Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

HowTo: svn+ssh on Windows

The problem: Windows doesn’t have an inbuilt SSH client, so trying to check out files from a Subversion repository over SSH doesn’t work out of the box. I’ve just spend half an hour looking for a way round this, and here it is [as ever, you follow my advice at your own risk]:

  1. I couldn’t manage to get it working using PuTTY. Please leave a comment if you have.
  2. Install Cygwin, making sure to include the openssh package
  3. Edit the C:Documents and Settings(yourusername)Application DataSubversionconfig file to include a line reading
    ssh = c:/(cygwin root path)/bin/ssh.exe -i "C:/privatekeypath"
  4. You can omit the -i option and the bit after it if you don’t have SSH key authentication set up. If you’re using it, though, make sure you use forward slashes in the path to the key file. Note that the private key needs to be in OpenSSH compatible format. If you have key authentication set up in PuTTY, you can export your private key to an OpenSSH compatible version using PuTTYgen.
  5. You should now be able to check out repositories in the usual way from a command prompt:
    svn co svn+ssh://you@repositoryhost/path/to/repository/ destination-dir

    If you exported your PuTTY key as described above, you shouldn’t be prompted for your password on hosts where the corresponding public key is in place.


Since writing this post, I’ve had Tortoise SVN recommended to me, and it Just Works out of the box if you use the PuTTY saved session name in the URL, i.e. if the PuTTY session is called “mybox”, svn+ssh://mybox/path/to/repo seems to work correctly.