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What Is the Optimal Change to Keep in Your Pocket?
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I like to live fairly minimalistic. This ideology extends to my wallet, which I prefer to keep as slim as possible. For my cards I use a simplified version of the Crabby Wallet, and for my coins I have a simple coin pouch purse. Of course, the coin purse swells up rather quickly with the number of coins that are placed inside. So is there an optimal number and type of coins, that allows you to pay any reasonable amount with exact change? This is an extended version of the change-making problem. Determining the optimal change (i.e. using as few coins as possible) can become a very complicated problem. Things get a lot easier for so-called canonical coin systems where a greedy algorithm always gives the best solution. This algorithm works very easily, and quickly: always pick the largest denomination of coin that is not greater than the remaining …

Installing OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi
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So now that you have a Raspberry Pi, what can you do with it? One interesting option is to install an OpenVPN server on it. This will allow you to connect to your own home network – and browse the internet as if you were home – from wherever you are in the world. This is great if you don’t trust the public Wi-Fi hotspot in your local coffee shop (you shouldn’t trust it!), or if you find yourself on a public network that limits your access to certain information (e.g. internet on a bus, or internet with a content filter). Of course, it is also a great way to watch your favourite Netflix series while abroad. Luckily, installing OpenVPN has become a lot easier lately thanks to a number of great scripts that do all the hard work for you. I particularly like PiVPN for its simplicity and …

A Basic Install of a Raspberry Pi System
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With a brand new Raspberry Pi comes the challenge of how to set it up. For some uses, such as a desktop (full Raspbian with PIXEL) or media centre (e.g. LibreELEC) it can be as simple as downloading an image, plugging in a screen, keyboard, and mouse, and going from there. When you want to do something else with your Raspberry Pi, especially in a headless setting (i.e. without screen), then setting everything up can be a bit more tricky. This guide helps to simplify the process of setting up a basic, secure Raspberry Pi headless installation.

WDLabs PiDrive 6x6 Enclosure Review
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Last year, on Pi Day 2016, Western Digital launched the PiDrive for the Raspberry Pi. The PiDrive at the time was a 314GB external hard drive (get it?), optimised for low power consumption and with an integrate SATA-to-USB controller to make it easy to plug into one of the Raspberry’s USB ports. Of course, this last feature is a bit of a ruse. Many of the external 2.5” drives that are sold nowadays feature these SATA-to-USB controllers. It makes the external drive slightly more compact, and it prohibits the drive to be used in e.g. a laptop. Since then, the original PiDrive has sold out and has been replaced by a 250GB, 375GB, and 1TB version. The pricing on these isn’t exactly bad – assuming it meets your storage needs. When comparing the options with alternatives it is important to note that these come bundled with a …

The Eco(Logical/Nomical) Impact of Food in the UK
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People say that procrastination is a counter-productive thing. Who knows, maybe it is. To find out, I endeavoured to look up research on procrastination. Not exactly the most fascinating read, so I wandered off and ended up reading some of the blogs on thesimpledollar.com. One of the articles that peeked my interest was titled buying foods based on cost per calorie. A great idea, since we all have to eat and consume a certain number of calories each day, so why not do so as economically as possible? However, as is often the case, this was entirely based on US prices. And it completely overlooked the ecological cost of food. The ecological cost takes into account how much stress we put on our one and only planet to produce any given type of food. If you don’t believe in global warming and the incredibly destructive impact humanity has …

Intel J3355 - A Gem in the Rough for H.264 and H.265 Encoding
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This last decade the world of desktop processors has been, well, boring. The Intel Core processors which launched in 2006 were a significant step forward. They did away with the worst of the Pentium 4 series and moved to a much higher IPC, resulting in a processor that could outperform the Pentium 4s using a significantly lower clock rate while using significantly less power. Those were the days of revolutions. Nowadays, those leaps and bounds are reserved for the mobile space (although those days are coming to an end before long). On the desktop, we have only seen (limited) incremental progress as better core designs are introduced along decreasing fab sizes. The problem is that we are getting closer and closer to a wall, the fabrication size, that cannot easily be broken. Making the fabrication process one step smaller comes with an exponential increase in costs, while only offering a …

Best Books 2016 Recommendations
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A new year is a time for a new resolve, and why not spend more time reading books in 2017? For those who love reading books it’s a great passtime that you can do just about everywhere. At home, in bed, while waiting on a bus, during a long flight, etc., there’s always an opportunity to read. Some prefer phyisical books for their tactile appeal, while others prefer ebooks that give you easy access to thousands of books in the palm of your hand. Our preference goes to the Kobo Aura but also the Kindle Paperwhite is a very capable ereader. What matters most of all are, of course, the books. We’ve read some great works this year, and we struggled our way through others. What follows is the list of books we have read in 2016 and which we believe are worthy of your time. The …

How Cooking Is an Amazing DYI Skill
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You think that cooking is not your thing? You fear that you don’t have the patience – or the skills – to cook? Read on and you might be surprised how you can easily turn things around, including some tips on how to make delicious meals at home.

8 Gifts for Someone Who Loves Cooking
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Still looking for that perfect Christmas or New Year gift for someone who loves to cook? Don’t you worry! There are so many great things you can give a foodie that will put a smile on their face. I selected 8 different gifts that fit all budgets, ranging from the typical to the surprising.

Low-Cost Python Internet-Of-Things
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The Internet of Things – or IoT for short – is a powerful buzzword in current day-to-day life. It promises a world where everyday object have network connectivity, allowing them to form a massive and secure machine-to-machine network. The potential applications range from smart cities, to smart grids, to smart homes, all powered by smart devices (I assume that smart is another buzzword?). But what does it all mean? Smart cities are probably the closest to reality and they allow a city to manage all its resources centrally. At any time the city knows where its police officers are, which lights are turned on, what traffic conditions are, how many pedestrians are in a given area, etc … . If an accident happens, such a smart city can immediately – even without human intervention – direct the closest police officer to the accident site, advice on the pedestrians that were in the area, redirect traffic to …