Super Nintendo Mini Classic, for kids

Super Nintendo Mini Classic, for kids

I bought a SNES Mini Classic recently.

The original wasn’t that popular when I was young – more of an American thing I think – and I didn’t know anyone with one, so I was very curious. The closest I got as a kid was The Great Giana Sisters on the Commodore 64 (a Super Mario clone).

I also wanted to see if I could get my daughter interested in some simple video games, outside of the many cooking/hairdressing/simple tapping games she has on the iPad.

It is easy to emulate older systems, but I wanted a self-contained box that could be plugged into the TV, and that my daughter could use. The mini classic fits the bill perfectly. It’s got two nice colourful controllers that are ideal for small hands, and a simple on/off switch and reset button. The European version is very friendly looking, unlike the ugly weird American one.

snes mini

She’s loving it so far, and has even taken to watching people play Mario games on YouTube (I’m going with it being a good thing).

One thing I quickly realised is just how brutally difficult older games are, and some of the bundled games are very unforgiving for kids. Kirby’s Super Star has become the favourite, followed by Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario World.


Some of the games are also very verbose, and some of them I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to be doing (Final Fantasy & Secret Of Mana I’m looking at you).

It’s been fun playing the games with her so far, and as a bonus, her geek points are rapidly increasing!

Speeding up a Synology rebuild

After purchasing a Synology NAS I inserted a bunch of drives and left ‘expanding’ overnight.

When I came back in the morning it had gone from 2% to 5% complete – about 95% less than what I was hoping.

I discovered that you can SSH into the box and check the status of the rebuild with:

cat /proc/mdstat

This showed that I had another 14 days left. Hmm, I don’t think so.

After some poking about I discovered it defaults to a strangely small 256 byte cache size.

There were a lot of posts on the internet about changing this value in /sys/block/md3/md/stripe_cache_size, but this failed with a permission problem. Maybe this applied to older versions.

Instead you can edit:


And add the line:


It took a few minutes for this to be picked up and then the rebuild time decreased to 14 hours. Much more acceptable.

I tried some larger cache size values but they didn’t make any difference.

Clearing Chrome’s DNS cache

If you ever need to point a domain name at an IP address, for sandboxing during development, or for whatever reasons, then Chrome can be a real nuisance. It seems to cache the domain name and refuses to use your new IP address.

Recent versions supposedly monitor /etc/hosts, and if you view the DNS cache this seems to be true.


However it can still be stubborn about actually using the new IP. After some digging I found that clearing the socket pool usually does the trick.


Certainly beats waiting until Chrome finally gives up the old values.

MacOS terminal cursor navigation with a mouse

File this under ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know this sooner’.

Ever had to edit a long command in a terminal window? Certainly you can set things up so you can jump back and forward using the keyboard. But you can also option+click to move the cursor instantly – really handy for some commands.

Also, in iTerm at least, you can apple+click a URL to open it in your browser.

American Gods

American Gods

I’ve been very much enjoying American Gods on Amazon Prime. It’s been a few years since I read Neil Gaiman’s book, but the adaptation seems incredibly accurate to the point where I feel like I’m having flashbacks to reading it. From my understanding the first season is only a fraction of the book, so there’s plenty of time to fill the story out.

Here’s a clip from the latest episode, Lemon Scented You, in which Gillian Anderson appearing as Bowie convinces someone to change their image.

Later on, appearing as Marilyn Monroe, she blows a kiss that slices someone’s lips off. If you’ve not seen the show, or read the book, then strap in – it’s quite a ride.

Zhiyun Z1 Smooth C Gimbal

I generally don’t take much video – compared to taking photos I find it boring and laborious. Even though there’s a big red record button on my camera I just forget to press it.

After returning from a big trip last year I realised I had no video. Literally nothing at all. A year later I’m regretting that and decided I should take more. I’m not talking about making movies here, just simple home documentary videos.

One of my dislikes about home video is shakiness and so when I came across the Zhiyun gimbal it spiked my interest. After a few months of indecision I decided to get one for a vacation.

It should be noted this is a gimbal for a mobile phone, and not for a DSLR. My iPhone takes 4k video of a sufficient quality for my needs, and the gimbal itself is small and packable.

I’ve been really happy with the results. Splicing together a video from non-gimbal and gimbal footage shows such a big difference. Video is smooth and, dare I say it, cinematic. I’ve found myself watching recordings in much the same way you get sucked into watching YouTube.

It doesn’t completely eliminate vibrations, of course. Walking results in a gentle but very watchable sway.

Caveats? Sometimes you need to fight the gimbal to get it pointing in the right direction, and sometimes it can bounce between two points if you happen to keep moving between whatever threshold triggers a pan.

Overall though it’s a huge improvement for my home video and I’m sure I’ll be recording much more.

Now to figure out an easier way to edit it all together. Also maybe something for better audio.