Pebble; Powered 'til tomorrow....


It seems that 2016 is the year that just keeps on giving. Of the four "most funded" kickstarter campaigns, Pebble takes the 1st, 3rd and 4th spot. With so many failed Kickstarter campaigns it is a real shame that one of the most successful has dwindled in such a way. 

Two things happened today to really cement the end for me;

  • I received my refund for the Time 2
  • After resetting my iPhone today due to the Pebble App locking the phone up, all the health data corrupted and is now gone. Good job it's all mirrored on Apple HealthKit for them to sell to the health insurance companies.

My Pebble Experience

I never liked the look of the original Pebble so didn't really pay attention to it, but when I saw the Pebble Time Kickstarter in 2015 I had to back it and was very happy when it arrived. 


To be honest after the initial excitement of its arrival I just wore it and forgot about it. I never bothered with most of the apps (I installed the ebay and uptime robot apps which were kinda useful for me but the apps on the phone notified you anyway so kinda redundant). The enigma watch-face was great, I left the watch to notify me when something important happened, track how many steps and how much sleep I was getting .... like a weird stalker. I was quite happy with this arrangement, and I could wear it in the shower! Bonus!

The health stuff was pretty crude but when they updated the firmware in preparation for the newer watches to include better step and sleep tracking I was really impressed. This was much better than the HealthKit graphs on iOS (yeah I know, Linux guy with an iPhone, let the flame war begin). So of course I backed the Pebble Time 2 when I found out that it included a heart-rate monitor as I needed that extra graph to go alongside the other two. My heart is racing just thinking about it!

I actually didn't know about the fitbit rumours last week when I thought to myself, "I should check Kickstarter, didn't they say November shipping?" That's when I noticed a couple of people mentioning the rumours, two days later Update 17 was released.

With the refund I received today and the sudden buggy nature of the app, it's time for me to start the grieving process. My Pebble Time, like my Nokia N900 will always be "Powered 'til tomorrow".





Cold outside, I wonder if the Chicken is okay.

Last night was probably the coldest it's been since we moved to Norwich before the summer. On the way home after a day on a stats course I'd not realised how cold it was. I started to get a bit worried since I knew that our chicken is alone in the coop and the door was open. I got in and locked the coop as usual. Since the Sun sets at around 4PM and I don't get home until after dark I knew that the coop would have lost heat, but I didn't know how much.

We only have the one chicken now so that makes me also feel a little sorry for her, so a few weeks back we added the Omlet thermal stuff to hopefully help with this kind of thing.


I already have a Maplin weather station (WS1050) attached to the outside of the coop and a basestation which reports what the temperature is (along with other stuff), and I can pick this up using my SDR to record it (I need to write this up on my blog at some point). Anyway, I got home and realised it was 0.5degC, and it was only 6PM. We also have the Samsung smart things equipment in the house so I thought I'd nip to the shop, grab and extra sensor and put it in the coop to see what the difference was going to be overnight between the Maplin weather station and the inside of the coop.

I got back from my local PC and phone that you can put in a car store (other outlets are available) with a Samsung Multisensor.


Since I needed to change the batteries to the outdoor sensor of the WS1050, I took the time to quickly "calibrate"* them in the house.



So after I was confident that at least in the house they agreed, I put the Smartthings sensor in the coop and the weather station sensor back on the outside of the Omlet run. Then I waited and watched the temperature drop......and boy did it drop...


This also agreed with what the outdoor weather station was saying (although I didn't take pictures of it and wasn't using my SDR to record it, I've not been organised with this stuff lately).

So in a nutshell, here are my thoughts;

  • The Smartthings Multisensor is great (if you already have the smarthings stuff) even though it's not designed to go below 0 degrees C.
  • Smartthings NEEDS to make an outdoor sensor, or someone else should make a Z-Wave one that isn't out of stock everywhere
  • The BBC weather forecast said -2C, it got to -5C
  • The Omlet extreme insulation doesn't keep the coop any warmer than the outside....but there is a caveat. We only have one lone chicken**. Maybe this is only useful if there are several. This did shock me when I saw the temperature plummet to the same as outside, but it shouldn't have as it makes perfect sense.
  • It'd be nice if the smartthings app could graph stuff
  • I really need to write more about the setup of our coop and weather monitoring system using rtl_433, the ws1050 and maybe even a bit on smartthings.
  • Finally, it didn't seem to phase the chicken, she even laid an egg.

*I put them in the same place and checked that after an hour they broadly looked the same, in fact they did calibrate nicely at the temperatures I saw.

**Here is not the place to discuss more chickens, getting more chickens, re-homing this chicken etc etc. Accept that we have one chicken and that's the way it is.


A week or so after this, the sensor completely died and never worked again. It's clear that these sensors are completely unsuitable for below zero operation. This sucks as I plenty of cheaper 433mhz devices work at low temperatures. Come on someone, sort out a ZWave outdoor sensor!

Setting up a sync server for Zotero (unfinished)


Just some quick stuff. I need to write this up properly.

yum update
yum install httpd

service httpd start

Check to see if it's there

[[email protected] ~]# httpd -M | grep fs
dav_fs_module (shared)

Webdav is available!

mkdir /var/www/html/webdav

[[email protected] ~]# chown -R apache:apache /var/www/html/webdav
[[email protected] ~]# chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/webdav

htpasswd -c /etc/httpd/.htpasswd mjv08
New password: 
Re-type new password: 
Adding password for user mjv08

[[email protected] ~]# chown root:apache /etc/httpd/.htpasswd 
[[email protected] ~]# chmod 640 /etc/httpd/.htpasswd

One thing you need to ensure with quadhost is that you run apache on the port that you have available to you.



The Wonderbag, first outing


I saw the Wonderbag in a Guardian article a few weeks ago (there is also a Daily Mail article too) and it was exactly what I had been looking for. I enjoy slow cooking but couldn't bring myself to buy an actual electric slow cooker. I also wanted something like this to take camping, so this is exactly what I wanted. So, I ordered one of the regular Wonderbags from their website.

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The regular one was 30 pounds, and 8 pounds postage, rather than 70 for a fancy 'designer' one. As you can see above, it looked great when it arrived in my office. The cat liked it too.....

First recipe

So the first opportunity to use the Wonderbag was to take it to my friends cottage in Corris, Mid Wales. I got home from work and quickly sorted out the veggie stew and dumplings from the recipes website Link. You can visit the link to take a look, however here it is in a nutshell..

For the Stew

  • 1 large leek
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 300g butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
  • 15g butter
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed
  • 1 large courgette
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 150ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree

For the dumplings:

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 100g vegetarian suet
  • 1/2 tbsp each of chopped fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 25g extra mature vegetarian cheddar, grated

Basically, chop up the veg, add the wine with 100ml of water and bung it in the pan and cook it for about 30 mins. I then made the dumplings and put them on top with a nice covering of cheese. It was all done for 6PM, just 45mins after getting home from work.

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I sealed the pan and hold with tape and put it in the Wonderbag ready for the journey. Since it's an hour journey along some fun welsh roads, it needed strapping in so that I could have a fun drive :-).

So we arrived at 8PM, two hours after I put the stew in the bag. It was a welcome sight and smell after a long week at work. It tasted great too. My only criticism was that the carrots weren't quite done, I should have either left it longer, or cut them smaller.

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