Piano


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In Jan 2019 I started learning to play piano and started having regular lessons with the London Piano Institute.

In early 2020 I took my ABRSM Piano Grade 1 exam and achieved a Merit – which I’m very pleased with.

I’m now working through the ABRSM Grade 2 syllabus with a view to taking the exam late 2020/early 2021.

Here’s some posts I’ve written about my piano experiences:

  • My tips for scales (beginners)
    Watch one hand going up and the other hand coming down. Always play two octaves, don’t just practice one. It’s crucial to build in those LH 5,3,4,3 and RH 3,4,3,5 muscle memories. On the way up, the 4 in the left hand is the trigger for the 4 in the right hand and vice-versa on the way down Say the names of the notes as you play them. This will reinforce the sharps and flats in the scale. Saying the notes as you go down the scale is a real challenge! I can recommend the book Scales Bootcamp by Philip … Read more
  • Light, colour and underwater photography. Fixing colours using Adobe Photoshop (and Elements)
    Background All photography is dependant on one thing: light. The aim of taking a photo is to get enough light into the camera and detected by the film/sensor to produce a properly exposed image. This means shadows are not too dark, highlights are not too bright and there’s a good distribution of light between those two extremes. Underexposing an image will discard shadows in favour of black. Overexposing an image will discard highlights in favour of bright white. For colour photography, in addition to receiving the right quantity of light, we also needs to capture light of the right colour. Cameras … Read more
  • Colour correcting underwater video using Adobe Premiere CC
    Taken from Gustav Ovier’s site (offline since Dec 2017). Retrieved using the WayBack Machine then translated from Portuguese to English using Google Translate. Filters for Adobe Premiere CS6 and CC I’ve made available to download some filters I created for Adobe Premiere CS6 and CC (I don’t know if it works in other versions) for colour correction of underwater images. These filters enhance the colour of videos made during dives. You should test multiple filters to see what is best for your video. Sometimes the filter is good at the start of the shot, but it can get bad as … Read more
  • Instant Pot Beef / Ox Cheeks with Red Wine
    Description Here’s my recipe for beef cheeks cooked in my Instant Pot Duo v2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt, 5.5L. They’re cooked with vegetables, red wine and stock and have a Spanish/middle-eastern flavour. Beef cheeks are very tough pieces of meat and can take all day to cook. Using a pressure cooker reduces that time right down to less than an hour. Ingredients 2 x whole uncooked beef cheeks 2 brown onions – chopped 1cm 4 carrots – chopped 1cm 4 sticks of celery – chopped 1cm 1 large glass of red wine 1 tin of chopped tomatoes Beef … Read more
  • Facebook security
    Everyone uses Social Media these days and we’re trusting it with more and more of our personally identifiable information (PII). Our interests, comments, check-ins, likes and the network of friends and family we build-up all contribute to a context-heavy online identity. If an attacker gains control of your online identity, they can easily: Steal all your personal information Post content and messages on your behalf to hurt you or your network of friends and family Use implicit trust to gain access to other online services Impersonate you, abusing the trust you have with your network of friends and family to … Read more
  • Personal online security checklist
    Here’s a set of guides I’ve put together to help you understand your online security posture and how you might improve it. Stop using the same password everywhere! Weak passwords and how to choose a strong complex memorable password Setting up and using a Password Manager Setting up and using Two/Multi Factor Authentication (2FA/MFA) Facebook security
  • Setting up and using Multi Factor Authentication (2FA/MFA)
    What’s wrong with my username and password? Typical online authentication requires a username and a password – this is something a user has to know. These can be (and are frequently) written down, shared with other people or leaked from hacked sites to the world by malicious third parties.. Users will often setup the same username and password with multiple online services. This is super-convenient because they only have to remember one set of credentials, but if those credentials get leaked, hackers will have access to all services where that set of credentials have been used. This could be your mailbox, … Read more
  • Weak passwords and how to choose a strong complex memorable password
    What makes a password weak? A weak password is one that can be easily guessed or broken. This might be because it’s made up of public information associated with you. For example: You or your family’s dates of birth Names of your family members Your pet’s names Your nickname your car your favourite football team etc. Your password might be a known default password. Many items of computer hardware which connect to the Internet have factory default usernames and passwords. These are often variations of the words admin and password. Recently installed, but unconfigured software or content management systems will often … Read more
  • Setting up and using a Password Manager
    What is a Password Manager A Password Manager (PM) is a service or app that stores and enters usernames and passwords for you into online services or mobile apps. A good PM will also generate strong passwords for you and also help you identify weak or compromised passwords. The core concept is that you have a single strong but memorable Master Password that secures your PM. All the passwords for everything else should be complex and impossible to remember or guess (and often tricky to type). This makes them secure. In theory, the only passwords you ever need to remember … Read more
  • Stop using the same password everywhere!
    Why is this a bad thing? Using the same password everywhere makes everyone’s life easier. It means you can log into your bank, your online shopping, your mailbox and social media without having to remember dozens of passwords. However, using the same password on multiple online services is like using the same key to unlock your front door, your car, your suitcase and your safety deposit box. If someone sees your key and makes a copy of it, they can now unlock everything. They can not only steal whatever you’re protecting with that key (money, personal information etc), but they … Read more
  • What to do if your Facebook account is “hacked”
    How might this have happened? You have authorised an app in Facebook to post on your behalf Your have used the same email address and password on another online service and these credentials have been leaked/exfiltrated. You are using a weak easily-guessed password for either: Facebook (this is fixable) another service such as your mailbox (gmail, outlook etc) that an attacker has used with Facebook’s “forgot password” function (really bad) your password manager (worst case) What should I do? Secure Facebook Change your Facebook password to a temporary one you’ve never used before and isn’t a variation of your previous … Read more
  • Red Sea Liveaboard Packing List
      Here’s the packing list I use when I’m preparing for a Red Sea Liveaboard SCUBA holiday. I always get everything together in one place before I put anything into a case. This helps because: I get an overview of what I’m packing I can immediately see if I’m packing 2 of something I can see if I’ve forgotten to put something in a case as it’ll still be out Also, please read my Red Sea Liveaboard Tips and Tricks article. Hand-luggage Regs (Apeks XTX 200) Dive computer (primary) (Shearwater Perdix) Dive computer (backup) (Vyper Air) Dive Computer Transmitter (loose, … Read more
  • Kindle Collection Manager
    I wrote the Kindle Collection Manager many years ago to add missing functionality to the Amazon Kindle range of eBook readers. It’s a Windows desktop app that allows books to be arranged into collections – both manually and automatically based on folders – then the collection configuration is uploaded to the Kindle device. Unfortunately Amazon locked down the file system on all devices from the Paperwhite onward which renders the app unusable. For owners of previous versions of the Kindle eBook reader where the collections.json file is still accessible over USB, the KCM will still work. Here’s a link to … Read more
  • Connecting a digital piano, an iPad, an audio mixer and headphones
    I recently bought a Yamaha P-115 Digital Piano (which I love) in an attempt to teach myself to play piano. Its piano sounds are amazing and the graded-hammer-action on the keys really do feel like an acoustic piano. I quickly discovered there are some really great apps available on iOS for learning piano and the majority of them allow you to connect your iOS device to your digital piano via its MIDI port. This means the app can check which keys you’re playing and help guide you though your piano lessons. A great example of this is Simply Piano by … Read more
  • Red Sea Liveaboard tips and tricks
    Here’s a brain-dump of everything I’ve learned and experienced during my annual Red Sea Liveaboard holidays. I’ve written it to help people prepare for their first liveaboard and to give more seasoned travellers some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way. What is a liveaboard holiday? A liveaboard holiday is designed specifically for SCUBA divers where you live on a boat travelling around a specific region that offers good diving opportunities. The Red Sea in Egypt is famous for its liveaboards. A liveaboard holiday typically includes: Flights Transfers Visas* Accommodation Food Water and soft drinks Cylinders Air and Nitrox fills … Read more
  • The Magister Trilogy by Celia S. Friedman
    I’m working my way through the Magister Trilogy by Celia S. Friedman.            Here’s the summary of the first book “Feast of Souls” taken from it’s Wikipedia page: In this fantasy, the first of a new trilogy, the world’s magic comes at a terrible cost: a witch’s own finite life force, which drains away with each spell. The sole exceptions are the immortal Magisters, who secretly tap a more murderous fuel for their power. No woman has ever found its source, until young Kamala, hardened by life as a child whore, insists on an apprenticeship and secretly … Read more
  • Recommended Scuba Equipment
    Here’s a list of all the kit I’m currently using along with links to either buy or find out more information. Cold Water Warm Water General
  • Blocking web trackers and cookies to help protect your online privacy
    I’ve just discovered a really good browser extension that blocks web tracking cookies, code and images. It’s called Ghostery and versions are available for Chrome, IE, Safari and Firefox. When active, Ghostery watches web pages being loaded and blocks, removes or replaces tracking cookies, code and images to protect your privacy. It has easy-to-use and intuitive configuration pages which allow you to specifiy what you want to block and how you want notifications to work. At time of writing, it recognises and can block 2,080 different trackers in 5 different categories: I choose to block all trackers except Gravatar, Worpdress Stats and Google Analytics. You can … Read more
  • CommitStrip.com
    I’ve just discovered this French website which is full of really well done and observant cartoons about the lives of web developers and tech enthusiasts. It’s called CommitStrip.com Here are a few of my favourites from their archive that goes right back to February 2012.
  • Swimmo Swim training watch
    I’ve been following the Swimmo project for a while now – ever since I backed their Kickstarter project last year. “Swimmo is a next-gen smart swim watch. Monitor your swim. Set goals to stay on track. Swim smarter with IntensityCoach™, PaceKeeper™ and heart rate monitor”   I already swim with a Swimovate PoolMateHR which counts my laps and lets me download the data to my PC. It has a heart rate strap but I’ve never been able to use it as it instantly falls off while swimming, so it’s only usable under a wetsuit. The watch however doesn’t work in open water (it … Read more
  • Scuba Books
    I’m working my way through these at the moment        Find out more by clicking on each book
  • Swimming
    I’m a keen swimmer and try to swim at least a mile every day. I’m usually found at Pancras Square Leisure where they have a nice 25m pool. I used to use a Swimovate Poolmate Pro HR watch tracked my strokes and laps and allowed me to upload all that to a computer to check my progress (or not). I tried a Swimmo, but found it too bulky and clunky to use – and the lack of any buttons was a pain and made the whole UX horrible. I now use an Apple Watch 2 which is much better and more comfortable that … Read more
  • PADI Pro
    I’m a PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer and PADI/DSAT Tec Instructor and teach the following courses: Recreational SCUBA Discover Scuba® Diving Bubblemaker PADI Seal Team PADI Skin Diver Open Water Diver PADI Scuba Diver Discover Local Diving ReActivate™ – Scuba Refresher Adventure Diver Advanced Open Water Diver Rescue Diver Master Scuba Diver™ Dive Master Emergency First Response Provider Recreational Specialties Deep Wreck Drysuit Enriched Air Multilevel Underwater Navigator Peak Performance Buoyancy AWARE® Coral Reef Conservation Project Aware® Specialist PADI/DSAT Technical Discover Tec Tec 40 I teach Tec courses using back-mounted twins from the start. I hope to extend these courses to cover sidemount later this … Read more
  • Reading
    I’ve just finished reading Red Country by Joe Abercrombie It’s part of a series of books set in the First Law world They follow on from the First Law Trilogy which features some memorable characters including Logen Ninefingers (The Bloody-Nine)
  • Photography
    I shoot with a Canon 6D with a variety of Canon lenses. My current walkabout lens is my Canon 24-70mm f2.4 IS II USM
  • SCUBA Diving
    I started diving in 2007 and became a BS-AC Open Water Scuba Instructor in 2009 and in 2014, I qualified as a PADI Open Water and Speciality Instructor. I’m now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and PADI/DSAT TecRec Instructor. This has opened the door to PADI IDC Staff Instructor which I hope to achieve this year (2018). I’m an experienced overhead-environment and mixed-gas decompression diver. I love fresh and salt-water diving and dive lakes, quarries, caves and mines in and around the UK and abroad including Spain, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt and Mexico.
  • Lossless compression of JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF and BMP images
    After years of using the JPEG & PNG Stripper to remove the metadata from my images before publishing on the web, I’ve recently discovered an even better tool. It’s called PNG Gauntlet and performs LOSSLESS compression on JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF and BMP files. It analyses an image file, strips any redundant information and metadata then applies multiple compression methods until the best result is found. In my experience, it can even reduce the file size of images that the JPEG & PNG Stripper has previously processed.
  • Hosting Recommendation
    I’ve been playing around with WordPress as a CMS for a couple of years now – building sites and templates. Although I really like the open-source nature of WordPress and the community feel it has, I’m often a bit concerned about the performance of WordPress pages and especially frustrated by the administration pages taking forever to load. I’ve tried using caching plugins and tweaking the web server hosting WordPress’ PHP pages, but this has little effect. In an attempt to get a better WordPress experience for me (as an admin and developer), my customers (as content editors) and as end users of their … Read more
  • Continuous handshaking problems with 2015 MacBook Pro & Denon AVR-X2200W Receiver [SOLVED]
    I’ve just bought a Denon AVR-X2200W AV Receiver and it’s a lovely bit of kit, but it doesn’t play nicely with my MacBook pro 2015 over HDMI. The problem I plug my MacBook Pro into my Samsung TV using HDMI and everything’s great. I see the MacBook Pro desktop with a great picture, no overscan, correct resolution and refresh rate – perfect 🙂 However, it’s a different story when I introduce the Denon Receiver into the equation… I use the same cable to plug my MacBook Pro into the Receiver, then (using another identical HDMI cable) plug the Receiver into the same TV … Read more
  • Get aircrack-ng working on Raspberry Pi and Raspbian
    Run these commands: sudo -i apt-get -y install libnl-dev wget http://download.aircrack-ng.org/aircrack-ng-1.2-rc2.tar.gz tar -zxvf aircrack-ng-1.2-rc2.tar.gz cd aircrack-ng-1.2-rc2 make make install airodump-ng-oui-update apt-get -y install iw sudo apt-get install ethtool airmon-ng start wlan0 The airodump-ng-oui-update will take a while to complete. Looking out for networks airodump-ng mon0 Information taken from here: http://www.aircrack-ng.org/doku.php?id=newbie_guide  
  • Asus BT-400 Bluetooth dongle and Raspberry Pi
    Here is a solution. First switch to admin mode: sudo -i Now get the necessary packages. This will install all necessary software. apt-get install bluetooth bluez blueman Then use the lsusb command to list the connected USB devices… lsusb The result will include something like this: Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0b05 17cb Vendor Desc. Now you have to find the correct device. When you found it, copy the ID without colon and write it into the /sys/bus/usb/drivers/btusb/new_id. You can do it like this: echo “0b05 17cb” >> /sys/bus/usb/drivers/btusb/new_id Now we will use a tool called modprobe which allows us to load modules on our running system. … Read more
  • Fun and games with Kali on the Raspberry Pi and the Tontec 3.5″ TFT
    Not having much joy getting this to work. I think I’m going to have to try the fbtft drivers that were put together for the AdaFruit screen.
  • Configure Wi-Fi on your Raspberry Pi via the command line
    Find available Wi-Fi networks To scan for Wi-Fi networks, use the command sudo iwlist wlan0 scan This will list all available Wi-Fi networks along with other useful information. Look out for: ESSID:”testing” This is the name of the Wi-Fi network. IE: IEEE 802.11i/WPA2 Version 1 This is the authentication used; in this case it is WPA2, the newer and more secure wireless standard which replaces WPA1. These instructions should work for WPA or WPA2. You will also need the password for the WiFi network. For most home routers this is located on a sticker on the back of the router. The ESSID (ssid) … Read more
  • Install remote desktop support on Raspberry Pi
    You can remote desktop to your Raspberry Pi by adding the XRDP package like this: sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade sudo apt-get install xrdp
  • Setting up a Raspberry Pi with a Tontec TFT 3.5″ screen (Model MZ61581)
    Install the drivers Taken from: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ttbox/35screen.zip This is taken from information last updated on 2015-09-05 Below you will find instructions for installing the appropriate drivers for the Tontec 3.5 inch screen on your Raspberry Pi (including Pi 2). This guide was written for Raspbian wheezy, specifically 2015-05-05-raspbian-wheezy.img, though the guide should work on later versions as well. 1. Initial Config of New Raspberry Pi Install After booting your Raspberry Pi for the first time on Raspbian-Wheezy, we will need to perform the normal tasks of setting up our Raspberry Pi. E.g expand filesystem, Then we need “update” and “upgrade” sudo apt-get update … Read more
  • Regenerating SSH Keys for a new Kali installation
    Randomise your keys after using a Kali image for the first time. You don’t want to use the same keys as everyone else do you? cd /etc/ssh/ sudo mkdir default_kali_keys sudo mv ssh_host_* default_kali_keys/ sudo dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server