Roger Stringer   About ▾

I'm Roger Stringer: a father, writer, developer, consultant, chef, speaker. Founder of TheInterviewr.

Articles Archives


Just an iPad

 

I have a conference in Vegas at the end of April that I’m attending, and as I’ve been talking with friends who are also attending, we reach a similar conclusion..

Could I manage the entire week at this conference with just an iPad and a keyboard?

I could code using apps such as Diet Coda or Koder.. I could do some photo editing using PhotoShop Touch.. I can blog using the WordPress app or the Poster app.. I’d have access to email, web, twitter, app.net, skype all from the iPad or my iPhone..

So the question becomes, should I attempt to just bring my iPad and keyboard? or bring my Macbook Air as well just in case? Even though I can foresee the Air spending most of its time in the hotel room rather than being carried around..

 

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How to set up a bluetooth keyboard with a Raspberry Pi

 

This has been asked a few times, and I just finished going through the process myself, so I thought I’d share how to set up a bluetooth keyboard with a Raspberry Pi..

First, this assumes you have a bluetooth USB dongle.

Once you’ve booted your RPi up, go into the terminal and type the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bluez python-gobject bluetooth bluez-utils blueman 

Once this finishes, you can go to Preferences > Bluetooth Manager from the menu and choose your device.

Once you pair your keyboard, I suggest you make it trusted so that it will always connect on boot.

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What can I do with a Raspberry Pi?

 

So you just got a new Raspberry Pi, maybe it was a christmas present.. Or maybe you decided to buy one for yourself and now you want to know what you can do with this little computer?

There’s a lot you can do with it, you can use it for home automation, a file server, a web server, a media streamer running XMBC, a retro gaming console or just a tiny desktop device.

I’ll get into more detail on some of what you can do in a later post (or a couple), but for now, this post is meant to give you ideas.

First, I definitely recommend having the model with 512 megabytes of RAM, as the more memory you have, the better performance you get.

One thing I like about Raspberry Pi is that the hard drive is an SD card, so essentially, you can have multiple computers on one device, so you could have a card with raspbian on it, another card for raspbmc (the XMBC system), etc.

In terms of cases, I’ve used several cases from a case built with a simply project box, to a case built with LEGO, but my favorite is the blue Raspberry Pi SAFE case from solarbotics which also can be purchased with a mount to attach to the back of a TV.

Now, some uses for the Pi:

  1. There’s a nice getting started post over at Engadget for getting your Pi up and running
  2. Retro Gaming Console: Engadget also has a nice starting point for setting up a retro gaming rig using your Raspberry Pi and some emulators
  3. Media Streaming:
    Raspbmc or OpenElec both work nicely for XMBC / media streaming, and can plug into any TV. Most TVs also have USB ports which can power the little computer as well. I’ve personally been preferring Raspbmc lately as it seems faster and more stable.
  4. Install the Chromium browser for better web browsing:
    Since your Raspberry Pi is already hooked up to your TV, why not enjoy some big screen surfing? You’ll need a better browser than Midori for this though, so try Chromium. Just drop into a Terminal and type: 
    
    sudo apt- get install chromium-browser
    
    Then hit 'Enter.
  5. Write Games: Scratch is a programming language that’s easy to get to grips with and easy to use, which makes it good for children to start learning with and for creating rich programming projects. Check out this tutorial, featuring a bonus cat.
  6. Run Firefox OS: Although still in the developmental stages, Oleg Romashin an engineer at Nokia, has managed to get Firefox OS running on the Raspberry Pi. FFOS isn’t out until next year, but check out what’s been achieved so far.
  7. BitTorrent Server: If you frequent the various Torrent sites, then why not create a dedicated lean Torrent machine? Just hook it up to your router and leave it to do its business. Full instructions, scripts and downloads come courtesy of the snapdragon:IT blog.
  8. Pi-powered Cloud Server: Fancy building your very own cloud server? By using OwnCloud you can. Follow the instructions, and the customised script from petRockBlog and you’ll become your own cloud provider in no time.
  9. Home Automation: There’s a new product called PiFace that’s perfect for home automation. It hooks up to the RPi and allows it to detect switch states from a door sensor, a pressure pad or any number of other switch types.
  10. Raspberry Pi Cluster: Many Pi’s make light work. Check out these instructions from the University of Southampton to make a RPi Supercomputer.
  11. Make a wearable computer: Interesting article on building a wearable Raspberry Pi, with the display on a pair of glasses and a keyboard on his arm.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with your Raspberry Pi, I’m just giving some examples to get started. I’ll post some more on here later as I get more ideas for the Raspberry Pi, but the 10 or s0 examples above should be enough to get your started.

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The highs and lows of it

 

I make no secret of this fact: I’m a type 2 insulin dependent diabetic, this means that five times a day I give myself a shot of insulin and four times a day I prick my fingers to check my sugar levels..

Well, insulin plus a bunch of various pills to aid this as well.

A year ago this week, I went to my family doctor after a few weeks of feeling like crap, tests showed I had a blood sugar of 38, which meant I was in the middle of a hyperglycemic attack and spent the next week in hospital getting my levels under control with insulin therapy.

Now, a year later, it’s still an up and down battle…

I’ve gotten used to detecting the highs and lows that are associated with this, you literally go from having so much energy you can leap off the walls to just wanting to sleep and sometimes within minutes of each other.

I carry my diabetic kit with me that has my blood sugar meter, my insulin pen, and sugar tablets in case I need them.

I’ve also gotten used to watching my food. I recently started carb counting, which has been interesting as well, as instead of a fixed insulin amount at each meal, the amount of insulin you have is based on the carbs in the food you eat.

But, on the up side, I’ve been losing weight and keeping it under control, and have been exercising more and getting healthier so that will help me keep this more under control with the aim of eventually getting off the insulin.

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On Bakeapples…

 

I’m originally from the east coast of Canada, from the province called Newfoundland..

I moved from there 12 years ago, and there’s one thing from there I can’t get anywhere else that I miss..

Bakeapples!

Despite the name, Bakeapples are not baked apples.. They are an orangey raspberry-like berry that grows wild only in very select parts of the world.

In some parts of the world, they are called cloudberries, and while some other parts of Canada have cloudberries, there’s a difference in the flavour

These berries have a sweet, tarty flavour to them.. they work excellent in jellies, tarts, jams, and liqueurs…

Everytime we do a trip back east, my 4 year old enjoys her meal of cod tongues (another Newfoundland dish), which is a favourite of hers, and we stock up on bakeapples and jams made from the berries.

Anyhow, this came about today after a discussion with my daughter who was talking about wanting to visit Newfoundland again soon as she helped wrap christmas presents to send back to family there.

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1Password Tips

 

I’ve been using 1password since I bought it a few years ago. This post is to show some tips on using it.

First, What is 1password?

This is from the 1password website. “1Password can create strong, unique passwords for you, remember them, and restore them, all directly in your web browser.”

Here are a few tips I’ve found useful that you might find interesting.

Disclosure: there are other alternatives to this product which all have their own uses. There’s lastpass.comdashlane.com, keePass and DataVault (probably many more as well).

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Moving from second crack

 

Today I’ve moved this site from second crack back to WordPress..

I’ve had it running on second crack as an experiment since last March and it was time to move back..

This isn’t a previous install either, this is a complete fresh install.. I’ll be posting the handy second crack to WordPress script in the next few days that I used to read each text file and create a new WordPress post.. It could come in handy to someone else.

Reasons for moving:

  1. I have nothing against second crack, it’s great but there are several bugs that make it difficult to depend on, such as archives not getting properly updated, and a few glitches related to Dropbox syncing among others.
  2. I happen to like WordPress and use it every day for various projects, so moving back makes sense.
  3. A static blog engine is fine, it’s really fast, but it has issues related to how it caches things that the smallest design change means a full reload of the site
  4. Second crack doesn’t support the plans I have for this site coming up shortly, so might as well do the move now rather than later.

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ZAGG introduces keyboard cases for iPad mini

 

That didn’t take long, and I’m not surprised…

ZAGG is now taking pre-orders for iPad mini keyboard cases, hoping to turn the iPad Mini into a business powerhouse. The ZAGGkeys Mini 7 (US$89.99) is an exact match to the dimensions of the iPad mini and uses “island-style keys in a sleek and unique layout provide maximum finger space in a compact Bluetooth keyboard, perfect for accentuating the utility and convenience of iPad mini.”

On top of that, if you’d actually prefer a keyboard with some room for your fingers, the ZAGGkeys Mini 9 (also $89.99) may do the trick. According to ZAGG, it features “island-style keys with a carefully engineered layout to provide the same spacing as ZAGG’s traditional tablet keyboard.”

Although the Mini 7 is a tiny keyboard, it still provides special function keys for “volume control, play, pause, screen lock, home, search, slideshow, copy, paste and more.” No word on if it’s actually large enough to type on, but I’ll be reviewing it in the near future, so I’ll let everyone know.

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Apple announces several updates today, and one new product

 

Today, Apple announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a new thinner iMac, an updated Mac Mini, and some iPad news..

The new iMacs and Mac Mini are getting Fusion Drives, which are similar to Hybrid Drives, combining SSD with standard hard drive storage and work pretty fast.

First, the iPad 4th gen was announced with the A6x processor and lightning adapter to replace the iPad (3)..

And the least surprising news was the new iPad Mini… Which is a 7.9-inch iPad, with a 1024 x 768 resolution, most of the same specs as the iPad 2, and an all-new 7.2mm-thick aluminum shell, which makes it 53 percent lighter and significantly thinner than the 4th-generation iPad

Surprisingly, Apple is still selling the iPad 2, alongside the Mini and the iPad..

You can see more details here when the store is back up: Apple Store

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