Where is winter?

As the year draws to a close I am left wondering when winter is going to begin. A few cold days here and there and the odd light frost is all we have received. Where is the snow lying on the ground? Where are the slippery pavements coated in ice? I am going to need to source Christmas cards for next year without the winter scene, if this is they way things are going.

Fedora 25

This evening I arrived home from work and began to update my machines to the latest version of Fedora. I am pleased to say the update has gone smoothly. This has been the easiest update I think I have had in recent years.

Now the bad. Wayland has become the default display server replacing X11. It works, by which I mean I have a usable display. The bad is that it has broken my workflow. I have a few simple scripts that tweak my environment. These have always loaded when the display server starts. Ok, how do I do this with Wayland? I did some reading. The issue has been known about for 2 years, Bug 736660. The workaround for the moment is to logout and then log in with an X11 session. Logging into the X11 session everything works again and I can continue. Hopefully issues like this will get resolved quickly.

Planning Ahead

I probably look at the front page of this site more than most. I am starting to wonder if it needs a good refresh. Earlier in the year I began writing up some notes on my experiments with ARM development. During this process I ran into a few formatting issues that I worked around. It is still my plan to write up some more of my notes in the future but rather than fight against the current system I might try something new. The next version of WordPress is due out in December, this is probably the best place to start from. Years ago I used a heavily customised site but as WordPress moved on I began to rely more on the templates generated by others. They are good building blocks as they handle the responsive design aspects. I think some more customisation from me might on the cards this time.


This week I have taken delivery of an Amazon Echo, a voice controlled speaker. Why did I purchase it? One of my reasons is that I have wanted an entertainment device in the kitchen, the Echo is a hands free streaming radio. The audio quality is good enough for the environment and at half volume is plenty loud enough.

I wanted to time my cooking of a pizza, I set the timer with my voice. The Echo alerted me once the timer expired. This morning I walked in and asked for a weather report, I listened whilst I opened the curtains.

I’m still getting used to calling out to “Alexa” but its suprising how easily it is beginning to fit in to my life. It allows me to multitask in the moments where I have my hands full.

The only limitation so far has been the microphone. It doesn’t pick up well when the kettle is boiling. I’m guessing it generates too much white noise. Microphone pickup is generally good otherwise.


The mains water supply has been off for a few hours. A minor inconvenience. What did please me was the text message I received from Severn Trent notifying me of the outage and giving me an estimated time for the resolution of the problem. The water appears to be on its way back an hour ahead of schedule. There is however a downside, I am now faced with the spluttering and gurgling of the pipework as everything re-pressurises and the air in the pipes escapes.

Closing Windows

Today I finally made the decision to close down my Windows 7 machine and remove it from my primary computing location. It was February when I last used it and since then it has only been used for the occasional game or to run a PCB design tool.

The PCB design tool will run under WINE and there are other Linux based tools which I might transition to. The games haven’t been played very much so I’m not going to miss them. A few games run on Linux so I could continue with those. The hardware of the machine is old ,runs very warm and by today’s standards, not energy efficient.

Had Microsoft not decided to change the supported hardware for Windows 7 I might have continued using it on a new machine. Now my only upgrade path is Windows 10. Windows 10 is not going on my machines., I’ve already had enough of it trying to install itself.

From this point forward it’s Linux only for real computing. Windows is only a toy to play the occasional game on.

Fedora 24

This week I have been updating my machines to run Fedora 24. Two out of 3 updated without any issues and continue to run normally. One machine however has decided to cause me some issues.

My old Toshiba X200 laptop had followed the upgrade instructions to the point where it needed to reboot. So I rebooted the machine and left it to do its work. Returning some time later expecting it to have completed I was disappointed to see it stuck doing nothing. After some investigation it appeared I was getting an error to do with an Invalid PCI ROM Header, the value didn't match what was expected. I couldn't boot the machine without this occurring and left me scratching my head for a bit. There doesn't appear to be an obvious solution online. Others have reported similar issues but apart from seeing the error their machines have fully booted.

I decided to try adding a few flags to my kernel boot parameters. Finally I go one to work. Adding "pci=norom" seems to have done the trick and allowed the machine to continue to update. I won't know until the upgrade is complete if I will need to add this option back in permanently. But hopefully it won't be anything more than that.

A Change Of Coffee

Friday of last week I enjoyed my final Costa Cappuccino from the WHSmith at work.It is undergoing a two week refit. I like the taste of Costa coffee. Starbucks tastes awful. Other large coffee chains I can't say I have sampled enough to form an opinion on.

The news of a possible change of coffee (and two weeks without!!) left me troubled (and decaffeinated). Who would be providing my caffeine hit? Today I found out. Wandering past the construction site I noted the name on the sign outside. It would appear we are getting a Coffee House. This is the WHSmith brand of coffee as a little research found a recent article on the subject.

The plus side is that it is not a Starbucks. What will Coffee House coffee be like? I will get to find out in just over another week.

The Case of the Ghost Whistler

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed on occasion a faint sound. The best way to describe it would be a child playing a single note on a recorder, gradually increasing in intensity before decreasing. Knowing that a family with children of recorder playing age lived next door I thought little of it. Other than being frustrated by continually hearing it and wondering when something more tuneful would be produced.

I began to question what was happening when I began to notice the sound late at night. Not the kind of time once would associate with household attempting to sleep. But it was a bank holiday weekend, maybe the usual enforced bedtime of the children was being ignored.

Tonight I noticed it a little more, always around the door between the kitchen and the lounge. Something must be causing it, the sound was too repetitive. It couldn't be the normal musical talent of a child. I had just finished making a mug of tea when I made the discovery. On pondering tomorrow nights meal based on the dwindling contents of the refrigerator I was struck by the realisation that the sound had reoccurred and was louder. What had I done. Put milk in the fridge? I opened the door, nothing. I closed the door, nothing, no squeaks or creaks or buzzing or whirring. Back to my tea, it was time for a stirring. There it was again, the whistling sound. A thought did sink in whilst my tea I was drinkin'. I opened the fridge door, closing it once more. With my head to the door I counted to four. Then there it was the whistle once more. What seemed to be ghostly was a pressure equalisation; mostly.

6.5 Years

It has been a long wait, a day that I never thought I would see. This week I was finally able to obtain a parking permit and actually park on-site at work during the week. 6.5 years I have had my name on the waiting list. For all those years I have had an additional commute to a off-site parking spot, walking from and to the car before and after work.

Early indications show that I am saving around 30 minutes a day. Not being stuck in as much queuing traffic is going to result in a slight fuel saving. None of this comes for free however. I get to pay for the privilege of saving myself some time. I suspect the real reason for finally getting a pass is the extra income generated by charging more people. I may have a permit but I am not guaranteed a space to park. So far I have not had a problem finding a place.

To all those people who find that I have taken their parking spot and now park off-site; enjoy the walk!