Category Archives: Uncategorized

OnePlus/Android – preferred network type

I don’t think I changed this

Last night, I got off a plane at Gatwick, breezed through security and baggage reclaim in record time, hopped straight on a bus to pick up my car, found it waiting for me, climbed aboard, turned the key … and nothing happened.

To be strictly accurate, what happened was the unmistakable sound of a starter motor with not enough voltage to turn an engine over. Never mind, this is why we have breakdown cover. Reaching for my phone to make the call, I found a complete lack of signal. I find it hard to believe that 3 have no coverage of one of Britain’s biggest airports, but no amount of rebooting the phone, popping the SIM in and out, or fiddling with the enable/disable settings for the slot it was in would make anything happen.

Fortunately, I managed to borrow an old-fashioned landline to summon a tow truck. It took me until the middle of this morning to work out that the “preferred network type” setting had somehow got set to “2G only” (I’m pretty certain I never touched it … a side effect of roaming, perhaps?). Setting it back to Automatic made everything work again. I’m not sure whether to blame 3, Google, OnePlus or myself for this, but it has made me ponder carrying my “festival phone” (a £10 Nokia which never goes wrong or flat) in my car for emergencies like this.

Door sensors: Energenie vs Hive

I’ve had a Hive door sensor for a while now, as regular readers will recall. Recently I wanted an similar device for a side project at work. In that case, there’s no pre-existing Hive infrastructure, so the Hive option didn’t make financial sense.

Energenie do a nice door sensor for £20, but as with all these devices, it speaks to a hub which needs buying separately. I managed to find one of theirs online for £40, which is a bit much for such a simple thing, but the cheapest option out there.

The Energenie app isn’t as nice as Hive (the notifications say “a sensor has been opened” but you have to tap to see which one, which is a bit silly). It does however talk to IFTTT perfectly.

I suspect it can also be made to talk via their Raspberry Pi connector, but I haven’t had a chance to try that yet – and I must admit IFTTT + web hook was really easy to get working without writing much code.


The world has moved on a lot since I last tried to set up a VPN endpoint for my Android phones to use. The Debian instructions on OpenVPN mostly work out of the box, and clients are available for all OSes, mobile and desktop.


GWR, you’re fired

Blissful, unimaginable spaaace!

Blissful, unimaginable spaaace!

So I’m off to spend the weekend with friends in London, as you do.

There are a few things I really want to get done on the train, involving my laptop. Odds of getting a seat with a plug socket and enough space to work, on a Friday night peak time GWR train from Oxford to London Paddington? Approaching zero unless I pay double for first class.

But wait, capitalism to the rescue! Almost uniquely in the country, Oxford station now has multiple competing routes into London, courtesy of Chiltern going via Oxford Parkway and into London Marylebone. And unlike GWR, it’s on time, and I have not just a table, socket and reasonably roomy seat, but three other unoccupied seats around me.

GWR, I’m never taking your route to London again.

(The WiFi is crocked, though … couldn’t all be perfect, now could it.)

Blogging on the Kindle Fire

I thought I’d hate doing this on a device with no hardware keyboard (why did I sell my netbook? Remember when they were cool?), but it’s workable for short bursts. Now stand by for some real content, because in a week where the news has not been all good, I’ve attempted to cheer myself up with some new toys…

Wood burning microserver?

Wood burning microserver?

Moving our Bytemark server to York

We‘ve had a dedicated server at Bytemark since 2009. This has always been physically located in Manchester, which has been fine. However, recently Bytemark finished their own wholly-owned data centre in York, and naturally wanted as many customers as possible to move.

I was a bit nervous about this – although our service from Bytemark has been good over the years, especially the uptime, their support team has been a bit hit-and-miss lately.

In fact, they completed our move well within the proposed migration window, the server came back up correctly, and we were able to keep the same ranges of IPv4 and IPv6 we’ve had for years, with only the addresses these routed via having to be changed.

There was an unfortunate follow-on cock-up a couple of days later, but at least they fixed it promptly and wrote up what happened. That, incidentally, is exactly why every managed switch I’ve deployed has all the unused ports set to disabled…

RIP Freda (my car), 1995-2011

A fond farewell today to my car, which has been in the family since 1999 and suffered both myself and my sister learning to drive in it. The mighty Fiat served me well, but in the end, living and working as I do in the middle of one of the most anti-car cities in England, it had to go.

My car (or one very much like it)

Not actually my car, but an identical one

I sold it to We Buy Any Car (sponsors motoring on Dave), and they gave me fifty quid, which I shall be putting towards finally getting a smartphone.