Archive for the ‘all things technical’ Category


Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

wphone is a plugin for WordPress that provides an alternative interface to administer and post to your blog from a Windows Mobile portable device.

For example, this post.


New domain

Monday, July 6th, 2009

After 6 years in the WMVL I have moved to ComLab, and as my old account has expired, I had to move my blog and wiki out. Moving systems around is a bit of a pain, so it seemed convenient to hire some hosting from a commercial ISP and buy my own domain.

Following Kate’s advice, I got both hosting and a domain from

And today my new domain is born:



Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Following Kate’s advice, I created an account in flickr,  the photo sharing website. My photostream is rcasero

Photos can be uploaded and organised from the Desktop Flickr Organizer in Ubuntu. This is convenient if you have a large photo archive in a local hard drive. Although the 100 MB/month upload limit of a free account is clearly insufficient for any serious usage, upgrading to a Pro Account is only $25/year.

The photos I uploaded (to the free account) seemed to be resized to a maximum side length of 1024 pixel. I don’t know whether this would be the case with the Pro Account, that has a limit of 20 MB per photo (a 3888 x 2592 JPEG typically takes up 2.4 MB to 4.0 MB).

I could also post a photo directly to my WordPress blog from the flickr website. Unfortunately, the web interface doesn’t seem to have an option to submit a set of photos in the same post.

Flickr is integrated within facebook too. You can import the flickr URL from your facebook profile, and whenever you upload photos to your flickr account, your facebook history will show an entry with a link to the photos.

Update (15/04/2009): I got a Pro Account a few days ago, but the upload service is terrible in my experience. Whether using the web interface or an external program, the connection crashes so often that it is virtually useless.

Update (19/04/2009): Uploads using the flickr web interface seem to have improved. Still some crashes, but quite usable. Trying to upload from F-Spot or Desktop Flickr Organizer hardly ever works, though.

Update (02/07/2009): The upload problem is a known “Export to flickr” bug that has to do with the MTU. To fix it, you need to change the MTU. In Ubuntu, you can use the menu System -> Preferences -> Network Connections.  Say you are connected via an Ethernet cable. Then go to Wired, select “Auto eth0″, and click on Edit. The “Editing Auto eth0″ dialog has a tab “Wired”, where you can select the MTU. Change the size to e.g. 1450 bytes, and it should work.


Chatting in Facebook from Pidgin

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Pidgin is an Instant Messaging (IM) client for all sorts of networks (XMPP, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ…). With the pidgin-facebookchat plugin, it is possible to chat with your Facebook friends too.

Screenshot of Facebook on Pidgin


BCS talk at Newcastle

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I went to Newcastle to give a talk for the local branch of the BCS: ‘Open source software in Further Education in the UK’. To make the panorama I used Hugin and 4 pictures.

Newcastle, skyline over the river

Newcastle, statue of Queen Victoria


Two ears, one mouth

Monday, August 20th, 2007

I’ve heard people say ‘God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we say’.

This is one of those simple truths typical of Sunday school, and I think that it illustrates very well why any sane person should avoid simple truths.

First, if two people are having a conversation for 1 hour and both listen twice as much (40 min) as they talk (20 min), there’s going to be a long awkward silence (20 min).

On the other hand, if there are many people, e.g. 10, listening only twice as much as you speak would actually be quite rude. It would be nicer if you listen 9 times as much (54 min) as you speak (6 min) so that everybody can chip in the conversation.

But what is really wrong with simple truths is that they may discourage people from searching for more insightful answers.

Indeed, why 2 ears? This is not even a new question, and a lot of theory has been developed for the last 100 years. Already in 1907, Rayleigh noted that as a source of sound moves around a listener, sound waves arrive with different time and intensity to each ear. Our brains process those cues and so we are able to locate sound sources. (Besides, the spectral characteristics of interfering sound waves at the tympanum change with elevation). This is known as binaural hearing, and it also allows us to hear much fainter sounds than we would with 1 ear only.


Address book synchronizer for Thunderbird

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

I use Thunderbird as my email client in 3 different computers, and synchronizing the address book was a bit of a pain. Fortunately, there is a little add-on called Addressbooks Synchronizer that takes care of doing it automatically when the program is opened and closed.

This is accomplished by uploading and downloading the entire .mab file with the address book to a local or remote directory using FTP, HTTP or HTTPS or, more interestingly, to an IMAP folder. It’s not the most elegant solution in the world, but I’ll give it a try and see what happens.

Update (13/08/2007): After some testing, Addressbook Synchonizer seems to be corrupting my address book, adding garbage to the end of the abook.mab file, which makes it unreadable by Thunderbird.


Big oops of research computing

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

You svn ci to commit a day’s worth of work, and instead of the log message, you type your lab’s password, and send it to the subversion repository. Oops.


From the gel phantom to the beef burger

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Days in Oxford can be quite interesting indeed. For example, today Kate showed me how she prepares gel phantoms for ultrasound experiments (the technique is somewhere between engineering, chemistry, physics and cooking), and then the Oriel MCR hosted a BBQ in the college annexe.


New theme: K2

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Wordpress default theme is based on Kubrick, developed by M. Heilemann. Kubrick is now part of WordPress, and Heilemann is working on K2, a more advanced theme framework.

I installed v0.9.5 RC1 in about 5 min, with no problems at all. Configuration of the sidebar took for another 10 min tops. My first impression is that it’s definitely an improvement over Kubrick, and I really like it.

I also installed the Extended Live Archives plugin, and enabled the Archives tag in the blog. K2’s archive system is quite impressive.