Stuff I'm Up To

Technical Ramblings

Raspbian & Realtek 8192eu WiFi — February 19, 2017

Raspbian & Realtek 8192eu WiFi

Probably the best way to get Raspbian up and running over Wifi is to use an out of the box supported Wifi adapter. But as things move on faster Wifi becomes available and not all of the USB adapters are ready to play.

One that I bought recently was one with a Realtek 8192eu chipset. This is supposed to deliver 300Mbps Wifi, but comes at the price of not being natively supported by Raspbian.

I could go install the build essentials and try to compile the driver myself. But that seems like a lot of work.

So a little digging around and I found it’s pretty straight forward to get going and it’s not a problem unique to me. Someone else has already created the necessary drivers all I need to do is install them.

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Updating Newznab — December 23, 2016

Updating Newznab

Newznab is a Usenet indexing server. It’s a very powerful spider that grabs details of all kinds of Usenet posts in the groups you’re interested in. It then indexes and stores them as NZB files so you can download complete releases.

I’ve found that running it helps me find books as not many out there seem to interested in indexing the book groups. It’s probably not of much interest to you unless you’re also looking to index content that isn’t common place. Most indexers out there cover Music, TV and Movies – so you’ll probably find little use for it.

As I don’t actually run it that often, because it’s not everyday I’m looking for a book. Updating it periodically is something I often forget how to do properly.

$ cd /var/www/newznab
$ svn update .
$ cd misc/update_scripts
$ php ./update_database_version.php
Github — December 12, 2016


I’ve had a few little dealings with Github in the past as a contributor, but thought as I’m working on a project that borrows from a lot of code that is “sociably” hosted on Github by many Open Source developers, I thought I’d take the opportunity to put something back.

So what is Github?

It’s a location for Gits! So more importantly what is Git? Git is a version control mechanism that allows you to manage and maintain a folder structure, recording and monitoring changes as you develop. So Github is an online repository to publish your Gits.

Once published the whole world can see your code and your changes. Not only that they can clone your work, make changes and submit the changes back to you for inclusion in your project.

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Node.js, Zip & RAR files — December 7, 2016

Node.js, Zip & RAR files

What an excursion this turned out to be. I figured using 7-zip would be the panacea for compressed files. How wrong could I be?

Turns out that the node-7z module is restricted to only being able to use the 7-zip v9 series. Any of the newer v15 and above don’t work. This is simply because node-7z uses the stdout from the 7z processes to get the list of extracted files. The newer 7z doesn’t report the extracting progress in the same way.

That’s not the only problem. If I want truly cross platform I have to use programs that are available on those platforms. So on Linux I have to rely on p7zip or p7zip-full to handle my archives. These are only compatible with 7-zip v9, so that should be fine right?

Well, no, that’s not where the problems happen. 7-zip v9 doesn’t support the newer RAR formats. So many of the RAR files I’m trying to extract don’t get extracted, because 7-zip can’t read them.

This leaves me with having to use the unrar program by calling it from the shell in the same way as 7z.

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CBR-Manager — December 5, 2016
Learning Electron & Node.js — November 29, 2016

Learning Electron & Node.js

Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away I developed an application to manage and read my comic books. I developed it in a Windows environment and used C# Dot Net to build it. It worked just great and I still use it today.

It’s actually one of the things I use that prevents me from going full Linux on my home desktop. So I decided I’d see if I could remedy that by replacing it with a cross platform solution using Electron.

If nothing else it would provide me with an opportunity to learn how to use Electron & Node.js

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Electron, 7-zip & Images — November 25, 2016

Electron, 7-zip & Images

The app I’m trying to create reads image files from a compressed file. either a zip, a rar or 7-zip format. The aim is to then extract the first image from the file and use that to make a thumbnail that can be displayed in an electron browser page.

Sounds easy? But I’ve been through lot’s of different uncompress/decompress libraries from the npm package manager and none of them have really fitted the bill. In fact the current choice I see as a bit of a compromise.

To make the app truly cross platform I was hoping for a self contained library that ran the decompression algorithms natively within Node.js/Javascript. There are a few out there, many for handling zip files, but when it comes to rar the perfomance and capabilities are really lacking.

Continue reading — September 27, 2016 is a very helpful little plugin for Kodi. What makes it so helpful is that it acts as a backup of what I’ve watched and how far through a series I am. After every movie or TV program it asks me to rate the show (optional). More importantly it records that I’ve watched it by “scrobbling” (just sending what I watched and when) up to the portal and records it on my profile.

I’m sure it collects my viewing habits and does some strategic selling of my statistics somewhere along the line. But fair play to them. If I wanted to I could join in with the whole social aspect of discussing what I’ve watched, but what I get out of it happens when I reinstall Kodi. I activate the plug-in, it then syncs with my profile and marks all the local media I’ve actually watched as watched.

So I always know where I’m at.

OSMC Installation — September 24, 2016

OSMC Installation

I’ve been a fan and user of OpenELEC on my Raspberry Pi’s for some time. It’s always performed great and was pretty straightforward to install and use. But it seems the developers are struggling to keep up with the releases of Kodi.

This isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s not like I need a new Kodi when the version I have works just fine. But I ran into OSMC and it has a newer version of Kodi and promised to be just as straight forward.

… and you know what? It really was.

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Usenet — September 22, 2016


So what’s Usenet?

Usenet has been around since God was a lad. It’s been part of the internet for so very long it pre-dates all the graphical stuff we see today.

Put simply it’s a text based system of sharing news messages , hence it’s correct protocol name being Network News Transfer Protocol (nntp), and operates in a similar way to a forum. Text posts would be made into news groups containing newsworthy information and could be responded to by people all around the internet. The news servers replicate and spread this news between each other so any piece of news may exist on many servers throughout the world.

Back when everything started becoming more than just text the cleverest propeller heads started to figure out you could convert binary files into a text format and back again. So binary files could be attached to email and sent as text and converted back from text at the other end.

Well the same was true for Usenet messages. So it didn’t take long before the text based system became host to binary files converted to text. This meant the underlying Usenet system itself needed no changes. It would still replicate these converted text messages across the globe. But now they could be converted back to binary files and the global sharing of anything from pictures, movies and music became an ingrained part of Usenet.

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Build a Raspberry Pi Media Centre —

Build a Raspberry Pi Media Centre

Following on from the previous post about setting up a Home Media Client/Server setup I thought I’d put together a “how to” for building your own Raspberry Pi Media Centre with Kodi and a list of ingredients.

Buy a Raspberry Pi SBC

Which one? The fastest and best at the time is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The Pi 2 Model B will do, but why not take on the latest and greatest?

* SBC = Small Board Computer.

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Home Media Client/Server — September 21, 2016

Home Media Client/Server

Playing Media


A couple of years ago I decided to get the TV connected to something other than satellite and cable. It seems that in this environment XMBC was the daddy of all things media and a few generations on it’s now called Kodi and is truly an awesome media player.

The way to use Kodi to stream media to the TV over HDMI was either to buy a pre-built Kodi device or build my own using a Raspberry Pi. Don’t let the build your own side of things put you off – it really is more simple than you can imagine. All for under £50 you can build a very capable HD 1080p media player.

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Case for the Raspberry Pi
  • 8GB Micro SD card
  • 2A Micro USB Power Supply (same as your phone uses)
  • HDMI cable

You can even buy the SD card preloaded with Kodi so no need to copy it on yourself. That said I chose to download and install OpenELEC (Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) which is a pre-made Linux Operating System containing Kodi and ready to go.

Now you can use wireless from the newer Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which has it built in, or by using a USB adapter with a Model 2 B, I really wouldn’t recommend it. Wi-fi just doesn’t have the bandwidth for full HD in my opinion (unless you run 802.11ac). So get the Pi hooked onto your Ethernet network.

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