All posts by matt

Audio on Udemy videos has suddenly stopped working

I’m working through a course on Udemy on my macbook with bluetooth headphones. I’ve no idea why but the audio no longer works. Youtube audio is fine, previous lessons no longer have audio either, restarting browser has no effect. Disconnecting headphones makes no difference. Downloading lecture works, but is hassle.

Solution: In bottom-right, click the cog and change the quality from auto to a fixed quality (eg 1080p). This solved it for me. I don’t know who’s bug it is and I don’t care. I hope this helps someone else ūüôā

Cameron hails Stoke Gifford Parish Council as “Most forward-thinking in UK”

Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted last night in favour of charging parkrun for use of the local park for members of the public to use for free. The PM has applauded the decision saying that it signifies just the start of some great savings that can be made by government. In a statement last night he said:

Councils across the country have huge bills for supplying services available for free universally¬†to taxpayers. It is only fair and right that people shouldn’t have to pay for the bits they don’t use. Should blind people have to pay for cleaning graffiti? Should illiterate people have to pay for libraries?¬†There are lots of very sick people in hospitals and that costs lots of money, why should healthy people foot the bill?

Parkrunner Julie also thought it was a great idea:

I¬†got into parkrun because I was overweight¬†and it was free so I had no excuse not to get¬†fit. Now the council have changed this I can stay in bed on Saturdays eating chocolate guilt-free ūüôā

The council said this is just the start and aims to have the lowest council tax charges in the UK. A Council spokesman announced:

Emptying dog litter bins is a messy and expensive job.¬†People that don’t have dogs shouldn’t have to pay the “brown tax”. We will be¬†replacing all dog litter bins with high tech¬†bins that require¬†dog-walkers to pay 50p in order to make a “deposit”.

Motorola MBP854 baby monitor

Yes, I’m blogging about a baby monitor.

It’s great, has a massive screen, remotely physically controllable camera, thermometer, streams to my phone when I’m at work, but still works in the house if wifi breaks etc.
Tonight we looked at the screen and thought, gosh, she’s really moving about a lot but not making a peep of sound. We muted the telly so we could hear if she was still breathing. That’s when we heard her distant crying coming through the ceiling. Poor little bugger was crying her heart out while we were downstairs calmly drinking tea. Seriously Motorola, what’s up with that? The volume on the parent unit was on maximum. Turning it off and on again solved the problem but I can no longer trust the device. Grr, I like all the features on it, but if there’s one job it must never fail to do… Grrr etc.

Anyway, I’m posting this here to find out if it’s happened to anyone else. Please post below if it has…

How I got over £1,200 from HMRC with this one simple trick!

You won’t believe this hack!

I recently got a cheque for over ¬£1200 from HMRC for “overpaid corporation tax”. Wahoo! Free money!

Unfortunately, as much as I just wanted to cash the cheque and forget about it, I knew there was something wrong. After a bit of rummaging through my records I realised that the amount overpaid was exactly the same as the amount I’ve just paid to HMRC for my latest PAYE bill. I keep detailed records of everything I do so I noticed that I had decided to make that PAYE payment by direct bank transfer this month using Lloyds online banking. If you make a direct transfer to HMRC, it is important you set the transaction reference correctly so that they know what the money is for (PAYE, Corporation Tax etc.). My notes said I used the correct reference so I checked my bank statement and there was the mistake. It had gone to my Corporation Tax account reference.
I took another look at the Lloyds website for transferring money and clicked the help tooltip for the reference field:

lloyds bug

Yes. That’s right. Changing the contents of the reference text field makes no difference. If you’re transferring money¬†to someone you’ve paid before it will ignore the reference use the reference you used the first time. The “solution” is to create another copy of the same recipient.

What are Lloyds playing at? They acknowledge “for technical reasons” (a.k.a. “someone screwed up”). Why bother adding that tooltip instead of disabling the textfield? I think this is a serious bug and had I not noticed it, I could have got in trouble with HMRC for not paying my PAYE in time.

Sort it out Lloyds.

How to compress a folder of .mov files

Made a bunch of .movs using quicktime’s screen recording but they’re a bit big? ffmpeg’s default settings when converting to mp4 is a quick win

for i in *.mov; do ffmpeg -i $i $i.mp4; done

Name them alphabetically and you can merge them all together:

ffmpeg -f concat -i <(printf "file '$PWD/%s'\n" ./*.mp4) -c copy merged.mp4

Generating a CMYK file for printing

So you want to print something (like a banner) but the printers have asked for it to be int the CMYK colorspace? Well we could argue about how to spell colour or whether CMYK is a colorspace at all. But I can’t be bothered, let’s just cut and paste this command which is what I came up with after a morning of hacking…

convert -resize 9520 -density 300 rgb_input.pdf +profile icm -profile sRGB_IEC61966-2-1_black_scaled.icc -profile SWOP2006_Coated3v2.icc -quality 85 cmyk_output.jpeg

Importantly, rgb_input.pdf was exported with scribus using the output mode for screen.

Here are some dependencies for you macboy:

brew install ghostscript
brew install imagemagick --with-little-cms
brew cask install xquartz
brew cask install inkscape
brew cask install scribus

You’ll find ICC profiles here.

Yes, this is another blog just for my personal notes ūüėČ

UPDATE for users:

Moo suggest you upload media with the ‘Coated FOGRA39’ ICC profile. You can find it in this zip file here. Moo also have some suggested resolutions for uploaded media although I just multiplied those up a bit to make sure the quality was extra high just in case.

convert -resize 6192 -density 600 rgb_input.pdf +profile icm -profile sRGB_v4_ICC_preference.icc -profile CoatedFOGRA39.icc -quality 85 cmyk_output.jpeg

BONUS! : If this blog post was useful to you, here’s my referral link which will bag you ¬£10 off your first order ūüėČ

Dell U2515H and problems with a USB apple keyboard

UPDATE/Short answer: Use the USB extension lead that came with the keyboard! It has better contacts.

Does anyone else ever have problems with this combination? They keyboard just goes dead.

I use the monitor’s USB hub to connect my keyboard and mouse. I then connect the hub to either my macbook or my linux pc and toggle the video inputs. Sometimes the keyboard just dies. When it’s in the broken state the following things are true:

  1. The keyboard doesn’t work for the macbook or the linux box.
  2. The keyboard does work for the macbook and the linux machine when connected directly to those devices.
  3. Restarting the screen or computers has no effect.
  4. Other USB devices work fine when connected to that port.
  5. The keyboard only works when connected to the monitor if I use the furthest port to the right (see photo). What’s so special about that port?


Dell monitor wires

Tapiriik not syncing to Dropbox?

My activities hadn’t been syncing to Dropbox for a while (since mid-November 2014).

This activity was not synchronized to the following services:
Dropbox: There was a problem indexing your activities on Dropbox, so no activities will be uploaded to Dropbox.

Everything else was syncing fine (Strava, Endomondo, Garmin).

A quick email to the author and everything is solved:

If you look in your Dropbox folder there should be a number of files with .tcx.summary-data extensions. Move those out of the folder and it should start working again – this is a rather ancient artefact of a mistake I made in Dropbox sync back in 2013, surprised it kept working as long as it did.



Delete any files with .tcx.summary-data extensions from your Dropbox folder.

*I only recently found out what that was short for. I’ve been ignoring it for years assuming it was invalid html markup.