Why does Google think I’m at Barnard Castle?

In fact, I am 416 kilometres away from Barnard Castle, as the crow flies, or about 500km by road. Granted, I very seldom use Google as a search engine. I use privacy-aware searches instead such as DuckDuckGo. I have also been to great lengths to prise my rooted smartphone from Google's clutches too. But my PC connects via a permanent IP address that hasn't moved location for 8 years! Last time I personally went anywhere near Barnard Castle was back in 2001. I honestly haven't made this up. This is a full-screen grab, unedited, captured 13:42 UTC today. What is… Read More ►

Sliderule – the eco-friendly computer from days of old

Some of my favourite computers require no PSU, no batteries, no RAM, no disks, no upgrades and they are 100% resistant to all known malware. No, I'm not talking about some newfangled Linux. I'm talking about good old fashioned sliderules. :-) Sliderules top to bottom... Top: Darmstadt 304. Despite its German-sounding name, this sliderule was in fact British. 1970's. Middle: Beautifully engineered but rather faded, all-metal (except the cursor) Picket and Eckel N-500-T, from the United states, c/w original real-leather case. Early 1960's. Bottom: The schoolboy's favourite - a British Thornton AD150 log-log slide rule. This example is a bit… Read More ►

Backups: NAS vs external hard disk

Discussion came up on a forum to which I belong whether it is better to use NAS (network attached storage) or external hard drives for backup. My answer is why not use both? Effectively I have three NAS servers. One is a media server. The others are purely backup - though they can quickly be repurposed as a media server if the first one were to suffer a catastrophic failure. I also have a number of external drives too. But in all cases they are devices I have chosen to build myself, rather than buy off the shelf. Here's why...… Read More ►

Home made light modifier

OK, so we are still in coronavirus lockdown here in the UK and I have spent the afternoon playing! :-) I saw the basic idea on a web forum on a photography site, and decided to look around my garage and see if there was any thing suitable to produce something similar. I also took a few quick hand-held snaps of the results. This is my last piece of (rather battered) perforated stainless steel sheet, cut to a roughly rectangular 29cm x 18cm, c/w edge protector (to prevent cutting ones hands on the sharp edges). Excuse the extra hole. It… Read More ►

Virtual backdrops and wallpapers

Freebies to beat those lockdown blues This is a collection of virtual backdrops and wallpapers that you may download, manipulate and enjoy, for free. These images were created by capturing and saving a large number snap-shots of an open source music visualisation application for GNU/Linux called ProjectM - not to be confused with a 2008 computer game with a very similar name. I originally created these as desktop wallpapers for computer systems. A purpose for which they work pretty well, even if I do say so myself. However, as a keen photographer I discovered they could also be deployed as… Read More ►

Roamer Ten

I was 12 years old when I built my first multi-band shortwave radio - a Radio Exchange Roamer Ten kit - as pictured above. After many nights surreptitiously listing to it hidden under the bedclothes so my mum never found out, I soon realised just how insular and generally pisspoor most our media is in here the UK. Back in the day, at least we had a fairly "world class" BBC World Service - which of course has been severely downgraded in recent years since the FO decided not to fund it any more. Meantime, my father read the Daily… Read More ►

Working from home during the current crisis

Seems a lot of people are struggling working from home rather than going into the office. Some are suggesting that a daily routine helps them. Personally, I don't really have a daily routine - providing I can start the day with a strong black coffee and have my daily "number two's", then I'm sorted. :-) I'm lucky because I love my work, and I have worked mostly from home for almost three decades. I tend to work well into the night, and get my most creative ideas between about 23:00 and 02:00. I don't need any special motivation to do… Read More ►

First day of National Lockdown

So here we are, first day of national lockdown here in the UK. How are things in your part of the world? Round here (Havant, South East Hampshire) things seem eerily quiet this morning. Our street is a sleepy little cul-de-sac and pretty quiet even at busy times. But we are 300 metres from the main Brighton line, 400m from the London Waterloo line and 600m from the main A/M27 Southampton-Brighton trunk road. Standing in the garden during working hours we can normally hear the rumble of trains and the woosh of distant traffic. Seems today there's hardly anything out… Read More ►

Coronavirus misinformation

Evil bastards exploit crisis in order to turn a fast buck Seems Facebook does not have a monopoly on coronavirus misinformation. Just checked a honeypot email account I keep active just to see what spam is currently doing the rounds. In addition to the usual plethora of luscious babes who are dying to have sex with me, and ads flogging pills to ensure it stays up long enough to do the business, it seems there's also plenty of disingenuous shite exploiting the coronavirus crisis too. The spelling mistakes in this particular example rather give the game away - and I… Read More ►

Shattaf – a healthy solution to the toilet roll shortage

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, seems we also have the deeply undignified spectacle of fully grown adults publicly fighting each other as they snatch and hoard toilet rolls. At the risk of seeming crude, I'd rather wipe my arse on a stinging nettle than squabble with strangers in a supermarket over who takes home the last effing bog roll. However, I'm pleased to report that both my dignity and my bottom are safe, since I dragged-out my "Happy Plumbers Tool Kit" and fitted a shattaf  to our toilets instead... Left: complete installation including toilet, cistern, isolating valve hose, mounting bracket… Read More ►

Covid 19 “Honest Government Ad”

They say "many a true word spoken in jest". This seems particularly applicable to this short video produced by Australia's JuiceMedia... Background to the video JuiceMedia's "Honest Government Ad" started life as satire.  But its probably the most truthful representation where we are right now with COVID-19. This associated video podcast explains its background... Read More ►

Reliable COVID-19 information

The World Health Organization is arguably one of the planet's foremost sources of accurate medical information. I have admired WHO for many years and its site is always worth a visit, even when there isn't a global public health crisis. But its Daily Situation Reports are superb. Lots of information presented in a clear and easily understood manner... https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports You might also find its main COVID-19 page helpful. I certainly do... https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/ WHO Health Emergency Dashboard... https://extranet.who.int/publicemergency Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation... https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd Meantime the following simulation helps one to understand better how a disease such as COVID-19 can spread... https://meltingasphalt.com/interactive/outbreak/… Read More ►

Batch processing in GIMP

In my early days of using GNU/Linux full time, we had an application called Gwenview. It was, and still is an excellent thumbnail viewer. But back then it also used to have an excellent set of plugins called KIPI. Sadly the really useful ones such as resizing and changing format completely disappeared when KDE 5 came along. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="690"] Screengrab showing BIMP plugin for GIMP. System uses KDE Neon Ubuntu-based OS c/w modified "Ghost" theme.[/caption] Alessandro Francesconi's BIMP plugin for GIMP is excellent for doing Gimpy things en-batch. It also allows sequences of multiple transformations which you can… Read More ►

Safer modelling lights for Chinese flash head units

An interesting question came up a little while back on one of the photography fora to which I belong "I'd be interested in knowing how you swapped the halogen bulbs for led's though waist_it because I have the same problem and as you say those bulbs are hotter than hell, makes using modelling lights with a grid or snoot very fraught?" Well, I had already been down that road in 2015, when I successfully converted all six of my generic Chinese flash heads from halogen to LED modelling bulbs. Firstly, one needs to do a little homework Determine what voltage… Read More ►

BREAKING: Brexit voters to be to pay extra “Brexit Tax” to pay for leaving the EU

It appeared on the AP this morning and hasn't hit the mainstream news yet, but the EU has just announced that ongoing Brexit negotiations have cost in excess of €1,500,000,000. Brussels has decided that the fairest way to recuperate this money is to tax those who actually voted for it. The current proposal is that Brexit voters will have €100 added to their Council Tax bill. Those who don't pay Council Tax will have it deducted from their benefits. Since the €1,740,000,000 is a little more than needed, it is proposed to spend the remaining €240,000,000 to give overworked politicians… Read More ►

What is a WebP image file, and how do I open one?

Seems there is quite a lot of buzz about a "new" image format called "WebP"  that is seeing increasing use on-line recently. Although it is attributed to Google, WebP was not strictly a Google invention. It was originally developed by On2 of New York as part of its VP* series "Truemotion" video codecs. Google acquired these technologies when it took over On2. VP8 went on to be the core of Google's WebM video format. WebP is not particularly new either. It was originally released in back in 2010. Whilst the libwebp code library has been freely available under a BSD… Read More ►
Joomla to Wordpress migration graphic

Joomla closedown

As you may have noticed, quite a lot has changed here on Garfnet over the last few weeks. Biggest change of all is the decision to dump Joomla as our main CMS in favour of Wordpress. I will go into more detail about the decision in another post. Suffice it to say that Wordpress is significantly less hassle to maintain than Joomla. And a migration of this sort, on a site this size, is no mean task. So it was not a decision that was made lightly. Anyway we have moved all the content from the old Joomla site and… Read More ►

Welcome to the New Look GarfNet

Welcome to Garfnet. This site is currently undergoing a fairly major re-design and upgrade and some parts currently don't work as well as they should. Sorry about that. I'm working on it as fast as I can. After many years of struggling with Joomla, I finally threw in the proverbial towel and migrated to Wordpress instead. Joomla is a good product. But the migration from one major version of Joomla to the next has proven an absolute nightmare. So, instead of migrating to a new Joomla, this time I decided to migrate to Wordpress instead. I have been using Wordpress… Read More ►