New Year, New Look, Maybe New Posts

Every year, around January (I think because its cold) I get the itch to start updating my blog again.

So it goes through three phases:

  1. New year -> itch to update
  2. Update theme -> start thinking about content
  3. Make post announcing as such, keep up until it stops being so cold.

So I think the realistic assessment here is that a) I should write more posts when its cold. And b) I’m only really an active blogger from January to about April.

Anyway, you can look forward to some new content soon.

The one about ebooks:

I have a growing collection of e-books thanks to my mom getting me my first e-reading devices roughly seven years ago–since Christmas of 2009 I’ve owned an e-reader. My first, the Nook 1st Edition was easy to manage, I kept everything on one device and that was it. Today, I read e-books across devices–moving from a Kindle Paper White to my phone (Nexus 6p), to my NVIDIA Sheild, to my Surface Pro, and then maybe reading on the Desktop every once in a while.

The problem with reading across devices is two-fold, 1) how do I manage my ebooks in a central location but access them everywhere? and 2) how much can I sync that across devices?

The solution for the first problem was Calibre. With Calibre you can manage your library from across sources and add metadata to them. Calibre can also upload books to your devices locally or it can host a content server.

The content server, when paired with a Dynamic DNS, a static IP for the computer hosting the server, and some port forwarding on your home router allows you to get access to your books on any device anywhere.

Port Forwarding: 1. Go to WAN, 2. Go to Port Forwarding 3. Setup a port forward for your content server using either the default port for Calibre 8080 or some other port you choose.
Static IP Assignments: 1. Go to LAN, 2. Go to DHCP Server, 3. Scroll down to the manual assign area and then use the add button to add your HTPC/Computer to the list. You should assign it a static IP that is easy to remember.
Static IP Assignments: 1. Go to LAN, 2. Go to DHCP Server, 3. Scroll down to the manual assign area and then use the add button to add your HTPC/Computer to the list. You should assign it a static IP that is easy to remember.
Setting up DDNS: 1. Go to WAN, 2. Go to DDNS, 3. Choose Yes, Pick a server, Choose a host name. This allows you to get access to your router’s external IP address even if it changes (most internet providers will change your actual IP semi-frequently)

My ASUS Router allows me to use their asuscomm Dynamic DNS. I also setup a static IP for my HTPC that hosts the content server and picked a port (not 80 since that us HTTP) and forwarded it on the router. Calibre allows you to set up a username and password, though this is not always supported by the apps you’ll use, to protect yourself from others trying to get to your files.

From the Calibre Library Screen drop down the extra tool bar items by using the double arrow on the upper right side of the toolbar. Click on connect/share and choose “start content server.” Or click on preferences.
If you clicked preferences, choose the “Sharing over the net” option.
Customize this screen by choosing the port you forwarded on your router. Setup a username and password. Then click start server.

The second problem is maybe just one of convenience for picking up where you left off any time you switch devices. For that I upload books to Google Play Books. Google Play Books lets you upload an e-book and then read it across devices (supposing you can use the Google Play Books app or website on that device). The major benefit to this is that I usually have access to at least one of my devices with Google Play Books on it.

When you get to Google Play Books from the web (on your laptop or computer) choose the upload books option and then drag and drop or select the files you want to upload. Google Play Books will process them for you. Once they’re processed they will appear on your other devices in “My Library” for Google Play Books. Note: You can drag and drop books from Calibre to the upload box.

Once you’ve got your books in Calibre you can mange them all from the Calibre app while accessing them anywhere. Meanwhile you can upload to and (optionally) delete books from Google Play Books which will sync your reading progress across devices.

Podcasts worth looking at:

One of my new year’s resolutions (besides updating my blog weekly) has been to learn more ‘stuff.’ My wife would probably laugh at that statement since 90% of our conversations revolve around some new, really cool, thing I want to tell her about.

In the interest of sharing, I figured I’d make a list (looking at you, Buzzfeed) of the podcasts I’ve been listening to for the past month and my thoughts. Podcasts are presented from least likely to skip an episode to most likely.

  1. Planet Money – an excellent ‘economics’ podcast, interesting topics and great voices/sound quality. I always find myself engrossed in Planet Money.
  2. The Pollsters – a recent addition, I still get urges to look at polling thanks to my time as  Political Science/Pre-law major at YSU. This is really PC and they talk about methodology which is fantastic.
  3. Tested (Adam Savage) – excellent conversation about a wide variety of things, great background listening while toiling at my desk at home.
  4. Freakonomics – these used to be better, and to be honest I sometimes consider skipping them now, the insight of Freakonomics brought to other interesting topics. Its hit or miss whether its interesting or whether the insight is “worth it.”
  5. Serial – the internet sensation makes the list. Season One was excellent, season two is good so far, and with a relaxed release schedule it’ll be even harder to justify a skip.
  6. Hidden Brain – another podcast talking about behavioral and psychological trends I never knew about. The key here is that I find the host’s dictation and voice to be non-grating unlike the next several podcasts.
  7. Stuff You Should Know – interesting podcast about things I generally want to know more about, if I don’t I skip it. The hosts voices sometimes wear on me though.
  8. Where There’s Smoke – a self-development podcast, I usually skip around their archives until I see something I want to know more about. Mostly hit or miss, but still worth a look.
  9. Completely (Optional) Knowledge – run by Green Peace, surprisingly, its “the show that answers the questions you never knew you had.” Last episode I listened to was about the longest someone lived underwater by way of anecdote about underwater tea-parties into a story about living in a ‘long tube’ under the ocean. Interesting and well produced.
  10. What’s the Point – 538’s ‘latest’ podcast, this is like listening in to a discussion about how data is influencing just about everything. Host is great, I believe he’s worked on a few other economics related podcasts, but I skip around depending on the topic.
  11. This American Life – I, like many people, went through a love affair with TAL. However, after sticking with it for several years I just find myself less infatuated with the show now. I skip anything that doesn’t strike me as immediately interesting.
  12. Song Exploder – have not spent a lot of time with this one yet. Concept is interesting, have an artist discuss the creation of one of their songs–the meaning, etc. This week I saw that they’ve got MGMT with Time to Pretend. So that should be worth a look.
  13. Half Hour Intern – I want to like this podcast, but the episodes are hit and miss. The latest episode with the woman who does tattoos of nipples for breast cancer survivors was really interesting though.
  14. Useful Science – in a nutshell, they discuss scientific papers and their quality/implications. Often times I can take it or leave it depending on the field of knowledge being discussed.

Podcasts I might revisit soon:

  1. Intelligence Squared Debates – like many of the above, you sometimes have to skip around–but often these are very interesting. One very memorable debate had the topic, “The world would be better off without religion.” This was before all the current ISIS and domestic terrorism and I think if that debate were held again today it might sound very different.
  2. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – I started listening to this at the behest of my sister. I like it, but often come away feeling like I could’ve been doing something else.

Homebrew Chocolate-Chili Stout

The “Beaver Avenue Brewer’s Guild” (BABG) brewed this beer on January 10. I did some work on v1.0 of the recipe, I attached the recipe below.

I’m affectionately calling it Poseidon’s Wrath, a name first suggested as a taunt related to the snow this morning by Nikki.

Anyway, the beer went great. I believe made some adjustments based on using baker’s chocolate (decrease the hops because this adds bitterness), switched to a tsp. of cayenne pepper instead of Ancho and Serrano, and he planning on extracting vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon sticks for the secondary. All said, the brewday went extremely well and I think this recipe is going to work out great.

Poseidon’s Wrath Imperial Stout

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5 gal 90 min 47.6 IBUs 38.1 SRM 1.085 1.017 9.0 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 11.906 lbs 69.06
Munich Malt - 20L 1.706 lbs 9.89
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 1.19 lbs 6.9
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L 1.19 lbs 6.9
Chocolate Malt 1 lbs 5.8
Black (Patent) Malt 4 oz 1.45


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 1.81 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5
Willamette 1.16 oz 30 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Willamette 1.16 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Goldings, East Kent 0.4 oz 0 min Boil Pellet 5
Willamette 0.4 oz 0 min Boil Pellet 5.5


Name Amount Time Use Type
Irish Moss 0.50 tsp 10 min Boil Fining


Add .5 lb cocoa nibs

Add 1 ounce of Ancho Chile at 0 min

Add 1 ounce of Serrano Chile at 0 min

Spam :(

I’ve been getting slammed with spam the last two weeks thanks to my two most “relevant” blog posts Dash v Automatic and Modernist Mac & Beer Cheese

Today I added reCaptcha to the site via BestWebSoft Google Captcha plugin. We’ll see if it makes any dent in the numbers. Regardless, any drop is better than having to navigate 5,000 comments to see if anything wasn’t spam.

If any interesting numbers come out of it (read: statistics) I’ll share them here in a few weeks.

Brewing the 15-minute IPA

With a boil time of 15 minutes, you’re getting a lot done. This recipe is designed mostly to test varieties of hops in a somewhat controlled environment. I add a small bag of specialty grains, in my version, to add just a hint of malt flavor behind the hops–I think it provides a better backboard for tasting the hops.

First, the recipe for a 1 gallon batch and then the process:

15 Minutes IPA

Grains, Yeast and Hops:

  • 1 oz hops, your choice. (I’ve used Citra, Mosaic and Chinook)
  • 1.5 lbs Light Dry Malt Extract [DME] (keeping it simple)
  • 4.8 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt 60L
  • SafAle English Ale #S-04 (1/2 packet)

Continue reading “Brewing the 15-minute IPA”

On Retropie problems..

An image of a retropie at work

RetroPies for Christmas!

For Christmas this year I ended up building a bunch of RetroPi’s with Raspberry Pi 2 “kits” (they come with a case, RPi2 and power supply)

I also ended up getting a controller, for my dad I got a Buffalo SNES USB controller. For everyone else, especially if your planning to play anything more modern, I’d want something wireless and with analog sticks like the Logitech F710

On all three of the RPi’s I did for others I used SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSD cards. These were the cheapest among the brands I like and I’ve found SanDisk not to go corrupt on me.

With one of the Pi’s, a friend of mine wanted to use an X360 controller. That ended up being a boondoggle because, after installing the X360 driver from the menu, it tries to use two controller spaces. I’ve yet to resolve that issue, save for plugging it in last so it takes up the ports of the next two spaces after all other controllers are plugged in.

All that being said, everyone that got one absolutely loved it.

The splashscreen I chose for my retropies
The splashscreen I chose for my retropies.

Resolving some problems

I also ran into a two problems, first with inputs not autoconfiguring in Retroarch. Worse than that, the cofigure controller for retroarch was missing from the retropie setup menu. I resolved the input issue by reflashing the image from Petrockblog (3.2.1). For some reason updating RetroPi from the binary was breaking autoconfig.

The configuration option that should be there
The configuration option that should be there

The second was with Player 2 input not working on the image I got from PetrockBlog (Retropi 3.2.1). However, I was able to resolve that by SSH’ing into the RPi and running the following commands (found here):

SSH'ing into the retropie to update and resolve the input problem.
SSH’ing into the retropie to update and resolve the input problem.
git clone
(this downloads the code to your pi; do it in your home directory)
cd stella-libretro
(this navigates into the source code you just downloaded)
(this compiles the code)
cd /opt/retropie/libretrocores/lr-stella
(this navigates to the directory on your pi that houses the stella emulation library)
sudo cp
(this makes a backup of your old stella library just in case)
sudo rm
(this deletes your old stella library to make room for the new one; the backup is still there)
sudo cp /home/pi/stella-libretro/
(this copies your newly-built stella library from the source code directory to the directory where your stella emulation library lives)
If something goes wrong, you can revert to your old stella library backup by doing:
cd /opt/retropie/libretrocores/lr-stella
(navigates you to the directory where your stella emulation library lives)
sudo rm
(this deletes your newly-built stella library to make room for your old backup to be restored)
sudo mv
(this renames your backup to make it work with RetroArch again)

A few tips I learned:

  1. Creating a ghost of the installation with everything I wanted on the SD Card was great for creating more RetroPies. I had to do all my setup on the first one and then cloned the card afterwards using Win32DiskImg.
  2. Edit the input configuration so that hitting both analog sticks (or another combination if your controller lacks those buttons) to open the RetroArch menu. The config file is located at \\RETROPIE\all\configs\RetroArch.cfg and you can uncomment the section regarding a menu combo and use the corresponding number for each combo (search the file for combo).
  3. Setting up SAMBA shares worked great for giving non-tech-savvy people the ability to add their own content.
  4. Installing the smartphone controller experimental package was a nice addition for people who don’t want to have extra controllers lying around all the time but occasionally wanted to play with more people.
  5. Most of the USB Wi-Fi adapters I tried had awful speeds, I ended up relying on Ethernet 90% of the time during my setups.
  6. Having a wireless keyboard (Logitech K400) was awesome (I now use it for my xbox one and HTPC)
Keisel was excited to try some of the games.
Keisel excited to try some of the games.