Remains of Soviet tank in Bamiyan

I was staying in a yurt in Bamiyan which overlooked the valley where the famous Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban. Having done much in the valley already, I went for a walk near some farm fields where I had earlier spotted the remains of Soviet military vehicles.

Camera in hand, I managed to get some closeups of those vehicles including this T-54 tank. Moments later, a uniformed man starts shouting at me from across the field and began approaching. I watched as he got to my position. I wasn’t sure what he was saying, but he was pointing at my camera and he wasn’t letting me leave. Luckily, a farm worker saw what was happening and came over to help, and he spoke English! He translated saying that the uniformed man was police, and that he wanted to know if I had a permit to take photos. I said that I wasn’t aware of the need for permits. And then he wanted my passport. I showed him my passport, but I didn’t hand it over. As I had refused to hand over my passport, he wanted me to accompany him to the police station. I said no. Lots of shouting. A standoff.

He radioed his colleagues and soon there were several police surrounding me. And then appeared one chap shouting angrily as he walked across the field. It was the boss. Same arguments…he wasn’t going to get hold of my passport, and I wasn’t going to the police station. I said I was British, and that my friends were waiting for me nearby. So I stayed in that field answering his questions on the who, what, why and when of my journey. Anyway, it turns out that they were worried about terrorists from Pakistan, especially with the elections only a few days away. After much talking, they let me go, and I shook hands with the police chief. I was questioned several times by the security forces throughout my travels in Afghanistan, but I guess they had legitimate concerns; literally life and death.

Reconnect mapped network drives using Command Prompt batch script, and using Lightroom Classic catalogues on a network

I use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom Classic (LrC) for my photographic workflow on Windows 10. I keep my photos on my NAS, and access these from my Windows PC workstation using a 10GBE network. It’s pretty fast as the NAS drives are in a RAID10 (1+0) configuration with 8 HDD drives so that 10GBE bandwidth is well utilised. I also keep my LrC catalogues on the NAS drive so that I can use one of my other PCs to access the catalogues, but LrC will not allow you to use network folders for storing catalogues. I believe that Adobe state that this is because of poor network performance and concerns on multiuser access; both of which are not relevant to my use case.

Luckily, LrC will not detect that a location (or folder) is on a network if you use the “Map network drive” option within Windows Explorer. Using Lightroom with WiFi is not a very good user experience, so if you want to put your LrC catalogues on a network share, I’d recommend a wired Ethernet connection instead of WiFi; 10GBE is preferred but GBE is workable. My main use case is LrC catalogues accessible over the LAN, but I obviously use my NAS for storing all my other documents so mapping network drives is very useful for those other use cases.

However, when booting into Windows, the OS sometimes does not reconnect mapped network drives even though the mapping is configured with the “Reconnect at sign-in” option. This is due to various timing constraints of resources during boot. Although free Third-Party applications are available that can automatically reconnect your mapped network drives, I would rather to do this using Windows built-in tools than add more unnecessary software to my system. I’ve therefore put-together a Command Prompt batch script using the “NET USE” command which runs in Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (ver 2004).

The script is saved as a .CMD batch file which is executed twice by the Task Scheduler at user log on; one in non-admin mode and the other in admin mode (run in highest privileges). This allows a mapped drive to be visible to those applications running in non-admin modes and also to those applications running in admin modes. I also used the CMDKEY command at the Command Prompt (not in a batch script) to add my network share credentials so that I didn’t have to add the credentials to the NET USE command; this just needs to be run once. The CMDKEY format was:

cmdkey /add:192.168.49.69 /user:username /pass:password

The batch script is below. Note that this post is an update of a previous post which had some flaws.

@ECHO OFF
SETLOCAL ENABLEEXTENSIONS ENABLEDELAYEDEXPANSION
SET me=%~n0
SET parent=%~dp0

TITLE Mapping network drive
@ECHO Please wait whilst we connect your drive
TIMEOUT /t 1 /NOBREAK >NUL

:Start
ECHO _____________________________________

IF EXIST D:\NUL (
    ECHO:
    ECHO D: drive is already mapped
    GOTO Endofscript
) ELSE (
    ECHO:
    ECHO D: drive does not exist
)

IF EXIST \\192.168.49.69\Data\ (
    ECHO:
    ECHO Network folder exists so run NET USE command
    NET USE D: \\192.168.49.69\Data /PERSISTENT:YES
) ELSE (
    ECHO:
    ECHO Network folder does not exist
    GoTo ErrorPrompt
)

IF "%ERRORLEVEL%" NEQ "0" (
    IF "%ERRORLEVEL%" NEQ "2" (
        ECHO:
        ECHO NET USE returncode has error and is %ERRORLEVEL%
        GOTO ErrorPrompt
    )
) ELSE (
    ECHO:
    ECHO NET USE returncode should be 0 and is %ERRORLEVEL%
)

REM catchall
GOTO Endofscript

:ErrorPrompt
ECHO _____________________________________
ECHO:
SET /P userinput="Errors were found. Do you wish to try again [Y/n] "
IF /I "%userinput%" EQU "y" GOTO Start
IF /I "%userinput%" EQU "" GOTO Start
IF /I "%userinput%" EQU "n" GOTO Endofscript
GOTO ErrorPrompt

:Endofscript
ECHO _____________________________________
ECHO:
@ECHO Please wait, script is closing.
TIMEOUT /t 5 /NOBREAK >NUL
ENDLOCAL
@ECHO OFF
@EXIT /B 0

Man with metal walking stick

In Jodhpur, I stopped at a street stall selling some nicely brewed Indian-style masala tea (chai). There was some seating nearby under an arch that led to a square, so I took the opportunity to rest and have some chai. I spotted this man sitting opposite me with what appears to have been a metal walking stick. A very distinctive look. He too had some chai later.