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Weekend Project: Label Designer

I own a Brother QL-500 label printer. It's a cheap little machine that thermo prints self adhesive stickers. The printer is attached to my router which provides a simple print server on port 9100.

Of course the printer only comes with Windows software, but it's possible to run it with CUPS and use gLabels to create labels.

However I found that super cumbersome. Whenever I wanted to print a label I was fighting with CUPS not doing what I wanted. On some machines labels where cut off at the wrong places, on other machines the labels looked good, but more often then not the printer would just simply do nothing at all.

So I was very happy when I came across the Brother QL project by Philipp Klaus. He implemented the PTouch printer language in a pure Python library. That means you can send images directly to the printer – no printer drivers, no CUPS involved.

All that was missing was a tool to easily create the needed image to send to the printer. I wanted something web based that can run on our local Raspberry Pi. So that's what I build:

The BQL Label Printer software is available on Github.

Last updated: 2017/10/06 13:38 · Permalink · Comments


We're back from two weeks in Scotland and here's the usual picture dump. The weather was actually better than the photos suggest. But yes, we saw a lot of rainbows :-)

photos, vacation, scotland
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Last updated: 2017/10/04 19:41 · Permalink · Comments

Steam Link Adventures

Recently I started to make more use of the Steam Link and Controller I bought about a year ago in the Summer Sale.

The Steam Link is a little box you connect to your TV via HDMI and which then allows you to stream Steam games running on your Windows machine to the TV.

The Steam Controller is a very very configurable game pad with some track pad like controls in addition to more conventional game pad controls like buttons and analog sticks.

It turns out that both together are the perfect way to play adventure games (my favorite genre) and share the experience with my wife.

It started a few months ago by accident. I was sick and had to stay in bed, so I hooked the Steam Link up to the bedroom TV and started playing Broken Sword 5. Using the controller as a mouse works fantastic. In the evening, Kaddi came home and joined me. She really liked watching me puzzling through the game and at the end we where both exchanging ideas on how to solve the puzzles.

After we finished, Kaddi wanted more. We played through a whole bunch of adventures by now, so here's a list and what we thought of them (in the order we played them):

Last updated: 2017/08/20 08:52 · Permalink · Comments

HASS, DuckDNS and Let's Encrypt

When you want to make a local HomeAssistant (a home automation software I mentioned before) available from the Internet, you probably want to secure it with SSL. There's an official tutorial on how to do that, but it has a few problems:

  • It uses the official certbot client, which is super heavy and does all kind of things you don't need
  • It requires that port 80 is not used while refreshing certificates
  • It requires to forward port 80 from the internet to your internal HomeAssistant server

So here's is how to do it differently:

  • we use the very lightweight dehydrated script (formerly known as
  • we use DNS-01 challenges to avoid needing any open ports

Last updated: 2017/08/10 21:48 · Permalink · Comments

New Phone

honor-9.jpg I bought a new phone. My Sony Z3 compact's battery was starting to give up, the internal storage was too limited, the backplate was loose and I wasn't too happy with its overall performance anymore. Unfortunately there seems to be no phone matching all my requirements:

  • recent model (2016+)
  • decent CPU
  • lots of RAM (>3GB)
  • large battery (>3000mAh)
  • lots of storage (>32GB) and SD card support
  • less than 500€
  • 4.7 inch display

Especially the last requirement is problematic. It seems I'm the last person who likes smaller phones. In the end I decided to to swallow the bitter pill and go with a bigger form factor and bought a Huawei Honor 9. It is very comparable to Google's Pixel 5 but is 44% cheaper than Google's pricy flagship:

Honor 9 Pixel 5
Dimensions 147.3×70.9×7.5mm 143.8×69.5×8.5 mm
Weight 155g 143g
Screen 5.15 inches 5.0 inches
Resolution 1080×1920 pixels (~428 ppi) 1080×1920 pixels (~441 ppi)
Storage 64GB 32GB
Card Slot MicroSD None
Memory 4GB 4GB
OS Android 7.0 (Nougat) Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 960 Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 821
CPU Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53) Quad-core (2×2.15 GHz Kryo & 2×1.6 GHz Kryo)
GPU Mali-G71 MP8 Adreno 530
Primary Camera Dual 20MP + 12MP
2x optical zoom
Secondary Camera 8MP 8MP
3.5mm jack yes yes
NFC yes yes
InfraRed yes no
Fingerprint yes yes
Battery 3200mAh 2770mAh
Price 429€ 759€

So far I like it a lot. I switched Huawei's quite decent launcher against my personal favorite Nova Launcher and uninstalled most of the preinstalled apps. I haven't used the camera too much, but the very first snapshot came out quite nice:


phone, review, huawei
Last updated: 2017/07/04 22:16 · Permalink · Comments

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