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.

New Mac

My MacBook Air (Mid 2012) was getting a bit long in the tooth. Leastways, that’s my excuse. So earlier this week I caved in and bought one of these:

MacBook Pro in a box

In the past when I’ve bought a new Mac, I’ve used Migration Assistant as part of the setup process. This time I decided to start from scratch and set it up “as new”, installing applications and configuring settings such as email “longhand”.  It has taken a bit longer but the MBP is now exactly how I want it and it isn’t bogged down with the inevitable residual cruft you get from previous upgrades (which it would have if I’d migrated from a backup of the MBA).

First impressions: Design, like it. Smaller than my MBA. Keyboard is very different, I expected that from trying it out at the Apple Store. Display – Retina – is a huge improvement over my MBA. The Touch Bar looks to be useful, although I am still mostly using the keyboard shortcuts I’ve built into my memory over the years. I’ll let you know more as I use it. One thing I am missing is the MagSafe connector for the power cable, I really think that’s a retrograde step.

Anyway…

Next step: installing GSAK. !

Hatley Heart Attack

Last weekend we had planned to take the Freelander greenlaning. Then this message came up:

error message - terrain response system fault

That meant the 4 wheel drive system was U/S. Greenlaning was off!

So instead, Bob and I went geocaching in his car. We decided to go for some numbers and chose the Hatley Heart Attack series. This comprises 533 caches (!) but Bob had worked out a small loop we could reasonably achieve in a few hours.

We parked in the village of Sutton and started with a simple offset multi, GC5ZZKX. After that one, the rest were simple trads. Some were easier to find than others:

A simple base of post

There were a couple of caches mixed in amongst the HHA ones which were quite interesting so we incorporated these in our route. The container for  GC6MC7F was this Matryoshka.

Russian nesting dolls

The other one (GC6N4JJ) took a bit of finding because to begin with we found ourselves looking in the wrong ditch. When we did finally locate the cache it was simply huge! A veritable pirate treasure chest. If you find it you’ll see what I mean.

We also made a small detour to collect a Trig Point – GC4WBZG.

trig point view

After that it was mainly a series of trads, through farmyards and across fields. Luckily the farmers left lovely trails across their land so we didn’t have to trudge across energy sapping ploughed fields. It was more like:

wide track across ploughed fields

If we had any problem at all it was with the wind. No, nothing to do with beans 🙂 , Storm Doris was trying to make a comeback and most of the paths seemed to be on the windward side of any available hedgerows which could otherwise have provided some shelter. Nevertheless we found a secluded wood for our lunch break which sheltered us nicely.

Suitably fortified and refuelled we carried on and eventually arrived back at the car with a respectable bag of caches:

Our route with smileys

On our way back, we picked up 2 more caches as drive-bys and a cheeky village sign just before the A1.

So that was a total of 43 finds and no DNFs. My second best day EVER!

A slightly sad footnote. One of the COs (MarcusMaximi) has posted on the HHA FB group to the effect that, because he no longer works in the area, he will not be able to maintain the series going forward. The series will be archived starting after Mayday 2017, starting at the Biggleswade end. It’s a shame because this was a spectacular undertaking. I was never expecting I’d get them all anyway but I do hope to pick up a few more before they go. There is still time!

 

The Spitfire model takes shape

Since my last post on this topic, I have been quite busy with the model but haven’t had time to post the individual steps. So, since then, I have done the following:

  • The fuselage, wings and tailplane have all been covered with tissue. The surfaces have been sprayed with a light mist of water and allowed to dry – this causes the tissue to shrink thus tightening the surfaces.
  • The various parts have been assembled and the gaps between the components have been infilled.
  • The propeller has been fitted into the spinner and the assembly attached to the fuselage.
  • The minor parts (radiators, exhaust pipes, etc) have been glued in place.
  • The canopy has been cut out from the rough moulding and glued in place.

So the model is almost complete and beginning to look more like an aircraft. It is now ready for painting.

Spitfire model - top viewspitfire model - underneath

You can see where the nose covering is a composite of paper and tissue, this is for strength. In the case of my model it’s probably not necessary because I have not installed the motor as I’m not going to fly it.