Some Random Thoughts

The box art for GTA V

GTA V Artwork

I talked a little while ago about my excitement over the upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s only two tantalizing days away as I write this and I’ve had it on pre-order for about 6 months. It’s fair to say I’m ready, but I almost wasn’t. My old PS3 died after 5 years of honourable service. It didn’t owe me anything but it did leave me with a dilemma. The PS4 isn’t that far away and I didn’t want to spend a load of cash on a new PS3 at this stage. So what to do? Buy a new PS3, borrow one, wait for the imminent arrival of the PS4?

My old PS3 was the bread bin shaped one and these are known to commonly overheat and stop booting after a lot of use. You can fix them by resetting the temperature sensor or repairing the thermal compound on the CPU. I didn’t fancy open console surgery much, I’d done it before unsuccessfully with a friend’s machine. Luckily I’d seen some guides to melting the paste without opening the case using a hair drier and a cardboard box to trap the hot air. I used to watch a bit of MacGuyver and I fancy myself a hacker so I had to give it a go. My first problem was that being a mostly bald man these days I don’t own a hair drier, I realised this after opening the bathroom cupboard and not being able to find one. I managed to borrow a hair drier though and I gave it my best shot. It didn’t work, in hindsight I’m not that surprised. So I searched some electronics exchange stores around town for a decent second hand model. Continue reading

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CampFireManager on FLOSS Weekly

FLOSS Weekly cover art. Tux penguin and BSD logo.I love getting the chance to host FLOSS Weekly and I mentioned in a recent post how many cool projects I’ve discovered through it. This past week though I got to interview an old friend about a project I definitely already knew plenty about. FLOSS Weekly 264 features lead developer Jon Spriggs talking about a project called CampFireManager or CFM for short.

One of the big problems we’ve had in organising OggCamp is making good use of rooms and resources for the barcamp element. We started purely as a barcamp and then in the second year adapted to also include some pre-sheduled sessions. Even so the core of the event is a barcamp, where attendees come and share ideas, give talks, and create the schedule as we go along. That’s great, and having been to many barcamps I can say the format works. There is one problem that crops up though. What happens when you end up with a talk 2 people want to see in a large auditorium and a talk EVERYONE wants to see in a tiny room? What happens is a big empty room with 3 people in it and 200 people trying to cram into a tiny space. Any hacker would have to admit that is suboptimal. Traditionally the “free for all” nature of room booking can create this situation, and often does.

Continue reading

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Running Like Clockwork

On occasion I have the privilege of hosting a show called FLOSS Weekly on the TWIT Network. It’s a weekly show (the clue’s in the name) about “Free Libre Open Source Software”. You might already know this if you’ve been around these parts for a while. I learn a lot from doing it, I discover new tools and sometimes end up going on to use the very projects we’ve had as guests. A good example of that would be recent guest Kaltura, the Open Source video platform. I’ve been looking at it for a couple of Drupal projects because their integration is so good, and it’s all licensed under AGPLv3. Check out episode 261 for more on that.

I just thought I’d take a moment to point you in the direction of the last episode, number 263. Our guest project was Clockwork, no not the Clockwork Recovery Mod for Android. Clockwork is a language which helps with machine automation for all kinds of tasks. Aaron Newcomb and I had a great discussion with the developers Martin Leadbeater and Mike O’Connor. Both calling in all the way from Australia. They’ve been developing Clockwork on their own for quite a while but now it’s ready for the world. It allows you to define models to represent real world machinery and control actions, check results and iterate. You’ll see from some of the examples on the website that you can do this in a surprisingly small amount of code too. It’s probably best if I let the guys who really understand all this explain it though. So click play on the video below and listen to what Mike and Martin have to say. I just wanted to highlight a project¬† I think some of my IoT loving friends will appreciate.

Ciao for now,

Dan

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Free Raspberry Pi Course In Liverpool

A Raspberry Pi in case

A Raspberry Pi In A Case

Good afternoon one and all. I thought I’d take a brief moment on this rainy Sunday to tell you about some upcoming courses in Liverpool. As some of you will know I work for the WEA or Worker’s Educational Association to give it’s full title. We offer courses for adults in England & Scotland and we’re the largest public sector provider of adult education in the country. We’ve been doing it since 1903, yeah 1903, that’s a long time. Despite all of this most people still haven’t heard of the WEA, and I have to confess I hadn’t myself before being asked to try teaching for them last year. I’m working as a web developer and tech bod in the Liverpool office now but still doing the odd bit of teaching here and there. I’ve even managed to get some knowledgeable friends to come on board as tutors, one of whom is the OggCamp Chief Les Pounder.

Les is starting up a new introductory course on the Raspberry Pi in Liverpool this Wednesday 11th September at 1pm. He’s going to be bringing his wonderful box of tricks and showing us how to do all kinds of cool things with the Pi. Even how to create your own laser trip wire, now come on that’s cool! The course is at the newly refurbished Rotunda Community College in Kirkdale, just 5mins drive from Lime St or 15mins on a bus. The course will consist of 10 weekly 3 hour sessions. So that’s 30 hours of teaching time. All for the princely sum of ¬£23.25p. That’s nothing. In fact if you’re on any kind of means tested benefit you can get the course for literally nothing, nada, FREE! It’s subsidised by the Skills Funding Agency. So what’s not to love?

So how do you get on the course? Well it’s easy. Come along to the first session and we’ll enrol you. Job done.

Les will also be running a basic IT course in the same centre 10am-midday on Wednesdays. Those start on September 11th too. I know a lot of you reading this blog will think an introductory course on the Raspberry Pi isn’t advanced enough for you, and perhaps it’s not. But what about your friends and family? Would any of them like to learn how to turn the Pi into a media centre, home automation system or more? Please help us to spread the word and fill up the course. It’s a lovely centre with great facilities and we have a top tutor on hand.

So please share this post. Even if you’re not in Liverpool we have WEA courses running all over the country. If you live outside the UK it’s a bit more tricky but who knows, perhaps one day we’ll extend to your neck of the woods as well.

You can download a PDF brochure of all our courses in the Merseyside region right here. Or if you’re in another part of the country head to the website and try the course search.

I hope some of you will find it interesting. Thanks for reading :)

Dan

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George Graham Would Be Proud

Liverpool player Daniel Sturridge standing with back turned on the pitch and arms in the air

Daniel Sturridge on the pitch for LFC

Hello again folks. I’ve been watching a lot of football lately so here comes another footy flavoured post. As I write this it’s a quiet Sunday evening, but earlier this afternoon my team Liverpool FC beat Man United 1-0 at Anfield. Winning against Utd is always enjoyable for the local rivalry, but this is the third 1-0 win we’ve had this season. 3 games played, 3 wins by a single goal from Daniel Sturridge, it’s becoming predictable! Obviously the 1-0 run will be broken sooner or later, but it reminds me of the days Arsenal would famously win most games 1-0 and the fans would chant “1 nil to the Arsenal, 1 nil to the Arsenal”. Continue reading

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A Good Start To The Season

The Liverpool FC crest. Red and white with a Liver bird on the shield.

The Liverpool FC crest

Hello folks, how are you? In an effort to increase my posting frequency I thought I’d write about football today. If that’s not your thing then you may want to bail out now. If it is then make yourself comfortable.

It’s nearly the end of August and the first 2 games of the English Premier League have already gone. Where does the time go? It feels like only yesterday it was new year, but I digress. My team Liverpool FC have made a good start with 2 wins. You can’t do better than that, but it never ceases to amaze me how carried away some people get, and how quickly. There are already some idiots going on about how we’ll win the league because of this. Let’s keep things in perspective. I’m pleased with the 2 wins and it’s good to get some points on the board, but the league table means absolutely nothing at this stage. I find it hilarious that they show the table on TV round ups and actually talk about it. “They’re only one win off the top of the table Gary”. There’s only been 2 games you fool, almost EVERY team is only one win off the top!! Gah. Anyway, I’ll relax. Continue reading

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