Twitter: 140 Characters to 280 characters work around

So while tweeting on my photography account on twitter, I noticed that it had the new 280 character limit, with excitement I checked my personal one bit sadly still 140 character limit.

Being the geeky type I thought I’ll have a poke around and come across a really simple work around that let’s you tweet with the 280 characters even if your account only let’s you use the 140 characters limit and this is without any code at all.

Here’s the simple steps:

1. Make sure you open send new tweet on your 280 character account.

2. Write your tweet

3. In the change who you send your tweet as part, select any other account you have that doesn’t have the new 280 character limit.

4. And now send your tweet… Simple

I have tested this the other way round, it it doesn’t work unfortunately as it sees the 280 character account as a 140 one (or something like that).

I tested this on an Android device (OnePlus 5 8GB 128GB version running Android 7.1.1 (normal Oneplus Stock ROM), so it will be interesting to see if anyone with a iOS device can do the same.

Update: A couple of people have let me know that this doesn’t work on iOS and gives the error of ‘Failed to send tweet’

 

 

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United Kingdom Drone Laws

There’s be quite a few high profile incidents involving drones in the United Kingdom recently, with the most high profile one being when Gatwick airport was closed due to one being spotted twice in a hour (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gatwick-airport-drone-latest-disruption-flight-diverted-easyjet-runway-closed-a7819841.html)

So I thought as a keen drone operator to write a quick overview on the slightly complex law around drones in the UK and other things to consider.

The main is to remember the heights you can fly at…

When your operating your drone, you need to make sure that it doesn’t endanger anyone or anything.That means keeping your drone within your visual line of sight, which means that it should be no more than 400 feet above you and  500 feet in front of you. If your wanted to go more than this, then you would have to get a permit from the CAA which involves proving that you can fly safely.

Drone use and Date Protection

Another thing to consider is data protection, if your taking photos or video footage, this may apply as people may be identifiable. As you may already know, the United Kingdom’s data laws are highly complex, there,’s requirements such as how images should be collected, stored and also used so it would be worth reading up on the Data Protection Act 1998.

This is especially important of your carrying out surveillance (if you need advice on this, send me a message as I’m a holder of a CAA permit and also CCTV licenced by the SIA)

Flying in Built up Areas

Seeing this is the United Kingdom, chances are this will count to you (looking at people who fly in their back gardens) basically if you want to fly in any congested area or a open-air assembly where there are 1,000 persons present  or more, you need to make sure that your drone is beyond 150 metres of the area or the event and if you wish to fly your drone in an area where there will be any thing not under your control (cars, lorry, people, boats and buildings ect), then you need to make sure you maintain a distance of at least 50 metres between your drone and those properties.

And that’s a quick guide to flying drones in the United Kingdom, of course there’s a lot better guides out there and this isn’t meant as any legal guidance in any way.

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Barbury Castle Revisited: This time from the air

Barbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort that is situated near Wroughton which is a large village in North Wiltshire. Barbury Castle is one of several forts found along the Ridgeway route.

Barbury Castle lies within the Wessex Downs which is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is also an local vantage point, which, with the ideal weather can get a view across to the Cotswolds and the River Severn.

It has two deep defensive ditches and ramparts. The Old Ridgeway runs close by and the modern Ridgeway crosses through the castle which makes it very popular with local walkers.

The site was first occupied around 2500 years ago and was also used during the Roman occupation of the local area.

Archaeological investigations at Barbury have shown evidence of a number of buildings, indicating a village or military garrison around this time.

In more recent times during World War Two, US troops were based there manning anti-aircraft guns.

 

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Bixi: The first touch free remote: Review

The Bixi Box

So a while back on Kickstarter, I decided to back a hands free remote designed to use gestures to do things such as turn lights in and off, answer phone calls while driving and change music on your mobile as while as having input from IFTTT.

Yesterday I received my first Bixi as for some reason they’re sending out my second end one in the second end batch which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Bixi and its packaging

My first thoughts on it was that the box was very nicely done but feels cheap, not really want I expected from a £55 device. The device was nicely presented in a soft foam backing with the outer ring on it and a spare ring which is a nice touch seeing it looks like it can easily be lost when your charging the device. Also it comes with a handy magnet for securing it to other surfaces.

The Bixi

So to the device it self, the build quality is disappointing to say at least. It feels cheap, when you first remove the outer ring to turn it on, you can’t help but to notice the sharp plastic around it. I wish it was dulled a bit. The power button it self is slightly resessed in to the body which makes it a pain to turn on and to turn the device off (more on that later).

The charging port it self is a mirco USB which is kinda nice to see as it’s the most common USB port these days, so your phone charger lead can be used (it doesn’t come with one).

Turning the device on

Turning the device on is easy, you just press the power button and it lights up on the display and you go into the Bixi app and click on ‘find your device’ which then connects via Bluetooth. Very easy and simple.

Using the Bixi

Using the Bixi is a bit of a pain I’ve found, it’s all gestured controlled, you left to play a previous track, swipe right to skip to the next track and so on. The same with lights, or making it act as a trigger for your go pro that is once you’ve connected them to the app which is very easy to do (just your username and password).

The app thro, is very simple and easy to use. As you can see, the device is in the middle showing its name (which you can rename and mine will shortly be renamed after a planet from firefly as all my devices are) as well as the battery level. You can tap the two ‘spaces’ on either side of the device to add task to it such as music or to your smart lights and so on.

Battery life wise, it takes around a couple of hours to get a full charge from empty which is quite good. I’m yet to test to see how long it lasts for and will update accordingly.

Tuning the device off

Good luck on this one, Bixi’s website says you press the power/reset button three times and the display will blink to day its turning off but the unit I have seems like it much rather stay turned on. I’m hoping that it’s a software issues which will be fixed in a update.

Overall

Overall, the Bixi does show promise, the whole idea of a hands free remote using just gestures is a good idea, one that takes some getting used to.

The benefits of having one is useful, like having one in the car is great, it’s just a wave over the device and it answers or declines a call, one on the bike handles to start your go pro recording as well (if you don’t have a go pro remote) to having one simply in the kitchen for when your listening to music and want to skip a track but then again… Alexa can do that (and a much more better job).

So really to sum up, I would save your money, it’s not the best device out there, it feels cheap, hard to get used to and at the moment quite buggy. Whether that is because it’s just come out and new updates will come out and fix these problems or like all new technology, it’s going to take a while to get used to.

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Fallout Perks Timelapse on a HPC LS6840 PRO Lasercutter

So the local Makerspace (Swindon Makerspace) have recently had a HPC LS6840 PRO Laser Cutter on loan from the cool people over at Reprap Ltd, so after many questions (I really don’t fancy breaking a cutter worth a few thousand pounds), I got brave and loaded up the software and loaded up a vector of all the main pip boy perks from the Fallout world and set the cutter going, nearly three hours later, I got this….

Fallout Perks Laser engravement

Not bad going at all, maybe a little bit deep, could have put the speed up a bit as well, but for a first attempt, I  can’t complain.

The time-lapse at the top was shot on using a GoPro Hero 3 +  with around 1400 photos, with one photo every five seconds.

 

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Making a simple Arduino temperature sensor

Recently I decided to play more with an Arduino starter kit that I bought from Amazon (Arduino Uno R3 Board Starter Kit) and make a simple temperature sensor from it. Now when it comes to using the Arduino kits, I had no idea where to start. After some research, I made one reading the temperature in C, F and also the voltage.

Heres a simple guide:

  1. Connect the TMP36/2N3904 temperature sensor to your arduino by connecting the sensor’s VCC pin to the Arduino’s 5v port.
  2. Then the ground pin on the sensor to the GND port on the Arduino
  3. Finally connect the temperature sensor’s VOUT pin to the Arduino’s A0 port.

 

And thats it on the hardware side, now for the software.

//TMP36 Pin Variables
int sensorPin = 0; //the analog pin the TMP36’s Vout (sense) pin is connected to
//the resolution is 10 mV / degree centigrade with a
//500 mV offset to allow for negative temperatures

/*
* setup() – this function runs once when you turn your Arduino on
* We initialize the serial connection with the computer
*/

void setup()
{
Serial.begin(9600); //Start the serial connection with the computer
//to view the result open the serial monitor
}
void loop() {
// {
//getting the voltage reading from the temperature sensor
int reading = analogRead(sensorPin);

// converting that reading to voltage, for 3.3v arduino use 3.3
float voltage = reading * 5.0;
voltage /= 1024.0;

// print out the voltage
Serial.print(voltage); Serial.println(” volts”);

// now print out the temperature
float temperatureC = (voltage – 0.5) * 100 ; //converting from 10 mv per degree wit 500 mV offset
//to degrees ((voltage – 500mV) times 100)
Serial.print(temperatureC); Serial.println(” degrees C”);

// now convert to Fahrenheit
float temperatureF = (temperatureC * 9.0 / 5.0) + 32.0;
Serial.print(temperatureF); Serial.println(” degrees F”);

delay(250); //waiting 60 seconds
}

Then hit verify, then press upload. Open up the serial monitor and you should start getting something like this….

If you do, then well done, you have a basic temperature sensor.

You can copy and paste these results into a text document and save the file as a CSV file to import into Excel to make graphs from it if you wish.

 

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How strong is Steve from Minecraft?

In Minecraft you play as the chacter Steve (well unless you reskin him), and out of curiosity I decided to try and work out how strong he really is. 

So in the game you have 36 slots and in each slot you can carry 64 items. So the heaviest real world item I could find was gold. A cubic meter of this would weigh the best part of 19300kg and each slot can carry 64 of these and you have 36 slots, this of which would total out at around 44.467 million Kgs of gold. 

So in the game each block is made of 9 gold ignets, so based on that each ignet would weigh 2144kg. 

Now that’s a lot of gold to be carrying around on him. 

But yes I am forgetting that you can also make gold armour in the game. Right so a full set of gold armour needs (from memory) 24 ingets presuming there’s nothing lost during making it. This would weigh in at 51466kg… Now that’s weighty. 

Including the back pocket full of gold and the armour, this would be 44.519 million Kgs of gold… 

So cash for gold anyone? 

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Trying to repair a 1930’s Violet Wand

Now I’m quite a fan of all things old and shiny, but also sometimes a fan of collecting old and unusual things from online auction houses much to the dismay from my wife to be. While traveling in the car I spotted a vintage Trojan Violet Wand dating back to 1930’s being sold for only £60 as a spares or repairs job. Now these devices are really well known in the BDSM scene and are also collectors items. I thought ‘why not, it be a fun project to restore and maybe sell’. Fully restored ones can go for at least £300/£400 depending on the name, the items that come with it and also how well its been restored.

On a first look, the case and the unit look really well condition, almost too well so not being a idiot,, me and a friend decided to take the power unit apart to see about the wires but also to understand the unit a bit more.

IMG_20160608_165514

This shows the main switch to select between the 110 volts and 240 volts, but also the main coil. The wires all need rewiring, the solder needing redoing, basicly anything that can come off or looks like it might kill someone needs redoing.

IMG_20160608_165551

 IMG_20160608_181630

We attached an old microwave cap to replace the old one on the unit as we didn’t trust it. After a quick power up, it started clicking but not making the wand attachment glow. The cap we replaced was rated as ‘0.18uf 2500 volts’ so quite a beast. We think either that the mircowave cap was too highly rated or the coils were broken.

So now it’s back to the interwebs to try and find a cap rated for this, replace it again, test, hope its the cap, if not its going to be a pain to recoil the main unit and then the handle.

If you know any history on this unit or the fixing of wands, get in touch.

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