Raspberry Pi GPS tracker – Converting Code to PHP – Part 1

Last week I looked at getting the hardware up and running for a Raspberry Pi GPS tracker. However, as I said I was using some Python code and I don’t speak Python so I wanted to convert it to PHP. So this week I am going to look at what I did.

Before I could even begin to look at the converting the code I had to see if it was even possible for PHP to access the serial port. Turns out this is exactly what Direct IO (dio) is for but it isn’t included as standard so you … Read the rest

Raspberry Pi GPS tracker – Getting it Together

Having secured a Pi Zero from the cover of a the magazine MagPi I thought I would start out simple by trying one of the projects shown there. The one that caught my eye and required no soldering was to build a GPS tracker.

Getting hold of a cheap USB unit was pretty easy but make sure it is Linux compatible. I bought this one from eBay.

The first thing I did when I got the unit was to try it out on the Pi and while it was working I could see that it had got a satellite … Read the rest

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard

Now that screens are getting bigger on mobiles it is becoming increasingly more practical to do work on them, especially now that Microsoft Office is available on most mobile devices.

The biggest issue I have though is typing on the screen. While it is fine for short emails and text messages it isn’t really practical for longer pieces such as this blog post. One issue is that the on-screen keyboard covers too much of the screen real estate. To overcome this I’ve had portable keyboards before but they have either been clumsy or heavy to carry.

Now enter Microsoft to … Read the rest

Pebble Time Long Term Review

So I have had my Pebble Time Steel a few months now so I thought that it would be good to revisit it and put down my thoughts having had it a while. The first thing is that I have now received my steel band and the watch looks so much better for it than the “leather” strap it was originally sent with. I’m really pleased with the look and it is a step up from the original plastic version (original Pebble) I had.

The Good and the not so Good

The watch interface has had an overhaul and there … Read the rest

Halo Back: Good idea, but does it work?

A while back, although in terms of Kickstarter dates it was positively recent, a project was posted that caught my eye called Halo Back. This was a glass screen protector with a difference – the bottom left area was “mapped” to the top left making it easier to click the back link on apps. That’s poorly explained but this cheesy video from the project does a better job:

Last week the Halo Back arrived and so I stuck it on. Unlike other screen protectors the positioning is quite important and so the makers have included a frame that fits over … Read the rest

New Pebble Time Thoughts

Just thought I would put down my initial thoughts on the new Pebble Time. I’ll do a fuller review, including the same tests that I ran with the old Pebble, in a few weeks when I have captured more data.

I’ve had my steel version a couple of weeks now and it really like both the look of the watch and the new interface itself. In fact Apple seemed to like the timeline too so they pinched the idea for their watch!

When you pledged via Kickstarter the Steel variant comes with both a leather and steel link straps. … Read the rest

A little spring cleaning

This is why you need to open up your PC occasionally and give it a bit of TLC. The pile of grubby dust above is just six months worth from our always on media server.

I got into the habit of cleaning it out regularly after it started (unsurprisingly) to become pretty noisy and given that it is in our lounge that became an issue. It is amazing the difference that a really good clean makes.

2015-05-17 17.16.50

One important thing is that you MUST NOT use your normal hoover to suck out the dirt. This is a bad idea as it … Read the rest

The dio Naked Reversible USB cables

Reversible USB cables are, it seems, a lot like buses – you don’t see any for ages and then two come along in quick succession. Just last month I wrote about the Belaycord and now here is the dio Naked from moopti.

Like Belaycord this is also being offered through a Kickstarter campaign and as of writing there are just over two days before that closes. Rather than have to wait for mine to arrive (I have backed the project) moopti kindly sent me a sample to review which arrived today.

The first thing you notice is how well the … Read the rest

Thoughts on Apple Watch Battery Life

I have been wrestling with the idea of an Apple Watch for a while and admit that it is beautifully made but what is really putting me off is the need to charge the thing every single day.

On reflection I can see that could be considered a positive thing. My existing Pebble has what can only be described as a variable battery life ranging from about 2 to 5 days. I have never been able to work out what makes it drain quicker sometimes more than others but it does mean that I need to keep an eye on … Read the rest

Casting a Presentation to Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV

The last few years has seen the emergence of small devices that plug into the HDMI port of a TV, connect to your wifi, and allow you to stream from online services such as Netflix and Amazon.

What you also can do is “cast” content from a mobile device to the stick, content that includes movies, photos and music.

What isn’t currently possible is to cast documents to the stick and onto the screen which is a shame as it would be good to do so in situations where you might not have your laptop but do have the stick … Read the rest