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Evil Business Plan, Part X: Software and Razor Blades

I will be hosting a large party soon, and with the middling reception at my house the inevitable “Can I get your Wifi Password” will come up a dozen or more times. After doing some research I found that there is a Wifi QR spec that all Android phones use (I’m not sure about Apple) so the plan is to print a not-so-classy QR code and put it somewhere prominent. It’s not beautiful, but it is better than just scribbling down the WPA key. But then I found a better, more classy way to go: NFC tags. Continue reading →

Lego Trains On Display

Model trains should either be on a layout or on display. I’ve found that if Lego model trains are left of the floor of a 6-year-old’s room they get smashed and mulched, resulting in a substantial rebuilding effort spanning multiple instruction booklets and multiple days.

There are several places that will sell you shelving or an entire shelf unit for your gauge of train, including for Lego trains, but they are all very expensive and the shipping is also substantial. There are some nice plans build your own (my favorite one is here) but I fear my routing skills are sub-par. So, the question is how to make a set of shelves specific to the Lego train gauge without spending a fortune and within my meager woodworking skill set.

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Roku with Roksbox on a Synology box

The Roku is awesome but it’s missing a critical feature – it can’t play video from your local network. To solve this I’m using Roksbox which is a channel for Roku (like an app on an Apple or an Android device). I’ve got all my content visible on my network via UPnP/DLNA (Universal Plug-and-Play) shares on my NAS, a Synology DS209. This is great for most devices and I don’t want to change my current setup, but Roksbox needs the content to be on a web server as opposed to using UPnP.

Getting this to work is a pain and took a long time to figure out. I’m using this post to document what I had to do, partially for anyone else who needs it but to be honest its mostly for myself in case I need to rebuild any part in the future. I’m getting ready to update the firmware on my NAS so it’s important to make sure any custom configurations are documented.
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Pennies to Heaven

It’s time to kill the penny.

You used to hear people say “I remember when a loaf of bread was a nickle”. Today it’s 40x that. Once you hit an inflation point this high it’s time to make a change.

Lots of people are advocating for the demise of the penny, but I’m going much further in re-engineering the cash system. Its time for an overhaul starting with the dropping of a decimal point.
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Joojoo and Grid10 Final Post

Fusion Garage, the maker of my tablets, is no more. The CEO has fulfilled his destiny, taking the money, leaving the creditors with a $40 million bill, and disappearing from public life. The judge in the original lawsuit handed them a well deserved loss. Websites are down. The community is scattering. Its over. Time for the post-mortem.
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CAS Number Format and Check Digit Validation

CAS numbers are used to uniquely identify every chemical man can find or dream up. There are a staggering 60,000,000+ in the CAS number registry and 12,000 more are added daily. These numbers have a specific format mask with a check digit at the end. For a project I needed a simple client side CAS# format validation routine, where it checked that the format is legit and the check digit is correct, as opposed to looking up the CAS# in a 60-million row database.

Industry-specific shared code is difficult to find, most of the time it is trapped inside corporate walls. A while ago I searched for a validation routine for the format and checksum of CAS numbers, and although there is one out there now, at the time it had to be written from scratch by anyone who had the need.

I intend to put up more long tail code snipits over time, but to be honest I’m motivated at the moment more by wanting sample code to play with the Google Code Prettifier from my last post.
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Pretty Code in WordPress

I’m impressed by the Google Code Javascript code prettifier. It isn’t too hard to embed into WordPress and makes a huge difference.
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How I Defeated Spam

A really stupid thing to do is brag about how you’ve beat the spammers at their game. It just encourages them to find a way and you get tons more spam than ever before. Well, here it goes: I have no SPAM on this site.

Although I’m using several tricks I want to share the easiest and most effective technique.

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Apple Predictions

I need to get these up quick before the announcements begin.

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VC Dystopia

Any start-up needs backers which almost always means venture capital investment. Sure you can start off in your garage and get the basics done on your own dime, but once you are on your way to becoming known to the public you need to grow fast. If you don’t take the money then someone else will clone your idea, team up with a VC firm, and beat you to market. There are lots of down sides to dealing with VC cash, but its the way the system works, and the VCs like it that way – a stable model capitalizing on the churn of innovations.

This entire model is about to change. Continue reading →