Archive for March, 2010

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-28

Sunday, March 28th, 2010
  • Great page with hacks for the Chumby: I should have known I could SSH into it and that it had a web browser! #
  • One very persistent problem solved. #
  • About to see Dave Gorman at the Dorking Halls. Meal later #
  • Been to Brighton this morning to collect an antique radio for the collection. #
  • Just acquired two chimney pots for the garden #
  • My beard has been plaited #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-21

Sunday, March 21st, 2010
  • About to trot off to a big IT Group mtg so we know what's happening in the company and where IT fits in the future #
  • Experimental bread baking in progress. #
  • Bread was far too salty. Recipe needs some adjustment. Rest of dough into the bin. Will try again when I can get some more flour. #
  • On train to London to visit the good people at New Scientist. #
  • Grace requested "eggy bread" for breakfast. Wish granted. #
  • Up at 6am today to switch on the oven; bread result was far better this time. Very munchy. #
  • Grilled aubergine for lunch @clareyldavies does have some nice and quick recipies to try. #

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Bread Follow-up…

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

A loaf of bread made by Grace

Grace's bread

A few days ago I wrote about the not quite such good bread that I made using a five minute recipe – which ended up a bit salty. Well, Grace and I made a new batch and we adjusted the salt amount by about one third. We made a double quantity, and while it was rising the dough had to be separated into two containers, and even then it threatened to flow all over the kitchen!

This morning we cooked it all up, and made something like a plaited loaf (illustrated) as well a pierre gros and a couple of smaller, rather cute rolls.

The results this time were far better, and we’ve all just eaten a lovely breakfast of bread and jam.

Visiting New Scientist

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Today I spent the day visiting my New Scientist colleagues at their offices in Theobald’s Road in Holborn, London. Holborn’s a bit of an old stomping ground as I used to work there for a while for the bank (in the Old Prudential Building) so it was with mixed feelings that I made my way to the area today.

In the sunshine, like today, it’s a fine looking area, and not nearly as depressing as I thought it might be. In any event, meeting the people was great fun, and we went out for a pub lunch in Lamb’s Conduit Street.

There was time during the day for a good chat with all the devs; Ken, Matteo, Vivienne, Neela, Ruth and Rowan. Most worthwhile, and I think I’ll do this again in a couple of months.

New jammer worked great on the train in the way home. Very amusing as well.

Making Bread

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Last night I tried a recipe for making a batch of bread that will keep as dough in the fridge for days and can be cooked in small loaves to suit. As our bread machine went the way of all gadgets that get well used some while ago now, I thought it was about time our daily bread ration was again produced in-house.

Mixing the dough took less than 5 minutes – and it rose very impressively ready to be stored.

Up early this morning to take a blob, prepare the oven and cook it – and thirty minutes later a lovely looking boule was extracted from the oven. After cooling comes tasting!

Oh dear – rather too salty and so the rest of the dough mix has been abandoned, the recipe note adjusted and a mental note to get some more flour made. I’ll have to lug that half the length of Sutton High Street tomorrow.

It turned out that Grace ate the rest of the loaf, post my samples, and declared it very fine! I don’t think so, but if she enjoyed it then it’s a result.

Another episode with next results in a few days.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-14

Sunday, March 14th, 2010
  • Spent horrible time in Macro after work today; went to try Costco instead – WOW, what a contrast. Well, well, worth the £20 annual fee. #
  • Zoneminder (video can system) crashed this PM, not yet sure why. No blue-tit in the nestbox tonight. Probably not directly connected. #
  • Bird back in box tonight. Daughter has named him Albert. #
  • Using vi to write mail messages. Such an odd feeling!. #
  • I'm now listed on the Local Twitter Directory for Dorking, Surrey: #
  • Seemed to be an unusually high proportion of fathers and children in Dorking this morning (including me!). #
  • Back from Grace's Piano Concert. I might have to play at the next one! #
  • Daughter being bribed to finish school project by prospect of KFC. Will put up with it if peace returns , even temporarily. Stop homework. #
  • Cobwebs obscuring view on external back garden CCTV cam when illuminated by IR. Have to get the ladder & duster out tomorrow to tidy up. #
  • My niece came sixth in her Dressage comp today. Well done, Katie. Nice rosette for your collection. #

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Grace’s Piano Concert

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Back from a lovely time at a small piano concert arranged by Grace’s music teacher.
Every six months or so Miss Cooper takes the trouble to gather a small group of her students, and holds a short concert – usually at the house of one or other of them. Today was Grace’s third appearance at the keyboard, and I’m not ashamed to say how proud I feel when she plays in front of everyone.
All the children do a wonderful job entertaining us. It’s very low key and really just a good way for them to play together, for the piano really is a somewhat solo instrument in that you can’t really carry one around and play anywhere with your mates.
Alexia’s mum also played a duet with Miss Cooper – and I’ve been threatened that I have to play next time. I need to do more practicing to be ready for such an eventuality.

ZoneMinder Running Again

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

After a long period, since Grace moved into her present bedroom, so probably about four years, I’ve finally got my CCTV system running again. This is based in a software package called ZoneMinder – and it allows you to toe up a bunch of video cameras to a PC and do all the monitoring and movement detecting you want – with alerts, time-stamps and the ability to manage and view from any net connected browser.
I have an eight port input card, which cost a fortune originally, and as I no longer run a power hungry file server, I fitted it into a Mini-ITX box. It’s running Ubuntu 8.04 as that’s about the most recent thing that will run (without recompiling a kernel) in the C3 mobo as the Via processor doesn’t have the mov instruction. Probably unsurprisingly, it runs quite well despite the lower specified board in use for this application. I’ve run a length of CAT5 from the point in the loft where the original co-ax cables terminated into the new study and connected a four way BNC/CAT5 balun at each end. This seems to work well enough for monitoring purposes.

Montage of four video feeds

Video Feeds at Sefton Villas

I’m collecting four feeds (the fifth, an IP camera, makes the system reboot, so it’s not presently included) – one of which is a nest-cam mounted in a box on the side of the shed. At last, a blue tit has started using the box – as yet only at night to sleep – and this is probably because we have remounted it in a better position, now north facing, on the new shed. The picture accompanying this post is a montage of the feeds, including nightime Front Garden and Back Garden views and of the little bird snoozing this evening. Grace has named him(?) Albert.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-07

Sunday, March 7th, 2010
  • Looking for a spare SIM for the GSM modem. Where have I put you to keep you safe? #
  • Unfortunate 4×4 had skidded on ice and ended up on its side near Gadbook this morning. Happens at the same place everytime. #
  • Must have missed the flood at Betchworth – was OK yestrday PM, this morning clear as well, but signs were up and a car abandoned by bridge. #
  • Looking for a mini server to take 4 video cam feeds that will output over IP network WITHOUT needing IE to view the streams. #
  • Coming to grief with GSM modem and memory of AT commands. #
  • Daughter has started sending me SMS messages from SWMBO's mobile "Let's get G a present" and other mystery phrases #
  • A blue-tit finally takes up residence in the box on the side of our shed. Still from NestCam: "Having a snooze". #

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Linuxy Things

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

A couple of Linux related activities in the first part of this week. Firstly, I’ve got my web->SMS page back up and working, so I can now send SMS messages from anywhere with web access. Hardly novel, these days, but when I first built a system like this for the bank I worked at then, it was one of those little occasions where Linux wormed its way into an organisation. That must have been in about 1997 or ’98 I guess. (It was also about the same time I created the first effective search engine for the organisation using HTDig on Linux as well.)

All went well re-creating the set-up, except I wanted to use a GSM modem that actually had an FXO port on so I could tie it up to my Asterisk PABX as well for voice calls direct into a mobile network. Despite much fiddling, the Psitek modem was so old as to have an antiquated subset of the AT command set and it was too much effort to make it work SMSTools (although, having the source, I did recompile it a few times with some commands adjusted) – and which, by he way, is now at version 3.x under a new maintainer. Once I used the more modern (only just, though!) reliable Falcom GSM modem it worked a treat.

I’ve also updated and added to my entries in the Linux Counter, having been reminded of it by a thread in the Surrey Linux User Group mailing list. First registered there in about 2002.

Lastly, I’ve transplanted my eight port video card (only four ports of it though) into one of the Mini-ITX workstations, so perhaps later this week I’ll see if I can resurrect ZoneMinder and get the NestCam back in operation soon.