Developer from the UK, currently making cool stuff at The Outlook Creative Group.
Can sometimes be found podcasting at munchtech.tv.


My Ford Focus, complete with an indoor swimming pool!

March 20, 2022

I know everyone raves about inbuilt swimming pools but having one in my car is just not for me.

A number of years back I started to notice that it was taking longer and longer to clear my windows (on the inside) during the winter months and that it wasn't just the "normal fog" you get but full blown condensation that had to be wiped away. Well, it turns out that Ford decided to give everyone who owns a MK3 Ford Focus the non-optional extra of having a swimming pool build up in the spare wheel well whenever it rains, I know right?! How nice of them! After some digging online it seems that the rear vents behind the bumper that allow air to escape the cabin also allow water in. Water would build up in the cavity behind them and then overflow into the rear of the car and if you were really unlucky it would overflow from the boot and down under the rear seats and under the floor. Luckily for me mine never got quite that far!

If you crawl up under the rear of the car, there are two bungs (one on each side), pull those out and they basically act like drain plugs. The first couple of times I did mine water poured everywhere, I eventually found that until I could permanently solve the issue I was best just leaving them undone (or I would duck tape over them if I was expecting to drive a lot in the rain) allowing the water that flowed in to flow right back out again.

After the latest round of winter I decided it was finally time to whip the rear bumper off and seal these vents once and for all (or at least I hope so). Getting the bumper off was rather easy, the biggest issue was the wiring harness for the rear parking sensors as it was brittle/stuck solid! Once the bumper was off it was just a case of removing the 4 vents (not the easiest of tasks but taking the smaller rear ones off first will allow you to get your hand in and release the larger ones from the inside). Cleaned up any left over water inside, filled it with some cavity wax and then applied some water proof silicone all around the vents essentially glueing them back on. Let's hope it holds!

The problem seemed to be the poor seal these vents have with the bodywork of the car, they move/rattle around. It looks like the plastic/rubber seal may have once held tight against the car but overtime, as it dries out, less so. With this poor seal, the water that runs around the boot, behind the rear lights and down over these vents ends up just running inside.

My spare wheel well complete with mould and a water feature

My inbuilt swimming pool and yes, that's mould, lovely right? 🤢

The spare wheel well now with the wheel, mould and water removed

...all cleaned up and left to dry/air

The rear bumper of the car removed along with the vents taken out

The offending vents removed ready for some silicone

The offending rear vents with a generous helping of silicone applied

The vents re-applied with a generous helping of silicone

Moral of the story? If you own a MK3 Ford Focus and you find the inside of the car is oddly damp during the rainy season, take a look in your spare wheel well and see if you have any water build up.


App: Balance Lock

March 4, 2022

I'm not sure when the problem started but 9 times out of 10 when I re-connect my Caldigit Thunderbolt to my M1 MacBook Air, the audio balance will move to a random position between the left and right and yes, before you ask, I don't get it either. Every time I have to jump into System Preferences and re-adjust, until today! Came across this simple little app called "Balance Lock" and it does exactly what it says on the tin, it keeps your audio balanced to a custom setting (in my case, the middle). I've been using it for a few days and every time I've re-connected my MacBook to the dock in the morning, I've gotten a little notification to say it's re-balanced my audio, perfect!

Balance Lock app screenshot showing the last time my Caldigit audio was balanced.


This Blog Is Now Powered by Nuxt/Tailwind!

February 28, 2022

I'm a huge fan of WordPress but it was time to make a change for when it comes to my personal blog, so I decided to make the jump to Nuxt / Tailwind. My first time using either in anger and it's safe to say I'm a fan! Both were super easy to get started with and I finally understand what people have been telling me for years 😅

For those interested I'm using nuxt-content outputted as a static site, meaning it converts all my markdown files (blog posts) to HTML whenever I update the site. The site is deployed via GitHub Actions, during which the nuxt generate command is run to create the static version of the site which is then copied to the server.


App: MonitorControl

January 5, 2022

This may seem really trivial, but one of the things I've missed from the all-in-one iMac is the ability to control the display brightness from within the OS and more specifically, the keyboard. Didn't even think to see if it was possible to do with non-Apple external displays as I thought it was some hardware/software magic until I saw a comment on Reddit mentioning the app "MonitorControl".

This is another app that "does what it says on the tin", it allows you to control the brightness (and volume if you're using the built-in sound) of your external monitor right from within macOS using the same native controls that the MacBook and built-in displays have access to.

Download it, open it up, grant it permissions in System Preferences and away you go. If you have an Apple keyboard the brightness keys (F1/F2) should start working immediately and if you have a third party keyboard, or you just want to change the binding, it gives you custom options as well.

Obviously your mileage may vary when it comes to display support.

Download here (Github)

MonitorControl app screenshot showing the preferences pane.


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.