Asides

So, two weeks ago, I posted My Weekly Goals where I posted four different things I was going to try to do over the coming week. Obviously, that morphed into two weeks, but whatever.

Here’s my report card from weeks 1 and 2. Spoiler alert, it’s not good.

  •  Minimize wasted time on internet (Youtube, social media checking prior to school being done, etc.)
    • B
    • I would give myself a solid B on this. I had a few days where I slipped up and watched a bunch of rando Youtube videos and got little done with my screen time. But, for the most part, I didn’t spend tons of time reloading Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Exercise each day (Body-weight/Darebee, Ultimate practice)
    • D
    • This … didn’t happen. I exercised Tuesday of two weeks ago, and I think maybe Wednesday or Friday too (had practice on Thursday). And this past week I didn’t, other than Thursday. So, giving myself a D on that one for not a total failure … but mostly.
  • Practice juggling and/or guitar every day
    • F
    • Again, this didn’t happen. I practiced juggling 2-3 times two weeks ago, and maybe once this last week.
  • Get off the computer by 9PM and get to sleep by 10 without using a screen
    • F
    • Out of the fourteen days between this post and last I had maybe 5-6 where I was solidly off of screens by 9PM.

After putting those grades through a calculator, looks like I’m stuck with a D overall. Hopefully I do better this week.


This Week’s Goals:

  • Practice Guitar or Juggling each day – again
  • Exercise each day (the Ultimate season is over, sadpanda, so I need this even more)
  • Don’t spend more than 3 hours on the computer outside of school when family is around
  • Don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time on the computer without stepping away, stretching, etc.

Let’s do this!

Weekly Goals – Someone is Flunking

I was recently listening to the Linux Voice Podcast and in the most recent podcast they had done a little bit of poking about on reddit and had collected and compared the total number of subscribers, per programming language.

They went on to wonder what it would be like on Stack Overflow, and I figured I’d give it a go doing the research and submitting it to them. If you want to listen for yourself, you can listen to/download the .mp3 stream and listen around the 30min mark.

Here’s the image from the original reddit post:

And here’s mine, compiled from the most popular tags list on Stack Overflow:

Programming Language Tags by Followers

Programming Language Tags by Followers

Partial credit is due to Anna Lear, one of the software devs on Stack Exchange, as she was able to run a request on the back-end database that got me the exact number of followers per tag.

 

Programming Language Tags by Followers on Stack Overflow

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Just a short announcement regarding this blog. My main computer recently died, just straight-up is dead and isn’t coming back, and so that is going to impede my ability to produce posts.

I’m writing this post from my secondary laptop, so, obviously, I will be able to continue posting some things, but not as many as normal.

This is for several reasons, first of which being, the laptop I’m on now has terrible specs. It has 506MB of RAM, a PowerPC 7447A CPU (1333.33MHz), and a 60GB HDD, which will keep me from doing as much work and research at once. Second of which being that I have no SD card reader, either in the laptop or externally, which will impede my ability to work with the Raspberry Pi or get photographs. Third, I’m using an older version of Lubuntu, the only one that worked on this laptop, which will make it harder for me to provide up-to-date how-tos and tech tips. Finally, it’s because I’m taking Driver’s Ed over the remainder of the month, and that’s going to take a lot of my time.

I know I don’t post the most regularly, and I’m trying to do better about that, but I’m not going to be able to do that for a while. Regular post creation should resume towards the end of November, beginning of December, as that is when I will, hopefully, have been able to purchase a new computer (Black Friday/Cyber Monday).

Blog Announcement – Posts will be decreased for a while.

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It’s been a while since I lasted posted about the Prodigialis Robot project, and while I’m not finished with that, I haven’t worked on it for a while. I’m planning on continuing it later on, but for now it’s on the back burner, one of the reasons being that during development I short-circuited one of the servos beyond use and I haven’t yet ordered a replacement.

However, I’ve recently purchased the PiTFT kit from Adafruit, a miniature TFT+Touchscreen kit for the Raspberry Pi as well as a new Camera Module, and a battery pack. Any idea where this is going? I’m working on the DIY WiFi Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Camera project from Adafruit!

IMG_0148

PiTFT – Soldering Fun!

I heard about the project when it first came out, during January, and really wanted to do it then, but was a bit squeemish about spending $100 on all the parts for a novelty/hobby project. That is, I was a bit squeemish until I heard about the Raspberry Pi Camera photo contest. You can win $314 if your entry is chosen and there are 14 $30 runners-up, with the one catch that you have to use the Pi Camera Module or a webcam attached to the Pi.

Obviously, this was an awesome reason to purchase the parts, and I’m working on setting up the Portable Pi Camera project right now! I’ll try and remember to take photos as I work, though, as many of you may understand, I can get into the project and then never really take a break, even one to snap a few pictures.

Leave a comment down below with any suggestions for this project, features and what-not, and/or any experiences you’ve had with the Pi camera!

New Project coming to town!

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I previously did a Tech Snippet on how to give Firefox native notifications, which you can read here, if you already haven’t. This post is similar to that in that it will show you how to set up native notifications on another application. However, this time it doesn’t require an addon/workaround, it’s a default (albeit un-enabled) setting, on everyone’s favorite open-source media player, VLC.

vlc media player with native notifications

VLC Media Player with Native Notifications – Just started playing a song

VLC is a great piece of software and has the reputation for playing just about anything you throw at it. It has a slew of features, half of which most users don’t even know exist, like screen-recording, audio/video conversion, play YouTube videos, subscribe to Podcasts, play Internet radio, apply effects – both Audio and Video, and even, for your geeky side, play videos in ASCII characters.

Enable Native notifications for VLC on Ubuntu

It’s really pretty simple, it only takes six steps to get this working. Maybe not as simple as installing an addon for Firefox, but still pretty easy. You won’t have to download anything or mess with hidden configuration files, just enter the domain of super-(not)-secret-settings.

First off with VLC open, click on the Tools menu and the select the Preferences menu item.

vlc settings

VLC Settings – Set to All

The preferences window will open, you should look to the bottom-left-hand corner for the Show settings radio buttons. They are labelled Simple and All and you need to change/make sure that it is set to All.

Now, there are a lot of settings you can change. So, instead of playing setting-sweep, we’ll just search for notify. That’ll bring up a much smaller list of results, of which you want to select the Control interfaces option. Then, check the LibNotify Notification Plugin checkbox.

vlc settings - control interfaces

VLC Settings – Control interfaces – Select LibNotify Notification Plugin

And that’s it!


You may notice that my pop up in the first screenshot has just the VLC logo (don’t let the Numix Circle icon through you off,) while the album art shows in the window. I think this may be because VLC isn’t minimized. It does appear if VLC is minimized.

Also, I’ve noticed that the notification will update if new information is found about the current song, and if you skip through several songs in a row the notification will show all of those notifications (changing every few seconds) until they are fully updated. This can be a bit annoying, though if you don’t skip through songs quickly you’ll be fine.

Ubuntu Tech Snippet #6 – Add native notifications for VLC

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Warning! You WILL want to turn your volume down if you are wearing headphones. You run the following commands at your own risk, I cannot confirm the safety of your ears.

Another Ubuntu Tech Snippet inbound! This one is a bit bizarre, I must say, and rather geeky.

The actual idea is pretty simple, you just run a command in terminal and pipe it through aplay. You can take this and try any commands you want, but the commands I list are the ones that I have heard actually play something more than a two-second electronic squelch.

I originally found out about this on Unix/Linux Stack Exchange. First thing to do is run the command

dmesg | aplay

which runs the dmesg (which, from the man page,  examines or controls the kernel ring buffer) command and then pipes the output into aplay, the command-line music player. In this case there are no flags on the dmesg command, so it just reads all the messages from the kernel ring buffer.

By piping the output from dmesg into aplay you will be getting the audio interpretation of whatever data dmesg returns. It will vary between computers, so don’t blame me if your speakers, earbuds, headphones, or eardrums explode because of the interpretation of raw std data. I didn’t do anything horrendous to my system, so you should be safe. Emphasis being on should – I’ve not tested or researched any chances of damage.

Another fun one to play is

ls -l | aplay

in the home directory, especially if you installed lots of software that has config folders/files in the home directory.

This is a Tech Tip that really has no real application, it’s just fun.


One final thing to try if you suddenly become addicted to raw data musically represented

Run

ls -R | aplay

in your Documents directory and have fun listening to the ear-splitting screeches of your computer’s innards. Because the -R flag on ls recursively lists subdirectories within the currently directory, this command can go on for quite a while. Just a warning.

Ubuntu Tech Snippet #5 – Hear what terminal commands “sound” like

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A while ago my friend put together a video project/parody of a parody called Little Cello Wars, maybe you’ve heard of it? I know it’s nothing viral or anything, but if you want a quick little video to watch, check it out.

The official channel where all of his finished projects go (and a few other Piano Guys videos) is The Piano Guys Fans and his personal channel, which is where effects tests and less professional, more for-fun, videos is Caleb Cook. If any of my readers watch the video and like it, make sure to subscribe and give some thumbs up!

 

The Piano Guys Fans – Check ’em out!

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Another Ubuntu Tech Snippet for you all. This time is has to do with the Ubuntu Unity Launcher.

It’s pretty simple, just right-click on the Launcher button and a menu will pop up, allowing you to select the Unity Launcher submenus:

unity launcher right click menu

Unity Launcher Menu – Right Click to bring up this menu

And that’s it!

 

Ubuntu Tech Snippet #3 – Go directly to a Unity Launcher submenu

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I use my Raspberry Pi as a headless server, and thus SSH in all the time. While I can shut down the Pi and remove the SD card to load files on, or use a USB stick, those require accessing the Pi (and in the case of the USB stick – running wires to a USB hub.) This can be a pain, so if I need to download a file I just use wget.

It comes installed with Raspbian by default as far as I know. It makes sense that it would, as so many core software rely on it. Thusly, I use it download files from the internet or, if I need to put a file on it from my Ubuntu laptop, I just pop the file into my local server and download it onto my Pi. Works great!

However, there is one issue that I have run across, and that is that just running a simple wget command like

wget soandso.com/thisZIP.tar.gz

results in an error:

Resolving dl.dropboxusercontent.com (dl.dropboxusercontent.com)... failed: Name or service not known.
wget: unable to resolve host address `dl.dropboxusercontent.com'

Kind of issue, you might say. It took me ages to figure this one out, but finally I discovered that if you add the -4 flag to the command, it forces wget to use IPv4 addresses, thus resolving the issue and allowing downloads to happen!


Bonus Tip!
If you are downloading a large file and the download gets interrupted, tack on the -c flag on the wget command and it will continue from where you left off. Pretty nifty, eh?

Raspberry Pi Tech Tip #1 – Fix Unable to Resolve Host Address error for wget on Raspbian

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Many people use and love the gaming software Steam and it is a well known fact that Valve, the people behind Steam and several amazing games, are working on so-called Steam Boxes. These are supposed to be basically gaming PCs that come with Steam OS, a customized version of Debian Linux, all ready for gaming on Steam.

Steam Controller Notes

Steam Controller Notes – Taken from the Steam Community site

These devices have raised all sorts of hype, and the official release has been pushed back into 2015, as outlined in a post on a Steam Community post.

This is mainly by yet another re-design of the controller, this time making it wireless. Because of all of the testing they are putting these devices through, lots of bugs and improvements are surfacing, leading to an extended development period. Thus, AXIOM (author of the post and a member of the Valve team), says

Realistically, we’re now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.

While this seems kind of ho-hum now, I think it will all work out for the better, leading to a better final product.

Steam Machines delayed to 2015

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