Here is something I am working on: a solar powered UPS for routers (for my friends). Uses original router power adapter as 'pass-thru' while falling back to LiFePO4 battery during loadshedding. #solar #diy #ups

Wed 06 September 2023


I wanted to find out what the minimum hardware for running a reasonably good Large Language Model at home would be, so I bought a refurbished ThinkCentre M715q with AMD Radeon 5 PRO 2400GE CPU. It's a 2018-era machine costing only around $200. With no upgrades, I was able to run llama.cpp in CPU-only mode on the smallest Llama 2 7b model (q2_K) generating 5.2 tokens/sec! Very impressive! I can also run Vicuna 13b (q4_1) at over 2 tokens/sec after upgrading the RAM to 16Gb. All this while consuming around 40W of power. One trick I had to employ is to use "LLAMA_AVX2=1 make" to compile, as it doesn't detect AVX2 by default. Anwyay, I love this ThinkCentre machine, it is amazing bang-for-buck and will be my main dev machine for the forseeable future. #llm #thinkcenter #llamacpp

Tue 15 August 2023


An inspiring talk by Kartik, like a TED talk for programmers.

Using computers more freely and safely https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6fjjaq8JCI

Tue 23 May 2023


This DIY handheld computer build blows me away with how well it's done. I think this is my dream portable computer. Pity they don't sell anything like this, so I'm gonna try DIY'ing my own. #handheld #portable #computer


Wed 10 May 2023


I hacked together a prototype of the previously-mentioned handheld portable computer, using a Raspberry Pi 4 and 5 inch LCD touchscreen. So far it is really nice to use! I like how I can use a full desktop OS while walking around. The keyboard and trackpad allow me to use a regular OS without having to worry about touch affordances, mouse-overs, and right-clicking. There is scope to make this much more compact if using a 3d-printed enclosure. #diy #raspberrypi #handheld #portable #computer

Wed 10 May 2023


My DIY battery-powered wireless driveway visitor detector, take 3! A much harder problem than I anticipated. Attempt 1 was using a cheap and low power PIR sensor. Too many false alerts. Attempt 2 was a radar presence detector. Doesn't work outdoors, way too many false alerts. This one uses a commercial outdoor PIR sensor, which seems to work quite well so far. On the down side, it uses quite a bit of power (20mA continuous), so I've had to add a lithium battery with solar charger. Nice thing about a LiFePO4 battery is that I don't need a fancy solar charge controller, I just use a buck converter set to about 14V. The grey box houses a microcontroller with a LoRa transmitter, mounted on an aluminium bracket that I can hang on my driveway pre-cast wall, so that the PIR sensor looks across the driveway. I put the battery and charger into an ice cream container and placed a roof tile over it to protect against rain and sun. The receiver side is an ESP32 connected to a LoRa receiver and buzzer that plays a ding-dong chime and also sends an MQTT message for futher automation. #diy #lora #pir #motion #sensor

Sun 30 April 2023


Some photos from a recent camping trip to the bushveld. #photo #camping

Sun 16 April 2023


The hill in the background is shaped just like an Elephant's silhouette, hence the name Olifantsnek. #photo

Olifantsnek https://www.sa-venues.com/attractionsnwp/olifantsnek.php

Sat 08 April 2023


Recently spotted: Meerkat, Cape Glossy Starling sunbathing, African Hoopoe #birding #photo

Fri 07 April 2023


Book recommendation: The power of fun by Catherine Price. A serious and well-researched look at having True Fun (a state when playfulness, connection and flow happen). #book #recommendation

Catherine Price http://catherineprice.com/books

Sat 01 April 2023


Since about 2015, smartphones have been getting increasingly user-hostile and locked down. It started with Google Play Services, a permanently running auto-installed, auto-updated service that has full access and control of your device. One a new Samsung Galaxy phone, I found 262 packages pre-installed, which were mainly from Google, Samsung, Facebook, Microsoft, and the cell provider. I tried disabling some of them, and at some point the phone locked with the message: "Your phone is locked because the Device Service was uninstalled without authorisation". Ok, so I enabled all the apps again, but that didn't unlock it. Tried a full factory reset and reboot, and now the phone says: "Phone Locked. This phone can't be used without authorisation." Just, wow! We are no longer allowed to uninstall the surveillance and bloatware on our phones. #smartphones #bloatware #surveillance

Sun 08 January 2023


My house got struck by lightning again, taking out the alarm system again. This time I decided to #diy my own alarm system with an #arduino. It's a bit of a rat's nest right now (prototype), but it works! Controllable via Telegram and standard remote. Gotta solder it up on a board next and add some lightning isolation/protection. There's surprisingly little info on the internet about replacing a commercial home alarm system with custom Arduino one. The biggest challenge is that the long wires to sensors can pick up noise/EMF so I had to do some filtering in software to avoid false triggers.

Mon 26 December 2022


Shout-out to Podgrab, an excellent self-hosted podcast manager/downloader written in Go. #selfhost #podcast


Sun 11 December 2022


Bought this ESP32-based Esplay Micro V2, and it is sweet! Not only is it a great form-factor and fairly priced, but it comes fully assembled with an SD Card loaded with some music and cool retro games. It's a #DIY #maker dream as I can turn this into almost any device I can think of! #esplay #esp32 #retrogaming #diy


Sun 11 December 2022


Today's project: #diy battery for my 2015 phone. Original battery down to 6% of it's original capacity. Replacement battery costs only R90 and is readily available at hobby shops. Had to make an adapter plate using my favourite material: masonite board. Sealed it with a polyurethane coating. I've avoided buying new electronics and am still sticking with my 2015 phone and 2015 tablet as my main mobile devices because they are hackable in this way, and the software (after disabling all the bloat) is still running sweetly.

Sun 20 November 2022


If you're part of the #TwitterMigration #TwitterExodus to #Mastodon then you can follow me there on @tobykurien@mastodon.social - I've been there since April 2017. Heck, you can even just stick the URL https://mastodon.social/@tobykurien.rss into an RSS feed reader. #MastodonMigration

Sat 19 November 2022


Grey go-away-birds (AKA grey loerie) having a party in my bird bath! #birding

Mon 03 October 2022


I bought this comically tiny phone in June and it's been my daily driver since. It has some amazing features in it's diminutive package: dual sim, microSD card slot, bluetooth (for calls and music, or to act as headset/dialler for your smartphone), camera for photos and video, voice changer (making it a great burner phone), 4+ days of battery life. Call quality is as good as on any smartphone, and it cost less than R400.

Tue 13 September 2022


Made a distraction-free audiobook player using a Raspberry Pi 3A. Doesn't even distract me with a progress bar :) #diy

Tue 06 September 2022


Book recommendation: THIS IS HOW THEY TELL ME THE WORLD ENDS, Nicole Perlroth. The fascinating story behind the biggest cybersecurity threats like Stuxnet, NotPetya, election interference, etc. Reads like fiction, but sadly it is not. #book

Nicole Perlroth

Sat 27 August 2022