1970s Rain Jet Sprinkler Install Guide

Recently going through my parents old house documentation we came across this lawn sprinkler installation guide. I especially like the illustrations with Mr. Rain “Chet”.

This was all in a folder labeled Permanent Home Improvements Carrolton Texas. We moved out of this house in 1976. I’m quite happy that so much of my hording of history is purely digital, though it’s not filed as well as my parents paper files.

There was also a full color glossy brochure for Buckner 1972 Lawn and Garden Sprinkler Equipment

Advertisements

Annoying Flashing High Mount Stop Light on newer cars

I know that to some extent I’m yelling at the cloud. I’ve mostly seen this feature on new Toyotas, but I also recently saw it on a new BMW. 

Old Man Yells at Cloud

The CHMSL flashing feature seems to happen when a person first applies the brakes after a period of not using them. It blinks the lamp three times before leaving them on constantly. This feature might be useful when traveling at highway speeds and it’s been a long time since the person has put their foot on the brake, but when traveling in city traffic it seems that the light is just strobing constantly. With modern LEDs there is no warm up time, so it’s like a red strobe light is going off at eye level.

The last update I found on Wikipedia said that the lights were generally not permitted to flash, with a couple of linked rulings from 2010.

My searching for details found various forum questions and answers, including how to add blinkers as after market options, but no details as to where the rules may have changed, or if it’ll be a new requirement going forward.

I certainly hope that it’s a temporary trend that goes away.

iTunes, Microsoft Store, COM Interface Type Library

Several years ago I’d written a program to manipulate data in the iTunes library using the approved Apple COM API. Part of the way this works in a C program is to include a type library in the headers defining all of the function calls. When iTunes is installed in the traditional way, Apple embedded the type library in the executable, and the executable was installed in a traditional location.

#import "C:/Program Files (x86)/iTunes/iTunes.exe"
using namespace iTunesLib;

With the installation of iTunes from the Microsoft store, the iTunes executable no longer lives in that location. Today my application builds properly with the following import command, but it may change mysteriously with version changes and automatic updates via the store.

#import "C:/Program Files/WindowsApps/AppleInc.iTunes_12093.3.37141.0_x64__nzyj5cx40ttqa/iTunes.exe"
using namespace iTunesLib;

My program builds and runs more reliably than it used to, which I’m assuming is in part due to the fact that I appear to now be using a 64 bit version of iTunes, and all the extra work Apple put in to make iTunes more reliable on windows in general.

Finding the iTunes application itself was the hardest part of the transition. I’m happy the API still exists because Apple no longer hosts easy access to the documentation for the API, and http://www.joshkunz.com/iTunesControl/ seems to be the most complete and searchable information.

iTunes, Microsoft Store, Microsoft Surface

Last year, Apple finally worked enough with Microsoft to get the iTunes program for windows available in the Microsoft Online Store. I’d always had problems with upgrading iTunes in windows in the past, requiring me to completely uninstall, reboot, and install the new version each time I wanted to upgrade. Often I had to not just uninstall iTunes, but search for other helper programs that Apple might have installed and uninstall them before rebooting.  I did the complete uninstall before I installed the version from the Microsoft store. Since that time, iTunes has almost magically been up to date on my desktop computer. The Microsoft store updates seem to get installed in downtime on my computer and everything just works.

I’m stuck in my ways a bit as far as music goes. I’ve get a large ripped CD collection, that I keep the originals all in a set of binders including the original paper inserts. My iPhone has 256GB of storage, more than half of which is my music.

I’ve kept my iPhone synchronized with my desktop computer because of the storage requirements of all of the music in the past, but at times have wished I was synchronizing with my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet that I travel with, and use just as much as my desktop. My Surface has 256GB of storage in the internal SSD, and I’ve been using a 256GB micro sd card in the accessible storage slot for the past couple of years. That’s good for movies while traveling, but I didn’t want to allocate over half the space to iTunes.

2019-03-11

The falling price of flash cards recently convinced me to buy a new 512GB flash card to leave in the Surface. I was able to get all of my music transferred over to the SD card and iTunes installed from the Microsoft Store with very little impact on the internal storage on my Surface. I followed the Apple support ducument and had a few issues because my library had never been consolidated from my early MP3 ripping days.

I’ve been running my Surface SSD with between 50 and 70GB free, which from what I’ve read about SSD usage is good for both lifespan and performance. The iTunes directory on my micro SD card consists of 24,169 files and 137,859,861,360 bytes according to a simple dir /s command.

All was looking good until I got around to connecting my iPhone to the new machine and telling it to backup on the new machine. The backup completed correctly, but I then found out that it had used up all the free space on my internal SSD and I was now down to less than 3GB free space.

A quick search on the web led me to this page explaining how to relocate the backups to an external drive in windows. That seemed good, until I realized that the directory described does not exist on my machine. One more change that seems to have happened to iTunes locations in the Microsoft Store move. A search on my machine led me to find the MobileSync directory in my user profile directory. I used robocopy to move the backup directory to an appropriate directory on my flash card, which took a while because it consisted of 58,623 files and 77,743,703,474 bytes. I then created a directory junction from the SSD location to the flash location.

robocopy /COPYALL /E /MOVE C:\Users\Wim\Apple\MobileSync\Backup D:\Wim\Apple\MobileSync\Backup
mklink /J C:\Users\Wim\Apple\MobileSync\Backup D:\Wim\Apple\MobileSync\Backup

After all that had completed I started iTunes and connected my phone, initiating another backup. Everything now appears to be working properly, with iTunes storing both it’s library and device backups on my secondary storage device.

The only drawback I’ve currently run into is that I use Windows Server Essentials 2016 as a home server and it’s device backup feature to backup my machine for emergency file recovery. The microsd card is recognized as removable media, and the backup software doesn’t easily let me include it in the regular backup strategy.

vcpkg, OpenCV, and Visual Studio

Several years ago I was playing around with a Logitech C920 webcam using OpenCV on Linux.

Recently I decided I wanted to get the same basic functionality under windows with minimal effort, so looked into what it would take to get OpenCV running on windows. I was amazed to come across a YouTube video showing the use of vcpkg as a library package manager under windows that allowed downloading, building, and installing many common libraries quite easily.

I was nicely amazed at how it worked..  Issuing just a few commands in powershell I was able to quickly download and build both vcpkg and OpenCV.

cd .\Source\Repos\
git clone https://github.com/Microsoft/vcpkg.git
cd .\vcpkg\
.\bootstrap-vcpkg.bat
.\vcpkg.exe integrate install
.\vcpkg.exe install opencv
.\vcpkg.exe install opencv:x64-windows

The one thing that bothers me the most is that I now have used over 7GB of space on my local drive on my 256GB SSD. That estimate is according to a quick change directory into the vcpkg directory and running the command dir /s /w it returned:

     Total Files Listed:
36549 File(s)  7,296,147,088 bytes
21911 Dir(s)  79,514,853,376 bytes free

My old program from Linux was able to run in my current Windows 10 environment with the only code change required being replacing the unix sleep() command with an appropriate windows command.

Here’s what the entire install process looked like in the shell:

vcpkg-1vcpkg-2vcpkg-3vcpkg-4vcpkg-5vcpkg-6

TaoTronics Bluetooth Transmitter connected to my Samsung Soundbar

A couple of years ago I bought a discount sound bar to use as my computer speaker. I’ve been really happy with the sound quality. It’s connected via an optical cable to my computer and has a separate subwoofer.

This summer I moved into a new apartment, and during the last month I’ve run into a problem. One of my neighbors seems to be connecting to my soundbar via Bluetooth.

By watching the display I was able to at least learn what brand device was connecting. I still don’t know the exact model name. https://www.taotronics.com/bluetooth-transmitter-reset.html shows how to reset the device itself. Unfortunately my soundbar doesn’t have a way of setting the Bluetooth pairing code, or resetting the handshake with any devices that may want to connect with it, or fully disabling Bluetooth. https://www.samsung.com/us/support/owners/product/2015-soundbar-w-subwoofer-hw-j355

When I first noticed the problem, the sound bar was in a mode that would let Bluetooth turn on the sound bar, which was extremely frustrating when I was nearly asleep and the soundbar would start playing noises for no reason. That caused me to learn how to disable the Bluetooth power on feature of the sound bar.  Now at least it will only switch to Bluetooth when I’m actually using the soundbar for computer output.

The TaoTronics devices seem to be able to connect to multiple devices at the same time. I’m guessing that my neighbor has no idea that they are connecting to a second device at all. Obviously it’s built to make connecting to devices as easy as possible.

If anyone has suggestions on how to reject an already paired device from Bluetooth, I’d love to see it in the comments. I’m willing to use one of my Raspberry Pi devices that supports Bluetooth to see if there’s a way to send an interrupt signal.

Summit Coin

My Summit Coin arrived yesterday!IMG_0003

I ordered this on May 25th, when I thought it was funny and not too expensive. It arrived on August 28th, after I’d given up on it’s arrival entirely. That’s three months after paying for it via a sketchy looking paypal address.

The paperwork was folded in three, both directions, to make it similar sized as the coin itself. That is why it wouldn’t lay flat in my scanner.

The white house gift shop is an interesting company. It claims to have been created under charter from President Harry Truman, but has nothing to do with the US government at all.

The details of this coin blew up on both cable media and social media when Donald Trump announced he would be meeting with Kim Jong-Un, and then further announced that he wouldn’t. After the announcement of the cancellation, the price on the coin dropped under $20, convincing me to buy one as a funny souvenir. After I ordered it, the summit was rescheduled and actually happened.

When I didn’t receive the coin in the first few weeks I looked back in my mail history and couldn’t find any confirmation that I’d actually ordered it beyond the pay-pal receipt. I remembered that I’d ordered the item using the web browser in my phone, while sitting in a coffee shop in another country. I mostly decided to chalk it up to an inexpensive learning experience.

Further research led me to this series of articles, which were interesting details about what the white house gift shop really is, and any relation to the government. WTF Is The White House Gift Shop? A TPM Special Report and White House Gift Shop, TPM Investigation Continues! I recommend reading each of them.