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Hobby Public Radio

Your ideas, projects, opinions - podcasted.

New episodes Monday through Friday.


Andrew Conway

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Host ID: 268

Interested in computers, science, economics, writing and er, well, um, humans I suppose.

episodes: 7

hpr2384 :: Slackware in Scotland

Released on 2017-09-21 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Beni aka @Navigium visited Andrew aka @mcnalu in Scotland as part of a cycling tour and they decided to record a follow up to their previous HPR show on Slackware to mark the release of Slackware 14.2, or rather the first anniversary of its release.

Some points and links mentioned are:

  • Arch is for fruitflies, Slackware for elephants?
  • Destroying a hard drive hammer or drill?
  • Grub vs Lilo?
  • Changes in Slackware - no changes an end user would notice! Pulseaudio now included as needed for bluetooth support. In Andrew's experience of 14.1 and before, only one package needed Pulseaudio, namely the game VVVVVV and even then it just wanted to see it installed, didn't need it for sound to work!
  • You can get gnome for slackware with dropline GNOME.
  • Digression: Trains in Switzerland vs Scotland
  • Beni and Andrew generally build our packages using the There can be dependency issues but it's rare. Worst case is Pandoc with its Haskell deps but sbopkg queue files are a great help there. Beni recommends sbotools as an alternative that deals with this and feels like portsnap on FreeBSD.
  • Digression: Recommend this HPR show on open-sourcing of Colossal Cave Adventure by ClaudioM.
  • Managing WiFi networks: wicd vs NetworkManager vs rc.inet1 (slackware network config script).
  • When camping and cycling, power is precious. Beni explains how to pack a bicycle for air travel.
  • Expect Slackware in Switzerland!

The hosts wish to clarify that no Italian Arch linux users nor fruitflies were harmed during the recording of this show.

hpr1594 :: Steam and wine with linux

Released on 2014-09-11 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This isn't about my worshiping of Bacchus by playing games on linux in a sauna (that's for a future show) but instead about getting a Windows-only Steam game to work on a recent 64 bit linux distro. I'm using Slackware, but I suspect the pitfalls and solutions I encountered would be similar on other distros.

Links relevant to this adventure:

hpr1587 :: Beginner's guide to the night sky 3 - A wee dot on a dark sky

Released on 2014-09-02 under a CC-BY-SA license.

A ramble about stars, by a geeky chap who resides on planet Earth. This episode is entitled a wee dot on a dark sky.

I comment briefly on why it's remarkable that the night sky is dark. I then go on to talk about the colour of stars, which we can just perceive with the naked eye. To learn more you need to use a prism, or, as professional astronomers prefer, a diffraction grating to obtain a spectrum of a star. I talk a little too much about the mathematics of diffraction gratings but eventually get back to talking about spectrum of the Sun which in overall shape is very close to what physicists call a black body spectrum ( the spectrum any object will have at a given temperature. Astronomers and physicists prefer to measure temperature in units of kelvin (, and to convert to it you only need to add 273 to the celsius temperature. Conversion from Fahrenheit is left as an exercise to the listener.

The Sun shows spectral lines, specifically dark lines on the broad spectrum called absorptions lines. This is caused by atoms in a cooler layer of gas (called the chromosphere) that's just above the bright surface of the Sun (called the photosphere). In fact, Helium is named as such because it was first discovered by its absorption lines in the solar spectrum (Helios is Greek for Sun). Many other elements can be found in the spectrum of the Sun and other stars, but most of the mass of all stars is made up of hydrogen and helium.

The temperature of a star is correlated with colour, with blue stars being hotter than red stars. This was originally measured by astronomers by something called colour or B-V (B minus V) index.

The luminosity of a star is the rate at which it emits energy as light, and can be measured in the same units as light bulbs, i.e. watts (W). But to estimate the luminosity we need to know the distance to a star which, for nearby stars, can be found by the parallax method. By plotting colour index (a proxy for temperature) against luminosity we can form a key piece of empirical evidence - the Hertzsprung Russell diagram:

It turns out that our nearest star - the Sun - is quite unremarkable. It is neither very hot or cool, nor very bright or dim - it's a fairly typical star.

hpr1553 :: TuxJam 33.333 - How we got into Linux

Released on 2014-07-16 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Kevie and Andrew release TuxJam episode thirty three and a third as an exclusive to HPR on how they got into Linux, interspersed with a few Creative Commons licensed tunes. The story begins in the mid-1990s and some credit is given to a Microsoft product. At no point do they put on terrible Irish accents and discuss the spelling of whisk(e)y*. If you like what you hear then you might like to listen to other TuxJam episodes here:
* This may not be entirely true.

hpr1533 :: Beginner's guide to the night sky 2

Released on 2014-06-18 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a review of some astronomy software, as used on the Earth in the early 21st Century, by a somewhat geeky chap. In this episode, I talk a little about two astronomy apps available for Android and another two available for GNU/Linux (and other) desktops.

Erratum: I referred to Star Map but I meant Star Chart. Doh!

In reverse order of how much I use and like them (most used/liked last): - Available for all major operating systems. This link shows you how to add your own comets: - KStars is part of the KDE SC Software Compilation) and so will be easy to install if you're a KDE user, or if you're not, "easy" after a few dependencies are installed.

Google Sky Map can be installed on your mobile device using either f-droid or Google Play:

If you like eye-candy, then Star Chart may be for you, get it on Google Play here:

hpr1484 :: TuxJam31

Released on 2014-04-10 under a CC-BY-SA license.

TuxJam is a podcast that reviews lesser known Free and Open Source Software projects interspersed with Creative Commons licensed music. TuxJam 31 is a special for HPR.


hpr1392 :: Beginner's guide to the night sky

Released on 2013-12-03 under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a personal view of the Universe, as viewed from the Earth in the early 21st Century, by a somewhat geeky chap. In this episode, I talk a little about my first memories of looking at the night sky and how the modern science of astronomy has its roots in ancient mythology, and how the sky provided a picture book for humanity before we even did our first cave painting.

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