Why we do what we do

Strange title isn’t it. I’ll explain what I mean…


A few days ago, my significant other handed me a cheap, nasty computer mouse and a cheap, nasty USB sparkly, colour changing, desk ornament thing and asked me to fix them. Of course I said “yes”, I daren’t say otherwise. She wanted the desk ornament fixing because it’s “pretty” and the mouse because it’s pink and covered in little plastic gems… Oh, and it’s “pretty”

While I was working on these items, it occurred to me that even though they were very cheap and could be replaced for a few pounds, I was actually enjoying myself.

I happened to have a dead mouse in my junk box so I opened it up, un-soldered one of the buttons and swapped the dead button with it. Problem solved.

The USB ornament thing was next.

When you plug it in to a USB port, it’s supposed to light up and change colour. It didn’t.

ornamentWhen I opened it up, I found a small PCB with a chip under a blob of epoxy, 3 LEDs and some resistors. After checking that it had power, I decided that the chip was probably faulty and there was nothing I could do… oh, but there was.

I have a few colour changing LEDs in my stock drawer. They have two pins like a normal LED but they have a tiny little chip inside the case. All you need to do is add power and it cycles through different colours on it’s own.

For the sake of 2 minutes work, I soldered the LED to one of the existing resistors and it worked perfectly.

Within 10 minutes, I’d fixed two worthless items (monetary wise) but had made my significant other very happy. Can you put a value on that?

It got me thinking to all the times I’ve built something, fixed something or really done anything and someone says “But why?” “What’s the point?” etc

Well, because I enjoy it, that’s why.  I love nothing more than coming into the hackshed and just tinkering for the sake of tinkering. Call me a sad geek, I really don’t care.

To sum it all up, the next time someone asks “Why?” Just reply with “Because I can”

There really doesn’t need to be a reason to do anything. Just have fun.

Rant – Tesco customer service

I know this is completely unrelated to anything else on this site but hey.

I’ve just been to my local Tesco supermarket with a friend of mine to pick up some beer. I made the fatal mistake of taking my kids with me instead of leaving them at home unsupervised. I was subsequently refused sale of my alcoholic beverage of choice because my two children are under age!!!!

No S**t Sherlock!!!

I didn’t know Tesco had an anti-family policy. I hope Sainsbury’s don’t because it looks like I’ll be taking my business there in future.


Rant over

Rant – Netflix on Linux…. or not

Here in The Hack Shed, I run ubuntu linux on my main PC. I tend to run Windows on my work laptop but have always been happy with Ubuntu for my tinkering PC. I do run Windows inside a VM as well but don’t tend to fire it up unless I need to run windows software. Most of my needs up here are for web browsing and playing music.

I recently decided to try Netflix to see what all the fuss is about and have been impressed so far… until just now.

Boot up the PC – Check. Run Chrome – Check. Try to play something on Netflix – FAIL!!!

I’m sure most of you know this already but Netflix use Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to play it’s streamed media. Linux does have a version of Silverlight but it doesn’t support the dreaded DRM.

While there are a couple of convoluted ways of streaming from Netflix on linux, they involve running Wine and other things to trick Netflix into letting the data stream to the linux desktop. I don’t want to do that!

Looks like I’m going to have to play my videos from within a VM.

Rant over

Rant – Dropbox icon change

I haven’t used dropbox for ages but decided today that I need to start using it again. I’ve installed it onto my windows PC but there’s one thing that’s really bothering me…. the new icon.


I hate it :(

It looks all IOS-ey and I don’t want my desktop icons to look like they belong on IOS.

Anyway, rant over, it’s not like it’s going to stop me using it, I just hope other software developers don’t start changing their icons to fit the IOS way