Ma and Pa's Blog

Together with the California Steidls

October 30th, 2018

Photos from Torrance

Portland to L.A. via US-101

October 30th, 2018

Photos: US Route 101 between Portland, OR and L.A.

Almost a year since the last post …

August 26th, 2014

I think that’s long enough. I’ll need to consider whether it’s worth renewing when the current term with my hosting service expires. With all the social media options, it seems unnecessary to continue the blogs.

What to share …

To avoid investing in another inkjet cartridge, I’ve given the Raspberry Pi a new job: CloudPrint server. That’s in addition to its Owncloud server role. Now my ancient HP Laserjet 6L is available online. So far, so good. Yes, I know that only one person out there cares (thanks, Jeff ;D ).


September 3rd, 2013

Time Warner issue is resolved (for now)   Customer Retention agreed to apply my former promotional rate (less the set-top-box charge), which will last for a year.  Tune back this time next year — if we don’t cut the cord before.


September 2nd, 2013

Time Warner’s response to turning in our set-top-box:

  •  remove the 10$/month charge for the box;
  •  remove a minor block of channels from our line-up (despite my request to leave programming unchanged when turning in the box);
  •  add 28$/month to the price of the reduced line-up!!!

Can’t wait to talk to “Customer Retention” after the holiday.

Playing with Camera Effects

June 10th, 2013

I was looking for  capability to record a time lapse, but failed.   Instead, I found color filtering that allowed muting all but a highlight color (the highlight color conveniently selected from the field of view).   I like that!

Update on the Raspberry Pi

May 24th, 2013

Tuesday, my new computer arrived — a $35 (actually $47 at Amazon) RaspberryPi (RP).
















The tiny pc board is only as big as a credit card, but it contains all the guts of a bare-bones computer.    Additional hardware from the basement parts pool / computer graveyard to complete the set-up:

  1. a 4GB SD card to hold the operating system and programs
  2. usb-to-micro usb cable for power
  3. an HDMI cable for connection to TV (monitor and speakers stand-in)
  4. a USB keyboard
  5. a USB mouse
  6. an ethernet patch cord for connection to the internet router.

(1. – 6. totaling another $40-50 if purchased)

The first couple installation attempts ended in sluggish performance.    I suspect my testing of various programs may have been at fault, but the problems may have been made worse by my cordless mouse (which eventually became totally unreliable  — due to low battery or radio interference?), or by power overloading (discussed later).   A corded mouse works well, and the cordless seems to work properly on my ancient Dell desktop.

Both Raspbian and PiBang Linux installs worked, but I currently have Raspian installed.  Raspian prevailed simply because it was the first to perform  stably — not necessarily an OS-dependent result.

Overall, the performance is satisfactory for most uses.   I’d characterize it as a good machine for email, research, and/or student homework purposes.   The web browsers (Midori and Chromium) are functional, but lack flash support — so no YouTube or other flash animation.   Google is a bit sluggish loading Gmail and G+, but once loaded, they work.   I was able to download a pdf presentation created in Google Docs and play it back in the included xPDF  program.   I was also able to install and launch Libre Office (an opensource counterpart to MS Office), so creation text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and databases is at least possible.

I installed VLC for multimedia, so playback of local audio and video should work.

At this point, the 4GB SD card is 68% full.   I’d recommend an 8GB (or larger) SD card.  Using a USB hub (preferably powered) external thumb drives and USB drives can be used for data storage.   I connected a USB drive, WiFi dongle, mouse and keyboard using a non-powered hub.   All the components functioned, but I was experiencing sluggish performance at the time, which makes me wonder whether I was overloading the RaspberryPi USB port, or, perhaps, the power supply.

I’ve read about the RP being used as an XBMC media center, but I’ve not tried that, and I probably won’t.    My prior media center expeditions all ended in frustration, and  Plex on my Dell desktop (playing through Plex on Roku) is the best I’ve experienced so far, so I’m sticking with it.  I might consider the RP to replace the Dell in that setup, but that would involve purchase of a USB bay for the Dell’s HDD and a powered USB hub — maybe someday; probably not.

I like the concept of the Raspberry Pi for affordable computing and internet access and for a variety of specialized computing needs in education and automation.   I expect we’ll see more and more similar options down the road.   Personally, I think the smartphone attached to a keyboard, mouse (or trackpad) and monitor will eventually kill the PC.

Well, that’s my take after 2-1/2 days.

Windows … argh! #!CrunchBang … ahh.

April 26th, 2013

After some changes to my netbook, I ended up with a misbehaving install of Ubuntu.   After a few attempts to resolve issues with the video driver and power management, I re-installed Windows.  It worked, but only grudgingly.   I decided to re-install #!CrunchBang Linux.   That solved the power management, but left me with a disappointing 800 x 600 screen resolution.   Then … after a couple rounds of updates, 1024 x 600 resolution appeared –but power management crashed!    OK, I’m stuck with the computer, I’ll just use Windows.   So, this AM, I’m struggling to accomplish my (very basic)  morning routine  — check mail, read newspaper (pdf file), check Facebook, etc.   Then, I find Windows is optimized for battery life over performance.   Easy fix.   I switch to performance over battery, and things improve.    Then I walk past my wife’s chair, and she’s effortlessly browsing on her base-level Chromebook.  I’m jealous!    I go back to #!CrunchBang, and I’m similarly sailing with ease.   So, #CrunchBang it is — even though I have to shutdown and reboot rather than suspend-resume.   Next time Chromebook, but for now I’m happily using #CrunchBang.

Westbrook Family Ensemble

December 25th, 2012

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”

MOV00769 from Pa on Vimeo.

HEADLINE: 2012 Posts Tally in Double Digits!

October 19th, 2012

Averaging about one post per month this year . . . yawn. Sorry. Facebook and Google+ are to blame more than changes in our lifestyle or activity level. I think this is the direction that will continue. Change is good.

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Larry and Marty Steidl