Category Archives: Comments

General comments I want to make and share with friends.

Monday, Dec 17, 2018

Another quiet weekend. Mostly spent sorting and cleaning in the basement. I’ve almost got my work bench ready to use again after some time partly buried under various things that needed sorting out.

Once I have the work bench back in a functional state, I’ll likely get started taking the next steps towards building a RepRap 3D printer. Malcolm at work has offered to print the plastics for me (got to buy a spool of filament to support this) and I’ve dug out my stepper motors and main electronics board. I may have to re-buy some stepper controllers as those I bought before seem to have scattered to the four winds (I currently have one in hand) but they’re not that expensive.

We went to Sherrill and Ed Cieleszko’s Christmas party and, as always, had a great time. Didn’t even get lost on the way (google maps doesn’t really understand their address and can misdirect pretty badly on the way).

It has been a somewhat crazy year and we’ve got to get back in touch with folks as the new year rolls around. Lots has been dealt with so we should be pretty well primed for a less crazy 2019.

I had been writing paper letters (printed not hand-written as my writing is less than legible) to Alyssa for a while. As of this last week I’ve realized that sending her emails on a daily basis is probably a better thing as Lorna is sending paper letters and boxes and the emails are more immediate and a continuing stream of them is likely helpful.

Media Center Linux

I’ve populated a spare NUC that I had around (was a bit flaky under heavy load and thus it got shelved for software development purposes) with memory and storage as a media PC for our basement television.

I’m looking at using Ubuntu Linux or a derivative as the operating system as I’m hoping to get a more integrated look and feel than I have with the living-room machine that runs windows and is used with a mouse and keyboard.

I’m also adding in an HDMI switch as this is a less expensive television and only has two direct HDMI inputs. We currently have the VR system and a blue-ray player occupying these inputs. I’m borrowing the blue ray player input for the NUC for the moment but would like to have the NUC as the primary input switched against the VR system and the blue-ray on the secondary.

A friend at work dug up some options on the linux front that seem to center around variations of the kodi package running on an Ubuntu variant.

Over the weekend I loaded Ubuntu on the machine and after a few missteps got a new enough version of Chrome loaded to allow Netflix to run properly. Older versions complain that Silverlight isn’t available and HTLM5 support isn’t there (or at least not sufficient).

I’ve loaded kodi and the base package seems pretty nice. It even supports the IR remote that I used to have working with windows media center before that went away with windows 10.

I did not have much success in getting the Netflix plug in loaded. In order to really do the job I want, kodi must at least stream Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. I’ll likely keep after this as time permits and stick with Chrome based video for the time being.

https://kodi.wiki/view/X86_hardware11:29 AM
https://kodi.wiki/view/JeOS_implementations_for_Kodi11:29 AM
https://libreelec.tv/downloads/11:31 AM
or if you still want the flexibility of a full desktop behind it all, install normal latest Ubuntu and then install Kodi on top of it https://www.smarthomebeginner.com/ubuntu-boot-to-kodi-2-ways-to-boot-directly-to-kodi-on-ubuntu-systems/

Mon, November 5, 2018

Birthday today. Not much really going on for it though. Quiet weekend, feeling a bit under the weather after having a head cold last week.

Got the aggregate laid into the trench for the in-law walkway over the weekend. 

I had been concerned about the supply of aggregate, but after finishing I had a decent sized pile left over. Now as long as the sand also stretches to the end, we’ll be in good shape. Expecting that by the end of the coming weekend this will have sand and patio blocks laid down and edging in place.

Spent some time watching youtube history segments by a couple of military history/ancient weapons folks and some science fiction segments. Rolled in some more code to process and generate JSON and code to read in JSON from a file to support testing.

Thurs, October 25, 2018

A short on sleep week so far. Alyssa is going out on a long deployment soon (so late night phone calls as she’s in California), work being busy and I’m trying to keep some sandbox software work moving forwards. Livable, but definitely feeling a bit frayed around the edges.

I definitely want to look a bit deeper into JavaFX. There are a number of bits of functionality that I expect in a UI toolkit that I haven’t yet found in JavaFX. This particularly centers around UI state notifications (visible/hidden and such). These matter quite a bit as a UI tool gets larger as retrieving and displaying large amounts of information that the user will never see is not terribly useful.

Tues, October 23, 2018

A bit of a gray day out there at the moment.

Got some code sketched in to handle JSON generation and processing last night. Much more to be done and I want to do everything I can to use C++ 2011/2014/2017 features in this code. A simple, free-standing implementation tuned to handling small, local bits of JSON is what I’m looking for here.

I need to spend some time tonight getting photos ready and fired off to Sams Club for Lorna’s upcoming scrap booking.

I need to get the next step done on the long part of the walkway. I suspect I need another inch or three of bed before dropping in aggregate. I also would like to narrow the bed width a bit to conserve supplies of aggregate. This has to get done before we get snow and probably a good bit earlier.

My copy of Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry arrived yesterday (used and surprisingly inexpensive). Probably going to be a background task as other things have priority, but it is an interesting technology to learn more about. Always trying to pick up knowledge where interesting things cross my path.

Mon, October 22, 2018

Alyssa’s birthday yesterday. Talked to her on the phone in San Diego. She had duty yesterday, but was able to talk for a bit. Hoping all goes well on her upcoming deployment.

Heard geese honking as they flew overhead this morning. Finally feeling like fall with the chill in the air (below freezing by a bit overnight) and the leaves falling.

Malcolm came in this morning with a 3D printed pumpkin spider that was pretty cool. Printer has to come together over the winter at some point. For now, baby steps.

Got some work java coding and some tooling code in C++ done over the weekend. GitHub was a mess when I tried to upload my little unique file identifier retrieval program last night. Hoping they’ll get their act together better by tonight and I can try the upload again.

Didn’t get much done on the walk this weekend. Pulled up the stones in the strip between the walk ‘T’ crossing and the parking spot and replaced them with sifted topsoil as Lorna is looking at filling that strip with ground cover. I’ll need to finish packing the base level for the main run after work this week so I can get started with the aggregate and sand base soon. This has to get done before we get snow.

The local turkeys continue their depredations, showing up when Lorna puts out food for the local woodland critters. Haven’t seen the opossum again though.

Tues, October 16, 2018

More work on the walk last night. A bit drippy, but got the edging in place for the ‘T’ crossing (had run the trench a bit too narrow and had to dig out the edges in places to get it down).

Also sifted a bunch more soil to add to the bed level in the long run to the in-law apartment door. That is currently in piles as it was full dark by the time I was done so I’ll have to rake that out tonight. I think I also should use some dirt for edging on the aggregate runs as I expect that I’m going to be touch and go on aggregate by the end of the run.

I’m currently holding on to a couple of wheel barrows of small rocks that I may very well use to edge between the parking spot and the ‘T’. Hoping that this will keep down the weeds.

I’ll probably sift some topsoil tonight to use as fill around the edges that aren’t adjacent to the parking space and then put some clay in on top 

Thinking of dipping my toes back into Facebook again…staying away from the politics side of things, but probably visiting the Disney groups to see what is going on there…

Mon, October 15, 2018

Painful weekend in a number of ways. Did get the first run of walk laid down. I still need to dig out the sides to get the edging in place and then back-fill with topsoil.

The final version of this seems a bit more evenly spaced against the parking spot border stones. Hoping this isn’t a bad omen for the long, fifty foot run back to the in-law door…

Next step is going to be more serious heavy lifting as I need to lay down an inch or two of additional soil in the long trench and then see about laying in some soil edges to limit the amount of aggregate I need for the main bed.

The weather was significantly better than the forecasts had predicted with much of the weekend being beautiful fall weather…a bit chilly if the sun wasn’t out, but quite nice otherwise.


It is sad to see Sears declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy. I haven’t been in a Sears store in quite a few years and what I saw during that last visit was not a proud or happy thing.

I remember going to Sears with my grandparents when I was young. The stores were beautiful (I particularly remember Christmas at the one in the Natick mall) and well run. They were my grandparents’ preferred source for tools and appliances and seemed to deserve the business.

I can clearly picture myself standing in front of the first video game console I ever saw (one of the early Ataris) and desperately wanting on of those expensive things.

The Sears catalog was huge and varied and the Christmas wish book was anticipated long before it arrived and scoured for amazing toys once it was in hand. Later I got one of those old reprints of original Sears catalogs and was amazed at the crazy things that could have been ordered back in the early days (I think there was even a small pre-fab house in there).

Wonderful memories but there seems to be virtually nothing left of that place in the current ragged remnant. 

Thurs, October 11, 2018

Pandamallet

The pandamallet part of this site is beginning to come together. I spent most of last night on work stuff so I didn’t have a chance to add anything interesting to that area but I’m expecting to start doing something in the near future.

I’ve still got plenty of assets to work out over there as well. I want some sort of banner strips for posts where the color and content of the strip calls out the type of entry. I also need to load up icon and banner assets…panda mallets need to come out and be seen 🙂

Wed, October 10, 2018

Another unseasonably warm day today. Work staying busy…was doing work stuff ’till midnight last night.

A conversation earlier in the week caused me to grab my copy of Error Control Coding to rummage around a bit. I don’t need forward error correction often (and when I do there’s generally a library to handle the heavy lifting) but it is an interesting bit of technology and the devil is in the details there…

Interesting…when I hopped over to Amazon to look for a link to the book I’ve got, I saw that there is a newer version by the lead author that gets much better reviews for usability. I appreciate the mathematical grounding of the second edition, but having a version that can be directly approached would be nice.

In the background as I’ve been doing other things lately, I’ve been listening (mostly) to some segments from a historian/gamer from England who covers a broad range of topics in an engaging manner on YouTube

Seems that the turkeys are back in our yard again for the fall and today Kitty Khan was playing ‘scatter the flock’ with them. He stands no chance of catching anything so he was just leaping into the middle of a group and watching them scatter. Lorna spent some time trying to corral him and get him inside before some critter got hurt and bumped her face on the mirror on Leo’s van along the way. In the end though she triumphed and all was well-ish…