Categories
Ireland

There’s a lot of radon in Cork

The Irish EPA have an interactive map where you can see the radon area in your area. Enter your Eircode to zoom in. If you’re in Cork, it’s probably bad. Keep the windows open? Get a radon detector.

Categories
Web

Backup your social media accounts

I’ll keep this short. You should download your Twitter data, Facebook data, and as you probably have that too, your Google data. You never know when you might be banned from using them, even accidentally.

After you’ve saved that data, go to Instagram and Reddit and do the same!

Twitter

Download your data from Settings->Your Account->Download an archive of your data.

Facebook

Download your Facebook data from Settings->Your Facebook Information->Download your information. I like that they offer HTML and JSON options.

Google Takeout

Google Takeout is where you download your Google data. There is a lot there. At the time of writing, it shows 53 products, which includes YouTube, Gmail and Google Photos.

Instagram

Download your Instagram data from their Privacy and Security page where you will find the request page.

Reddit

And finally, Reddit. You can download your data from their data-request page.

Keep that data safe. Don’t leave it in your download directory. It potentially has lots of private information you won’t want to be shared with anyone who uses your computer.

Google lets you schedule up to 6 data downloads per year, but it might be worth setting a calendar reminder to do this at least once a year. Store your downloads in dated directories to make it easy to keep track of when they were downloaded.

Categories
Cork

Smoke from the burning Sunset Ridge Hotel

There’s an old derelict hotel in the village of Killeens near where I live and this evening it went up in flames, spewing a huge mass of ugly smoke into the air. Tonight’s bonfire night in Cork so it’s obviously done maliciously.

Paul Reidy posted photos from the scene on his Facebook account. I’m surprised there’s anything left to burn there as it’s been set alight multiple times in the past. The place should be demolished and something productive done with the site.

Here’s a video from someone who was going to film it for a Cork history video.

Categories
Music

Building the MP3mobile

Apart from hoarding driver CDs and diskettes in 1999 I also printed out a huge number of pro-Linux news articles. One of those was this page on building an MP3 player for a car called The MP3mobile.

Over the years I had grappled with the idea of adding an MP3 player to whatever my current car was but never really got anywhere but the MP3mobile was the initial source of inspiration for this idea.

The furthest I ever got with the idea was using a portable MP3 CD player but that didn’t work too well:

  1. Bumps in the road caused skips.
  2. Irish roads are bumpy.
  3. More skips.

It’s funny now to see what the MP3mobile can do, but back then this was highly impressive.

The final result is immensely wonderful, and impresses the hell out of most hackerish people (like me). Non-computer people just wonder why you havn’t got a CD player. But, with my setup (based on RedHat Linux 5.0) I can do these things:

* NFS mount my car from my laptop (there’s a loose 10-base-T cable behind the drivers seat) and squirt new tunes into it.

* Hook up my GSM-modem to the car (so you can telnet into it and run emacs at 60mph 🙂 ).

* Hook up a GPS unit, so you could finger the car and find out exactly where a car full of computer equipment suitable for stealing is located.

* Compile as I go round bends.

* Coredump as I change gear 🙂

None of these things can be done with an autochanger. Sorry, but you lose 🙂

Future plans include:

* 418Mhz low-power radio link to allow me to upgrade the software when the car is in the garage 30m or so from the flat.
* Link into the car’s engine management to monitor boost pressure, etc
* Voice-command of the music functions.

The machine ran off a Pentium 166MMX CPU, and had a 2.5″ laptop drive with a massive 2.1GB of storage space.

It all seems so quaint and obsolete now doesn’t it? That may well be how your current state of the art tech appears in another twenty years!

In the time since then the rise of smart phones led to miniaturisation, better screens and power efficient computers. A few years later a Raspberry Pi or Android phone would have been a suitable replacement for the device. And later still Android Auto or Car Play would make the job of playing your own media even easier.

If you use an Android phone, then your car stereo could run Linux, at least through Android Auto as your phone has a Linux kernel!

Categories
Tech

Bye Bye Relics of 1999

It’s about time I dumped some of this stuff. Two of my machines have a CDROM drive but I don’t use either of them. I haven’t had a 1.44MB floppy drive in well over a decade, or more likely fifteen years!

I recently found the binder with these items, the motherboard manual and other things. They were stored away in a dark corner of a cupboard for more than 20 years. Safe in their dark spot but ever so slowly decomposing. The machine they belonged to has been long disposed of.

When was the last time you installed software from a CDROM or a floppy disk? I ripped the DVD box set of “All Creatures Great and Small (1978)” last December. It was on my ageing Macbook, but I do not remember the last time I used a PC floppy disk at all.

February 2012 was the last time I used a C64 disk. I archived as many of my C64 disks as I could then. Those disks are still in the attic. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to throw them out. I guess they’ll be disposed when I’m gone and they’re an ancient artefact of a bygone era.

Categories
Android

How I fixed the silent timer in Google Clock

The timer in Google Clock didn’t go off when the timer ran out. There was no alarm or notification buzz when I needed it. I’m posting this here in case this happens to anyone else because this was happening to me for a long time. I use the timer on my phone a lot, especially when doing a little cooking:

  • Put Y on at 200C in the oven.
  • Everything done at 50 minutes.
  • Put X in the oven at 40 minute mark.
  • Bring water to the boil at 15 minute mark.
  • Boil some veg..

You get the idea. It’s nothing revolutionary and it worked for years. In the last year or so I found that the timer would not make a sound unless I unlocked the phone and the screen was on.

I searched in vain for a solution. Most search results suggested clearing app data or resetting the phone. Clearing app data did nothing and I did not fancy setting up my phone again.

Until finally, I found a fix on Reddit. Optimize Battery Usage was the culprit. The operating system was turning off the alarm as it put the clock app to sleep when the phone screen turned off. Here’s how to fix it (pre-Android 12):

  1. Go to settings -> Apps.
  2. Tap the 3 dots, then “Special access”.
  3. Optimize battery usage.
  4. Change the filter to all, find Google Clock, and uncheck it.

In One UI 4, Android 12 things changed a bit:

  1. Go to Settings -> Apps.
  2. Look for Google Clock and open the settings for it.
  3. Tap on Battery.
  4. Change that setting from Optimized to Unrestricted.

The Samsung Clock app worked all this time but setting a timer is horrendous. You have to flick hour/minute/second rollers up and down instead of tapping the numbers I wanted.

I may have “optimized” the Clock app myself by accident but I don’t remember doing that. Other people have had this problem too so it’s not an isolated issue.

I bet this will help someone else. I did a little dance when the timer started working again.

Categories
Music

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played by London Concertante

London Concertante in St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. March 2022

We haven’t been to a concert in a long time. Last night I went to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in the heart of Cork City to listen to London Concertante.

My son has shown a huge interest in music over the course of lockdown. He started with an electronic keyboard, and then on to other instruments. I know Matt would be delighted to hear he has expressed an interest in learning the saxophone too.

Anyway, we heard that there would be a classical concert in the Cathedral so we had to go. It was an amazing night. I’ll admit I don’t know much about classical music. I recognise the most popular compositions everyone else recognises. But despite that it was a feast for the ears.

In the video above they play Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons. I can’t imagine there’s anyone reading this who won’t recognise this fabulous piece of music.

PS. I shared this video on Facebook too and received a copyright strike. Luckily, I could dispute it without penalty and it was not muted “in 74 territories”.

Categories
Life

A 100 Year Old Online Time Capsule?

The next census to take place in Ireland will be on April 3rd. On the last page they’ve added a blank space for people to add a hand written “time capsule” that will be revealed in 100 years time when census data is made public. There’s a thread on Reddit asking “what would you write there?” which got me thinking.

What I would love to do is create an online time capsule that future generations could find using hand written clues in that census form.

Much as I’d like to think that donncha.wordpress.com will still be around in 100 years time it’s highly likely that we won’t be using the same method of addressing content online that we are now. Will the wordpress.com website even be around in 2122? Will “https://” mean anything to someone looking over old census forms in 100 years time?

I found this blog post talking about “the100yearwebsite.com” back in 2007. For a one off fee of £20 you could keep your capsule safe until 2107! Unfortunately, by 2010 it was gone.

The obvious choice is archive.org. It’s well funded right now and has a very good reputation for preserving sites. It even has my old Geocities website from the late 90s!

Could I tell a future relative to look up “odd.blog” on the website “archive.org” and will it mean anything to them?

I suspect it’s none of the above. Only the most basic information will be useful to future generations.

  • Prices of goods such as bread, milk, fuel.
  • Our worries such as Covid 19 and the war in Ukraine.
  • Where I work or the shops I frequent.
  • Nice places to visit at the weekend. I guess Blarney Castle will still be here in 100 years time.

Apart from this census, we should all print out a selection of the family photos we have on our phones and computers, add the date and names on the back in good ball point pen and put them in a photo album. In 100 years time that may be all that survives of your vast digital footprint.

Categories
Apple

HOWTO: Fix missing Thumbnails in Finder

I recently upgraded to macOS Monterey (yeah, finally) and immediately noticed that previews of new images weren’t showing up in Finder.

Old images did have a preview image so something was wrong with how previews were generated.

Searching online, I found a few solutions, including one that involved deleting the Finder configuration file (plist file) which may have worked in 2009 or 2012 but that was long ago and it doesn’t work now.

So, to save you doing that and having to resize your favourite Finder windows and configure settings again, the answer is very simple and I found it here.

Load up Activity Monitor and search for com.apple.quicklook.ThumbnailsAgent. Double click on it and force it to quit.

CMD-right click on Finder in the dock and relaunch Finder and your thumbnails should now appear in all their tiny glory.

I’m writing this here because apparently this happens to people over and over again. While it’s the first time I’ve seen this problem it probably won’t be the last.

Categories
Ireland

Voice Over LTE is on now

My wife and I both noticed a new “VO LTE1” icon next to the 4G symbol on our phones this morning.

Apparently that’s Voice Over LTE.

Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is an LTE high-speed wireless communication standard for mobile phones and data terminals, including Internet of things (IoT) devices and wearables. VoLTE has up to three times more voice and data capacity than older 3GUMTS and up to six times more than 2GGSM. It uses less bandwidth because VoLTE’s packet headers are smaller than those of unoptimized VoIP/LTE.[1] VoLTE calls are usually charged at the same rate as other calls.

Wikipedia

So now you know if you see this icon too. Let’s hope Eir/Gomo aren’t planning on removing 3G support any time soon like Verizon in the US is. Reception can be patchy in many parts of the country.