Mark Snell . com


Brush-cutting Incident

Being a long weekend, we decided it would be a good time to tackle a bit of the gardening, so we imposed on my brother-in-law to borrow his brush cutter to speed up the problem, especially up around the “pool” area.

We had the required lesson when I borrowed it about how to use it, and safety and maintenance. I made a deal and said I’d make sure I could still count to ten when I finished. It turned out when I finished I could still count to 10, but could also count to 4 using just my wasp stings!

I must have disturbed a nest up near the pool gate, and I could hear them buzzing around me as I started to run. I flipped the face shield off near the rumpus room doors, jumped down the three stairs at once, frightening the life out of Bern at her computer. I realised the brush-cutter was still running at this point so I turned it off before dumping it on the desk.

Bern realised something was up, but I could hear a swarm buzzing around me so I remember slamming my hand on the door to say no, don’t come out. I fear I may have paniced, but I guess I’ve been heavily influenced by seeing movies like The Swarm as an impressionable little kid.

* We are going to get rid of the pool, it is a 30year old vinyl pool, and last year we used it for about 4 days in total

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Linux Home Security

We’ve had some problems recently with intruders coming up our driveway and pinching stuff. I have to admit my car makes me a bit of an obvious target, but I really thought the length and steepness of the driveway would keep them out.

The first time they got into both (unlocked) cars and stole a few largely inexpensive bits and pieces and the second time they took a plain brown box which they found out 50m down the road only contained the mains conversion kit for a BBQ, so they dumped it.
So we decided it was time to do something. In discussion with Dean from Recips, our Electrical Contractor of choice we are installing a front facing sensor with a lot more light connected to it, so people wont be snooping in the dark.

Of course I cant have this sort of equipment without plugging it into a computer, so it is time, with a bit of help from some friends and a few websites to make a complete Linux Home Security System.

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Beatiful Surprise

When I got to my car, parked at Lilydale Station last night, I found my girls had found my car in the carpark during the day and left me a lovely note and a beautiful red rose.

I was really touched.

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Google is my recipe book (index)

I’ve had a few days at home, so amongst other things, I’ve had a chance to do some cooking.

I didn’t know what to cook, so I headed over to google to find out what I should do with the ingredients I had (or at least the main ingredient).

Googling for”pork steak recipe” helped me find: which was absolutely beautiful, while googling for “mince recipe” lead me to which was fairly average..

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Jase’s Birthday

It was Jase’s 32nd birthday the other day, so we are celebrating tonight and I’ve made the cake, based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld..

It looks like it was made by a 5 year old, but to be fair, Bec did help (as did Bern). See all the pics here

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Mark (almost) kills his computer

I managed to get a new 80Gb drive for my machine to replace the the verry full 30Gb drive I had in it, so I happily went off and ghosted the old drive to the new, changing a few of the partition sizes along the way, and getting everything ready.

I went from /boot 15Mb, C: 22Gb, D: 6Gb to /boot 55Mb C: 30Gb, D: 25Gb linux 25Gb which means I can reinstall linux and continue down the path to freedom, but that wasn’t the snag I hit.

The snag was that the machine wouldn’t boot.

The LILO that was on the boot partition has obviously lost track of where Windows was sitting and simply sat with LI on the screen. I tried a win98 disk to fdisk /MBR no luck. I booted of the 2K disk and ran FIXBOOT and FIXMBR from the recovery console but no luck. I then tried to do the same again but the machine blue-screened during the process, just before it got the recovery console!

I then tried a variety of linux rescue disks which told me I didn’t have linux installed anymore (which I new, but I still had a broken Linux boot loader.) I might have been able to fix it from there but in the end I grabbed the most recent linux I had available, Fedora Core 1 and just installed it.

Problem solved! This time I made a boot disk as well. 🙂

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Connecting the TV, VCR, DVD & Set-top box

I helped my sister & brother in law out when they moved house, and of course, one of the jobs I got was setting up the TV, VCR & DVD. We got it all working and layed out the speakers as best we could, but because they live in the boondocks, TV reception was terrible…

The solution to that was to buy a digital set-top box, but the manual, was to be honest, terrible, so we had do some real thinking to get it set up and working.

In the end, there were compromises, but this is how everything fits together. If you have a better sugestion, please email me and enlighten me….

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Battery thing

I went to replace the batteries on one of Bec’s toys the other day, and I checked the back of the toy where it said 2 x AA” Batteries and got the batteries and the screwdriver. When I opened it up, I found this:

which is a plastic case in the shape of 1 1/2 AA batteries that contains 3 x button cell batteries. I honestly can’t believe this is cheaper than sticking in 2 cheap batteries, but it must be, possibly because the button cells don’t leak for years.

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Touch Lamps

I’ve got 2 broken touch lamps at home (you know, the ones that start off and go on in three stages just by touching them and then go off again) and I thought I’d do a bit of web surfing to see if I could find out how to fix them.

I found this page: which was very helpful, but I also found this which was very funny:

“I’ve tracked down touch lamps over a block away. Found two in a house across the street from the house behind me. Found another in a house on the block corner opposite my location.

When they are close enough to you like next door, you can control them with your radio transmissions. Years ago, a new neighbor moved in directly in back of my house. I was sitting in front of the HF rig listening when they plugged in their touch lamp. 10-20db over S9 of noise pulse every 72 Khz across the band popped up immediately. I QSYed to CW and tuned to the bottom of a pulse. When I keyed the rig, the pulse shifted upward a few KC. Retuned to the bottom & keyed and it shifted it again. Same thing the third time. On the fourth key up, it shifted back down to about the original starting freq. I had total control on the 3-way lamp!

So I went about having some fun with it. I sent messages encoded by the number of shifts. Not sure if they ever copied the messages, but they sure unplugged the lamp every time I played with it very long. They either thought it was broken or that their new house was haunted!

Latter that summer I saw they had a garage sale. Stopped in and found they had a touch lamp for sale. I probably should’ve bought it to ensure no one nearby did, but apparently no one did since it hasn’t shown up on the bands for years now.””

I don’t understand all the technical bits, but I certainly found it funny!!

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We made the move on Thursday & Friday 21 & 22 August, and it was a heap of hard work, but we got it mostly done by the 3pm deadline. Huge thanks to Nettie for cleaning the old house behind us, and Des, Daniel, Jen and Graham for moving all our junk, and a mega huge thank you to Chris for loading, logistics, driving the truck and even backing it up the huge steep driveway.

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