Monday, 14 August 2017

Caroline on Pirate BBC Essex?

On the 14th August 1967 the UK government introduced the Marine Offences Act in a desperate attempt to stop offshore "Pirate" radio stations.


It was pretty successful as, one-by-one, the stations turned off their transmitters and their staff headed for home.


But Caroline didn't stop, and now on the 50th anniversary of this legislation, Caroline is not only transmitting via the web, but also on the Medium Wave radio band!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Increasing the VOLUME in Linux

One annoying characteristic of Lubuntu in particular (and I suspect Linux in general) is that the playback volume is often too quiet, especially on laptops.


This problem is due to differences in audio recording levels, and is most noticeable when listening to audio via a web browser (e.g. watching a video).


Having put up with this for years, today is the day I feel I need to take some action.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Robots are coming! (...and the future is looking grim)

We live in a very exciting age, with scientific discoveries, inventions and technological development moving at an incredible pace.


The next few decades are likely to produce products which will really help humanity, especially in the field of medicine.


But what will happen to us and the world we live in, in the longer term, say in one or two hundred years from now?

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.