All about urban planning, brewing, technology, gadgets and other stuff I find interesting.
Author: David Spatholt
I work for Hamilton County's Community Development Division as the Program Development Specialist. My blog (www.spatholt.com) is a site where I catalog my professional thoughts and personal hobbies. All of my opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my employer.
I often blog about urban planning, politics, public administration, brewing beer, running and technology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Planet Money – an excellent ‘economics’ podcast, interesting topics and great voices/sound quality. I always find myself engrossed in Planet Money.
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.
Tested (Adam Savage) – excellent conversation about a wide variety of things, great background listening while toiling at my desk at home.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 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):
git clone https://github.com/libretro/stella-libretro.git
(this downloads the code to your pi; do it in your home directory)
(this navigates into the source code you just downloaded)
(this compiles the code)
(this navigates to the directory on your pi that houses the stella emulation library)
sudo cp stella_libretro.so stella_libretro.so.bak
(this makes a backup of your old stella library just in case)
sudo rm stella_libretro.so
(this deletes your old stella library to make room for the new one; the backup is still there)
sudo cp /home/pi/stella-libretro/stella_libretro.so stella_libretro.so
(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:
(navigates you to the directory where your stella emulation library lives)
sudo rm stella_libretro.so
(this deletes your newly-built stella library to make room for your old backup to be restored)
sudo mv stella_libretro.so.bak stella_libretro.so
(this renames your backup to make it work with RetroArch again)
A few tips I learned:
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.
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).
Setting up SAMBA shares worked great for giving non-tech-savvy people the ability to add their own content.
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.
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.
Recently Rebecca and I upgraded our cell phones, pat of that process was upgrading to USB C cables. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but I happened across a post by Benson Leung, a google employee, discussing his mission to find and put a stop to out of spec cables on Amazon.
This post is a bit more stream of thought than I normally like to publish, however there didn’t seem to be a great organizational structure other than detailing the story of how I did what I did. With respect to that, I’ve left it as is because I think it reflects the trial-and-error, on-the-fly, nature of my experience.
Those of you that know me personally have likely noticed my 60 lb weight loss over the past year or so. I’ve also gotten a number of questions about my “secret sauce” when it came to weight loss. I started tracking my weight about 10 lbs down from my peak weight. I managed to change my BMI by 6.3 points.
I’m likely writing this as much for myself as I am for those people. The secret, I tell them, is exercise and diet heavily sprinkled with dedication.
My journey started with a second trip to the doctor after the first which had an impetus to change my lifestyle. What I had tried in the three months between visits was not working.
I wasn’t exactly unhealthy, but I was far heavier than I would have wanted at 29 years old. My diet wasn’t terrible either, but it did lack a significant amount of vegetables. And so the start of my change went something like this:
Creating a Plan of Action
My first shot at it failed, so in my second attempt I decided to focus on implementing routine slowly, here was my basic plan:
Focus on a single goal with the most impact.
Implement a new goal each time one has become routine.
Profit (lose weight)
My first goal was to hit the AHA recommended activity time/step count. I used a Fitbit flex to track my steps. For 6 months I hit 10,000 steps every day.
While my first plan had been to change one thing at a time, my diet took a wild swing too. I was really afraid of eating nearly anything. As that evolved, the goal took shape: eat salad at least five times a week. Eat more chicken and salmon. Eat less fatty meat. As of this writing, I still maintain the above advice, with a bit of variety thrown in to keep it interesting. I even won the chili cook off at the NKADD with a veggie lentil chili.
As my step count hit the 10,000 stride, I started to change things a bit. I added running and dropped step counts in favor of time (20-30 minutes vigorous) when I was running. I downloaded Hal Higdon’s beginner half marathon training schedule and followed that. I missed only 5 days out of the schedule’s 15 weeks. By the end I adopted the overall pattern of the training schedule and follow it still.
After almost a year, and having turned 30, I feel better now than I did at 25. I could also probably outrun my 25-year-old self fairly easily. My diet is better and my last visit to the doctor in May showed I’d improved everything. I’ve held things at steady state for nearly 3 months, showing myself I can keep the weight off, and I’m getting ready to ramp up in the fall to try to get my weight down even further. It all started, though, with an unwavering commitment to hit my targets and meet a simple goal first, before doing anything else. That seemed hard then, but looking back now I wonder how I had never done that before.
Update: 8/31/2015, I take it all back. It was only a temporary fix. My new diagnosis is something has corrupted my account or the mail app is mishandling things. Will update if I find something that works.
I’ve been pretty aggravated lately with a recurring error with Windows 10 built-in mail client with my work e-mail account.