Oh look, there’s a blog here.

It’s been awhile again, hasn’t it? Well, I’m still here.

Here’s the thing: I’m bi-polar. And when I was really manic last year, all I wanted was to do neat stuff and write about it.

I’m not manic anymore, and writing holds little interest. But I do still enjoy doing neat stuff. So, I’m going to make an effort to post something here, about weekly, even if it’s just a quick check-in like this one.

I’ve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline now. A lot of it won’t progress much until I have a source of income, but I still find bits and pieces to tinker with now and then.

Here’s what I’m working on and might write about soon:

  • Rebuilding my entire home network and servers
  • Reconfiguring my Home Assistant setup for better home automation.
  • Building a custom touchscreen interface to my home automation system with Kivy.
  • Building a multi-room audio system for music and notifications, controlled by my home automation system.

There’s more, but those are the few that I have notes handy for. Check back in a week or so and see if I’ve managed to stick to the plan. We’ll see.


Installing Arduino tools on Gentoo

emerge arduino, done? No.

Getting set up to write & upload Arduino sketches using Gentoo Linux is a bit more involved than on the friendlier distributions like Ubuntu. I found the available documentation to be somewhat incomplete, dated, and fragmented. Fortunately, I got it figured out and distilled down to a fairly simple process. Read on to learn my method. Continue reading “Installing Arduino tools on Gentoo”

Amateur Radio 102: Basic Usage

This is how we operate

Welcome back to the shack! Last time, in Amateur Radio 101, we covered some of the basics of what amateur radio is all about, and what you can do with it. Today, we’re going to get down to the details of how to get on the air and make your first conversations.

We’ll be talking about VHF simplex, how to use repeaters, and of course the rules of legal and courteous operation. Read on to learn some cool stuff! Continue reading “Amateur Radio 102: Basic Usage”

Today’s Project: JBL PowerBass PB12 Troubleshooting

All about that bass (sorry, but I had to)

The problem

The PB12 Subwoofer
The PB12 Subwoofer

I got this JBL PowerBass subwoofer free from an old client, and it sounds real nice. I’m not an audiophile, or a serious home theater person, but I like well-rounded sound. This thing fills in just the right amount of kick when listening to music, and that’s with the level control set around 10-20%. I’ve never had it above 50% for fear of what might happen to these old cracked plaster walls. All and all, it’s a very nice addition to an almost-decent set of speakers.

Well, it was, anyway. A few months after I got it, it started randomly dropping out; clicking in and out of standby mode. My first thought is that there’s just a loose connection in there that needs re-soldering. Let’s find out together, shall we? Continue reading “Today’s Project: JBL PowerBass PB12 Troubleshooting”

Upcoming Posts

Hi, everyone.

I’ve had an unexpectedly great response to my earlier post, Amateur Radio 101, and I can’t wait to get the next one in the series out for you all. Thanks so much for stopping by!

I thought I’d let you know what I’m working on for my next few posts, so here they are, in no particular order. All subject to change, of course. I tend to write about whatever I’m in the mood for at any given moment. Find the list after the break. Continue reading “Upcoming Posts”

Amateur Radio 101: What, Why, and How

Or, why you should get a ‘ham radio’ license.

[Update 2/18/16 – Part two of the series is now available here: Amateur Radio 102: Basic Usage]

What is Amateur Radio?

First, the definition from the great and all-knowing Wikipedia:

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) describes the use of radio frequency spectra for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify “a duly authorised person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;”[1] (either direct monetary or other similar reward) and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

That’s really sounds quite complicated, doesn’t it? Forget all that for now and read on. I’m going to break it down, start simple, and walk through what you really need to know about ham radio. Continue reading “Amateur Radio 101: What, Why, and How”

QuickTip: CM Tooltip Glossary needs PHP-XML

So, you installed the CM Tooltip Glossary plugin to get nifty pop-up definitions of terms in your posts. Now, after you’ve added your first glossary definition, your site renders empty pages. It took me a while to figure this out, so here you go:

CM Tooltip Glossary requires the DOMDocument class. If it’s not there, your site will be blank. On CentOS, at least, DOMDocument is provided by the php-xml package. Install it and everything will be fine.