random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: October 2008 Page 1 of 2

Support for Renewables

We’ve had a pellet boiler installed at these premises for a number of years, and whilst generally pretty efficient and reliable, recently there were some problems which couldn’t be solved with the usual panache of just hitting it and telling it to work. The boiler, a 15 kW Künzel PL15, had got stuck in a de-ashing cycle and would only intermittently fire up before returning to this cycle. Unfortunately, the firm which installed the boiler had in the meantime gone out of business, and our only option was to send for an engineer from a neighbouring county, which took several days, before the unit could be looked at. It turned out to be a problem with the microprocessor controller, the piece of kit which maintains the boiler’s high efficiency, though obviously beyond our capabilities to solve without sufficient technical knowledge (even the engineer who appeared on site had to call back to base for instructions that weren’t included in his handbook).

Unfortunately there appears to be precious little information out there on the web. I spent some moments trying to find descriptions of problems similar to ours, or find a support forum for users of equipment such as ours where we could perhaps get some feedback, without success. That could of course come more as a result of my Googling skills than anything else. Do you know of any sites, forums or otherwise which deals with pellet boilers and their ilk? If not, is there enough call for one to be set up?

Juice on Vista

Whilst installing the latest version of Juice, a cross-platform podcast receiver on Windows Vista, I came across a rather simple error that prevented the program from functioning correctly on the first load, and then from loading thereafter. The error log generated the following output (where xxx indicates the username):

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "gui.py", line 4, in ?
File "iPodderGui.pyc", line 3573, in main
File "ipodder\configuration.pyc", line 468, in __init__
File "os.pyc", line 154, in makedirs
OSError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: 'C:\\Users\\xxx\\My Documents\\My Received Podcasts'

Fortunately the fix seems to be quite simple and pain free (though a bit of a hassle to implement manually), found courtesy of Randall’s Life.

  1. Change the compatability mode of the application to Windows XP SP2 mode. To do this, right-click the application file, or a shortcut to the program, select properties, click the ‘Compatability’ tab and then tick the box to ‘Run this program in compatability mode for:’ and select the appropriate option from the download menu.
  2. Locate the file Ipodder.cfg (normally found under C:\Users\xxx\AppData\Roaming\iPodder) and edit it such that the line reading “download_dir = ‘C:\\Users\\xxx\\My Documents\\My Received Podcasts'” instead reads “download_dir = ‘C:\\Users\\xxx\\Documents\\My Received Podcasts'”.

After that, the program should run normally.

Rise and Fall of the Blogosphere

A recent Wired article has certainly provoked some controversy amongst bloggers. Claiming that blogs are history, and that Twitter, Flickr and Facebook are the future, the post’s author Paul Boutin recommends that anyone who’s thinking of starting a blog should stop, and anyone already writing one should pack it in.

Whilst I wouldn’t normally comment on a post of this ilk (given my feelings about bloggers who blog about blogging) it seems pretty clear that unless Boutin is giving us a tongue-in-cheek excuse for a debate on web trends, he’s essentially wrong in his assessment. After all, it comes as no surprise that Boutin proclaims the fall of the blogosphere from the comfort of a blog entry, nor indeed that he rails against his own ilk in decrying the “tsunami of paid bilge” that ranks highest on the Technorati charts. The idea that blogs should be abandoned on account of the fact that personal blogs rarely garner any extended readership or popularity calls into question why authors set up their blogs in the first place, and why indeed they should switch to other means if popularity is their main objective. Boutin upbraids blogs for being text-only affairs, a charge which I daresay isn’t especially accurate, particularly since it is easily possible these days to integrate precisely those services that are supposed to supercede blogs, such as Flickr or Youtube.

Of course, no one can deny that the nature of the Internet is constantly changing, so much the better, and whilst the blogosphere may start to shrink once the new wave of Web2.0 forms of communication become fully fledged, they will merely overlap and supplement the current crop of technologies available. The continued prominence of email, IRC, Usenet and web forums all point to this fact. So whilst I daresay the number of new blogs appearing on the web will start to slow as new users find outlet to their thoughts on other media, there may always be a place for the humble (and not so humble) blogs that litter the webscape today.

[Via huffenglish.com]

Capital for the Third World


I recently came across a wonderful idea for providing peer-to-peer lending to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The idea seems akin to the principles of the Grameen Bank, providing microcredit in this case primarily as a form of aid. The system allows people with spare cash to browse potential applicants and offer them money in the form of a loan. Kiva works with what they term experienced ‘field partners’ to provide the loans, these bodies being established and recognised sources of finance (which may charge interest on the money to the borrower). Eventually the loans are repaid and the money can be withdrawn, redistributed or donated to Kiva to help cover their organisation’s costs. Of course the levels of finance are fairly miniscule on the larger scale, a far cry yet from providing the many milliards needed to create the level of sustainability needed in many parts of the developing world, through stability, infrastructure, education etc. Yet Kiva has plenty of room to expand, and importantly the principle behind the organisation is sound, in trying to create a direct link between people in the developing world who need capital (and know what they want to do with it) and those with the money and the conscience to try and help. Time will tell how effective Kiva’s mission will be.

I recently installed Ubuntu on a system with a slightly irregular hard drive configuration. Two SATA drives were running Windows on a mirrored (fake) RAID array, and a third SATA drive was ready to have linux installed. The Ubuntu installer recognised the drive as the third hard drive, and installed itself as expected, with Grub installed in the MBR of this drive, being first in the BIOS’ boot queue. However, all references in Grub’s menu.lst for the Ubuntu installation pointed to (hd2,0), which resulted in an “Error 17: Cannot mount selected partition.” message from Grub. The solution was simply to edit the entries to read (hd0,0) for (hd2,0) as Grub now recognised the third drive as the first on account of its place in the boot order.

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