November 13, 2018

From Accessory To Device

The Watch has been on my wrist for three years now, and it has been a valuable asset since the beginning. That value has increased over the years as the software has gotten better, and the hardware has steadily improved, culminating in the significant hardware update in Series 4.

When I think of my MacBook, iPad, or even iPhone, I consider them devices” that I actively accomplish tasks with. So far, the Watch has been more of an accessory to my iPhone than a standalone device. This began to change with the introduction of cellular connectivity in Series 3 and took a huge leap forward with the introduction of the series 4 watch and watchOS 5. This refreshed combination has pushed the Watch from simple Accessory to great Device.

I have found myself accomplishing more tasks with my Watch alone lately. There is, of course, a fundamental difference between performing something on the watch vs. something like the iPhone, so you have to understand that going in.

To get the maximum amount of utilization from the watch, I have split tasks into three interaction types.

  1. Glanceable Items - Complications that require only a glance.
  2. Short Interaction - Complications that are tappable for quick daily data input.
  3. Medium Interaction - Applications that live in the dock for quick data entry that occurs every few days or weekly.
    *Anything that would be considered a more extensive interaction that this should be done on another device.

So what do I have in these categories?

Category 1

  • Calendar
  • Weather
  • Sunset / Sunset
  • Activity

Category 2

  • WaterMinder
  • OmniFocus

Category 3

  • Workout
  • Timer
  • Music
  • Now Playing
  • Overcast
  • Messages
  • Walkie Talkie

I truly believe in the Watch platform and genuinely can’t wait to see what it does for us in the coming years. ⌚️

Apple Watch watchOS
October 17, 2018

Building The PiDP8/I

A couple of years ago (2016) I purchased this neat kit called the PiDP8” from Obsolescence Guaranteed | PiDP-8.

What is this thing?

The PiDP-8/I is a modern replica of the 1968 PDP-8/I computer.

After ordering, I got a box with a bunch of components in it. It was then up to me to get them assembled and get it working!


COMPONENTS THEY PROVIDE
1x Wood enclosure
26× Toggle switches
12× 390 Ohm resistors
27× 4148 Diodes
UDN2981A
89× LEDs (5mm, High Brightness)
1K Ohm Resistors
2*20 pin header for mounting the Raspberry Pi

COMPONENTS YOU PROVIDE
Raspberry Pi (Plus to 3B or Zero/Zero W) needs 40 pin GPIO connector (I used a 3B+)


I began the build in 2016 and for any number of reasons the project sat dormant until 2018. I finally picked it back up in September of 2018, so I could finish it and get it running!

Back in 2016 I completed the following

  • Setting up the switches
  • Soldering the Raspberry Pi header
  • Soldering ~1/3 of the LEDs

Completed remaining tasks in 2018

  • Finish soldering all components to PCB
  • Attach Raspberry Pi
  • Configure software on Raspberry Pi
  • Configure remote access so I can access the Raspberry Pi without disassembling the unit.
  • Assemble components into the enclosure
  • Turn it on and hope it works! 🤞

On October 8th it was finally ready to boot up and see if it all worked…

…and it did! 😃 🎉

This project was a lot of fun to put together, and in some way, I am glad I didn’t finish it back in 2015.

Here are some photos as the building and testing progressed.

PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image PiPD8 Progression Image

PiDP8 Project Electronics Making
October 16, 2018

Low Coolant

Check Engine Light

No one likes when Check Engine” type lights show up on our dashboard. Fortunately as cars advance, so does the way in which they communicate. This error was spelled out in plain english. LOW COOLANT

I took the car in to the dealer to check it out and to reset the Service Required” message.

The Low Coolant light was diagnosed as a leak from a crack in the radiator unit. 😱
The crack was caused by what I would classify as a design flaw.

Cost of Parts + Labor to replace radiator: $1298.32
Cost of component added that prevents original failure: $5.37 😲

This kind of engineering problem always intrigues me.
Test, Test, Test.

Our final bill was $0.00 as it was all covered under our warranty.

Range Rover Radiator

Car Range Rover Maintenance Engineering
October 16, 2018

The Road To 250

January first of this year I set a goal for myself to run 250 miles in 2018. As of today, October 14, 2018, I have competed this goal! 🎉 Below is an infographic of some of the info that I tracked along the way. I am very happy to have all the data, and plan on going through even more of the gathered data for an end of year recap!

2018 250 Mile Challenge Running Infographic

2018 Running Fitness Challenge
October 15, 2018

My Blog Blinded Me!

I have been doing a lot of visual work to get my blog looking the way I want it to, and so far I am quite happy with it! Most of this work was done during daylight hours, and the overall design is on the lighter side. Last night I went looking at something on my blog and was stabbed in the eyeballs with blinding white light! After regaining vision, it got me thinking about what it would be like to have a night mode” toggle for the blog?

Well, after some work, I now have the beginnings of a night mode on my blog! It’s working great so far! It looks pretty cool too. It still has some significant functionality I need to add, but it’s a neat little feature so far.

Take a look in the upper right corner to try it out. ☝️ 😃

Some of the things I need to work on still

  • Save user settings, so it’s useful
  • Add a function to auto switch during nighttime hours
  • Tweak the colors in night mode
Here is some of the basic early code, if you are curious about something like this.

Huge shout out to @alcedine for her help and support on this project! 🙌 😃

CSS JavaScript HTML Night Mode
October 14, 2018

A Trip To Candytopia

The Trip 🏡 🛴 🚂 🚇 🌉
Home >> Bird >> Caltrain >> BART >> San Francisco

We had no idea what to expect, but our friends invited us to an art exhibit called Candytopia in San Francisco. It was a mix of art created from candy, interactive photo stops, and music. Oh, and a lot of confetti! 🎉

It was a self paced tour through several different themed sections. Although you couldn’t eat the art, there was a different kind of candy being handed out in each room. 🍬

Check out some photos! 📸

Candytopia photo

Candytopia photo

Candytopia photo

🖼 More photos on SmugMug

Adventure Candytopia
September 23, 2018

Trying The Apple GiveBack Program

After enough bad experiences selling stuff through Craigslist, OfferUp, and similar services, I decided to try out the Apple GiveBack program. You can generally get more money for your item by selling it on one of those other services, but the idea of not having to worry about scammers and flakey buyers made this approach entirely worth getting back a little less money in the end.

The process couldn’t be more straightforward! You can complete the process through the website or the Apple Store app. If you are purchasing a new product, you can even complete the process as part of that buy flow and the money for your old device will be given to you in the form of refund toward your new purchase.

Once you have selected the item you want to GiveBack, they ask three simple questions:

  1. Does it turn on?
  2. Are the screen and enclosure in good shape?
  3. Do all the buttons work?

You then get your quote immediately based on your answers.

Based on what you’ve told us, you’ve got $XXX in trade-in value.

If you accept the amount, you move on the entering your usual information and shipping address. A few days later a small box shows up at your doorstep. Inside the box are the following items:

  • Device Shipping Tips Guide
  • UPS Shipping Label
  • Apple GiveBack Program Letter
  • Box Insert To Hold Your Old Device

After wiping my old Apple Watch, I placed it in the insert, sealed up the box, and put the new shipping label on the box. That’s it! Once they receive the device and verify the condition, I will receive an Apple gift card for the amount. Overall this was a very streamlined process, and I can see doing this again in the future.

GiveBack Shipping Box Empty

GiveBack Shipping Box Letter

GiveBack Shipping Box with Watch

UPDATE 2018-10-02
They have received my watch and cleared it. Gift card is on the way!
Screen Shot 2018 10 02 at 8 56 04 AM

Apple Apple Watch GiveBack
September 2, 2018

Sync Your DuckDuckGo Settings

If you use DuckDuckGo, you may or may not have also gone through the settings and got things tweaked to your liking. Did you know you can also sync those settings across all your devices (desktop & mobile). And, it does this anonymously.

The process is very easy

  1. Go to settings within DuckDuckGo.
  2. Select other settings”.
  3. Get everything all setup the way you like.
  4. Select save settings” and create a passphrase.
  5. You can now select load settings” on any other device and use that passphrase to load your settings.

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