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…when the internet was young[1] I used to collect the odd video. You’d find some bizarre things out there. They’d be uploaded in all their 320×240 glory, usually in mpeg or flv format… It’s not a massive collection, and mainly these things can now be streamed on youtube in vastly higher quality. But I have discovered since resurrecting my media server that something is f’ked up in the flv player on our media player. The speed is hideously variable. It actually makes me feel quite nauseous to listen to any of them. I’ve also got some videos that were sent to me by a nice person who worked at a record label – when they were being sold / closed.


In other related news, as you might gather the server is up and working. The files are mainly where they belong. Some stuff seems to have disappeared and will need to be reripped :(

I want to add some stuff for privacy purposes… I’m gradually trying to move towards behaving like the privacy aware citizen I am, but having installed a VPN I found I couldn’t get either Plex or Subsonic working. Trying to persuade port-forwarding to work with a VPN is quite challenging. I’m aware this would reduce the security of the connection, but… I am trying to hit a nice point between security and insanity.

[1] well, ish.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Because Linux’s move command is actually copy-then-delete if it’s not within one partition, I have to do this file shuffling in multiple chunks. Which means selecting a group of files, saying “move them”, waiting an hour while it does that, then selecting more files and doing it again. It seems to be working, so far, and I’ve done a teeeensy bit of tidying of the files on the way past (I really need to either sit down and suck-up tidying up this server, or obtain a minion to do it for me. Given the latter’s beyond unlikely, I think the former will have to occur at some point).

What I really need to do is borrow a few 4Tb drives, shuffle everything onto there, then set up a nice raid array, and shuffle it all back. It’s 11Tb worth of data (well, about 10Tb plus a 1Tb install disk, which is, yes, a ridiculous install disk, but it was a data disk until it got ‘too small to be useful’). But I don’t really have the cash to throw at a new multidisk array. Not if I want to get an EV to relieve my poor Minor of it’s 60 mile commute each work day. I don’t mind taking her some of the time, but I don’t really want to destroy her. So I think, for the time being, we’ll just have to put up with things being the way they are. Mind you, at least they’re now in a case where the disks are all in proper bays. That’s quite exciting. And I can take disks out without disassembling the entire PC.

Still as I watch file 481 of 1,702 move from one directory to another at a whopping 52Mb/sec (the other board was faster, when it worked, it used to hit about 80Mb/sec – then die), I can’t help but think of the fantastic musical treat that popped into my head as I considered that I had to move the files just a bit at a time.


Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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I spent this morning watching Big Clive tearing down a cheap USB charger which, for unfortunate part-failure reasons – passed mains straight through to the USB port. Sadly for the makers, who actually seem to have given a fig about design – and who’ve actually gone to more trouble than seems common to build a reasonable piece of kit, they were let down by a parts failure.

Anyhow, the thing is gently soothing to me, reminding me of sitting reading while my dad would strip down and repair electronics.

So it finally got me motivated to try and move the cable from the knock-off apple supply (which said “MagSafe” but actually appears to provide the full 85W regardless of whether it’s connected or not) to the old apple one I had which had a faulty cable. I’ve got an array of toys here now, most importantly in this case my temperature controlled iron which was complete overkill (and proved I need a different tip for it – so I’ve added some new tips to the selection of stuff that I’ve got in my AliExpress cart…for later).

Anyhow. The general impression when I stripped the knock-off one down was that it was poorly made:


Although I didn’t get in to actually looking at the design. After a fair chunk of time and a bit of a battle I managed to desolder the apple cable and replaced it with the one from the knock-off – which seems to be working nicely. The poor apple brick is now held together with tape tho’.

I also trekked out to return the case I bought from Blinq – they turned out to be very nice people, giving me a chunk of refund for the massively delayed motherboard delivery – and promising to refund the money from the case that was smashed in transit.

Also, the nice guy at the FedEx place taped the box shut for me, when I asked about tape :)

Then I headed over to what has become my favourite computer store and started peering at cases – explained my predicament (i.e. it normally lives out of sight, so I want something that’s functional, has lots of bays, and is also fairly cheap) – and they produced a second hand case for $45. Bargainateous, if you ask me.

Having got home I commenced the joyous task of rebuilding my PC using a new motherboard but the same everything else – not really an upgrade, more a side-grade.


Once thrown into the new case, it booted straight up and seems, surprisingly, pretty happy. I’ve now started trying to sort out the pigging mess the file systems had become – with the spurious resetting problem seemingly better (it just moved 160 Gig of files in one go, and before that another 90 Gig), it’s looking like it might be possible to at least get it working and the files back where they belong. Once that’s done I can start contemplating the possibility of sorting out a raid array for it.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, my card holder finally no longer contains my British bank cards. They’re now securely & safely stored away… I’ve not quite had the heart to remove some of the loyalty cards from the independent retailers in Bristol. But the transition plods on.

I more or less remember to say pants at work, and ask them to get up on the gurney (although gurney still sounds odd coming from my mouth). I still fuck-up though and say plaster, not band-aid, which confuses the hell out of people. And I continue have no clue about degrees Fahrenheit. Thankfully, most of the thermometers at work will do the conversion for me when patients ask (and we work in Centigrade anyhow).

I can say gas station without feeling too silly, although in my head it’s still a petrol station. At some point I’ll switch and it’ll no longer feel unnatural.

I’ve finally got around to contributing to saving an NPR station (KPLU), and I think I may finally have managed to waterproof the front of the minor against the PNW’s weather (no guarantees yet, but it wasn’t wet after two heavy storms). All gradual signs of settling, I suppose.

On the topic of the Minor, the back is proving a little difficult to sort as it turns out most of the reason it’s had water in there isn’t that it’s been running down through the many small holes I’ve been sealing. Or at least, some of the reason is that. Some is that the trunk lid (no, that still feels wrong, the boot lid) actually fits pretty terribly. It’s a glassfibre replacement for the original – I went with glass fibre because the metal ones rust through due to a fabulous water trap.

Issigonis was good at many things, and apparently designing mud and water-traps in his cars was something he excelled at.

Anyhow, I remember when it was installed Jonathon commented that the first one was a terrible, terrible fit, so they sent it back and got a replacement that was merely a bad fit. It looks fine until you get close in and then realise that the panelgaps are all wrong, and from the underside you can see a gap through into the boot (trunk).

Added to which, the seal – which is held on with glue – is peeling off. So I need to find me some impact adhesive and see if I can sort that out.

Also, when we get back into dry weather I need to see if the vinyl repair kit will repair the tear in the front seat. Although I might want to do that when Kathryn’s here, because she’s much better at mixing paint colours, and I need to get a match for the blue of the seat from the selection of not-matching colours provided.

In other news, I gave in and ordered a new motherboard. After a full 4 hours of attempting to get around the fact that my motherboard is buggered, I admitted defeat. Every time you try and move a large quantity of data it falls over in a heap. I considered finding the code for my single byte-at-a-time read-write routine from the RiscPC (which was painfully slow, but did something handy at the time), then realised that I was clearly insane. All the disks report good health (although I’ve had very sick drives report everything is dandy). It does it whether or not you’re using the graphical system (which seemed to make the problem worse at first, but actually seems not to after more playing).

I worked out eventually that the reason it was going quite so spare was that I’ve moved a bunch of files around and both Plex, Logitech’s media manager and Subsonic were all simultaneously attempting to catalogue the roughly 8-9 terabytes of data.

I did pay for the speedy 3 day delivery of the motherboard…which I’m peeved at myself about because I’m not going to be around to install it until next week anyhow. I should have thought about that more. I was previously peeved at myself for forgetting to pay for the extra fast delivery on the case…before realising that I should be grateful that I forgot!

Now we get the excitement of seeing if Linux will nicely handle the sudden change in all the underlying hardware, or if I get to play ‘lets install everything again’, which is a fun game for one (annoyed) player. It almost invariably boots when I do shit like this, but usually there’s some problem that persistently rears its head and causes me to end up renewing the installation.

My main hope is that I can, at least, get away without buying any new hard disks for the moment. I mean, really that’s the bit I’d like to upgrade. I’d like a nice Raid 6 array, but it’s tricky to do so as things stand, because pretty much all the disks are full. And a complete state. Although it might be a possibility with careful shuffling. Hrm. Also; would involve expanding the partition after the installation. I forsee many complications… but it’s worthy of more contemplation. Might have to spend a moment looking at the state of the disks and then playing with them before I get into reinstalling.

Anyhow. House wise we’re still flailing around hopelessly. We look at places, debate whether they’re too far to really be liveable, fail to make any decision on where we’d want to start a business, and basically are having a bit of a crisis of ‘too many big decisions and not knowing what to do’. We’ll get over it, but it may take a little bit.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So I went back to 4th Dimension Computers because the insurance co were unhappy with “it’s dead Jim” as the reason my PC was dead. I’d replaced the power supply when I got here with a brand spanking new one, because the one in it was irritatingly only rated for 240 volts.

Having traded in the new supply, the machine refused to boot. And I’ve given away / recycled all the other supplies I had which were, to be fair, also only rated at 240 volts.

So anyhow, I get there, and they’re very lovely and he pulls the plugs and tests the supply. Dead.

He grabs a spare supply from the shelf and tests it. No boot. Computer’s still dead. He tests his supply – dead.

He gets a third supply and tests it before connecting it… working. Connects it and… yes, the machine works. Which demonstrates that having spares around is handy. Unfortunately, now, having been apart so many times I’ve no idea which drive goes where in the case. So although it powers on and detects drives, it can’t boot. Which means I now need to create a rescue USB stick and try and correlate which drive is which to which port they were on before, then switch them around accordingly.

I can see this being a fun game.

…of course, to do that I need several things. A monitor and a keyboard would be a good start. It would also, probably, benefit from a USB WiFi adaptor, given that it’s not got a wired network to plug in to…

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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I turned on my RiscPC and lo, “Thwooop” it went.

Up popped:

RISC OS 4.02

And then things went a bit wrong as it ran out of memory (it used to have 64ish meg, now I think it’s got 12 thanks to death-of-battery), but it made it to the desktop.

And then I discovered that like many modern LCD monitors, the one I’m borrowing to test things has little to no knowledge of ancient ‘puters. I think I may need a VGA to HDMI converter that’ll handle any input, because I suspect it’s switching to something like 50Hz 640×480, or some other hideous mode, and the monitor just cheerfully says “Mode not supported”.

After a few abortive attempts to play games I thought “ah, but what about Xenon 2! That might work”.


Oh well.

Still, the 115v mode on the power supply seems to work, there were no hot or burny smells, I think that one counts as a win.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So I checked over the media server, spent ages making sure all the drives were plugged in correctly after shipping it over and then I turned it on. Well I tried to turn it on.


I checked it over and made sure that all the connectors were definitely well seated, that there were no untoward bits of crap floating around, that nothing was obviously amiss.


I stripped it down to just the mainboard / processor / memory / GFX card.

'It's Dead Jim' -- Bones McCoy

I stripped it down to just the mainboard / processor / memory.

So that’s another thing I’ll have to claim on the insurance.

Sadly, the phrase ‘woefully under insured’ springs to mind. When we got towards the end of the insurance items list we were starting to realise that we were running out of money to actually ship the damn stuff. So it’s only insured for around $400 (most of the other computers I shipped over I could ask lovely John to find a free replacement for, and then just ship over). That’s not enough to replace the hard drives in it, because it’s got “quite a lot of storage”. I’m thinking that if I replace the mainboard, processor, memory and at least one HDD I should end up with a working machine. Hopefully, whatever’s killed it didn’t kill all the hard disks, otherwise I will be a very, very sad bunny.

Thankfully, the cost of parts for an FM2+ machine isn’t way high, so even with the fairly low level of insurance I should actually be able to get a working machine again. How quickly, though, that’s another entire question.

I am, however, considering the possibility that it might be time to get a new case while I’m at it. If I’m throwing a new motherboard in, I might as well have a case that actually can hold a few more drives to put it in.

It’s quite frustrating. Not least because I was really looking forward to having our video server back online, and listening to podcasts again.

Tomorrow is, I think, claim day.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

In theory

Jan. 25th, 2016 09:10 pm
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… is back up and running.

Of course, that is just a theory.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, I’m off on an ALS (Advanced Life Support) course in June. In my usual efficient, non-prevaricatory way I’ve left doing the online portion of the course…a while. I’d vaguely noted that it said that the learning management system would be offline for maintenance for a couple of days but hadn’t really taken much notice of when, exactly. Until today. When my plan for the day which went:

- Paint
- Dink on the net
- Go out for nice lunch
- Return and do ALS precourse
- Drink tea, eat biscuits
- End

Fell over somewhat.

I managed the painting; another coat of lovely red paint on the lovely trim. I’m now all the way around the upstairs door frames, which means after one more coat on that frame all that’s left is the trim that I can only prep and paint when Kathryn’s home (because it involves being ‘quite high up’ on a ladder at a slightly dubious angle) and the trim next to the stairs. I’ve even painted the loft-entrance.

Oh, and patching up the paint on the wall which, as usual, does not seem to have stuck as well as I’d like despite the endless attempts to persuade it to (with plaster-prepping pre-paint stuff, dilute coats, and sensible long drying times). I’m never quite sure how other people get paint to stick to plaster (or if they really do), because while the vast majority of it seems to end up pretty well attached, if I ever put masking tape on paint (which it says you can) it always ends up pulling stuff off. Anyhow. Despite the low-tack masking tape, there were a couple of small areas where the paint’s been pulled off the wall. Some of that is fillered areas, and some of it is just that it hasn’t stuck at all to the plaster. I’ve got some paint from the batch that I kept ready for such an emergency, so I’ll clean the wall up, probably filler it to get it close to the level of the multiple coats of paint and re-prep it and then repaint those little bits.

The red really adds definition to the upstairs. Or at least, Kathryn and I think it does. Everyone else might hate it. But we really like it.

Then I set to on the Sepsis cards for work. I’d thought I was happy with the design, but looking at them today I just wasn’t. So I spent some more time modifying the layout before sending them off to the printer. I tweaked it so I could abuse business cards into being the sepsis cards. You can all tell me how much you hate them, but I’m quite pleased with them – in so far as they at least look different to some of the other cards we get at work:

Sepsis front Unbranded

Sepsis back

It’s still not really to the standard I’d like, and the font isn’t quite what I was after, but given I’m not paid to do this, this is my own time, and my own money, then… well. They get what I pay for. The blue is meant to sort of tie it in to the NHS blue, without explicitly stating that. :)

Anyhow, then I sent them off to be printed. All pray, I did online proofing, rather than taking it to the local Staples, because Staples didn’t seem to want to share their online pricing for printing full-colour double sided business cards. I may get back 100 awful, hideous, unreadable cards. But they looked fine in the preview.

Anyhow, that done, I did my dinking on the net. Bought myself a network cable and socket tester (and it came with a free crimping tool, which is handy as I’m thinking of extending the cabled network down to the garage*). Anyhow, the excitement of that is I might be able to isolate what’s wrong with the kitchen network point and then I can fix it if I’ve wired it wrong in some way or get a new socket depending. I’m thinking it’s probably a socket because it’s definitely worked at least a bit before. Either that, or something’s eaten the cable, which would make me sad.

Anyhow, that done I set to on the next problem which was going out for a nice lunch. Easy. Headed over to Hart’s Bakery…only it was rammed. There were no seats at the tables, so I ended up grabbing it and coming home which made me a little sad. I was looking forward to getting some nice coffee and chilling out in a space other than the house.

Still, when I got home I still enjoyed the delicious bread, and then attempted to log on to the learning management system. And there it was. LMS unavailable until the 29th. ‘Bother’, I think is the word I was looking for.

On the plus side, after some vacillating about how to spend my newly available afternoon, I headed out to the garden and moved the rest of the soil from the front garden to the back. Distressingly, the new pseudo raised bed astonishingly still requires more soil. I suspected as much, that I might have built a bed that required more soil than we have, but the fact we’ve put around 700 kilos of soil into the back garden (plus about 800kilos of gravel) and we’re still short is a little scary. I keep thinking that the amount of compost, manure, gravel, sand and plain old soil we’ve put in, and the fact that the excavated soil from the garage also went in should really have raised the garden up several feet. But it hasn’t.

Anyhow, the soil moved, but distressingly inadequately filling the bed meant that I couldn’t do what I’d planned to do, which was put the veg / plants out that’re sat on the windowsill waiting for a new home. We shall have to pick up some more soil to complete the bed :(

That having slightly failed I set to on another project, which is a mixture of creating a new bed further down the garden, and stripping the last remnants of the lawn off – and moving them to the tiny bit of garden that will hopefully become lawn. It’s right down by the garage and we’ll probably turn it into more of a meadowy affair, but at the moment it’s a mixture of cat-shit and weeds. Oh, and it turns out, potatoes. I yanked a mixture of potatoes and weeds out. Buried the cat-shit a bit, and then started skimming off the grass from the soon-to-be-bed and putting onto the soon-to-be-lawn. Uneven and lumpy though it is, it is a fairly effective (and cheap) solution (although we’ll have to put lots of raked topsoil and grass/wild meadow seed on to it to make it level enough). But it does make that patch look better, and it did so pretty rapidly. Still lots more to do there, though.

But whilst I was doing it I slightly surprised myself by stumbling on what was perhaps once the edge of a border. It’s a little hard to tell; there’s just a line of bricks running across the garden – edge up – so I’m assuming it’s not a wall – although I’ll need to dig them out anyhow so I will soon find out. It’s quite near to the area of random, inexplicable concrete that was dug up when we started on the garden. I have no idea if it relates to that in some way, or was simply the edging of perhaps a war-time veg bed. It was sufficiently far under the mud that the grass looked quite happy, and I’d no idea that the bricks were there until I hit them.

So anyway, that was pretty positive. Then it started raining, so I’ve taken shelter inside again….

* Which leads to the exciting debate: Do I do it properly with armoured direct-bury cable, or do I find some spare old hose-pipe and run the cheap, nasty, horrid (alleged) cat5 cable I’ve got inside that. I’m largely inclined toward the latter, considering I’ve got bloody miles of the craptastic cable, and I’m not going to take it to the US, nor am I willing to inflict it on anyone else because I’m highly unconvinced of it’s actual twisted-pair-ness.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, a little while back I noticed that one of the case-fans on the media server was in the process of failing. It was a shonky-ass glowing fan that I’d only connected a couple of years ago, because the server was running quite hot in the summer. I may have had it connected years ago when the machine was new, but I’ve not used it continuously…

Anyhow, despite its relatively low usage, it’d started making graunchy noises. I wasn’t too worried. It’d fallen in to the ‘replace when it starts getting really noisy’ category because it’s winter, and the machine runs pretty damn cold in there. That room’s only heated to around 15 degrees or so, just to keep the washing machine happy, so I wasn’t too stressed.

However, I got home today and eventually, having had my (nearly 3 hours) of sleep-deprivation prevention treatment (a nap after my night shift :) ) and sloped downstairs with the intention of, wait for it, painting my nails. Yes. Seriously. I know!?!*.

Anyhow, I sat down, fresh tea on the table, flicked on the TV and asked the XBMC machine to connect to the media server. Failure ensued.

I pulled up my laptop and said ‘Oh hey, laptop, what’s up with the server’ and my laptop replied ‘what server is that then?’. And so I sloped out to the server room and was met with the silence of a machine that is most definitely off.

This is worrying, I thought, and then recalled that the server is set to power-off on all fan-failures. I poked the power button.

*GRAAAAUNCH* went…several things. The known-sickly case fan appeared to sort-of spin up, then stalled, then started again. But while it was doing that there were other…nasty…failed fan noises.
*THWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE* went the self-test before I plunked it back to its happy-off-state.

I pulled the server into the house. A little research revealed that:

- The case fan is dead
- The power-supply duct fan is dying (and making some very sad noises)
- The power-supply’s own fan is dead.

This is very upsetting, because the power-supply is only just over a year old (September last year it was replaced) – and I didn’t get the very cheapest piece of crap supply. Fortunately, I thought, I’d fixed the power supply that’d failed with shiny new capacitors.

Throwing that in and whipping out the two sickly case fans, I thought, would produce a server that would at least work until the new fans arrived.

Only no.

Because turning it on with the shiny new supply led to the discovery that (I suspect) the somewhat rapid ‘FAN’S DEAD TURNING OFF NOW’ failure has done badness to the boot drive.

Turning the PC on leads to the ‘I’m going to boot now, oh’ failure. And so I’m waiting for the Ubuntu LiveCD to come down so I can break out the FSCK on the disk and pray that it’s just that that’s died.

So, my peaceful post nights reverie (watching Lost Girl and drinking nice things) has been destroyed. And. And. And my nail polish needs to come back off :(

* It’s my Xmas work do tomorrow, I thought I’d stun them with actually painted nails. Although in all honesty, my nail-painting-skills are not what they once were, and I think it’s probably time to buy some new nail polish, because the stuff I just applied has roughly the consistency of porridge. Unfortunately, I can’t be arsed to go down to the chemist and get some more. It’s a shame, because I really like the colour.

Originally published at Substantially lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So after the excitement of the garden yesterday, today I went and worked on clearing out/up in the garage so that we can get the new car (hopefully Thursday) in to charge. Otherwise we’ll be a bit shafted, really.

After a good few hours work, I turned this:



into this:



Actually, the shelves went up (rather rapidly) as part of the tidying. You can deduce this from the fact they’re

(a) Not strictly level
(b) Made from crappy old offcuts
(c) Put up using really surprisingly poor quality London brackets.

I need to whip the stuff back off the shelves at some point because as you might have gathered I’ve not actually painted that section of wall yet. But with the car coming, as I may have mentioned, on Tuesday, I felt today was not the day to invest time in painting.

I want to get some better quality London Brackets and put up some more shelving on that side, and possibly a bit on this side. I’d also like to spend some ‘quality time’ down there and see if I can’t actually produce something more like organisation (as opposed to randomly hurled on the shelves). Also, I should see if I can’t e-bay some of it, because there’s a lot of stuff there which is just waiting to leave.

I have this horrible feeling I should get rid of the table saw, which would make it the most pointless purchase ever. I thought we’d do much more with it, but in all honestly it wasn’t really the tool that we actually required in the end. Getting rid of it would make a lot of space in there. The chop saw is also out on loan at the moment, which helps.

I could also, realistically, get rid of all the chargers bar the ‘RAC’ one. I’m pained at the thought of getting rid of my ABBSAR charger – because I actually paid for that one – the others all came with the EV conversion stuff for my Minor. But the RAC one is actually probably the best of the bunch. Either that or one of the 12A Fast/Trickle chargers. They could all go on e-bay at 99p…

It was hideously hot down there, not as hot as it was outside though… which made me doubly (or possibly tripley) grateful that I’d organised collecting the hardcore as an evening job. However, in the awesome coolness of Freecycle the hardcore turned out to be a mixture of stone and mortar from a probably 18th century free-stone wall built in Fishponds. Originally it would have been all stone but had been patched up with mortar over the years – the section of wall fell down in a winter storm and the owner, when it was rebuilt, had it done as a modern wall – with lots of mortar. Leaving an awful lot of stone left over. Originally the gap between the garage and the (one and only section of) lawn was to be filled with gravel, and the hardcore was just to make it cheaper, but having seen what we’ve got, it looks like we might well just leave it as it is, because the stone looks like it’ll be quite nice once it’s washed off :)

In other news, with much effort and the use of a Mac app or two, the salvaged section of the car’s service timelapse is now here:

For an experiment with timelapse it was quite painful (should have just got John in) – but despite ending rather abruptly (take it up with Lapse It which doesn’t recognise the camera orientation), and not having sound (because I was too cheap to buy a time lapse application which would add sound having had Lapse It fail, and O Snap also is not looking too clever at the moment).

Unfortunately, whist the heat has led to lots of garden progress, swimming in the sea, and clearing the garage up it’s also coincided with our internet connection getting worse. We’re planning to switch provider anyway, because Be have been bought by Sky, it’s merely a case of getting enough tuits to make a round one. I may reset the router in the morning but for tonight it’s been painfully slow. The poor media server is also running in a very warm laundry room. I’ve opened the door for a bit this evening to give it a bit of a break!

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So I checked, and there’s a bunch of CDs I ripped which have, for whatever reason, not made it onto the server. Actually, I think there’s a few that had not made it across and some which have got mixed in with the “ripped” pile. I just spent a chunk of time going through two of the stacks of ‘ripped’ CDs and have a veritable music of CDs (or whatever a pile of CDs is called) which weren’t ripped. And so need to be ripped. Feh.

I need to go through the rest of the pile, and I need to double check that they’re not in the directory of just-ripped stuff (because I rip stuff on my mac, then transfer it to the linux server which has but one non-locally writable directory for reasons which were clear to me when I set them up – and then they get moved to the music directory in big batches). But I suspect they’re simply not there.

The reason I know there was some sort of copying issue at some point is a few of the CDs have empty directories on the music server. I don’t know why though. Augh, really.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.


Mar. 6th, 2013 11:16 pm
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So, I’ve been debating a nook as a possibility to try and reduce my ‘looking at bright scenes at the end of the day’ habit. Apparently this is bad for your sleep, so an e-ink reader of some sort seemed a good plan. But after the experience with the no-so-Superpad (III) the concept of another unbranded low cost device didn’t make me feel optimistic for future success. So instead I looked at nooks and kindles and hacking of said devices to be more ‘useful’. The newer kindles appear to be a bit challenging to root, but the nook simple touch appeared to be a pretty good bet. And secondhand from the US it was only about £30, which also seemed a good bet.

Having got one I can say I’m quite pleased. It’s not perfect by any means and it runs Android 2.1 which appears to be a bit of a challenge to get some things for, but:


There is Matriline from my greader, there’s an instapaper knock off for it, and after some searching I found an old copy of readitlater which should do for accessing pocket for my beloved.

The e-ink screen is pretty nifty and the quality is pretty good:

Nook running greader
although I really want a ‘turn of all animations’ option for everything. Scrolling in greader’s a bit funky, but mostly works. I’ve another rss reader to try out at some point that’s meant to be more configurable. Still; I’d rate the nook fairly highly, especially given the price point and the e-ink display. So, yes.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, today was definitely one of those days where progress was made. Indeed, between yesterday and today much progress in a forward direction has occurred. The Pi is now working (although it has had to be overclocked to get enough performance to play my 30 gig HD Blu-Ray rips), I now just need to knock up a case for the LCD. For some reason some of the shows haven’t quite been picked up right to the library – and some shows have some episodes missing for no apparent reason. The naming conventions are fairly reasonably adhered to, so I’m not quite sure what’s up with that.

Anyhow, it’s working. I need to work out how to turn on two audio interfaces simultaneously (or maybe get it a USB audio interface, apparently the standard one’s a bit sucky). See, when we’re watching TV, in general we listen to the audio through the TV, but when we listen to music, that’s through the amp. The amp does not sport an HDMI connection, because it’s a proper hi-fi amp, not a home-cinema amp. It’s one of my favourite purchases, actually, that amp. Because after years of crappy amplifiers, of using my family’s cast-off Technics to replace my very repaired Eagle amplifier (which I’ll grant was a very nice amp before it was repaired, twice), the modern Cambridge Audio amplifier and Gale speakers do sound gorgeous. And yes, after watching When Albums Ruled the World I am playing my parent’s copy of Sergent Pepper. Why do you ask. Uh, sorry, so the having audio output on both the HDMI and analogue audio outputs of the Pi would be handy. I don’t know how to persuade it to do that yet. I know people have persuaded it to do that though, so I need to look that up.

So that was a good start to yesterday. Today I actually used it as intended and watched a fine rip of Blackadder (the fourth) over breakfast. Then whilst I was working on the house (I’ll get to that) I used Airplay. This Pi business is ace, to be honest. Although my phone’s working far harder than it ever has before.

Then yesterday continued well, with a trip over to see the illustrious John. I took the opportunity to take the much maligned m-audio interface with me. This has been giving me grief again, or so I thought. It turned out I was wrong. It was a poor connection in the (brand new) Maplin 1/4″ jack plug – which was making the microphone into an aerial – and picking up all the hum that was available (which is quite a lot given that it’s surrounded by lots of computing stuff). This was exacerbated by the fact I appear to have gone insane. I am convinced that I’d been using it to capture audio from the record deck. Only either I am mad, or I something very odd was happening. Because it’s only got a mono input. Err, so, yes. Either we’ve been recording the difference between the two channels for records, or..err… perhaps I’m just misremembering. It’s so long since it worked (and tbh, the connector (it turns out) died so promptly when I started trying to record the show after John fixed the M-Audio interface last time), that I’ve forgotten what it was like to use it!

Anyhow, having traced the fault, which it turned out was nothing to do with either my craptastic soldering, or the (unfairly maligned) m-audio interface (problem is, it’s actually failed twice, and so now is highly suspect whenever anything goes wrong), we lopped the jack plug-and-socket off, and I soldered the XLR connector straight onto the mic. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place, but does mean that if the m-audio does fail again then I’ve no easy way to connect the mic to the Mac. So, all pray, eh. It was however, generally, a nice social day. Spent lots of time considering a bench multimeter – since it appears that I’m going to go doing stuff I’d sort of forgotten that I loved doing. I really do rather enjoy dinking with electronics. I’d obviously help if I was good at it, or actually could remember the stuff I was taught and learned as a kid, but eventually it’ll come back to me I’m sure.

Anyhow, today was similarly productive. Having cleaned the kitchen a bit, and done some washing up, I set to work on the house. I’ve sanded the filler in the hall way (it’s ready to paint now), and the plaster’s primed, and I’ve also spent a bit of time running a bead of caulking around the ceiling-wall joint (old-new plaster). I’ve cut and fitted the small piece of timber to replace the original bit that had warped and fallen down. I’ve hung the door in the hallway (after nearly two years with no door to our kitchen we now have an extremely ill fitting one). Unfortunately, it became (rapidly) apparent that the doorway to the kitchen is hilariously far from square. As in, ‘oh that’s a witty joke’. I mean, I know that having been built on a hill in the 1930s our house has only had a passing acquaintance with right angles. Indeed, one of the things I noticed when we first looked around was that I thought the stairs were not horizontal. They’re not. But the unsquareness of the doorways is… challenging. Now, before I hung it I took off the 1960s modernism which had been applied to one side (a layer of hardboard). Confusingly, all the doors in the house have a layer of hardboard on one side – I’d understand if both sides had been tormented in this way, but it is only the one side.


More oddly, it’s the side inside the rooms. So rather than walking into the house and being hit with modernist simplicity, it’s only when you’re inside the rooms. Except, because this door’s been moved and turned around, you would have been assaulted by a non-matching door when you walked into the house. So I attacked it, and attacked it…


And as expected, underneath lurked a perfectly good door. It could do with a little filling – if we were staying then I’d get them stripped and just leave them bare with their faults. As we’re not, they’ll get a light sand and fill, and then be painted.

I also cut and put up the missing section of picture rail.

The hall’s looking really rather a lot better now. Tomorrow I shall start actually painting the hall, which is quite exciting. I also need to mount our A-B payphone on the wall and knock up a cover for the fuse box. Then I need to find out how to wire it up – my dad did try once, having had a quick look at the ‘circuit’, but never quite got it right (you could dial/hear, but not speak, even when you’d paid the requisite number of pennies/six pence/shillings). ISTR there’s a newsgroup / forum for vintage phone fans, they may well know the correct way to connect it…

That will probably max out our line’s ring-capacity.

I’ve no idea what the ‘REN’ is for phones of this age, but ISTR that when we got up to 5 phones in my parents house the phones started auto-answering, because the ring-current required was so high, that attempting to ring them made the phone system think that the phone had been answered…


Anyhow. So, tomorrow I start the painting festival. I also need to drop off my ‘new’ bag to be repaired. And I’ve been ripping music for the last… age, and I’m continuing to do so. I’ve now made it well into the DJ box (holds 300 CDs or so). I need to have a bit of a think about this, I need more sleeves, I think. I took the DVDs out of the other box, and put them into a DVD-specific DJ-case, so the other small DJ case should be empty. This means I can start the strip-down of the CDs (so we can keep the artwork and recycle/offer the boxes up on freecycle, saving us from transporting them to Canada). Whee. So, onwards we go.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So, I want(ed) a Squeezebox, and logitech decided to discontinue them. So the other thought that had been rattling around my brain for a while was the ‘I could use a Raspberry Pi and a VFD display‘. The trick is to find a VFD that’s easily drivable from a Pi, and a mediacentre installation that’s happy to drive a VFD. I think the poor old Pi is going to have to be controlled via the network (although, actually, I think it could probably replace the Viewsonic box – meaning we’d just need the one box doing eeeeverything).

My hesitation is that I’ve not done anything like this for a long time. I actually find myself somewhat nervous about it.

Which is odd, when you stand back an look at my history. I built (granted with help) a digital to analogue display to drive a speedometer and rev counter (and a bunch of dash lights) from a game. I then patched a game by hacking to read the contents BBC’s memory whilst it was running, finding where it was storing the speed and rpm. Then wrote an assembly language patch which overwrote the joystick controller section of the game (there was no spare memory to allocate to my hack, sadly) with a lookup table which contained output values that correlated to appropriate values to drive the AtoD at to make the speedo and rev counter (the speedo of which had been hacked to contain the guts of a rev counter) display something approximating the graphics onscreen. Then I added a driver to output those numbers to the user port on a BBC micro (thus driving the nice little D to A). All without overwriting bits of a game that was notoriously difficult to fit into the Beeb’s 32K. I designed and wirewrapped that board. I did that. No one else had done that specific thing before.

Now granted, whilst the Raspberry Pi sports the monkier ‘Model B’, harking back to the awesome BBC Micro, my ex-knowledge of 6502 assembly language is unlikely to be helpful here. But really, attaching a VFD to a Raspberry Pi is something that has been done before, and doesn’t particularly require specialist knowledge. I mean, it requires a bit of basic editing of files and understanding how to use ‘make‘ and so on. But even rusty as I am, a quick look at a Man page and I should be away with that without too much trauma.

And having written this, I feel fairly committed to making the idea come about*. And so, I shall maketh my shoppinglist(eth).

- Raspberry Pi
- VFD display (HD44780 compatible, probably 20×2)
- Powersupply (if John doesn’t mind handing me another from his selection of supplies)
- Pi case (heh)
I’ll also need to knock up some kind of VFD case, although I have an idea about how I’d like to go about doing that.

Anyhow, today is devoted to adjusting the brakes on my bike (because I’m on nights, and being able to stop on my way home (or indeed, on my way to work) is convenient.

* Although my clock project has so far failed, because the clock keeps stalling for no obvious reason, and for some reason the WAP54G caused all hell on our network and failed to extend the network to the garage, which was its entire point, but I wanted to replace that with the OpenWRT firmware anyhow, so need to retry sorting that out.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

Days off

Jan. 16th, 2013 03:36 pm
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Days off still feel a bit of an oddity. I allowed myself a break between the slog of the bathroom and starting the hallway, because I thought this is probably good for my sanity. In it I’ve cleaned the house, I’ve moved the website (wordpress used to be in a subdirectory, it’s now not) and upgraded wordpress (and applied a new theme, which I’m not sure about at the moment, but is the theme that I’m trying. It’s a suck-it-and-see approach*). I’ve listed my Kawasaki GT-550 on e-bay (*whimper*). I’ve been to Two Day Coffee and got more coffee. I’ve been to Maplin and got possibly the worst power tool I’ve ever owned – a battery dremel clone (and been slightly stunned to find that it’s got an AC-adaptor**, rather than a DC adaptor, which means I’ll have to look at the guts of the charger to see if I can take it to Canada. The only reason I got it, rather than any other Dremel clone, is I thought it would be useful to take to Canada. I didn’t get an actual Dremel because Kathryn already owns one, so spending twice as much on something that duplicates what we’ve already got, not handy. Although, as we’ve already considered, probably vastly better quality).

I’ve worked on the clock*** (which I’m going to continue doing after this) and I’ve tried to rejoin the nursing agency. I’ve written some more of the next episode of Dead Bug Jumping, and I’ve installed and started to toy with a new media server. I’ve ripped another 10 CDs and done 3 loads of laundry (and am pondering a fourth).

I’m not quite sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘Days off’ concept.

* The result of which may be that it sucks. I’ve got through four themes so far today.

** Which outputs 6volts at 50hz. What’s up with that? I’m assuming that, somewhere in the guts of the hideous plastic base object, there’s a rectifier.

*** Which is for-why I bought the dremel clone. Because the new clock mechanism doesn’t fit in the space previously occupied by the old clock mechanism.


Jan. 10th, 2013 09:47 pm
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So, today’s progress report from the house…

Sealant in around bathroom window; it’s not as neat as I would like in a couple of patches, but I’ve definitely got better at it (also, this is way nicer sealant than the grot I’ve got previously from B&Q. Much smoother to use, but dries hella-fast).

I’ve managed to break the new toilet seat, however, standing on it to reach the window. This is upsetting, and means I’ll have to fix it tomorrow :(

In other news, the roof has (hopefully) been fixed. The company said that while long-term it’ll need the zinc replacing, the repair should last a good while. There are some slightly sad tiles up there, but nothing else needs immediate attention, which is good news.

I’ve also been ripping music like a good’un – I’ve got through in the region of 50 CDs. I’ve also been ‘tidying’ in the video and film directories, coming up with something like a naming scheme. I’ve also added a specific username for the media equipment to use (Herbert Shuffle*). I’ve also started moving media around to have one disk full of Audio and the other full of Video. Obviously it’d be nice to have a nice shiny RAID system with backup on it… But not yet, eh.

I’ve also registered for assessment of and organised sending of transcripts for both my Bachelor’s degrees to Nova Scotia, for to have them decide that I can take the exam which will hopefully lead to us exiting this country. Ironic, really, because we’re trying to work out if Kathryn can get Citizenship here, so that we can come back later. Maybe. For a bit :)

And finally, I’ve ordered an FD to Micro 4/3rds lens mount for my Lumix G1. Because**. If anyone wants to give me decent or fish-eye or ultra-wide-angle FD lens (or spots them realllllllly cheaply somewhere, or better still, free), let me know.

Uh, so I think that’s it for today. I was hoping to put up the light in the bathroom, but I was informed by Kathryn that I wasn’t doing that because I was yelping and having great difficulty moving my left arm. She was, of course, right. Although I think I could do it now, it’s probably worth letting my arm have the rest of the day off, especially because lying in bed last night and trying to turn over, I kind of looked like a beached fish as I flapped my body trying to avoid using my arm. Abduction is a bugger, adduction less so. Circumduction isn’t happening. I’m just praying I don’t have to do CPR at work because I may end up in worse shape than the patient… :-/

In other, other news, I need to sort out putting DD-WRT on the other WAP54G; this is because the WAP54G’s feeble wireless output isn’t quite enough to reach our garage (our old Belkin 802.11b router could just, just reach the garage, but was painfully unreliable and only did WEP encryption***). So I might as well sort the other power supply for it… which is something to do tomorrow.

* Bonus points if you can name the source of the username. But not many bonus points, because… obviously.
** Because I have a few FD lenses, and there’s no way I can afford any new Micro 4/3s lenses at the moment. Yes, I know this makes the pretty/shiny/small argument for buying the G1 invalid. Yes. Shut up and go away.
*** And whilst I do support the concept of open WiFi, our ADSL is so sick that sharing out the weedy connection we’ve got seems foolish.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

Okay, so as I’ve commented before (enough times, I’m sure), back when I originally ripped the media in our house a variety of encoders were used. The archaic Risc PC encoder (ooh, the pain), LAME on Linux (a early 2000′s version), various PC encoders… It depended on the OS I was using at the time.

Some files were encoded by others at various bitrates (128kbps….*shudder*)*. Most of the more recent stuff was done at high bit rate using VBR… But over the last few weeks I’ve been making slow-and-erratic progress on re-ripping stuff and setting up the new media system….

Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, today I headed over to John’s with some more of our broken old sad things. Actually I headed over to see John with the hope of showing off the Music 5000. Technically, what we have is an upgraded Music 500. But anyhow, I loaded up the Volvo into a Early 80′s timewarp, and headed over. I also took our Alfa sewing machine which had stuck and wasn’t working anymore. I suspect it was in need of a service… but wasn’t sure whether there was more to it than just oiling things. Also, I didn’t have any suitable oil…


Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, when I first set up the music server I initially intended just to get the music using normal network shares. But the Viewsonic VMP74 didn’t seem to want to connect to it. Which was irritating. So I set up UPnP. Now, that’s the only way we’ve used it, pretty much (apart from iPlayer and the odd bit of YouTube). Whilst lots of things worked, files over 4Gb caused it to skip onto the next track at 4Gig, and despite thinking it supported FLAC files, it didn’t seem to work.

But yesterday I set it up to use the network shares and… it’ll play FLAC across the network (and the 30Gig Blu-Ray rips work fine). This is confusing, but happyness.

Of course, this still leaves one teensy tiny problem. iTunes. iTunes in it’s perpetual suckage does not support FLAC. Despite the fact users have been, apparently, asking for this for the last 6 releases. Hey Apple, I love your hardware, and your OS, but I have to admit iTunes is the most crappy piece of software I have to use regularly (at home, we won’t get into what I have at work).

So now everything else in the house can use FLAC, and nothing needs UPnP. I still have to dual rip everything and waste disk space so that I can have music on my iPhone. But I don’t need to transcode FLAC, and I don’t need to fire up mediatomb every time the machine starts. This makes future configuration much, much easier.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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