Monthly Archives: April 2014

Betws-Y-Coed Miniature Railway Trip

At Betws-Y-Coed station, there is a railway museum and miniature railway. The museum entry fee was £1.50, and so were tickets on the miniature railway. Having nearly run out of pennies, we decided to hop on the miniature railway, as you do. We even got cute little tickets which the driver checked…

ticket

Miniature Railway Ticket

Only when the train started and a family with young children walked onto the platform did we realise that this probably looked a bit strange: Two 24 year old guys, and a 19 year old girl sat in the tiny carriages. Of course, we were the only people actually on the train.

betws-y-coed-mini-railway-james-laurence

Me and Laurence on the train!

The train itself was coal fired, and we had to wait for coal to be loaded before we were on our miniature way around the one mile long track. We passed the previously mentioned family about three times, since the track double back and looped on itself as seen in the background of the next photo. It was amusing, to say the least!

betws-y-coed-mini-railway-museum

After we looked around Betws-Y-Coed itself and determined that we couldn’t afford anything here we continued along the A5 into Bangor stopping along the way to take some more photographs and to look at hills and waterfalls. It was a great end to a busy weekend trekking around North Wales looking at RNLI stations including Beaumaris, Porthdinllaen, Abersoch, Pwllheli, Criccieth, Llandudno and Conwy (which Laurence will be posting about on his blog ‘soon’!)

Once I get hold of them, I’ll add some more photos to this post!

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Pelican Blog Workflow and Blogger Migration Tips

I migrated away from Blogger this month to using Pelican Static Site Generator. It’s very different, and the change is quite a bit to get used to. Previously, I’d log into blogger and draft away, add some images and publish.

Now I store my raw markdown blog posts in a Bittorrent sync folder that syncs between my desktop, mobile devices, and netbook. From here, I connect to my webserver using SSH and upload the post and all related media. I then run the pelican command which outputs the static site to the webservers htdocs/www folder.

Pros? Absolutely no server side scripting on the server. No PHP, no CGI, and of course there is no MySQL server anywhere in sight. It’s brilliant. This also means I sidestep any problems such as the xmlrpc.php issues that seem to be plauging WordPress admins everywhere. Pages also load really damn quickly.

Cons? It’s not as simple! That’s pretty much the only draw back I can find! This is not a blogging engine for your mother. Someone has made a tutorial for posting and managing their Pelican install via Dropbox. I don’t use Dropbox myself, but I imagine it would be easy to adapt to Bittorrent Sync when I’m bored one day.

Being consistant with images is another potential snag. Due to my permalink structure (more on that in a minute!) I store my image media in a top level folder called ‘images’ therefore I can reference images using ‘/images/img_name.png’ from any post and have them work. If you didn’t do it this way, I imagine it’d just be a nightmare keeping track of post media. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Blogger Migration Tip

When moving away from Blogger it’s a good idea to keep your permalinks the same as they were to avoid losing out on search engine hits. To achieve this with Pelican, add the following to your pelicanconf.py file:

ARTICLE_URL = "{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{slug}.html"
ARTICLE_SAVE_AS = "{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{slug}.html"

Also, add the following to make yearly and monthly archive pages work:

YEAR_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS = '{date:%Y}/index.html'
MONTH_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS = '{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/index.html'

This will result in blog post URLs that match the Blogger’s default URLs. Just make sure when you move everything over that you keep the ‘slug’ the same as what was stored with Blogger otherwise the resulting URLS won’t match.

As for migrating, I did it all manually. I loaded each post up on blogger, used wget to download the images into the [pelican folder]/content/images folder, and then converted each post into Markdown. There is an RSS feed importer but I couldn’t find a way to get my older posts importer so I gave up using the importer and spend several weeks moving my posts over to markdown files for Pelican.

Two more completed games!

I was in the mood to play some shorter games (as you may have gathered from my last post) so I started back on playing a few of the Level-5 Guild series games that I had on my console: Liberation Maiden and Attack of the Friday Monsters.

Liberation Maiden

Liberation Maiden

I finished Liberation Maiden in just over an hour on easy mode. It was still pretty challenging for me since I don’t particularly like arcade shooters, but it was a lot of fun. One day I might go back to the individual stages to try and beat my scores, but not any time soon.

Attack of the Friday Monsters

Attack of the Friday Monsters

Longer than Liberation Maiden, I also rather enjoyed Attack of the Friday Monsters but I feel that the ending was a bit rushed. The game plays like a visual novel (Think sort of Monkey Island) where you go around talking to various characters, looking for clues, and playing a card game to battle NPCs. The battle system was simple and worked, but probably could of been fleshed out a bit. The story was satsifying (I think, I am still going through it in my mind…) and I’d look forward to a sequel if one were to be announced.

On to the next games!

Completing the backlog: Fun! Fun! Minigolf! Touch!

This week I completed (unlocked everything I could) Fun! Fun! Minigolf Touch! for the 3DS. I bought it back in 2012 from the eShop because mini golf is awesome. And then I hardly played it. Maybe it’s because games with ‘Fun! Fun!’ in the title usually aren’t actually that fun? Maybe, I thought that this game was alright. Some courses were ridiculously easy, whilst others were randomly very hard.

ctbl-funfunminigolf

Fun! Fun! Minigolf Touch logo

The normal mode was a blast once I got back into it, trickshot mode on the other hand wasn’t brilliant. The requirement to get the ball into a ‘safe zone’ within one shot did get a bit annoying on the more complicated levels as it required absolute precision in aiming each shot. Additonally, some of the more ‘complex’ levels were just the same courses with extra boxes and such in the way. There could of been way more imagination used between the European, Asian, and American Cups. I’m thinking hamburgers, great walls, and Eifel Towers if you get what I mean!

Overall my 3DS Activity Log showed that I’d played the game in it’s entirety for about three hours. I probably should of gotten around to finishing this years ago.

On to the next game! Maybe Phoenix Wright Dual Destiny’s or another 3DS download title. In fact I’ve organised a folder on my 3DS which contains the games I want to finish this year:

  • Mario vs Donkey [5:00]
  • Crimson Shroud [7:00]
  • Professor Layton: Miracle Mask [16:00]
  • Picross E [11:00]
  • Zenonia [17:00]
  • Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies [30:00]
  • Legend of Zelda [10:00]
  • Legend of Zelda: Links’ Awakening [16:00]
  • Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap [16:00]
  • Weapon Shop de Omasse [9:00]
  • Monster Hunter 3 [80:00+ Lol. Yeah.]
  • Pullblox/Pushmo [15:00]
  • Attack of the Friday Monsters [3:00]
  • Liberation Maiden [2:00]
  • Mario Kart Super Circuit [8:00]

Of these, quite a few are shorter then five hours (however ‘how long to beat’ timings for puzzle games can be a bit off sometimes…) so I think I’m going to focus on the shorter games for the next few weeks…

Pok-IV-Note IV Tracker for Breeding

If you’re trying to keep track of the IVs of the Pokémon you’re breeding then try out this amazingly simple web app. Designed for phones and tablets, but it works alright on a laptop or PC too.

pokivnote

If you need reminding the symbols relate to: HP, Attack, Defence, Speed, Special Attack, Special Defence. So if the IV Checker in Kiloude City tells you that the best stats are Attack, Speed and Special Defense (‘They can’t be beat’) then mark the triangle, heart, and diamond. These marking show on the status screen of each pokemon and allows you to quickly sort through the many monsters that you’ve bred.

Setting up voicemail to email

Ever been annoyed at how long it takes to retrieve your messages from Vodafone, Giffgaff, EE, or whoever runs your phone service? Me too. Press 1 to delete. Sorry, you need to listen to more than half to do that….. Yeah…. It’s annoying. It’s much easier to just receive an MP3 file in your inbox immediately after the message is left.

Sample Voicemail Email

I found a cheap (£1.20/month) solution, which is actually pretty handy. You buy an incoming geographic UK landline from Andrews and Arnold in whichever area code you’d like. Set it up so that it directs straight to voicemail (or busy, if you want to take calls on this new number too. It’s up to you.) If you’re reading this then feel free to leave me a message!

AA Voip Settings

Once this is working, set your phone to direct on busy/failed/no service to forward the call to your new number rather than their voicemail service. That’s it!

AA Voip Settings

This is possible with an iPhone. It’s a little bit more annoying to set up, as Apple do not expose the more detailed call forwarding options within their interface. However, knowledge of the GSM commands means that you can set this up using the dialer. These codes can be found on Wikipedia with more detail of how they work. For a record, here are the (untested by me) activation codes that should work in Europe for iPhones.

If Busy

*67*[phone number]#

If Not Answered

*61*[phone number]#

If Out of Reach (No Service)

*62*[phone number]#

AWStats Alternative: GoAccess

I didn’t really want to bother with installing AWStats and setting up the cgi stuff that goes with it, as well as setting the web server to ensure the stats stay hidden. I just want to get a rough idea of who’s visiting my site and when. I’m usually happy with running a terminal window with tail -f, but sometimes a bit more analysis is needed.

Today I found a cool alternative, GoAccess.

GoAccess Main Screen

It has a nice simple and usable interface based on Curses (It’ll be familiar if you used Irssi, Mutt, or the like) and gives all the needed information at a glance. It can even output HTML reports if you really want them.

I tried installing the version from the Debian repositories but found (as usual) that it was terribly out of date. I think they had a package for version 0.5, when 0.7.1 is the latest.

If you simply head off to GoAccess’s webpage, and follow the instructions for compiling from source you’ll be up and running in no time at all. Just a note that I had issues downloading and compiling from the Sourceforge download; the resulting program would just crash and segfault. This went away when I checked out the development github code and compiled that way.

If you have issues with dependencies, try installing the following packages which should cover most of the dependencies in one command.

sudo apt-get install dh-autoreconf build-essential libglib2.0-dev libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev libgeoip-dev

If you’re using Lighttpd like me, when you first run GoAccess make sure to select the NCSA Combined Log Format otherwise you’ll be missing portions of your data.

GoAccess Log Confirguration Settings