multiple aging machines and external drives into one place. All of that worked out just fine.

Earlier this year a “scandal” broke where WD was found to have started shipping DM-SMR drives in part of a lineup where CMR was expected. In most cases this would be invisible to the user. However, in use cases such as NAS, certain operations would degenerate and become stupidly slow.

The original table showed that drives smaller than 8TB were now being shipped as SMR:

Not good – my new drives were 4TB – right in the middle of the bad range. An additional table showed the SKUs of drives which were effected:

Hmm. That is not the SKU that appears on my invoice. The parts supplied are WD40EFRX, perhaps i got lucky? Having pulled the drives from the NAS to check, it seems that i did indeed get lucky! There is a good write-up and extensive benchmark on Serve The Home which compares the performance of WD40EFAX and WD40EFRX labelled drives. Wasn’t looking forward to fighting the good fight with WD over having being mis-sold.

And, that is the point here – for most cases the performance of SMR and CMR drives is indistinguishable, it’s only when you go to rebuild a array, swap out a bad drive, create a hot spare, etc. that you start to have issues. For drives that are explicitly sold for use in NAS this is an unacceptable ‘bait-and-switch’.

It seems likely that WD will be forced to replace the drives that were mis-sold, but the amount of time and effort they have put into playing down their deception is likely to cost them a lot more in the long run.