Picture from my old house below, one of the bedrooms converted for development work circa 1982. You can clearly see my first real computer a Tandy TRS80 with eight inch floppy disk drives. Although Tandy / Radio Shack had their own operating system. A company called ‘Pickles and Trout’ prepared a version of CP/M that ran on the internal Z80 CPU. (A close and former O/S to what we know today as MS-DOS). I recollect the machine had 64K RAM . I used ASEM for assembler development in Z80 code. Wordstar for creating letters etc. The larger printer to the left was a daisy wheel printer with parallel interface fitted . It could print (very high quality) text at about 20 cps. The smaller printer to the left was a standard dot matrix printer for computer code listings ….

The Tandy with the second drive cost £2000 in 1982. Around 5000 pounds in today’s money. I did some work on novel lighting controller licensed to Concord Lighting. The development money paid for this and some of the other tools.



Well not my usual topic but so frustrated by this I thought I’d record some information. It might help somebody else. We refurbished our house with a pair of these toilets. Very nice too. Except a few years ago one of the seats cracked due to an imbalance of seat hinge heights. Basically it cracked and we replaced the whole suite as the price of a replacement seat (approx. £200) seemed ridiculous at the time. Well we are obviously still maintaining the other suite.

A few days ago one of the original  plastic fixing nuts on the underside of the pan snapped whilst attempting to tightencabria-hinges. Ah a simple job , looks like an M8 nut will suffice. Well unfortunately not. It’s not a metric thread (these were manufactured in the 90’s). In fact with some guidance from a trusted friend and some measurements of the split nut we deduced a 5/16th British Standard Witworth nut or wing nut would suffice. These can be found on the likes of ebay or via specialist fastener suppliers. I’ve bought a pair of steel wing nuts. There’s a danger they will rust but today it’s better than leaving the seat loose. Image of the hinge set included to assist with identification.

Talking of Raspberry Pi’s, also taken the recent opportunity to purchase and setup a basic NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit for general access to Photos and  Music by anybody in the house. Have bought the lowest cost Synology DS119J and a Toshiba 4Terabyte NAS rated drive. The reason I mention the Pi again, is that the Synology NAS resource is rather modest even in comparison to the Pi. The attraction though is the rich purpose developed operating system (Linux based) with a rich set of software applications or packages as they are called.  Of course you can spend more and get much greater processing performance. Still , it seems to do the job today and has provided a modest remotely accessible storage facility with the home and even from remote if required. Haven’t really used all if it’s features as yet. Today I’m just using the base install. I would strongly recommend using the Synology Assistant to find and connect to the NAS from your computer . Can be found here http://bit.ly/2L5l5Kl

One thing to take care with. The unit comes with two typesof screws , a bag for the disk drive another with the screws for the case. At a glance I hadn’t found the second bag and their were sufficient of the other to try and hold the case in. Of course these are the wrong size and I nearly stripped the case thread , not ideal! Silly of me , but a good design minimises the screw type or at least makes clear to the user that there are other screws are available in the packing. Just managed to save the day in the end. But close.

The NAS has many features that I currently don’t require so turned off some of the running services with a view to improving it’s performance. One annoying feature (in my view) is that the indicator LED’s are all the same colour on the front panel. Might have been more useful if they had different colours. But guess a small complaint in the scheme of things. Do bear in mind that the ‘j’ product is a low cost option and so don’t expect high speed backups, transcoding or similar tasks on such a model. Still a good value and neat product with loads of functionality.

Just a note to say the NAS could also run the Logitech Squeezebox server via one of the Package installs. Personally I prefer the approach of separating this task from the NAS . It also means I can use the latest Logitech Squeezeboxserver release as distinct from what’s available to the Synology community for loading onto the NAS. Enjoy.

20190424_180323After a number of years running the now defunct Logitech server on an old solid state Asus netbook, I’ve finally  taken the plunge and migrated to a Raspberry Pi. The main objectives being low power (runs 24/7) and continuity of hardware supply. A Pi Mk2 seems more than adequate to run headless from a browser and manage some 1500 CD’s in Flac.  In truth I’m no Linux expert so took this on with a bit of trepidation. I anticipated some challenges and sure enough I wasn’t disappointed. ( I think it’s simply a permissions issue of the server and disk access but it foxed me at first ). The issue is there are many articles that say all you have to do is …. but when I tried to implement , not one script worked for me.

I’m sure in the hands of a seasoned professional Linux person it’s simple. I ended up taking a bit of info. from a couple of different articles and putting it together myself. To be fair this may simply be due to revisions to the O/S, Squeezeboxserver etc.. All of these may have influence I’m sure. Any way it’s up and running today. I’m using the  Pi , with an external WD 1T disk . The disk is mains powered directly so removes the need for a separate powered hub for the USB disk drive. I’ve got approx. 1500 CDs in Flac. If anybody wants my working notes , supply an email address and i’ll be happy to send. No guarantees of course ! Bar a few mains brown outs it’s been running without issue since approx. July last year. Can’t really complain with that for such a low powered system. I use Winscp to copy / manage the music selection from my Windows 10 PC.

I’ve got a number of Android devices including the original 2012 Nexus 7 , WiFi tablet. Some months ago Lollipop was presented as an update and I installed it. This followed if I recollect by a further increment to 5.1.1 . Wow what a mistake. The unit went from a having a fast response to a complete lemon , all in space of a few button clicks on my part. With a forth coming flight in mind I decided to revisit and see if I could improve it’s performance in any way. (The Lollipop update’s poor performance is well documented on the Web). I first considered installing an alternative (to Android) ROM in the hope that this might improve matters. I decided that for me the simplest route might be to install the previous KitKat (4.4.4) release as this ran sweetly on the device.

Reading some of the blogs there seem to be two techniques in doing this. (a) a long hand method (b) Quicker,  using the Nexus Toolkit see http://www.wugfresh.com/nrt/

I decided on the latter and followed the instructions on this fine article:


You’ll need to download the appropriate image file for reflashing, so take care in identifying your model correctly via the Toolkit. Just be aware he article images seems to reference an earlier release of the Tookit in the images, however  the instructions worked for me seamlessly. You obviously need to concentrate and focus on all of the commands. So don’t do this unless you feel reasonably confident.

On returning to 4.4.4 I was slightly shocked to see that the Tablet was already downloading Lollipop! The version I’d just erased… I followed this article and appear to have now disabled the Google Update Service. OK, I’ve only just done this but things seem back to normal now and I can sensibly use the Tablet once more. You need to Root the device before being able to disable the Service. Another fine article here: http://goo.gl/E9MZP5

I must add I’m not qualified to answer specific questions on this process, but can tell you with care it seems to work. Good luck and hanks for reading.

Just visited the Fox Talbot exhibition at the Science Museum here in the UK. Two pictures below. One shows the queues outside Natural History Museum,  the other the Science Museum. There some what different as you can see. Can you tell which is the Science Museum ? (Answer below)  Perhaps this is more a reflection of the quality of the museum rather than the subject matter.

The left image is the queue outside Science Museum

How disappointing , that Google have decided to end support for this program. Some of you may never have used it. But I’ve always found it a really fast and easy to use program for storing and managing my photographs. It’s particularly quick for exporting images at reduced sizes , say when you want to put an image on ebay or similar. One major annoyance for me is that you can’t seem to fill the screen with an image other than by selecting the the ‘slideshow’ mode. (Press the ‘Play’ icon at the top of the screen. My copy is still working on Windows 10 , but wonder how long they will keep it running? Maybe somebody can tell me.

I continue to check out some of the other free applications. Fastone image viewer I suppose is my other favourite. Download here: http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm

Benefits are it has some better editing tools and handles full screen mode much more readily. They’ve just released a new version too. It’s slower** (for me ) to load than Picasa , I suppose that’s my biggest gripe. A little bit more awkward to quickly export images too. But still a great program , especially as its free.

Another interesting contender (for me) is Nomacs, found here http://nomacs.org/

It’s very fast and does full screen mode beautifully. Haven’t quite got to grips with all of it’s menus yet but definitely worth a try. You might like it!

** AMD budget quad core, 8G RAM , Win 10 Pro 64 , SSD boot  drive