My First Siphon Coffee

Small Batch Coffee Roaster

A barista and a chemist walk into a cafe… At least that’s how I’d imagined a siphon, or sometimes called a vacuum pot, was invented. I’d seen the occasional Instagram post that looked as though Walter White was making his morning brew, but up until about a month ago, I had never got the opportunity to try one myself.


I was visiting Brighton at the end of March and found myself at Small Batch Coffee Roasters. I’d only had their coffee once before when a friend made me a Blue Note V60 (a 50-50 mix of El Salvador Finca Patagonia and Kenya Kiaga Peaberry). As I was browsing their menu, I noticed they had that filter blend as well as an Easter blend on batch brew, but what I was really happy to see was their brew bar, which included Hario siphons. I thought I’d take the opportunity to try one.


Their siphon brew[1]Although spelt “syphon” in Small Batch’s menu, I decided to go with the more common “siphon” spelling. More info here. was made using Ecuador (Rosa Cotacachi’s farm) beans and are described as “super sweet pineapple, cheery and almond flavours with a clean and crisp mouthfeel”. After ordering the brew from their till, I made my way to their brew bar to have a seat and watch my coffee being prepared. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Small Batch; sitting by the EK43 and seeing a barista measure out the beans, grind them, and get the rest of the equipment ready felt like a special occasion. I think this played a big part of what I enjoyed about the experience as it’s not an everyday one.


“Fully washed Caturra varietals grown at 2300m above sea level. Super sweet, tropical fruit acidity up front with clean crisp mouthfeel” read the descriptive card that came along with a filled Hario Server and coffee cup. I liked the presentation and must say that it did feel more special than drinking an average cup of coffee. The drink itself delivered on taste; it was fruity and delicious as many third wave coffees are but with a distinct taste that perhaps the siphon method is to be thanked for.


There’s so many things I still want to discover when it comes to coffee, and I’d like to one day taste test V60, Chemex, Siphon, etc. side-by-side to see what each brew method brings to the final product. That being said, I throughoughly enjoyed my first siphon experience and would recommend Small Batch Coffee Roasters to anyone who would like to try this too. Their knowledge about their coffees and friendliness were much appreciated!

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Although spelt “syphon” in Small Batch’s menu, I decided to go with the more common “siphon” spelling. More info here.

Plex and VPN

Ever since I got my Sinology Diskstation, I’ve been meaning to set up Plex, a home media server solution. I got round to setting Plex up months ago, but for some reason I could never figure out why I couldn’t connect and browse my media library when I was connected to Plex through VPN. Plex’s Remote Access feature has always confused me too – it requires the user to log into their Plex account and pay for a subscription. What I couldn’t understand was, why would Plex—even though I was connected to my VPN—show me no media, yet when I was at home, it would?

It turns out, Plex uses authentication based on networks. When you’re outside of your normal network, Plex requires seperate authentication in order to access your content, which I’m assuming is part of Plex Remote Access. As my account isn’t subscribe to this, so I couldn’t access any of my media from outside my normal network.


My VPN’s network is separate to that of my normal network; This meant that Plex wouldn’t recognise the IP address of any devices that were connected through my VPN, such as my iPhone, iPad, or MacBook. In order to change this, access the Settings (wrench icon in the top right), change over to Server, then Network, and make sure that Advanced Settings are shown. You will now see a list of networks that are allowed to access Plex without auth.


Change this to match your personal needs, making sure that networks are separated by a comma. Once the settings are saved, you should be able to connect to Plex without needing authentication, hence you can now see all your media.


I can finally enjoy my DVD library outside my home!

Backing up your iCloud Photo Library

As iCloud Photo Library is now in full operation, I wondered if it was possible to somehow back up my whole iCloud Photo Library. I had a look at the settings of the Photos app on OS X and found the that there’s an option to Download Originals on this Mac;

Store original photos and videos on this Mac. Choose this option if you want to access full-resolution versions of your entire library, even when offline.

In order to find this option, go to Photos, Preferences, iCloud:

That seems to do the trick. Looking at the ~/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary file, mine is about 90GB, which is roughly what my iPhoto Library was before I uploaded it to iCloud. Scrolling through Photos seems to display all my photos too, so the transition seemed to work just fine, but having an offline backup may come in useful one day. Once the Photos Library if on your local disk, it’ll back up along with all your other files with Time Machine.

UK government quietly rewrites hacking laws to give GCHQ immunity

UK government quietly rewrites hacking laws to give GCHQ immunity

How to change OS X Launchpad icon grid size

I recently decided to start using Launchpad in Yosemite, but I found that on both my MacBook Air and my iMac, there were far too few app icons in the grid.

The following terminal commands allow you to increase the grid (I changed my Launchap grid to 10×10, the default is 7×5).

$ defaults write springboard-rows -int 10
$ defaults write springboard-columns -int 10
$ killall Dock

If you’re like me and you don’t necessarily fancy the opening and closing animations of Launchpad, then you can use the following Terminal command to get rid of those.

$ defaults write springboard-show-duration -int 0
$ defaults write springboard-hide-duration -int 0
$ killall Dock

Final tip: I added a keyboard shortcut for Launchpad. I opted for alt+space, that way I’ve got both Spotlight and Launchpad accessible instantly as the shortcut keys are just next to each other. To do this, head over to System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts, Launchpad & Dock, Show Launchpad.

Using an HP LaserJet 1018 with OS X

About 7 years ago, I purchased an HP LaserJet 1018 and have been using it ever since. It’s a basic black and white laser printer, but what I’ve found amazing is that in the 7 or so years that I’ve had it, I’ve only ever needed to replace the toner cartridge once. Back when I first bought it, OS X wasn’t supported, and it unfortunately still isn’t. I used to get it to work using’s Foomatic, a “database-driven system for integrating free software printer drivers with common spoolers under Unix”. There’s still a full install guide here, but what I’ve found over on the is far easier.

In order to get the HP LaserJet 1018 working on OS X, you’ll need to:

  1. Download the HP drivers from the Apple support site here and install them.
  2. Turn on and connect your printer. I connect mine to my Airport Extreme, but a direct USB connection will work too.
  3. Go to System Preferences, Printers & Scanners, click the + icon to add a new printer. Make sure you have admin rights on your Mac, as otherwise you will not be able to do this (in this case, click the padlock in the lower left corner of the window).
  4. Chose the HP LaserJet 1018 printer, then select the HP LaserJet 1022 drivers.

That’s it! Worked like a charm.

(Please ignore my incredibly bad printer drawing. I just thought I’d add some colour into this post!)



Today’s daily cartoon by David Sipress.

I have finally listened to more of Serial, the podcast that seems to have taken over the world, and though the above illustration was funny. I’m impressed by Serial, definitely worth listening to. This week concludes the 12 episode long series, so binge-listening is possible.

If you have no idea what Serial is, Fiona Sturges writes:

Researched and presented by Sarah Koenig, a producer on the long-running podcast This American Life, it concerns the death of a young woman, the high school senior Hae Min Lee in 1999, and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was convicted and jailed for her murder.
(Fiona Sturges, The Independant)

Push Notifications on successful SSH connections

I decided I wanted some sort of notification that would let me know when a user has successfully logged into my RaspberryPi (running Raspbian). The following explains how to get push notifications sent to your phone (via Pushover) on successful SSH connections.

The first step is to get Pushover set up. Visit and if you don’t already have an account, you will need to create one. Log into your account and make a note of your user key (you will need this later). Once you have your account set up, click on Register an Application towards the bottom of the page. On this page, you are required to give your new application a name, a type (in this case, chose Script), and optionally you can fill out a description, URL, and give it an icon. Accept the terms of service and click Create Application. On the following page, take a note of your API key for this application. Now that we have a unique application set up, we can go ahead and create a python script on the RaspberryPi.

On my RaspberryPi I decided to create a new directory and keep all my scripts in one place:

$ mkdir /my_scripts
$ cd /my_scripts

You can use the editor of your choice to create a new file (call it something like

$ nano

Copy and paste the following code (some of this code is adapted from the official Pushover library found here):

#!/usr/bin/env python

from time import sleep
import os
import pwd
import httplib, urllib

def PushOver(title,message,url):
   app_key = "<your_app_key>"
   user_key = "<your_user_key>"
   #Connect with the Pushover API server
   conn = httplib.HTTPSConnection("")

   #Send a POST request in urlencoded json
   conn.request("POST", "/1/messages.json",
   "token": app_key,
   "user": user_key,
   "title": title,
   "message": message,
   "url": url,
   }), { "Content-type": "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" })

   #Any error messages or other responses?

#App-specific variables
usr=pwd.getpwuid(os.getuid()) [0]
#print "successful ssh login with username: " + usr
PushOver('raspberryPI SSH login','User: '+usr+' has logged in via SSH.','')

The final step we need to complete is running this script every time any user logs in via SSH. In order to do this we must use /etc/bash.bashrc as it is included by ~/.bashrc, and read every time a shell starts up. If we used ~/.bashrc then only the current user would run this script, whereas we want any user to run this script. Edit it by:

nano /etc/bash.bashrc

Add the following:

# send a pushover notification each time the user logs in via SSH
if [[ -n $SSH_CONNECTION ]] ; then
        python /my_scripts/

You can test this script by closing your current SSH session and initiating a new one. You must of course have Pushover installed on your iPhone or Android device, but you should now get a push notification letting you know that you have logged into your RaspberryPi.

And that’s it. Please let me know if there’s any more efficient or generally better ways of going about this. I wasn’t too familiar with all of the different .bash_profile, .bashrc, etc. so there could potentially be a better way to go about this.

Playing around with rmate on TextMate 2.0 beta

I’ve always been a huge fan of TextMate and it was my go-to text editor on Mac for years. I slowly stopped using it when I started my previous job as I never really used my Mac for work purposes anyway. Now that I’m back at university, I’ve had a look at a bunch of text / code / all-purpose editors and decided to try out TextMate 2.0 beta, and so far I’m loving it. What I really love is this feature:

Remote mate

In the past, TextMate has suffered with editing files on a server, but that’s all changed now. If you regularly find yourself SSHed into a remote box and wanting to edit a file using TextMate on your own box, your ship has come in.

TextMate 2 now ships with an rmate (Ruby) script that you can drop onto servers. When you trigger rmate on a remote box, it will connect back to your box, allow you to edit, and update the file on the server with the changes.

(Find out more about rmate on the MacroMate website, including detailed installation and usage instructions.)

This is a great feature as lately I’ve been editing a lot of files on my RaspberryPi, so being able to work with these files locally on my Mac in a powerful editor like this is a huge bonus and something you definitely don’t get with nano. I know there are terminal text editors more powerful than nano out there, but the rmate feature is really great.

In order to get rmate working, you must first verify that you have TextMate set up to accept rmate connections. This is done through the Terminal preferences pane. Make a note of the default port (52698) or note down the port you are changing it to, as you will need it later.

In order for rmate to work, we have to initiate a reverse SSH session to the remote RaspberryPi:

$ ssh -R 52698:localhost:52698 pi@myRaspberryPi

From there, you can install rmate via gem on the remote server:

$ sudo gem install rmate
Fetching: rmate-1.5.7.gem (100%)
Successfully installed rmate-1.5.7
1 gem installed
Installing ri documentation for rmate-1.5.7...
Installing RDoc documentation for rmate-1.5.7...

That’s it! We can now use rmate to edit remote files. In order to test this:

$ rmate helloworld.txt

In order to easily connect to your remote server, I suggest adding an alias to your .bash_profile. In order to do this, open up your .bash_profile (usually ~/.bash_profile) and enter the following:

alias matessh="ssh -R 52698:localhost:52698 pi@myRaspberryPi"

That’s just one of the cool features, but I’m sure I’ll discover plenty more as I start using TextMate more often again. TextMate also just replaced all other writing apps on my Mac too – I just love its simplicity and power, including my half-a-dozen Markdown editors I’ve been trying.

Guy Fawkes Night

Why does Great Britain blow up fireworks every year on the 5th of November? Wikipedia knows why:

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.