Older blog entries for mjcox (starting at number 72)

7 May 2002 (updated 7 May 2002 at 14:19 UTC) »

Las Vegas (well eventually after a very long trip). Got a view of the strip after reading how to get a view of the strip on some site, and was amazed how many people were on the casino floor at 5am this morning when I went for a coffee. During airport security screening thought of a witty answer to the security guard who asked "have you anything in your bag that could be used as a weapon" ('well I could club you to death with my laptop' or 'i have some three-day-old socks') but thought better of it.

Anyone here remember a UK Web product called Focus? Well I spent a bit of the trip cleaning up the code and getting it ready for re-release. Wow, coding is fun, I've been missing it these last few months.

Several hours later and I manage to find out the extended commands for the LW11G dimmer unit. Can't find these anywhere else mentioned on the web, so for future generations:

# Extended X10 control of LW11G dimmer
# Unlike other L*11* modules the LW11G
# seems to only respond to code 53.  Set the data to
# 0 = immediate off
# 255 = immediate on
# 1-254 = slowly dim or bright to that level, turns on if
not already
work Off to N+I in Las Vegas in May to talk about Apache in the Enterprise, Stronghold and other good stuff. Have to stay for a week though to make the air fare cheap.

home Fell down the stairs and broke a bone in my hand, reducing me to one-handed typing which is slow and very very annoying. Got some X10 gear from laser.com to play with, but failed to find *good* Linux drivers that would directly set the light switch to a specified level (requires X10 professional codes). Bought a 3 foot high Pingu in Edinburgh.

work found myself giving a webcast about Stronghold which brought back memories of actually coding Stronghold back in 1995 or 1996. For the last 6 months or so I've been trying to resist coding on Stronghold, and for the most part I've managed it, although its tempting to dive in - it's so much easier to measure productivity when you're actually coding. After a couple of years in production it will be great to see it finally released. I'm probably off to N+I in Las Vegas in May which should be fun.

house nothing new from the builder or lawyers, so the house continues to have problems that don't get fixed. All the home automation stuff is working now, except the cute timer and dimmer touch-switches in the bathrooms which have a habit of dropping back to turning themselves off after one minute (which is quite annoying if you've just stepped into the shower). Found a cute wireless RF temperature sensor and timer for my heating system, contemplating getting that (US$150) or alternatively just hooking up a relay and temperature sensors in some rooms and having the PC do it.

21 Mar 2002 (updated 22 Mar 2002 at 11:47 UTC) »

played with garys xmlrpc interface but failed to break it :)

work What a busy couple of weeks. Security advisories everywhere, rumours of Apache exploits, actual PHP exploits, mod_ssl session caching fun, PHP fixes, advisory texts to write, dealing with the press, stuff to review.

house. Rather than deal with things in a civil manner the builder forced our hand. Lawyers are now involved :(

Home automation. Now the TiVo is hooked up to the network so it can be controlled from any room, installed some neat touch dimmer/timer switches for the en-suite bathrooms. Now to buy a Fujitsu Point 510 from ebay so I can control everything from the hallway.

19 Feb 2002 (updated 19 Feb 2002 at 20:05 UTC) »
voltage: 253 volts is nothing to be concerned about, allegedly, but they'll install a voltage logger if I insist

builder: Did I mention I was having some teething problems with the house? Now I'm having teething problems with the builder too.

bryce: you could move back to the UK or you could buy a GPS unit ;)

work: been putting in long hours to 1) forget about the builder and 2) theres a lot going on. Need a holiday soon.

Whilst replacing yet another set of lightbulbs that had blown after only a week I thought I'd look at the supply voltage into the house. My UPS logs the voltage so this was easy. 253 volts.

The UK used to be 240 volts (+/-10%) but quite a few years ago the nominal voltage was changed to be 230 volts (half way between the UK 240 and the European 220). In practise I read that this meant very little, they just continued to supply 240v which was within the tolerance. 253 volts is also just within the tolerance, but annoyingly causes my UPS to alert me every few hours. I also read that in 2002 the tolerances are going to be adjusted to +/-6%.

Armed with all this information I called the electricity company who actually said 253 volts was an emergency situation and someone will be with me shortly.

Played around with the Linux IBM ViaVoice SDK so my UPS can speak. "Help, the voltage is too high, I'm frying,l arrrrgh"

Played around with the alarm system (well the 'tamper' system works) but need some opto-isolation before I dare connect it up to the gateway. Got the gateway to SMS me when there is a power failure, which is semi-useful but really freaks out guests when I switch off the master power and my phone beeps a few seconds later. Took a few pics of the setup so far here.

I'm trying to stay away from coding for work for a month or two, just to see if it can be done. I've found it hard the last few years as I moved away from doing coding on a day to day basis; you tend to judge your week by how much code you've achieved. This of course doesn't scale when you get to be a manager and the temptation is to try to do a bit of coding for work every week in order to feel you have 'achieved something'. Last week I couldn't resist and ended up recoding some pages and scripts that were in PHP to work with AxKit. Doh.

In other news: Sonik

Now my days and evenings are spent working and my nights trying to learn DIY as quickly as possible. I fixed a few electric points that were wired incorrectly (several had no earth connection!). Also I was expecting the light switches in the house to be wired conventionally (which at least in the UK means you run the mains to a junction box in the ceiling, then run a two-core cable with live in and out to the wall switch). In this house each switch has three twin+earth cables. Mains in, mains out, and switched mains to the lights. I've yet to find out why. Actually this turns out to be rather cool as in most UK houses you don't get neutral in the switch boxes which sometimes limits the fun you can have with home automation. But it does mean that one particular place has five mains wires competing for space behind a single gang triple switch

Currently working out the best way to connect up the heating system (one input) and alarm system (lots of triggers) to the network; I don't want to trust X10 for those.

More CVE fun and advocacy

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