SmartiPi Touch Case

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A friend of mine decided to build one of those Raspberry Pi based arcade consoles.

That got me thinking. I had a Pi 2 and Touchscreen that never got used for anything so maybe I'll do the same.

Haven't had much time for gadgets, let alone building a custom case. Luckily, I stumbled across the SmartiPi Touch Case.

Very happy with this housing. Obviously it supports the official Raspberry Pi Touchscreen, along with any version of the Pi, and has access for riser boards. Pegs on the front and back allow for even further expansion, or just Lego fun.

After a few minutes of setup I was all ready to go and installed RetroPi for classic gaming fun.

Pebble Time

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So I picked up a refurbished Pebble Time watch from Woot a few weeks ago.

Having owned a Moto 360 I can say this is a much nicer watch for me.

Pebble watches are not OS specific so it works great with my iPhone. The screen is always on with variable back light depending on ambient sensor. Battery life is 4 or 5 days easy. Its lighter and smaller than the 360. I prefer a leather band so might have to upgrade at some point but the included silicon one is very comfortable.

Screen resolution is much lower than other smart watches so the faces are not nearly as fancy. I did find a very nice LCARS theme I use as my daily.

The included phone software is super easy to work with. As notifications to your phone happen the software adds them to a list. At this point you can then decide if you want to forward them to the phone or not. Very slick.

Also, if you dismiss anything on the watch it does not mark it read on the phone. This works great for me as I would always forget to go back and check old notifications with the 360.

After a week of use I would not hesitate to recommended the Pebble watch to anyone needing simple notifications but not native apps.

Linksys E1200 N300 Router

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So a friend built a very nice barn last year, and has been struggling with low wireless signal.

Upon investigation I realized he used metal siding and roofing. Well of course there is no signal, its a huge faraday cage.

We ran a network cable from the home router out to the barn, and then I used the Linksys E1200 as a secondary access point.

This was VERY easy to setup. Picking bridge mode from the setup screen and assigning an IP from the home router subnet was all it took. After that I configured the wireless to match the house and he was up and running.

The unit itself isn't anything special, but for this use you can't beat it.

Thinkpad 11e

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Over holiday break a friend bought some AMX automation equipment and needed help learning how to program it.

I picked up an ASUS T100 a while back to be my carry around tablet with a keyboard for just such tasks. Except for using it to test some HDMI connections this was the first time I tried to program with it ... and the last.

Woot has daily sales that I keep an eye on. Last week they listed a Lenovo Thinkpad 11E on sale for 65% off retail. Too good a deal to pass up.

This is a rugged laptop marketed at students that has passed military specification for durability. It delivers as advertised shipping with a N2940 quad core CPU, 4gig ram (8gig max), and 128gig SSD. I agree with other reviews that the 11.6" screen is a little lack luster, but ok for the price I got it.

It also comes with Windows 10 Pro and very little bloatware. So after the usual hour of updates things were up and running pretty quick.

Being a Thinkpad I was a little disappointed at first it didn't have a trackpoint, but the touchpad is large and works well so I shouldn't miss it. Also having owned other Thinkpads I was looking forward to using their legendary keyboards again. The chicklet style keyboard on the 11e is not what I was expecting, but also turns out to be very good.

Everyone I've shown this to is impressed with the quality. I've done a little work on it today and am happy with the unit. As for the poor T100, you will be listed for sale soon.

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.

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