Category Archives: life

Today, Nothing happened

Pretty much that. Today, nothing happened, had no thoughts on interesting blog posts. See, told you there’d be filler!

Tech-support. Normal normal. Tweaking config files. Restarting webservers. Nothing fun, nothing nasty πŸ™‚

Ate the last of my toasted teacakes for lunch though πŸ™

P.S. “The Cowsills – Hair” is just a strange track. My colleague suggested we listen to “The Beach Boys” on This is one of the tracks that started playing..

LPIC exam 101

Well, it’s arrived again. A little later today, I’ll be taking the Linux Professional Institue’s exam again. With any luck, I’ll pass this time (failed by 10 points last time :() Hopefully, I’ll be able to update this post with good news. Who knows.

I hate exams, especially these, which require rote learning. Rote learning I am rubbish at. Sit me in front of a computer with a task within my abilities, the use of man and google, and fine, I can muddle my way through. But learning all the command flags of rpm? No. Hard. Gastly, indeed. I had hoped I was done with exams when I left school. Seems I was wrong πŸ™

Did I mention, I hate exams?

I passed πŸ™‚

In less depressing non-news.. Day 5 of NaBloPoMo, and I’ve yet to falter. Let’s see what happens this weekend, when I get a wonderful couple of nights of disturbed sleep, and short ‘stuff needs fixing!’ deadlines πŸ˜‰

Haymarket Metro Station, Newcastle

Fore note: Garreth has gone up to Newcastle to study Building Services (foundation) at Northumbria University.
This has to be the most random and unrelated note (i won’t call it a blog, it’s not worthy of that).

Tonight after chowing down on a awesome kofte kebab from Get Stuffed (Newcastle fast food πŸ˜‰ ) and feeling much better from having some sugar in my veins I was in a chatty mood. Here is the information I gathered!

Guy with guitar, looks like a student, sitting on a chilly step eating a kebab:
Newcastle Student Union hold a Open Mic night every monday!
(Finally some real music!)
There’s a Jazz club that also hosts real music, there’s a guy who hands out leaflets for it during the day near the church.
He’s a fresher.

Builder on St Mary’s street, by the church:
Turns out tonight they are removing the cabins located literally right next to the church. They’ve just completed the new Haymarket Metro station after a 2 year build. Coincidentally, he mentioned off the cuff that they had to use 125ft drilled piles!
Phew! It’s coincidental cos that’s what I was studying today in my Building Construction lecture with Kevin Elliot.

So they drilled 120ft (presumably couldn’t use displacement piles cos it’d disrupt all the buildings nearby, and the underground!), put steel in and poured concrete.

Mr Builder said they had to be really careful with the positioning of the piles or they’d have gone bankrupt – after all the client is not going to be too happy if you drill into the tube you’re building a station for!

It’s strange how you can reinforce your learning with random late night chats with builders! I’d recommend anybody studying built environment courses give it a try πŸ˜‰

Now about that darn assignment :'(

Btw I have some half decent posts in draft too (Web 3.0, firefox addons), if only I had the motivations to finish them!

Current Cost – watt hours and pachube

This is an email i sent to JTΒ  so I apologise if it doesn’t make sense to y’all. Please ask questions if you don’t get me!

So we have this ‘Current Cost’ meter thing (free from Southern Electric) at the house. It’s a small wireless electricity meter. Well it’s more of a monitor or display actually but you get me….[insert pic].

Long story short, I’d noticed the RJ45 on the bottom and it’d got me wondering. A few google searches later and whammo i’d found what I needed. A bit of hardware, a bit of software (links on manyfacturers website!) and whammo….

I wired up the current cost (enegry meter) at the house to my laptop and it’s uploading to this Pachube (bless you) website:

The graph is a bit useless atm (no history or dates on it πŸ™ ) but the program here:
Could probs snazz it up a bit.
There seems to be a binary pattern from some device that is turning on and off at regular intervals and using ~100w… i wonder if it’s the compressor on the fridge/freezer as it goes on thru the night lol.

Graph of peak watts and temperature from current cost and excel

Graph of peak watts and temperature from current cost and excel

The long jittery spikes are the washing machine/dishwasher/tumble dryer (the last being the biggest draw lol).

One guy is even trying to record signatures for each appliance and then work out from the data which appliance is causing the spikes.
The idea behind this is if you can work that out, you can make a pie chart of the biggest consumers…

I have more results than are uploaded; i created a funky excel file which Should update from the mdb created from one of the apps i’m using but atm i think the file is locked or summat :(. Made a pretty graph to! Also predicting the future temperature based on a polynominal curve or something lol.

All gd fun. Now i jus want one of these tiny minuture computers:
or this awesome plug pc: (sweet) (Ubuntu on a plug [ via Youtube])
to record/upload the results, although it would make more sense to use the ipcop or home server since they are always on and the current cost device is wireless. (unfortunately our model does not have internal data logging πŸ™ ). Don’t know how to work out kwh from current usage of watts every 3 seconds… i might be able to put something from averages tho. Any suggestionsΒ  anyone? I might just be being dumb lol.

Now all we need is the x10 plug thru devices to monitor electricty usage (by appliance) and bobs your uncle – we know exactly where the electricity is going.

IMOΒ  (as a soon to be Building services engineer in training) this technology should be wired into all new houses in the actuall plug sockets. Want to know which of your kids (or indeed partner) is using the most electricity? πŸ˜‰

The trickle usage these measuring devices could be designed to run on could easily be offset by a small(ish) solar pv installation too! (i’m talking around 10-30wh/day here πŸ˜‰ ).

Oh and here’s how to connect the current cost to pachube:

On the upside i’ve also unplugged the fancy pants MPPTΒ  solar charge controller and hooked the install back up to the basic on/off controller, and now it’s definetly shifting amps! I was a bit worried that in full sun 53watts of panels was ONLY putting through 0.3-0.1a @11.7 (i know, discharged). Hmm gonna have to find out whats wrong with fancy pants, he wasn’t cheap! :'(

Games and Stuff

My xbox 360 is currently in the dreaded red-ring-of-death stage, so of late, I’ve been playing computer games on my PC more than anything else.

Turns out, if you don’t play Real-Time-Strategy games enough for a long time, you get really bad at them. I used to be able to wipe the floor with 3 brutal AI’s in Red Alert 2. Went back to it the other day, to get swiftly crushed by one brutal, one medium, and one easy AI πŸ™

Still, means I’ve been spending a little more time in Fallout3.. First time I played it through, I concentrated on the primary storyline mission. The game finishes when you complete that mission! GRRR… Finally got the will to go back and try to complete the game, fully, this time. Even set off the nuke, just to see it go boom! Then I restored from my previous save.. I’m not that evil πŸ˜‰

Due to err.. circumstances beyond my control, I’m living with my father again, commuting back and forward to work. He’s got a bread-maker, and we set it going for the first time last night… to find we’d used yeast 9-years out of date! :S Still, new yeast, means I’ve just had a breakfast of warm bread and jam. Yum πŸ™‚

Got t-shirts for! Postman delivered them yesterday.. they’re pretty nice πŸ™‚ We’ll sell one, probably on ebay, later this year.

Cheap date ideas

Ideas from other websites

(if it’s your website, please let me know, i’ll attribute it)

Yep, date ideas.Β  from other websites. Could do with a handy javascript selector – weather: sunny, wet, cold, commitment level: fun, dating, serious, love

# Check with your local museum for days when admission is free. Even if you pay, it’s still a relative bargain for an all day date.

# Enjoy free live music, share a cup of coffee, and browse new titles at your local bookstore.

# Go to the mall, not to shop but to people watch! Sit on a bench together and chat about the people you see. Try to figure out who they are and what they are shopping for.

# Volunteer for a cause you both believe in. Work at their events and attend for free – they get help and you get a free night out.

Grab a trash bag or a plastic tray and sleigh ride down a snowy hill. When you get to the bottom (or fall off your “sled”), roll around with each other in the snow.

Buy a membership or a season pass to an activity you both like (your local Y, nearby theme park, community theater, state parks pass). Use it as often as you like during season for some quality together time you will both enjoy. Once it’s paid for, the rest of your dates are “free.”

Make a couple of pans of brownies. Then drive to various friends’ houses and deliver a small plate of brownies to each friend and visit for a while. When it becomes too late to be visiting people, go home and finish off the brownies.

On a sunny Saturday morning, travel around the countryside and photograph special sites and serene scenery.

Go to a local animal shelter and play with the animals. Maybe you’ll find a new friend together!

Want to perform a unique deed for someone? Go to a self-serve gas station and do all the work for the surprised customers. Make sure to get permission from the gas station attendant first.

Go to a playground that’s not in use and play! Take along a picnic lunch, baseball, bat, Frisbee or outdoor toys (blowing bubbles is fun)? Have a great lunch after playtime.

Find your local comedy club and laugh yourselves silly.

Original ideas by Garreth (this list will grow!)

(hope she doesn’t see these till i’ve tried them it’d spoil the suprise!)

Get a travelcard and go on a journey on the tube! You can just go anywhere and people spot, and chat. Best to do it at a quiet time tho. Comments as to when quiet times are please

Get some plain mugs (woolworths 39p atm, get them quick!) and mug paint from an arts/crafts/stationary shop and paint the mug for each other.

Both of you collect small items over the week, for example rail cards, receipts pieces of paper, buisiness cards (and take photos of your week [disposable camera/maximum 5-10 shots]) tickets, then at the end of the week,Β  give the items to your partner to look at one by one and talk about your week, including how you felt about your week. Good if you don’t get to see your partner as often as you’d like.

Goto Small local gigs

later on…bigger stuff like big gigs etc

Please comment and leave your own ideas and ideas you have tried!

Fried Brain.

Of late, I’ve had a little bit of a fried brain, especially after working a full day. I’ve come close to total overload a couple of times, which is a scary experience, especially when you’re in the middle of a supermarket.

A couple of days ago, I also started loosing my grip on reality, a scary experience in any circumstance. I think It might have something to do with needing glasses – the headaches can be debilitating. (So far, reality loss was the only time I’ve used pain killers – I don’t like pills.)

Fun fun. Heading to my family home this weekend. Looking forward to it! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually get time to go out looking for something to photograph. That’ll make a change πŸ˜‰