5 Feb

Watched Office Space this weekend (again)

It amazes me just how relevant it still is today.

Ignore the humor – pretend it’s a documentary for a few minutes and watch it paying attention to the people, how they act and the issues they face in the movie.

I have eight bosses today – every minor misunderstanding is amplified by eight.

I have peers whose entire toolbox of skills consist of asking other people to do work for them – rather than doing any of this work themselves. Elevating the process of asking for help on the surface while really just outsourcing to a high art.

My managers are great and my co-workers are pleasant people, but the parallels between movie and real life are still uncanny.

4 Feb

January was an incredibly useful failure

So my plan for January was to put my Raspberry Pi into daily use as a web enabled garage door opener and automated access log.

The following goals were defined:

  • Done in January.
  • Hand crafted electronics to safely join Pi and Garage door opener.
  • Secure door status available across the internet and my local lan.
  • Secure door control available across the internet and my local lan.
  • One page write up of the project posted online.

Only the electronics are done at this point!

My local lan Wi-Fi is struggling due to the size of my home.  I have a repeater upstairs and it’s causing more issues than it solves approximately half of the time.  The other half of the time it works fine.  I’ve got a plan to fix it, but until that plan is in place my Pi is safely screwed to a garage rafter and off the network after about sixteen hours.

I’m not done – but I’m not moving forward again yet.

29 Jan

Just Under the Wire

So the Pi-Garage system is minutes away from being done.
(I just might hit my target for January – shocking)

The WebUI works but needs some re-factoring for family use.  All the lights light and the buttons work, but unless I want to explain that ‘black status’ is closed and ‘blue status’ is open I had better put in some time to make it user friendly.

Notices are where the hour really has to be spent.  I learned just enough Python to be dangerous and now I need to learn how to create a simple latching algorithm to prevent six hundred notices from being sent to my mobile when the door goes up.


  • Re-factor Web GUI.
  • Latching notice (only on state change) algorithm.
  • Add second sensor for side door.
  • Stretch – add sensor for kitchen door.
  • Super stretch – add logging to web page.
  • One page write up for reference.

All of this has to happen before Monday – that’s when I switch gears and write my first computer game!


28 Jan

Stay the course – Grind

What’s the best way to get to Carnegie Hall?


This joke lies to us with a smile every time.  I could practice every day, all day on my guitar and I would never get to Carnegie Hall unless it was to accept an award for the most time spent in practice.

Perfect practice makes perfect – bad practice simply reinforces bad habits.

So please – whatever you want to be – work on it every day.

But be certain that you are working on the RIGHT things when you do this, check your course and patterns.

It’s the only way to Carnegie Hall.

20 Jan

Birthday Log – 2015

6:20AM – Normal start of the day until my wonderful Wife announces she will put the boys on the bus. Followed by breakfast and coffee delivered to the bedroom!
8:00AM – New TOP GEAR on the DVR with a full pot of coffee followed by indoor drone flight time.

10:25 – Coffee Reload and finger rest – BF4 style!
12:00 – Gaming break for shower and lunch.
12:30 – Birthday lunch is Karen’s meatloaf from Moms recipe sandwich (cold with mayo and onions) – AWESOME!
1:30 – 12 Monkeys (movie) and a catnap on the couch with a real cat! – RELOAD
3:00 Boys are home and Jurassic Park is on Apole TV
5:00 Karen brought home Guida and ice cream cake AND cheesecake!
7:00 New fountain, new shoes and an Android Tab!

19 Jan

Integration – Phase One Complete

The box is installed, along with the overhead door controller and the overhead door sensor!
It was amusing since I had a test program in place that cycled the door relay every five seconds – starting automatically at boot.
I’m on a ladder and the door was controlled by a vengeful ghost for a few minutes until my brain kicked in again. (still funny today).

Next outstanding steps:

  • Connect other two door sensors.
  • Create new web interface for home use.
  • Create pushover script to trigger on sensor change.
  • Determine how to control from home.
  • Add WebCam for visual confirmation?


17 Jan

Boxed up and ready for install

Stand offs are in place and everything fits in the new enclosure.
Hopefully tomorrow I will power it up in place and will run the relay and sensor wires to the doors.
This will still leave me with a few hours of software configuration (mostly design) and implementation.
Last is a one page write up and then it’s on to the next project (whatever that may be!)

15 Jan

Hardware complete – install and software next

Baby Groot approved the reed switch installation after I was educated in the concept of a ‘floating’ GPIO input and wired another three 10k resistors into the board.

Some quality time was spent looking at the software and I think I will try webiopi for a bit longer. It’s not something I want internet facing if it uses an embedded web service, but I think I can use the Python it exposes to cross the firewall safely. Plus it rocks a nice Ajax UI inside the firewall at install! Great software!


14 Jan

Correction – no reed switches after 3:00PM!

I was told to look at Goldcrest Electronics for reed switches and boy was I impressed!
Imagine an old candy store in the country…
Now imagine that the store is in the heart of Rochester and that every little sugar gem is an electronic component.
They had hundreds of switches, thousands of relays – I didn’t even dig into the IC room!
They also had Arduino and Raspberry Pi on the shelf (not just internet order).
The very best part – the place was a mess.
Everything was ‘grouped’ but once you found the ‘switch area’ you were ‘forced’ (I loved it) to look at row and column and bucket/bag of items to find what you wanted.

I walked the whole store twice (except the IC room – I was afraid I would never leave).

They are only open 9-3 sigh…