About Me





I am the documentation lead for the ToriOS operating system.  This is designed for older systems as it supports non PAE hardware.   ToriOS is a GNU / Linux based and is built on Ubuntu 12.04.

For the documentation I am using the LaTeX typesetting system as it just works.

I also run the Torbay Raspberry Pi jams, along with other members of the Devon and Cornwall GNU / Linux user group.

I work as a play worker in an after school club but would like to work as a teaching assistant or similar and support the new computer science curriculum.

I also have some coding skills in python and scratch.  I have my own github repository with projects,  which may be good to use in schools to see what can be developed with some of my mini projects as a starting point.

I use GNU / Linux at home and have done for several years.

I am committed to safeguarding children, young people and 
vulnerable groups and expect any school or establishment I am 
involved with to share this commitment.

What have I done this morning ?


Things seem to happen in blocks.

Today, I picked up the latest issue of Linux voice April 2015.  This has a big feature on the Raspberry Pi 2.

I have also asked for more flyers for code club,   So I can try and drum up some local interest in this.

I have also replaced my XUbuntu 14.04 install usb flash disk with one that has the ubuntu mini installer on it,  this opens up a minimal install option so that any desktop can be installed with a specific software set.   For the cluster project this means we can get ssh server starting up from a console, install python and any related modules,  install gnu / parallel and then use that computer as a cluster node by just booting in to that specific install option.

Sonic pi 2.0 is also working on my pi.  So ready for a possible demo at the next pi jam.


ToriOS Beta Testing


Now that ToriOS is in beta I am starting to run a few tests to see how it runs in a virtual machine (using virt manager as the front end to qemu)

My set up for this is as follows


The Install went fine,  and I can now boot in to the desktop from the virtual machine.


If you want to get involved and help then feel free to get in touch via the website.  If you have an OLD computer around and want to help test this on hardware rather than in a virtual machine and report any issues,  then this would be really useful.  ToriOS is aimed at older hardware, perhaps running XP which is now end of life.   So you can replace XP with a fast, responsive operating system.


Rugby : Paignton Colts vs Bideford


Took a few photos of the Colts vs Bideford this afternoon.



CC BY-NC 3.0


Final score for game

Paignton Colts     Bideford Colts

(will fill in when score is confirmed)

An Argument for free software


I am reposting this from the Devon and Cornwall LUG Blog.

It seems Lenovo the PC  / Laptop makers have been installing spyware on their PC’s without the users knowledge or consent


I think this is a good reason to either re-install your OS when you get a new computer.  Normally you get install / restore media or the option to make this,  however in this case if the spyware is pre-installed it could be on these restore cds.  so you will be no better off,  you can possibly get a removal tool, but these removal tools usually end up putting other malware on to your computer,  removing it is a PITA.


Install a free and open source OS such as Mint, Ubuntu or a pure free software and take back control of your computer.

Join a GNU / Linux user group so you can learn more.

This is also a good reason why you need to know more about what your computer is doing..  So YOU stay in control of your data, personal information and IP.

Is this legal ?


According to the direct.gov website, when it comes to what can be asked on job application forms the law seems pretty clear.  Employers (or potential employers) CANNOT ask for certain personal information prior to a job offer.



Safety and security when looking for work

To make sure you’re safe when looking for a job and going to interviews, you should never:

  • pay any fees upfront for help with job searches or training
  • let the interview take place in your own home
  • talk about personal matters that have nothing to do with the job
  • accept a lift from the person interviewing you
  • give out personal details about yourself or your finances until you have a job offer, eg your bank details, National Insurance number, date of birth, driving licence or utility bill information

However it seems school application forms are still asking for this information

app-formSo clearly asking here are Date of Birth, and National insurance number.


This is under some notion that used for ID / Safeguarding purposes.  As they already have name and address and are talking to an employer.  Then that employer should be able to provide information regarding ID.

In general you produce ID once a offer of employment has been made as this is conditional of satisfactory checks.  In addition photo ID is required at that stage as well as proof of address,  e.g passport / .citizen card,  driving license (either paper or photo)

The above also suggests the data won’t be used as part of the application process,  however there is no guarantee that it won’t be used,   and once armed with that information it can influence the decision process (POSSIBLY ILLEGALLY).

These forms are several years old and still being used.  I am not sure I can leave this section blank as they can say I didn’t fill it in fully or fill it in and provide information that the school is not entitled to.  The guidance notes make no reference to the above guidelines.

Any comments.



Paignton RFC – Big fixture day


Saturday 28th of February will have lots of fixtures.

13:00 @ Clennon sees the Vets team take on the Chobham Vets

15:00  First XV take on South Molton

VI nations Fixtures on the Big screen

Scotland v Italy 14:30
France v Wales 17:00

Arduino Day



This years Arduino Day is Saturday 28th March.  While there are no direct plans for an event here in Torbay,  there will be the Raspberry Pi jam on the 14th March which incorporates Arduino projects.


Minecraft pi hacking – The video


This is a video of the result of the code from my previous post,  taken at the Torbay Raspberry Pi Jam.


Minecraft pi hacking


Following on from my previous post,  I noticed that minecraft now runs far better with the new GUI on the pi.  So I decided to have another go at coding in python with minecraft.

There is a really good beginner tutorial on this at the site below


So I am using this in the first instance.


I tried to code on the Pi at the same time as running minecraft,  as I only have a small 15″ monitor this was proving rather tedious.   As I have ssh installed it is easy to simply ssh in and edit code on the Pi within a ssh session.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys
from mcpi import minecraft
mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()
mc.postToChat("hello, world")
x, y, z = mc.player.getPos()
tnt = 46
mc.setBlock(x+5, y, z,  tnt, 1)

I have modified the code a little,  the sys.exit() is not really needed it just allows the code to exit to the shell if run directly from the shell rather than a terminal window.


When run the above code posts a hello, world message to the chat box and also places a tnt block where you are standing,  the tnt, 1 indicates the data attributes have been changed so if you hit the tnt block with a sword, it activates and explodes.

However this is not exactly useful

mc.setBlock(x+5, y, z,  tnt, 1)

If we modify the code we can place the tnt block in front of your character.

I have modified the example code from the above site to place tnt blocks when ever you walk over grass.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys
from mcpi import minecraft
from time import sleep
#ntn block 2
mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()
pos = mc.player.getPos()
grass = 2
tnt = 46
while True:
    x, y, z = mc.player.getPos()  # player position (x, y, z)
    block_beneath = mc.getBlock(x, y-1, z)  # block ID
    if block_beneath == grass:
        mc.setBlock(x, y, z, tnt, 1)

So if you walk around you leave a trail of TNT behind you,   standing on something else such as stone stops this, so if you get to another area,   turn round hit the tnt  to activate and run away, and sit back and wach all the blocks of TNT explode.

Something interesting with all this

if you run code that places a modified tnt block,  then it stays modified, if you place the same block but normally within the game it has the same attributes as it would normally, HOWEVER it will be set off by other blocks exploding.  I am sure with the right code you could make a minesweeper type game within minecraft,  that places both normal and modified blocks in the game.

Once I had spent a while doing this it was getting late.  I am at the Paignton Pi jam tomorrow so may be able to demonstrate this.  Depends who turns up.

I will keep coding with this, see what else I can come up with.

Rpi B+ NOOBS post install


Yesterday I reinstalled raspbian via noobs, as I decided that I wanted to go back to raspbian after trying (and failing) to get OpenELEC to talk to my network properly.

This went well,   press shift on start up and select Raspbian from the NOOBS menu.

Once done I had the new desktop on X, which looks a lot better.

I decided to remove unwanted software such as wolfram and mathematica,  this takes up nearly 500mb of disk space.

sudo apt-get remove wolfram-engine should do this.

I then installed –

geany and the joe text editor.

I was then having real issues with getting the wifi working, the software to configure the hardware seems to be having issues writing to the config file for wpa_supplicant using the wpa_gui tool.

After some googling I found where the config file is located


file wpa_supplicant.conf

you need to be root to edit this file, so i just used

sudo joe wpa_supplicant.conf


I have starred out the info for security reasons however you can enter the password manually which is handy as when the software stars this out you can’t always tell if you are entering the right characters.

On the pi you use the wpa_gui tool to configure the network

Screenshot from 2015-02-10 11:08:28

For most people there should not be any issues,  however when there are some problems then try editing the config file manually,  and that may solve a few issues.


Just to add to this the memory usage for the Pi is also pretty impressive

Screenshot from 2015-02-10 11:18:22

So using 54MB out of 435 MB of my RAM.

Loading minecraft on the other hand starts to eat up CPU cycles

Screenshot from 2015-02-10 11:21:14

CPU Usage while generating a minecraft world

Screenshot from 2015-02-10 11:21:48

After generating the world the CPU usage goes down.

Note the above are from lxtask being run over a ssh -X connection to the Pi so that I can take screen-shots on my main computer of applications running on the Pi.