Almost UV light from RGBW LEDs

So it turns out the RGBW LED light strip in my living room has some almost-UV component to its blue light. It is almost UV enough to make some things fluoresce quite vivid colours.

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According to Fitbit, gardening is cycling

One of FitBit’s more useful features is its ability to automatically detect exercise. I think it uses a combination of your heart rate and how the device is moving.

The pattern of motion and heart rates must be categorised by FitBit so the app can tell the difference between “swimming” and “running”, etc.

It’s not a precise system though. Yesterday I went skating for a few hours, and then spent the afternoon working on my allotment.

I can see how walking and skating are similar. They both take relatively low amounts of effort and have a rhythmic stepping pattern.

Gardening and cycling though don’t seem that similar. Then I remembered I spent a while using my awesome battery powered rotavator to turn over some of the ground, and I guess the shaking of my arms and the effort of trying to stop the thing escaping looks a bit similar to a bike rolling along a dirt track.

This is a bike now. Probably not comfortable to sit on!
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Accidental Fruit Tart

Attempted to cook a fruit pie, but the pastry I’d made was more like biscuit dough and didn’t want to stay together. Ended up turning it into a giant fruit tart thing instead. Worked out pretty good.

The trick it appears was to leave it to cool down after over cooking the fruit into a sort of jam-like consistency.

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“Good” Morning?

I sleep with my FitBit on. Every morning it tells me how well I slept. For those with other devices (or none!) the way this works is by monitoring my heart rate, motion and blood oxygen level. It then does some magical maths to arrive at a score out of 100.

In FitBit land, a score of “80” means you had a “Good” night’s sleep. In the real world, 80 is not a good night’s sleep. Ever woken feeling like someone filled your head with sawdust and you put the kettle in the fridge? Yeah that’s 80.

Supposedly I also sound like a warthog that’s being strangled. FitBit doesn’t tell me this, my other half does.

So I did some Googling and amongst all the snake oil quack medicine websites out there, and websites for apps trying to sell you a subscription to their dubious systems I found the good old NHS website.

Feed it your height and weight, it spits out “you are overweight, lose five kilos”. It also shows you a free app you can use to help with that. I probably should cut out the excessive sweet things, and I’m quite sure if I went to the doctors about this their first advice would be “get more exercise, lose some weight”.

That doesn’t solve the bit where I feel like death in the morning though. It might do in six months, but not tomorrow night. One website I found did mention propping yourself up on pillows. It also recommended stupid things like sticking a tennis ball to your back – the snoring happens when I roll on my back. I’m not taping a tennis ball to myself every night. I’ll forget to take it off and go to work looking strange.

I can use more pillows though. It was a bit weird the first night, but last night seemed more comfortable. And also reports of their being a warthog in the house have gone down.

I feel less like I’ve been resurrected against my will too (this is why zombies are angry, they were woken up too early) and my mouth doesn’t feel like the cats have used it as a litter tray, so maybe it spent most of the night closed.

Further testing will continue. I have apps that collect data and make graphs.

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Zen and the art of Cross Stitch

“What did you do in the cold dark winter of 2022/23?”
“Oh I took up cross stitch”

Yeah so my partner likes making crafty things, and she does cross stitch. Although it’s a certain style of it. This isn’t doilies and pretty houses with quotes and nonsense under it. This is slightly more NSFW.

Look how happy that sloth is!

I was idly watching her make one and curiosity got the better of me – there was very little to watch on TV – after 30 seconds of explaining I was off making an equally NSFW picture of my own…

I thnk that crocodile needs to be a logo

This is a bit like those arty YouTube channels where they try a new skill, fart around for a bit, then try some large project to show off. Sure, there’s a certain amusement from stitching a dainty little creature that’s shouting obscenities but once you’ve done one the fun wears off a bit.

Then I had a thought. During Christmas I was helping out at a local Christmas activities club, and one of the distraction activities was Hama beads. Those little cylindrical pellets of plastic waste you arrange into a picture, iron and have a wonky looking thing that passes as a bad coaster.

There’s something quite nice about having to concentrate really hard on such a simple task. Copying a design takes zero effort, but getting adult sausage fingers to manipulate tiny bits of plastic requires conscious efforts. Patiently re-starting because you sneeze and flick your design onto the floor, knowing that’s the only option is also quite relaxing.

Makes a 100% total opposite difference to trying to think really hard about programming, or teaching kids how to program. There’s nothing to compile, nothing to debug. And unlike drawing, there’s no real skill involved so you can’t do it badly.

It appears cross stitch is the same, just without the slightly worrying contribution to increased plastic waste. The needle goes in the hole, it doesn’t stab your finger. Maybe you stitch away for half an hour, and realise you started from the wrong hole and now have to patiently unpick it and start over without getting upset and giving up.

I decided I’d do a loading screen from my favourite ZX Spectrum game Rick Dangerous. Here’s the screen

If you listen hard, you can still hear the loading… or is that tinitus?

It’s 256×192 pixels. That’s 49,152 pixels. A cross stitch cross is made from two stitches. It’s a lot of poking a needle through a hole. I’ve got this far after a month.

Cat for scale, no bananas in the house

I’ll finish it eventually, it’s a nice alternative to staring at social media. I dipped into Facebook the other day, nothing exciting is going on. I have a new phone, I set up the wrong account in Twitter and just uninstalled the app.

Take up weird obscure hobbies, the complete opposite to your normal activities. It is quite refreshing.

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New Year’s Resolutions

The normal gag is to say “1080p” or “4k”, but I think I’ll go for a nice plain VGA. Nothing too ambitious, something I will actually manage to achieve.

Let’s make the challenge for this year “being more healthy”. I do a lot of sitting down in front of computers, or in front of the telly. I also do a lot of eating of things that are possibly not the best for you. I should probably do less of both.

In an attempt at making this so easy I can’t fail, I’ve gone and bought a treadmill. It’s in my house, it’s not piled with junk being a bad table. All I have to do is switch it on and be a human hamster.

I just need something to distract me from the mind-numbing boredom of staring at the wall. I’m not quite invested enough in it yet to pay for one of those game based apps, but before Christmas I was using it while watching YouTube and that seems to work.

I’ve found I get bored after half an hour though. I can force myself to do an hour, but it’s not fun in the slightest, it is a proper endurance thing – and not an endurance thing physically, it appears I can walk at a brisk 6k/hr with no effort. The endurance is all mental. Its. Just. So. Boring.

I’m not running on my treadmill though, I like my knees and also it’s upstairs and I don’t want to annoy next door. Treadmills are a bit thuddy when you get going.

As far as eating better things, I’m making an effort to eat veg at least once a day and to fill myself up on things like beans, potatoes and rice so that when I see the tasty looking chocolate bar in the cupboard I’m less likely to eat it on my way back to the living room.

I’m not going to count how many calories go in my mouth though, that gets a bit obsessive and you end up filling your phone with apps that just want to sell you subscriptions to health plans. I’ve got a fitbit, I’ll put numbers that it tells me in here occasionally.

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I bought an Android tablet, it’s alright…

It’s not amazing, it’s not crap. Android tablets have always been a bit weird, either oddly sized with strange screen resolutions or manky and broken addon software. Or they’re fine but never receive an Android update ever and do strange things like crash if you rotate them.

My iPad is on its way out. The battery gets to about 50% and then the device just switches off. No low battery warning, it just dies. Yes I’ve rebooted it, yes I’ve farted about in the settings, no nothing works. Also no I’m not going to open it and replace the battery it’ll break the screen.

Also there’s bits of iOS that are really starting to annoy me every time I try to use the device. The predictive text is nonsense – I remember when this used to just fix spelling, now it looks at grammar and will swap words based on what it thinks you’re typing. And copying and pasting is still garbage. Why can’t I highlight text inside a Facebook Messenger message?

So I got an Android tablet. It’s a Lenovo P11 or something. It has a real keyboard and a little kickstand. It’s like Lenovo looked at the Surface Pro and thought “we’ll have some of that!”.

It’s alright. It’s not that fantastic, and the out of box experience was terrible. Like, half the time the Android setup wizard called it a “phone”, and then kept tripping over itself with updates appearing over the wizard, and the wizard trying to redo parts it had already done.

You know, typical third party Android device behaviour. And I had to uninstall some free games. And try the update to Android 12 three times before it would install it.

The keyboard is a strange thing. Clipping it on activates “productivity mode” where it all becomes a bit like a Chromebook. There’s a little taskbar and apps go into windows that can be moved around the screen. It’s not bad.

It has some bizarre quirks though. Android 12 seems to have some wanky “Entertainment Space” that hovers at the side of the screen. And no matter how many times I tell Android to turn this off, it just gets turned right back on every time I rotate the display or detach the keyboard.

Being used to a Surface Pro, and an iPad with a “smart cover” I’m used to shutting the lid and the device going to sleep.

Despite this being the official keyboard from Lenovo, with little magnets to hold it shut, closing the keyboard to the screen doesn’t put the device to sleep.

Do people not use the devices, think about stuff and go “hey, we need to shut the screen off when they close it…” or “my, when we rotate the device with the keyboard attached the wallpaper goes a funny size and the icons get mixed up”?

But, you know, it was cheaper than an iPad and has a metal case. It’s alright. I managed to fix my website using SSH through it and the lack of an escape key didn’t cause too much of a hassle.

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Social media sucks, so I’m going back to blogging

I’ve been putting random stuff online since sometime in 2000. The online world was different back then, it hadn’t turned into this API driven walled garden mess. It was a non-API driven walled garden mess instead!

My first site was an exercise in learning PHP and HTML

Did you join LiveJournal for blogging, or subscribe to a mailing list instead? Maybe you were on AOL or Compuserve as they gasped their last. Failing that you could enrol on a forum or live chat on IRC.

I decided I’d start my own blog, on my own site and put my thoughts and opinions on that instead. Then, like most people as social media took off I went where my friends went, and slowly switched from long-form posts to short random thoughts.

Facebook likes to remind me of past content. Some of the really early stuff is a mixture of entertaining and “why the hell did you write that?” as I figured out what this new social media thing even was. Was it a blog? Was it chat? what do we say here?

You’d never get away with saying this today

So I’m going back to blogging again, and being able to write longer and (hopefully) more thoughtful content. If you’ve been here in the past, you might notice it’s a bit blank. This is a reset, I’ve kept my old blog safe but nobody but me needs to read content written in a time where online security was less of an issue, and where “let’s stick your name in Google to see what comes out” wasn’t a thing.

I’d tell you to follow me on an RSS reader of your choice, but do we even do that any more?

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