Progress (apace)

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So, today was definitely one of those days where progress was made. Indeed, between yesterday and today much progress in a forward direction has occurred. The Pi is now working (although it has had to be overclocked to get enough performance to play my 30 gig HD Blu-Ray rips), I now just need to knock up a case for the LCD. For some reason some of the shows haven’t quite been picked up right to the library – and some shows have some episodes missing for no apparent reason. The naming conventions are fairly reasonably adhered to, so I’m not quite sure what’s up with that.

Anyhow, it’s working. I need to work out how to turn on two audio interfaces simultaneously (or maybe get it a USB audio interface, apparently the standard one’s a bit sucky). See, when we’re watching TV, in general we listen to the audio through the TV, but when we listen to music, that’s through the amp. The amp does not sport an HDMI connection, because it’s a proper hi-fi amp, not a home-cinema amp. It’s one of my favourite purchases, actually, that amp. Because after years of crappy amplifiers, of using my family’s cast-off Technics to replace my very repaired Eagle amplifier (which I’ll grant was a very nice amp before it was repaired, twice), the modern Cambridge Audio amplifier and Gale speakers do sound gorgeous. And yes, after watching When Albums Ruled the World I am playing my parent’s copy of Sergent Pepper. Why do you ask. Uh, sorry, so the having audio output on both the HDMI and analogue audio outputs of the Pi would be handy. I don’t know how to persuade it to do that yet. I know people have persuaded it to do that though, so I need to look that up.

So that was a good start to yesterday. Today I actually used it as intended and watched a fine rip of Blackadder (the fourth) over breakfast. Then whilst I was working on the house (I’ll get to that) I used Airplay. This Pi business is ace, to be honest. Although my phone’s working far harder than it ever has before.

Then yesterday continued well, with a trip over to see the illustrious John. I took the opportunity to take the much maligned m-audio interface with me. This has been giving me grief again, or so I thought. It turned out I was wrong. It was a poor connection in the (brand new) Maplin 1/4″ jack plug – which was making the microphone into an aerial – and picking up all the hum that was available (which is quite a lot given that it’s surrounded by lots of computing stuff). This was exacerbated by the fact I appear to have gone insane. I am convinced that I’d been using it to capture audio from the record deck. Only either I am mad, or I something very odd was happening. Because it’s only got a mono input. Err, so, yes. Either we’ve been recording the difference between the two channels for records, or..err… perhaps I’m just misremembering. It’s so long since it worked (and tbh, the connector (it turns out) died so promptly when I started trying to record the show after John fixed the M-Audio interface last time), that I’ve forgotten what it was like to use it!

Anyhow, having traced the fault, which it turned out was nothing to do with either my craptastic soldering, or the (unfairly maligned) m-audio interface (problem is, it’s actually failed twice, and so now is highly suspect whenever anything goes wrong), we lopped the jack plug-and-socket off, and I soldered the XLR connector straight onto the mic. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place, but does mean that if the m-audio does fail again then I’ve no easy way to connect the mic to the Mac. So, all pray, eh. It was however, generally, a nice social day. Spent lots of time considering a bench multimeter – since it appears that I’m going to go doing stuff I’d sort of forgotten that I loved doing. I really do rather enjoy dinking with electronics. I’d obviously help if I was good at it, or actually could remember the stuff I was taught and learned as a kid, but eventually it’ll come back to me I’m sure.

Anyhow, today was similarly productive. Having cleaned the kitchen a bit, and done some washing up, I set to work on the house. I’ve sanded the filler in the hall way (it’s ready to paint now), and the plaster’s primed, and I’ve also spent a bit of time running a bead of caulking around the ceiling-wall joint (old-new plaster). I’ve cut and fitted the small piece of timber to replace the original bit that had warped and fallen down. I’ve hung the door in the hallway (after nearly two years with no door to our kitchen we now have an extremely ill fitting one). Unfortunately, it became (rapidly) apparent that the doorway to the kitchen is hilariously far from square. As in, ‘oh that’s a witty joke’. I mean, I know that having been built on a hill in the 1930s our house has only had a passing acquaintance with right angles. Indeed, one of the things I noticed when we first looked around was that I thought the stairs were not horizontal. They’re not. But the unsquareness of the doorways is… challenging. Now, before I hung it I took off the 1960s modernism which had been applied to one side (a layer of hardboard). Confusingly, all the doors in the house have a layer of hardboard on one side – I’d understand if both sides had been tormented in this way, but it is only the one side.


More oddly, it’s the side inside the rooms. So rather than walking into the house and being hit with modernist simplicity, it’s only when you’re inside the rooms. Except, because this door’s been moved and turned around, you would have been assaulted by a non-matching door when you walked into the house. So I attacked it, and attacked it…


And as expected, underneath lurked a perfectly good door. It could do with a little filling – if we were staying then I’d get them stripped and just leave them bare with their faults. As we’re not, they’ll get a light sand and fill, and then be painted.

I also cut and put up the missing section of picture rail.

The hall’s looking really rather a lot better now. Tomorrow I shall start actually painting the hall, which is quite exciting. I also need to mount our A-B payphone on the wall and knock up a cover for the fuse box. Then I need to find out how to wire it up – my dad did try once, having had a quick look at the ‘circuit’, but never quite got it right (you could dial/hear, but not speak, even when you’d paid the requisite number of pennies/six pence/shillings). ISTR there’s a newsgroup / forum for vintage phone fans, they may well know the correct way to connect it…

That will probably max out our line’s ring-capacity.

I’ve no idea what the ‘REN’ is for phones of this age, but ISTR that when we got up to 5 phones in my parents house the phones started auto-answering, because the ring-current required was so high, that attempting to ring them made the phone system think that the phone had been answered…


Anyhow. So, tomorrow I start the painting festival. I also need to drop off my ‘new’ bag to be repaired. And I’ve been ripping music for the last… age, and I’m continuing to do so. I’ve now made it well into the DJ box (holds 300 CDs or so). I need to have a bit of a think about this, I need more sleeves, I think. I took the DVDs out of the other box, and put them into a DVD-specific DJ-case, so the other small DJ case should be empty. This means I can start the strip-down of the CDs (so we can keep the artwork and recycle/offer the boxes up on freecycle, saving us from transporting them to Canada). Whee. So, onwards we go.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at