Craigslist Flake Syndrome strikes again

So yesterday we rearranged our afternoon to allow a craigslist flake to come and view the car. I actually quite liked him, despite the attempt to kill us both when while test driving we ended up with him going the wrong way up a dual carriageway (divided highway) after performing 3/4ths of what I suspect was a U turn of dubious legality. Still, seemed nice. However, he appears to be suffering from acute craigslist flakitis.

He didn’t bring money, though, or any way to get the car back (?!). This I only discovered at the end of the discussion, but being in a relatively good mood I was fine with him picking it up today. This decision is part of the reason I’m in a very grumpy mood now.

So today I got a message this morning saying he couldn’t get off work early – and eventually got a message that he couldn’t find someone to give him a ride down to collect the car. He lives up towards Seattle.

Which is more pissy because I’d put off someone else and said it might sell. Now that person’s disappeared too, which leaves me feeling really quite annoyed.

Then I made the mistake of going to Lowes, because they sent us a discount voucher and we wanted something to put down on the floors to try and prevent quite so much draft coming in. Partly because the void under the house is filled with rat urine, partly because it was beginning to smell pretty damp (like underhouse void), and partly because we want to heat it enough to keep damp at bay. It’s currently at a whopping 10C / 50F (which I didn’t twig was only 10C, so I might nudge it up a bit tomorrow).

Anyhow, so I gathered together some stuff (plumbing stuff here is suuuuper expensive, btw). And trekked round the shop in search of the underlayment which is what was in the house before… and which some people still seem to recommend. The idea in my head being what I don’t use up now would be useful on the house later…

Only I had an appointment at 10, so I needed to be quick through Lowes. After trailing around and not being able to find it, I asked an assistant. Who after looking blank, and eventually pulling out a tablet to try and locate it after I showed her on my phone what I was after, decided she didn’t know where it was. Then said I should find someone from flooring to ask (there was no-one in flooring when I walked through it), then informed me really helpfully that “it’ll be out on a shelf though”.

Uh hu.

And I thought it would be on the ceiling, no-fucking-wonder I couldn’t find it… I managed to restrain myself from saying out loud.

At this point I realised I’d be late if I spent any more time looking for this stuff and threw the stuff I had collected onto a shelf*. Then I made my way over to the appointment where the guy was late (but didn’t apologise)…

…although he seems competent and his quote is about what we’d expect based off other things.

And then, because I can’t get a remodel permit without the roof truss diagram (and we’re waiting on a quote from our fourth contractor before we can get those) I’m kinda stalled out. I spent the day installing the plastic sheeting, the hammer-stapler-thing is at least a bit therapeutic. But that and the little bit of plumbing is kinda it until we can get the contractors to do the roof.

The city were pretty hazy on whether we could take down drywall, but the job that really needs doing is removing the electrics. The drywall can come down in the demo party, but that party will be a million times easier if there’s no electrics in those walls to worry about. Similarly, lopping off the plumbing would be nice, but I don’t have my bucket of shitty plumbing parts available anymore, and again, pluming stuff here is super expensive, so I’m resisting doing more to that than I have to, keeping it to a really minimal leak-stopping.

Tomorrow I’m planning to turn off the water and disconnect the leaking pipework. But after that there’s going to be a bit of a mental debate about how much I can do. This weekend we might take down the carport – which is partly a shame because it’s handy to have, but it’s in the way of the electrician.

It’s irritating, because what I’d scheduled tomorrow was going to look at the car we’d like to buy. But again, because of craigslist flake syndrome I can’t.

Oh, but good news – our washer has found a productive home. It took a while, but freecycle worked :)

* I would not normally do this, but I’m not wasting my discount voucher on a few small items if I can get something bigger that we need, and after the lack of help I was feeling pretty pissed off.

And yes, it’s still shit

So I did the rest of the plumbing checks today – trying to work out where the water’s coming from. It does seem that the bath was the source of it all. I suspect that at some point in the past the water heater leaked pretty spectacularly, and no attempt was made to dry that out.

Pulling that drywall off revealed unpleasant, but dry drywall and timbers that are not as rotten as I’d expected. Pulling off the drywall around the kitchen sink…? Well, it looks like all the leaks were related to waste water (which explains the unpleasantness of the drywall that I ripped off).

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The highly observant of you will note that this ‘design’ of waste water pipe requires the water to flow in a non-traditional direction to exit the building. And it’s not merely uphill here.

It’s uphill here too:

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Also, there’s these two holes that I have no idea what purpose they serve:

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I mean, I know some traditionalists put screws into them. But that is very old fashioned. Clearly, now, they’re just used for kind of ritual purposes.

Still, despite its utter shittyness I hooked it back up. At least partially:

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Yes, the beauty of that is unsurpassed. I think it took me a whole hour to build.

The plan here was that I’d remove the bathroom sink today. This would allow us to get at another area where it looks like there’s been a fair amount of leakage. Again, I suspect it’s waste-water, not fresh water, related. But until I yank the drywall it’s hard to say. Unfortunately, while my hands were just beginning to feel sore again so I was feeling a bit hesitant anyhow, another problem arose. The valves under the sink, the ones to turn the water off? They don’t do anything.

Which means that, like the shower (which has no valves), I’ll have to turn the water to the house off completely, then I’ll have to remove and blank off the plumbing for those bits. I’ll have to go wander the aisles at a plumbing place and see what is available here. In the UK I’d have thrown a couple of compression fitting inline valves in, because they’re always handy to have around. I’m hoping something similar will be around and not too pricey.

The main reason for my little jaunt over there today (rather than resting my aching hands) was to ‘fix’ the broken piece of car decking for the asbestos people. Since I’m not meant to enter the rat highway crawlspace until after it’s de-ratted got a new vapo(u)r barrier, this ‘repair’ has been achieved by screwing a piece of 2×4 into the failing board and spreading the load across a bunch of other less rotten boards. This has pulled the board back up level with the others, and it doesn’t seem to move.

I couldn’t find hazard tape though (at least not obviously, and it really ought to be obvious!). I was probably not looking in the right place, but I ended up just slapping some yellow insulation tape on the edge of it.

Still, the good news is that after a few days off my hands are feeling better and not hurting just to move, even after taking down some drywall. I think I’m just going to have to be a bit careful with myself. Also, our ‘new’ chopsaw that we bought about 6 months ago seems to work (and has a really nice blade on it).

I’ll take an F from the top row and a U from the bottom row, thanks.

So, tomorrow I’m off to prep the house for the arrival of the asbestos guys. Mainly this is ‘repairing’ the floor where the car decking has rotted through and then broken. In this case, I’m just going to screw a chunk of 2×4 along the run next to the wall, put some screws through into the more solid bits and then some into the rotten one. I’m hoping that this has the effect of pulling the broken / rotten bit of car decking back up and in line with the rest of the floor. Also, that it holds it well enough while they strip the asbestos from the ceiling.

So at least we have have some progress.

We also have some progress in that we have a permit for plumbing. I’m only allowed to use it to try and stop the leaks that have been keeping the house damp and rotting (although it says things about installing new stuff, the deal with the permit folks was that they’d issue it while they were waiting for the submission of the remodel permit, but only if I was willing to hold off doing the rest of the work until the remodel permit is in).

I’ve found one of the damp-sources. The pipework that fed the shower/bath and the waste plumbing from the bath is a disgrace. The soldering on the fresh water side is terrible, and has clearly leaked since it was installed. The waste water side is loose and held in place with expanding foam filler.

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This explains the copious rot in this area.

I suspect a similar situation exists behind the water heater.

The kitchen sink I think has been leaking from the waste water side – this is because one of the waste water pipes had an ornamental nut on it. The actual join was just two pieces of plastic pipe telescoped one inside the other. There was no seal, no fittings, nothing actually preventing a leak. But the installer had taken the time to put a threaded metal ring that screwed onto where there should be some kind of seal. So that was nice. I’m still going to whip off the rotten and mouldy plasterboard – we need our temporary sink in there, and I don’t want that manky crap staying there through the build. So I’ll put my temporary sink supports directly on the exterior wall timbers.

Anyhow, so there has been some progress. Also, a media blasting company has come out and thinks they can strip the paint from our T1-11 siding which means we have some hope of being able to work out what the existing nail pattern* is – and not having to just renail the entire building, which would have made me ‘sad’.

And then we come to our disaster area.

So, let’s run through our contractor luck:

1) We just didn’t get on well. He quoted, I’m sure he’s fine, but we spent the whole time being mansplained to, and with him talking over us.
2) Quoted then disappeared for weeks with no response. Then suddenly popped up and said “oh hey, I just noticed your message”. Didn’t answer the question that was in the message, has never actually produced a quote for the rest of the work we asked him to quote for.
3) Produced a quote that was nearly the work asked for. Needed some minor additions before we gave them the deposit and so we e-mailed our questions (Wednesday), Thursday we all met up to go through the questions. Friday they said ‘we need to know the color for the roof’, we asked what supplier (Friday), Monday rolls around and we have an e-mail saying “We got deposits on some big jobs and won’t be able to start yours for at least 2 months”. Uh hu. So that doesn’t really work for us.
4) Quote did not match much of what we discussed (in terms of was missing big bits of job). We had them as our second choice, but on messaging them today they also have taken on a big job and wouldn’t be able to start until January. Also they seem unaware that engineered parallel chord trusses are a thing, and seems to think he’d have to build them on-site thus adding time and engineering costs. Gah.

For lucky number 5, who we’re meeting tomorrow, I’ve actually written a scope of work so we might actually get the quote right the first time (ha), so we could sign a contract, and thus be able to pay a deposit before they wander off and take more work from someone else.

Perhaps it’s not a thing here** for builder’s contracts*** to be faintly accurate. But I like to sign something that actually says what I want them to do and an agreement on payment and what happens if costs over-run.

But apparently writing down what you’re asking is hard. Or something. I dunno. I’m thoroughly bored of discussions where a contractor holds a pen and paper, writes nothing, is given some diagrams, and then fucks off home and produces a quote that includes a random 70% of what we discussed.

It never seemed to be quite so hard to find a contractor in the UK. Yeah, we had plenty of shitty, shonky contractors who did poor quality work, or tried to rip us off, and we learned a lot about what we needed to say or do to make sure work was an acceptable standard. But just to get someone to even start the damn job is proving to be incredibly frustrating.

So fingers crossed for tomorrow.

I’ve also left a message for our recommended electrician to ask about installing a new weatherhead / meterbox / panel. I’m hoping that he rings back. I realised that needs to be moved before the roof gets done, because the weatherhead runs up through the roof. That places some urgency on the job… Not least because I’ve now put in the request to PSE to move the power from the NW to SW corner of the building.

I’m also hoping that our arborist will get back to us before the power company turn up and ruin the one decent thing about the house, the tree at the front. But given how things are going at the moment, I’d say that’s pretty unlikely.

* my sneaking suspicion is that the word “pattern” may be misplaced here.
** Olympia? Washington? USA?
*** To be fair, there’s been a lot more push here for us to “just sign” things that were wrong. Sometimes materially inaccurate. Which does not go down terribly well.

House Maths

So, we’re moving the fuse box electrical panel (and replacing the shonky crappy old panel. I’ve spent this morning sat working through this document that allows you to check the rating required for your service. I’d been thinking we might need to go up to a 300A supply, but it seems like 200A should be fine, which is pleasing. This is probably because the stove appears to be a fan-gas oven, which confuses the pants off me.

So the electrical loads that would normally be consumed by cooking stuff have disappeared into the gas. Which helps.

The sums work out at 96A which seems low to me, but that’s what the maths says. And I guess we normally charge at night when other loads tend not to be in use, so it probably works out fine.

I’ve also been trying to do load balancing. This whole 110v m’larkey makes wiring waaaay more complex.

UK: Incoming power -> RCDs -> Bunch of ring mains (lights, sockets, some single runs to specific appliances). Bob’s your uncle.
US: Incoming power -> Breakers of lots of different flavours -> Many spurs that all have to be balanced so that each of the two (120v) legs of the 240v gets roughly the same current draw + 240v loads that pull off both. You may be able to get an uncle called Robertish if you’re lucky.

So that means sitting down and trying to work out what groups of sockets and appliances are ‘likely’ to be on at the same time and then trying to organise them. Without just generating a billion different circuits. Then add in my desire to keep lighting and electrical outlets mainly on separate breakers (not required, but preferable). Then add in code requirements for specific areas to have specific kinds of breakers, or the dishwasher to have it’s own separate circuit… which it probably needs anyway in terms of power demands, but still…

…gah.

Of course this might all be punishment for the pre-regulation the-entire-kitchen-converges-on-one-socket design that I left in place in the first house I worked on in Bristol. I didn’t *make* it that way, but I didn’t fix it either. Just shoved all the wires back in the back of the socket and said “yeah, that’ll work”. I suspect it got fearsomely hot if you ran the washer/dryer and the oven at the same time.

Anyhow, since I’m not going to be doing that again and this is to be better planned, then I’ve spent some time on it. Hopefully it will work as recent calculations mean that I think I’m wiring the panel and just getting someone else to do the actual moving of the service / installation of the weatherhead… Technically, we could do that too, but I value my hands and my life :)

At any rate, I’m planning to submit the permit today – if we get the Rav back in time (it’s getting a new driver’s door lock, the old one having died).

—-

In other house news, the smell of urine seems to be decreasing. We’ve removed the chipboard that covered the lounge, the hall, the kitchen and one bedroom. All that’s left is a bit of chipboard under the kitchen unit that we’ve not yet removed, the back bedroom and a small front cupboard. Spraying near a full bottle of urine odour remover onto the worst staining and the front step – along with a moderate amount of vinegar – seems to have helped too. I can now go in the house without wanting to run even when the windows have been closed. It just smells of musty old house and crawlspace.

Hopefully when we put down the vapour barrierey underlaymenty stuff that will resolve it completely. Although we’re planning to replace some of the worst car decking with new – and there’s one section which has broken.I’m guessing it’s rotted away under the end of the bath… but when I was lifting the chipboard I levered against it and it descended rather than the chipboard (with tile) coming up.

Pics on flickr as usual.

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And in other, other news, I fell for a scam.

It took about a minute for me to twig and undo it, I think. About half a second for me to go “oh, you fucking idiot” and then the rest of that minute in a panicked google search and settings adjustment.

I listed our Insight on Craigslist, then got a message from someone saying they were interested, and could they call. Then I got a message saying that I needed to enter a two digit authentication code to speak to the craigslist person. I was somewhat suspicious – but after the person had tried a couple of times and I’d got messages each time I thought “well, what could I lose – I’m giving them information they’re giving me”. Apparently – this is a means of getting access to your phone number because when I entered it I got a Google Voice message – and allowing them to use it.

Thankfully, the answer is here. So within about half a minute I’d reclaimed my lost number. I’m hoping that the dickhead who did it didn’t manage to do anything useful with it.

After about 15 calls from the irritant, (s)he seems to have stopped. But it’s just f’kin annoying. I also am feeling a bit pissy because the Honda Forum seemed to think that the price was reasonable for the car, but now it’s been on there for a week I’ve had nary a bite. This may mean that all my sums about us replacing the car with an EV have to be reworked. If we have to drop the price of Insight to sell it…

Feh.

—-

And in other, other news, I realised I should have ordered a smaller shift key when I ordered the keys for my keyboard. I did a test assembly of the kit which went fine, but I’ve not soldered it yet because I need the key tops to ensure that the layout I’m planning will work with the keys I’ve bought. It’s still very pretty though. It shall be super pretty when it arrives.

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I just need to etch the CTL logo into it.

CTL terminal (in very fetching orange and black)

I just wish I could get an orange fabric covered curly keyboard cable to use. They don’t seem to exist :(

I don’t quite know what I’m doing wrong

I think maybe it’s being used to the British approach to planning and building, but I seem to spend much of my time going in circles.

I want roof trusses. This, I would think would not be hard. But it seems that whoever I ask, I need to ask someone else first. Virtually every person has either directed us to a lumber yard (for a lumber package which will apparently include drawings) or an engineer (for drawings, for a lumber package).

However when I call lumber yards, truss manufacturers or engineers they all say no.

They recommend an architect. Which might work. Except one they recommended didn’t answer the phone, and the other will only discuss stuff with plans in front of him.

Which is a fair bit of hassle when he’s 45 minutes away – and closes in 45 minutes. He also won’t give me any idea of whether he will be able to do the plans this week, this month or even this year. Or what a rough idea of costs might be like.

It’s a fracking 38×24 box with a 6/12 roof. If it weren’t for the demand that the drawings were done by an engineer we’d f’kin do it. It would take a few hours, much of which would be spent researching the standards required.

Gah.

So it seems Adams and Rea have disappeared

Which makes me very sad. They were a comedy music duo – and along with their disappearance their songs have disappeared into obscurity.

Since we were at a very nice party on Saturday night at which I was transiently tempted to sing one, I’m going to record the lyrics here for posterity.


Are We Havin’ Fun?

Jane, Michael, Jason,
Sit quiet in the back please,
[Mum]Your dad’s trying to drive,
We don’t want an accident,
[Mum]No we’re not there yet,
I don’t know when,
[But Mum]Give him back his gameboy
I won’t ask you again,
[Mum] We’re here at the camp site,
We’ve put up the tent,
[Mum] But your father has lost both the poles and the pegs,
See I thought [Mum.] he’d packed them,
[Mum] Oh bloody heck,
Yes okay Jane, Hang on, You can go in a sec,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Are we having fun yet… [No]

[Mum] Boys, stop hitting those ducklings with sticks
[Mum] Jane, let’s find the loo,
Oh god the dog’s just been sick,
[Mum I’ve wee’d in the frizbee!],
That’s all that I need,
And now Jason’s eczema is starting to bleed,
Stay away from those people*
Their dog’s have got rabies,
[Mum, A dingo has taken all my jellybabies]
My head is splitting,
This holiday’s gone sour,
And Jason’s got verrucas from not wearing flip-flops in the shower,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Are we having fun yet…. [No]

Get in the car kids,
Pack up your stuff,
We’re going home now,
I’ve had enough,
This holiday is shitty,
This camp site’s a farce,
Piss off the lot of you,
Shove your poles up your arse
[Your poles up your arse]

Jason’s inhaling the air from the bed,
Michael’s put a sleeping bag over the dog’s head,
[Mum, Jason won’t stop touching me with his warts!]
Next half-term book me a five-star resort,
I’ve set fire to the tent now I’m starting to crack,
I’ve tied up the children onto the roof rack, [whimpering]
[Mum] The dog’s in the boot,
[Mum] He’s gone cold and stiff,
I’m Thelma and Louise,
Show me the cliff,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Was shit.

* the original song uses a term which is now considered offensive by the group referenced.

So…

While my time in this alternate universe filled with racist fuckheads has been interesting, I’d quite like to go back to the timeline where things were improving, if that’s okay.

Aaaand stop.

Yeah, the house is on hold again. Waiting for a life-span guarantee on the roof. Apparently the mortgage company want a certificate that says it’ll last another 5 years. This is irritating, because we plan to pull the roof off anyhow. Regardless of whether we do the small-renovation of the inside, or the big project, the roof is on our list – but the thing is, we haven’t yet decided which way we’re going to jump.

So if we have to make that decision now, it may mean that we dump our plan to do a fairly wideranging reno, with significant structural mods, because having to put a roof on the place before we start would kinda stimie that. I don’t think either of us is up for paying for two roofs.

Still, to focus on good things, I spend this morning chilling with a friend in a park and watching the partial eclipse. Being disorganized and cheap I made myself a pin-hole viewer – unlike the idiot in the white house who, with his whole antiscience bent, decided to just stare at the damn sun. I’m kind of assuming the moment afterwards looked something like this:

Anyhow, the pinhole viewer actually worked remarkably well. Also, Sarah let me borrow her glasses so I ended up getting a pretty good view of it. While at 93% here it was cool, it wasn’t totality which I’ve seen once before and which is a different level of odd (although I didn’t really appreciate the oddness at the time).

As we wandered back we experienced a rather cool effect:

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It seems, the leaves create a pseudo-pinhole effect, allowing the crescent of visible sun to be projected onto the ground.

In other news, I’ve bitten my lip. This has always been slightly problematic, in that I tend to promptly get an ulcer afterwards – but that wasn’t much of an issue, but about a year and a half ago I got some kind of infection after biting my lip, and then promptly felt utterly shit for a week. I’m feeling the same after this one, and it’s looking red and swollen again. This time I have health coverage, though, so I might need to visit a walk in center.

Last time, with no health coverage, I got to experience the joy of the US healthcare system, where I stayed at home and rode it out, drinking plenty, rinsing my mouth with salt and hoping my immune system could kill whatever it was. Thankfully, tomorrow I can’t go out anyhow, because we’ve got a package being delivered (with the standard, helpful FedEx / UPS delivery estimate of “tomorrow”), so I have an enforced rest day. Although I’ve spent much of today lying on the couch (having done the food shop), and reading the For Pros By Pros wiring book.

Still, there may be one trip out tomorrow. I’m suspecting the package is the tyres for the Rav (which have gained another nail, a super expensive nail this time, because it’s just in the sidewall).

Ah well.

The firewood project continues apace.

After a bit of revision of ‘how to safely use a bandsaw without dying’ I spent a few hours today over at our friend’s house making the bits of wood I’d cut into large chunks of wood into smaller chunks of wood.

Smaller bits of wood. The nicely crafted boxes with neat joints are obviously nothing to do with me

I both cut things into roughly the right shapes and also spent some time making them roughly the right thickness*. Now I need to start making templates so I can do the magic of pattern-cutting using the router.

One thing that’s interesting is that the wood has the blue-streaking from having sat unharvested once cut.

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Apparently that’s a common problem with maple. I’d heard of it before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in person in raw wood. I’d seen it once before in some furniture where they’d chosen to make a feature of it. I debated whether to hack it off, but I’m unlikely to manage to get even close to all of it, so instead have decided it’s a feature, not a bug.

So where I could I’ve left it in. However, the dirty great water stain I trimmed off.

Anyhow, so things are progressing and my ornamental firewood is at least an interesting shape:

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* One piece ended up unintentionally excitingly close to the right thickness. I was aiming to be almost 1/4 inch thicker than final thickness, but mid cutting one chunk of wood I realized I could split in half (more or less) and get two out of the same bit of wood. I passed it through the bandsaw without doing the careful measuring I’d done with all the other bits – because I was already resawing to the right thickness. Only for whatever reason, the second one ended up being actually about one mm thicker the required thickness (curiously, the other bit is the thickness I was aiming for).

Tales of the Pinebook and Linux fun

So, I’ve continued to work on making the pinebook a comfortable usable device. It’s been a bit of battle – my mail server has some quirks to the way it’s set up which meant that it took me quite a while to get it working. I’m still having issues with another mail server I use, where I’m not sure if it’s me or the server. My lovely friend, who’s the Admin, has sent me some stuff, and I’ve sent her some stuff, so hopefully I can get it worked out.

I ended up doing my first build-from-source in quite a while today, so I could have Sylpheed, which is (apparently) a nice lightweight mail client. Certainly it seems pretty good. Can’t work out how to force it to allow certificate.

It’s fascinating (and at times a little frustrating) using the pinebook, because some stuff clearly taxes the hell out of the processor. I rarely log onto Facebook, but wanted to to grab something today and wow does that suck.

Still, it’s demonstrated some things for me – like the fact that my Linux server is set up right, it’s my Macbook that’s being a dick about connecting to it. I don’t know why – but the SMB share will only connect as a guest, not as a user. It fails to authenticate if you try and log in as an actual user. I’ve not yet had a good look as to why though – but since the Pinebook just happily connects (when I give it the username and password) then I”m going to point my finger at the Macbook.

And yeah, otherwise it’s a handy laptop that I can drag around and not worry too much about. And while Linux on ARM has proven to still be a bit of a pain in the arse (e.g. Telegram, which I’d like to run, is only available compiled for x86 Linux). It’s superlight and the battery life isn’t bad either.

It’s also finally nudged me into upgrading logitech media server on the media server, which, after the last upgrade had developed an irritating bug where when you added tracks to the playlist, or even just pressed play, it tended to make the squeezebox crash after a few seconds. Loading the web interface also seemed to take an age, too. I’d not got around to nosing at that problem, but it turns out that there was an update to the update which seems to have fixed it.

So yay.