Author Archive: davespagnol

How (not) to install Windows 7 on a USB3 computer

Yesterday, I finally managed to put Windows 7 on a totally USB3 computer. It’s only occupying a small part of my hard drive and exists for when something just isn’t possible on Linux, like setting the BIOS splash screen.

Bothering

At least that’s Windows 10 gone. Even if you need to pop into Windows for 15 minutes to do a little task, it finds ways of bothering you, (That’s even after you’ve switched off whatever-her-name-is!) with little jingles, telling you that it’s downloaded something for you (not that you asked it to), and telling you to send all kinds of personal info to Microsoft. Continue reading →

Advertisements

Rebuilding an old bass guitar

Guitars and bass guitars have two parts that are very difficult to make in the home. The neck and the body. With some decent tools, you can work on a body. But once you’ve got them, adding the other bits is relatively simple, although if there’s a hard way to do something, I’ll inevitably find it! Continue reading →

Cambridge Audio One and an old Smartphone

To begin with, there’s nothing wrong with old smartphones. If you want them to make calls, texts, and some browsing, they will continue to serve you for years to come. The biggest problem with smartphones is that they are like little computers in your hands, and the temptation is to fill them with apps. Some apps need RAM to run smoothly (or at all), and older phones have 1GB and often less. They also need internal storage ROM (the SD card storage won’t do for many things, particularly with older versions of Android), and this might be restricted to, say, 8Gb. You end up with a phone that struggles with the basics, and doesn’t even have space to install updates. Continue reading →

Cambridge Audio One — I got lucky!

When I changed address, of course I brought my stereo system with me. The problem I had was that when I reconnected it all up was that the amplifier developed a hum. Maybe it got knocked on the way. A short while later, the old DVD player I had, gave up the ghost. I replaced it with a DVD/Bluray player which, as it turned out, only had a single output, HDMI. So I couldn’t play CDs direct into the amplifier without putting the TV on! Continue reading →

HUION H610 Graphics Tablet with Linux

N.B. THIS ARTICLE IS GOING TO CHANGE DUE TO THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE AT PCLINUXOS MAKING THE NECESSARY RPMS AVAILABLE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. In the meantime, the method below will actually work. If you use a different flavour of Linux, then read on, much of this may be of use to you.

My partner fancies herself as a bit of an artist, and I don’t mind having the odd go at computer art. For that you probably need a Graphics Tablet. A few weeks back we were in Maplins to get a couple of sub-£1 preset potentiometers! But she looked at the Wacom tablets and was taken with the idea. As I have to maintain the technology in our home, and I am a Linuxer, I needed to find out what runs and what doesn’t on Linux. Wacom tablets do, and according to the website of Krita, a program built in both Linux and Windows for making Artist’s sketches, the Huion H610 and H610 Pro work in Linux. We were still thinking about it, when I saw a H610 on sale through the Chinese trading site, DX.com, for £34, about £20 cheaper than Amazon, and a fraction of the cost of a decent Wacom. It’s at times like that you just go for it in case they change their minds, and the unit arrived a lot quicker than I expected. It’s a really attractive unit, with a much larger pad area than we anticipated. Continue reading →

A bit of IKEA hacking — slide out shelf for record deck

I recently built an IKEA “Bestå” unit as an entertainment centre in the living room. A source of frustration was that IKEA UK do not make a slide-out shelf for their Bestå systems, and I wanted to put a record deck on one, so I had to improvise.

The standard shelf that fits into the unit is 56cm wide and 36cm deep. I needed something a little smaller. I got lucky, I had a table that was going to be scrapped, about 8 years old, and when I dismantled it, I found the width of the table top was about 2mm short of 56cm! I’d planned on maybe 55cm, but figured that if I could get it into the unit, and it could move easily, it would do. I cut it to about 34cm deep. If you are attempting this on a different cabinet, you would need a similar or greater depth than the Bestå in order to accommodate the drawer runner.

besta-runner

Bestå drawer runner pair.

Continue reading →

XFCE4 — Using the General Monitor (Genmon)

[Note that in the examples that follow, all quotes, single and double should be straight. It is wordpress that makes them look like left and right quotes!!]

The XFCE4 desktop is known as a lightweight, fast, functional desktop, yet it has many features. It has a Desktop Settings Manager which calls a number of applets, not as complex or as many the KDE Settings Manager, but all that most people will ever need. There are a nuScreenshot_2016-07-23_13-59-12mber of Panel apps that can be added. The Launcher is the most flexible I have seen, it can appear as a single icon to launch one program, or as an icon with a small arrow, which can have a drop-down menu, and this is done simply by adding more than one program to the Launcher. The top launcher will be the main icon, and if you want the program to re-appear in the drop down, just add it again.

As you can see from the screenshot here, I have put all parts of LibreOffice onto a single launcher.

Continue reading →

British Airways and Legalised Robbery

Imagine this scenario. I’m flogging an old mobile phone. I want £5 for the memory card in it, plus £50 for the phone itself. I draw up a contract, and you send me £50 only, because you don’t want the memory card. I then keep both the phone and the card, because under the terms and conditions of the agreed contract, you have to buy both items in the order stated, and if you fail to buy the memory card, I cancel your order for the phone, and keep your money. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Well, similar Terms and Conditions exist in the world of Airline flights. And, despite a number of courts condemning them as unfair across Europe, most EU countries, including the UK, have not made changes in the law. Continue reading →

Using a dual-SIM phone in Malta

See previous article: Cubot X12 — Dual SIM Use (Bulgaria)

Compared to Bulgaria, getting a SIM for a mobile phone is more expensive in Malta, and for me was far more confusing. One of the companies, Melita, offers a deal which only includes 100Mb data per week, but also includes free Melita wifi wherever you can find it, and they have a good signal in many places, so you might find that you don’t use that much data. But all options seemed different, with selling points designed to draw you in, whilst other things you needed were either not there, expensive or confusing. My choice was VodafoneMT, because they have a shop in the airport. Continue reading →

Electrical Safety in an International Market

Something has been bugging me for quite a while, about Electrical Safety. Do you ever see stories about how a charger, or a phone on charge, caught fire and caused damage, injury or even death? In the UK given the additional safety of the 3-pin plug system, this shouldn’t happen, should it? Well, consider the following picture:
adaptorsOn the left, you can see a USB phone charger, which uses a 2-pin Euro plug, in the middle the British 3-pin type, and on the right, the 2-pin American type. What would you think is safest of the three? The British 3-pin type? I used to think so, too. Continue reading →