Scratchings of the Cat

28 April 2024, 03:57

I have a university tilde page now:

29 February 2024, 23:48


18 January 2024, 23:58

“This is not a joke - this is Broadcom”

From a 37c3 talk on an ethernet chip that requires to bitbang a clock into itself, through a multiplexer, rather that Broadcom fix the firmware.

26 December 2023, 13:05

ePlants group at Linkoping University. They have found hydroponic barley grows 50% faster with electric current passed through the growth medium.

10 December 2023, 12:46

I read a very interesting Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report a while ago which I remembered again just now, about a fatal man overboard from CV30 - a Clipper round the world race boat. One thing I remember is this ingenious hack in section 1.8.2 about generator failure:

“one of the crew on board managed to dismantle an old battery and used the carbon electrodes to fashion new brushes for the generator”

I guess it would have been a zinc carbon AA(A) cell, which has a carbon rod down the middle.

23 November 2023, 20:53

My congress ticket clicking was too slow. Hopefully will get one in next round.

20 November 2023, 12:14

I’ve recently started work on a radio mesh networking project for boats which I’m calling NYAN - the Nearby Yacht Area Network. It will use LoRa to pass text messages and telemetry such as weather data. It is an open source project and I welcome collaboration. There is no code yet, but specs, design notes, etc, on the wiki:

17 March 2022, 22:05

I found A Website:

Topics include boat building, gardening, cats, Catnip for Humans?, What’s inside a microwave?, and How to Make a Witch or Wizard Hat.

17 November 2021, 17:30

So Lacan actually used the word matrix, well “matrice”, in Le Stade du miroir comme formateur de la fonction du Je. Is that actually where the title of The Matrix came from? Probably not, but maybe?

15 November 2021, 22:15

“This is, again, analogous to Kropotkin’s anarchy. If each thing follows its own li it will harmonize with all other things following theirs, not by reason of rule imposed from above but by their mutual resonance (ying) and interdependence. The Taoists are saying, then, that seen as a whole the universe is a harmony or symbiosis of patterns which cannot exist without each other.”

I like this quote from Alan Watt’s in “Tao: The Watercourse Way”, as an explanation of how “anarchy is order” (especially suitable for rivers).

Wu wei - anarchism for the inactivist.

6 November 2021, 01:21

“bed with butyl tape, instead of sikaflex, because I can’t be trusted with sikaflex”

This sounds familiar. It is approximately impossible not to get it everywhere.

From a Wildlings Sailing video, a youtube boat channel.

5 November 2021, 09:03

Who called it The Matrix and not Neo Vedanta?

2 November 2021, 00:37

To prevent planetary disaster we must reduce consumption of materials and energy. There is a certain amount needed for life, but then there is the great excess of wants manufactured by advertising. Can we turn around the propaganda machine to make a simpler lifestyle socially desirable, and overindulgence vulgar? It was tried (successfully?) before with Make Do and Mend, and that was for a less deadly cause. Maybe wartime spirit could be invoked as a saving grace of British culture.

cf. subvertising, tobacco advertising bans.

29 October 2021, 18:29

Category theory has been called abstract nonsense, but I just found a paper titled “Quantum metametaphysics” which I doubt has been used even by a haskell programmer.

2 February 2021, 01:48

I was using a few turns of wire as a probe for EMC testing and accidentally came across some FT8 on 3.573 MHz. It was audible even over the noise from some ethernet and computers. I also noticed it audibly even when very quiet and covered by fan / disk noise.

1 January 2021, 23:32

“A total of 334 distinct pronouns were used by users. Only 5 of them were attempts at cross-site scripting attacks.” :) #rc3 #ccc

27 December 2020, 13:10

The mostly empty halls of CCL:

27 December 2020, 13:01

We just had a talk from the bridge of MV Louise Michel, a former French customs patrol boat now painted pink and on a “Solidarity and Resistance” mission in the med. Apparently capable of 28 knots and with a mostly female or trans crew.

27 December 2020, 12:53

The remote version of the CCC congress has started streaming but the virtual reality world does not seem to be working yet.

Streams at IRC: #rc3 on hackint

27 December 2020, 09:03

I can confirm that Atmega328p I/O pins are not 12V tolerant.

28 October 2020, 12:59

If I were an ESD engineer I would simply replace you with 1.5 kΩ in series with 100 pF.

18 July 2020, 13:41 is now running on Rails 6 and latest stable ruby.

18 July 2020, 13:36

Dua Lipa BBC News intro mix -

This is the best thing I have found for a while.

21 May 2020, 07:30

The 330 Ohm resistor I want could be had for 90 millicents in 0402 size, but I’m going to splash out for the larger 0805 to make soldering easier. It’s a wopping 280 millicents, 3x the price, but I think I can afford it.

7 April 2020, 16:42

To get avr-gcc on nixos you need to install pkgsCross.avr.buildPackages.gcc

5 February 2020, 13:04

I have a new library card. I signed up to the National Library of Scotland because the local Edinburgh libraries dropped their subscription to some online publications because of budget cuts. At least can still get the OED after signing up to NLS. This is important for reference when telling people about strange words.

3 December 2019, 16:57

#f1000f - floof - is a nice colour! On RGB LEDs anyway, it is pink.

2 December 2019, 06:55

Recently I’ve been learning about LoRa and LoRaWAN. One of the first things I came accross about this was Decoding the LoRa PHY, a talk at 33c3 about reverse engineering the closed protocol. It seems to be well known now but still interesting to see how it was worked out.

18 November 2019, 19:46

Trustroots, the free software / open type hospitality network, is having a hacking session next weekend in Barcelona. I’m probably not going but wanted to promote it because trustroots is good and worth working on.

7 July 2019, 16:16

The Netherlands has recently made it illegal to hold your phone while cycling, so people are going to have to go back to reading books.

7 June 2019, 16:59

I upgraded to Debian unstable because firefox was broken recently, but that broke OpenCPN, which is quite important for sailing. :)

OpenCPN package wanted libcurl3, but I now had libcurl4, and apt wouldn’t install both of them.

I solved it by building OpenCPN from source. The latest version seems to work with libcurl4. These ( instructions worked, but then I had to get the harmonic files for tides. Got them from the github repo and put them in /usr/local/share/opencpn/tcdata/, not /usr/share as it said somewhere. You can configure it in settings, charts, tides & currents anyway.

There is an assertion failure on startup but it seems to work.

3 May 2019, 06:36

Back on the boat. Just spent two days clearing out fuel system because of diesel bug. It was visibly in a jerry can so fuel must have had water / contamination in it when I bought it I think. Meh.

26 April 2019, 02:11

Trying to dial in a Jura bean-to-cup with bad coffee is stressing me out, because I can’t make it good (GIGO). Still want to make it the best we can get from it though. It’s at the hacklab. Hope to have our own hacker cafe soon though and we can have good coffee. :D

15 April 2019, 03:56

I just got a Wemos D1 mini, which is the ESP8266 board favoured around the Hacklab. It’s a microcontroller with wifi and USB power / serial, about 1.5 GBP from China.

To program it with Arduino, the board files are here: I couldn’t find this at first because the links from the Wemos site are broken. This appears to be a community maintained equivalent.

Once I got that done I had a webserver running very quickly. :)

22 February 2019, 02:59

“The HAARP project directs a 3.6 MW signal, in the 2.8–10 MHz region of the HF (high-frequency) band, into the ionosphere. The signal may be pulsed or continuous. Effects of the transmission and any recovery period can be examined using associated instrumentation, including VHF and UHF radars, HF receivers, and optical cameras.”

Cameras. They blast the ionosphere enough that you can see the difference. They must have some pretty serious filters for that.

21 February 2019, 14:44

Rewriting a backup script and using chronic so I should only get emails from cron on error.

(This post is to trigger a backup and test it. :p)

6 October 2018, 18:16

“he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective”

The Awful German Language by Mark Twain

27 September 2018, 14:24

Winterhude is a bit Hampstead.

15 August 2018, 15:51

Rivers are people too!

“In May 2017, Colombia’s Constitutional Court granted legal personhood to the Río Atrato”

28 July 2018, 12:46

I was very ready for the rain. I don’t think I have known a high to last so long. I’m sitting in the cockpit with the tent up, but sides partly open, so I can have some wind and rain while keeping computer dry.

The timing, the morning after the blood moon, seems just right.

19 July 2018, 11:55

If Theresa May doesn’t like EU immigrants maybe she should introduce a Pole tax.

7 July 2018, 16:53

“but you don’t sound Scottish” …

6 July 2018, 13:55

My bus is doing 54 knots over the IJsselmeer.

6 July 2018, 13:35

Finally managed to change mac address on my phone. Apps didn’t work, but what did was allowing root over adb (in developer settings), then on laptop running adb root, adb shell, and ifconfig wlan0 hw ether <address>. It reset when turning wifi off and on though, just use it immediately.

2 July 2018, 13:56

Don’t go to the Frisian Islands if you want to see anyone under 70.

29 June 2018, 14:13

The boom broke on the way into Spiekeroog, not far from the trickiest part of the entrance channel. It was obviously one poorly controlled gybe too many for the 40 year old spar.

Strangely enough, I actually had a spare, and the people in the harbour were very keen to help, so it was fitted before tea. We did have coffee though on an interesting swing keel boat, which are understandable popular around the Waddensee.

27 June 2018, 14:10

The engine stopped when leaving the Eider on the way to Helgoland. When I arrived I debugged it, by removing lumps of bacteria / fungus from the fuel line.

31 May 2018, 16:37

“Those visitors were offered a ‘fiber to the boat’ connection” – Creating Europe’s fastest hacker camp

During a year of awful wifi, I have been dreaming of Fiber to the Boat (FTTB). I just discovered this was a real thing at SHA2017. I will need to go if something like that happens again.

Maybe at Bornhack - there is a harbour not too far from the campsite.

20 May 2018, 17:45

I just came across the term restafarian.

I suspect I may be one, but should probably study the details of REST more seriously before claiming that.

15 May 2018, 14:02

The wifi on flixbus is better than Deutsche Bahn. In fact it was non-existant except on the ICE. Still more comfortable by train though.

10 May 2018, 18:27

GPN is full of cats! More than congress I think, and certainly in higher concentration. One has a rainbow LED collar.

6 May 2018, 22:30

After a hard day of IndieWebbing, I was invited by my couchsurfing trustroots host to debug a serial connection between an Arduino and SuperCollider. Luckily I fixed it quite quickly.

This was for a hack involving turning a dumped dart board into an instrument. I thought I was going to meet a hippie type musician but I found a hacker. It’s almost like hippie hackers are a thing. ;)

Previously: Music Hack Day Scotland.

6 May 2018, 12:06

Well, when I’m travelling I take an oven, fridge, maybe some barbecues, and the kitchen sink. :p

5 May 2018, 10:27

I successfully arrived at IndieWeb camp Düsseldorf this morning, after an overnight train trip and very little sleep. I managed to not miss the train by about 2 minutes, despite choosing one at 2am so that I would have a day to get ready. The breakfast was pretty good, with fruit and spinach smoothies, and strange but tasty toast of fruit and mustard. :)

I was on a train to Interlaken, which was fun because if I stayed on I would have ended up in an Alpnie ski resort. Someone on the train who did some sort of cloud infrastructure stuff gave me some Swedish whisky, which I had seen in System Bolaget before but didn’t buy because it cost what things cost in Sweden. Svensk Ek it was called. Very smooth and quite sweet, it was pleasant and would be easy to drink a lot of it, unlike Scotch whiskys where you really know you are drinking them. I slept a bit after my nightcap / breakfast whisky. It’s all a bit confusing at 4am.

Now people are lying in the sun.

30 April 2018, 16:21

A video of someone sailing a Scampi single handed. This is my type of boat and what I’ll probably end up doing more of, unless you want to join. :)

30 April 2018, 13:42

I’ve just been to the sailmaker to get a third reef added to the mainsail. The scampi is a light boat and around 25 knots I already feel like I might want less sail. This will be important if going to Scotland. Next thing will be to work out how to tie it down though - maybe need a new fitting on the boom and extra blocks to bring the lines back to the cockpit.

28 April 2018, 20:12

I just visited a boat called Moana. She is (one of) the first designs of fiberglass boat and seems nice and solid. The owner didn’t know about Disney’s Moana, so hopefully he will watch and like it.

He did have some Lagavullin though. Scotch whisky seems very popular in Germany.

27 April 2018, 16:26

Pleased to note that my wifi connection is still working after a short drive around the sailing club to a new berth. Mostly it breaks but sometimes it Just Works. :)

26 April 2018, 14:29

This idea, of the selfishness of privacy, was also put forward in the film (and book) “The Circle”. It’s a very near future dystopia about a facegoogle. It’s on netflix.

(Also replying to:

23 April 2018, 09:43

Last night there was a quite prolonged lightning storm here. Interestingly I saw it diffused through the thick cloud well before I could hear anything.

I watched the front progress on the lightning map which is pretty interesting, and made from crowdsourced lightning detector data.

18 April 2018, 08:40

Was it just yoga you were doing? :)

I suppose you mean that you were missing a cushion.

14 April 2018, 14:31

I thought of a great tweet/toot/note on the bus but now I’ve forgotten it. This is just a tribute.

11 April 2018, 10:14

Beep is an advanced PC speaker beeping program.

11 April 2018, 05:59

Test of POSSE tweeting through

11 April 2018, 01:48

I shall have to start using potassium as my standard acknowledgement.

9 April 2018, 02:41

In my straying I found myself in a house with quite an interesting library, and so spent most of yesterday reading Quantum Computation and Quantum Information. I was surprised to find that the maths was within my grasp - it seems quantum mechanics only requires basic linear algebra and complex numbers, which is stuff I can mostly remember. Would like to review linear algebra anyway, because it’s useful for information retrieval and I have ideas about making a search engine.