Monthly Archives: February 2013

Accessing raspberry pi by name rather than by IP address

I’m using a virgin media superhub that does DHCP, but doesn’t have any kind of DNS stuff in it.  So I can ssh to my pi using it’s IP address, which is inconvenient because it makes me go and look the address up in the router.  For my application (the alarm clock), both devices (the pi and the kobo) need to be able to find each other, or at least the kobo needs to be able to find the pi to register itself.

I’m guessing there’s smarter ways of doing this, but until I am schooled, I’m working on these lines:

So the pi is samba-able now.  I guess samba uses netbios, and that’s the enabler for hostname resolution.

So now I can hit raspberrypi from my windows machine.  However, I suspect, I also need to netbiosify the kobo, and I guess that won’t be as easy.

Put Pronterface on pi.

Get VNC working:

Install pronterface:

Instead of copying the files from github manually, install GIT with sudo apt-get install git then do git clone to get the files.  Skills.


Cheating on Windows 8

I really like Windows 8. I think it looks neat, and works well. And while the fullscreen/windowed duality often seems slightly embarrassing (control panel etc), I applaud Microsoft for being bold. And I love whizzing through the start page with my touchscreen laptop.

Trouble is, I’ve just realised that the start page is superfluous, and other than that, it’s entirely the same as Windows 7.

I missed jump lists from Windows 7 – these are the things in the start menu, where your applications have an arrow next to them, and that arrow expands to show recently used documents (for that application), as well as a particular pinned docs. I think these are really useful for documents that aren’t frequently used enough that they would stay top of my main “recent documents”, and because of not being frequently used, I can’t remember where they are, or which version I used last. An example is the designs for my Up To Much jewellery boxes. I don’t often print off a batch, but when I do I have to go into the main ring box folder and try and wade through the dozens of versions to remember which exact variation on the filename I used last. Not difficult, perhaps. But it’s easier to just choose it from a list without even opening the application.  Jump lists are a feature I didn’t even realise I wanted.

So anyway, to get jump lists on Windows 8, it is necessary to pin the application to the taskbar and then it pops up on a right-click. But I prefer to keep a pruned taskbar, particularly since I am now more used to using windows-key->start typing to launch apps and don’t need icons floating around everywhere. I really expected jump lists to be present on the start page, so a application tile would spawn some little tiles with it in.

So rambling on, I put StartIsBack on my machine, and instantly forgot I was even using Windows 8. It boots to the desktop, and gives me my jump lists. The start menu is a bit untidy, and not as beautiful as the start page. I haven’t even seen the start page for the last week. Which begs the question – why did I upgrade to Windows 8? And I don’t know either.

Kobo mini serial port

I’m building an alarm clock that will use a kobo e-ink reader as it’s interface and display, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to interface to it.  I got a kobo mini just after christmas for £50.  It’s a linux box, and I’m actually really impressed by the hackability of it.  It’s very open, easy to get into it (even for a noob like me), and has got busybox and python on it.

Most of the information I needed I’ve got from Mobileread’s Kobo Touch hacking wiki which gives a good guide as to how to get root access.

Prompted by soapy frog’s reports I also cracked up the mini:

Kobo mini mystery optical components

and soldered in some pin headers, then wired in a 3.3v TTL Serial-to-USB adapter board (with an FTDI chip on it), and was delighted to find that I could then PuTTY to that virtual com port (115200 8 N 1) and get root terminal access.

USB to serial adapter being used to connect to the linux console on my kobo mini.

Rewriting urls with mod rewrite and .htaccess, and wordpress.

Every time I do anything on this blog I run into this problem.  UK2 (who host me) have one public_html folder for, and then subfolders for and my other domains.  This is just the way the product is structured – the other domains are addons to the original.

But the problem with it is that I can easily choose where the other domains get their source from.  So I can easily change to look in public_html/polargraph_newsite if I want to test something new out.  But it’s not as easy to redirect visitors to this site (, because the main domain can’t be treated that way, it seems.  I don’t pretend to understand why.

So I have this site running in a subdirectory (public_html/ev3), and use following mod_rewrite rules in the .htaccess file to rewrite the incoming urls:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
IndexIgnore *

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/ev3/
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /ev3/$1
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?$
RewriteRule ^(/)?$ ev3/index.php [L]

In this case, because I installed wordpress into, all of the urls in the site pointed there as the root, instead of to  This exasperated me in the past, and every time I’ve done this, because I thought there was some rewriting magic going on.  But it’s dead simple, it’s just the root domain name settings in wordpress itself (admin->settings->general->wordpress address and site address).  DUH.

So this is the new personal site.

For a while I’ve been busy with drawing machines or jewellery, and each of those things have their own corners of the internet, but I’ve been neglecting the original one –  

So this is the relaunch.  The old website worked ok, but it was coded from scratch in php by me in 2006, and was only ever just good enough – and fairly clumsy and awkward in many ways.  And I don’t really have the time or the inclination to continue work on that.

So this will be the personal site, that will hopefully function as a notepad for technical stuff that I want to keep track of and stuff that I think is hard to find on the web already.  As well as new project development stuff.  Polargraph has entirely dominated my time for the last two years, and I’m not having it any more!

It will also have the same self-indulgent rubbish on it as the old one did.  I might migrate the old stuff over, but probably only the useful bits.