Pelican Blogging with a Docker Container

It has been about a year since I started using a virtual server on the laptop to locally host my blogging efforts with Pelican. Up to now I have used a combination of Vagrant (with Virtualbox in the background) and a Puppet built CentOS VM. At work we are increasingly introducing the concept of containerised services in the form of Docker containers, and I felt that revisiting my blogging setup with a view to making use of a container would be a great way of getting to know the technology a little better.

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Race Report: 2015 Gruesome Twosome

Name

The Gruesome Twosome, Swallow, Lincolnshire, UK.

Category

Hilly (mostly) off road half marathon in teams of two.

Date

17th October 2015

Time

Mid morning, 11:00 start.

Weather Conditions

Dry with broken cloud and a nagging North Easterly wind.

Course/Road Conditions

The course was a mixture of wooded sections, open fields, small country roads and technical sections with logs to clear. The course profile provided very few flat sections; it was mostly either up a hill or down one! Conditions were largely dry; a choice of road shoes rather than trail shoes would not have significantly disadvantaged anyone.

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Race Report: 2015 Great North Run

Name

The Great North Run, Tyneside, UK.

Category

All road half marathon. Probably one of the most famous half marathons in the world.

Date

13th September 2015

Time

Mid morning, 10:45 start.

Weather Conditions

Warming up as the morning went on, broken cloud.

Course/Road Conditions

Road was mostly dry; course profile was largely flat with gentle undulations where there were bridges, underpasses and so on. Only a couple of miles before the end presented any kind of real slope.

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Some Fun with a Cloned Arduino and W5100 Ethernet Shield

This article mainly concerns the many trials of reliably bringing a remotely installed cloned Arduino and Wiznet W5100 Ethernet shield back to life after a power cut. The W5100 board is being explored as an alternative to the cheaper 28J60 board which itself ended up with its own reliability issues as described here in another article.

Please note that this particular article references DCcduinos only. The problems described within do not affect a genuine Arduino in my experience.

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Giving an Arduino a Heartbeat

How would one be able to restart a system that has been deployed in a remote area which gives no immediate access for human intervention? The answer is to give the system an ability to reset itself in case of a system crash.

This is where a watchdog timer (WDT) comes into use. It is a hardware based timer capable of automatically resetting a system should the main program fail to periodically send out a heartbeat. Now, the Arduino does indeed have a WDT on board, as do probably all microcontrollers, but a small amount of reading will inform you that once it has started running a sketch, there is no software function that has the same effect as pressing the reset button.

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Race Report: 2015 Caythorpe Dash

Name

The Caythorpe Dash, Caythorpe, Lincolnshire, UK.

Category

Mostly off-road/trail/track half marathon. 4 person (2 man, 2 woman) teams with aggregated times or solo.

Date

1st February 2015

Time

Mid morning, 11:00 start.

Weather Conditions

Dry, cold air temperature (only just above freezing) with a fresh northerly breeze bringing in quite a wind chill. Broken cloud.

Course/Road Conditions

Road was mostly dry; trail and track were occasionally muddy with puddles. Course profile was largely flat for the first 16 km after an initial drop, followed by a hillier last 5 km or so.

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Getting Data from a Garmin FR610

Since getting a Garmin Forerunner 610 I have been largely satisfied with the various aspects of getting the data from the said watch on to the Internet. It is a multi stage process, each with risks and issues very much dependent on non functional qualities, such as network and USB resilience, usability and so on. To give an example, I get the data from my watch using a USB ANT+ stick, Mac computer, Garmin's Express software, Garmin Connect online service and finally, Strava via Strava's linked account capability. That's a lot of steps, and a lot of potential failures lying in wait. I am not going to get into my rather low estimation of both Garmin's Connect service and Express software; needless to say, I think they are both rather substandard at the moment.

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Soil Temperature Monitoring - Part Four

Some would say that at this stage I was almost there with the soil sensor project. All there was left to do was get the thing into the ground. Being that I am a flawed perfectionist, I had some other ideas . I was not going to simply chuck it in the ground without some more prevarication.

Anyway, onwards...

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Soil Temperature Monitoring - Part Three

A very brief part three of the, somewhat delayed, soil temperature monitoring project. This project has been left a little on the side gathering dust whilst I spent some time concentrating on the cloud detection project, but I am now determined to get this system up and running and its sensors in the ground before the winter weather sets in. Being in the ground soon will also mean that I get a good run before the cold weather hits.

At this point I have progressed with getting the electronics from breadboard to circuit board, well, Veroboard anyway. Also, the mission has crept slightly: after some more research, I have decided that the project is to become more of a surface/ground temperature station with the addition of minimum grass and concrete temperature measurements.

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