Damn winter timetables

So tomorrow we get a winter timetable on the Hayes (Kent) line. I can’t make my mind up on how I feel about this. It is good in that we are more likely to actually get a train to London, but bad in that the trains that do run are almost guaranteed to be full to bursting.

I do wish they waited to see what the weather actually does before deciding on the winter timetable, but I guess it helps logistically to do it early.

If it all goes wrong expect another post!


I love this musical as of tonight I’ve seen it twice.

Not quite your standard happy ending musical, but it tells a story and it tells it well. It is my current favourite probably as it breaks some of the norms. Blood Brothers is also up there, again it breaks the happy ending norm.

Many powerful songs in there and some brilliant acting, can I book more tickets yet?

That said so much new is on London! I need to see it all!

Hamilton still seems to manage a full house every night. That’s pretty damn impressive.

I love my radiator valve

Yes you read that right. I really love my radiator valve. It’s an ET SPIRIT value I got from Reichelt (based in Germany, please Brexit don’t break me buying toys from our European neighbours)

Photo of the ET Spirit Radiator Value

What I really like about this valve it has something called FLiRS (Frequently Listening Receiver Slave), which in simple terms means it is always listening out for Z-Wave commands sent to it and wakes up for them without getting through batteries too quickly. So if I decide it’s too cold in my room I can set a new temperature from my phone or my PC and off it goes and as it was too cold very soon you’ll hear the valve open (not too loud) then the click click of the metal radiator getting warmer.

Also love the fact the configuration setting allow the screen to show the set temperature the right way up for the UK.

I’m using HomeSeer for the back end of my Home automation. They deserve some praise too, I’ve got a fairly old HomeTroller Zee which was their first Raspberry Pi based HomeSeer system and I ordered the plug in to make it work with Hue lighting before I learnt that to use plugins you need the Zee S2. On requesting a refund on a Sunday I was having a friendly e-mail chat with someone based in the US, then they’d processed the refund by Wednesday.

Thanks to being able to schedule events in HomeSeer I wake up to 22 degrees and go to sleep at 16. I do like a cold room to sleep, but hate getting up in the cold. I’m getting a bit annoyed with IFTTT and the fact it doesn’t seem to always want to talk to the HomeSeer cloud hence I’m currently pondering do I get an upgrade so I can get HomeSeer talking to my Hue Devices or do I buy a Samsung Smart Things hub and use that so I can talk to Zigbee type devices? I’ll keep pondering from now as it’s not the end of the world yet. the reviews for the SmartHub are not being the most promising.

It is not embossed – Debit Card

So my bank sent me a new debit card after the ticketmaster data breach. Thank you bank for looking after me, but I was surprised when this bank card turned up that it no longer has embossed numbers.

As my friends pointed out to me on Facebook where I made a short comment on this change, I can’t actually recall the last time I made a transaction with a retailer using a card impression machine. As soon as I’d seen the card was flat I was straight onto asking Google if this was normal. That got rid of my fears (irrational ones) of this change, but it would have been nice if Natwest had mentioned in much of the post they had sent me this was a change too and not to worry about it.

This change is actually probably better for me as non embossed cards go better together in the wallet, but I wonder how well printed as all my embossed cards loose the silver ink after a while. I guess it is a wait and see….

The biggest pain is I now have to teach Amazon and many other places a new number, and of course all the good websites won’t show you your whole card number if it has all rubbed of that could be interesting.

Oh and I need to go and make a chip and pin transaction before I can use contactless, this makes me want to use a self checkout in a quiet shop so people don’t think I’m mad for using a contactless card for under £30.

The running show

That was a good wake up and sort yourself out reminder. The friends who nagged me helped as well (all of it supportive nagging), but more being reminded how much I started to enjoy running previously.

So many events I’d like to sign up to, but alas I am too heavy at the moment and also once the OCR season starts there is much overlap with the running season.

Something that was really notable was the stands run using sales people verses those run by people involved with the event/product. Gladly I wasn’t wearing my glasses so the glasses cleaning people left me alone, but they were trying so hard to sell.

Was also good fun to meet so many of my geographical dispersed OCR friends before the OCR season really gets going.

Now I await my train home. This could start a whole new rant on advanced fares being so inflexible, but so much cheaper than more flexible tickets.

What I really, really want

Is a commercial grade device that connects to Ethernet and let’s me power cycle a single device remotely. What’s really annoying is I could knock something like this up for home and be happy it was safe enough, but when it comes to work we really want to be buying in professional grade products.

Now this type of device exists in data centre power distribution units (PDUs), but these have a minimum of 8 outputs and are rather large. What I want is something we can mount with a ceiling hung projector so without finding a ladder I can power cycle it. Okay it would be nicer if the projector manufacturers used watchdog timers on their control circuits so the projectors unlock if they do crash, but that’s probably been cost engineered out of any designs.

The other type of device that can have similar functionality is a UPS, but APC seem to only sell the small Li-Ion one in the US, and the idea of heavy lead acid battery devices in mid air just doesn’t appeal to me.

Does anyone know of such a device? I almost think the demand could be big enough to make it worth designing something safe and bring it to market.

Stupid Body

Last night on the way home I couldn’t type with my thumb, which is how I normally type on my phone. Every time my thumb was anywhere near the phone screen it would start in a fairly dramatic tremor.

Fortunately I could still type if I didn’t use my thumb, but it was slightly awkward to hold the phone differently and very annoying my thumb wouldn’t do as I wanted.

I did end up leaving some messages to reply to at home and was glad to find a physical keyboard still worked normally.

Hopefully it won’t happen again today, but so far so good as this blog post is coming from my normal phone typing method. I half want to try dictation, but think I would get too many odd looks on the train.

What I have got planned

Well there’s the running show, I’m off to next week. I’m spending more and more time playing in the mud and socialising with the friends I’ve made in the mud. So a fair few of the OCR Solo Mudders are off to the National Running show next week. (Once I’ve got my weight back down I’ll do some more running, but I’m not attempting any distances until it won’t destroy my knees). Then I also have to remember I have run a marathon, yes it took me 07:07:05, but I did it.

Like last year I’ll be at most Tough Mudders in the UK mainly volunteering, but I’ll run a couple too. I’ll also be at some other OCRs as there are gaps in the diary and I think I can now turn up at any event and know someone there.

I’m also working on some phone app stuff with one of my friends I know from the OCR world, not OCR related, but it is good to meet such a global and diverse group of people.

Then when I’m not doing that lot I might go to work.

And if I’m not working, I’ll be playing with electronics. I want summer to come so I can get the RGB lighting for under a gazebo setup.

Oh I’ve said it before, but I need to remember to blog….

So I’ve started again

So being an IT geek I thought I should work out how to make a https: website and not just a http: one.

In simple terms web browsers are going to start moaning more and more about http: only websites soon. Chrome always has a “Not secure” in front of the URL which doesn’t look good.

Thanks to https://letsencrypt.org/ for making this rather much easier (and cheaper) than I imagined it was going to be.

I was debating re-importing all my content, but I’ve gone with a fresh start in the end.

EFI Dualboot – Changing EFI NVRAM boot order from Windows

So I was having some trouble making grub work on a machine that was running in EFI, but found the nice easy command efibootmgr for Linux to help me manage the boot order.
“efibootmgr” without any switches to show me the current possible options and then “efibootmgr -n 0000” to tell it next reboot I want to boot windows for one time only. (Of course that number will vary depending on what you’ve got install and in what order, and which you actually want to boot)
So now I had a nice easy way to boot the machine into Windows if it was starting Linux, but could I work out how to change the EFI boot order from Windows no not as quickly as I would have liked, but I am there now and it’s one of those things I didn’t find anywhere on the Internet when I needed help so am blogging hoping the search engines will help other people with the same issue.
First of all I tried bootmgr, that was a waste of time, so moved onto bcdedit.
bcdedit /bootsequence “Sets the one-time boot sequence for the boot manager.” sounded liked a really good idea, but what this does is it tells the windows boot manager to try and load the other EFI file, and Windows complains about this. So that wasn’t the soultion….
I eventually found a BCDedit refrence document and found some intreasting stuff towards the back pointing me in the direction of “bcdedit /set” being used to set various options one of the listed well know identidiers was {fwbootmgr}
This lead me to to try:
“bcdedit /? types” and I got this list:
BOOTAPP Boot applications. These types also apply to the boot manager,
memory diagnostic application, Windows OS loader, and the resume
BOOTMGR Boot manager.
BOOTSECTOR Boot sector application.
CUSTOMTYPES Custom types.
DEVOBJECT Device object additional options.
FWBOOTMGR Firmware boot manager
MEMDIAG Memory diagnostic application
NTLDR OS loader that shipped with earlier Windows OS
OSLOADER Windows Vista OS loader
RESUME Resume application
So next it was oh what types can we have for {fwbootmgr}
“bcdedit /? types fwbootmgr”
The following types apply only to entries for the firmware boot manager. For
information about data formats for these types, run “bcdedit /? FORMATS”.
BOOTSEQUENCE (list) Defines the one-time boot sequence.
DEFAULT (id) Defines the default boot entry.
TIMEOUT (integer) Defines the boot manager time to wait, in seconds.
DISPLAYORDER (list) Defines the boot manager display order list.
I was quite happy to see BOOTSEQUENCE in that list so I ran a “bcdedit /enum firmware” and got the GUID for the Linux install I wanted to run and then the command that did want I wanted was:
“bcdedit /set {fwbootmgr} BOOTSEQUENCE {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}” where {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx} was the GUID value from the linux EFI entry I wanted it to try and load.
A quick “shutdown -r” and BINGO the machine could now be rebooted into Linux once from Windows without having to get into the BIOS to change the boot order. I prefer this soultion over grub as Windows now gets pure Windows and grub doesn’t need to worry about Windows.
Of course if you want to make your change last you’ve got the “bcdedit /set {fwbootmgr} DISPLAYORDER {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}” option availble to you. Then if you’re changing the display order you do probably want to put more that one GUID in the list. (Lists are seperated by spaces in this case)
Also remeber being failry low level operations bcdedit to be any use quite rightly requires runnign from an elevated command prompt.
I hope this will make someone elses life easier!