tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:/posts Simon Rumble's blog 2021-03-18T03:23:21Z Simon Rumble tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1667287 2021-03-18T03:23:21Z 2021-03-18T03:23:21Z Random albums to mix things up a bit
I've taken to using the "Random Albums" option on my music system to surface music I haven't listened to in ages. It doesn't force you to listen to whatever comes out, that would be painful with the diverse library I have. Instead you can choose from the random albums it throws up.


It's been a fantastic tool for rediscovering great music I haven't listened to in a long time. It's really diversified my listening too, which is something I always try to do to keep out of music ruts..

Current pick I'm loving is the amazing Street Horrrsing by Fuck Buttons, first encountered at the Nick Cave-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival held on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour back in 2009. That was a mammoth day of incredible music! Still a great album too.

(See also Holy Fuck if you're looking for band t-shirts you can't wear to work.)

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1660155 2021-03-01T07:00:04Z 2021-03-01T07:00:05Z A month without booze

It's March which means my February booze fast is over. I tried a lot of alcohol free beer over February and there were some real gems amongst them.

The real standouts were the Vandestreek Playground IPA, Heaps Normal and the three Upflow brews. These made me not really miss beer at all. I'll be buying more of these!

The Sobah brews were disappointing. The backstory is great and I love the use of bush foods but the brews themselves weren't great. The Pepperberry one is great but I actually tipped out the Lemon Aspen. The finger lime one is okay but nothing special.

The mainstream brews were predictably underwhelming. The ones who get close in that category are the German wheat beer brands.

Sydney is starting to emerge from the restrictions we had over Xmas so there were a few outings in February. We went to a gig last week and then this weekend to a friend's birthday party in a local bar. The gig had Heaps Normal available so that was great. Out at the bar this weekend the bartender made me a really nice alcohol free cocktail with various juices and flavours, and I drank some plain tonic as they were using a good brand.

It's interesting to find I can get by without booze pretty happily though there are things I noticed. A lot of drinking is really giving you something to do with your hands. Without the booze, I ended up drinking quite a bit of water. No real problem but it was interesting to notice. Otherwise you end up drinking a lot of sugar.

Socially there's definitely a lubricating effect from alcohol. I didn't feel as talkative and definitely noticed the people around me loosening up as the night wore on. It's quite interesting observing it without being deep in it. Definitely worth experiencing from time to time anyway.

I've stocked up on a few favourite brews for my return to drinking. Since the whole idea is to cut down on drinking that definitely crept up in COVID-land, I probably won't crack anything open until Friday. Bummer that 1st March is a Monday but it won't hurt me.

So far in the stock is the Balter Hazy which is just brilliant summer quaffing and our closest brewery's best brew, the Sauce Bubble & Squeak. I'd also like to some of the Philter Marrickville Nights which is a brilliant Dark Ale, but I'll have to wander down that way to pick some up. Open to other suggestions.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656821 2021-02-21T20:56:15Z 2021-02-21T20:56:15Z Booze free beer: Sobah Lemon Aspen Pilsener

Sobah use bush foods as flavourings with mixed results. The Pepperberry isn't bad: an interesting flavour in the mix for a beer. The lemon aspen, not so good. It tasted like toilet cleaner, to be honest. I tipped it out.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656665 2021-02-21T09:42:59Z 2021-02-21T09:43:00Z Booze free beer: Erdinger Weissbrau Alcoholfrei

When holly was pregnant we drank a bit of this so I bought a bunch more for this booze free spell. It's still good, though now that I've discovered better it's not as amazing.

Styled as a wheat beer, which is very much Erdinger's thing, it's hoppy and flavoursome, very refreshing on a hot day. I still gladly drink this one. Though if I were drinking alcohol I'd go a Schofferhofer in preference.


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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656661 2021-02-21T09:33:16Z 2021-02-21T09:33:46Z A gig! EGOISM supported by Ultracrush

Last night Holly, Rachel and I managed to get out for some live music. Amazing after all this time.

The band we saw was local act EGOISM who we've been trying to see for a while. The earlier booking was for a December show that got cancelled with the Northern Beaches outbreak. Finally we got to see them at Mary's Underground, previously known as the famous Sydney venue The Basement.

It was weird going to a gig with all the checkin business for COVID. We were shown to a table and had to stay seated for the whole gig. Deeply weird. But rather civilised. Like a cabaret!

Better yet, Mary's stocks Heaps Normal, my favourite booze free beer.

EGOISM were great. Tightly performed their tracks, were fun with banter between songs. More polished than I'd expected. Their harmonies are really quite something.

Support act Ultracrush were good fun. Started off jingly jangly then went a bit shoegaze. Enjoyable show.


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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656658 2021-02-21T09:21:05Z 2021-02-21T09:21:05Z Booze free beer: Heaps Normal Quiet XPA

This is the way. A beer without booze that is no disappointment. It's delicious. Refreshing. Full of body. I'm buying a case!

Only downside: it costs the same as high-end craft beer! $80 case + $10 shipping. Ouch. But it is very good.



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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656657 2021-02-21T09:18:39Z 2021-02-21T09:18:39Z Booze free beer: Hawkesbury Prohibition Pale Ale

Ugh. This beer was just plain off. Undrinkable. And on such a hot night last night too!



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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1655789 2021-02-18T22:00:41Z 2021-02-18T22:02:11Z Booze free beer: Upflow Pale Ale
Pale Ale tends to be the most common craft beer style and so tends to be the yardstick you measure against. This was always going to be a tough one for alcohol free beer. Upflow have got damn close here with a good fruity hop aroma and balanced bitterness. There's always going to be missing body but it's pretty damn good. I like it.
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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1654133 2021-02-15T03:20:30Z 2021-02-18T22:01:42Z Booze free beer: Bakalar Non-Alcoholic Dry Hopped Lager
Not a bad attempt at a lager. Still ends up with that unique thin flavour you get with many of these brews but this one has more body than most. The hoppiness is strong and in your face, which helps. Refreshing and satisfying enough that Holly was disappointed when it had disappeared.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1654132 2021-02-15T03:18:52Z 2021-02-15T03:20:07Z Booze free beer: Upflow Stout
I think this one may be my favourite yet. You could easily drink this and not realise it's got no booze, which is probably only something you could get away with in a dark beer. Fortunately I love dark beer! Amazing. Really impressive work here.

Upflow: how about a nut brown ale as another dark brew in the set?

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1654131 2021-02-15T03:16:36Z 2021-02-15T03:20:14Z Booze free beer: Sobah Pepperberry IPA & Big Drop Brewing Pine Trail Pale Ale
Catching up from last night's brews that Holly and I shared. These were both excellent.

The Sobah one had a bit of an odd smell from the pepperberry but that's a feature of their brews, Australian native ingredients. The taste was quite different though, strong malt and fruit. A really interesting brew, I'd drink this again.

Holly scored the Pine Trail Pale Ale but I got a sip. Delicious, a solid entrant with enough body to satisfy. Definitely worthwhile this one.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1653399 2021-02-13T10:06:00Z 2021-02-15T03:20:23Z Booze free beer: Sobah Finger Lime Cerveza
Dry and refreshing but not much going on. I can't taste the finger lime at all. It's acceptable but nothing special. 
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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1653108 2021-02-12T09:43:37Z 2021-02-12T11:03:20Z Booze free beer: Nort Refreshing Ale
Nice and crisp this one. A bit lacking in body but good flavour and certainly refreshing.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1653076 2021-02-12T06:45:44Z 2021-02-12T06:47:10Z Booze free beer: UpFlow Session IPA and Flint Sukareki (сухариків)
Wow this IPA is the business! Fruity hop aroma. Deep bitterness. Body and malt. This is the benchmark now! There's a few other UpFlow brews in the cupboard so I'm looking forward to those now.

Also nibbling on some Ukrainian snacks. Sukareki are toasted black bread with flavourings and they're totally delicious! Perfect with beer. These ones are spicy tomato flavour and they definitely carry a kick. Nom.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1653072 2021-02-12T06:21:23Z 2021-02-12T06:25:52Z Booze free beer: Mornington Free
This describes itself as a "Non-Alc Pale Ale". I'm not sure it hits the notes I'd expect from a pale ale. Not enough body. However it's quite refreshing, light flavoured without being incipid. Perfect when the temperature is 33 degrees like right now. A good Summer brew.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1652620 2021-02-11T06:58:58Z 2021-02-11T10:06:53Z Booze free beer: Eggenberg Freibier
This Austrian number gets the take on lager right. Heavy, metallic bittering hops and a rich maltiness.

Lager is hard to get right with alcohol but without its super tough. This one nails it. I'd drink this happily.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1652613 2021-02-11T06:35:16Z 2021-02-11T22:05:38Z Booze free beer: Big Drop Brewing Uptown Craft Lager
Being a lager, this isn't going for the fruity delights of a pale ale or similar. To survive being alcohol free a lager has to make up for the lack of body somehow.

This one tries to make do with some heft hops and a bit of malty body but it still has that thinness and a hint of the standard commercial booze free beers.

It's not bad but for my tastes lager is always going to fall flat without alcohol. A good effort but it's a tough gig.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1650334 2021-02-06T08:19:04Z 2021-02-11T02:02:18Z Booze free beer: Warsteiner 0% and Budvar Nealko
Meh. Boring and bland. You're not fooling anyone here.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1650318 2021-02-06T07:03:20Z 2021-02-11T02:02:07Z Booze free beer: Ochakovskiy kvass (Очаковский квас)
I rode to Bondi Beach yesterday for a nice leisurely swim in the hot weather. I try to do this ride once a week leaving early on Tuesday mornings but the weather in 2021 hasn't been helpful. It's a really lovely ride with a single challenging hill in Waverley and the enticement of a swim at the end.

Normally I'm riding too early so whenever I do the ride late enough I drop in to the Russian deli on the way back up the hill. Yesterday was a late ride so I popped in to pick up some Eastern European delights. I got a big loaf of black caraway bread, some salted herring fillets and a couple of big bottles of kvass, perfect for my booze free month.


Kvass is an interesting drink made from fermented rye bread, popular in the former Soviet states and some of Eastern Europe. On a hot day it's a really delightful refreshing drink. I remember having a glass at a market in Riga on a hot day in July and it being such a great way to cool down.

I discovered Kvass from a couple of Russiaphile friends and have been in love with it ever since. It's not really a beer though but something different. Still a satisfying cold drink.
This brand, Очаковский, was recommended by the woman in the shop. They have a few brands so I needed some help.

One of these days I'm going to drive over with a freezer bag so I can pick up some of the bags of pelmeni they stock too. Yum.
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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1649916 2021-02-05T09:38:09Z 2021-02-11T02:02:00Z Booze free beer: Kronenbourg Blanc
Kronenbourg is a terrible beer that was available everywhere in the UK when we lived there. It's bloody awful stuff, but still better than the equally ubiquitous Fosters. Once we discovered Real Ale though, we avoided this garbage.

The zero alcohol one here is weird. It's got something citrus going on in there. It's trying to be a "wheat beer with a taste of citrus" but the citrus doesn't taste like the real deal. It's an artificial flavouring would be my guess.

The underlying beer isn't too bad. The best way I'd describe it is like a good tea being ruined with bergamot to make Earl Gray. You can taste the two things separately in the palette.

A lot of these alcohol free beers go for the wheat option. They're generally lighter anyway and often have fruity esters that give some body. This one wouldn't be bad if they removed the citrus. Punters could always add their own at serving time.

Update: I tipped this one out. It was awful.
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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1649915 2021-02-05T09:30:53Z 2021-02-11T02:01:50Z Booze free beer: Peroni Libera
There's a good chunk of middle-of-the-road mainstream beer brands in my selection and this tastes as expected. It's a lot like the Cooper's 0% beer. Lots of dry hops to give a crisp taste but not much else going on. I expect a lot of these to taste similar.

Still, they're doable. When Holly was pregnant with both kids we had a bunch of these in the house. They're okay but now that I've had the good craft stuff, my expectations are higher.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1649891 2021-02-05T06:59:28Z 2021-02-11T02:01:39Z Dry February alcohol free beers: Vandestreek Playground Non Alcoholic IPA
Holly and I are having a break from booze for the month of February. It's a difficult month cos it's often got the hottest stretches of weather all year, so not having a cold beer at the end of an especially hot day.

I went and splurged on $170 worth of no alcohol beers. They range from craft brews to the mainstream like Carlton Zero and Erdinger's alcofree version.

I'll try and review each one I try. First up is Vandestreek's Playground IPA. This is a Dutch brewery but it's a long way from Heineken or Amstel. It's clearly an IPA with a strong bitter hoppiness and a reasonably full body. It's still a bit on the thin side but you have to give up something when you give up the booze. This one's really good and I'd gladly drink it again.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1649873 2021-02-05T05:50:48Z 2021-02-05T05:50:48Z Blogging again
Wow I can't believe I haven't blogged since 2019. I'm going to make an effort to blog a bit more, trying to crank out at least one thing per month, hopefully something thought provoking. I'll probably also chuck up random stuff.

Like, we have a puppy now! We've had her about 3 months now. She's a 9 month Camp Dog from the NT who joined our family after many, many months of searching for a suitable rescue dog.

Her name is Foxie and she's quickly become a much loved member of the family.


Breed: unknown. We speculate that there's probably some Corgi, Kelpie and maybe Dingo in her, but we're really guessing.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1473524 2019-11-03T22:13:56Z 2019-11-03T22:18:24Z Gong Ride 2019
Yesterday I did my second ever Gong Ride, an 83km charity bike ride from Sydney to Wollongong through the Royal National Park and along the coastline. It's a stunning ride with great scenery and a big logistical operation with 10,000 riders.

I did a better job training long term this time around so I made it in about 5 hours, beating last year. But it's not a race and it was really a lot of fun. Challenging in places, especially the hefty long climb up and out of the National Park.

Loads of fun and there's still time for you to donate to the cause for which we were riding, helping people with MS and funding research.
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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1470815 2019-10-27T23:10:35Z 2019-10-28T01:16:59Z MeasureCamp Sydney 2019 wrap up

This weekend we held the fourth iteration of MeasureCamp Sydney. For those who don't recognise the term, MeasureCamp is an unconference. A slightly chaotic affair quite unlike an ordinary conference.

It's free. It's on a Saturday. There's no keynote speakers or vendor pitches. Everything is sorted out on the day.

Once things kick off, people rush to write up sessions they plan to run and get them up on the board. The day flows from there.

This year we had about 180 people through the door, a record for us. Given it's free, we're always a little unsure of the exact numbers to expect which can be nerve wracking but it's great to see such a large group willing to spend a gorgeous sunny Saturday indoors learning from each other and sharing knowledge.

We're able to do this because of an amazing sponsors who chip in the funds to house, clothe and feed all the attendees. Without them we wouldn't be able to do it!

Highlights for me? I really dug Vincey Au's session on building anomaly detection in Python and Corinne Brooker's Introvert's Guide to the Galaxy where she explained how to make the most of both your loud extroverts and your quieter, more thoughtful introverts.

It was a brilliant day and we all learnt heaps. Afterwards we retired to a local pub for food, drink and analytics trivia. Lots of great prizes handed out for some very creative answers and work on the Pop Charts.

And the whole thing wouldn't happen without our amazing organising committee who've put in countless hours of hard work to make it happen. It's the fourth year so we're getting pretty smooth with it these days, but there's still a lot of work finding sponsors and badgering for payment, organising t-shirts, catering, venues, lanyards, volunteers, software, websites, emails. Thanks so much for Rod, Josh, Priscilla, Moe, Jethro, Mike, Calum and Chaoming for all the hard work.

I took a bunch of photos.

Some more roundups from LinkedIn:

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1437243 2019-07-26T01:20:21Z 2019-08-10T14:40:29Z What biscuit should I eat: an analysis

This has become quite topical again with The Guardian and Good Food weighing in on the best biscuits in a standard Arnott's assortment. Of course the moral of that story is to not buy the assortment. You end up with mostly terrible biscuits. Just buy individual packs of Kingstons and Monte Carlos.

However, back in 2016 my other half and I were arguing about biscuit purchases. My point was that if you're eating a biscuit, you're already on the hook for a decent dollop of sugar and fat. My partner kept buying the biscuits that tasted like they'd been made out of pencil shavings. Digestives, those awful fruit pillow things etc. Being a data nerd, I decided to win the argument with data.

I downloaded the Arnott's nutritional information and parsed the table into a spreadsheet, then pulled together a visualisation in Tableau.

As you can see, there's not a huge amount of difference in kilojoule content between the tasty biscuits like Kingstons and Tim Tams and those godawful shredded wheat and fruit pillow things. If you want to avoid fat and sugar, have an apple.

I presented my findings to Web Analytics Wednesday as well.

Result: I won the argument. We now eat decent biscuits. Amazingly, we're still together!

See the full analysis

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1299921 2018-07-04T23:29:47Z 2018-07-05T08:41:35Z My daughter, the reader

It's been amazing watching the youngest slowly get better at reading, then suddenly become hooked. The last week she's had her nose in books at every opportunity. It feels wrong telling her to put the book down at the dinner table!

So proud of my little girl. This stage of development is so rapid, so rewarding.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1239541 2018-01-29T09:31:16Z 2018-01-29T09:31:16Z uBitx out and about

I spent last week down on the Far South Coast of NSW camping. I got the opportunity to try out my new uBitx radio, which is an incredible short form kit transceiver. Lots of fun.

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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1198333 2017-10-15T00:00:30Z 2017-10-15T16:05:26Z Door alarm using Micro:bit

This Micro:bit is a small microcontroller designed to teach kids about programming. As well as the CPU, it has a 5x5 LED array for graphics, two buttons, an accelerometer, compass, thermometer, light meter, Bluetooth and a radio interface so that multiple of the boards can talk to each other. There's also 23 pins for different types of IO you can do, including attaching things like sensors, LEDs and speakers for audio. All this for AUD$25 including a battery pack so you can run it disconnected from the computer. Amazing!

Louis and I have been having loads of fun with it. It's really easy to get code onto it. You write programs in the Scratch-influenced visual editor environment and hit the [Download] button to download the program as a .hex file. You plug the Micro:bit in with USB and it shows up as a storage device. Drag the .hex file to the Micro:bit device and it copies the code over, reboots and runs your code. So simple!

Yesterday we made a simple alarm for Louis' bedroom door. It uses the compass to detect when the door has opened and then fires an alarm. It has a disable switch which involves breaking the banana plug connection on the board. The code itself is really simple and the hardest part was calibrating the compass readings to accurately trigger when the door opens.


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Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1130745 2017-02-12T23:18:14Z 2017-02-13T22:04:14Z Passed my amateur radio license exams

Yesterday I passed my Standard amateur radio license tests. I spent quite a bit of time cramming lots of knowledge in my brain using the video course from the Radio & Electronics School, then took the exam out at the Waverley Amateur Radio Society.

I decided to go straight for the "Standard" license because I have little interest in voice and morse code modes. I want to jump straight into HF digital to communicate around the globe, and possibly play with bouncing signals OFF THE MOON.

The course was really fun. Good revision of my Year 11 Physics (which was a very long time ago, and I didn't really pay enough attention at the time) and Mathematics. Then while working through radio physics, practical receivers and transmitters there were quite a few "a ha!" moments where things I'd always wanted to know suddenly became clear.

In the end the exams were quite easy. You can get 30% wrong, which is pretty lenient, and the multiple choice format means usually two answers are obviously wrong, so your odds can be pretty good even when you're not sure.

It's made me think I should now go for the Advanced ticket. Lots more to learn and I actually really enjoyed learning again.

In 4-6 weeks (why does it take so long?) I'll hopefully be on the air as VK2VSR. See you there.

Notes on the course and Linux

I run Linux and the Radio & Electronics School's course assumed you're running Windows, so here's some pointers.

Ask Ron for the DVD image and mount it. Then uncompress all the video files with (the quotes mean the wildcard string isn't interpreted by your shell, which will not do what you want):

unzip '*.exe'

I converted the video files to mp4 so I could play them more easily on my tablet. I also sped them up because Ron talks very slowly, which might be fine for some but made me impatient. I did that with ffmpeg like this:

for f in *.wmv ; do  ffmpeg -i "$f" -filter_complex "setpts=PTS/1.7;atempo=1.7" "$f.mp4"; done;

The drill software runs almost perfectly using Wine. Just associate ".exe" with wine and you can double-click on them and work through them.

Finally, I created this cram sheet to drill myself on some of the rote learning components. I'm not brilliant at rote learning, so needed to work a bit on this. The phonetic alphabet wasn't too hard for me as I spent my childhood flying around in little planes with my Dad and evidently learned it through osmosis. The rest isn't all that obvious and just has to be crammed in. You could also memorise the frequency bands which are part of the regulations exam, but I just assumed they'd end up being absorbed by my 30% pass margin.

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Simon Rumble