My Hand Hurts!

I don’t send many Christmas cards. In that regard (as in many others) I’m a typical bloke, and I don’t keep in touch with friends and family nearly as well as I might. And even in those cards that I do write, I tend to be terse to the point of rudeness.

And yet, my writing muscles are so atrophied, that even this pathetically small amount of writing leaves my arm aching and my handwriting degrading till it resembles the drunken outpourings of a spider that has fallen in an inkwell!

My only defence is that the majority of the writing that I do now is on a keyboard. And when I say the majority I mean 90+%.

This is a bit of a shame as I like the artisan nature of writing (just like I like the artisan nature of knitting and home baking). Maybe I should make an effort to do more written work, even if only for my own amusement.

Running Out of Space on CyanogenMod Modded Samsung Galaxy SII.

I have an Android phone which I recently flashed so that it now runs the CyanogenMod version. In most ways this is a marvellous, though installing it was a bit fraught!

But in the last couple of weeks my lovely little phone has had a little indicator in the status bar saying it was running out of space. I really couldn’t understand why. The storage indicators showed that there was plenty of space.

A bit of research this evening indicated a quick fix:

Open the Terminal Emulator

Become 'super user' (type su return)

change directory to /data/log (cd /data/log)

rm *

This freed up a huge chunk of space which meant all of the apps that had stopped updating have been able to sort themselves out.

Bosh!

Kudos needs to go to the forum member rhlee at StackOverFlow. The post appears on the discussion here:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16818049/insufficient-storage-available-even-there-is-lot-of-free-space-in-device-memor

The majority of the discussion regards using the standard dialler to do a similar job to the above process, but this method doesn’t work on a CyanogenMod modded phone.

Just One of The Reasons Windows is So Dangerous.

I was reminded recently of one of the obscure reasons that Windows can so often be a dangerous operating system in a world where the bad guys are so frequent.

The latest reminder came from a number of colleagues who received an email claiming to be from Royal Mail, regarding a lost or misdirected parcel. The email had an attachment which was zipped. Unzipping the file produced a file with the ‘extension’ to its name of .pdf.exe.

And in this simple fact lies the danger. Windows uses file extensions in a number of ways. For a start, it uses the file extension to choose what type of icon to use. But it also uses the file extension to choose what to do if the file is ‘opened’. In the case of the rogue email, Windows glibly uses the pdf file type icon. To most users this is a familiar file type and is often safe, and they may feel ready to click on the file. But at this point the system will use the second part of the extension to select what to do with the file, in this case running the rogue program.

Fortunately most users are already running an anti-virus program and the bad guys have been thwarted.

This time!

2013 Book Report 19: Getting Started With Raspberry Pi – Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace

For most geeks the Raspberry Pi (from now on the RPi) needs no introduction. Originally designed to enthuse children by providing a small, easy to understand computer, the RPi has taken the geek world by storm, and has sold more than a million units.

It isn’t clear how many of these units have found their way into the hands of youngsters… I suspect most have gone to adults enticed by the low cost computer that bucks the trend for more and more powerful processors.

This book then, is a sort of manual for getting to grips with the RPi. Most users will, I suspect have started their RPi journey using resources that they found on the internet, so a perfectly valid question to ask might well be what advantage a book, static and unchanging can have in the fast moving world of open source.

This seems to me to be the biggest weakness of what is otherwise an excellent resource. The world of computing changes quickly, and this is especially the case at the fringes, and items like the RPi are definitely on the fringe.

The book covers useful territory such as what the various components on the RPi’s board are (surely part of the demystifying of this small computer), how to obtain and install a suitable operating system (one of the areas that has changed most rapidly) and what to expect when you first boot the system.

These are all great tools for beginners, and I would suggest that the thing that you are getting in a book, rather than a random collection of web pages is the expectation that the writing is well done, clear and easy to follow. In my opinion that is exactly what the reader gets here.

The rest of the book is a quick trip through some of the things that you can do with a RPi. This is a useful section in that when I first got one the question I got most often was ‘what is it for’. The really interesting thing with a device like the RPi is that it has connectors which can be used in software to do a whole range of things. These connectors offer a range of ways of interacting with the world. One day I may even build something from the suggestions (or I may try and find something useful to do online).

In summary, this book is both an easy to read and and easy to follow book. It is well written, and doesn’t come over as being dry (well, not to me, less geek orientated readers may disagree). While it is in danger of being rapidly superceded by the changes in the systems that it describes, the quality of the writing compensates for this danger. I would probably recommend just checking for any updates online before undertaking any particular projects.