This is my review of the book – the World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith.
Though I had not planned to read this book next, I have a small pile of books waiting to be read by my bedside, and this was not in that. I choose this book from our bookshelves as I wanted a book that would hopefully provide some cheer whilst not being too mentally challenging. From the other books that I have read in the series so far, this should meet the criteria. If you want to know why I am choosing such a book just look at the book that I have read previously.
So getting back to the book, this is the ongoing saga of life in 44 Scotland Street, building on the characters that we have met already. This includes Cyril the dog, who is arrested and is potentially under threat of extinction for biting. But it turns out (beware plot spoiler) this is a case of mistaken identity and he is duly freed by the courts.
Bertie of course has a leading role in the book and he now has a baby brother called Ulysses, that is causing chaos in the family. Even more so when (beware plot spoiler) Bertie starts to ponder allowed to various adults including his Dad that Ulysses, looks just like his psychotherapist, that his mother is so keen on.
Berties overpowering mother has the idea that (beware plot spoiler) bertie should play with girls and so arranges this with one of her friends daughters. They play nurses and patients. The nurse taking Berties blood for real. Sadly the consequences of this action could not be foreseen, but I will not give the game away.
There is lots going on with the other characters as well but you will have to read the book to find out what that is.
A good enjoyable read as book 5 week 3 – fiction 5 (0 on audio) non fiction 0
This year I got a very original Valentines day present – a PiFace for my Raspberry Pi. This is an interface board made by element 14, that sits on top of the Pi.
Fortunately I had fairly recently updated the Pi operating system to the latest version of Raspbian wheezy, so knew I did not have that to do before installing the PiFace
On opening the little box it came in there was the circuit board, and a leaflet that had health and safety info on it. Nothing else. Using a bit of initiative the board was fitted easily, making sure the Pi was turned off before fitting, though unfortunately it does not fit within the current plastic case, so will have to leave the top off.
Then I suppose with not having any instructions I tuned the Pi on and vaguely hoped that it would see the board. Sadly this was not the case, spoilt by too many plug n play add ons. So had do some searching as to how to install the PiFace.
(For ease of use I connect to my Pi via vncserver that I have preconfigured and set up. This allows me to connect to the Pi via a vnc viewer. I have ultravnc viewer http://www.uvnc.com/ on the laptop I am using for this.)
I found some instructions here http://piface.openlx.org.uk/174770794 for the PiFace, but they have minor errors. Though minor they do stop things working, so with further investigation this is what I did to get it working
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf.
(The install instructions miss off the leading slash (/), so if the file that appears is empty, you need to add the slash before editing it).
Do a restart and then it is a good idea to make sure everything is up to date so run
sudo apt-get update.
Once everything is updated run
Then I ran (This is slightly different form the official instructions, but that did not work for me)
This takes a long time to run, certainly more time than it took to go and boil the kettle and drink a cuppa. Fortunately it shows you that it is working as it writes to the screen all that it is doing and there are pages and pages of it.
Once it had finished I did a restart for good measure. Then I ran the command
The emulator started and works fantastically well.
To Control an output via the emulator
Click Override Enable.
Click Output Pin 1 to enable it.
The PiFace interface will click as the relay turns on and the corresponding LED will illuminate. The screen updates to show the LED being on, the contacts have changed over on the relay and the first output pin is on.
All the LEDs are in parallel with the outputs terminal connectors and indicate when the output is enabled.
I then tried some simple Python commands – (Note I could only get this to work with Python 2 not Python 3)
To use Piface with Python import the piface.pfio module:
Then before use, the board must be initialised with a call to init()
There are three main functions to control the interface
digital_read(pin_number) - which returns 1 or 0 depending on the state of the input numbered pin_number
digital_write(pin_number, state) - which sets the output numbered pin_number to state 0 or 1. State 1 turns the LED on and enables to open collector to sink current
digital_write_pullup(pin_number, state) - which sets a 10k pullup on input numbered pin_number to be state 0 or 1. State 1 is pullup enabled
Having got this far I was feeling quite pleased with myself, so thought I would try and get it working with Scratch – Mmmhhhmm!!
Lots more searching on the web for some instructions which work, and sadly I have to say I did not find any. From opening the box to giving up with scratch it had taken around 5 hours. I did notice a comment from a dad on one site I looked at who had said he had spent most of the previous weekend trying to get the PiFace working with scratch with his son. He did say that he had eventually succeeded but it had taken more than 12 hours. It was a shame he did not say what he did. Still this is my challenge for this next weekend.
This is my review of the book Fatherland by Robert Harris, which I have recently read. I was inspired to read this as it was cited in the book Dominion by C J Sansom. Though I have read the book before, it was a number of years ago, so could not properly remember it.
Like Dominion, the central theme of the book, is that Nazi Germany was not defeated in 1945, but carried on. Here Hitler is coming up to his 75th Birthday. Berlin is the capital city and has been rebuilt to include a massive Great Hall, that is 1000 feet high and can hold 150,000 people.
The story is of a policeman March trying to investigate the mystery of a naked body of an old man that has been found in the outskirts of Berlin.
During the course of this investigation March uncovers a much deeper mystery, that goes right back to the start of the 1940's. He finds that this leads right to the centre of power.
The world that Robert has created for this story is totally believable, and sadly very horrific once the respectable skin has been peeled away. Made even more so when at the end of the book one finds out that the majority of historical documents that are cited, do actually exist and do record decisions that were actually made at the time.
With the merging together of Europe, this is a history that many would like us to if not forget, certainly not spend too much time investigating. I find it had to imagine how one human could treat another in such away. I am sure we treat our cattle better than what went on in the 1940's.
An interesting book, starts off very enjoyable, and gradually becomes more and more challenging as fiction merges with horrific fact, but I am pleased I read it again. This was book 4 week 2 – fiction 4 (0 on audio) non fiction 0
Those of you who know me will have seen that I like lawns with straight lines, not quite bowling greens but getting on that way, so it is quite a challenge to let an area of grass go wild – hopefully into a wildflower lawn (but that is for the future).
Plan of fruit trees
In part of this wild area we have decided to plant a small number of fruit trees. 13 so I think it counts as a small orchard. It will be a mixture of pears, apples, plums and damsons.
The layout can be seen from the very rough plan.
Marking out - with peg and string
Firstly we had to mark out where the trees would go
Digging the hole for the roots
Then dig the holes
Four holes dug - nine to go!
The 8 trees we planted this time came from Walcot Organic Nursery www.walcotnursery.co.uk, as bare root trees. They were very efficient, phoning us up to arange delivery, and the trees arrived when they said they would. All the trees were in good condition, except for one which had had it's very top broken off, presumably in transport, but that was no real problem. (They were certainly in much better condition than ones we ordered from another so called famous nursery, that arrived seriously damaged, so much so that it had to be replaced) Anyway we are not talking about them.
Putting in the stake
Though it did say in the instructions that staking was not necessary, we thought we would stake these, and not the remaining 5 just to compare as it is quite a windy spot.
Adding the mycorrhizal fungi
We added mycorrhizal fungi to the hole before planting the tree. Finally adding a rabbit guard around the base of the tree to help protect it.
Ahh - Cuppa Green Tea
Finally getting a well earned cuppa.
This is my ad hoc update and diary describing how I am developing our garden at Trostrie Cottage in Galloway. You can see the garden for yourself if you book a self catering dog friendly holiday @The Shieling which is attached to Trostrie Cottage.
This is my review of the book The Sky's Dark Labyrinth by Stuart Clark, which I have read recently.
Last Autumn I was fortunate to hear Stuart Clark giving a talk about his latest book at the time at the Wigtown Book Festival, http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/ and though we did not buy that book we did buy this one.
Being interested in astronomy and history I found the book fascinating. Stuart has managed to paint a vivid picture of life in the early 1600's, making the characters come alive.
The book is about two great astronomers Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei and their quest to proclaim the truth as they understood it. They become caught up in a web of intrigue, civil war, face persecution, and excommunication as heretics.
They challenge the official view by the Church of Roman as to how the universe runs, in so much as they dare to suggest that the Earth is not at the centre of things.
This is a detailed book giving a thrilling portrayal of the struggles Kepler and Galileo went through over thirty plus years, during very turbulent times in European history.
A fascinating enjoyable book This was book 3 week 2 – fiction 3 (0 on audio) non fiction 0
The sun shone last Saturday, and so it was a good day to be out in the garden. Sadly it was rather cold, freezing in fact so my 3 tonnes of stone and gravel remained in their pile as I could not move it. It was frozen as lump. So do something else.
I don't know if you watch Time Team on TV, I do some times and often on the first day of their excavations they put the spoil in a pile, only by the end of the day realising that the pile is just where they want to now dig, so it has to be moved. Well I sort of have the same problem with one of the piles of cleared garden rubbish waiting to be burnt.
Having started marking and putting up the fencing for the new vegetable plot
I realise that the wood pile is just where the corner of the vegetable plot will be. I must say that I did not put the pile there originally but inherited it with the house. Though we have now burnt several cubic metres of garden waste, there are still many more to go, so maybe those beds will be the last to be used.
As the sun was out we thought we would have a look at the pond, which is next to the new veg bed.
The pond is roughly a figure of eight, with a small island in one of the water areas. As can be seen from the images sadly it is a bit neglected.
In places the liner has rucked up, we think we will put some stones over those areas to hide the plastic
In other areas it is quite silted up and will need clearing out. I think it will make a good project that is not too strenuous, everything else so far seem to be and a positive distraction from more boring hard graft. Like shifting sub base, or digging vegetable beds.
This is my ad hoc update and diary describing how I am developing our garden at Trostrie Cottage in Galloway. You can see the garden for yourself if you book a self catering dog friendly holiday @The Shieling which is attached to Trostrie Cottage http://www.trostriecottage.co.uk/
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.