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My Tablet Woes

Feb. 5th, 2019 | 02:48 am
mood: frustratedfrustrated

January of last year, I saw a deal on an Asus Android tablet, so I decided to splurge on it, finding myself the new owner of an Asus Zenpad 10, a 10’ Android 7 tablet with decent sound and a nice enough display.

I love the size of it, the bezel around the display making it easy for my larger hands to carry around, the speakers being along the long side of it making it great for watching videos (my primary use of it), and the screen brightness flexible enough for normal lighting conditions as well as in dim conditions watching a few videos before falling asleep.

Until the problems started showing up.

One thing I should mention is that I like small, wireless media remotes so I can control my phone (and now tablet) without having to press the exact right spot on the screen to pause or resume playback. Because no known brand has decided that this is an important enough thing to make under their banner, I bought a couple from China through Amazon, so their reliability isn't known for sure, but they do exactly what it says on the tin, so I was happy.

Until about two or three months after I bought my tablet, unfortunately.

For some reason, I started getting some very random behaviour with the wifi system. At random times, and always while I was watching videos (often when I was watching a video from the tub), it would stop communicating with anything over the wireless, including Bluetooth devices and anything on the wireless network. Any other device on the same (or other) wifi networks would still work just fine, but no data would pass through the wireless card.

I even installed a terminal emulator and tried to use the ping command to try to ping anything I could, and during the glitches nothing could come in or out, even just to the wifi hotspot.

Anyway, sent it for service, got it back, appeared to work for a few more months, but the same issue started appearing slowly again, prompting me to call them back and complain, sent it back in, they were unable to replicate the issue, got it back, restored from backup that night, next morning it happens again, again while I'm in the tub so I couldn't exactly fiddle around with the settings.

Further conversations with the support line had me experimenting with doing full factory resets and not installing any extra software (as I mostly watch YouTube videos) and then seeing if the problem shows up again.

Long story shorter, turns out there's a problem with the Bluetooth module interfering with the wifi functionality, which they can't replicate. Yes, that means it was in for service three times. They also have a three-strikes policy, so they gave me the option of having my tablet replaced with another model, but because they don't have a model anywhere near its price, size and features, they offered to buy it back from me.

In this case, since it did actually work properly without having Bluetooth enabled, and what I want Bluetooth for can be done with USB-connected keyboards, as well as not being able to find anything anywhere near comparable for a price within two hundred of what I'd paid for this one meant I just took it back.

So, my tablet is now out of warranty, it's still not quite working the way it was supposed to have, but it's a lot better than many of my other options. It arrived today, so I spent an hour or so installing extra apps that I know I use, updates, and making sure it's configured the way I want.

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OC Meme: Sonya Redfoot

Jan. 17th, 2017 | 05:26 pm
mood: creativecreative

I'd last done this meme almost three years ago with my fursona, OC Meme: Carl Foxmarten on FA, so I think now's a good time to run these again with my new characters. I'll be posting Meri's later, as I'm currently focused on Sonya.

1. Pick one of your OCs.
2. Fill in the interview as if you were your OC.
3. Tag four people to do this meme!
4. Tell people that they been tagged with a link from your journal

Note: I don't advocate forcing people to do this, so I won't be tagging anybody.

OC picked: Sonya Redfoot.

1. What is your name?
Sonya ‘Rusty’ Redfoot.

2. Do you know why you were named that?
My father wanted to call me Sophia, but mother thought it too stuffy and shortened it to just Sonya. My nickname is ‘Rusty’ because my fur is primarily white or gray with some rust red mixed in.

3. Single or taken?
Single. Which means I get to flirt outrageously

4. Have any abilities or powers?
I can use magic, and excel at simple telekinesis.

5. Stop being a Mary Sue!
I used to have a friend called Mary. Very tragic what happened to her. Very glad I wasn't in her shoes.

6. What's your eye colour?

7. How about hair color?
Dark brown, and very long.

8. Have you any family members?
A few. I haven't had any contact with them for a long, long time, though, so I've no idea where they are.

9. Oh? How about pets?
I once had a cat as a pet, but he died and I haven't replaced him. Mostly because no one could replace him. He was a very unique cat.

10. That's cool, I guess. Now tell me something you don't like.
Arrogant assholes.

11. Do you have any activities/hobbies that you like to do?
I love singing and relaxing in hot springs, though not at the same time.

12. Have you ever hurt anyone in any way before?
Yes. Though he was asking for it with an attitude like that.

13. Ever… killed anyone before?
See above. It did not end well for him.

14. What kind of animal are you?
My father was a Russian Arctic Fox and my mother was a Red Fox, so I'm a Red Arctic Fox.

15. Name your worst habits.
(the character isn't complete enough for me to know what her worst habits are just yet)

16. Do you look up to anyone at all?
My mentor, (whose name I haven't thought up: Carl). He's taught me so much, and not just about magic.

17. Are you gay, straight, or bisexual?
Definitely an equal-opportunity bisexual! I've even taken part in more than my share of three-person ‘couples’.

18. Do you go to school?
Used to, done with my formal education now. By day, I'm receptionist for a small private company, by night, a part-time singer for a local bar.

19. Ever want to marry and have kids one day?
Oh yes! I really do want to be a mother some day!

20. Do you have fangirls/fanboys?
I do have a small group of fans, yes. Mostly because they can't have me.

21. What are you most afraid of?
I'm not about to publicize information like that.

22. What do you usually wear?
My favourite outfit is a midnight blue shift gown. Actually, I have a lot of different shifts of slightly different styles.

23. What's one food that tempts you?
Chocolate anything. The chocolatier the better!

24. Am I annoying you?
Only if you keep asking stupid questions like this one.

25. Well, it's still not over!
Well, get on with it!

26. What class are you (low class, middle class, high class)?
My family was definitely high class. Once I left home, though, I became middle class, wanting to actually work for a living instead of inherited investments. The last I was told, however, there are some investments waiting for me should I wish to rejoin the rest of my family. Not sure if I should or not.

27. How many friends do you have?
Plenty, and that's good enough for me. Quality over quantity, of course.

28. What are your thoughts on pie?
Chocolate mousse or apple cinnamon, either way is fine with me. Though it takes a lot of exercise to keep the pounds off...

30. Favorite drink?
Something tall and fruity with a good kick.

31. What's your favorite place?
My last favourite was a little-known hot spring to the north, but I've met some very good friends and a truly fantastic place. I'll need to explore it more before I change my mind.

32. Are you interested in anyone~?
I've recently reunited with an old girlfriend, and she has a cute boyfriend now, so there's no tell just yet.

33. That was a stupid question.
You really need a better control over your therefore stupid tongue.

34. Would you rather swim in a lake or the ocean?
If I have to choose between the two, a lake, but I'd rather stick with hot springs otherwise.

35. What's your type?
If I knew that, I wouldn't be single.

36. Any fetishes?
That's between me and my lovers.

37. Seme or uke?
They have their place, but I'm far more interested in being a relatively even match for my lovers.

38. Camping or indoors?
I often enjoy camping in the great outdoors, but sometimes indoors can be just as much fun.

39. Tag people
Nope, not doing that.
This was more for my own interest, so I'm not forcing anybody else to do this.

If you want to, feel free to copy, especially if it helps you flex your literary muscles.

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New character: Sonya Redfoot

Dec. 30th, 2016 | 05:53 pm
mood: anxiousanxious

Note that this is my third character, and should post my second character's description first, but I'm having problems developing it so Sonya's going next.

Brief note on my second character before I get to my third. Meri (she still doesn't have a last name yet) was originally one of Steve's creations on the Cross Time Cafe board for a collaborative story a bunch of us were involved with. She's a foxtaur from a world that's far more magic-based than technology-based, so she can use magic and doesn't have much experience or exposure to technology. Her particular focus in magic is healing magics. Once the main conflict of the story was over and things were wrapping up, one of the other authors turned her into Carl's girlfriend, and she's been with him ever since. So Sonya is not Carl's girlfriend, because he already has one.

Anyway, I based Sonya on a nameless character we used in a sequel to the above story, a canine waitress in a coffee shop. Since the CTC is essentially outside the normal continuity, I've made like this second story was a TV series, and that Sonya was merely playing a character in the show. Which would also explain the difference in fur colour for the part, etc.

Sonya Redfoot is an Arctic Fox crossed with a Red Fox. And no, I'm not sure why I seem to be so enamoured with foxes. She stands about five-foot-two, and is slender and graceful, almost like there's a cat somewhere in her ancestry. She has the typical arm and leg colouring for a female Red Fox, but blended lightly into her primarily-white coat, making everything come out slightly copper-coloured, just to varying extents.

She can do a bit of magic, the exact extent of which I haven't determined yet, but for sure she can do minor telekinesis, past that I haven't decided yet.

Suggestions and questions welcome.

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Theatre prop status update

Nov. 4th, 2016 | 04:59 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful

I may have mentioned that I've been working on building a prop for a local theatre company on here, though not as much as I've talked about it on a forum I frequent. Anyway, progress on that has pretty much stopped due to several factors, mostly stemming from the fact that I don't have a base to work from and have to build the whole thing from scratch.

Anyway, this year's panto is Beauty and the Beast, and since my boss has started to refuse me Saturdays off, I'm not able to participate in the same way anymore. Apart from that, I'd also noticed that the script mentions a magic mirror. Many movie versions depict the magic mirror as glowing shinily when activated and used, so why not add some LEDs to the prop so it does some cool effects like that?

So I've been given the task, about two weeks ago, and now I'm almost done building the prop! =^.^=

Nearly instrumental was a lady at a higher-end secondhand store around here that helped me find a cheap kid's racquet made of plastic. A layer or two of tape on each side got rid of the annoying bounce sound from the plastic sheet in the middle, and foam board is doing very nicely for fleshing out the back side.

To use the mirror, you're supposed to "polish" it three times, then it flashes and shows you a glistening image of what you want to see.

To provide the lighting effects, I'm using NeoPixels, individually-addressed LEDs with the LED driver chips built right into them. See the article for more info. Anyway, what that allows me to do is to control the RGB colour of each LED independently of each other, but only use a single data line for an entire string, instead of having three separate control lines per LED.

Finally, to provide the brains of the operation and effects, I'm using a Pro Trinket, a tiny microcontroller by the same company as the NeoPixels, that uses the same software development toolkit as the very popular Arduino series of boards. They're very easy to write code for, all the way through to programming the board itself, as well as being fairly cheap to buy, running around $16CDN each.
(compare that to $40 and up for the official Arduino boards)

Power will be supplied by a cheap dollar store USB power bank, which provides a reliable 5V supply, which both the LEDs and control board needs. Plus, it's cheap, around three bucks. Pity I can't find any more for the moment, so as soon as I do, I'll be buying a whole bunch.

So far, I have a semicircle of wire with the LEDs spaced out around it that fits just inside the outer edge of the racquet, and a temporarily wired up microcontroller, with a program that is about 90% of the way to being what I understand we want thus far. Once I have it properly attached to the mirror frame, I'll be bringing it to the next rehearsal for more feedback.

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New avatar! Again...

Jun. 15th, 2016 | 11:33 am
mood: pleasedpleased

Last week, one of the artists I watch on FA was having a quick and cheap commission sale, so I pounced and got this lovely picture of me sitting reading a book. I’ve also turned it into an avatar, which I’m using just about everywhere now. =^.^=

I have to say that such a well-drawn avatar is extremely refreshing. The book-on-pedestal picture I’ve been using for ages is something I’d created almost ten years ago, and since I didn’t have very good Blender skills at the time, it reminded me too much of those times. While I am better now, I’m still not as confident in my abilities as I am in others’, so having someone else’s artwork as my avatar, especially when it’s of my character, is easier for me to deal with than if it was my handiwork.

Plus, the art style used just about screams “Good for avatar!”, and it really works well! It’s almost soothing, actually. =^.^=

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Lots of stuff has happened...

Feb. 29th, 2016 | 01:37 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful
music: CBC Radio 2

Huh. Again, this place is covered with dust! Gotta stop forgetting about it...

Anyways, since I've started to get more involved with microcontrollers, and since I'm out a fair bit of the time at maker meetups while I'm working with them, I'd decided that a new laptop was in order. It also helped that I got a fair bit of Christmas money, as well as several back paycheques.

So, almost nine hundred Canadian dollars later, and I'm now typing on my new Lenovo Thinkpad T450. I'm very happy with how light and solid it feels, as well as the performance they managed to cram into a system that's three-quarters of an inch thick, not counting the screen! For example, it runs Team Fortress 2 better than my desktop computer (which is, admittedly, eight years old, and which I'm also working on replacing). It also runs The Saboteur very well (though with some graphical glitches, so it's not completely smooth sailing).

I am having some problems getting the microcontroller development environments set up properly, but that should just take some time to iron out properly. I suspect this is due to the fact that it's running Windows and not Linux, but I am rather hesitant to install Linux on this thing just yet. Especially with this being my very first new laptop ever.
(the last three, yes three, were all hand-me-downs or refurbished devices)

Did I mention that it was light? Just the laptop itself weighs just under four pounds, which feels much lighter than each of my previous laptops.

I've got other news that I'll be posting here later on, mostly good news, so keep an eye out for that.

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My first hospital adventure...

Oct. 2nd, 2015 | 06:46 pm
mood: relievedrelieved

Yes, I was in the hospital yesterday. Once I finally got there, it was a rather pleasant experience, but up until the ambulance arrived, I was a nervous wreck.

You see, I had chest pains for several hours yesterday. Here in BC (I don't know about the other provinces), we have a Nurse's Hotline, where you can describe your symptoms and they can give you an idea of what you've got, and whether you should see your doctor or go to Emergency.

Well, with chest pains, you always have to go to Emergency, as they have to actually check you out physically in order to tell what the problem is. So it's kind of no wonder that they sort of frighten you into actually doing something about it.

Yes, I had been at work yesterday, and to make matters slightly worse, I was working at one of our other stores, by myself. So when I had to leave, I had to shut the store down. Not sure I did that properly, but oh well, health comes first.

Had a bit of a fumble with the ambulance, I'd first said that I was going to stand out front, but then the dispatcher said that I should sit comfortably, so it took a bit of time for them to find me, especially since I'd put a "closed" sign on the door. After that, it was pretty straight sailing, and with every check they did, it seemed less and less likely that I'd suffered a heart attack, so I was put at ease pretty early on.

Originally, since the store I was working in is a few cities north of where I live, I was originally supposed to head to the hospital in that area, but since I lived further south, and the ambulance was actually based out of there, we went to one much closer to home.

To boil three hours at the hospital down a bit, my dad arrived about half an hour after I did, so we sat together while I waited to be called for each test. In the end, it turned out to be a bruised rib. No, I didn't get a prescription for drugs, but the doctor said to take some extra-strength Advil for the pain, so I picked some up on the way home.

If we hadn't moved, it would have been only about sixteen blocks to home, a distance I'd have been well able to walk under normal circumstances. Fortunately, the pain had subsided significantly since that morning, so I decided to walk the twenty-three blocks it is now, stopping off to get some more potato chips and the aforementioned Advil. I sat for a while, then napped for a few hours. This was probably a bad idea, as I was unable to go to sleep until almost three in the morning after that.

Anyway, yes, it was my first trip to the hospital (as a patient), and all things considered it was actually a pretty pleasant experience. Hopefully I won't have to repeat it anytime soon...
(last time I was at the hospital was several years ago with my grandmother, when she was diagnosed with some breathing problem I can't remember the name of right now)

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Progress, or lack thereof, on new magic wand...

Jul. 31st, 2015 | 02:08 pm
mood: pensivepensive

Ah, technology. Why do you suck sometimes... =>.<=

So, the last magic wand the theatre company used emitted a brilliant flash, and would glow white when it was ready to go. It did this by using the xenon flash unit from an old film camera, with a white LED replacing the tiny, green one that originally signaled that it was ready. The next wand will be able to the colour of the glow change to match the fairy's outfit, and will have an extra option (triggered, well... somehow...) to make the glow LED “throb” or brighten and dim on a cycle.

For this new wand, I've decided to again use the flash unit from a film camera to produce the bright flash, but use a microcontroller to control the LED and the flash module. Unfortunately, this brings some major challenges, as the flash unit takes a major amount of current when it's charging the flash capacitor back up, especially at the beginning, when the capacitor is empty. The large inrush of current is exactly why they make charge-controller chips for cell phones, and at some point I will be looking into the idea, but right now they just confuse me, more than anything else, so I'll hold off on that for the moment.

Anyway, this great big gulp of power actually causes the microcontroller to reboot, something you want to completely avoid, if at all possible, even engineering around it when it becomes an issue.

One of the many options suggested as I've been working on this problem, along with sticking a current-limiting resistor in line with the flash unit, is to employ a decoupling capacitor to provide the microcontroller with its own backup power reserve for those two or three seconds when the flash is sucking so much power that, without it, the microcontroller would get rebooted. To ensure that the flash unit doesn't suck power from the capacitor, I've employed a diode to ensure the power only goes one way.

The only problem with this is the fact that I'd actually been using the wrong version of the microcontroller. My original intent was to power the wand off one of those 5V, tube-shaped, USB-charging batteries you can find for ten- to fifteen-dollars. That way, it would be very easy to tell when the battery's low (the wand doesn't work), and very easy to charge them back up again. Because of this, I'd chosen to use the 5V variant of the microcontroller (an Adafruit Pro Trinket, for those interested). Well, it turns out that, with the flash unit plugged straight into the USB battery, the battery gets drained completely in less than a second when the flash unit tries to charge itself. So, I decided to switch back to using three AA batteries instead, at least they can take that sort of current drain. So, a 5V microcontroller can run off 4.5V. But not through a capacitor and a diode, it seems. So I have to switch to the 3.3V version, which meant yet another trip to my friendly, not-so-in-the-neighbourhood electronics shop.

Despite having the right version in my stash now (since yesterday), I haven't actually tried using it yet. For one thing, I haven't been able to find the code I'd used previously, and since I have to program the new one before I can use it, that's a pretty big stumbling block. For another, I'm currently trying to write the code that will run either this incarnation of the prototype or a good step towards the final code that will run the wand, and those two are hard to tell apart sometimes.

The physical part of the wand will probably give me the worst problems, as I already know how to combine electronics together to get what I want, and how to write code to run it, but assembling raw materials into something isn't anything I've done before, so I definitely have a learning curve ahead of me. Thus far, I have two sizes of PVC pipe to use for the wand's handle, as well as both a battery tray and container for the electronic guts. In addition, I have a piece of aluminum curtain rail that will work very nicely for the shaft of the wand, as well as a bunch of plumbing connectors to make things disconnect relatively easily.

I'm pretty sure, given time, I'll get it done. I just don't know if it'll be done right, or well, but it'll be done...

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Status update

Jul. 27th, 2015 | 11:31 pm
mood: boredbored

In case people wonder, yes, I'm still alive, and yes, I'm still doing things.

Unfortunately, LJ has become a huge pain in the ass to deal with, so I've been limiting my involvement on here significantly. They've decide to make things "easier" for people who don't know what they're doing, and have made it harder for those of us who do actually have a clue. Which also translates to "moved stuff around and now nobody can find anything easily"... =>.<=

Anyway, I'm still employed servicing sewing machines, and yes, I'm still having fun at it. We're building up an online presence so we can sell parts online, to get a much broader market-share. Since I have that balance of busyness, technically-savvy, and knowledgeable on the parts we sell, I'm the primary force behind populating the online store with pictures and product info. It's definitely an interesting challenge.

I'm still working on building a new magic wand for the theatre company I'm with, and it's quite the trial-and-error endeavour, which isn't helping me any. I'll likely post a more detailed entry on this topic when I have more time later.

I've discovered that there's a MakerSpace within range, and they have a meetup on Friday nights, starting an hour after I get off work, so I have barely enough time to dash over, grab dinner, then make my way to the library the meetup's hosted at. It's been a lot of fun for me, as most times they have some sort of interesting workshop going on, and you can bring your projects in to ask for advice, or just show it off. When I brought in one of my blinking LED projects in, I managed to get everyone's attention for several minutes as they were mesmerized by the shiny LEDs... =^.~=

Anyway, if I so choose, I can subscribe to the MakerSpace for $25 a month and use the space (and most of the tools) for my projects. Though, as it's a relatively recent space, they're still building up their arsenal of tools. No woodworking tools as yet, though I suspect they won't be a priority for quite a while yet, given how small their subscription base is as yet.

Not much more to say, which is, I guess, one of the other reasons I haven't done much on here as of late.

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First thoughts on new city...

May. 24th, 2015 | 01:09 am
mood: chipperchipper

So, yeah, despite having moved only about twenty-five blocks away from my last place, we did actually move across a border between cities. The difference is quite noticeable, in both visible and not-so-visible aspects.

Visibly, there's far more trees where we are now, which is great for shade, cooler temperatures, and aesthetics, as well as most of the houses looking a bit more upscale and nicer than the near-dumps we were living near before.

On the not-so-visible side, it feels more relaxed, less fast-paced. I haven't made a lot of time to just wander around yet, but I do think I like it.

Other things include the city actually being on a hill sloping down to the Fraser River, which gives some rather nice photographic opportunities with the other side spread out for panoramic shots, if you can manage to find a space between the trees... Sunset pictures are great to capture, though I still need to figure out how to work the new camera to adequately capture them.

The hill also counts as a negative when I'm walking to work, as it's a moderately steep seven blocks up the hill to the road my work is on, then it's thirteen blocks that have a shallow enough slope that you don't notice. Fortunately (very happy about this) I can bus almost the whole twenty-blocks to and from work, so I can decide to catch the bus if I'm feeling too tired, or just walk if I'd rather have the exercise.
(currently, biking to work is strictly off the cards until I figure out just how tough it'll be otherwise)

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