$12 thrift montitor = fire stick

I’ve been messing with the RasPi devices lately and wanted something to plug them into using their native HDMI.  I’ve only got one HDMI-capable device in the house, the projector.

So I’d been sniffing around for a used monitor with HDMI inputs.  Thursday after the county commissioners court I wandered over to the thrift shop just SE of the courthouse.

Boo-yah, small monitor with a truckload of inputs for $12:
 photo 20160225_122515_zpsow9kkt6v.jpg

Yes, please! Continue reading


sitting by the fire

 photo 20160224_195744_zps3gtlla3h.jpg

Wednesday night in Point, Tx.

Weather was chilly-perfect.  I’d gathered up fallen limbs that had been knocked down by the past few storms and finally lit them off.  Stared at the fire and thought, and didn’t think.  Depending.

Took a while to burn and I watched it.  Not much happened except every so often a piece would break, or roll. Or a tuft of grass would burn for a bit then go out.

I guess I’m an odd bird — I don’t get bored and I don’t get lonely.  I can go days without talking to anyone (dogs don’t count) and not really notice.  Admittedly there are shortcomings to this approach but I find them preferable to noise and chaos.



Pi scanner project: solar powered

The Raspberry Pi 2 B is up and running on solar power:
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The laptop that does scanner audio process is dying and the Pi will (hopefully) take its place.   A 3A DC-DC converter steps the nominal 12vdc down to 5vdc.  The power runs into the hub on the right and I also use it for charging phones and the like.

For the curious:  this is a 45w Harbor Freight setup feeding a 12v deep cycle battery.  I’ve also got a 60w panel and a couple other controllers but they aren’t being used at the moment.

buck downconverter: solar –> RasPi

The laptop I was using to record and process Rains County police scanner audio is failing.  Since some aspects of the audio processing are CPU-intensive I picked up a Raspberry Pi 2 B to carry those duties going forward.  Previously I’ve been playing with a Raspberry Pi  (A? B?) bought used on eBay in 2014.  It works fine in light use but gets CPU- and RAM-bound when doing heavier lifting.

Part of the Pi-based recording project will be a move to solar power.  I already have a small 45-watt setup feeding a deep cycle battery here and use it for charging phones, running a 2m rig, and similar duties.  The solar charge controller has a built-in USB/5v output but it’s only .5A, not enough to run a Pi.

While pondering this I remembered some cheap 3A USB/5v buck converters used for other projects.  They have screw input terminals and the USB port already installed:


A useful component to have around in our USB-centric world.

The converters are cheaper straight from China but I want to get started so I paid double ($4!) for units from the U.S.  Until I get the converter I’ll keep doing the Pi setup off a wall wart.

Picasa: why, Google, why?

Google is determined to kill useful tools in their desire to control and Apple-fy their ecosystem.

Here’s the latest abomination:  Google is shutting down Picasa in favor of Photos

Allow me to demonstrate the Win that is picasa photo sharing and the Lose that is Google photos sharing.  Here is Picasaweb’s perfectly useful sharing dialog:


The user has control:  show the pic isolated or in an album context, direct link the image, control the size of the thumbnail.  Good stuff, Maynard.

Now here’s the “we know what’s best for you” Google Photos approach.  You click on the photo in an album to get it isolate.  Click share. You get this promising popup:


Get Link is the ticket, right?  You’d think so.  Let’s try that:



Hmmm.  No option to share the photo itself.  It’s a shared album.

But maybe that COPY link function pulls up the isolated pic where we can at least copy the URL manually?  Nope.  It leads to the album view you see in the background of the pic directly above.

As far as I can tell the useful Picasa sharing options are simply not available in Google Photos.

A cynical person would say that Google is deleting functionality to drive more people to Google Plus.  A non-cynical person would say the same thing.


Phone scam from (386) 569-2937

Here’s the google voicemail transcript:

hello this is sarah at consumer services we’re calling in reference to your current credit card account there’s no problems currently with your accounts it is urgent however that you contact us immediately concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest rates press 1 now your eligibility expires today consider this your final notice press 1 to be connected with a live operator

Gosh, I hope my posting the number (386) 569-2937 doesn’t cause any problems for them.

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937

(386) 569-2937