Month: October 2012

The Frankenstorm so far

So it’s coming up on 18:00 hours – for you 24 hour challenged types that’s 6:00PM.

In Providence the wind is picking up – with brief gusts that make it hard to walk but not too bad.

I do know a few things from venturing out on foot though.

RIPTA stopped running at noontime. Way to strand people!

I don’t see ANY police cruisers on the road. In fact there’s very little traffic.

The Woonasquatucket River is rising – but it’s got about four feet or so to go before it overflows it’s banks. And we’re seriously UPHILL from that river so I don’t worry too much.

The power is still on. I doubt it’ll go out – because we never lose power due to weather events, instead we lose power due to National Grid’s little fuck ups.

The only flooding is due to the storm drains being plugged with leaves. I note that after last year I had commented to my city councilor that they should wait until all the leaves fall before they muck out the drains. I think that got the attention of a few people. Good – wait until it all falls down.

And the flooding I speak of is mostly puddles.

A hint for those running Firefox 16 and trying to reach Pandora

So I recently restored my main partition on my machine because that piece of crap Win32dd program tried to wipe part of my C: drive. Fuck!

Spent most of my Saturday getting everything in order. One of the things I did was update to the latest Firefox 16 and Flash Player 11.

So I tried to fire up and it kept giving me a message it couldn’t load. Works fine for YouTube, TuneIn, and even Netflix so it isn’t the flash player.

I hit Pandora’s help site and it says to turn off Flashblock and AdBlock. Um, no fucking way. Instead I went into the options for both Add On’s and I entered white list exceptions in Flashblock, and unchecked anything in the AdBlock filters.

That made Pandora work.

Guess who applied to be a member of the local School Board?

I did. The invite was on a Facebook group I am a member of. They were looking for someone in the area to represent so I stepped up.

Looking at it, I figured now was the time. I’ve long read a lot on education theory, done program reviews at schools around the state, and griped about failing education on this blog quite a few times. So it’s damn well time I do something about it.

We’ll see if I get accepted. My technology background plays into this – I want to see our kids learning more about science, technology, engineering and math. I want them to be able to navigate the challenges of a world that is rapidly changing.

I suppose I’ll have to upgrade the wardrobe a bit but that shouldn’t be an issue.

They meet about four times a month and it’s a one year term.

This Weekends Doings

So we went with Friends to a Halloween party at Triangle Cafe in Danbury, CT. We stayed overnight at a local hotel.  The club is open to the entire LGBT community – and Saturday didn’t disappoint. There were over 150 transgender individuals at this gathering.

The club itself – the dance music is mostly house with 180BPM or higher. Sorry – not my cup of tea. And we were there from about 9PM to 2AM and I actually heard the same songs repeating a couple of times.
A number of interesting things were witnessed – I missed the best one.  Apparently one attendee was anally finger fucking their partner.  Got told about this in graphic detail.

My friend and I were playing pool. And at one point the game was my friend and someone dressed as the Wicked Witch, right down the green skin, and striped leggings. Pretty cool, but at near 7 feet tall – wow!

Me, I took the minimalist approach to getting dressed up for a Halloween party.

The horns
Now I had these little horns. But someone else had larger horns.

Just got home a little while ago – I have my Raspberry Pi all hooked up. But I do need to get a long Ethernet cable, and an HDMI cable as feeding it via the composite limits resolution sharply. Plus audio has to be run separately.

Or I can get a wifi adapter and a powered USB hub – matter of fact I might have one around here somewhere.

And I should shave – haven’t done so since Friday and I have a hell of a growth on my face. For me – growing a full beard takes a little less than a week.

RasPi First Boot

After the trials and tribulations of stuffing the Debian Wheezy operating system image onto the SD card I finally got it to boot.

And it hit me – this is Debian – which means all I need now are a long Ethernet cord, got the keyboard and mouse on it already and the power – get this, the front of my Motorola Cable box has a USB port on it. So I plugged into that and lo and behold, it puts +5V and GND out! Yay!
And it got me to thinking. Right now I’ve only got an 8GB card in there. But people have used 32GB and 64GB cards. I can use RasPi for the wireless MESH I’m putting together. I’d have to get a USB hub so I can create a second network adapter but one of these little RasPi’s could be the SquidProxy and DansGuardian server. All solid state, nothing to really wear out. And it costs $35, with the external net adapter it goes to maybe $55. That isn’t bad – < $100 and you can just flash the whole thing on an SD card.
Very cool!


Another way to flash an OS onto your Raspberry Pi SD card

So since my last post I found out dd did not want to place nicely. I had thought about booting the computer with a Knoppix disc but meh, pain. I also downloaded win32diskimager – piece of shit. It didn’t even see the SD card.

So finally I did some searching. First I found this disk erase tool and wiped the SD card clean.
Then I downloaded another nice program called Flashnul.

Once you’ve got flashnul installed execute the following, though the path to your image file may vary:

flashnul F -L L:\2012-09-18-wheezy-raspbian\2012-09-18-wheezy-raspbian.img
And off you go. Mine is flashing it onto the SD card now. Taking awhile but it works! The -L option means LOAD. So I told it flashnul F – that’s the drive I want the image loaded onto, in this case F: in windows parlance. That path that starts with L:\  – that’s where my source file lives.






Stuffing an image file onto an SD card for the Raspberry Pi

Well – it isn’t so easy on Windows of any flavor. Microsoft in their wisdom uses a fucked way of referencing devices.

First I had to find a program to wipe the SD card. A little application called appropriately, DiskErase to the rescue.

Then, because I needed a way to stuff the image, I found a windows version of the popular Linux tool ‘dd’ = disk dump. But not just disks but files too.

Now I’m used to doing it this way:

dd bs=1M if=/dev/sda0/home/tonypo/file.txt of=tonypo.img and it’s done.

But on windows dd instead of using ‘of’ (output file, if is input file) you have to use od (output device)

So in my case it’d be:

dd if=2012-09-18-wheezy-raspbian.img od=F:

F: is my SD card. So with that in mind I can now successfully flash images to an SD card. Yippee!

Pretty clear who won this debate

President Obama definitely brought he A game this time.

And Romoney – what an arrogant prick! So much so that I want the next round of debates to adopt the method used by the Ed Show on MSNBC – text A or B to 622639. But I want it to be a Bitch Slap scheme.

By that I mean – assign A to President Obama, B to Romney. Whoever gets the most Bitch Slap texts for each question – the moderator must get out of their chair, walk over to the winning party and bitch slap the hell out of them.

If the above were implemented I can see a seriously bruised Romney.

My Raspberry Pi has arrived

So I checked the mail today and there was a little box from Allied Electronics. What could it be?

Opened it up and there it was, the Raspberry Pi Model B. The different between the Model A and B is that the latter has dual USB ports.

Raspberry Pi Board

It’s a wild little platform! It’s name was derived as follows:

First – a lot of computers in UK were named after fruit, in fact computers and music players in the U.S. are made by Apple. So they chose the name Raspberry.

The Pi part is a morph of Python which is the programming language it understands.

I’ve got to order an SD card with decent capacity for it, I can get a 32GB for $18.99 – not bad!

I do have a 2GB SD card in my camera that I could wipe and replace. I also have an 8GB micro SD in my wallet and I have the adapter for full size so maybe I’ll use that in the interim.

But it’s finally here. It will probably see light sometimes this week. Been kind of busy.

But the Raspberry Pi specs:

Broadcom BCM2835 SoC
ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz emulated
Dual USB and 10/100 Ethernet
HDMI Out supports 1080p
RCA Composite Out

Pretty wild little computer.

Programming Computers – and why we’re failing miserably

In preparation for receiving my Raspberry Pi I downloaded the Raspberry Pi User Guide from Amazon by Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree.

In the introductory chapter Upton makes an observation that I too have seen in the past. The computers we use today, many of us don’t use them to their full potential.

I saw this doing Program Reviews for the RI Department of Education a few years ago. In one class they were using Excel to do a payroll sheet. The teacher had them using a paper look-up to calculate the tax.

This prompted me to ask the teacher if they had any plans to teach them about VBA, a fairly powerful little tool inherent in Microsoft Office since day one. And it hews to BASIC, a language that if you took any computer class, you more than likely have a passing knowledge of it.

With that you could have a module that auto-calculates the tax and other deductions. The teachers answer was that you needed advanced math to program a computer. Granted, when compared to some others I did get a bit more advanced mathematics training for my I.S. degree but out of all of it the most used is some algebraic functions. So on my review I put that they should introduce students to programming using Microsoft VBA that is included with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and even Outlook!

In my career I’ve done extensive VBA in Word, Excel, Access and Outlook. In Word it was to do automatic document conversions from WordPerfect, in Excel it was normalizing data such as fixing short UPC codes, etc. and in Outlook it was a routine to scan the body of a message looking for a specific indicator, then forward the message to a pre-determined route. This is what allowed police department in RI to run a suspects fingerprints and receive positive identification if the subject had prior contact with the criminal justice system.

That’s the power of VBA.

And if kids knew that – and perhaps some Python there’s no end to what we might see.