Friday, 23 June 2017

Mycroft: the open source Alexa

Mycroft AI is a voice assistant similar to Amazon's Echo/Alexa, with a speaker module that the user can shout instructions to.


In both cases the user can "wake up" the unit, and then ask a question or issue a command (e.g. "What's the weather like in Nairobi?").


But what makes Mycroft especially interesting to an old hacker like me, is that it is open source!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Chicks at play: RaspiCam 90fps

Our blue tit chicks came out of hiding a few days after leaving the nest, and now they are regular visitors at our feeders.


They need to learn the snatch-and-run technique, rather than spending too much time out in the open where they are vulnerable to predators.


Using a RaspiCam to capture video at 90fps results in slow-motion video and gives a better idea of their behaviour.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

BirdBox2017: end of another season

It's been a very successful year for our blue tits, great tits and our two Raspberry Pi powered bird boxes.


The last of our bird box chicks left the safety of their nest yesterday, and so ends another season for us.


Out of 15 eggs in two boxes, 14 chicks got the chance to explore the world outside and potentially become food for sparrowhawk chicks or maybe the short-term plaything for one of the local cats.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Diaspora: just Facebook for teckies?

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the press this year about the vast amount of personal data being mined by social media companies like Facebook.


Diaspora is an open source, distributed, social media site with the aim of addressing the balance.


So what does Diaspora have to offer, and how can a competitor to Facebook expect to win over its user-base?

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Ether: a tale of two blockchains

The price of Ether (ETH) has rocketed this year and is currently 23 27 times greater than 6 months ago.


For anyone that bought ether last year, this is very good news indeed.


But there are two reasons to be cheerful for anyone that has held onto their ether for at least the last 11 months.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Brave Browser

It was only a week or so ago that I was grumbling to someone about the internet, and the time it can take to load a web page.


Using Firefox with NoScript, I have to take a decision on whether to allow scripts to run, but these are not always limited to the page of interest.


When viewing newspaper and magazine websites like Radio Times, I find it quite alarming that it wants to load dozens, possibly hundreds of script libraries belonging to Google, Facebook, Twitter & so on.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Entroware Triton: my new box

My old ASUS x401A  laptop has served me well for the last 4+ years but all good things must come to an end.


The screen flicker/blanking just got too annoying, so I had to dust off my wallet and part with some cash.


So how does my shiny new Triton compare with the old ASUS?

Friday, 19 May 2017

BirdBox2017: something is eating my SD card

2017 is turning out to be a great bird box season for us.


Both of our Raspberry Pi camera boxes are occupied, with the first set of chicks almost ready to leave the nest.


For the last few days my only concern has been whether I'll run out of SD card space before the chicks depart.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Gambas Video Reverser

I recently needed to reverse a video clip, to make the action run backwards.


I couldn't find a Linux video editor with this feature built in, so I ran a series of command line instructions...


...then I decided it would be useful to wrap these instructions into a GUI application.