Category Archives: IT

Juicero post-mortem

 

Juicero
The juicero is toast. Not surprising to me: it was a terrible idea.

While the juicero was terrible, this analysis of the engineering behind the juicero is fantastic: Here’s Why Juicero’s Press is So Expensive – Bolt Blog.

Even if you aren’t interested in this device, read this analysis. You will come away with a much better appreciation of all the devices currently in your own life and some of the thinking that goes into making them.

 

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Is it okay for a city to track … and other thoughts

This: Is it okay for a city to track what’s in your poop? – Macleans.ca, is a provocative question that headlines a good article.

Now for most people, the answer would be a loud “no!”.  But as you can see in the article, smarter cities lead to municipal governments gathering more information about you. Certainly in the case of smart meters, the government agency can tell alot about you just from when you use power. Digital technology and the need to better manage government resources can lead to further tracking, including to what is in your waste water. Expect to see more such tracking in the future.

Ideally for any information being gathered about you, there would be strict control over who has access to the information and what they can do with it. As well, there would be some accountability with regards to that information. I would expect there is a mixed record for much of that information, but the fact that I can only speculate tells me there is more work to be done with regards to accountability.

Read the article. It helps to be informed about such tracking so you can know how you can be tracked and how you can ask questions about such tracking to government officials and elected politicians.

Don’t discount the Apple Watch, for two reasons

Reason #1: Apple is seeing growth in sales of the Watch, and plans to give it cellular capabilities will drive growth further. If cellular networks allow you to share your number across your phone and watch, it could really support people who may want to go without their phone from time to time.
Reason #2: is my belief that the Watch will provide Apple with a platform to develop miniaturization. Having different platforms and different scales allows Apple to innovate and gets their partners like Intel to do the same. This will support Apple in being either first or best in the areas they have products.

I'm glad to see the Watch continue to grow. I would not be surprised to see some of the features we once saw in the Shuffle morph into the Watch. That would make up some for the lost of that other once great platform of Apple, the iPod, which was loved and now lost.

Installing SonarQube on CentOS/RHEL

The following webpage has detailed instructions for installing and configuring SonarQube on a RHEL/CentOS 7 Linux server (real or virtual) and it was one of the best guides I’ve seen (and I’ve reviewed half a dozen):

The webpage  outlines how to update your Linux server, how to install MySQL (as a data repository) on it, and how to then install SonarQube software on the server.

Some things to note. First, this procedures has you using wget to get v6.0 of SonarQube:

Check out the page https://www.sonarqube.org/downloads/ and see the latest version of SonarQube (e.g. 6.4) and replace “sonarqube-6.0.zip” with the latest version (e.g. “sonarqub-6.4.zip”.)

One important thing to note: this procedure creates a userid and database called sonarqube.

Later in the process, the changes made to /opt/sonarqube/conf/sonar.properties needs to match this:

sonar.jdbc.username=sonarqube                                   sonar.jdbc.password=password
sonar.jdbc.url=jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/sonarqube?useUnicode=true&characterEncoding=utf8&rewriteBatchedStatements=true&useConfigs=maxPerformance

If the userid, password and database you created in MySQL do not match what it is the sonar.properties file, you will see cannot connect to the database errors in the /opt/sonarqube/logs/web.log file and SonarQube will not come up.

Once you enter: sudo ./sonar.sh start

Get the IP address of the SonarQube server and then go to a browser and enter:

The CRTC upholds net neutrality in Canada

It may not seem obvious, but preventing ISPs from providing zero-rating is actually support for Net Neutrality.

I generally see Net Neutrality as a good thing, though the ISPs have something of a case here. That said, Net Neutrality is a good thing to stick with, especially because what the ISPs give they can also take away.

More on the CRTC ruling here: CRTC ruling against zero-rating a boon for businesses, experts say (via IT Business)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate right out of a Philip K Dick Novel

Melenchon hologram
In France, politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon plans to be in seven places at once using  something similar to a hologram. According to Le Parisien:

Strictly speaking, these are not holograms. Jean-Luc Mélenchon will be present in seven different places thanks to … an optical illusion discovered for the first time half a century ago by an Italian physicist

Virtual Mélenchon reminds me of the politician Yance in Philip K Dick’s novel, The Penultimate Truth. We may not be far off where we get virtual candidate that look like people but behind the scenes we have AI or some combination of AI and people.

For more on the technology, see the article in Le Parisien. For more on Dick’s novel, see Wikipedia. Read up now: I think we can expect to see more of this technology in use soon.

How to get a Raspberry Pi working with a TV with composite/component input (as opposed to HDMI)

RaspberryPiTV
I had an old Raspberry Pi 1 Model A, with an HDMI port and a standard RCA composite video port for older displays and I also had an old Toshiba TV (pictured above) and I wanted to get them working together. Here’s what I did and here’s some things I learned.

First things first, I had to get a the Raspberry Pi functional. To do that, I mostly followed the steps here: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2598363/how-to-set-up-raspberry-pi-the-little-computer-you-can-cook-into-diy-tech-projects.html. I say mostly because I was using a Mac, so I used SDFormatter to format the SD card. If you have a Mac, you can get SDFormatter here.

Basic steps to set up the Pi were:

  1. Download Raspbian
  2. Download SDFormatter
  3. Put the SD Card in my Mac (you want at least an 8 GB SD card).
  4. Format the SD Card using SDFormatter
  5. Unzip Raspbian
  6. Take the files in the unzipped Raspbian folder and copy them onto the SD Card (which should appear on your desktop)

All that is pretty straightforward in terms of setting up the Pi. If you don’t care for the instructions from PCWorld, Google “Raspberry Pi setup Mac” (or Windows or whatever your operating system) and you will likely find a site that is helpful.

Now, once the files are copied on to the SD Card, modify the config.txt file on the SD card. This is a key thing I had to do. Before I did it, I could plug my Pi into the TV but nothing appeared on the screen. After modifying the config.txt file (and it took some hacking around), I was able to get it to work.

Why do you have to do this? It seems that Raspbian assume you will be using HDMI and will not recognize a non-HDMI output device unless you modify the file. So modify it you must.

Note! Before I edited the file and replaced the text in it, I selected all of the text in that file and copied and pasted it into a file on my Mac as a backup. I recommend you do the same. Then I made the changes to the file, saved it, then ejected the SD card and put it in my Raspberry Pi. If you want to see my version of the file, you can see it here.

It was a process of trial and error to figure out which lines in the the config.txt to change. I was fortunate that I could start with this page which had details on how he got it working. Unfortunately his config.txt and the one I needed were slightly different, so I kept at it until I figured out how it should work. (With his file, the text was unstable: it kept rolling up the screen. With my file, the text did not roll.)

In my config.txt, I have colour burst disabled, rendering everything in black and white. Enable it if you want colour. I disabled it because I thought it would improve resolution but it did not.

Other things to note:

  • I had trouble determining which part of the composite cable should go into the TV. I had one end plugged into the Raspberry Pi, but it took me trial and error until I figured out where to plug the other end into the TV.
  • It will take up to a minute or longer before the Raspberry Pi sends video to my TV. If you don’t see output right away, be patient.
  • Most newer TVs also have composite/component ports. I used them for some testing.
  • Is it worth doing this if you can hook up to HDMI? I’d say no. I wanted to make use of the old Toshiba TV but if I had an old monitor with an HDMI port, I’d get an HDMI cable from the dollar store and connect up the Raspberry Pi that way.
  • When is it worth doing? I’d say if you had simple output to display, and the only ports available on your TV were the component ports, than give it a shot. I actually wrote a simple Twitter client in Python that polls Twitter every 5 minutes and displays my feed in text form. For simple text output like that, this set up is perfect. (You can see the output above: it looks weird due to the refresh rate and my phone: to the eye, it looks ok.)
  • Is it component or composite? I see the words “component” and “composite” used  and I am not sure which is correct.  In my case, all I know is I have one cable to connect the Pi’s video output to the TV’s input port. The Pi has only one video port to plug into, so that’s easy. Most TVs will have more than one port to accept video input: you need to experiment to get the right one.

I hope you found this useful.

P.S. The other thing I like about doing this is: my TV now  looks like the TV between Leon and Holden in Blade Runner. 🙂