The NAS-ty Raspberry Pi


So I have just moved into a nice new house and it has inspired me to clean up my tech mess.  Currently I have two old PCs which I have stripped down and re-purposed as a torrentbox (including Network Attached Storage (NAS)) and a Media PC.  They look terrible, use up a heap of space and use way too much power.

While moving house I found a couple of Raspberry Pi 2’s I forgot I had bought.  I was going to use them on my electric car project.  As they aren’t needed anymore (thanks to some smart work with a couple of PIC chips) I’m going to use these as a low powered NAS/torrentbox and the other as a Media PC replacement.

To make it easier (mostly for me writing this post) I’ll break up this instructable into four parts:

  1. Building a Raspberry Pi NAS box (this post);
  2. Building a Raspberry Pi torrent box;
  3. Automating your torrent downloads; and
  4. Building a Raspberry Pi Media Centre.

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The Apps that Make iPhotos Shine


During the last few weeks I have been running a series on iPhotography. Specifically in regards to the tool set I use to capture landscapes with my iPhone. You can catch the intro and links to the rest of the articles here:

Today we are going to talk about photography apps that simulate DSLR functions. As you probably already know we don’t have the same control over the iPhones camera as you do with a DSLR. Most noticeably the shutter speed or aperture (i.e. the opening that lets light into the camera and thus hits the image sensor or film). To account for this some very clever people have done this for us via software or as we like tobcall them Apps.

For the last four weeks I have exclusively been using two iPhone Apps for all my iPhontograhy. I found them the best at what they do.


The first is ‘Pro HDR X’. HDR or ‘High-dynamic-range’ is not something new to photography and has been around since the 1850’s. The basic principle behind producing a HDR image is to take multiple photos of the same scene and use the past parts of each to produce the final product. In a digital world this usually means taking a number of photos and then going through each pixel by pixel and picking out the best based on a developed algorithm.

To show this process in action and the benefits of using HDR I have included two photos below taken in the same location within minutes of each other. The first is using the standard iPhone Camera App and the second is using the ‘Pro HDR X’ App. The difference between the two photos is significant.



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A Compact Tripod with a Grip


Hopefully you’ve been following my current series on iPhotography.  If you haven’t you can find the opening post here:

If you don’t have time to read the rest of my posts – basically I’ve been systematically outlining each bit of my iPhotography kit that I’ve been using to capture some great shots like the one below.


One of the most important bits of gear in a photographers arsenal is his tripod.  This doesn’t change for the iPhone photographer as many of the apps and features we use require a dead steady support.  This is most important when using HDR and slow shutter speed apps such as “Pro HDR X” and “SlowShutter” – for more info on these apps and the other apps I use have a gander at the following post (well……….once I’ve written it :-).) Continue reading…

The NOOBless way to Flash a Pi


I thought it was about time that I move away from my product reviews and DIY instructions and continue my series on the Raspberry Pi. If you haven’t played with a Pi before or are a little bit lost reading through this post then I recommend you read my introductory Raspberry Pi post found here:

This instructable is going to focus specifically on how to install a Pi Operating System (OS) from a disk image rather than using a PI installation manager like NOOBs.   If you want to learn more about NOOBs – I recommend you read the instructables found here:

So, why would you want to install an OS this way instead of the simple way? A lot of  niche OS builds available for the PI (such as OpenELEC (media platform) and RetroPie (game emulator platform)) are not available through installation managers like NOOBs. In this case the easiest way to install the OS is to download the disk image and then flash it onto your SD card. I’m going to walk you through the easiest way to do this using both Windows and OSX (Apple)  I’ll going to assume if you are using a Linux distribution you’re already going to knowhow to do this. Continue reading…

Looking for a New Lens……..for my iPhone??


If you haven’t already read my opening iPhotography post ( I recommend you do before reading on.  If you don’t have time or need a bit of a recap – I’m going through all the components of my iPhone photography kit that I have assembled so far –  starting with the lens kit.

So, the iPhones built-in lens is usually more than adequate for everyday fun snaps.  The iPhone 6 spec sheet says it has an 8-megapixel iSight camera with 1.5µ pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture and Five-element lens.  What the hell does that mean to us? basically all this fancy talk means that the your iPhone has the equivalent focal length of about 30mm and its a great piece of kit for taking digital snaps.

Most DSLR cameras theres days come with an 18mm to 55mm adjustable zoom lens – so the 30mm focal length of the iPhone fits nicely in the middle and suits most situations.  If like me however, you want to go to the next level and take some landscape or macro photos.  You are going to want to have a bit more focal length flexibility.  So how can we achieve this with our phone?

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Professional iPhotography


Four years ago I bought my wife an entry level DSLR camera.  She wanted to use it to take photos of our kids, events, holidays and the like.  After a year or so of using the automatic settings she decided she wanted to know more about photography and how to use the camera.  So for he birthday I bought her a voucher for a one on one lesson with a renown landscape photographer.  As it so happened he was also happy for me to tag along for the session and learn what I could.

I have always liked being in nature and enjoy its beauty and grace.  I particularly enjoy the natural contrasts between colours, shapes and shades that different landscapes exhibit.  Learning how to emphasize these in photographs during our three hour session really stimulated my creativity side……….well the little that I have anyway…….and I wanted to explore this world a little bit more.

For a week or so after the lesson I did go out of my way to keep up with the landscape photography, but after a while my motivation slowly dissolved.  While I did stop activity going out of my way to take photos with my wife’s nice DSLR, I did keep on taking photos when moments presented themselves using my phone.  Obviously this was a function of convenience (insert laziness) more than anything else.

I found that most of the moments I really wanted to capture were in the middle of a bike ride or just before going for an early morning dive.  Who wants to lug a big DSLR around on a bike or with their dive kit just on the off chance you find an amazing moment that you want to capture in a photo.  Your phone however, you always have with you.

Some of the shots come up really well (such as the one below I took just before a morning dive)


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Efergy Ego – The Smart Socket


So, if you’re anything like me you probably have a small transformer farm hiding behind you TV cabinet. Not including my TV I have over ten other devices connected to one double GPO stuck away in the back of my TV. Like most people, once my bum hits the couch it’s not getting off again. So what does this mean about the small transformer farm? It means it buzzs away for 24 hours a day, 7days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Ten or so years ago this wasn’t a big deal. Firstly, you didn’t have that many devices connected to the telly (well at least I didn’t). Secondly, we weren’t all worried about climate change and lastly power cost diddly squat. However, today that’s not the case. The effects of Climate Change are rife and the cost of power is going through the roof. So what do I do about the devices that are multiplying like rabbits around my home theatre? Do I actually get of my behind and turn everything off that I’m not using every night and then remember to turn it on again in the morning? The answer is hell no – you buy a smart socket.

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Smart Notebooks – Moleskine Versus Whilelines


Paper is back baby! – but with a twist. With the emergence of the computer and most recently the tablet people are moving away from the trusty old notebook in droves. I must admit I am one of these people that just can’t move on.

For us purists it seems that some companies are listening and are trying to combine the best of the Analogue (pencil and paper) and the Digital (documents and text). The two leading products at the moment are the Moleskine Evernote and WhiteLines Link notebooks.


I am interested to see how the rocketbook is going to stack up as well but since it is yet to be released I only have the two above to work with.

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Threadless – For the Artistic Nerd


If you missed my first post – I’m on a mission to review as many online stores as I can in the quest to find the best value geeky tees around. The reviews are based on:

  1. Cost;
  2. Quality; and
  3. Design.

My first post focused on the clever slogans and old-school logos found at  Click the link below if you missed it.

My second review is going to move away from funny prints and old-school logos and instead look at the artistic stylings available at  Read on after the break if I’ve pipped your interest.


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Raspbian – For the Windows User


Okay,  if you now have all the parts ready to get started with your Raspberry Pi the next step is to flash a MicroSD card with a Pi Operating System (OS) and get cracking.  If you’re a bit lost about what I’m talking about or have landed straight on this page then I suggest that you read my introductory article to the Raspberry Pi here:

To make following this guide a bit easier I’m going to break it up into the following steps:

  1. Preparing the MicroSD Card;
  2. Installing the Operating System; and
  3. Basic Raspbian Setup.

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