Looking back: reliving the age when computing wasn’t yet retro

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be – it’s a lot better. Once upon a time, examining the past relied heavily on memory – an unreliable witness at best. Maybe you could dredge up a few old magazines and books, some dusty photos and a few other artefacts. But you were mostly dependent on whatever you’d personally kept from the… Read more »

Go or Python for the Raspberry Pi

Pretty much all of the code I’ve written for the Raspberry Pi (and the BeagleBone for that matter) has been in Python. It’s widely regarded as the de facto language for the platform, not least because it is newbie-friendly. But does it have to be this way? Ups and downs of Python It’s not hard to enumerate a long list of… Read more »

Quicktip: Setting paths on macOS

Setting the PATH environment variable should be a simple thing. But, for whatever reason, various flavours of *nix seem to have made it wilfully complex. I recently tidied up how paths are set on my iMac, running macOS 10.14, aka Mojave. And as this blog is basically my lab notebook, I thought I’d share. First, I use Bash as my… Read more »

The original web

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Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the world wide web. And if you want to get a feel for how far the web has come, try experiencing what it was like in those heady days of December 1990. Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir Tim) built the original web while at The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) as a… Read more »

Go on Raspberry Pi: simple cross-compiling

Go – or Golang if you prefer – is a powerful programming language, applicable to virtually any platform, from single-board computers (SBCs) such as the Raspberry Pi to supercomputer clusters. I tend to work at the lower end of that scale. And I was motivated to check out Go because it has a reputation for being fast – unlike, say,… Read more »

[OT] Just the right type

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When I started in journalism we were still using manual typewriters to hack out copy that we sent to typesetters to be cast in hot metal. Ah, those were the days. Writing about the flowchart template I acquired a while back made me think about another handy bit of plastic that used to be an integral part of my job…. Read more »

BBC Master power supply – repair or replace?

There are three things that are certain in life – death, taxes and blown capacitors in old electronic equipment. But at least you can do something about the last one. Powering up a 35 year-old computer that has sat in a loft for the past two decades is foolish. But we did it anyway. The BBC Master ran fine for… Read more »

WordPress & Docker: solving the ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE problem

Having messed around with Docker for the web app I’m using with my robot, Sheldon, I decided to dig a little deeper. Well, that’s probably overstating it. What I actually did was follow along with one of the videos from Traversy Media which explains how to create a Docker container to run a WordPress site. Here it is. It’s the… Read more »

Sheldon robot: the web app on Docker

In a previous post, I described how I’m planning to use a web app to communicate with my robot, Sheldon. Well, it just occurred to me that this is a perfect use of containerisation. Time to learn something about Docker. A web app is the perfect solution for this because HTML and JavaScript offer a very simple way to throw… Read more »

Sheldon robot: crash detection

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It’s sometimes handy to know when things are not going well – for example, when your robot’s collision avoidance systems have failed it and the poor, dumb critter has crashed head-on into something. You’d be surprised how often that happens. Work on my robot, Sheldon, is progressing slowly. I’ve just added some infrastructure (not shown in the picture) that will… Read more »

TTGO ESP32 board with OLED display and Adafruit library

These days, there’s a huge amount of support out there for virtually any device you can buy. But every now and again you need to do a bit of head-scratching. So this post is simply my way of helping out anyone who’s going through the same process I just did. I bought a couple of cheap ESP32 boards that have… Read more »

Installing Pi-Hole for a quiet life

Does anyone really like advertising? I think of it as a kind of social disease, something that runs rampant through our society as an unfortunate consequence of our desire for, well, stuff. So I decided to eliminate as much of it as I can, and this drew me to Pi-Hole, a networking app that helps you strip advertising from your… Read more »

MotionEye on DietPi on Raspberry Pi: keeping an eye on things

You know you have a Raspberry Pi problem when you start searching around for projects just to use them up. But then, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery… PiHole? Check. PDP-8 (plus intranet server and MQTT broker)? Check. Alarm clock? Check. Retro radio thing? Work in progress. Dream machine? Also in progress. Dot matrix printer… Read more »

OpenMediaVault on the RockPro64: not a happy tale

It should have been so easy. I wanted to set up a personal cloud server – a beefier version of what I’d already done with an old Pine A64 and NextCloud. And having seen it praised on so many YouTube channels, I went for a RockPro64 as the computer. And not just the RockPro64 – oh no. A NAS case,… Read more »