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This is the UK website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. We live in the Northeast of England and also on occasion in Andalucia in Spain.

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Newcastle Maker Faire

Maker Faire Newcastle 2017What a great day. Newcastle has an annual Maker Faire and it is on this weekend – and what a faire it is.

I headed off first thing to get some parking and was pleased to find that Newcastle College had some cheap parking – £4 for the day. I arrived 45 minutes to early, thankfully the security guard was a chatty type who wanted to know what all the fuss was about so we filled in time while waiting for my friend Aidan to turn up.

We got talking about cars as that was his thing and so by the time Aidan turned up in his Tesla, the guy was itching to see it and up to his armpits in questions.

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The Edinburgh Weekend

This weekend we went up to Edinburgh with our friends Karen and Dave.  Friday afternoon we drove up to Edinburgh and stopped in a little apartment in the city centre.

Of course, being Edinburgh, it poured rain most of the time..

Edinburgh

We spent the evening wandering around town after the obligatory trip to (House of Fraser) Jenners and ended up in a very nice Indian Restaurant just behind Princes Street…

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Life in Northumberland

home made humidifierNo exciting photos right now, mainly because we’ve not seen sunshine in the Northeast of England for a while now, just the usual suicide-inducing damp, cold weather.

Having said that, we’ve not had snow or anything – there is no chance of it being a white Christmas for example.  I’ve been buried away in my workshop now for some time, taking advantage of the bad weather to get stuck into some new learning.

On the right you’ll see my new toy – a home-made-from-scratch ultra-sound humidifier. The idea came to me one morning as she was griping about the room being dry. Inside the £2.99 B&M glass-with-wooden-stopper case is a £4.99 high intensity ultrasonic steamer from China, which when fed 24v (supply came with the unit) generates one hell of a lot of cold steam due to silent ultrasound vibration. Then follows an aluminium tube from B&Q, a 25mm processor fan (£1 from China) and a little convertor to take 24v down to around 3v (£ from China). The 5v fan forces air into the container and hence lots of very fine steam out. I dropped the voltage (to the fan) to reduce noise to virtually zero. Right now it is running flawlessly and I’m waiting to see how long it takes and how much water it takes to make an effective change to the room humidity – which, run by radiators and fire – tends to get a little dry at times.

The whole thing is on a Sonoff controller hooked back to my house system which knows how dry or otherwise the room is and controls accordingly. At least that’s the plan. How well it will survive cats sniffing, running dry and other daily challenges remains to be seen. Also needs a protective shield to stop the fan getting damp and make it look more presentable.  It did occur to me that a somewhat more powerful version of this would be ideal for the pergola in the height of Spanish summer. We have misters but they provide rather large water droplets whereas this is REALLY fine stuff. Could be nice for compensating for the blisteringly dry heat in August.

Other than that, Maureen is doing her usual Christmas stuff, I’m focussed on my blog which is just about to tip 6,000 signed up visitors and needs lots of attention. Some day if the sun ever gets out we’ll get around to some outdoor activities.

Life as Usual in Bellingham

Van Morrison at the Playhouse

Life is pretty much back to normal here, I’ve still not opened up some of the packing stuff I brought back from Spain and my office is a tip but everything is working. Last weekend we went up to see Van Morrison at the Playhouse in Edinburgh and the following morning popped in to see an old friend Nigel Duncan who lives just outside the city before returning that afternoon to Northumberland.

West Woodburn

This weekend we’ve just had a lovely stop-over with some friends in East Woodburn. They have a place in Spain and whenever we go visit they do the most wonderful tapas – we had a great night.

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Can it get worse? Of course it can

Hard to believe we’ve only been back in the UK for just over 3 weeks. It seems like a lifetime.

When we left Spain the worst thing we had to worry about was Brexit – the end of Great Britain – now – there is Trump – racist, sexist, makes things up on the spot… there are many terms to describe him but the thing that worries me the most is how FAR this guy is from the people who think he will be their saviour.

Mostly white people who really think he would give two hoots about them ,the BIG thing that separates him from them is the silver spoon. While claiming to be all things to all (mostly white male) people – he has lived a life vastly, vastly removed from those who have the most faith in him.  That and the fact that this man will have his finger on the nuclear trigger. Thank heavens Americans only put presidents in place for 4 years – I should imagine anyone with a clean email record – maybe the nearest office cleaner would be a good competitor. But we have 4 years to go as the mighty dollar and the mighty pound slowly sink into the west.

I always said political correctness had gone too far but for 2 great nations to swing so far in the opposite direction.. I can only say, for once that I’m glad I’m a white male and even that won’t help much.

They always said the yellow race would rule the world – they didn’t say it would be our fault.

Counting the days to get back to our little hole in Spain, far away from it all.

The Return

And so we start our long journey back to the UK. We left Galera first thing Wednesday and spent most of the day driving up through Spain. We arrived at our hotel Palicio Urgoiti in Bilbao in time for dinner.

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Best meal of the day

I’ve never been one for breakfasts but a popular start to the day here is a very simple large slice of toast or tostada. The word has several meanings but at least in this part of Spain, ask for a tosdada and you’re likely to be asked if you want butter and marmalade – OR tomato – and I have to say the latter makes a VERY nice alternative (as in mashed tomato).

And so that is our new thing when the will takes us – getting up in the morning and walking down the hill for cafe-con-leche and tostada.  The problem is getting back up the hill but we’re working on that.

Breakfast in Galera

Weather is cooling off in Galera now, having said that it was roasting this afternoon but it won’t be long before one has to actually has to consider warmer clothing late in the evening.  Of course, when that happens, there is always the coast. No doubt about it – this is a considerably better life and lifestyle than anything I’ve come across in the UK.

Lots and Lots of Memory

Always running out of memory on your phone? me too!

Note this article applies only to Android 6 users.

HTC One M8There was a time in the distant past when Android phones would allow you to use an app called AppToSD or similar and move your apps (as against data) into your SD card. That time was long ago before Google stopped it working.

Then in the not too distant past, Samsung and others seemed to find a way around this  – you could go into your memory settings – apps – and move programs to SD (well, part of them – and only some programs), still leaving large chunks in the limited internal memory.

And so it was that until today I was struggling with my HTC One M8 phone which has 16GB of internal memory and a massive 64GB SD. All that extra SD was doing me no good because I kept running out of room in main memory. Attempts to move TomTom into SD failed as it would not run. TomTom are aware of this and by all accounts could not give a toss. Weeks after enquiring, they gave me some instructions for reformatting the SD that didn’t work. Other programs didn’t even provide the option.

And so, having read up on Android 6.0 having the ability to assimilate SD into internal memory but ALSO having read that TomTom would not have that as it would not be able to find any SD memory, I went for broke and formatted the phone and SD. In settings is an option to make external SD part of internal memory and I went for that.

Some time later, I was greeted with the message on my phone that I have a grand total of 73Gb of internal memory. Sounds good but would it work – I didn’t really think so.

Normally with all of my apps in – I’m sitting at 15GB used out of 16gb available, with only travel maps, images and video in the SD.  I re-installed all of my apps and more besides  – a LOT more. I figured I’d give this a good hammering.

Everything worked – and I installed a new sat-nav program – grabbed Spanish and UK maps and was delighted to find that all the new stuff was going into the SD part of memory leaving me nearly 8GB of the old internal memory intact – this had never happened before.

I don’t know what made me do it but I thought I’d have one last go at TomTom and installed it. I could not believe it – it worked. I told TomTom go go off and get Spanish and UK maps – which took an age. I came back, closed TomTom and started it up again – it worked!! But more’s the point, I STILL have nearly 8gb of the original internal memory. I added Word, Onenote, Facebook, Nova launcher and on and on -  hardly any change with everything going into the once-useless massive SD.

And so there you are – I have my TomTom and more apps than ever before – and rather than considering my 16GB HTC ONE M8 to be getting on a bit – I feel like I have a brand new phone.

External Home Lighting

That’s a name I concocted as I could not think of anything better as a title for this article. I did not want to say “solar lighting” as that limits the conversation So what do I mean by this? – and what is the point of this article?

Totally solar-poweredThis is about externally lighting your property for fun/amusement or even security. I’m writing this because invariably the subject comes up in pub conversations and I often promise people to follow up the conversation later – I then usually forget or we simply run out of time.

Why should you listen to me? Because I’ve designed and built home automation systems for several homes now, i run a very successful blog on the subject of home control and that means means I get constant feedback…  I have a very good grasp of the subject thanks to knowledge, feedback, trial and error….

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Sky Website 2016

How long have we had websites now 20 odd years? You’d think Sky could get theirs right.

I went into the Sky website today to change our account – we have so many online options now it is hard to justify the sky package.

So off I went with my username and password – neither of which would work (I have this stuff all detailed in case I forget ).

So after finally getting the username and password sorted I went into Sky website.

Sky duff 1

Clear enough -  click this link to cancel HD and boxed sets ONLINE, yes?

Sky duff 2

You have to wonder.