Monthly Archives: February 2016

Raspberry Pi print & scan server

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was (with a bit of Googling) to set up the Raspberry Pi 2 I’d had gathering dust on my desk as a print server. My increasingly venerable USB-only Canon MP480 works just fine under Debian, but having to boot my desktop to use it was becoming tedious – much of what I get done these days is laptop-based or even done on my phone.

Having set it all up, I can scan and print from any Linux box on the network (theoretically from Windows too, only I have none of those left), and, with the addition of the CUPS Print app, I can print PDFs and the like directly from my Android phone.

Update – putting some IPv6-only DNS on the Pi and pointing a Windows 10 VM at it via IPP, printing Just Works. Even more impressively, Windows drivers for your printer do not need to exist, as long as they exist for CUPS on the Pi. I just chose the generic HP PostScript printer suggested in the article and it works perfectly, which is handy as Canon have no intention of providing Win10 drivers.

Digging up the road

Virgin Media’s work in my street reminds me of the poor state of broadband in the UK

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find my street being dug up by several pneumatic drills simultaneously. We’d seen the markings sprayed on the pavements some time previously, of course, but I had no idea what they were. Couldn’t be cable TV – Virgin Media, as far as I knew, never laid cable of their own – they just bought up all the other companies who went bust under the cost of doing so.

It turns out I was wrong, though, as our road now boasts a shiny new cable TV cabinet, and connection points for every house and block of flats. There was an outraged article in the local paper about how this work was done with zero notice to residents; we were indeed given no notice, but given that I was gone for work on all but a couple of days when the work was taking place, I didn’t mind too much. I can understand those who actually spend their days here being upset, though.

Given that this street was built less than ten years ago, it seems a bit screwed up that Virgin are digging it up now – surely they should have tried to co-operate with the developer at the time and saved making a mess of our pavements after the fact?

Whatever the ins and outs of that, it feels rather sad that the cables being pulled are presumably copper coax rather than fibre. Come to that, it feels backwards that BT are still laying copper and not fibre to new-builds. For all their clever research on delivering data at high bandwidth over copper, surely having fibre to the individual houses is the only long-term solution.

One of my neighbours is quoted in the article saying he’d be surprised if Virgin got custom from his neighbours. For sure, I’ve never been a fan in the past, but the offer of a 200 megabits per second connection for £44 per month is hugely tempting – particularly when all the providers operating over BT’s infrastructure can’t match that speed, and most of them are participating in a race to the bottom where competition on price leaves no money to spend on providing a decent service.

If our pavements start sinking, of course, I might decide otherwise.

Cyprus

So I’m back from my holiday, not with much of a tan, but feeling suitably relaxed. Myself and a couple of friends went to Cyprus for five days and four nights.

Getting there

Cyprus is a long way from the UK – it’s about the furthest European destination you can fly to, and it took over four hours on the plane each way. Still, the combination of Norwegian Air on the way out and EasyJet on the way back did the job.

Places to stay

The apartments we stayed at were pretty good for the cheap and cheerful end of the scale – I’ve added my review to that site, so I won’t repeat it here.

Things to do

I bagged The Rough Guide To Cyprus and the Lonely Planet guide to Cyprus from Oxford central library, and they did us well for museums and other sights to see, as well as general background.

Food

We were surprised at how cheap the food was – if you avoid the obvious tourist traps and the presence of KFC, McDonald’s et al, you can get some nice local stuff for not very much a head – certainly cheaper than eating out in most of the UK. The guide books came through for us here again. The portion sizes and provision of free extras like bread were all nice touches.

Misc

We were surprised when stepping off the bus from the airport at how poor many neighbourhoods looked – even in the developed, beachfront, touristy part of Larnaca, you didn’t have to go far to find crumbling buildings and poorer businesses crammed in next to the more modern and western ones. Still, the people were all very friendly, and English was almost universally spoken.