just another web log

30 Aug 2016:
htc vive unity magic setup sequence
The Vive is for research into creating specific VR content. So after prising the kids off the thing (documentation states its not for kids!) I download Unity and followed guide to getting Vive content working.

First up, I have never tried Unity before, although I have watched someone else use it. That said the instructions were to go to the Asset Store and import all the modules for SteamVR. But what ever I tried the example scene would not appear on the Vive, although the HMD tracking did work.

After over three hours of searching and reading ever forum post I could find I have the following steps.

. From the SteamVR control panel (that thing that is always running with the status of the Vive hardware). Select Settings/Developer and click the button marked Disable Direct Mode. (It will not be happy about the choice but just ignore the warnings)
. Make sure the Windows Display Settings has your Desktop as the main monitor(forum post suggest disconnecting any other monitors). Note the position of the monitors(the Vive will be now listed as a second monitor).
. Load up Unity and the example (called Scenes/Example) from the SteamVR asset and click play.
. The Head set will now show red(nothing 3D). Move the mouse to the right(if that was where the Vive monitor was shown in the settings).
. Left click the mouse.

The Vive will now show the 3D world from Unity and the controllers!

All seems very straight forward but just about everyone of those steps was mentioned either independently of each other or as the opposite e.g. "Make the Vive monitor the main", "Enable Direct Mode" etc.

Interaction with Unity with the mouse will BREAK the 3D view in the Vive HMD and you will have to move it back on to the Vive monitor and left click again, presumably to focus.
30 Aug 2016:
htc viv where are my feet
HTC Vive has arrived and it really is a game changer.
No time to blog about it but I do have a couple of comments.

First time using it, biggest reaction was "I have no feet!".
Tracking stops you banging into walls and furniture but does not know where the ceiling is. We have dents.
After using the Vive, going down stairs in the real world just feels wrong.
If you are thinking of getting one, read up on it. We did not expect the "Light house" units.

More when I am not in or managing others in VR ;)
21 Aug 2016:
status update or what I am not doing
Time for a quick status update, mainly to try and keep me in check.

TVDig : I thought this was dead or at least on ice but, it has been running via cron every day and just working. It has a small issue that it duplicates older entries. But at the end of the day it is finding films.
Google Calendar : Oops, complete forgotten about this baby. Life has change so much since Sarah's accident that it is not a valuable to me as it once would have been. Still could be handy.
Python 3D : The Pi sits on the edge of my desk with the Skywriter Hat, permanently powered on. Need to finish that ...
Blender Lab : I have created some lay jars with liquids falling out, just need to add paper and the whirl of atmosphere.
Pi Zero : Yeah, got one of these a few months ago and a part from testing it works it just sits here looking very small. Did take some pictures and I may have even writhed a draft blog post.
Pi Camera : Hmmm, it's still mounted next to my desk and powered on, need to check if its working. Again life has changed my requirements.
Pebble Magic 8 ball : Keep seeing announcements the SDK has been upgraded but I never seem to want to go back. The watch is excellent and still lasts a full week before needing charging.
Virtual Machine browsing : I like this a lot, but I do need to revisit the OS to try and get copy and paste working. Not fun entering 32 character random GUIDs.

There are other things, I seem to be amazingly good at getting distracted. Oh and Sarah just ordered a HTC Vive for her job(really) so I expect that take my attention when it appears.

I wanted to buy The Martian for the Kindle. I love reading on the Kindle. It is so light and I like the dictionary definitions of words I have never seen before in my life or wiki entries for famous people that I am unaware of.

Straight forward, go to Amazon and find The Martian select Kindle and it's £7.99 which is a lot when I normally spend 1-2 pounds on Kindle books, maybe a fiver. Then I notice the paper back version is only £5.99. So I put the whole idea on ice and get on with my life. That led to a visit to HMV to get someone a birthday present. At the till when I went to pay was an offer to get The Martian for £2.99 when spending of 5 quid, which the present was, so thank you very much.

The book is amazing and I literally could not put it down. Well structured and paced with wit sarcasm and humour mixed in with very detailed believable technology and physics. Totally recommend it! Then The Martian was on NowTV after the first 60 seconds I was spitting. They have hollywoodenised it, steer clear and if you have seen it THE BOOK IS BETTER!

Time is leaking
20 Aug 2016:
do my kids eat sd cards and how to shrink them
So the kids have cannibalised their Raspberry Pi's to get the USB cables to charge Kindles and goodness knows where the original Kindle charging cables are. This was some weeks ago and I only just got around to buying a replacement cable for them each.
(we seam to have suspicious lack of USB A to USB B micro cables but a large jar full of USB wall warts).

Plugged in the Pi and ... solid power and solid drive activity LED. Indicates the SD card is bad. Check the seating and other cables just in case but no, it is not happy.

Maybe a corrupt SD card, so I will just take it out and ... hmmm, it will not come out and it looks funny.

The micro SD cards normally have a little lip at the back so you can pull them out of devices, it is not there.

No, I mean it the whole 1mm of card where the lip is, is missing and there is bare metal peaking out of the plastic in its place.
*face palm*

Right the other Pi is fine so lets just get another SD card and clone it. Would be what I could do if, the working card was the same size as the new one. But that would be too easy. The old card is 16GB and the new one is 8GB. And, I know for a fact that the card has only used 4GB.
*face palm*

Hmmm (again). The Raspbian partitions are set up as a FAT boot partition and the main Linux one. So I should be able to clone the boot partition as byte for byte as it's tiny, just 60M. The other one is just a collection of files. I should be able to build it empty and then just copy the files.

Lets try that.

cfdisk /dev/sde
Where /dev/sde is the SD card on my Linux box when attached with an USB SD card reader(it will almost certainly be different on yours, so be careful).

Delete the existing single partition and create a new primary partition of 60M. Set bootable and the type to
c W95 FAT32 (LBA)

Then another primary partition but allow it to use all remaining space. This one is set to type
83 Linux

Write the partition table and quit.

and with the source card found at /dev/sdd (not mounted)
copy the bytes/sectors of the boot partition from one card to the other.
dd bs=4M if=/dev/sdd1 of=/dev/sde1
Where /dev/sdd1 and /dev/sde1 are the first partitions on the two SD cards on my Linux box when attached with USB SD card readers(it will almost certainly be different on yours, so be careful).

Time to make the second partition ready for files
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sde2
Where /dev/sde2 is the second partition on the SD card on my Linux box when attached with an USB SD card reader(it will almost certainly be different on yours, so be careful).

That done I need copy the raw files for the Linux partition.
Mount the two second partitions
mount /mnt/sdd2
mount /mnt/sde2

(I have my /etc/fstab set up to allow this)
and (as root)
cp -ax /mnt/sdd2/* /mnt/sde2/
Where /dev/sdd2 and /dev/sde2 are the second partitions on the two SD cards on my Linux box when attached with USB SD card readers(it will almost certainly be different on yours, so be careful).

(-a is all properties and -x is stay on a single file system, in case there was symlink to another)

Files are copied(took ages)

umount /mnt/sdd2
umount /mnt/sde2

Plugged in Pi.

Power : CHECK
Activity LED : CHECK
Scrolling text : CHECK

This is going well. So I note how we got here and start putting the Pi in its case. The screen turns black as if the X desktop is about to come up and ...
1 minute passes and still a black/blank screen, uh oh. The screen starts to fill with EXT4 block errors. Groan, does this mean the transfer did not work?

Switch to console one CTRL+ALT+F1 and every command including shutdown fails :(
*face ---- no not yet

The bloddy/blimin/*@?X%! SD card has ejected while I was putting the case on!!
*face palm*

Re-seating it and re-powering the Pi and we have ... SUCCESS

The alternatives I read about involved running Gpartd to shrinking the original source SD card and the dd'ing the new shrunk card as we did for the boot partition.

Might have been easier but would have endangered to working SD card and to be useful would have required re-sizing after everything was working again.
15 Aug 2016:
Will a VM snapshot save your life
I have been trying an experiment. Instead of installing lots of browser plugins to remove Ads and make surfing safe I am running all my browsing through a VM.

Its not the perfect solution but I was fed up with sites being incredibly slow when certain things were blocked.

Installed Virtual Box and got a lubuntu image from http://www.osboxes.org. Now anytime I need to surf I awaken my VM, do some surfing and then close and restore to last snapshot. The snapshot was taken before any surfing occurred. That means that I can get bombarded by Ads and cookies and trackers and the reset to as if it was a new machine!

Can even watch YouTube videos at full frame rate with sound!

There are enough problems to call it a right pain. The current source copy of Virtual Box in Gentoo is a little out of date and I was unable to get the VM Additions installed correctly. This means I do not get full screen or clipboard integration or even shared folders. The only way to get stuff onto or off the VM is to attach a USB thumb drive. The VM can see it as a raw USB device and mount it. I just have to remember to un-mount it on the VM and then remount it on my host.

If I had some time I would try something other than Lubuntu and maybe the binary version of Virtual Box.

When I have some time I will try something other than Lubuntu and the binary version of Virtual Box.

So there is a very small risk that malware could target a VM and break out of it but the chances are very very small. In fact the likelihood is that, malware will detect the VM and immediately shut down to avoid being detected. Plus I am not visiting any nasty sites and running the Virtual Box instance as a non-privileged user.
15 Aug 2016:
tv dig on hold while netflix and nowtv expire
The tvdig project is sort of on hold at the moment as we have 4 months of NowTV and we did have a 30 day trial of Netflix.

I have watched so many films in the last five weeks, it's not funny.

The Bleb stuff works but has annoyances that I need to sort out, mainly because the schedule listings are only available up to 6 days in advance.

I do use it every now and then and we have had some great films that have been adapted for TV so the kids can watch them, that you would only see as 12 and 15 certs on the streaming services.

We have found that with a bit of shopping around it can be cheaper to buy a new NowTV box with a four month movie "pass" than to just buy the "pass". The only reason we ever saw NowTV last year was because they were introducing a new hardware box and selling the old ones for a £10 with a 2-3 month entertainment "pass". That was how I watched Game of Throne season one. I would like to watch more but, at an hour per episode it can be VERY time consuming.
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