Thursday 31 December 2020

Working with the Linux /proc directory

This strange directory contains some interesting & useful stuff.


Accessing data contained in its files is pretty easy.

So in this post I explore its treasures with some simple Gambas code.

Monday 14 December 2020

Trekarta: my Garmin eTrex replacement?

Trekarta is a Global Navigation Satellite System app for Android.


It seems to offer similar functionality to my old Garmin eTrex 10.

So is it an adequate replacement?

Monday 7 December 2020

YouTube: no user account required

Up until recently, viewing videos on YouTube was not a problem.


But I now get a Google nag-screen asking me to sign up and log in.

Is there some way around this?

Friday 27 November 2020

OnePlus 5: my [almost] de-Googled smart phone

I now have a smartphone with a non-Google operating system.

I'm not registered with the Google Play Store either.

So I'm almost Google-free.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark 2

I've never been able to resist a good body.


Especially when the controls feel nice and are easy to access.

Yes, I'm talking cameras once again!

Monday 16 November 2020

Install Gimp 2.10.22 on Peppermint 10

You are just itching to get your hands on a new app release...


...but its not in your distro's repository.

There are a number of solutions, but these notes only cover one of them.

Friday 13 November 2020

PeppermintOS 10: hide desktop icons

Want to hide your untidy desktop icons?


It doesn't look great to have an untidy desktop if you are giving a presentation to customers or colleagues.

Its easy to temporarily hide desktop icons on Peppermint.

Friday 6 November 2020

Two Hogs Sharing Our Hedgehog Box

I'd suspected something funny was going on.


We knew we had two hedgehogs of similar size visiting the feeder.

But the camera monitoring the hog box entrance confirmed my suspicions.

Monday 2 November 2020

Trying to get some [software] privacy!

I'm really not sure how we got into this mess!


We seem happy to give away private information to anyone,

just as long as we are allowed to search the web or download trivial apps.

Friday 30 October 2020

a Really simple hedgehog feeder

We still put food out for our local hedgehogs most nights. 


Our old hedgehog feeder has put in good service, but the wooden base is now rotting away. 

So its time to come up with a replacement.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Olympus E-M10: manual focus tips

Manually focusing a camera accurately can be tricky.


But cameras like the E-M10 have a few options which may help.

This short post mentions a couple of them.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Finding a use for autumn leaves

We like to think we have a wildlife friendly garden.


The trees are now dropping their leaves

and we have started to 'put our garden to sleep' for the winter.

Monday 19 October 2020

Peppermint OS: making sense of the menu editor

I wanted to add a new category to the Peppermint menu.

I normally do this the hard way, by hacking files.

But its high time I that I got to grips with the menu editor.

Friday 9 October 2020

My Toughest Project

Not everything is as easy to fix as downloading a patch and re-booting the OS.

Sometimes you need a lot of specialist help.

This is certainly the case with any type of cancer.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

The Orion Laptop: another computer from Entroware

My laptop has had a hard life and needed to be replaced.


After reviewing the market for Linux laptops, I came back to Entroware.

So here is a short post on my new Orion laptop.

Monday 10 August 2020

A Hedgehog in our Hog House

 A hedgehog started to use our 'hog house' a few weeks ago.

So I put my PiCam at the entrance to monitor its comings and goings.

Thursday 23 July 2020

A simple Moth Trap

There are thought to be over 2500 species of moth in the UK.

Inspired by a friends mercury vapour illuminated Skinner moth trap, I decided to knock up a quick & cheap imitation.

So my design mostly uses bits & pieces that I found in my garage.

Monday 13 July 2020

FreeviewPlay on a Manhattan set top box

I thought our Sony smart TV was suffering from early onset dementia.

It seems to have forgotten how to provide any kind of catch-up tv.

So I've had to look around for alternatives.

Monday 6 July 2020

Photography: I like manual lenses

Manual lenses can be a lower cost alternative to those that support automatic operation.

The disadvantages are pretty obvious.

But I still prefer to manually set the camera before releasing the shutter.

Thursday 18 June 2020

Hacking my Pentax K to M4/3 lens adapter

Lens adapters that allow you to connect different format lenses to camera bodies can be very handy.

But they ideally need to be the correct length to maintain focus range.

I decided to try to hack an adapter that is just 1mm or so too short.

Sunday 14 June 2020

Using Pentax SLR lenses on a micro four thirds camera

Although we got rid of the majority of our Pentax gear over a year ago, I still have a few lenses.

Since these are just gathering dust, I thought I'd try to put them to use... I bought a lens adapter!

Thursday 28 May 2020

BirdBox2020: it didn't end well

It was shaping up nicely for an interesting bird box season.

Several birds tried our camera nest box for size and some even laid a few eggs.

But with only a week to go before the chicks were due to fledge, it all went tits up!

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Sunday 24 May 2020

Experimenting with Focus Stacking

Focus Stacking is supposed to be a good way to increase the depth of field, especially for macro photography.

In an idle moment I noticed that my camera had a built in mode to help with this.

So here are my notes on focus bracketing and stacking.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Re-discover the Night Sky #3: hot, stuck & dead pixels

Camera image sensors may have faults.

This may result in an incorrect pixel value.

Welcome to the world of hot pixels, stuck pixels & dead pixels!

Thursday 30 April 2020

Insomniacs Bedside Radio: signal to noise ratio

Raspberry Pi audio projects can be prone to noise issues.

I don't use our bedside radio very often, but when I do, I notice background noise.

I've finally got around to doing something about it.

Monday 27 April 2020

BirdBox 2020:'s been a funny old month!

There has been a lot of traffic in our maple tree bird box during April.


We've seen trespassers, thieves, and changes of ownership.

So guess who our current tenants are?

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Re-discover the Night Sky #2: stacking images in Gimp

Stacking time-lapse photos of the night sky allows you to create 'star-trail' images.

It is possible to get good results using Gimp by selecting the appropriate layer mode.

This post also describes how I hacked one of the existing Gimp scripts.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Re-discover the Night Sky: star trails

With an improvement in the weather, I thought I'd try a bit of night-sky photography.

One thing I've never attempted is taking time-lapse photos and then stacking them to produce star trails.

I used a RaspiCam for the photos and Gimp to stack and process them.

Saturday 28 March 2020

BirdBox2020: here we go again

Listen! ...I can hear the birds!

The Covid Crisis has resulted in an unexpected benefit...

...a dramatic drop in traffic noise.

Saturday 21 March 2020

Covid-19: there's a lot of it about

The world is currently gripped by fear as Covid-19 continues to spread across every continent, bar Antarctica.

We have just been suffering with 'the lurgy'...

...but was this Covid-19?