Saturday, January 25th 2014

Denon AVR automation

I’ve been working on home automation in what little spare time I have and since various bits and pieces of it are forked from GPL code, I thought it was time to give back. Most of my publicly available code can be found on either Atlassian’s BitBucket or on GitHub.

In particular, this post is to draw attention to my fork of Mr Turner’s AVR control scripts. I’m sure there are a bunch of folks out there struggling with the crazy UTP API that Denon implemented, which can be quite flakey if you have a less-than-perfect network setup like I do (WiFi, in an old building with super thick walls and plenty of interference). HTTP is obviously much more robust, however it hasn’t been documented by Denon, at least not that I can find. If you have found some official info, I’d love to be pointed towards it.

What Mr Turner did was to reverse engineer the control calls that are used in the built-in web server in the Denon AVRs. What I have done is:

  • restructure the shell script he wrote (some for my own understanding, some for good practice),
  • drop the GTK GUI (so if you want that, go for his original) and
  • update some of the XML parsing for the AVR-X?000 series machines.

All the details are on the project homepage.

Tuesday, December 17th 2013

How to be way more productive 

I don’t generally have a problem with blood sugar levels, but I do love the reading speed hack. I hadn’t tried that before but it is remarkably effective.

Monday, October 21st 2013

Swan Dive

On 16th October @adamhorner wrote:

Standing on the cliff edge, staring longingly out at the sunrise on the horizon, glancing warily down at surf crashing over rocks below …

… Sunrise wins. Swan Dive.

Swan Dive

Photo by Prayitno on Flickr

After almost three and a half years of phenomenal growth in Europe I am moving on from Palantir.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with such awesome people, an experience that I won’t forget.

I’m off to found a new tech company in the finance sector. If you follow me on Twitter, or watch the European Tech Press you should see launch details forthcoming over the next few weeks, after which we will be racing for the chasm. More details to follow here until we get our infrastructure set up.

Exciting times ahead.

Friday, September 20th 2013

The iPhone 5s and 5c 

The iPhone 5S is, in some measures, computationally superior to the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro from just five years ago. In your […] pocket.

Great write-up by Mr Gruber of his first week with the new iPhone 5s (including a little preamble about the 5c).

Sunday, September 8th 2013

iPhone Edge

Mr Gruber’s thoughtful follow up piece on the Nintendo hardware/software discussion got me thinking (along with thousands of others no doubt) about the long term direction of our favourite gadgets: smart phones1

I’ll pull out just the two sentences that Mr Gruber himself emphasises in his piece:

People do not want to carry extra devices. It’s that simple.

Then when discussing the trend towards phones large enough to resemble a small tablet (so-called ‘phablets’):

Why carry a phone and a tablet when you can just carry one device that falls somewhere in-between?

The answer to that second question today is because you can’t yet do everything on your phone. Sometimes you need more screen real estate or more power (either computationally or in wattage) than a phone can currently provide. Perhaps then it isn’t surprising that the Ubuntu Edge struck a chord with so many techies — although it broke crowd-sourced funding records, it didn’t get funded well enough to see the light of day per its original concept.

So what would the ideal phone look like short of being a combination of Communicator, Tricorder and Lightsaber?

Well, if you take those concepts a few Moore’s law busting steps forward might you end up with something resembling a Mac Pro2 in the form factor of an iPhone that works conceptually similarly to the Ubuntu Convergence? If so, I can only imagine one company that has the deep pocket book, design ingenuity, creativity and end-user focus — not to mention existing patents and products — to be able to pull that off.

Unrealistic? Totally. On my wish list? Absolutely.

  1. No, I didn’t think much about Nintendo either, does that put me in the same bracket as Mitch Lasky’s six year old daughter? 

  2. If you squint from a distance, I guess the new tubular Mac Pro might look a little like an incredibly over-sized two handed lightsaber for giants 

Saturday, August 31st 2013

Turbo-charged hacking comes to long passwords 

Time to reassess what you think of as being a secure password:

Yiannis Chrysanthou, a security researcher, […] was able to crack the password “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn1.” […] It would have been impossible […] but because the phrase was contained in this Wikipedia article, it wound up in a word list that allowed Chrysannthou to crack the phrase in a matter of minutes.

If you aren’t using a password programme like KeePass or 1Password, now is the time to change your habits regarding password management.

Thursday, August 29th 2013

Only Developers will get this 


Saturday, August 24th 2013

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months 

So Microsoft finally recognises they need a CEO who can translate their enterprise strength into something resembling the current market, which spans and merges the previous concepts of consumer, enterprise, social, cloud and gaming — all of which are increasingly blurring together.

There is a lot written on this, including Mr Gruber wishing it sooner and pointing to some historical posts, but for a laugh I especially like Mr Carmo’s take on this:

I feel great calmness in the Force, as if millions of techies (and OEM partners) slowly exhaled in relief.

Sunday, July 28th 2013

Linode: Storage Space Doubled! 

Just as I was thinking about getting creative with where and how to store my backups, the awesome folks at Linode go and increase my storage for me for no extra charge.

Friday, July 26th 2013

From Yaki to TNG

I haven’t written anything public that is substantive (unless you count tweets as substantive) for nearly 2 years. How remiss of me. Work and life have got in the way of random public writings.

I have had some time off and been in need of a distraction, so wanting to simplify this blog (technically) from the already quite simple drupal installation I had previously, I decided to throw myself at the learning cliff of both python and Yaki.

Well it turns out that Python is pretty cool, even if it does do a few things in a … different … way. I know, Peter Bengtsson was trying to get me on to the Python band wagon five years ago, but sadly I was too far up Oracle creek to care back then. Still, not everything is totally cool in the land of constricting snakes, for example to join a list of strings together first consider the string that you want to be the glue (e.g. ', ') and then use that to join an iterable (so it can be applied to any set, and anything capable of generating a set) — mylongstring = ', '.join(stringList) — so not crazy, but definitely different.

The one that has really caught me out though is the no closing brace thing, just use indents to mark loops and conditionals. It is all well and neat, quite terse even, but start editing someone else’s code when you have different ideas of tabs vs spaces vs tab widths and you can all too quickly end up in a world of pain that just feels, well, avoidable. I have just written myself a comment block for future python with something very similar to the following in it:

# "Quick Description of Script."
# vim: et, ts=4, sw=4
# NO TABS, four spaces per tab.
#  (if you are using vim this will be set by the modeline above)

So having just about got to grips with Yaki and on the verge of diving in to the templating system (cutely named ‘snakelets’), I thought I would email Rui Carmo (who wrote much of it) to ask about a snakelet syntax file for vim. I’m glad to say he got back to me (and remarkably quickly too), not with a syntax file, but to say that he is working on the next generation of yaki and that those baby snakes have gone the way of the dodo. Of course that is both exciting and irksome, since this time it is based on more up to date technologies like fever (I haven’t checked yet, but I’m guessing it is his bottled version) and decorators — more to learn in all the spare time I don’t have. Time to climb further down the big snake’s neck. I’ll endeavour to keep folks up to date with what I find down there.

Sunday, December 4th 2011

Hacking US Immigration with a floating offshore incubator 

The very fact that these guys are seriously considering putting a startup incubator on a boat off-shore to side-step visa requirements tells you that there is something wrong with the immigration situation in the US. The UK recently introduced the Entrepreneurs Visa which, arguably, is beginning to work, but London is in a pretty unique situation since anybody who is a citizen of any state in the European Union is entitled to come and set up a new company — something that doesn’t really compare in the US.

Wednesday, October 12th 2011

Lineage (or attribution) 

Feel free to watch Fred’s excellent interview with Carlotta Perez, but what really struck me was his respect for Daniel‘s tweet (with which I completely agree - attribution matters):

Cool to see @fredwilson interviewing Carlota Perez. Like finding out Yoda trained Obi-wan. Lineage of thought matters.

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