Developer from the UK, currently making cool stuff at The Outlook Creative Group.
Podcasting weekly at munchtech.tv.


Disable the power LED on a Raspberry Pi 4

January 2, 2022

For so long it didn't even occur to me that you could possibly turn off the power LED on the Pi at all, so it just sat there like an ominous dark glow lighting up the room every night.

Did some digging (my early Google searches revealed everyone has a different way of solving this issue, most of which don't seem to work any more on a newer Pi) and came across this StackOverflow answer.

To summarise, if you want to turn off the LED:

sudo su
echo none > /sys/class/leds/led1/trigger

If you want to turn it back on:

sudo su
echo default-on > /sys/class/leds/led1/trigger

The only issue I've had so far is that it's not persistent when rebooting, so if anyone has a solution for this, please let me know!

For an older Pi

I haven't checked this myself, but I believe on older Pis you can re-enter the raspi-config and disable the LED's in there. This option is still present on the Pi 4 but once you enter it, you'll get a notice saying it's unavailable.


Best of 2021

December 31, 2021

Books

The Backyard Adventurer by Beau Miles

Beau Miles quickly became one of my favourite content creators over the past couple of years, one of those "drop everything, there's a new video" type.

This book goes hand in hand with his YouTube channel and gives further insights into some of the things he's done in videos. I highly recommend going through his channel and watching...well everything because it's great...before reading it.

I read the book as there was no audio book at the time, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't read it in his voice in my head. I've now purchased the audio book and plan on re-visiting it very soon!

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

I think by now everyone knows the story of Theranos but prior to reading this I had no idea who they were or what they did, boy was I in for a story!

I think I found this on Bill Gate's reading list and from what I remember he called it a "page turner" and he absolutely was not wrong.

The audio book "Thicker Than Water" gets an honourable mention here too, it's a great subsequent read from someone on the inside.

Honourable mentions

Apps

WorkOutdoors for the Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch and you're looking for something more than just the built in Workouts app then this is a game changer.

For me it gets the most use with walking and running, but it can handle pretty much any activity under the sun. I especially love it for running as I can put my interval schedules in and I'll just get a tap on the wrist or a ping in my AirPods (connected to the watch) when it's time to move on to the next interval.

It's about £5 so not cheap (funny how we've become contempt with dropping £400 on a watch or £1000 on a phone and then deem £5 for an app "expensive" 🙄) but it is absolutely worth every penny.

PlexAmp

I've spent the past few years re-building up my CD collection for various reasons, partly because there is something to owning your music in at least CD quality, partly because I built a 256GB iPod Video and a big factor has been some things randomly disappearing from streaming services.

In that same time I've also been looking for a way of playing everything, pointless having a collection if you can't actually play it. This journey had reminded me just how bad iTunes had become over the last few years of it's life, so that was out of the question. A few basic requirements of mine were; it needed to work cross-device and ideally I would like to manage the file structure of the music (i.e. not have the app doing it for me).

PlexAmp was the best solution by far, it meets both of the requirements and then some. A small catch is it requires a "Plex Pass" at £3/month but that's absolutely worth it to support the development of Plex/PlexAmp. I've got a Plex server running on my old Mac Mini and all my Music is then stored on my Synology. I've got a funky (but working) way of getting music to my iPod and still having it work wit Last FM, which I'll cover in another post at some point.

Music

Lifeforms by Angels and Airwaves

This is an easy one and it's not even close. The last Angels and Airwaves album came out in 2014 so it's safe to say this one was log awaited, but it absolutely did not disappoint.

A great mix of the classic AVA sound and with some modern twists. It's tough, but I think "Losing my Mind" is my favourite....this week.

All being well, off to see them in March on tour, hyped!

Cry Forever by Amy Shark

Amy Shark nailed "the tricky second album" as this one is arguably even better than the first (which is fantastic).

C'MON features what might be Travis Barker's most subdued drum track, but somehow it just works perfectly.

UK tour when?!

Honourable mentions

TV & Film

Honestly there's not a whole lot this year that really stood out to me in the TV & Film category, obviously a lot of things have been on hold/delayed so it hardly comes as a surprise. I've recently enjoyed Hawkeye on Disney+, the Black Widow film was pretty good too but other than that, I can't think of anything that really stood out to me.

General Magic (Documentary)

I actually think this came out before this year but anyway, I watched it this year and really enjoyed it. Offers a great insight into General Magic ad a really interesting look back at technology development at the time, so much of the stuff we take for granted today and where it came from/started.

Happy new year everyone and here's to a better 2022 🤞


Happy 20th birthday iPod!

October 23, 2021

20 years ago today Apple announced the iPod to the world. I still remember getting my first iPod (the original Shuffle), such a game changing device at the time. After that I moved to the 3rd Generation Nano (The red one pictured above) and then on to the iPod touch (2nd and 4th Generations, bottom right). Since then I've gone on to collect a bunch more and even dabbled in bringing my 5th Gen into the modern world by swapping out the ailing 80GB Hard Drive for a 256GB SD Card, that's a lot more than a 1000 songs in your pocket.

Part of me was really hoping Apple would give some kind of nod to the iPod today, considering what a game changer it was for both them and the world but alas. Here's to the next 20 years!


2004 iMac G5 - Round 2

August 24, 2021

In my last post I talked about the "new" iMac G5 I'd acquired (knowing something was wrong) that had one of the well known/documented graphics card failures. After making that post I ordered a refurbished motherboard from The Bookyard (vintage Apple heaven) but before fitting it, we thought we'd try heating the chip up to see if re-flowing it would achieve anything, I mean hey, we can't make it any worse...right?

Well, after a couple of attempts we achieved......nothing. Actually, I think we made it worse? Oh well, on to fitting the new board!

The G5 is an extremely simple machine to work on which is good thing considering how many common faults they have!

From this...

...to this

Out with the old and in with the new

Tadaa! It all works! It booted right into the last users system which was jarring, they'd left everything on there. It was very clearly a family computer that at one point just got parked (when the chip went bad I assume).

Around this time was when I remembered it's not (easily) possible to boot PowerPC Macs from USB and considering the SuperDrive in this just seem to keep spitting the disks back out, I had to employ the use of one of our iMac G4s and head into Target Disk Mode. See! Hoarding all these old Macs does have its uses!


2004 iMac G5

July 28, 2021

Picked up an iMac G5 for dirt cheap that was listed as powering up but not outputting anything on screen, now I know the G5 had a laundry list of issues they suffered over the years but as this was a great price and came with it's original box and accessories it was hard to pass up!

What an incredible looking machine inside!

This might be one of the easiest iMacs to open ever, three clever captive screws at the bottom and the back pops off. Before opening it up I powered it on and got the single beep which normally indicates something is amiss with the RAM and lo-and-behold, it doesn't have any! After a quick eBay search I managed to order some replacement RAM.

Whilst inside I was pleasantly surprised to see none of the capacitors looked like they were ready to party (in a bad way) which seems to be a very common fault on these boards. One of the other common faults is faulty graphics chips (specifically the soldering I believe)...

...ah bollocks.

Well, as I can't make it any worse, it's time to disassemble and see if we can re-flow the graphics chip. Watch this space!