Category Archives: Blog

Abercam Viewers, Pi Rover, PiMS

Abercam

As we have been in the middle of a good storm here in Aberystwyth, Abercam has again been getting a good few hundred different people viewing it every day, and over 3000 page views this month. As well as streaming live images of Aberystwyth all over the world, I also tasked it with taking a snapshot every couple of seconds, which I have made into time lapses and stuck on YouTube here.

abercam shots

 

Pi Rover

Found this great YouTube video of a chap who has done many different random things such as making a little printer and milling machine using the Pi, but what interested me most was he has also built a Pi Car… And you can drive his little Pi Rover here: http://www.homofaciens.de/technics-robots-rover-control_en_navion.htm

 

PiMS

PiMS? Yes it has Pi in it. Its the topic I have chosen for my dissertation here in my final year at Aberystwyth. I will be creating a Raspberry Pi Management System that will manage engines such as those found in the Internal Fire Museum of Power in Cardigan. The system will monitor different temperatures, fluid levels (water/oil/fuel etc) and engine speed, notifying museum staff if any of these falls outside a set range.

 

Now back to work…

Matt

 

 

Quiet Time

Sorry about the quiet period, I’ve been making the most of my time back at home after finishing my Internship at Google, and also have had a problem with updating WordPress. The problem turned out to be the disc that my site resides on, is full. After a couple of weeks of waiting, 000webhost appeared to fix the problem, I assume moving my site to a disc with free space, but neglected to also move my SQL databases with it, meaning that WordPress and Ministar Galactica broke. Combine this with a PHP error that I saw a few months ago here, but recently on the Aber-links site, which was fixed by the line “define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’128M’);” to the wp-config.php file, which now overrides the default maximum PHP memory limit that my host sets.

A few quick notes:

Google

It is with much regret that I handed in my laptop and badge in Google London, as my year-long internship was over. I have had an amazing time, and am thoroughly grateful to the company for taking me on and providing me with so many opportunities to expand my knowledge in many fields from both computer maintenance and software engineering, to large scale computer fleet management and more. I have visited many offices around the world, met many techs and other employees, and made a lot of friends. It was sad to leave, but I hope to once again roam the floors of Google in the future.

Pi Cars

Pi Car 01 is still happily roaming, and his brother has just got a few upgrades (smaller breadboard, V2 black WiFi antenna like Pi Car 01 etc). I do hope to get a Raspberry Pi Camera to test out at some point .

Kickstarter

I have funded many many things, and successful projects are starting to arrive. A more in-depth post with pictures will follow, but in the meantime, check out kickstarter’s discover projects page – I would recommend the ‘Design‘ and the ‘Technology‘ sections.

Matt

Industrial Year Placement – Google

The course that I am studying, G401 Computer Science, included a mandatory year in industry as our third year, our fourth year being the last year of teaching. Although it is possible to not do the year in industry, I can see nothing but positives to be gained from a year being immersed into the real world of work, gaining vital and valuable experience about the field of employment you may wish to pursue for the foreseeable future. As well as earning some money to go towards paying back our University fees, it gives a chance for employers to get to know you, and for you to demonstrate your natural abilities and work ethics in a more genuine environment over the course of the placement, rather than under pressure in a short hour long interview.

Upon hearing about industrial year placements, and discovering the benefits mentioned above, I decided that it would be a very good idea, and when the second year started, I began researching the companies and placements that interested me, earlier than the majority of my colleagues. Why so early? Knowing that sometimes placements get filled before their application deadlines, and being the sort of person that likes back-up options and fall-back plans as standard,  I started preparing my CV for the applications. I started off by applying to the places I really wanted to work for, such as Google, Intel and HP. I also then applied to about another 4 companies or so, to ensure I had enough back-up options I was not successful in obtaining one of my preferred placements.

I started applying for these placements in late November last year,  after our University trip to Gregynog [where employers helped us improve our CV's and interview techniques]. It is now February, and I still have not heard from many companies, however I have heard from a few, and a few important ones…

I was relatively sure I would not hear from Peugeot-Citeroen, as their application website kept loosing my progress, and not submitting my application. Despite creating a new account, and trying again – still no luck as the site threw errors and lost my progress. HP said they were very busy, as they had many applications. ProspectSoft gave me a phone interview and a coding challenge a while back, but I have since heard nothing from them. Gloversure offered me an interview very recently. Those were mainly my back-up choices, running along side my preferred applications.

Intel gave me a phone interview, online test, and I also attended an assessment centre. It provided me with great experience, and I was offered the placement there, which did look brilliant, but I was still pursuing the Google internship, the one I really wanted more than anything. My trip down to Google last summer for the Google BOLD immersion programme had made me see what a clever, logical and innovative company Google was, and I knew that I would love to be a part of their team.

I have now been offered an Internship with Google, and can’t wait to go to work for them. I really look forward to going somewhere where I can be happy, make a difference, and have my innovative, logical ideas listened to, ideas that can save time, money and other resources. I have found it frustrating in the past to see the companies that employ me waste money where there is no need, and are unwilling to listen to other’s advice. I am now very much looking forward to July, where new experiences, people and knowledge will be found.

Matt out.

 

Lets Get Things In Order – Custom Post Order

As you may know if you use WordPress, newer blog posts are shown at the top of pages, and they push old posts further down. This is fine for someone blogging bits of news and interesting stories, but didn’t quite cut it for my posts on my computer build. I wanted users to be able to read from the beginning and see it being built up and progressing – rather than reading the posts backwards and seeing it being disassembled into components.

I also wanted just my “Build 2.0” category and other progression based topics to have this styling, not all of them. One idea I had was to make a webpage in HTML as a sort of contents or index of my build. This way I could order the links to each blog post in any way I wanted(using their permalink addresses). This doesn’t make it very readable, as users would have to open each link as a new tab for each tiny bit of the story, and also I would have to remember to grab the permalink for each new post and add it to the HTML page… “There’s gotta be a better way..”

After looking on the internet for some sort of “WordPress Organiser”, I found many people had searched for “WordPress Order”. Well ordering my posts – that was exactly what I wanted. It seemed the best plugin for the job was “Custom Post Order

Very easy to use, I installed by going wp-admin –> Plugins and searched and installed it from there.

To configure, go Settings –> Custom Post Order. From there you can tell your posts WHAT to order by (names, dates, titles etc), HOW to order (Ascending / Descending) and WHICH posts you would like it to apply to (specify categories or all)

Here are the options you get:

Order By




Order Direction

Apply To

You then see your list of categories (and sub categories!!) that you can check to apply it too.

Very useful plugin, did exactly what I wanted to :). If you want it too, search for “Custom Post Order” or go to their WordPress plugin page here.

Matt

Config settings

WordPress, as great as it is, doesn’t magically work out of the box – you have to give it a few settings of the database you want it to use. Fair enough.

The file for this is located in the root of the directory you extracted into. The name of the file is “wp-config.php”. In here, you must set the database name, host, and a username and password.

Where do you find this information? Well when I did it for a university assignment, we had to set up our uni accounts with the MySQL server, create a database, name and password in a special way. However, in the real world – turn to your webhost (assuming they provide you with MySQL etc). My free webhost (000webhost) provides this, and it was easy to create a new database by going to MySQL under the control panel. I created a database, provided it with a username and password, and it was done. It provided me with a nice little text that I could save that included all the details I needed for the config file. Change the config file’s username, password etc in your favourite text editor, I use (Notepad++). Save these changes, make sure that the updated file is on the server, then go to www.BLOGDIRECTORY/wp-admin/install.php  replacing BLOGDIRECTORY with where your blog was extracted. This brings up a nice little WordPress user interface if the database is all good, (the new blank database you created earlier) to name your blog and create an admin name and password.

Bingo. You should be all done. Go and have a look around, and delete the “Hello World” post under posts. Choose a theme (see which one I chose), and start blogging away!

Why do I write what I do in detail?

I write in a reasonable amount of detail so that people can follow exactly in my footsteps if they wish. This way they know exactly what to do, and what the end result should be. I think this comes from my own worries – In technology it can be hard to do things exactly right if instructions are lousy. For all I know, someone reading this post may have little computer experience, and may be interested in having a look at blogging. A “power user” however will not need this level of detail, but it may be useful for them to refer back to if something goes wrong.

If you are a new user, and have tried to follow something I’ve done and it hasn’t gone quite as expected, please do get in touch. (Click that link to open your email client. Email not displayed freely on the webpage to give me a tiny line of defence from bots crawling through web pages picking up email addresses to spam).

Recommendations: Try WordPress. Look at their site for lots of awesome themes. Use Notepad++, it highlights the syntax of many different languages, loads quickly and is very useful. I’d buy it if it wasn’t free.

Matt out

Theme

I had a good look around some themes, and decided that the “LightWord” theme suited me quite well. Quick, simple and easy to read. Find it here: LightWord.

Matt out

Blogging about blogs

Just managed to get a new blog set up on my site matthewrobbins.co.uk. This turned out to be a bit more of a hassle than I originally thought, mainly due to the fact that I wanted all of the unzipped WordPress files in the blog directory, but when unzipped they go into their own “WordPress” directory. Moving the files up and out of that directory caused many errors and problems, probably due to changing path names. I looked at sending the unzipped files off my machine to the server through my FTP client FileZilla, but it looked like this was going to take huge amounts of time as each of the 900 files was uploaded individually, it’s permissions were changed, the directory was re-listed etc..

In the end I unzipped the files on my machine, then re-zipped them into a folder called “blog”. When extracted automatically by the server, they all went to their new blog directory, and are now happily living there.

Recommendations: Don’t try and upload 900 files through FTP clients. Zip as the folder you are aiming for, and let it unzip into the folder you desire automatically. Also bear in mind your web host (000webhost for me) may have a button hidden somewhere to upload a zip/tar file and it will upload, unzip and place the files for you.

Matt out