My undiminishing love for Intel NUC has diminished

After years of building my own Mini-ITX's I gave up and started buying the teeny tiny Intel NUC's when they came out a few years ago. For a desktop (without playing games) they were powerful enough, fast enough with SSD, and most importantly quieter than any Mini-ITX I'd built (and, at the price of lack of upgradability, smaller).

I continued to -force- recommend them onto relatives who asked about a new computer, so when I built a new home media server the NUC was the obvious choice. And it's fine except the noise level seems to have gone up for some reason, which was one of the original attractions.

Then, I recently ran into the hibernate bug (mea culpa, I hadn't updated the BIOS in over a year), just as I needed to do some work, and instead had to spend an hour or two taking apart the box to get to the CMOS battery. Love diminishing.

So when I started to /dream/ about building a Steam machine, and saw that coming out in May is the Intel NUC Skull Canyon (, mixed feelings. The price will probably be the main decider.

Raspberry Pi 7" Screen Stand

After my initial enthusiasm last year for the official 7" touchscreen for the Pi, I was stopped (easily happens) but the lack of any stand for it, so it ended up gathering dust in a box (obviously if I had DIY skills I would have hand carved an authentic traditional wooden screen holder, but I don't, so I didn't).

Anyway, I was glad to see that the chaps & chapesses at Pimoni ( who have far more DIY skills than me have made one, in lots of groovy (I use the word advisably) colours. So one ordered and hopefully my project for an all-knowing screen (mainly to tell me when to run for the train) will be back on track (ahem).

Site migration

Another year, another attempt to revive the blog with another blog system. Glad I picked a static generator before, as easy to migrate the content across to Nikola. Now to keep the same blogging rate up as before!

Museum Island Objects

Prompted by the "Natural History Museum's": attempt to "do away with": Dippy the (fake) Dinosaur (quite rightly), I wondered why some museums are automatically associated with a single object, and others aren't. My attempt to record this:

| Museum | Object | Notes | | :----- | :-----: | :-----: | | British Museum | Rosetta Stone | or Elgin Marbles ? | | National Gallery | Sunflowers | Certainly makes them loads of money in their shop | | National Portrait Gallery | ? | Hard to say. Chandos Shakespeare ? | | Natural History Museum | Dippy | Doomed! | | Science Museum | ? | Oddly enough, nothing really springs to mind. Babbage's difference engine possibly but it is too recent | | Victoria & Albert | ? | Perhaps so much variety it's hard to compress down to one object ? | | Imperial War Museum | The guns outside | And the medal gallery |

More to be added.

The Hard Problem

I was quite pleased with myself to get a ticket to Tom Stoppard's new play about consciousness ("The Hard Problem") at the National Theatre, so it's a bit of shame that I didn't really like it that much. Perhaps the problem is from reading popular science books I knew most of the examples that were trotted out, and didn't really think they were explained very well. The play also started so slowly without any chemistry (obligatory science pun) between the characters, it took a while to relax into it, and by then it was obvious the way the story was heading. Not expecting an answer to the 'Hard Problem' in the play, but this just didn't really work as a play or as an interesting introduction to the science.

Humidity & the Internet of Things

Joining the Internet of Things for rather prosaic purpose of trying to track down the source of humidity in my flat. After finding a decent (i.e. cheap) humidity sensor with Bluetooth Low Energy (Texas Instruments SensorTag - monitors ambient temp (and object temp), humidity, magnetic field (or somesuch) and various other readings of no use to me (motion and height), the next task was to find something that could use it and make pretty graphs from it.

Installing The Things System

Following main instuctions, but first you ight need to install a selection from , plus libbluetooth-dev

By the way npm install drags in a lotf of dependencies, about 200MB or so.

Starting up the steward leads to an error with sqlite:

Forcing a rebuild of sqlite3:

npm install sqlite3 --build-from-source

seemed to fix that. The next problem was:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'sax'

which was fairly easily fixed with:

npm install sax

which helped get things further on, loading the drivers, before crashing out with

alert: [steward] exception diagnostic=ENOENT, no such file or directory '/home/richard/Git/steward/steward/node_modules/yoctolib/lib'

fixed with:

npm install yoctolib

Next error:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'oauth'

Fix: npm install oauth

Next error:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'ctype'

Fix: npm install ctype

Next error:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'node-expat'


npm install node-expat

Next error:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'asn1'


npm install asn1

Next error:

uncaught exception: Error: Cannot find module 'mathjs'


npm install mathjs

Next error (getting close!)

uncaught exception: TypeError: object is not a function alert: [steward] exception stack=[{"fileName":"/home/richard/Git/steward/steward/node_modules/kumoapp-tsrp/kumoapp-tsrp.js","lineNumber":3,"functionName":"","typeName":"Object","methodName":null,"columnNumber":38,"native":false}


npm -l install
npm install kumoapp-tsrp


Interstellar - Top marks for effort but...

Told it was a film worth seeing on the biggest screen possible, so went to the IMAX, and certainly the visual scenes (almost) made the eye-watering ticket price worthwhile.

However, despite occasional attempts to be a philosophical film, it seemed to sadly suffer from what I imagine were notes from the studio along the lines of "give us a happy ending", which rather destroyed the narrative (and seemed totaly unscientific, given all the careful discussion of the effects of relativity/ageing). Also, the interesting points about how humans could cope with leaving Earth were never really explored (sic) in depth, as they kept being interrupted by rather dull scenes 'back on Earth'.

So, a good effort, ruined quite a lot by a confused romantic space film that someone seemed to think they were making instead. Maybe the Director's Cut will restore some of the philosophy (and drop some of the more clunky 'love will save us all' dialogue).


A very useful note from a blog I have now lost the link for (sorry anonymous blogger) on ensuring the vhost_net module is loaded if you are running virtual machines with virtio, as it will shift some of the work from userspace to the kernel, which could reduce CPU load on the host machine for network and IO ops on the guest.

More info:

  • "Linux-KVM":
  • "":

(N.B. Possible problem with using DHCP and vhost_net)