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New Obnam Manual v1.9

This is to coincide with a programme update to version 1.9, and this PDF document is designed to be read and used online and not printed out. It is a “work-in-progress” so you will see it changing as time goes on.

It explains very simply, with sample configurations, how to use `obnam’ for your backups, and how to restore from these backups.

Updated 23 March 2015.

Obnam Manual v1.9

Download 212.64 KB 599 downloads


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After a fairly long time with no action on “beeb”, I’ve now got a new version and updated user manual, both available here.

The major change is that you are no longer limited to just two download sessions before restarting “beeb”, now it is in a loop until it times out or you choose some other option from the menu.


Download 85.90 KB 35 downloads
This is the programme “beeb” and its manual, all packaged together to make it an easy download for you.


beeb v7.0.pdf

Download 87.34 KB 40 downloads
The manual only.

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An updated radio feeds script

The BBC are changing their radio feeds, and BBC national radio streams in both WMA and AAC+ have now been retired. This means that they are now all being sent in a mp3 format. As my previous script’s BBC feeds failed to
work, this is now the updated working script.



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mpd super-feed!

Following on from yesterday’s post about getting BBC feeds working and playing with mpc, this one is used in mpd itself –


This is run hourly via a cron job, and now works extremely well and can be used with mpd straight away. I’ve found that its best with “ncmpcpp” as its front end. I always find that programmes name very difficult to remember as there doesn’t seem to be a logical pattern to the placing of the letters, so I’ve set up an alias for it –

If you put that alias in your “.bash_aliases” file, then all you have to remember is “nm”, which takes up just one pane in my “tmux” setup, and then you can listen to your favourite radio programmes, as well as your music collection.

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At last, a working BBC radio feeds.

I’ve long been a fan of “mpd” (Music Player Daemon) but recently I’ve been frustrated in that it can’t play the BBC radio feeds for some reason. So I’ve been looking for various working scripts, and I’ve found one, actually two as its a two-parter, but this works, so thanks to its author Stephen C Phillips at

So on with the scripts.

This is saved as “bbcupdate”.

This is saved as “radio”.

To start listening to one of the radio stations, first run “bbcupdate” then your radio commands are

If you want an explanation of how the scripts are working I can only refer you to Steven Phillips original article.

Using cron it is now being updated every two hours, using this line –


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Do you have a ‘recovery plan’?

Recently there was a fire in the flat next door to me, which therefore required us to evacuate our flats whilst the fire brigade dealt with it, and lead to the flat occupants being rehoused by social services as the flat was uninhabitable due to smoke damage. But it reminded me of something that I had been thinking of some months previously, which was “My recovery plan”!

I had previously worked out what to do if my mobile phone was lost, or stolen. But, what if my computer died irrevocably and I was totally unable to resuscitate it? Or if my flat was flooded or in a fire? This needs more thought, but to help you get started here are my recovery plans as they are today.

Loss of mobile phone.

If the phone is lost or stolen, then –

Change – amazon password
evernote password
gmail password
dropbox password
Do them in that order.

Also go to to track the phone, lock and potentially delete all its contents.

Also ring the foobar helpdesk – 0870 0 700700

Inform the police.

Loss of computer.

If the computer is dead –

  • [ ] Are the fans turning?

— yes = power to the box
— no = possible fuse blown in cable? Possible blown power-supply?

  • [ ] Does the monitor power-light work?

— yes = power still to the whole system
— no = possible fuse blown in the power socket

Therefore replace fuses as required.

If still no working computer, then consider taking out the hard drive and placing it in an old computer to get it back online again.

If modem/router has died, then go online using my mobile phone and order a replacement from ebuyer or amazon.

If monitor has died, then replace temporarily with old monitor and order replacement.

Loss of home

If due to some physical cause, i.e. fire, flooding?
Contact family and fix up emergency accommodation.
Rescue possessions & clothing as possible.

Hopefully it will give you food for thought in you establishing your own disaster plans. Obviously you need to keep copies of your disaster plan in various places just for safety and ease of access in an emergency.

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Emacs init from an org-mode file

Recently I’ve been setting up an org-mode file in emacs which holds my entire “init.el” to run emacs from. As its all quite stable now and working well, I’m putting it up here in case others want to try something similar.


One thing that you must be aware of is to *NOT* put this file in “~/.emacs.d/” because if you do it will overwrite your basic “init.el” when it is tangled, think ‘compiled’, which starts emacs off!

You also need to put “ob-tangle.el” into “~/.emacs.d/” along with ‘init.el’ so that it all works. Once its all in place, then just start emacs the same way that you usually do, and watch it all appear as if by magic! :)

I use “gnus” to deal with my email, and that configuration is set up right at the end of my “” and quite happily sits there just waiting to be called for use.

When I first started setting it all up, it was very daunting, moving from something that I knew worked, to something that I wasn’t sure about, and neither did I really understand how it would work! But now its been up and running for several weeks I feel quite comfortable with it all.

Yes, it has blown up in my face, with emacs totally refusing to load my setup, and I couldn’t see why not! That required about four hours just patiently going through it line by line, and examining for anything! Typos, missing closing brackets, too many brackets, new command-line errors it was showing me that I hadn’t seen before! I eventually found that the problem lay in a block of code that I’d just put in, and which when commented out allowed emacs to run properly. I learnt then to time-stamp each block of code that I inserted which would help in finding any future problems.

Now, emacs is *extremely* stable, as is gnus, and its working more as I want it to, without so much unnecessary commented out code. I still try out new snippets of code, but I’m far more wary of it, and if it looks like it won’t fit in my scheme of things, then I just leave it alone and don’t put it in.

I hope its useful for you and that you have fun setting it all up. I know that I have and feel much more comfortable  with my setup now

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UPDATE – The Quick And Dirty Guide To ”Get-Iplayer”

An update to the document giving clearer instructions, along with a couple of screen-shots.

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UPDATE – ‘beeb’ is working again!

Beeb is working again with a new ‘get_iplayer’, version 2.90 which
you can get with this command –

–8<—————cut here—————start-————>8—
curl -kLO
–8<—————cut here—————end—————>8—

and then once you’ve made it executable, and copied it to
/usr/local/bin you need to update your radio and tv caches with
this command –

–8<—————cut here—————start-————>8—
get_iplayer –refresh –type=tv,radio
–8<—————cut here—————end—————>8—

Then you can start using ‘beeb’, and updating its feeds as required.

Removed, as no longer useful as new version uploaded.

Please note
One thing you should note is that if you’ve setup ‘get_iplayer’ to
also work from the command-line, then it uses the same configuration
for saving your files when using ‘beeb’. Which means that
‘get_iplayer’ is over-riding ‘beeb’s configuration. I’m hoping to
sort this out in the next couple of days. And also update two
manuals :)

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