Thursday, 20 July 2017

Why don't my domestic LED lights last forever?

Domestic LED lighting is a far better alternative than incandescent or flourescent lights.

LEDs produce light while generating practically no heat, and they seem to last forever when used in electronic equipment.

So why have 2 of my expensive bathroom LED lights gone kaput?

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Is it damp under my house (part 3): I wasn't expecting that!

We have had some fantastic summer days during the last couple of weeks, here in Sunny Southern England.

Daytime temperatures have regularly been in the high 20s/low 30s (...and I'm talking Centigrade here not Fahrenheit).

So surely the under-floor area of my house is now bone dry?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Garmin eTrex 10: simple configuration for beginners

Configuring and using a Garmin eTrex for the first time can prove difficult for beginners.

You really need to configure the basics before you leave home, and then reset certain data before you set off on your walk.

So this post attempts to provide a basic procedure to ease some of the frustration for new users.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Mycroft: the open source Alexa

Mycroft AI is a voice assistant similar to Amazon's Echo/Alexa, with a speaker module that the user can shout instructions to.

In both cases the user can "wake up" the unit, and then ask a question or issue a command (e.g. "What's the weather like in Nairobi?").

But what makes Mycroft especially interesting to an old hacker like me, is that it is open source!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Chicks at play: RaspiCam 90fps

Our blue tit chicks came out of hiding a few days after leaving the nest, and now they are regular visitors at our feeders.

They need to learn the snatch-and-run technique, rather than spending too much time out in the open where they are vulnerable to predators.

Using a RaspiCam to capture video at 90fps results in slow-motion video and gives a better idea of their behaviour.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

BirdBox2017: end of another season

It's been a very successful year for our blue tits, great tits and our two Raspberry Pi powered bird boxes.

The last of our bird box chicks left the safety of their nest yesterday, and so ends another season for us.

Out of 15 eggs in two boxes, 14 chicks got the chance to explore the world outside and potentially become food for sparrowhawk chicks or maybe the short-term plaything for one of the local cats.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Diaspora: just Facebook for teckies?

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the press this year about the vast amount of personal data being mined by social media companies like Facebook.

Diaspora is an open source, distributed, social media site with the aim of addressing the balance.

So what does Diaspora have to offer, and how can a competitor to Facebook expect to win over its user-base?

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Ether: a tale of two blockchains

The price of Ether (ETH) has rocketed this year and is currently 23 27 times greater than 6 months ago.

For anyone that bought ether last year, this is very good news indeed.

But there are two reasons to be cheerful for anyone that has held onto their ether for at least the last 11 months.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Brave Browser

It was only a week or so ago that I was grumbling to someone about the internet, and the time it can take to load a web page.

Using Firefox with NoScript, I have to take a decision on whether to allow scripts to run, but these are not always limited to the page of interest.

When viewing newspaper and magazine websites like Radio Times, I find it quite alarming that it wants to load dozens, possibly hundreds of script libraries belonging to Google, Facebook, Twitter & so on.