Fedora Linux

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So it looks like I am going to be wearing this hat for a while on my work machine (see what I did there?).

LTS distros are great until they fall far enough behind in software versions to not get critical patch/updates. I was running Linux Mint 17.x, which is super stable and works very well, but ran into this pitfall forcing the change.

During my Zaurus development I needed to emulate the ARM system under QEMU. I built my file system, installed QEMU-ARM, and then fought for days trying to track down a system crash. When I posted my work to a forum another user got it to run immediately without modification but on an updated version of QEMU.


Sure enough I was still on 2.0.0 where the newest was 2.4.1. I looked to see what the latest version shipped with Ubuntu current was and it still lagged behind at 2.3.x

Manjaro was current, based on Archlinux. I tried a few times to get this installed and every time my desktop settings were fubar. I know it is because my /home has existed for many years and something is conflicting but I didn't have the patience to track it down.

I also gave Archbang a go, but it won't load off CD and I didn't have a USB drive handy.

So here we are, running Fedora, and so far so good. I haven't run a RPM system since 2003 so there is a little learning curve, but nothing major causing my day to day to suffer.

Gnome Desktop is a little different but it's like Yoda said "You must unlearn what you have learned". As long as I approach it with the attitude of "how does this work" instead of "how do I make it function like (fill in any other desktop environment)" things are good.

Sharp Zaurus SL-C3100

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My Sharp Zaurus SL-C3100 is arguably the best gadget I ever purchased. You can look up the history here if interested as it was a device far ahead of its time.

Every so often I bust the Z back out because someone has done something amazing that I need to try.

This is one of those times.

I keep in touch with a handful of users from "the old days". It was about nine months ago I helped compile apps on my Z for OpenBSD 5.6 beta. One person from that group shot me an email saying there was an attempt at getting ArchLinux running and I needed to be in on it.

I am a huge fan of ArchLinuxARM on my pogo plugs, so I jumped on the forums to see how things were going. Ends up a user named danboid had complete install instructions ready to go.

An hour later I had a working ArchLinuxARM system running on my Z, including network card. I can't explain how great it is to have a current OS running on 10 year old hardware.

Continued development is ongoing as device specific issues are now being addressed to hopefully get more graphical software functional.

iPhone 5s

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This is the second time writing this post. The first took so long my login cookie timed out and nothing got saved. My bad for not clicking the "save as draft" button more often, or at all.

Basically I had explained how in my search for a new Android phone I was turned off by the size of the current options. I don't need a tablet, I have one, I need a device to make calls, send some texts, and run the occasional weather or twitter app that fits in my pocket and can be used with one hand comfortably.

About this time my wife had seen the new iPhone 6s rose gold saying "wow that looks nice" which basically translates into "we are buying that". So after a trip to the Apple Store her old iPhone 5s was up for grabs.

My friend had recently posted how he hates the new iPhone 6 his company makes them use. But another said he loves his 5s, also coming from Android.

I decided to give the iPhone 5s a try and this is what I found after a few days of use.

So far every app I used on Android had an iOS version except for Series Guide. Luckily it is just a front end for trakt.tv so I installed iSeries for iOS and after linking my account all worked fine.

I get better reception, my accuracy on the keyboard is better, and I love the fingerprint unlock feature. Camera has also performed well, not as many focus issues as my LG G2.

Battery life is a little less, but considering this is a 2 year old hand me down a quick purchase from iFixit will take care of that.

Not being able to plug into a PC to transfer photos for work was a little hiccup. I ended up installing Microsoft OneDrive to transfer files, and so far it is working great.

Customizing the home screen, or the lack there of, is a downer, but not a show stopper. In fact the only real casualty so far is my Moto 360 smart watch.

Google released Android Wear for iOS, but it is near useless compared to the native version. Hopefully some things improve over time but coincidentally I stopped wearing the watch because it bothers me in anything long sleeves.

All in all I am pretty happy so far and expect to continue with the 5s as my daily phone. Any changes to this opinion, like usual, will be posted here.

Raspberry Pi 7” Touchscreen

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The people at Raspberrypi came out with their own touch screen display last week.

I picked one up to play with for the following reasons.

1) As an official product so I expect 100% support from most if not all OS distributions.

2) It doesn't use the HDMI port on the Pi.

3) Touchscreen! Python GUI already available via Kivy

4) Low power, I can use the same wall charger for both the screen and Pi.

I got the kit from MCM because they are a local company and shipping was cheaper than other resellers.

The unit is very nice. Assembly was easy enough following the video here. I do need to fabricate some brackets to mount it or better stand it up.

The only down side so far is the 800x480 resolution. If I design a touch interface this will not be an issue, but for a full desktop it is a tad cumbersome.

As with most posts time will dictate if/when I get to continue tinkering with this.

WeTek OpenELEC

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Review - Update

So this weekend I planned to work on some DVR features of this unit. That did not happen for the following reasons.

I moved the device upstairs and plugged it into my main TV which has the antenna feed. When turned on the time/date had reset to 1970 for some reason.

My local media configuration was still there, but the unit could no longer see the network shares. I checked the wireless settings and it did pull an IP, but I reset the configuration anyway to be safe.

I had to add a NTP server for time/date to update properly. I was then able to browse one of my servers, but not the other (both identical configurations). After a few minutes, the local workgroup was no longer browsable.

A reboot of the WeTek helped as it now updated the IMDB plug-in and prompted me about the Beta 3 update. The shares were still not accessible, even though I verified they were working on my laptop without issue.

By now I was too tired and half upset the box had so many issues so turned it off.

I am going to check forums to see what the feedback on the Beta 3 update is like. Maybe a clean install will fix these issues, but I hate to blow away the what seems to be a custom 5.1 install and break more than what gets fixed.

Tendak HDMI2AV

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tendak hdmi2av

This is something a little off the wall but I was so impressed with the results a short review is in order.

I do a lot of video conferencing. I have been putting standard definition Osprey video capture cards in PC's to allow the use of higher quality cameras and/or other video devices.

While upgrading to HD PTZ cameras I found out that a lot of applications will not support HD capture from anything other than webcams.

After trying many expensive HD capture cards, I was about to give up when I noticed good reviews for this device.

Tendak HDMI2AV converter promised to let me plug in my HD source on one side and output composite video on the other for $20.

No way was this going to work, but I purchased one to try anyway and guess what? It's darn near perfect.

Some reviews did mention the devices dying after a few weeks of use, so I have it doing a 12 hour burn in as I type this, but so far things work as advertised.

Shroud of the Avatar

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I spent a lot of time outdoors the last few weeks, but I did manage to put some time in with the Kickstarter game Shroud of the Avatar.

When my wife learned that Lord British (Richard Garriott), the creator of my favorite game Ultima Online, had a new game coming out she bought me early access for my birthday.

** Best Wife Ever **

That was in March of 2013. Between moving and baby I really haven't had an opportunity to check it out for real until now.

I put in maybe 5 hours of game time so still too early to do any kind of review, but I like what I see for the most part. As the baby tends to sleep better I hope to get additional game time in between all the other tech projects waiting for me.

WeTek OpenELEC

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Review - Part 1

I got my WeTek OpenELEC box a few days ago but haven't had a lot of time to test it out.

When you plug it in for the first time a wizard starts and asks a few questions to configure the device.

The first issue that got me is it looks for your network. I knew it had wireless, but none of my access points were showing up. Turns out 'wireless' is disabled from factory. A quick check box fixes it, but you shouldn't have know how to do that outside the wizard.

Once up and running I was very impressed at the interface speed. Keep in mind my previous Kodi hardware was a hacked Apple TV 2 and a 2010 Mac Mini. I am still running the default skin but plan to test some of the more robust options.

What I liked even more is the remote. It is a custom version for OpenELEC and wow is it nice to have dedicated buttons for things like right click menus or even a 'home' button.

The second thing that caused some grief was mapping to my QNAP NAS shares. I don't know a lot about Windows other than it is a necessary evil for me to play games.

My local workgroup name has been TARDIS for years, and all my device names are somehow Dr Who related (actors, companions, etc). For whatever reason, the WeTek would not see this workgroup name.

After various attempts at different configurations I ended up having to set my NAS to 'WORKGROUP' and then all my shares were available. This is something I will revisit.

I let it pull all the meta data for my Movie library. This went MUCH faster then the ATV2, but not quite as fast as the Mac Mini.

I played a few AVI, MP4, and MKV files with no issues. Because the ATV2 is limited to 720p I don't have much content at higher resolutions. I plan to download Big Buck Bunny to test with for my follow-up review.

I like you can turn the device on/off via remote.

My WeTek shipped with OpenELEC 5.1.0 which I can not verify as an official version anywhere. Most forum posts said they were on 5.0.8, so maybe things are being tweaked as product is sent out. I was prompted to upgrade to the latest beta but am going to hold off until final release.

I did not have time to test the tuner, which was my main reason to purchase this device. Live TV and DVR functionality will be the focus of my next post.


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For those who don't know, I am a huge Transformers fan, especially G1 stuff.

Transformers Generations series of figures are basically re-imagined figures based on original 80's toys.

Devastator is one of my all time favourites, so I had to own this new 18" model.

He now sits next to my computer, in my basement.

Welcome Back!

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After months of waiting I finally got my new domain.

Those of you who watched the linuxinstall.net podcast know I had a "less than professional" backdrop, basically my basement.

When that project dissolved I thought why not embrace that theme, and thus this site was born.

It took a while to settle on a new blog platform. Friends asked why I didn't use Wordpress again as before. I have no real reason other than it being overly complicated for my needs.

I moved all the old posts over for posterity and took down the old site which will eventually act more as a portal for various family projects.

Things seem to have settled down enough in my personal life that I should have time to post content again on some kind of "regular" interval ... hopefully.

I will continue to customize things here over the next few weeks. Topics may not always be technology related, but are guaranteed to have taken place in Walt's Basement.