how to waste entire evenings

I bought another computer.  An Asus TF300T - android tablet with keyboard dock.  I've got the white one, which was a 'web exclusive' from Comet.. bought 2 weeks before they went down the pan.  phew!

There's no way I could justify spending money on a tablet, but the added keyboard fixed that - it has a full size USB slot, and an SD card reader.  Incredibly useful for transferring photos off my cameras, viewing on a bigger screen, and copying to an external hard drive - something I do fairly often on paddling trips away.

So it had a week in Scotland... continue reading »

'fun' with python and databases

In the chaos of moving house earlier this year, I decided to write a little web app to catalogue all the books and CDs I own.

Partly procrastination (packing is dull!), but mostly as an excuse to write something in Python - which we're using more of at work, and I'm nowhere near good at yet!

So I got a very basic thing mostly working using Flask, SQLAlchemy and Twitter Bootstrap.  I remember being fairly smug about it, then leaving the code in a horrible disorganised mess because I actually did have better things to do (such as packing all the books... continue reading »

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi.  a small cheap computer - very exciting, all over the news, massive waiting lists, etc etc.

And I've finally got my hands on one.  Ok, so it actually arrived several weeks ago, but I've only just found enough spare time to do anything with it. 

I don't need another 'plain' linux machine, and haven't yet had any genius ideas for other cool projects, so it's currently sat next to my tv/stereo, running raspbmc and acting as a media centre.

This has led to more spending and general preparation - as well as the pi, cables, SD card, power supply etc,... continue reading »

hardware replacements

That lovely new computer I bought a year ago...? Its hard drive died a slow and painful death after just 11 months (grrr) :(  Errors apparently undetectable by Dell diagnostic software that might have got it changed for free under warranty...

First signs of impending badness: odd segfaults, mostly with apt.  Then my filesystem started randomly going read only, with system logs showing a lot of I/O errors and problems with the journalling.  hmm.  To start with, nothing a reboot and quick forced fsck wouldn't fix.

But then it obviously got worse, and any 'repairs' lasted all of 2 minutes before yet... continue reading »


So, my lovely gadget phone is about 18 months old now.  For the last month, the market's been oddly broken on it - refusing to work with my google account (I'm 'difficult' and use my domain account, rather than a 'normal' gmail one).  I don't know why it suddenly stopped.. it always used to work, albeit without the ability to purchase apps.  I could cope with that.

Anyway, that was annoying me, as it meant no installing/updating/removing of anything.  Apparently there's some sort of migration going on of domain gmail accounts, so last week I thought I'd force that through and... continue reading »

new computer

I have a new computer!  A replacement for my laptop, which has been doing odd overheaty things and making bad noises for the last month or so.  Poor thing.  Still, not bad for being 3 years old and heavily (ab)used on a daily basis.

The new box is a desktop - a little teeny quiet one.  It's a Dell Inspiron Zino HD. In purple.  And even though obviously I know what spec it is, I can't be arsed to list it because I'm not a hardware geek, hah.

It came with Windows 7.  After two days, all I can really say about... continue reading »

I think KDE hates me

Ubuntu's alliterative naming has got so ridiculous now that I refuse to acknowledge its existence wherever possible.  Anyway, a new version appeared the other week, so I'm now running 9.10.

Newer KDE, so slightly shinier looking but a few new bugs too - my settings panel seems to lack the ability to turn the sound system off, so I get annoying little noises if I unplug the power cable.  grr. 
Also there's a lovely error about a missing lib if I want to change my window decorations.  It's not missing, I checked.  Ahh, maybe one day kde4 will be 100%... continue reading »

Skype woes

Have spent another few hours this week trying and failing to get Skype working properly on linux.  Still no luck.  It refuses to pick up my microphone, even though it's obviously working as I can make sounds come out of the speakers...  Mind you, various kde sound recording apps don't pick it up either, no matter how much fiddling I do with the mixer settings... 

I'm determined to get it working eventually though, because then I won't have to use windows for anything.  But for now I think I've exhausted all possible solutions, bah :(

So I'm currently using skype for IM... continue reading »

kubuntu -> xubuntu

KDE4.  I've mentioned it before, although that was a while ago when it was new and really not in a usable state...

New ubuntu came out last month, and I have it running on my work machine. Installed as kubuntu, but after one week I was so fed up with it that I switched to xfce, so it's more xubuntu now - and I've even changed the bootsplash to reflect that :)

That's all fine, and not especially worth talking about.  But the other day I found myself reading Planet Debian or Planet KDE or similar, and some discussion about whether or... continue reading »


Aha, I've figured out why I find the name of the newest Ubuntu release even more ridiculous than normal!

Intrepid Ibex... urgh.  I shall be referring to it as "8.10".

Anyway, it's a naming convention.  'adjective animal', alliteration, blah blah blah. No secret that I do not like it. But let's look at the last few:

hardy heron gutsy gibbon feisty fawn edgy eft

And the next one will be 'jaunty jackalope'.  All with an 'eeeee' sound.   These, I can sort of cope with, because it doesn't sound completely moronic just to refer to them by the first work. 'Intrepid', however, does not end in... continue reading »

fighting with the Home Hub

I've had a week of 'relaxation' in Wales. mmm.  Back in Brum now for a huge amount of revision and work and stuff.

Anyway, my parents have a BT Home Hub.  Nothing wrong with that (well...), apart from it's a pain in the arse and refuses to let my laptop connect to it wirelessly.

It'll let Vista connect fine, but I don't really like having to use Windows for any longer than I absolutely have to.  In linux, it tries, but the dhcp stuff never seems to happen and I get that annoying message about "no working leases in persistent database -... continue reading »


I installed KDE4 the other night.  Kubuntu will install it alongside 3, so as there was no risk of me destroying anything important I thought I may as well (plus I have loads of java and software engineering work that needs avoiding...)

Anyway, it lasted about 7 minutes before I angrily removed it.

Don't get me wrong, I do like KDE.  Mainly because it works, and I've got it customised to (almost) exactly what I want from my desktop.

But 4.. hmmm.  let's make a list:

 Sound.  It made noises.  Lots of noises.  Some kind of fanfare on startup (and probably logout but it... continue reading »


Well, it's six months since the last one, so today was time for another Kubuntu upgrade!  Didn't take quite as long as the last one - two hours (!) to download it all, but only half an hour or so to configure and install everything.

Not that there's much difference.  New kernel, which is always nice as now my card reader and webcam 'just work' :)  Also new is the Dolphin file manager, which I haven't really poked about at yet but it looks decent enough.h

I did have to fight with my wireless though.  Again.  It was fine in Feisty, but... continue reading »


kubuntu is upgraded, and I can't find anything different.  Newer KDE, so there's a few small differences there, but apart from that, nothing much.  ho hum.

Upgrade took far too long though.  I eventually stopped being stubborn and used their upgrader thingy.   40 minutes of downloading updates, that's not too bad (only got 2meg broadband, grr).  But configuring everything?  2 and a half hours in the end!  Blatent lies from the upgrader, which claimed it was going to take an hour and five.  hmm.  A full install takes less time than that...

On a slight sidenote, I wonder if I'll ever figure... continue reading »

updates for everything!

New kubuntu today.  also new thunderbird, but I've mostly stopped using that so meh.

Not updated my computer yet - partly because the ubuntu sites have been running very very slowly all day. Haha.  Was considering it this afternoon but I think it can wait until at least the weekend.

Reading the official upgrade guides, and I'm not entirely amused.  Preferred method of updating - using pissing adept (or whatever gui unbuntu has).  Manual command line updates are apparently "not recommended" because it is "less reliable".  What The Fuck?!  I see no logic in this, and have decided it must just... continue reading »

mmm, widgety

As a slight distraction from my current fairly high level of "ohmygod I have to move house" stress and panic, I spent a good few hours this weekend playing with my desktop. This was brought on by some reading up on KDE4.. sod vista, I know what I'd rather use :)

First off - removing ALL icons.  I can't stand having more than about 3 icons on my desktop.  One of the (many) things I love about linux is that whenever I install something, I don't mysteriously end up with thousands of icons and shortcuts scattered all over... continue reading »

ubuntu is actually not so rubbish

Yesterday Alex rather foolishly agreed to let me remove Windows ME from his (old old old) laptop and but something decent on there instead. ie linux, in the form of xubuntu (cos the laptop is crap and only has 64meg of ram)

I don't think I've mentioned here yet that my kubuntu install is now working perfectly.. My dad changed one setting in the bios and suddenly everything started working properly without me having to do anything else. So actually not linux's fault at all, but rather my hardware being a bit stupid. oops.

But yes, the laptop. ... continue reading »

kubuntu is still rubbish!

Well, the good news is that I finall got kubuntu to install! Off the live cd - only difference this time is that I unplugged my usb hub. hmm. But it installed quickly and painlessly and without nuking my /home and /fat partitions, so that's good.

Bad news is that far too many things aren't working. Sound (meh), USB anything (wtf, this isn't win98!) and more annoyingly, internet.
Having a computer with no network connection is actually quite useless, given that 90% of everything I use it for involves the internet. Not even got php/apache/mysql installed yet... continue reading »

kubuntu is rubbish!

I've broken linux. And this time I really do mean broken - not just screwed up configs or weird boot errors - absolutely totally completely broken beyond all repair. And I'm not amused.

Actually, none of this is my fault. I'm blaming Kubuntu and its overhyped crapness.
Desktop linux, easy for anyone to install and use, detects all sorts of hardware, sets everything up properly blah blah blah. I've only ever heard good things about how good the install process is. So I thought I may as well give it a go, because I'd quite like... continue reading »

Tick Tock

So the clocks have gone back (or most of them anyway, I can't reach the one in the kitchen and haven't felt bothered to do various stereos etc yet).
This means I'll have to do a lot more driving in the dark, which isn't really something I've got a lot of experience with. I'll get used to it though, I'm sure.

On the plus side, being back on GMT means that windows no longer gets the chance to fuck about with my computer clock.
I really don't get that particular one actually. Linux knows about daylight savings, and handles it very... continue reading »

need more friends...

I keep meaning to write about things then forgetting or just generally being too lazy. So here is a list of things I've been thinking about/doing over the last few weeks, in no particular order:

Went shopping in Brighton. For the day. Got the car serviced. This cost lots of money. As did the park+ride into town whilst I was waiting, because apparently if you walk to the bus rather than drive it costs £2 rather than £1. Odd. went to Alton Towers Finally figured out what crappy radio station it is that occasionally interferes with Kerrang on my... continue reading »


I upgraded my Debian install last week, from Sarge (stable) to Etch (testing).

The main reason for doing this was to keep up-to-date with various bits of software. In theory I could compile it all manually, but that's more work and doesn't always work anyway, as my failed attempt at upgrading KDE a few months ago proved.
Etch uses rather than xfree86, and I'd been having some issues with that involving X exiting as soon as it started up. That was happening far too often (about 1 in 3 attempts), and was getting annoying as I couldn't figure out... continue reading »