Eye Toy-cam

So, you’ve got an Eye Toy for Christmas, and you’ve been playing with it on your playstation 2. You’ve spent a large amount of time heading the ball at balloons, kickboxing, directing puyo’s, and waving your arms frantically at Billy Hatcher. You probably need to relax, sit down, and have a nice cup of tea. Play Sega Superstars until the early hours of the morning, have a few shots of squished frogs, and drink sme high caffeine tea. You’ll soon find yourself blurting gibberish like “Dude, it’s like, a USB camera, it has to work on a computer too, somehow. I bet you could plug the dance mat in too, and use it instead of a keyboard”. Well hold up, one thing at a time – I had a free weekend with nothing to do, so time to plug in the Eye Toy.

I actually found a really helpful guide for using the Eye Toy under Windows XP after a short amount of Googling. You download the drivers, change a .inf file, and install. Within minutes I was on MSN with my shiny new camera. So, rather than waste my time writing it out again, here’s a link

So now I had an entire weekend to do nothing, and no idea what to do next. So rather than enjoy the time off, doing things not involving computers, I did what any geek would do…. “I wonder if it’ll work under Linux”. This one took a lot more Googling, but yes, it does.

  1. Check your camera model as per the Windows XP instructions, mine is the Namtai SLEH-00031. Others might work, but I don’t know – try it anyway? 🙂
  2. Download the ov51x JPEG Hacked Driver source
  3. Unzip, untar, and change to the directory
  4. Run a make, and a make install
  5. Providing there are no errors, plug the camera in, and load the modules by using the commands
    insmod ./ov51x.ko
    insmod ./ov519_decomp.ko
  6. That’s all there is to it really. Now you just need some software to use the camera with. Personally, my linux box doesn’t have a monitor, or for that matter, any form of X. So, for that reason I setup motion to take jpeg snapshots whenever there’s movement. Cheap man’s security camera (especially when you consider the price of the Eye Toy is quite good for the quality it provides).

    So, this is really easy to setup under fedora, just install the rpm from motion’s web site. If you’ve got ffmpeg, and ffmpeg-devel already installed, make sure you uninstall your version, and install the recommended versions from the livna repository (check the link above for those details).

    Run motion with “motion -s” (so you can see what’s going on) – and you’ll notice images will be saved whenever movement is detected. Wave at the camera a few times, then go and make a nice cup of tea 🙂

    So there we have it. There’s my guide to the eye toy on your PC. Not the most in depth, but hopefully enough to get you started. I also wrote this a good few hours after the fact, so I’m sure I probably missed something! If I ever come to have to reinstall, I’ll make sure to update here as well (or if anyone points out my glaring mistakes :))

Tube Strike Chaos

The 24 hour tube strike finished today at 6.30 this evening. The strike was all about something or other, because a lot of the people who work on the tube were a bit miffed about their new schedules. Actually, I do have every sympathy for people affected by a rota that would potentially cause job losses. Until they throw their toys out the pram and strike, that is.

Anyway, the strikes this morning were devastating on a personal level. Delayed the Northern line, closed one of the exits from London Bridge. It’s a wonder I made it to work at all. Don’t even get me started on the journey home. That was a whole different story, news of the strikes had obviously travelled with many people at work saying. “The what? What’s that about then? Nope, didn’t notice it”.

I’m not sure they exactly hammered the point home. But I did get a seat on the fairly empty tube around 6.00. And THAT’s not normal.

Cyrus Certificate Authentication

This is probably of no interest to anyone whatsoever. Except me, in a few months time when I try and configure another mail server – and can’t remember how to generate certificates for Windows.

So first off, create the certificates for your Cyrus IMAP server (you’ve already set all that up, right?)

openssl req -new -nodes -out req.pem -keyout key.pem
openssl rsa -in key.pem -out new.key.pem
openssl x509 -in req.pem -out ca-cert -req \
-signkey new.key.pem -days 999
mkdir /var/imap
cp new.key.pem /var/imap/server.pem
rm new.key.pem
cat ca-cert >> /var/imap/server.pem
chown cyrus:mail /var/imap/server.pem
chmod 600 /var/imap/server.pem # Your key should be protected
echo tls_ca_file: /var/imap/server.pem >> /etc/imapd.conf
echo tls_cert_file: /var/imap/server.pem >> /etc/imapd.conf
echo tls_key_file: /var/imap/server.pem >> /etc/imapd.conf

Then generate the certificate for the client.

openssl pkcs12 -export -in server.pem -inkey server.pem -out iestuff.p12

You’ll need to add that iestuff to your trusted certificates – but that’s pretty much it 🙂 No more annoying messages from Outlook.

Hemel Hempstead Explosion

December 11th 2005. Today is the day that will be remembered across the world as the explosion that rocked England. A 6.03 this morning, an explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot, near Hemel Hempstead (7 miles from us in Watford) was heard on the south coast, as far as Hastings.

I Live 10 miles from the blast, the shockwave was so powerful when I woke up my house was facing the other way!

Said Daniel from Hemel (source: BBC News).

Personally, I slept through the whole thing. Ali woke me around 8 o’clock, “you know that explosion this morning?”, “Huh?” “It was a big petrol explosion in Hemel. It woke me up!!” “Huh?”

I feel that some of the mass hysteria fuelled by the press is slightly exagerrated, now that the dust is beginning to settle. It’s pretty bad, sure – a number of people close to the explosion were probably very scared to be woken up by this first thing in the morning. Reducing fuel emissions may well be affected, and I have no doubt it’s cost a lot of people a lot of money. However, I’m glad I didn’t rush out and buy as much petrol as I can for the car I don’t have – just in case the countries supplies are all used up. Why didn’t someone flag down that plane that was flying overhead – think of the devastation that could have been stopped by prevention of this obviously terrorist attack on our country. Oh wait, it’s quite near an airport isn’t it, that’s why it was aviation fuel that went up?

This would never have happened if we hadn’t gone into Iraq for all that oil in the first place, would it?

Are we all hoping for a disaster this much – that when something big does happen – everyone feels the need jump on the “the explosion ruined my life” bandwagon? I can’t wait for the public inquest, and the damage cheques to be handed out.


Meerkat! Just been watching Natural World: Ella – a Meerkat’s story. Great show, all because meerkat’s are just freakin’ cool. Look at that one on the right, all standing up and everything. In fact, the show was a lot like that “look at that meerkat, all meerkat and everything. Oh oh and that one running!”.

Well I couldn’t find a BBC page just for ella, so here’s a fact page about Meerkats instead.

Gervais Radio

I’ve been listening to Ricky Gervais’ new podcast on the Guardian this morning. I’m a big fan of Ricky’s standup, The Office, and Extras (not such his Alias debut), and the podcast is highly entertaining. The first episode of six was released yesterday, and there will be another one each week. So you might find the Juice Podcast Receiver quite useful if you want to get it regularly.

Not only that, I discovered the XFM archives, and there’s tons of great Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington material there too! 🙂

The British Museum

I woke up this morning thinking “wow, a week has almost gone of my holiday, and I really need to … like … do something”. So, since I travel into London 5 days a week, approximately 46/47 weeks of the year for work – I thought I should do something different. I’m on holiday! I should travel the world! Book a ticket to somewhere I haven’t been, not come back for a few days. Meet some new people, have a few drinks, and try food I’ve never tried before.

Well, I can’t afford that. So I grabbed my annual rail card off the side, and headed into London for a bit of tourism. Free of the shackles of having to get straight off the train onto the underground, and leaving the underground into an air conditioned building, London can be a very different place. Actually, that’s not true – London is still quite similar to the London of the rest of the week. However, it appears to be filled with very different people. The people using the tube at 11.30 in the morning are a lot more relaxed about taking a journey, than the grumpy 9 o’clockers with minds only how long it’s taking to get to their destination.

British Museum So anyway, I’ve never been – so thought I’d go and take a wander around the British Museum. From the outside, the building itself, is really large. That’s the first thought of seeing it. Rather than some of reverse Tardis, it’s quite large on the inside too. I walked through the entrance hall, and was rather surprised to see the huge opening into the great court. A massive open space opened in December 2000, with the original Reading Room in the centre. And this massive room leads off into tons more huge galleries of art and culture from across the world.

Wandering around the galleries, I passed by someone stopping a curator for help. “Excuse, how do I get out?”, he asked. “You want to find what?” “Erm, the exit, I forgot how I got in here.” Did I mention the place was large?

Totally overwhelmed by the amount of exhibits, I wandered around aimlessly for a good long while with my mouth hanging open. Through Egypt, Ancient Greece, Europe, America, Africa and China. I have no doubt I missed a lot of stuff, and a *whole* lot more I wasn’t really paying attention to. I only really went because I wanted to see the Ancient Persia exhibit – and I didn’t even make it to that.

So, a few things I did make it to… Male and female fertility totems I saw in Cyprus. Slightly older than the replicas being made in Nicosia, and cool to see.

A really cool rolling ball clock. The ball rolls down these channels on a sloped piece at the bottom of the clock, and takes about 30 seconds to arrive at a small switch. This tips the slope the other way, and the ball rolls back. Total genius! It was captivating listening to the metal ball rolling along a metal platform. chhhhhhhhhh, clump, chhhhhhhhh, clump, chhhhhhhh, clump, chhhhhh, click. chhhhhhhhh, clump. You get the idea. I’m sure after a few hours of it going in your living room, you’d begin to wish for the old tick-tock favourite you just threw out.

A really really scary looking figure from the ming dynasty. He gave me the creeps – it’s those eyes.

Countless huge Egyption statues, including a part of the Sphinx’s beard (a bit near the top). I can now say I’ve seen the Sphinx, and I didn’t have to go to the airport! Still, it’s not quite the same.

I passed by the gift shop as I was thinking about leaving, which I noticed were selling t-shirts, and magnets, and books, and postcards of The Rosetta Stone. None of the other exhibits have t-shirts. I wondered to myself “What’s so special about this Rosetta Stone thingy then?” Ah yes, I visit museums, I feel like such a knowledgeable and cultured citizen. I remembered seeing a replica of a big stone in the Enlightenment Gallery. So I headed back that way to have a look. Sure enough, a big stone with lots of words on that I didn’t really understand. “We invite you to touch this exhibit”, said the sign. So I did. “The real stone was found in Egypt, and can be found in Room 4”, said the sign below. So feeling a bit like I was making a new discovery of my own, and following clues between the tombs, I took chase. I looked around this room 4 for quite a while, staring at Egyptian slabs, thinking that maybe the real one isn’t the same colour, or that it’s much smaller. As I was about to leave, disapointed I hadn’t seen the museums prize exhibit, or even knew what it was – I noticed a huge crowd of people swamping a glass case, with the stone inside.

So this stone was found in Egypt, with a decree passed by a council of priests affirming Ptolemy V (13 years old!) on the first anniversary of his cornonation. Not so impressive so far, but stay with me. The decree is written in three different languages; hieroglyphic (suitable for a priestly decree), demotic (the native script used for your every-day stuff), and Greek (the language of the administration). This is a hugely important find, as the knowledge over how to read hieroglyphic was lost soon after they stopped using it in 4AD – and provided a means of translating this ancient script.

That’s all providing the historians didn’t mess up, and the text is actually the same in all three areas of the stone. I’m just saying, what if the hieroglyphic part says something totally different? “We tricked you, this is an elaborate hoax, and we’re all going to come out from behind the bushes and laugh at you now’. “Okay everyone out from behind the bushes. Surprise! Oh, and it took them 2300 years to find the stone and we’re all dead. Never mind”….

Well, I’m sure that’s unlikely – so I’m glad I found it as well, and took the time to learn something 🙂

CIA, Slough

Ricky GervaisI can’t do it, I can’t take Ricky Gervais seriously. I’m watching old episodes of Alias at the moment (inspired by Lost, and by brother and his fiance’s persistent praise of the show).

Season 3, episode 5 – Gervais makes an appearance – and any minute now, I’m certain he’ll turn to the camera with a joke about disabilities, or pick up a guitar…

A cathedral for every home!

Been meaning to take a photo, and write about this for a while. St Pauls Cathedral is being cleaned, washed, painted or something at the moment. They’ve been doing this for quite a while now, and the sheets went up to cover the work that’s being done. More recently, they did this ….

St Pauls Cathedral, under construction
What a fantastic idea! If the work overruns, or over budget on your house… Just don’t bother, and hire a local artist to come around and paint a big picture of your house on the front instead. You could even make your house look bigger, or like St Pauls Cathedral.

My favourite moment about the entire construction process was walking across Millenium bridge a week or two back and listening to a 16/17 year old chav tell his family “It almost doesn’t look real, does it? St Pauls over there.”. “No” replied his mum, “that’s because it’s not”.

I’m glad we spend so much on education. Really, really grateful 🙂

Currently reading…

Well it’s another day of playing with the blog, and adding new features. Nick told me about the “currently reading” plugin he’d installed on his blog. So I had a hunt around for one for the WordPress blogs too. And lo and behold, along came Amazon Media Manager.

I’d always seen the music plugins to list what you’re currently listening to, along with the post. But it seemed like a lot of work to me. Not only that, these entries often take more than 3 minutes to write, so what I’m currently listening to quickly becomes “what I was listening to, for some of the time”.

Now books on the other hand, it’s unlikely I’ll finish a book in the time it took to write this entry. And they don’t change very much, once a week maybe. So less work is ALWAYS good.

So there we go, over the right you’ll now find a picture, and a link to amazon of the book i’m reading. Even better, should you decide to buy the book I’m reading through that link, Amazon will give me some money. Oh, I know you care 🙂

In actual fact, media manager lets me put all kinds of stuff up, if I want to. So expect to see “games i’m playing”, “lawn and patio furniture I’m using” and “my favourite lampshades” soon.

Maybe not.