Off Roading

14th October found us at an off roading event organised by Land Rover Monthly magazine. The trail was a step up from the usual green lanes I’ve driven, on a 3 mile course expertly prepared by the chaps at Experience the Country near Milton Keynes.

a long line of land rovers

There were wooded sections to navigate, through some tight twisty turns between the trees:

following a Land Rover defender through the woods

There were some very challenging sections which I had to skip, due to ground clearance and the absence of low range and locking diffs on the Freelander. Oh for a Defender or a Disco. (sigh).

There was lots of mud!

muddy trail

Here, we are about to follow this chap over a steep hill:

discovery ascending the hill

Some stills from our in-car video:

approaching the hill starting to climb hang on!

Where has the ground gone? over the other side

Terrain Response set to Mud & Ruts throughout and much use made of Hill Decent Control. I continue to be impressed and pleased with the performance of “R2”.

My Freelander 2 and some mud

In a carpark full of Land Rovers he felt right at home. Parking Rules Applied.

Parking Rules Applied. A bunch of Land Rovers

It was great to be using the Freelander in the environment for which it was designed! And yes, we went round the course several times!

Time for the jet wash

I’d quite like to do it all again!

 

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GSAK update

I’ve been unable to get out geocaching for the last few months. Skye (my part time geodog) had ruptured one of her cruciate ligaments so we had to restrict her walks. Finally we decided that she needed an op. to repair it (Maybe this will be the subject of a separate post in due course) which meant even less outdoor activity (for all of us involved in her care).

So I’ve been doing some work on GSAK. One of the things which prevented me from using it fully was that every time I ran a GPX file import, it finished with a Windows memory error and bombed out. I had an old MacBook Air lying around so I updated that to OS X 10.12 (MacOS Sierra) so that it had the same OS as my current MacBook Pro. Then, on the MacBook Air, I downloaded the latest stable version of Winebottler and GSAK8. This latest build allowed me to create an App Bundle using Windows 7 – loads better than the old version I was using (which was probably XP).

The resulting App runs faster than before and is (so far) completely stable. This build has also cured another defect present in the old version, namely the cache details appearing in the split screen view for only the current cache when GSAK launches. With this latest version, scrolling through the list of caches (waypoints as GSAK calls them) causes whichever cache is current to have its details displayed in the bottom screen. Cool.

So, after a bit of testing on the MacBook Air, I deleted the old App, Wine & Winebottler from my MacBook Pro before repeating the installation of the latest stable Winebottler & GSAK.

I should state at this point that before deleting anything from the MacBook Pro, I made sure I had a good backup of the live GSAK database.

Deleting Apps from Winebottler can be done from within Winebottler from the “On my Mac” window:

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 22.22.57

However, while this removes the GSAK App from the Mac’s Applications folder, in my experience not  everything got removed, so I also checked the user’s Library, i.e. for anything starting with GSAK8, in:

Users/~/Library/Application Support/

and these files in Users/~/Library/Preferences/ :

  • org.kronenberg.Wine.plist
  • org.kronenberg.WineBottler.plist
  • org.kronenberg.Winetricks.plist

and moved them to the Trash.

Then it was a simple task to install a fresh copy of Winebottler and then build the GSAK App. Once I’d done that, I restored the database from my backup and registered GSAK with my GSAK licence key, The final task was to obtain a new Groundspeak API key from the Geocaching website. You can find how to do this from the GSAK forum so I’m not going to repeat it here.

Anyway, the new version continues to work well on my MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air will come in handy for testing new versions as and when they drop, I can also take it with me on Geocaching road trips – much less risky than using my MacBook Pro!

 

 

 

Your Mission…

I have finally started the famously difficult geocache: “Your Mission…“. This is widely held to be one of the best geocaches ever and is one I have planned to do for several years. Unfortunately other “life events” have got in the way over the last few years but now I’m in a position where I can go for it.

If you know anything about this cache, you’ll know how long it takes to complete. I’ve done a few stages before running out of time so I’ll keep you updated as I progress towards the final. Once I’ve done it I will try to encapsulate the experience in a blog. Bet you can’t wait!

Caching in Suffolk

I haven’t posted about my caching adventures recently. Apols, chaps! Been busy, etc.. Time to rectify the deficit then. We recently spent a few days R & R in Suffolk, where I hoped to bag a few caches even though this was a family break (which normally means geocaching is frowned upon by everyone except me).

Nevertheless, I had loaded the results of some PQs onto my Garmin and I knew that there was a series of caches starting near to the house we had rented for the duration. Anyway, the first morning, I had some time to kill whilst waiting for the rest of the tribe to surface for breakfast, so I was wandering about in the rear garden with Skye. I just happened to have my Garmin with me…

Nearest cache: 17 metres! Wow! That worked out to just past the end of the garden. I had already noticed that there was a footpath running next to the house…

Gate post and start of footpath

You can see the start of the trail to the left of the pillar. Luckily I didn’t have to walk back to there. The garden fence separating us from the footpath could best be described as nominal, so Skye & I simply ducked through a gap in the shrubbery and set off along the path. Of course it didn’t take long to reach GZ – which turned out to be a few metres beyond the end of the garden – and the cache (Country walk 1 (wireman sam)) was easily spotted.

‘That was quick’, I thought, and Skye thought so too, so we decided to pick up the next in the series (Country Walk 2 (pandora’s box)). A short walk ensued and then I was a bit stumped. The arrow suggested it was off the path and the hint told me it wasn’t a ‘base of tree’ or similar. So then, what? We followed the arrow off piste and found this:

Pandora's box.

Of course, the cache name now made perfect sense! Researching the CO, it seems sarah2kids has a penchant for quirky and inventive cache containers and, by all accounts, puns. A great cache, this!

Oh well, c’mon Skye, time for breakfast!

Later, we visited Snape Maltings. Nothing to do with Hogwarts as it turned out. However we did go for a walk along the river.

Just a view along the riverside boardwalk at Snape

At one point, we passed a chap who was just standing near the path and doing something on his phone. He looked a bit suspicious, a cacher perhaps? So I checked the map and Lo! we were near New and Improved Iken Icon. Hmm. We carried on with our walk (very pleasant) and on our return I set up the cache on my iPhone (my Garmin was in the car). When we got to where the suspicious character had been earlier, the arrow swung to the right, pointing into a clump of small trees, so I set off for a search. The hint was no help so I adopted the ‘where would I hide it?’ methodology and soon spotted a tell-tale bunch of stick-o-flage. The last entry in the log was several weeks earlier, so either that chap (a) was not a geocacher or (b) didn’t find it!

So that’s it for now. I shall post again! 🙂

iMac speed improvements

I’ve been annoyed at the laggardly behaviour of our iMac, currently running El Capitan, 10.11.6 . We’ve had the old girl for a few years now and I was sure that successive OS X upgrades had left some crud clogging it up – somewhere!

Even though I had cleaned up the Login Items for each user in System Preferences, I suspected there were other App “helpers” still running.

(Follow along if you want to try this at home).

Make sure you have a good backup.

Start up in Safe Mode (Hold <Shift> throughout startup).

Open a Finder window and go to Macintosh HD/Library/Launch Agents

In my case, I found these files:

com.adobe.AAM.Updater-1.0.plist

com.adobe.ARMDCHelper.<a very long hex number>.plist

com.google.keystone.agent.plist

The first 2 related to Adobe Air and the Adobe Auto Updater. I thought I had deleted Adobe Air a long time ago but on further investigation I found it was still there! So I deleted it. I also deleted Adobe Acrobat reader because I no longer use it. I then deleted the .plist files. Of course, if you find similar files and you use Adobe Air or other Adobe products, you won’t want to delete them. Obviously your requirements will differ from mine.

The third file was more “interesting”. This is an auto update Daemon which Google uses to check for updates to products you have installed. In my case, the Chrome browser and NIK plug-ins. I decided to find out how often it “phones home”.

In Terminal, type:

defaults read com.google.Keystone.Agent and press <Return>

It spits out a lot of stuff about the Apps it checks, etc., ending with:

checkInterval = 18000;

Hmm. That’s every 5 hours. Overkill, I thought. So I changed the interval to once a week:

defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 604800 <Return>

Of course, you could delete the daemon completely but I decided against that.

Lastly, I deleted the caches in Macintosh HD/Library/Caches, that’s  <File -> Select All> then <File -> Move to Trash>. I then did the same for each user in Macintosh HD/Users/<user name>/Library/Caches. This will remove any old, broken or corrupt caches which might be causing a problem. It is safe to delete the caches as OS X will create new ones the next time the user logs in.

Finally, I restarted the Mac (still in Safe Mode) and emptied each user’s Trash. Once that was completed, I restarted the Mac normally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spitfire – The Rollout

Well, I’ve finished it! Today was the last day of the “Great Spitfire Build”. I started this back in January 2016, there have been periods where I haven’t done any work on it for various reasons (e.g. eye trouble!), however I have been gradually chipping away at the  outstanding tasks over the last couple of months,.

After the main assembly was completed at the beginning of March, I gave the model a couple of coats of Humbrol matt varnish spray, this was to give me a decent non absorbent surface ready for painting.

Next up was painting. I used Humbrol enamel paints – the same as I’d use for plastic kits. I didn’t want to use acrylic paints as those are water-based and I wasn’t sure what effect that would have on the tissue covering. The upper surfaces were painted in Dark Earth and Dark Dreen (Humbrol codes 29 and 30). I had wanted to use Duck Egg Blue (23) for the underside but this was impossible to get hold of (and I was getting a bit impatient by this time!) so I went with Aircraft Blue (65). RAF fighters of the period had their undersides painted in either one blue or the other so it wasn’t as if I was committing a major historical faux pas. OK, WWII pedant alert: that’s apart from the ones painted half black and half white. Moving on.

Next up, the markings. The kit was supplied with roundels and tail markings printed on a sheet of thin paper, so I cut these out and glued them in place using diluted PVA. I also wanted to add some squadron markings. I couldn’t find any suitable decals so I made some stencils using “Frogtape” masking tape. The result is a bit rough but I think it looks OK. “Good enough for Government work”, as American WWII pilots used to say.  After that, just a bit of detail painting (gun port blanking, undercarriage, exhaust pipes, etc.) and a final finishing spray with the matt varnish.

Job done. I think it looks quite good, particularly as it’s the first non-plastic model I’ve made.

A note on the markings – I’ve painted it to depict Spitfire EB-G of 41 Squadron, flown by Eric Lock DSO DFC and Bar, on the 5th September 1940 when he shot down 3 enemy aircraft in one sortie.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Spitfire model topside

Spitfire model underside

Restoring files hidden in the Library folder (OS X)

When I set up my new MacBook Pro I chose not to use Migration Assistant. This meant that I had to do a fresh install of my non-Apple Applications. Not a problem, except for games such as Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock. For these it would be nice to have the data from when I’d played the games before. As for the joystick manager, the thought of having to map all those controller buttons again – Nooo!

But, you may be thinking, he has a backup of the old Mac. Right? Well yes, I have, but this is where an idiosyncrasy of the Mac OS can cause difficulties. Most games store their game saves, preferences, etc. in each user’s Library folder in a folder called Application Support . In recent versions of OS X the ~/Library folder has been deliberately hidden from casual view ‘for the user’s protection’. So although you can view the Library folder in a Finder window, when you look inside the Time Machine backup it is still not visible. So a simple click/drag of the required files isn’t an option, neither is it possible to navigate to the Library folder using the Time Machine UI.

Luckily you can use Terminal commands to get at the files and copy them. So I thought I’d write up the process for you (because I care). Command text in red.  Continue reading “Restoring files hidden in the Library folder (OS X)”

My Yearly FTF

Let’s be clear about this, I’m no FTF hound. True, it is fun to get a FTF every now and again but I’m just not that dedicated/focussed/obsessed/mad. According to what I’ve learnt from those who are one (maybe all) of the above, I’d have to remain permanently sober, sleep in a chair with my caching trousers and boots on at all times and… You get the idea. (to my FTF crazy friends: I’m only joking. About the sober bit. Honest.).

Let’s apply some perspective: my last FTF was on 22 March 2016. Yes, that is more than a year ago.

Now, I’m always interested in drsolly’s puzzle caches as they often have an IT element which of course appeals to my inner nerd. Yesterday the good doctor published a new cache – n/\m. At the time I couldn’t make any headway solving it but this morning I was taking Skye for a walk when a solution popped into my brain. I had to wait until I got home to crack open my Mac before I could try it out, with… Success! Cue one short, restrained, happy dance. Nobody saw that? Good. Moving on…

Then it was a question of waiting until I could find a suitable window to go look for it, all the while being everso slightly worried that someone else might solve it…

So, it wasn’t until this afternoon that I was able to whizz out in the Freelander, collect Bob (who has considerably more FTFs than me^) and drive over to the location. Once at GZ the cache itself was an easy find. Even better, we were rewarded with a clean logbook. Excellent!

On our way back home, we stopped at another drsolly cache we’d both solved when it was published about 10 days ago. We still managed to be Second To Find on that one!

 

^ 700, as I write this.

 

GSAK Update

So the other day I got myself a new MacBook Pro. I chose not to use Migration Assistant this time around, so I could install everything from scratch and avoid the build-up of cruft from previous upgrades getting onto my new notebook.

One job was installing GSAK. The Wine install went like a dream and I was able to import the database from the old installation easily using the Restore command.

GSAK gave me a prompt that a new version was available as an update so I thought “what the heck?” and clicked the update link. I was expecting it to freeze as I was running in Wine, not a native MS Windows platform but to my surprise it simply ran the installer and, lo! I had upgraded to 8.7. Happy with that.