How to destroy scouting

In the new “InTouch” system – a reasonably sensible system for providing home contact for all scouting activities, I found that any Home Contact (sitting at the end of a phone) needs a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau check)!

And the FAQ’s explain why :


So in other words this should make it a lot harder to get anyone to help out – this is IMHO incredibly short sighted.

And surely this breaks the CRb rules which state (all references from this document) :

The Vetting and Barring Scheme aims to prevent unsuitable people from undertaking certain paid or volunteer work with children or vulnerable adults (‘regulated activity’)


With the definition of regulated activity :

Regulated activity covers anyone working closely with children or vulnerable adults, either paid or unpaid, not part of a family or personal arrangement (see box on page 4), on a frequent or intensive basis (see box on page 7). It can include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

• Teaching, training or instruction, care or supervision of children or provided wholly or mainly to vulnerable adults.

• Providing advice or guidance for children.

• Providing advice, guidance or assistance wholly or mainly to vulnerable adults.

• Any form of healthcare treatment or therapy provided to children or vulnerable adults.

How can “working closely with” be a definition for a “home contact”????
And how does it relate to “frequent and intensive” when the definition is :

Work in any of the specified settings or specified activities listed in this section is regulated activity if it is done frequently (once a month or more) or intensively (on three days or more in a single 30-day period).

Seriously flawed legal system

If this story is even remotely true – then it is about taking a company to court over a product that noone has had for more than week – so in other words you will not have given the manufacturers any chance to remedy any such problems.

Seriously wrong regardless of who the company is.

Law firm Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff has already targeted the iPhone 4 in a potential class-action lawsuit against Apple. The firm is currently seeking out iPhone owners who have experienced poor reception quality, dropped calls, and weak signals.

[From MacNN | Lawsuit quickly targets iPhone 4 over reception issues]

Driving RGB LED tape

I just bought a 5 metre roll of RGB LED’s – after reading this Jeelabs article. I even bought the necessary MOSfet transistors to build the driver board.

But then I came across this story – and I happen to have a BlinkM MaxM laying around

Using MaxM with flexible RGB tape
A single BlinkM MaxM can easily drive a 5 meter (16 ft) roll of the flexible RGB SMD LED tape that’s used for architectural lighting. Each roll contains 150 RGB LEDs.

Each LED in the tape is a SMD RGB “5050” LED, capable of putting out about 6000mcd. The spacing between LEDs is 3.3cm (~1.25″).

Every 3 LEDs is a cut mark with solder tabs so you can cut or join pieces of tape.

Max current for a 5m roll is about 1.9 Amps. I did a quick test of MaxM driving three rolls at about 6A and it seemed fine.

[From Using MaxM with flexible RGB tape « todbot blog]

So now I will have to try this out tonight (after it gets dark).

Btw. these are made to be driven from a 12v source – and the MaxM blaster board will have to be powered from the external source barrel connector, as the board apparently can take 12V, and as a strip can draw up to 1.9 amps it will require a decent power supply.

A centralised store for house automation data

In my hobby work on house information/house automation for our house I needed somewhere to store all the most recent data collected from various sensors and systems, in such a way that it would be accessible from any computer on our extended network. And I chose to use Memcached – as it is running purely in memory, and by its very nature is fast and accessible over the network.

It’s data is not persistent after a crash – but I had no need for this, as I collect data very frequently, and persistence was not needed.

Here is a recent output from a dump of data stored in memcached :


I can now access this data from any computer on the network – useful for distributed display purposes,

The first 6 variables have been picked up from a weatherstation – which displays it’s data as a webpage. I wrote a Ruby script to scrape the data off this webpage, to make it possible to generate new displays and to be used by other services..

The 4 last variables have been collected from 3 Jeenodes around the house, and currently represent temperature reading, and the last time movement was detected by the movement sensor of Jeenode ID 36.

One more home control component

Today I got my act together to do the next part of our home control system.

So far we have a number of sensors dotted around the house

– Temperature and humidity outside

– Temperature and humidity in the Library

– Temperature in the living room

– Whole house electricity usage

– Boiler 1 on flame sensor

– Boiler 2 on flame sensor

– Temperature in boiler cabinet

But on the output side it is rather sparse – so far we only have

– 4 lines of 20 characters LCD display controlled from server

Todays addition is another LCD display that in addition has a expander plug where all digital pins can be controlled as output digital pins. One of the outputs is connected to a small relay. The other side of the relay can drive a +12v power supply connected to one or more fans.

When the temperature inside the cabinet housing exceeds a set temperature the fan is turned on. The temperature is transmitted to the server, and a script on the server transmits the necessary commands to the jeeduino with the relay to turn this on or off.


So a small step for mankind, but the ability to control any number of outputs/relays from the server is a significant step for our home control capabilities.

Subutai Corporation

Neal Stephenson is up to something interesting – again :

We are developing our first project, The Mongoliad.

The Mongoliad is a new kind of serialized novel, created by Neal Stephenson, and written by Neal, Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and a number of other great authors. It will be told via custom apps on iPad, iPhone, Kindle, and Android, and will be something of an experiment in post-book publishing and storytelling.


[From Subutai Corporation]

How to acheive negative SEO

Oh how good is this :

I am very excited about the contents of M.I.A.’s new album, judging from the material that’s been sneak-leaked so far. But hipsterrunoff points out that the album’s title is really problematic from an SEO (search engine optimization) standpoint: /\/\/\Y/\ is supposed to spell out MAYA, using forward and back slashes in a sort of nod to leetspeak and txt-y truncation. Ever try searching for a series of slashes in Google? Yeah. It’s gonna be a bit of a marketing problem for her, I’d guess. (via PSFK) [From Is M.I.A.’s new album title un-Googleable SEO poison?]