Not Quite Normal

Archive of April 2009

i-gotU GPS tracker April 29

While CATaLOG allows me to see when my cats go in and out of the house and what their favourite time and day is, it doesn't actually let me see where they go.  To remedy this, I bought an i-gotU GPS tracker. While the GT-100 (version 1) of this product got pretty negative reviews, the GT-120 version (version 2) seems to get better ones, and this is the one Maplin stocked for £40.  Here it is:


I'm glad I've been alive long enough to remember times before GPS and mobile phones and still don't take them for granted.  The whole package is smaller than a matchbox and contains a GPS patch antenna, a GPS receiver, a microcontroller, storage for up to 64,000 waypoints, firmware which not only controls the device but also stores config values and allows data to be pulled off the device, a USB interface and a lithium ion battery plus charging circuitry.  Not to mention this tiny thing is computing where it is from signals sent from satellites 12,552 miles above it. Incredible.

The box / website states Windows support only, but happily there is a fairly new, actively maintained project called igotu2gpx which gives command line tools for Linux / MacOS X to pull the data off the device and translate it into a standard GPX format usable by sites like the excellent

I've done a couple of test routes and it seems to be pretty accurate to within 5 metres or so.  It's logging the data every 6 seconds at the moment (which gives around 8 hours battery life)  but this can be increased or decreased depending on the application.

Once I've got a harness for the cats I'll be attaching it to them, probably overnight, to see what they get up to.  :)


CATaLOG talk video April 27

The video of my CATaLOG talk at Ignite Cardiff (complete with microphone feedback) is now available over on YouTube.

The slides are available as a PDF here

Opting out of Phorm April 17

I've followed Wikipedia's lead and written an email (based on the wikipedia one) to exclude / from Phorm's deep packet inspection technology:

Subject: Phorm opt out for and


I request that the following domains I control be excluded from scanning by
the Phorm / BT Webwise system, as I consider the scanning and profiling of
visitors behaviour whilst on my sites by a third party to be an infringement
on their privacy.

Pete Prior


The EU has also launched an infringement proceeding against the UK for declaring the way Phorm operates to be legal.

CATaLOG in testing April 15

CATaLOG is now all wired up, sitting in a temporary housing and in testing.  You can view the live status of the cats over at or follow them on Twitter.


You can see the two push buttons used to set each cat in or out should they run through an open door rather than the cat flap or evade the sensor in some way, as well as the Linksys WAP11 acting as a network bridge to link the system to the house WIFI network.

I've been pleased with the results so far.  The RFID reader is mounted to the cat flap with velcro for now so I can move it to find the most reliable location.  I think the magnet on the cat flap might not be helping the signal any, and I think I'll need to install the IR beams to counteract Bobbin just sticking her head through.

CATaLOG Ignite Talk April 9

Despite it being one of the most nerve racking things I've done I gave my talk on CATaLOG at Ignite Cardiff last night. 

You can download the presentation in PDF format below.


The talk went pretty well - 15 seconds is long time when you've forgotten what the next slide is ;)

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