MS Teams with OBS for Teachers

MS Teams is being used more in teaching situations and I’d like to share how I integrated using OBS to provide a smoother and more professional experience for my students.

Firstly the issues that I wanted to tackle with MS Teams were mostly how slow it is switching between displaying application windows that I want to share. I also wanted to be able to display application windows side by side, Having a company logo on the screen, animated reactions, banners etc.

Firstly OBS, When you first install it is a bit enigmatic. You need to create “Scenes” which are a collection of “Sources”.

obs scene 1

e.g. I have a scene called “Cam” which has a “Video Capture Device” source called webcam.

obs scene 2

A “Firefox” Scene which has a “Window Capture” source for Firefox and a copy of the webcam source from the Cam scene. Switching between the scenes changes what is displayed.

To quickly change between scenes I use a tablet running a piece of software called UpDeck which is a software Steam Deck and can run on a tablet or mobile phone. At the time of writing I use it on an old iPad Air with iOS 12.5.5. It’s main feature is to enable you to quickly switch between OBS Scenes. It’s fair to mention that the UpDeck apps are currently unmaintained, but there is a helpful community on Discord.

ipad with updeck

It requires a companion application to run on the workstation and a script to be installed into OBS which is all documented here:

UpDeck is capable of many things but I typically limit it to switching scenes and changing the visibility of items in scenes. Grouping buttons together helps you remember which scene you have selected as the hilight on updeck can only be around one.

For instance the gold star source that can be seen in the sources above is made visible for a few seconds when I press the goldstar button at the bottom right of the updeck screenshot.

showing a gold star animation for 1.5s on updeck

Finally you need to get all this into Teams. By far and away the highest quality method is to open a Windowed Projector view of OBS by right clicking on the preview. I maximise the window on my secondary screen and set it behind other windows. then I select the Windowed Projector to be shared in Teams.

obs window projector
selecting a share source

Pi3 Touch screen radio on with Phosh

I figured it may be helpful to note the steps I needed to create my Touch screen internet radio. I bought my capacitative touch screen a few years ago and really haven’t had much joy with it. It’s a 5″ display and uses HDMI and USB for the touch screen. The orange card you can see poking out the the top is integral to the design as the micro-usb to drive the touch screen and display power isn’t a good fit.

I chose Postmarket OS because I know it uses phosh and it has a tested pi3 image. First I created the image for the pi3 following the instructions here:

It looks a bit daunting but actually, if you read thing through carefully, it’s pretty easy.

Once booted I had three issues I needed to resolve before I could unleash the magic. No Wifi, No Audio, A Squintworthy default resolution.

No Wifi This was because pmbootstrap didn’t include the broadcom firmware in the image. I ssh’ed in and ran sudo apk add linux-firmware-cypress rebooted and the wifi came up like a charm. I added it to the wiki for you 🙂

No Audio: You might not hit this issue as it was a packaging error but the resolution is this

$ sudo apk update
$ sudo apk add '!pipewire-pulse'
$ sudo reboot

Squintworthy: The default resolution it launched in was 1024×768. Everything I learned about X11 is useless with phosh as it uses Wayland. First you need to discover your display device. Stackoverflow helped me here with:

raspberry-pi3:~$ ls /sys/class/drm
 card0           card0-HDMI-A-1  renderD128      version

The bit after card0 you can stuff into /etc/phosh/phoc.ini with something like the following stanza:

 mode = 800x600
 scale = 1

I think my screen is actually 800×480, or 848×480, but phosh hates it, even if I try and set a modeline, so weirdly squished screen ratio it is.

The last setting I’d like to set it is to force phosh into undocked mode by default so apps always take up the full screen, but I don’t know how to do that.

Finally, install flatpak, register flathub and install Shortwave the flatpak app is more up to date than the one in the alpine repos.

sudo apk add flatpak
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub
sudo flatpack install de.hackerfelix.Shortwave -y

I also installed gnome-weather so I can see if it will rain tomorrow.

In settings under power you will probably want to set “Blank Screen” to never, the pi has no buttons to wake it up.

ClearOS LDAP and remote clients.

ClearOS is a great server with multiple management web based management tools. It also has an OpenLDAP directory server and I needed to make it work for another PHP app in my LAN. Now, getting apps to use ClearOS Directory server is not too bad if your running on a localhost install, but remote access is difficult. All the information you need is out there but not all in one place. Here is what I learned.

I wanted it to be done with TLS, more for my own satisfaction than anything. TLS works best if you have a certificate that matches the DNS record of your server. I started by creating a self signed cert with openssl. There are many ways to do this but I used:

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -keyout ldapkey.pem -out ldapcert.pem -nodes -days 3650

Answer the qustions however you like but remember the CN should be your ldap server DNS name.

Next task is to get slapd to use the cert. In /etc/openldap/slapd.conf I set

TLSCACertificateFile /etc/openldap/cacerts/ldapcert.pem
TLSCertificateFile /etc/openldap/cacerts/ldapcert.pem
TLSCertificateKeyFile /etc/openldap/cacerts/ldapkey.pem
TLSVerifyClient never

and put the cert files generated by openssl in the appropriate places.

In order to get slapd running I also had to comment out lines like

#TLSCACertificatePath /etc/pki/nssdb
#TLSCertificateFile Server-Cert

Then on the ClearOS Dashboard you need to set the Directory Server Publish Policy to ‘Local Network’

On the client most tools will be querying the openldap config. For Fedora, which was my client OS, that is in /etc/openldap.

Firstly I needed to install the ldapcert.pem file into /etc/openldap/certs.

Next you need to create a symlink with the name being the hash of the cert. Fortunately there is a tool and running cacertdir_rehash /etc/openldap/certs will do the job for you.

Next in /etc/openldap/ldap.conf you need to add some lines

TLS_CACERTDIR /etc/openldap/certs

There is a lot of nonsense on the internet suggesting the use of TLS_REQCERT. I’d suggest your read the ldap.conf manpage because it seems no-one else has.

Mine is using ‘demand’ (the default) with a self signed cert and is fine.

In order to test Apaches ability to let a PHP app connect to an LDAP server I slightly modified php script from



// using ldap bind
// ldap rdn or dn

$ldaprdn = ‘<ClearOS BIND DN>’;

// associated password

$ldappass = ‘<ClearOS BIND PASSWORD>’;

// set the script to print debug info

ldap_set_option(NULL, LDAP_OPT_DEBUG_LEVEL, 7);

// connect to ldap server
$ldapconn = ldap_connect("ldaps://<servername>:636")
or die("Could not connect to LDAP server.");

//set php_ldap to use ldapv3 as default is v2

ldap_set_option($ldapconn, LDAP_OPT_PROTOCOL_VERSION, 3);

if ($ldapconn) {

// binding to ldap server
$ldapbind = ldap_bind($ldapconn, $ldaprdn, $ldappass);

// verify binding
if ($ldapbind) {
echo "LDAP bind successful…";
} else {
echo "LDAP bind failed…";



and you can test your client configuration by running php-cgi -f .php

It has LDAP debugging on so you will be able to read all sorts of output to do with the TLS connection which I found immensely useful. You should also test it by hitting the webserver too by putting the script in the webroot and running curl If you are getting errors here then check the webserver and php logs.

Finally, I was using php-fpm on my rhel server, it has a seperate php-fpm.service that needs to be restarted along with httpd to pick up any new openldap reconfiguration on the client. Also if you are running selinux in enforcing mode you will need to run
setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect 1

Playing with Openshift Online Starter 3 – Installing Ampache

Heres a blog outlining how to run Ampache in the Openshift Online Starter 3 platform. It assumes a degree of familiarity with Openshift and it’s resources.

First, in a new project, create a new PHP 5.6 application from the Ampache git repo. In the advanced options enable TLS.
Then, using add to project menu and browsing the storage catalogue, add a mariadb with persistant storage.

When the pods are ready navigate to the exposed route for ampache and run the Ampache deployment wizard which will create the ampache.cfg.php file. You will need to know the mariadb secrets for the root account password and the user.

When it’s all running review the ampache.cfg.php file in the ampache pod by using the terminal. At this point if the pod goes away for any reason (scaling to 0 or node errors) the config file will be lost.

Create a config map with a key named ampache.cfg.php and put the contents of the config file in the pod in the key value. I copied the config file from git and manually made the changes as it’s only the db information that needs to be changed.

Scale the ampache down to 0

Edit the deployment configuration for ampache app to add a config file a volume. the mount point for my pod was /opt/app-root/src/config. Note that if the other files that are existing in that directory are missing Ampache will still run as they are only used as templates for headers.

Saving the config will cause a new pod to be built. I had issues with getting the new pod running due to the small quota limit in the free starter account which is why I would recommend scaling the existing pod to 0 before the deployment build is running. Then, when the deployment has finished, rescale the ampache pod back up to 1.


I would expect it to be possible to create the mariadb deployment and the config map before the ampache build but I’m not sure how the database would be populated in that scenario.

You can’t really expect to put any music in the deployment of the free account as you only have one persistent volume and that’s being used by mariadb. Ampache allows you to have another ampache instance as a music source and I used that to test. You could possibly put some music in the ampache pod but only have 1 GiB of space you’d have to keep doing it on every pod deployment. To do it at deployment you’d need to have the music in the git repo that you clone the code from. Also there will be no transcodeing.

William’s Snug

Many of our friends will know that our boy now has an ‘official label’ of Asperger’s Syndrome,  we decided that this label helped us access the help and support that would help us help him.


One of the things that was recommended was a safe snug area that he can enclose himself in if the environmental stimulus gets too much.


We are lucky in that in is bedroom he has an alcove window so we could enclose him in.

After discussion with the boy he decided that under the sea would be calming.

so here are the curtains I’ve finally finished!


Due to the location I can’t photograph the whole curtains as the boy sees them. But hopefully you’ll see the general impact.

image image image image image image image image image

Miracles, why not more?

(NASB) Matthew 11:23 “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.

I love the bits in the bible where Jesus appears to go off on an absolute benny. Here he is laying into Capernum just after he’s had a pop at a couple of other places and blasted the crowd at the treatment of John. Comparing cities to Sodom is tantamount to likening people to Hitler in the modern fashion. Jesus’s anger is because he’s been living there since Matthew 4. Matthew himself was from Capernum and a few other disciples besides, also a whole bunch of teachings where brought to the city. The upshot of this was a apparently a city which resolutely remained faithless.

Some people, in which I was once included, seem to think that if they were to gain a spiritual gifting then life would become plain sailing, after all who could deny the existence of God and a loving saviour if, once prayed for, their leg grew back or insomnia was cured or they suddenly got a lot of money. The painful truth is practically everybody. People, if so determined, will make their own answers up even if given the right one. Coincidence, triumph of will or aliens will be offered up as having the criteria fulfilling the action. The truth is people are only saved by responding to the call of God. This is why we must not rely on healing ministries, debt counselling or other compassionate works, All of which are right and the church should do, to save people and increase the Church. But on good teaching of the gospel and building peoples relationships with Jesus.

But Know

Psalm 4:3 NASB “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for himself; The LORD hears when I call to him”

These are simple truths. Firstly the LORD sets apart the righteous. The righteous don’t set themselves apart. They are chosen and appointed. They are set aside for himself, for LORD AND LORD ALONE. The godly man is not some temp, calling in for a season. Farmed out to other masters as and when the need arises. The LORD hears when I call him. He is not some distant benefactor, or master who sends out decrees, he has compassion and takes interest in his people. Neither is he powerless like the gods of men. A mute symbol of fertility or possession, our LORD has power and authority to work. Remembering and digesting the simplest truths such as these can encourage, empower and sustain a believer.

Do not lose heart

2 Cor 4:16 NASB “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day”

This is truly a verse worth celebrating especially for vain man such as myself. The ravages of age come to all of us and sometimes we pine for our youthfulness, yet Paul gives us something to hold onto for the future, not only will we be getting new bodies at the last trump, but for the time being we are renewed day by day.
This small phrase also alludes to that much bigger theology of the age of the kingdom of heaven. Many preachers use explanation as the kingdom is “now, but not yet” indeed, if the kingdom of God had come in it’s fullness then surely we should have no decay, had the kingdom not come at all then by what method could we possibly be renewed?
This verse gives us comfort and strength when we see our Christian brothers and sisters weakening. In reading about John Whimbers last years many writers were struck by his frailty and stiffness of gait, and yet were repeatedly in awe with the power and peace of his teaching. I’m sure, if maybe if not from this verse but the many others which are like it, it is because John would have stood this promise.

You too Aaron

“Psalm 115:12 The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron”

You would think that the house of Aaron, being the lineage of the priesthood, would be quite able to count themselves amongst the house of Israel and therefor count themselves amongst the blessed. But it’s never that straightforward. Reading in Exodus 28 we see that Aaron and his sons get given fine garments befitting the high priest, and it adds that Aarons will have a gold bells around the hem “and it’s tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the place before the Lord, so that he will not die” v35
In chapter 29 you get the small matter of the sacrifices. What sacrifices the house of Aaron had made from the time of the consecration of the tabernacle to the time David penned his psalm? As the people kept sinning and returning the sacrifices would have kept being made, and the house of Aaron, I don’t doubt, would have occasionally looked on at the house of Israel and thought “how many more sacrifices must I do? How much more can they possibly sin? When is my rest?”. It was then, as I would put it, A Tough Gig.
What of today? Our house of Aaron I would argue is any Christian who sets themselves before Jesus and truly says “I am a servant to the Lord”. The sacrifices they make to the sinners in the House of Jesus seem as unending as those of the ancient priesthood, and as involved, bloody, smelly and wearisome as any animal sacrifice. But to those David singles out and sings over them a special blessing.