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A hug

At work yesterday, one of the afternoon workers, before her shift began, was holding hands with another woman. The reason being that her hands were very cold.
Some of the girls were making comments about two girls touching. I muttered that nobody ever touches me. A few "aww"s. So I said "hey, it's nearly my birthday, I could do with a hug". It was intended as a flippant comment, until the cold-handed girl said "alright", and came and gave me a hug.

It's strange. I can live here completely by myself in a lengthy lockdown without losing my marbles, but there are some little things that I miss. Like, you know, being hugged once in a while. A little reminder that one matters to somebody.

As for her cold hands, I told her of the British expression "cold hands, warm heart".


Bye bye Eagle

When Eagle became Classic Hits Radio Surrey and East Hampshire, or some mouthful like that, I had a worry because Bauer Group run the Planet Radio stations. A worry because Bauer runs the nice sounding Planet Eighties, but "due to legal reasons" (read: they're too cheap) the stream is not available outside of the UK.
Well, there's an audio notice on the old Eagle stream saying that the stream is closing down soon. The new stream is easy enough to find. However... due to legal reasons...
So, that it then. Soon no more news and info from where I used to live in the UK. No more hearing that it's all falling apart on the Bisley Interchange or what's going on in Guildford.

Oh well. I guess with Brexit shaping up to be a disaster with the government willing to throw the entire country under the bus in support of a minority industry (they could pension off the entire fishing industry for far less than the impact on other industries will cost, and unless Brits suddenly change their eating habits, roughly 70% of the British catch is sold to Europeans), I guess considering that, it is time to view the UK as "that place that issues my passport". Nothing more.


Sometimes the simplest methods are the best

My weather station always had trouble receiving from its outdoor sensor (the typical 433MHz transmission) when in my bedroom. I wonder if there's some sort of metal in the glass of my windows? It worked in the summer, it often flaked out in the Spring and Autumn.

And now? It's pretty much given up completely. I've moved the receiver all around, but no deal. It's just not picking up.

So I wondered about a serial cable, until I saw the price of a 10 metre cable.

The next plan was to get that ESP8266 to do something. I need serial Tx/Rx at 2400 baud. It's standard 8N1. I also need two I/O pins to mimic DTR and RTS, which it just happens to have. Toggling these signals serial activity to the device, and these then provide the low and high levels. The device responds by switching between them to mimic a serial stream. There's no ground connection, it's a bit of a freaky way it's done.
Anyway, I figure that, even with running at something like 3.3V, it might be capable of communicating via serial. Unfortunately my 8266 responds to AT commands, instead of running something like Lua, so I'd need to write some code in the lovely tedious Arduino IDE. But it shouldn't be too hard to extract data from the weather station (I've already written code to do that, in BASIC), pack it up as a reguest, and then toss the URL to WebJames on my Pi. WebJames will hand the data over to a CGI program (probably written in BASIC) that would unpack the data, build the web page, and record the values.

Then I had a brainwave.

RJ11 extension cable
RJ11 extension cable.

I ordered it yesterday at 7.42am, just before going to work. Amazon said I'd get it on Monday.
It was sent at 10.55am that day, using a private parcel company.
It arrived just after noon today.

I'm sure certain sections of the British media will start dumping on Big Bad Amazon as is somehow traditional in the days before Christmas. The "We all have to pee in our clothes because we can't take breaks, we aren't allowed meal breaks, we aren't allowed, we have to work twenty four hours a day and when we finally get home our fathers whip us for not working more, and when our fathers get too tired we have to whip ourselves and....." rubbish, as if anybody these days isn't aware that working there is like becoming a biological robot.
However, say what you want, they do deliver the goods.

The serial protocol is slow. 2400 baud used to make it through phone lines. It is also, due to the slow processing power of the weather station, programmed with the expectation of failure and to try it again, and again...
With that in mind, I placed the weather station on the living room table and passed the extension lead (is that really ten metres? it's like just exactly enough!) into my room and into the plug that would normally have connected to the station.

All those big complicated plans, and really a fiver later and a couple of minutes to throw the lead into place, and it all works. Simple, quick, and job done.


Chocolate and plastic

See? I made nice title and end screens. Woo! Production values!
Just a shame I wasn't fully awake so I made them 1080×720 (to fit the HD video). Maybe tomorrow, after tea, I'll rejig them to the correct size of 1280×720!



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Zerosquare, 5th December 2020, 21:12
Happy early birthday! 
Why not use a free VPN to listen to the stream using a UK-based IP address?
David Pilling, 6th December 2020, 02:20
UK media are hammering Amazon over the PS5 events. Something like you get a message saying your PS5 is going to be delivered in 5 minutes and then it isn't or you get a George Forman Grilling machine instead. This is what it is like at the end of the world, everyone moaning about their PS5 not showing up. 
The most interesting thing I did with 433MHz was to connect the receiver output to audio - can hear all the different devices in the neighbourhood. There is that aspect if you're unlucky your neighbours doorbell or whatever will block your weather station. 
I believe there are universal decoders around (for the RTL SDR dongle and Arduino), grab all your neighbours data. 
But you probably are a long way from other 433MHz devices. 
When I started with the 8266, LUA was the way to program it. 
David Pilling, 6th December 2020, 02:24
Oh yeah, the thing with weather stations is sync. they only power up the receiver when they expect the transmitter to transmit. All fine as long as the clocks stay in sync.
John, 6th December 2020, 09:59
And there's me not even knowing what a PS5 is (and content!).
Rick, 6th December 2020, 14:43
VPN is not useful, as it neither my netradio nor the Android app support it. Oh well. There are other options for eighties music, and the two stations I listen to a lot (PPN and Gothique13) don't suffer from such problems. 
I have an older indoor/outdoor gizmo that refuses to boot up (put in batteries, all the LCD elements turn on, and it stays that way). There appears to be a separate 433MHz receiver board. I wonder... ;-) 
As for the receiver, it is always powered up because how often the transmitters broadcasts depends upon the weather conditions. If nothing interesting is happening, it is... I don't know, something like every 3 minutes. If there is a lot of wind, or it is changing direction a lot, or the rain meter clicks over, it'll make additional broadcasts. 
I'm running the receiver on batteries right now, but normally it connects to a power supply (and in that case, the backlight is always on). 
John - PS5, I'd imagine the 5th incarnation of the PlayStation games console. 
Rob, 4th January 2021, 22:54
Good on with the cable; sometimes the simple solution really is the best. 
As for VPN... I've done it by using an old wireless router running, ISTR, DD-WRT, with the VPN set up on that. Plug that into your existing network, then any time you want a VPN from a device that doesn't natively support it, just connect to the alternate WiFi!

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