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Hobby Public Radio

Your ideas, projects, opinions - podcasted.

New episodes Monday through Friday.


Tony Hughes AKA TonyH1212

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Host ID: 338

I'm a middle age bloke who enjoys using and talking about computers and open source software. I started using Linux in 2006 and have been using it as my Operating System on all my PC's for the last 7 years. I'm also an avid cook and enjoy creating new vegetarian recipes as I have been a vegetarian for over 26 years.
I have an occasional Blog at:

episodes: 47

hpr2746 :: My software part 2

Released on 2019-02-11 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Good day to all in HPR land, this is Tony Hughes coming to you from Blackpool in the UK again. This is a second instalment about some of the software I use on Linux Mint 19.1, on a regular basis. So without further ado lets get on with the show.

  • USB Image writer

  • VirtualBox – Virtualisation software to virtualise x86 and AMD64 bit PC’s

  • OBS – Open Broadcast software

  • Brasero/XFburn – CD/DVD writing software

  • GIMP – GNU Image manipulation Program

So that’s it for this episode. I’ll be back to talk about some of the utilities I use on Mint on another show. This is Tony Hughes signing off for now.

hpr2738 :: My Applications

Released on 2019-01-30 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi again, this is Tony Hughes from Blackpool in the UK. Ken is still short of shows so here is another quick show to help out with the queue.

This one is going to be about the applications I use on my Linux Mint 19.1 install. I’ve been using Linux for over 10 years now and during that time have never felt that there was anything that was lacking in the software department for day to day productivity and general day to day use, so this is just a list of some of the things that I, and I suspect most computer users, need to make electronic life a reality.

So for internet browsing I use Firefox, I’ve been using this since my Windows days and it was just natural that, as this is the default web browser in Linux Mint, that this is what I would continue to use when I moved over to Linux.

Email – I have several web based accounts which means these are operating system agnostic, but for my Internet Service provider account I use Thunderbird to download and store my e-mail onto my main desktop PC. I can also use this to access my web based accounts and store emails for these off line as well if needed.

Office productivity is provided for with LibreOffice which is a very mature and comprehensive office suite comprising of all the main tools needed such as a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. It also has a Database and drawing package, and for maths geeks an advanced maths formula creating program which I have never used, but could be very useful for students and scientists.

For audio and video playback I use VLC which again is something I first used back in my windows days, it works with all the audio and video codecs you can throw at it, and if you have the Libdvdcss codecs installed will play proprietary DVD’s.

For recording and editing audio including this podcast I use Audacity, which is again a cross platform programme and a very powerful piece of software, as myself and many others that use it will be able to tell you

So that is a short list of the programmes that I use on a day to day basis. I hope you found it useful, if not it doesn’t matter as Ken still got a show out of me.

Well that’s it for this one. This is Tony Hughes signing off for now.

hpr2735 :: Soffritto

Released on 2019-01-25 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all in HPR land, Ken has recently made a call for more shows as the queue is a little light at the moment so I was pondering what to waffle on about.

You may know from a couple of my previous shows that as well as being into tech and Linux I’m also a keen Cook, and try and prepare as much of the food we eat at home from scratch as possible.

One of the keys to good dishes is a base of sweated vegetables such as onion, celery carrot and garlic which when cooked in olive oil, is called a Soffritto in Italian cookery. In other parts of the Mediterranean and Latin America where Europeans settled this base to dishes may include other vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, and have other names such as mirepoix (/mɪərˈpwɑː/ meer-PWAH); but the idea is the same to give a base flavour to soups, sauces, risotto and stew type dishes.

Although not called the same thing this is also replicated in Asian cookery where spices and other aromatics are included such as ginger, lemon grass, chillies, cumin and coriander seeds.

While it is not obligatory to start dishes in such a way if you do use a base of flavours like this when cooking you will find that the finished dish has a more complex and deep flavour at the end, so if you don’t do this give it a try.

A simple starter is to make a tomato sauce for pasta using a base of finely chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic soften all the vegetables in a pan with some olive oil, add a tin of tomatoes or jar of passata (sieved tomatoes) reduce for 10-15 minutes until all the flavours combine and use as a sauce over pasta with grated cheese.

hpr2702 :: Audacity set up and response to episode 2658

Released on 2018-12-11 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Guys and Girls in HPR land.

This is Tony Hughes in Blackpool in the UK back for another show. I normally talk about my own stuff but while it is related to what I have been doing lately this is a response to Al’s interview with Dave in Episode 2658 and how to setup Audacity to record and edit audio for best sound quality when podcasting.

I’ve recently joined the mintCast podcast team and have been editing and doing the post production of the audio recording for the last couple of episodes. The information that Dave provided during the show was invaluable in helping me in this task, I also have to give a shout out to Rob the previous host who also spent an hour and a half giving a tutorial on his post production work flow, but the additional information given by Dave in this show was also a big help.

I’ve now purchased a boom arm and pop filter for my mic to reduce any artefacts in the recording although as it is still attached to my desk I think I may need to invest in a shock mount although I’m not sure how it will attach to my current Boom arm. Ah well that’s a problem for another day.

As I said this was just a shout out to Al and Dave to say thanks for the show and I will save it for another day to do a show on my new post production work flow on the mintCast audio.

This is Tony Hughes saying goodbye for now.

hpr2663 :: Short review on a 2.5 inch SSD/HDD caddy

Released on 2018-10-17 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Well Ken made another call for shows and as my recent interview series has come to an end by the time you listen to this here is a short review of a USB3 2.5inch HDD/SSD caddy I got from E-bay a few weeks ago.

As many of you who have listened to my previous ramblings know I frequent a local Computer auction and recently they have had some cheap 128Gig SSD’s for sale and I managed to pick several up at a good price. After using some to upgrade some desktop PC’s to SSD I had a couple of these spare and as I have USB3 on my main laptop thought it would be good to be able to use one or two of these as portable storage or even for boot drives to test out odd Linux distro or 2.

So I purchased a caddy off that font of all things techie E-bay for £5.50, link here:

So after it arrived I plugged in one of the drives and tested it out. The first thing to notice is that SSD’s being 7mm in depth flop about a bit in the case but this is easily resolved by a bit of card under the drive to help it fit snug in the case and it does mean that the case will support the larger 9mm 2.5inch spinners if needed. I’ve not tested a larger older spinner but I suspect they will not fit as 9mm ones are very snug in the case.

Anyway the drive was detected by the PC/Laptop and works flawlessly and as it is so quick to swap drives in the caddy means I can carry large data files and my music and video library when on the move with the advantage that it is less likely to be damaged if accidentally dropped or knocked off a surface, which is quite likely with a portable spinner HDD.

I am very happy with this purchase and it has already become a regular part of my travelling tool kit/laptop bag.

hpr2652 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - Interview with Caroline and John

Released on 2018-10-02 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is the final interview from this years Makefest in Liverpool. In this interview I interview one of the founder members of Makefest, Caroline Keep, and the Head Teacher of the school where she works, John Carling.

hpr2646 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - Interview with Steve and Gerrard from the Liverpool Astronomical society.

Released on 2018-09-24 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Steve and Gerard from the Liverpool Astronomical society.

hpr2641 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interview with Rachel from the MicroBit Foundation

Released on 2018-09-17 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Rachel Lancaster from the Micro:Bit foundation.

hpr2636 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interviews with Noel from JMU FabLab

Released on 2018-09-10 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Noel Baker from the JMU FabLab.

hpr2632 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interviews with Robert and Carl

Released on 2018-09-04 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Robert from Roberts Workshop and Carl from Edgehill University

hpr2626 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interviews with Helen and Chris

Released on 2018-08-27 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Helen from Manchester Hackspace and Chris from Wirral Code Club

hpr2621 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - Chan'nel Thomas a.k.a little pink maker

Released on 2018-08-20 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode recorded at Liverpool Makefest 2018 I talk to Chan'nel Thomas aka little pink maker. Chan'nel has an amazing web site; the link is below. I was going to include a couple of pictures taken on the day but they don't do her work the justice it deserves.

hpr2616 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interview with Josh - A.K.A - All About Code

Released on 2018-08-13 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is another short interview recorded at this year's Liverpool Makefest, this time with Josh who developed EduBlocks.

hpr2612 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interview with Joe aka Concrete Dog

Released on 2018-08-07 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk to Joe aka Concrete dog about amateur Rocketry

hpr2606 :: Liverpool Makefest 2018 - interview with Dan Lynch

Released on 2018-07-30 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Another interview from Liverpool Makefest 2018 this time with Dan Lynch of Linux Outlaws and Floss Weekly

hpr2601 :: Liverpool Makerfest 2018

Released on 2018-07-23 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is the first in a series of interviews carried out at Liverpool Makefest 2018

This first interview is with Chris Dell about EduBlocks

hpr2595 :: New laptop bargain?

Released on 2018-07-13 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Greetings HPR listeners this is Tony Hughes again coming from Blackpool in the UK. Well, as you heard on my last episode I recently visited the computer auction I frequent here in the UK. If you want to drool over the catalogue at any time their website is here:

So at the sale in June they had some really good 3-4 year old laptops for sale so I decided to take a trip and see if I could liberate a few bargains, and one of the items I came away with was 3 Toshiba Z30a Ultra Books of the i5 4th generation. The basic specs are:

  • i5-4300U CPU
  • 128GB mSATA solid state drive
  • 13.3 inch display
  • 8Gig DDR Ram
  • 3 x USB3 ports
  • VGA and HDMI video out
  • Full Ethernet Port
  • Combined Audio in/out jack
  • SD card reader
  • Mobile Intel ® HD Graphics with up to 1792MB dynamically allocated
  • shared graphics memory.

There will be a link in the show notes to the full specifications

I had also picked up some 240Gig SSD's and had planned to upgrade the storage but this is not possible with a 2.5 inch drive as it doesn't have a bay for this format. However it does support up to 128Gig High capacity SD cards so this could be an option if you don't want to go to the expense of upgrading the mSATA drive, however as luck would have it one of my other purchases had a 256Gig mSATA drive in a 2.5 inch caddy so that was quickly swapped out and both laptops got an upgrade. More of that in another show.

So after doing the hardware upgrade I proceeded to install Ubuntu 18.04 MATE onto the PC. The install worked flawlessly and after completion and configuring the machine to my liking everything seems to be working just fine. The battery condition for a 4 year old laptop is excellent at over 90%, however a replacement can be had on Ebay for around £30 if needed and I always factor this into any second hand laptops I buy.

Since I got it running I've installed Windows 7 in a Virtual Machine, in this case Virtual Box as I have a preconfigured Virtual Box HDD image that makes it less of a hassle to install as I don’t have to spend days waiting for all the updates to come through. When this is running in the background it doesn't over tax the host machine, and for Linux users it does mean you have access to that occasional bit of light weight MS software that you may need without the need to lug around 2 PC's.

So did I bag a bargain, well 4 years ago on release these laptops went for £1100+ in the UK and even today they fetch £160 in good order on the likes of Ebay for a model with the specification as I originally purchased it. I would never have been in the market to spend £1000+ on a laptop now or then so the only way I can enjoy these types of machines is after they have been pre loved by someone else. Lets just say £160 is quite a bit more than I paid but with the upgrade to 256Gig mSATA drive I have a better machine for a little less than that, I personally think I bagged a bargain which will do me good service in the coming months/years.

hpr2590 :: Blowing a PC Power Supply

Released on 2018-07-06 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Greetings Hacker Public Radio listeners, Tony Hughes again coming all the way from Blackpool in the North West of the UK. Originally this show was going to be about some new kit that I have recently bought at my favourite computer auction. However as luck or actually bad luck should have it I fried the power supply on my Desktop machine yesterday as I was setting it up again after moving back to my office.

The PC is a HP Compaq Elite 8300 micro Desk top tower with a i7 3rd generation 3770 3.4Ghz CPU and since upgrades now has 16Gig Ram and a Primary 256Gig SSD. This is my daily driver and I've been running it for a couple of years since I bought it at the said auction. It is the best PC I've ever owned; the full specifications are here:

As I said I was re setting up my full rig after moving it back to the office upstairs after a temporary move while we had a house guest. As I was plugging in the power cable there was a flash and crack, and a few expletives were uttered, sure enough when I switched of the power at the plug and reconnected the power cable and then tried to power on the PC, it was dead. I was hoping that it was the power supply that had blown and as I had a spare I was not too concerned. However on investigation HP have done the dirty with the design of the motherboard and power supply and neither are standard ATX configuration, yes propriety hardware for this baby.

I was lucky as a few months ago I had picked up a i3 HP using the same case, so I pulled out the power supply from this and fitted it into the i7 PC and luckily that did turn out to be the issue, and the PC sprang into life when I hit the power button. I’m now left with a PC that works, but another one that unless I can find a power supply to match is next to useless except for spares.

Lessons learned, never connect the power cable when the socket is live, if your plug socket doesn't have a switch connect the kettle end to the PC first to reduce the risk of a short like mine. Also never assume that 2nd hand PC’s are standard case/motherboard format as you may have a problem sourcing spares if anything goes wrong as in my case. It’s not the first PC disaster I've had over the years and I can as in this case usually get round them, although not when I bricked the BIOS on a Lenovo x200 one time trying to clear a BIOS password, again I was left with a box of spares which actually came in very handy.

Well that's the end of my tale of woe. I’ll do another episode on the recent trip to the auction and my new laptops shortly. This is Tony Hughes for Hacker Public Radio signing off for now.

hpr2579 :: Ubuntu 18.04 Mate

Released on 2018-06-21 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Ubuntu Mate 18.04

Good day to all you HPR Listers. Sorry that its been a while since I recorded a show, but as they say life has got in the way over the last few months, and I've spent quite a bit of it away from the home front.

As it happens on one of those trips away my laptop running Mint Mate 18.3 LTS, based on Ubuntu 16.04LTS decided that it wouldn't boot as it didn't recognise my account, and as I had not created a Root account I could not sign in and fix the issue, which was a corrupted configuration file in the users folder.

As luck would have it I had just downloaded the latest Ubuntu Mate 18.04 .iso to try it as a live disc, so I had a boot disc that I could use to boot the laptop and access the data to rescue all my important information which was mainly all my emails and my browser settings and bookmarks, as this is one of my travelling laptops not much of importance is permanently stored on it, so it didn't take long and I was ready to reinstall the OS to the PC. Just in case I had missed some important data on the current SSD, as I had a spare SSD with me in the bag, yes I'm geeky enough to carry a spare SSD or 2 in the bag. So I dug it out and installed it into the PC, which by the way is a Dell Latitude E6540 with an i5 dual core mobile chip with hyper-threading. It's currently running 4Gig DDR3 RAM but can run up to 16Gig in the 2 slots it has.

So I booted the laptop with the USB boot disc I had created and as with all recent Ubuntu releases you get a screen asking if you want to try or install the OS, as I needed a working PC I went straight to the install option. For those not familiar with Linux or Ubuntu, the installer is a joy to use and very friendly to new users. As this was a first install to this SSD the only option I had was a full install which I chose, then was asked if I wanted to do the default install which partitions the drive and installs the bootloader automatically without any further need for intervention or did I want to do a custom partition arrangement. As the default is adequate for my needs I chose this and clicked continue. During this process you also get the option of a minimal or full installation, the minimal installation gets you a running PC with the basic utilities and leaves you to chose what to install later, but as I use the software that would be omitted I chose the full install. You get asked a final time if you are sure you want to install, with a warning that all current data on the disc will be wiped, as I was happy I clicked proceed. At this point the install starts and you are taken through setting up your PC configuration for language, keyboard, and user account. By the time I had completed this, the install was half completed and the whole process took less than 15 minutes.

After the install is complete you get the message to reboot the PC and eject the boot media to reboot into the new install, on first boot you will either be presented with the login screen or go straight to the desktop depending on the choices you made during the install. Once you are at the desktop for the first time you are presented with a wallpaper of the Ubuntu Mate logo and 2 panels one at the top and one at the bottom of the screen. The top one has for those more traditional Linux and Windows users all the information you would expect on the lower panel, such as the menu, notification area etc. As I'm more traditional in my use of a PC I quickly set up the lower panel with the Advanced Mate Menu and other notification apps such as network, clock and calendar and then deleted the other panel, but obviously this is a personal preference - go with what you find comfortable.

The next step after connecting to the local WiFi was to install any updates, which despite this release only being a few days old there were a few, but this didn't take long and in less than an hour, which included backing up and swapping out the SSD I had a fully working laptop running Ubuntu 18.04 Mate.

So there are a few bits of software not included by default in Ubuntu which I use regularly, one of which is synaptic so I opened the terminal and a sudo apt install synaptic later I had the package manager on the PC. You may ask why, but the software Boutique doesn't seem to have all the software available in the repositories and I don't always know the appropriate name of software I'm looking for to use the terminal all the time, so synaptic is a tool I use a lot. The next software that gets installed is Audacity as I use this for editing audio and sometimes extracting the audio stream from videos of the internet, most importantly for HPR listeners it is what I use to record and edit my HPR shows.

So back to Ubuntu 18.04 Mate, I've been running it for a month on the laptop and about 3 weeks on my main box and as you would expect from a LTS (long term support until 2023) it's very solid and stable, I had a glitch transferring my e mails into Thunderbird on my main box, it had worked flawlessly on the laptop, so I ended up having to reinstall from scratch and on the second install it went perfectly, I think it was down to the way I set up Thunderbird which screwed things up, not the OS, but it's all fine now and I didn't lose anything in the process. For me coming from Mint there are a couple of utilities the Mint developers have implemented that are not available in Ubuntu, but nothing I can't work around. Saying that, if there are any Ubuntu developers out there, the Mint USB drive formatter and USB boot disc creation utilities are nice and simple to use but not available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Obviously I've only had limited time to get to use the new OS but so far it doesn't seem too bad coming back to the mother ship so to speak from several years of using Mint Mate, virtually since its inception, but as I record this there has been nothing that has made me feel I need to rush and reinstall Mint, so I'll continue with Ubuntu Mate 18.04 at least until the new Mint19 based on this Ubuntu release comes out.

hpr2442 :: The sound of Woodbrook Quaker Study centre in the Spring

Released on 2017-12-12 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a recording I made at Woodbrook Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham UK while I was there in April 2017.

I got the idea to release it as a show after listening to hpr2354 :: Night Sounds in Rural Tennessee hosted by Jon Kulp so here it is all 15 minutes of it.

The centre is right by the busy A38 trunk road so hence the constant hum of traffic noise in the background.

hpr2432 :: Living with the Nokia 6 – an update to HPR 2405

Released on 2017-11-28 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Living with the Nokia 6 – an update to HPR 2405

I’ve now been using the Nokia 6 for about 2 months and just wanted to update listeners to my thoughts on the phone.

First a response to Dave who said on the Community News that as he had a OnePlus 1 he was surprised I found it inadequate. The One+1 is a great phone, my problem with it was it does not support O2’s 4G network although it supports EE’s and 3’s 4G networks here in the UK, as I use GiffGaff which runs on the O2 network I have not been able to benefit from their 4G offer and I don’t want to change provider. Also the One+1 was stuck on CyanogenMod 13.1 (Android 6) and no longer got updates, so this was the reason for the new phone purchase. I’ve now flashed Lineage OS onto the One+1 and have a secure backup phone or one I can pass on to my Wife at some stage.

Back to the Nokia, now I’ve lived with the phone for a few weeks I can say I am more than happy with it, and some of the issues with battery life I have found are unfounded once you configure some of the settings to be more battery friendly, such as restricting background access to the net for most aps the battery life is well over a day's use. At night in stand by mode over 8 hours battery use is less than 1% so even with moderate to heavy use I can get a day out of the phone without any risk of running out. Also if the official charger and cable are used a 1 hour charge gives about a 30-40% battery capacity, so not as slow as the reviews I’ve read. Would I still buy it having used it for 2 months, I would say yes to that, and I also have no issues with recommending it as a large format phone at a budget price.

hpr2405 :: Nokia 6 Review

Released on 2017-10-20 under a CC-BY-SA license.

The Nokia 6 is a mid range phone with the following specifications:

  • 5.5-inch 1080p screen
  • Snapdragon 430 chip set
  • CPU - Octa-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53
  • GPU - Adreno 505
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Dual 4G SIM capable (All UK networks)
  • 32Gig internal storage expansion with SD card up to 128Gig
  • 16MP and 8MP cameras
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • All metal Aluminium case

Price at purchase, network unlocked £200

The phone came with Android 7.1 and as soon as it was connected to the Internet it updated to 7.1.1 so has the latest September security patches.

The first issue encountered was that this phone uses a nano SIM card for the phone network and my old One Plus used the bigger micro SIM, so I had to get a new Sim card sent to me which took 24 hours. In the mean time I was installing some of the applications that I have on the phone and checking that all my contacts had transferred to the new phone, which despite a backup of same some had not migrated, but that’s a Google issue not the phone.

When the SIM arrived I put it and a 16Gig micro SD card into the SIM slot, the cards were recognized and after configuring the SD card as additional storage I was able to set my pod catcher and camera to save files to the SD card rather than internal storage thus leaving internal storage for apps and Android updates.

First thing I noticed over my previous One Plus1 is how snappy everything is the CPU upgrade was definitely and improvement over my old phone. Another thing is the fact that Nokia has decided to keep the 3.5mm headphone Jack which for me is essential as I listen to music and audio recordings at some time on the phone most days. A lot has also been said about the 3000mAh battery not being up to all day use and the slowness of recharging it if needed. For my use profile I find the battery more than adequate, I surf, use social media, take occasional snaps, watch the odd You Tube video and listen to pod-casts/music, Oh and make the odd phone call.

After a 14 hour day I have still got 50-60% of battery left. Granted the other night I got down to 40% it did take all night to recharge to 98% with a 2.5A charger, with the official 2A charger it does seem to be a little faster, but yes if you're a heavy user you will need to carry your charger or a portable battery for emergency top ups.

So would I recommend the Nokia6 to someone in the market for a phablet, the short answer is yes, if you need the larger screen but can't afford the high end larger screen phones this is a very good mid range option, if you need to use the dual SIM capability it might be worth spending the extra £40 and getting the 64Gig version to give extra room for updates and plenty of space for Applications as you will not be able to use the expansion capacity as the second SIM uses the space where the Micro SD card goes.

After the first 2 weeks or so my first impressions are this is a good phone and well worth the £200 price point.

hpr2380 :: Raspbian X86 on P4 Tower

Released on 2017-09-15 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Raspbian x86 on an old P4 tower

Well I’m back again, as I said in the show I did about Raspbian x86 on the Lenovo x61s, I was interested to see how the OS would perform on what I now class as very old hardware in the form of a Pentium 4 tower.

We have a spare tower at the Makerspace which gets used to test low resource operating systems to see if they live up to their name, so on Saturday (yesterday as I write this, but a few weeks ago by the time this show goes out) I put the x86 Raspbian image on to this tower to see how it would perform.

Tower specifications are: Pentium 4 2.8Gig CPU, 2Gig DDR Ram and a 40Gig HDD, which in its day was a very useful bit of kit, but technology has moved on and most people wouldn’t consider it any use as a working PC today.

First problem I encountered was the DVD drive was duff and I didn’t have the image on a flash drive. Luckily I did have my trusty USB DVD in the bag, so I hooked that up, booted into the boot menu and set the disc off loading the OS. I won't go into this again as I ran through the install process last time, HPR 2362, but the install went well and I was left with a new install of Pixel on the tower.

I went through the new install process and was left with an up to date and password secure PC, I then rebooted to check what the resource use was at first boot, which I was amazed was a consistent 66mb of RAM, and about 1% CPU use.

Using the Chromium web browser pushes up RAM usage over a 100 but it was smooth and easily coped with navigating to resource hungry sites such as YouTube and the BBC. So first test passed.

I next opened a Word document in LibreOffice, this took about 10seconds to load but once open was perfectly usable with no lag, so should provide a good office capable PC.

So you can use the Web, Write documents, it has an email client or you can use web mail. And it’s not painfully slow, this PC would now make a very usable homework/first computer for any child, or a computer for an older member of the family that just needs to keep in touch with family and friends without breaking the bank. In fact you could probably pick up a working tower off the likes of Freecycle/Freegle for £0 and you may even get a small 17”/19” TFT monitor from the same place.

Yes it’s not as energy efficient as the latest kit but as I said last time the cost of a new PC/laptop can buy a lot of additional electricity in the time you may run it before it finally expires.

hpr2374 :: How to Make Sauerkraut

Released on 2017-09-07 under a CC-BY-SA license.

First off I have to admit to being a bit of a foodie and I love Sauerkraut but getting naturally fermented sauerkraut here in the UK in my experience impossible and if you can it tends to be expensive. So I went and had a look on YouTube for some instructions on how to do it, and my first efforts worked well. I’ve just made another batch and took pictures as I was doing it. So this is a how to show on making Sauerkraut.

Just to say that this is about making basic sauerkraut but you can add additional flavours with garlic, other veg and spices. At some point I will try chilli but this week I want the clean taste of a basic sauerkraut.

I use a large white cabbage which you need to strip any outer leaves that are blemished or dirty then quarter and cut out the hard core. Now before shredding weigh the cabbage as you need this to work out how much salt you will add for each Kilo of cabbage and other vegetables, if using. You need 20 grammes of salt, nothing fancy but use one without any any additives, just pure salt, I used a rock salt which cost £1.35 for 350g. You're basically after 2% salt to weight of Cabbage and anything else you are fermenting.

It’s also an idea to have about 100mls of a 2% brine to top up if needed to cover the veg in the jar if there is not quite enough liquid made during mashing.

Shred the cabbage and put into a large bowl with the salt, now the fun bit starts. You need to get your hands in and start to crush the salt covered shredded cabbage to start drawing out the moisture, this will take several minutes or longer depending on quantity, but you will feel the texture changing and the liquid starting to be drawn out quite soon after starting. Continue this process until the cabbage seems to have shrunk by about half and there is also a juice in the bottom of the bowl. You can cheat and do this for a few minutes then cover with food wrap and leave for up to an hour and the salt will have done some of the work for you, but you need to give it a good 5 minutes to start before you do this, and you may have to do a little more mashing before transferring to a jar.

At this stage find a jar or jars, large enough to hold all the cabbage with a little to spare, you can sterilise if you wish but a good clean in hot soapy water then rinsed and allowed to dry is sufficient as the salt kills and bad bacteria and encourages to good bacteria to grow. Put all your salted and mashed cabbage mix in the jar/jars well packed down with the juice ensuring that the juice is covering the cabbage by about 1cm (this is where the extra saline solution comes in if you don’t quite have enough.

Now put your lid on but not overly tight as this is a fermented product and if there is nowhere for the gas to go then you could have a pressure explosion in your cupboard (some people use wine makers fermenting valves but this is a little overkill and more cost than needed).

Tuck the jar away in a storage place that’s about room temp and leave for several days checking every so often to see how it is. If the brine has evaporated you may need to top up slightly. After about a week you should have sauerkraut, give it a try, if its sour enough this is when you take it and put in the fridge or cold cellar/garage to stop the fermenting. All you have to do now is start eating, oh, and make your next batch ready for when that’s gone.

hpr2366 :: Making Bramble Jelly

Released on 2017-08-28 under a CC-BY-SA license.

How to make Jam/Jelly

Hi again HPR listeners, its the time of the year when I turn my hand to foraging and making Jelly from the local wild brambles.

The season has started early here in the UK so I’ve already produced over 60 jars of bramble jelly this year with more to come. Thankfully I have people who donate old jam jars for reuse during the year which I store for this very time of the year so I have not had any problems with jars for storage.

First on the issue of hygiene, before filling all the jars have previously been de-labelled and on the day of production are given another wash in hot soapy water, rinsed and placed in the oven and cooked for at least 15 minutes at 150° Centigrade (300° Fahrenheit) to sterilise them. All the lids are also boiled in water and kept hot until just before use for the same reason.

The first thing I do in making jelly is wash the collected fruit (Blackberries) and put it in a pan with a little water to start cooking, then mash with a vegetable masher to start the process of breaking down the fruit. I also add 1 Lemon cut in half to each 1½ Kg of fruit both for the acidity and the pectin in the pith of the lemon (this helps setting the jelly as it cools). If there are any available I add wild plums to the mix in about a 10% ratio of plums to the Brambles as these are also rich in pectin.

Once the fruit has boiled and broken down leave to cool, then remove the lemon skins ensuring you scrape the inside to get the gelatinous pulp into the pot as this contains the pectin. Now the fruit needs to be strained to remove the seeds etc. and just leave the juice for making the jelly.

Once this has been done reduce the juice by about a third to concentrate it a little then measure the remaining juice to calculate how much sugar you will need for making the jelly. I use 1Kg sugar to each Liter of juice (1lb/US Pint)

Put the juice in a pan large enough that it only comes half way up after the sugar is added as you need room for it to expand as it boils, bring the Juice back up to a boil and add the sugar stirring until it's all dissolved. This will have cooled it all down again so continue heating the juice and sugar mix until it starts to boil. At this stage you need to keep the juice boiling until it has come to Jam temp (105°C/220°F). If you have a Jam Thermometer you can use that to find the jam/jelly point. I don’t so I use a mixture of visual clues (boiling with lots of small bubbles on the surface) and using a cold plate kept in the freezer to test the Jelly as it cooks until its ready. You need to boil the juice for 10-15 minutes after it gets to temperature then put a drop of the juice on a cold saucer and leave for a minute, after which run your finger through the blob of juice and if it ripples up and stays there without closing the gap created you have Jelly. If not boil for a further 5 minutes and repeat until you have a setting jelly.

Editor's Note: above adjusted in accordance with the comment 2017-08-19

Boiling Jelly
Boiling Jelly

Jam setting
Jam setting

At this point remove pan from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. During this time you can drain your lids and lay them on a clean towel with the inside facing up ready to put on the jars (I’m using recycled store bought jars and lids. If using preserving jars follow the instructions with these.

As this is a jelly you don’t need a fancy jam funnel as it pours well from a jug, just ensure it is clean and dry as the high heat of the jelly will ensure it is sterile on use, but if you're paranoid about infection sterilise it the same way as your jars in preparation.

All that remains is to remove a few jars from the oven, fill with the Jelly liquid, having given it a stir as you fill your jug. Put on the lids of the jars ensuring they are on tightly. If they have the security pop up button as the jelly cools if the lid is on correctly this will be sucked down showing a good seal.

Place the filled jars somewhere to cool, then label with a date and what it is, and you're set to enjoy your own home made jelly until it runs out, or give away as a home made gift to friends and family.

If you want more info about making jams and jellies YouTube is full of how to videos.

hpr2362 :: Raspbian X86 on Lenovo x61s

Released on 2017-08-22 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This show is about putting the new Raspbian image onto one of the Lenovo x61s laptops that I have previously talked about.

These laptops do not have a DVD drive so normally I would create a boot flash drive using USB image writer in Linux Mint, but I had received a DVD of Raspbian with the MagPi magazine so I connected a portable USB DVD drive that I have and used the disc to install to the laptop.

On booting to the DVD drive you get several options including a live session with persistence (this allows the saving of data and system changes to a flash drive during the session if wanted), but the option I chose was to install to hard drive.

This gives a simplified Debian installer and for new users with no previous experience of installing Linux it recommends one of the options at each stage. The only issue I had was at the stage it asks where to install Grub it does not automatically highlight the main drive (Sda) a small gripe but for a newcomer it could confuse.

That said the install went flawlessly and upon first boot I was left with the PIXEL desktop with the task bar at the top of the screen and a short cut for the recycle bin. The boot time on this laptop with a Core2Duo 4Gig Ram and 120Gig SSD was about 30 seconds which is good also it was only using 87mb of the available RAM on start up, this shows the credentials of an OS built to run on the original 256mb Pi.

First job is to navigate to Raspberry config from the menu bar by going to:

Open Menu > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration.

From here you have a number of options but the important one is to change the default password from raspberry to something a little more secure.   After this I connected the Laptop to my WiFi network which is flawless on the x61s as it is an Intel WiFi card, I can't comment on other cards here.

The next task that I did was to run the terminal commands 'sudo apt update' & 'sudo apt upgrade'. This will result in an updated system with all the security fixes installed and any package upgrades that are available.

The one thing I was not happy about is that Raspbian allows 'sudo' access for terminal commands without requesting a password by default, this can be fixed if you feel this is a major issue depending on what you are using the device for.  

After completing the upgrade I decided to add the 'Synaptic' package manager to the install as this makes finding software a little easier if you not sure exactly what you're looking for. This is as simple as 'sudo apt install synaptic' in the terminal and once installed you'll find a link to it under preferences in the menu.

One thing that I found that did not work out of the box was Audio, I had to install some Alsa packages and audacity to collect the needed dependencies for the audio to work. So I installed Alsa player, Alsa mixer GUI and Audacity and after this and a reboot miraculously audio now worked.

Also there was not battery monitor installed so I installed Batmon so that I could check the battery status of the laptop.   On the whole given that Raspbian has been built to be compatible with all iterations of the Raspberry Pi board the software installed by default while minimal includes all the basics for web use - Chromium, email - Claws and office work - Open Office suit, along side all the Pi favourites such as Scratch (including Scratch 2) and Python programming tools.   Would I use Raspbian x86 as a daily driver, with a few tweaks, I might, particularly on an older PC/Laptop. I need to try it on an old Atom Net Book to see if it will work well on a really low specified system but a Pentium 4 with a couple of gig of RAM should work reasonably well as a development and homework PC for a school student so could extend the life of an old machine you may have kicking around. But a Core2Duo is definitely a goer, even with a basic 1Gig of Ram it should work quite well and 2Gig or better no issues at all.

There is a link to the iso download via HTTP or torrent here:

hpr2352 :: Liverpool Makefest 2017 Show 5

Released on 2017-08-08 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Tony Hughes here with the 5th and final show of some short interviews I did during the Liverpool Makefest held on the 24th June 2017 at Liverpool Central Library.

The first interview is with Diane from Melt 3D printing

The second interview was with Michael from Electric Flapjack Guitars


hpr2346 :: Liverpool Makefest 2017 Show 4

Released on 2017-07-31 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Tony Hughes here with the 4th show of some short interviews I did during the Liverpool Makefest held on the 24th June 2017 at Liverpool Central Library.

The first interview is with Hillary Harper one of the Makefest Crew

The second interview was with Gemma from Patten Craft

The final interview for this show was with Simon Rider of Liverpool Book Art

hpr2341 :: Liverpool Makefest 2017 Show 3

Released on 2017-07-24 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Tony Hughes here with the third show of some short interviews I did during the Liverpool Makefest held on the 24th June 2017 at Liverpool Central Library.

The first interview is with David from Studio@Deyes in Wavertree

The second interview was with Laura from Tactile electronics

The final interview for this show was with Amelia, Beth and Chelsea from Liverpool Girl Geeks.

hpr2336 :: Liverpool Makefest 2017 Show 2

Released on 2017-07-17 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Tony Hughes here with the second of some short interviews I did during the Liverpool Makefest held on the 24th June 2017 at Liverpool Central Library.

The first interview is with Jimmy England from Warington Fab Lab

The second interview was with Patrick from DoES Liverpool

hpr2331 :: Liverpool Makefest 2017 Show 1

Released on 2017-07-10 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi HPR listeners

Tony Hughes here with the first of some short interviews I did during the Liverpool Makefest held on the 24th June 2017 at Liverpool Central Library.

The first interview was with Jay from the Inventors Asylum

The second interview was with John Walton about his Animatronics creations, sorry no web link.

hpr2295 :: MX Linux

Released on 2017-05-19 under a CC-BY-SA license.

MX Linux OS

Hi To all in HPR land, this is Tony Hughes in the UK back with you. I noticed that the queue has a couple of gaps in the next week or so here goes again.

Apart from my last show I've recently done shows on current Linux distro's that are suitable for older hardware but with a modern look and feel and fully featured with the latest software available.

As you have probably gathered by now if you have listened to my other shows I am a big fan of older Lenovo Laptops. My main Lenovo is an X230i i3 with a 2.5G cpu and 8Gig of Ram and a 120Gig SSD, it did have Mint 17.3 running on it and after running Mint 18 / 18.1 for several months on my desktop PC I decided to upgrade to 18.1 on the X230i.

I completed the install and on first boot after install the boot time had risen from about 40s to over 2 minutes, I suspected a problem with the install so did it again with the same result. I couldn't find any issues reported on the net so resorted to installing Linux Lite which is based on Ubuntu 16.04 as is Mint 18. The problem persisted after this install despite getting near 40s boots on the Lenovo X61s with an SSD and the same Distro.

I did another web search but could not find any other reports of this issue with the X230i so put a post on the Facebook community Distro hoppers. The response I got back from one member was to try MX16.

MX Linux is a joint venture from the antiX and former MEPIS communities and is based on the latest Debian Stable "Jessie" with the XFCE desk top environment.

I duly downloaded it and installed it in a Virtual PC using virtual box to see what it looked and felt like. The install is fairly user friendly although if you've never had experience of Linux and installed other Distributions a new user may be a bit unsure when asked about the MBR and where to put it, other than that a fairly straightforward install.

On install there is a fairly good selection of the software you would need including a full install of LibreOffice, FireFox, Thunderbird, GIMP and synaptic package manager for adding further software from the repositories. MX have also included the ability to simply install codecs and additional drivers and a software installation system for popular Apps from the MX Welcome that comes up at boot or if disabled can be started form the menu. Also I installed it on a virtual 8Gig HDD and GParted reports use of 4.64Gig after install and updates, by default it only installs a 1G swap despite 2Gig allocated Ram in the VM.

I liked the look of MX and decided to give it a go on the X230i, install went smoothly and lo and behold boot was back to around 40s on first boot after install. So I've updated the install, installed my packages I use that are not there by default such as Audacity, Scratch and a couple of other things I use. I've also put it on the X61s I use and again working faultlessly, so I'm happy again. Since I installed MX I found out from a member of my Makerspace/LUG that he had experienced the same problem with Ubuntu 16.04 based distro's and crippled SSD Boot times.

I like MX so much when it come to time to reinstall my Desk Top PC, which is about the only PC I use that is not constantly changing OS, I think I will be putting MX on it. This is a big deal for me as I've been a loyal Mint user for over 5 years but MX is working so well on the Laptops at the moment it would be good to have the same OS on the Desktop PC as well.

Will MX stop my Distro Hopping, NO, I like trying out new things that's why I have several Laptops kicking around so I have spare hardware to try out new Linux stuff, but it is good to have something stable around when you need it, hence sticking with Mint for so long on the Desktop.

hpr2286 :: Surviving a Stroke

Released on 2017-05-08 under a CC-BY-SA license.

First off a disclaimer: anything I say here is my experience and is in no way intended as advice to anyone, everyone who experiences or is at risk of a stroke is different and you must make your own lifestyle choices based on professional advice.

That clear lets get on with my show. On the 2nd February 2017 I had a Stroke, it came completely without warning. I was out with my wife, just about to start a Bridge class we were attending. I sat down at the table and just after sitting down was blasted with what I thought was White Noise from faulty hearing aids. After quickly removing them without any effect I thought I was having a sudden severe migraine, which I have from time to time. However I was unable to communicate what was happening and after several minutes my wife wrote on a paper the words “Home” and “Hospital” and I pointed to hospital. An Emergency ambulance was duly called and I was transferred to the local Emergency Department. Several hours later in the early hours of the next morning they admitted me, still not sure what had happened. It was only after a scan that afternoon that they concluded that I had had a Stroke.

I was seen by a consultant that evening who confirmed this and as I still had residual problems on my right side concluded that it was a stroke, and not a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack) or a mini stroke as it is sometimes called. I spent the next 12 days in hospital having further tests, including another scan, an MRI as opposed to the previous CT scan I had had on admission. After seeing the results of this scan the Consultant was amazed that I was not more severely affected, in other cases of the type of stroke I suffered the physical and cognitive damage is much more severe. It was looking like I had thankfully, dodged a bullet.

That is not to say there were no effects. My right side was effected and the fine motor control was damaged. Coordination in using my right hand and arm were initially difficult as was writing (I am predominantly right handed). Also my mouth felt like I was wearing someone’s false teeth, even though I have all my own. However the main effect has been fatigue, initially severe, but as I write this 6 weeks later this is starting to improve, although I still tire after 2-3 hours doing things that I could have done all day previously. I also still have a little feeling of weakness in my right hand and arm and writing is still an issue, thankfully most of my writing is done on a keyboard.

So what caused it I hear you yelling, well the truth is they don’t know. The most serious risks are to people that Drink alcohol excessively, Smoke and have a high fat diet. Also those over weight particularly the obese, and people with diabetes are high risk. Another major risk factor is genetic, and I remembered afterwards that my Grandfather and an Uncle had major strokes that ultimately led to their deaths. Also stress and high blood pressure can be a factor.

I don’t drink or smoke and have been a vegetarian for many years, also my blood pressure is checked regularly and was always seen as within normal range. However I was at the time of the stroke 21lb over weight, but even before it happened I had lost 7lb. Since the stroke the blood tests also show I am pre-diabetic so I need to increase my exercise (again something I had started to do), and alter my diet to reduce my blood sugars. Not major issues as I had started to attend a gym and walk more as part of the weight loss plan, and I actually prefer healthy food, and now have a reason to say to people when I’m in company why I eat what and the way I do.

The main effect for me has been the restriction on my mobility as the Consultant will not let me drive until 3 months post discharge (14th May), which means I have to rely on others or get public transport, this is not the problem but having to walk from transport stops to where I’m going is due to the fatigue. Roll on May 14th.

I thought I would record this show as a bit of a warning, and for listeners to realise that a Stroke can and does happen to anyone. On a positive note there is life after stroke and even for those who are more seriously disabled by a stroke many can and do recover most if not all the function they had before hand.

Further info on Stroke can be found here:

hpr2280 :: Lenovo X61s Part 2

Released on 2017-04-28 under a CC-BY-SA license.

HPR episode on Lenovo X61s part 2

  • Cost £36 including auction fees
  • OS Free (any Linux will work well)
  • Upgrade to 120Gig SSD £40 of ebay
  • Total outlay £76

If you have to buy one then get an OS free one and don't pay more than £80-£100 depending if it has an SSD or not

Hello HPR, a few episodes ago I talked of using the Lenovo X61s with Watt OS and said I would report back after a possible upgrade to the laptop with and SSD replacement for the hard drive.

Well I duly ordered and received a Drevo 120 Gig SSD from ebay. These are about £40 each so make a cheap upgrade to an older laptops spinning disc see review here:

after installing the PC with WattOS while it did everything you would need of an OS and was absolutely fine on the X61s I was a bit disillusioned with the amount of configuration needed to get all the software I needed working, definitely not New user friendly.

Looking at other lite Linux distributions I came upon Linux Lite

and decided that this might be a better choice as it says it is aimed at new users, and being based on Ubuntu was a familiar beast. ISO was downloaded and duly installed on the X61s and as soon as all the updates were completed I looked at the installed software and it was more comprehensive but not at the expense of still being lightweight.

At first Boot it takes about 300mb of ram and even with the word processor and Firefox in use Ram usage was only about 700mb.

Audacity after install worked out of the box, and I've already recorded and uploaded another show for HPR using the X61s and all went flawlessly. With the new SSD I am getting close to 5 hours of use from the 8 cell 63W battery installed on the PC and while I recognize the X61s being over 10 years old is not going to meet the needs of a power user, its fully capable of being an everyday laptop for basic office tasks, some light audio editing, and even photo editing in GIMP. I was able to edit and process a 10mb .jpg image without any issues and exporting the final image took seconds.

I was fairly happy with the X61s performance with the 80Gig spinner it came with, but the addition of an SSD has both improved performance and battery life to the extent that I would happily take it on the road as my only PC. Actually for the porpoise of writing this review I've lived with it as my main PC for almost 2 weeks and have not really missed its big brother the X230i i3 laptop I also have. In fact I was going to record a show using that and found that as it has a composite Audio jack, and my head set requires separate mic and headphone sockets I wasn't able to, so one up to the X61s there.

Conclusion, if you have a couple of kids and you're looking for a laptop for them to do homework, watch Utube, and surf the web (parental controls enabled) then I would look no further. And if they get broken by said kids you've not lost a bundle of dosh.

hpr2271 :: Raspberry Pi Zero W

Released on 2017-04-17 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this episode I talk about the new Raspberry Pi Zero W single board computer released on 28th February 2017 to coincide with the 5th Birthday of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

This tiny 65x30mm single board PC has the following specs

  • 1GHz, single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports
  • Micro USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers
  • CSI camera connector
  • 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Here are a couple of links to the foundation and a fuller review

hpr2265 :: WattOS on Lenovo X61s

Released on 2017-04-07 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a follow on show from the one about WattOS on the Acer AspireOne I did recently.

I talk about installing and running of the OS on this 10+ year old laptop and how they are still a viable option as a cheap laptop.

Note all the recording, and uploading to HPR of this episode was done on the X61s

hpr2257 :: Watt OS

Released on 2017-03-28 under a CC-BY-SA license.

In this short episode I tell you about installing Watt OS onto an Acer Aspire One Netbook from 2008.

This net book came with a 8Gig SSD installed and a 32bit 1.6G atom processor and many modern Linux spins are just too big for the hardware.

However Watt OS came to the rescue and installed on the Netbook without issue.

I plan to give it a go on a Lenovo x61 shortly and will let you know how that works out, my thought is it will fly on that hardware.

hpr2157 :: BarCamp Manchester part 3

Released on 2016-11-08 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is an interview with Alan O'Donohoe which I did at BarCamp Manchester. The links to his Twitter page and the Exa Foundation are as follows:

hpr2151 :: BarCamp Manchester part 2

Released on 2016-10-31 under a CC-BY-SA license.

An Interview with Claire Dodd, the organiser of BarCamp Manchester

An Interview with Damion of Layershift Hosting, one of the sponsors of BarCamp Manchester

hpr2144 :: An Interview with All About Code at Manchester BarCamp

Released on 2016-10-20 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a follow up interview with Joshua Lowe as he has been very busy developing further python tools for the Raspberry Pi

The interview took place at BarCamp Manchester on the 24th September 2016 after he had done a talk about EduBlocks his new project for programming in Python and part of his Edupython project.

Josh will be at at the end of October and will be presenting his project again.

hpr2101 :: What's on my podcatcher

Released on 2016-08-22 under a CC-BY-SA license.

A short show about the podcasts I like to listen to.

hpr2097 :: New Toys

Released on 2016-08-16 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi HPR listeners this is Tony Hughes talking from Blackpool UK

I did a show a few weeks ago about my Geek Bags but didn’t talk about the Desktop PC I use and as I’ve just upgraded to a new (used) PC I thought I would tell the story of my Desktop PC’s over the years.

I was a latecomer to the world of personal computing having been at school in the Late 60’s and early 70’s when we hadn’t even got calculators, if you were lucky to be able to work out the intricacy of it you may have had use of a slide rule. Even after calculators started to be more widely used I had a lecturer at college while studying marine engineering, that was so good with his slide rule and mental calculation, he could, and would often work out equations far faster than those of us using a calculator.

I first came across my first IBM clone PC back at college in 1987 while studying a control systems course this was a Intel 286 PC which the college ran CAD/CAM software on and we used it to learn how to create engineering drawings electronically. This would be the last time I used a computer until the early 1990’s when by then I had changed career and become a Registered Nurse. I was working in a residential nursing home and we had access to a Windows 3.xx PC which I would use to create templates of the clinical paperwork we used for record keeping.

Around this time I met my then wife to be and she needed a PC for the University Course she was on so we obtained a used Intel 386 PC from a Friend and upgraded the Ram from 1Mb to 4Mb which cost nearly half the price we paid for the PC £120, which in 1993 was a good chunk of cash. It was a time when there was a world shortage of Ram and offices were getting burgled just for the memory in the office PC’s.

While we had this PC in the house it didn’t much interest me at the time, this was pre internet days for the average user, we weren’t on line at work and the Word processing software was Dos based and I hated using it, so would do the odd things I needed to at work during my break.

Move forward 5 years and Windows 95 had taken over the world and there was this wonderful new OS called Windows 98 starting to appear in the shops. In September 1998 I went back to do a Nursing Degree in my specialist area of practice and found that we were required to submit all our course work in word processed format, no long hand written assignments this time around. So I decided that I would invest in a new home PC.

There were a couple of Big Box PC retailers in the UK at the time that advertised heavily in the press and on TV and I chose to go to one of these and bought a PC with the following specs:   

Pentium 2 350 CPU, 128Mb Ram, 6Gig HDD, 56k modem and a DVD Rom. It also came bundled with a Scanner, Inkjet printer and software including MS Office for small Business. All for the grand total of £1400 which at the time was about a month’s take home pay so I had to pay for it with the flexible friend (my Credit Card for those of you too young to remember the ad’s)

I also signed up for an AOL account to access the internet over the 56k modem, dog slow now but at the time was the only affordable way us mere mortals could afford home internet access. I remember it could take a minute or 2 to render my Bank’s web site when I started online banking in 2001 and that was using compression software to reduce the bandwidth.

I used that PC to write all my college work and with the help of a couple of friends started to tinker with the PC, getting a 120 ZIP drive for it, and later adding a CD RW drive for storing documents and Photos that I’d scanned and later taken with my first digital Camera.

By 2002 the PC was starting to get a bit long in the tooth and I decided it was time for an upgrade and I had a PC built for me by a local shop with P4 2.5Ghz CPU 40Gig HDD and 512Mb Ram (later upgraded to 2Gig) and a CD RW drive again later upgraded to DVD RW drive. This PC cost me half of what I paid for the P2 four years previously and was to be the last PC I bought new, all the PC’s including laptops I’ve owned since this PC have been second hand. Some given by family or friends, some built from parts of Freecycle/Freegle, and lately PC’s I’ve bought at a local computer auction in the north west of the UK.

The title of this podcast is “New Toys” and so to the juicy bit, my Desktop for the last 6 years has been a Lenovo ThinkCentre 7373 Core 2 Duo PC with a 2.6Ghz CPU, 250Gig SSD, an upgrade from the 160Gig HDD it came with and 12Gig Ram also upgraded from the 4Gig it came with and requiring a bios flash to get the MB to support 16Gig. This rig has served me well but lately I have found it starting to feel its age and taking a long time to do things I now do regularly such as video and photo editing, Audio editing and virtual PC’s in virtualBox. So I decided it was time I looked around for an upgrade. As usual I was not in the market for a new PC, I could afford one but I don’t like splashing the cash unnecessarily. As luck would have it the monthly Auction catalog included a HP Compaq Elite 8300 i7 Micro Tower. I checked out the specs and liked what I read. So Monday 1st of August I took a trip to the auction and as luck would have it I became the proud owner of said PC for the princely sum of £212.80, hammer price of £190 plus commission.

The full spec of the PC is: i7 3.4Ghz CPU (22nm architecture) 4 cores and 8 threads, 8Gig Ram Supports 32Gig 500Gig HDD, DVD RW drive and a card reader. Also came with a Win7 pro CoA but no installed OS.

So it took me 10 minutes to install Linux Mint 18 and another 30 to complete the updates and install my software over and above the base install. It boots in just over a minute, which is only slightly slower than the old PC with an SSD, so I guess it will boot mega fast with an SSD upgrade, which is on the cards after I return from Holiday as may an upgrade to the Ram. I’ve already used some Ram from the old PC to increase to 12Gig but I need some matching 8Gig Ram to go to 16 or higher.

Well that charts my PC hardware journey over the last 20 odd years it’s amazing to think that one of the Raspberry Pi 3’s I own has more processing power than most of the hardware I’ve had up to the Core 2 Duo in 2010.

hpr2087 :: Magazines I read Part 2

Released on 2016-08-02 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hi Hacker Public Radio this is Tony Hughes again with the second episode about the magazines I like to read. All of the magazines I’ll be talking of today I read on my Magzter ( Application on my tablet. I have a Magzter Gold subscription which gives me access to literally 100’s of magazines.

  • Vegetarian Times (
    I’m a bit of a foodie and have been a vegetarian for many years, so access to good food magazines is important to me. This is a US publication so not all the advertised products are available in the UK but the articles and recipes are excellent.

  • Feel Good Food (
    A British magazine aimed at Women but non the less still a source of some brilliant recipes for delicious food for food lovers everywhere. Not a veggie magazine but there is usually something of interest. Like most of the food magazines I read I dip into them find recipes I like save them and move on.

Moving on from food to Sci Fi and cult fiction.

I’ve grouped these together as they both deal with this subject. They review the latest books, films, TV, comics and audio recordings for this genre . They also cover classic examples, often examining work from the so called golden age of a particular subject. Along with Total Film magazine ( you will always have access to reviews of the latest films & TV and if they are worth the price of a cinema ticket or space as a series record on your PVR.

Another armchair hobby of mine is archaeology I’ve loved Time Team from the beginning. So my next magazine on Magzter is Archaeology ( this is a bi monthly magazine published in the US, but covering the latest archaeological news from around the world. For someone into my modern technology its interesting to read about what the latest technology was hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Moving on, one of my other interests over the last 20 years has been motorcycles although I no longer ride I still retain an keen interest so a Bike magazine has to be something I dip into to drool over shiny metal every so often. So I currently have Back Street Heroes ( as a favourite in Magzter and dip into it when I need a shiny metal fix.

Finally a more active hobby of mine is photography so there has to be a photography magazine in this list. Amateur Photographer ( claims to be the worlds oldest weekly photography magazine. It covers all aspect of photography and the equipment you need. From high end Professional stuff to point and shoot cameras, and all the other stuff from bags to flash lights.

hpr2076 :: What Magazines I read Part 1

Released on 2016-07-18 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Magazines I Read

Hi This is Tony Hughes for Hacker Public Radio, I'm trying to do a show once a month or so and I was thinking of ideas that might be of interest to the listeners out there.

While there are regular shows on 'What's on my pod-catcher' I've never heard one about what magazines that people in the HPR community like to read. With the advent of digital media and subscription services such as Issuu, Magzter, Google Play Newsstand and I'm sure many others which offer both Free and subscription content I'm sure many of you like me have quite a number of magazines you regularly read, and some you dip in to from time to time. So this show is about the Magazines I like to read.

First I'd like to say that to facilitate regularly reading of digital media I feel for me a 10" tablet is the smallest format for comfortable reading (although for those of you with young enough eyesight to be able to read small fonts with no difficulty you may feel different). However my Tablet of choice is the 12" Samsung SM-P900 which I purchased in February 2015. My only gripe with this tablet is I'll probably never get Android 6 on it as it's now over 2 years since original release. While I agree with Apple that the 4:3 screen configuration for reading on a tablet is more user friendly I can not bring myself to spend that kind of money or be tied to the Apple ecosystem.

So what Magazines do I actually read?

  • Linux Voice ( This is a Linux magazine that was set up a couple of years ago by some of the former editorial team from Linux Format after a successful Kick Starter Campaign. Good content for and about Linux and the Linux community and they support the community by distributing 50% of their annual profits back to the Open Source Community after a ballot of readers. They also release issues of the magazine with a creative commons licence 9 months after publication. This is the only magazine I currently have a Paper subscription to (it also comes with a free DRM free PDF copy for subscribers)

  • Linux Format ( Similar in content to Linux Voice but without quite the same community philosophy, but still a very good publication.

  • MicroMart ( This is a more general computer magazine that started in 1985, as a place you could buy and sell computers and components but is now more of a regular weekly magazine format with news, reviews and articles about all things computer and technology related. As I said in my Journey to Linux show this was the Magazine that introduced me to Linux in the late 90's early 00's. They still have a weekly Linux page and regular Raspberry Pi and other Linux related content.

  • MagpPi ( This is the official Monthly magazine of the Raspberry Pi Community and as you will have worked out is focused on all things Raspberry Pi. Lots of Good content including: News, tutorials, and reviews of new peripherals for the Pi, and since being brought in house by the foundation it has a very professional look and feel about it. All the content is provided by members of the Raspberry Pi Community both from inside, and outside the Foundation. You can get a free Creative commons PDF from the website or to support the foundation you can subscribe to both Print and digital copies if you wish to.

  • Full Circle Magazine ( This is a completely community driven magazine for all things related to Ubuntu Linux and its derivatives. They carry news of what is happening in the World of Ubuntu and articles and tutorials of how to use Linux software for both the beginner and more experienced users. This is a Creative Commons and can be downloaded free from the website in both PDF and e-book formats.

  • PCLinuxOS Magazine ( This is another community driven magazine from The PCLinuxOS community and is similar to Full Circle in its content, with the aim of helping users of this distro to get the most out of it they can. Also available as a free Creative Commons PDF download from their website.

hpr2065 :: Whats in My Bag

Released on 2016-07-01 under a CC-BY-SA license.
  • 0.00 Intro

  • 0.38 Lenovo x201

  • 1.10 Lenovo x200 Tablet

  • 1.30 Lenovo x61s

  • 2.25 Raspberry Pi stuff

  • 3.55 Portable HDD

  • 4.24 sign off

hpr2056 :: Interview with a young hacker

Released on 2016-06-20 under a CC-BY-SA license.

The following interview is with a young member of the Maker Space and Raspberry Pi community here in the North West of the UK.

You can find more of Josh's work at:

Blackpool Makerspace and LUG

Blackpool Raspberry Jam

hpr2051 :: My Linux Journey

Released on 2016-06-13 under a CC-BY-SA license.
  • 0.00 Introduction

  • 0.40 Computer History

  • 6.25 Linux and Freecycle

  • 8.50 Current PC and Distro

  • 9.10 Helping/converting others

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