I’m not too fussy with my music and after a change of job I now have the chance to put the headphones on a listen whilst at my computer. My music collection is reasonable, but I find myself wanting a radio style mix of music, but without the radio presenters.
For nothing a month on Last.fm you get webstreaming and visual ads, with the music stopping if you don’t look at the site regularaly enough.
Spotify provide a web app, with Last.fm like radio stations, plus the ability to listen to albums or tracks at will. But at nothing a month you have limited playtime and the rather annoying Kia Cee’d adverts every third song.
In theory both services free offerings should provide me with what I need. Web access radio on Last.fm and the choice to listen to an album at will with Spotify.
However there is a firewall issue with Last.fm at work and the radio streams either fail completly, or if they do play leave 5 minute gaps between tracks.
Because of this I then have to look towards the premium services.
For £3 a month Last.fm provide non-stop, ad-free radio on both PC and mobile.
For £5 a month Spotify provide non-stop, ad-free radio and choose-your-own albums for the PC.
For £10 a month Spotify provide everything on your mobile as well, plus offline storage.
By selecting the £3 Last.fm pro account I can listen to the music on my phone* which gets around the firewall problem without putting a large dent in to my wallet. I also find that the Last.fm radio service is just “better” than Spotify. I’m not sure if this is because my Last.fm account dates back to October 2005 and that they have better data on me, or I’m just used to it.
That said if/when Google release All Access to the UK, maybe I’ll look at it all again.
* when I say listen on my phone my actual setup is slightly more awkward, I have my phone connected to the laptop to draw power, the phone bluetooth audio paired with the laptop, and my headphones connected to the laptop. This allows me to continue to listen to audio elsewhere (Spotify/YouTube) without having to broadcast it to the whole office, or having to unplug the headphones each time.
So after deciding that I wouldn’t bother this year, I gave in when the new fixture list was published last week.
After multiple lines of copy paste, edit, tweak I began to think surely my computer can be doing most of this. So I sat down and spent more time than I would have liked looking at the Google Calendar API, and finally managed to knock together some PHP which took the text I had copied from the FAWSL fixture list and inserted them as Google Calendar events.
Fortunately I can now reuse this code for future seasons and other possible events like the Euros or World Cup.
But now that it’s done what next. Well the calendar is public so if you too want the fixtures you can add the calendar to your account. The easiest way is to click the button below. Or if you prefer ICAL or XML copy the link address and add it to your software.
As with my other public calendars I will try to ensure that it is up to date as possible, but this does require noticing when a fixture has been moved. Let me know if you spot any.
So you’ve offered me cake, and rather surprisingly I’ve turned you down. I know, odd isn’t it. Ryan never turns down cake. So it can only mean one thing, your cake is bad.
Well, no. What it means is that my body is bad.
I’m not on a diet, I have no need to lose weight, instead I have Coeliac disease.
Every time I eat gluten my body reacts and damages my gut. So unless a cure is found, for life I can no longer eat gluten. If you have ever watched The Great British Bake Off, it’s the stuff which makes cakes and bread sticky (and tasty).
Which means unless it’s been specially made, no:
and three months ago these were a very large part of my diet.
Fortunately fresh meat, veg and fruit are fine, as well as chocolate without biscuit.
Unfortunately the wheat substitutes are expensive. £2 a (half) loaf of bread.
At the moment the government and local health authority allow me to get gluten free products on prescription, hopefully this will continue, as it helps keep the costs down.
So if you do offer me anything don’t feel embarrassed that I turn it down, or spend a couple of minutes reading the back of a packet, it’s not you, it’s me.
Recently I discovered that the Environment Agency published water levels on it’s website, however other than a two day graph it didn’t have an real historical data.
So I went about and created a script to scrape the data for me. This ensures that I have data past the 48 hours and allows me to see exactly what kind of changes have taken place say in the last week.
Now as I was already collecting the data, it seemed sensible to create a twitter account to publish key changes. So I set up @sincildrain. It has some pre-defined boundaries which if the levels go past it sends a new tweet.
Going down, latest recording on Fri 28th Dec 04:30 is 1.79m
— Sincil Drain (@SincilDrain) December 28, 2012
With the Twitter for Android app, you can then set notifications whenever an account tweets, like the old days when you used to get an SMS from each one. So now I near time information on the water levels of the drain just meters down the road.
However the great advantage of Twitter is it’s one-to-many broadcast method.
Previous bots I built would either email or MSN message an update, but to scale required building in subscriptions, anti-abuse and stop methods.
But Twitter does this already, my bot just needs to tweet and with public visibility anyone can follow the account to also get the latest updates, at present 44 people are checking to see if the water levels are too high.
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Now I’m no insider, but what I read of this is:
Now we are part of Facebook, we are going to try to do those crap Facebook ads. You know the ones you all moaned about months ago, in which an advertiser who you liked can use your picture to tell your friends that you like their product.
So to allow the local coffee shop which you tagged the photo of your latte, to try to get your friends to also take photos of their lattes, Instagram need to change a couple of the terms.
Now in theory this also allows them to sell my photos for a huge billboard ad at every train station, but then the highest res photo stored on Instagram is 600×600 pixels. Not the greatest for print media.
The biggest PR problem for Instagram is the failure to explain.
People will leave, but like those who wandered off to app.net, without your friends all following, what’s the point of being part of something if it’s only you?
Do you use Twitter Tools on your blog to autopost your new posts, or to show a daily record of all your tweets?
Did is suddenly stop working yesterday?
Unfortunately twitter removed the end points which the plugin spoke to. They did announce this would be happening over a year ago, and have since even released a new version of their API.
Whilst you are waiting for an official fix, you can make this small change to the plugin code to sort it now.
In WordPress admin go to Plugins, Editor, select Twitter Tools from the drop down.
In the code box find
and replace with
Then hit the Update File button.
Several years ago I was looking for a vanity URL. You know the type that are short and sweet.
My first thought was artes.ea however there isn’t a country with .ea as their top-level domain.
Then playing about with how I say artesea I realised I could get argh.tc .tc is the top-level domain for the Turks and Caicos Islands and at only $39 it seemed a bargain. So for the last 2.5 years I’ve been using the domain name as a shorter to my blog posts, but mainly for my version of Dabr dab.argh.
However I was rather surprised to find out that my registrar this year sent me an invoice for $130 for the renewal.
So come two months time I’m letting the domain expire. I’ve already started on the work to move dab.argh.tc to dabr.artesea.co.uk including a nifty cookie transfer script so you don’t need to authenticate with twitter or change your settings again. Short URLs are no longer needed now Twitter forces the t.co links, and the other projects with be mothballed as a backup on my PC.
I couldn’t really afford to keep argh.tc in my domain portfolio at $40/year so the price rise has helped me put an end to my rash purchase.
So whilst at work this morning I noticed I had several alerts from LibDemBlogs telling me it had been unable to create the half hourly updates. I get these once in a while, but as long as it’s just one it will be fine on the next build. However these were pretty much every 30 minutes.
With a spare few minutes I could see in the logs that a request to read an RSS feed of a site had gone from taking a few seconds to over a minute, and LibDemBlogs reads the RSS feeds of over 400 sites.
However I had no time to take a further look, but managed to send an email to the hosting company to see if they were aware of any issues. A reply later in the day informed me that indeed there was an issue with packet loss in to the datacentre and they would let me know any more updates.
On getting home I’ve been able to activate a couple of settings, the first is to stop reading the blogs of anyone who hadn’t posted anything in the last 60 days. This reduces the number of blogs it needs to read to around 200, but means that if you haven’t blogged for a while, and just created a new post it won’t be spotted.
It’s helped and the site managed to build the 8pm update, however as it’s giving up on reading the RSS feeds of some blogs there is a chance your post just now won’t appear for a couple of hours.
My hosts have a plan of action late tonight, so there will be some downtime near midnight. Hopefully this will fix the issue, and I can role back some of the tweaks.
So on Wednesday morning I was up at 6am, along with a large number of others trying to get their hands on one of the 10,000 Raspberry Pi which were currently finishing Quality Assurance in China.
Unlike what had been answered several times, they weren’t to be sold directly and we now being offered by third party companies RS and Farnells.
Straight away browser tabs were open to both sites.
Searching for “Raspberry” on RS loaded a “Register your interest” page, with no sign to buy I filled in my details and hit enter. However I ended up on the same page I was just at. So I tried again, hit enter and nothing, server errors, so through out the morning I was hitting refresh. Finally it submitted, but again taking me back to where I began.
Then on Twitter Liz running the @Raspberry_Pi account said:
If you’re only seeing “register an interest” on RS’s site, you’re on the wrong page.
— Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi) February 29, 2012
Maybe if I had an RS account I might find this magic purchasing page, so I tried to sign up. Again server errors all over the place, but eventually I managed it. Then typing “Raspberry” in to the search box, just took me back to the Register page. So one final time I entered my details and this time was taken to a Thank You page. This was two hours later and clearly put me back to the end of the queue.
Whilst all this was going on, my luck with Farnells was even worse, pages just wouldn’t load at all, until they finally stuck up a “Maintenance” page. Then after 8am, it looked better, I could add a Raspberry Pi to a shopping basket, then the pages timed out as I tried to complete the order process. Finally at 8.24 I managed to complete the order.
I joked at the time that:
yay, finally got a pre-order sorted on Farnells for a @Raspberry_Pi, now the waiting game for delivery. Guessing at May.
— Ryan Cullen (@artesea) February 29, 2012
but a short while later I got an email with a delivery date of 26th March. Wow, that was fast, but the speed of the email still left me thinking May. Later in the day a second email arrived, this with a new delivery date of 26th April, a month later. As it’s not far off my expected date I wasn’t too upset.
So the morning was long, but I got an order placed, my Pi will arrive one day and I’m happy.
Some people however appear to be far from happy.
They were disappointed that RS and Farnells websites couldn’t cope with the pressure (these are companies who sell electrical components, I doubt they have ever had a rush to their sites, and have any of these people tried to buy tickets to gigs before?).
That shipping wasn’t available to their country (on the wrong country website).
That the price wasn’t $35 (mine cost £31.86, around $40 + vat + postage, giving Farnells some profit, shock!)
That they only heard it was on sale due to the news/twitter/facebook/friend, yet they were subscribed to the Announcement list (my email arrived the night before, but I had @raspberry_pi open in a tab on my phone for the last week and knew within an hour that 29th Feb 6am was the time, not only that but the blog and other sites had covered the annoucment. Relying on one email, which could end up in a spam folder is the worst way to be ahead of the game for a limited sales run).
That @Raspberry_Pi wouldn’t answer their questions directly on twitter (they were getting around 100 @replies every minute).
However I would say that comms were poor, it appears that Farnells and RS hadn’t made their plans clear to the Raspberry Pi team, and no one from either company appeared to be around at 6am to clear things up.
What could have been done differently? I’m not sure, whenever there is limited supply and hyped demand it’s going to result in a lot of unhappy people. Maybe a lottery, one day to register your interest, then the next day email people, one a minute for a week, with a unique code to purchase one Raspberry Pi.
This way the demand on the order day can be spread stopping people rushing at 6am DDOSing sites (although I’m sure they would still try), the emails would be manageable, avoiding most spam rules, and people clicking through to purchase wouldn’t reach a broken website.
However you still end up with a large number of unhappy people who didn’t get one.
But unlike tickets for the come back gig of Steps, more Raspberry Pi’s will be made, and the reason for using Farnells and RS is that they can now start making them to order, meaning there is no “second batch”, just lots more rolling of the production line.
At some point I want to get my soon to be 2, daughter her own touch screen device. She often “borrows” my Samsung Galaxy SII or Heathers iPhone 4, and they are rather valuable.
It doesn’t need to be great spec, but should:
- Play most video formats (MP4, DIVX) without a struggle, nor need for me to convert them first.
- Play the BBC iPlayer
- Play Youtube
- Play MP3s (if it’s doing the above, it really should be doing this)
- Have games like Angry Birds available
- Not be massive (ie, not a tablet)
- and most importantly it must not be able to make phone calls
Now I’d rather have an Android device, but willing to accept that at the moment the iPod might just have the advantage, however I was wondering if I’ve missed anything else on the market, or you know of a cheap phone in which you can completely disable the phone part (even if it requires rooting and hacking) as I don’t want her calling anyone including 999 (which by law should be possible on any phone, even when flight mode is enabled and has no SIM card)?
Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any ideas.