Saturday, April 11, 2009

Closing Shop


That's right folks, I have moved the blog to a new home. As has been so very obvious for many days, I really have not talked about my Honda. Instead I sound off about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. Plus I recently began working on a '59 F100 and have tossed all my energy behind it. So how do you fit a truck into a blog called rat-bike chronicles?? You really can't. So I am off to a new host and changing things around. This blog will stay alive for a while longer. I still have to get the other one finished up and let some people know where I went. Then it will be lights off.

l8r fuckers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wicked sounding rice cooker.

Now this is music to my ears.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Apple Mini

So while I the blog is supposed to be about motorcycles, I got nothing going on at the moment. With prepping and packing and just living life, the bike has been place on the backburner once again.

Now I work in technology for a living and that means I sometimes get goodies to play with for work. Since my current job consists of testing software I get a few really nice computers to keep here in the office. And just recently our company has moved into the realm of Mac. So this means I get to have a shiny from Cupertino.

I didn't need anything monstrous like a Mac Pro or a laptop, so we went with a base model Mac Mini. And for the last two weeks I had gotten to fiddle and play with it.

So let's start from the beginning, shall we?

First off it shows up in a box that would hold a VHS box set. Small and compact, maybe 5 lbs at it best.

Look at it. Just a bit larger than my coffee mug.

Now I have to say that Mac makes some nifty hardware. But for 600 bucks, I have to say I expect more. While maybe I couldn't get a true Duo-core for this price tag, I could easily pick up a cheapo laptop for it.

And I have had a few moments where the Apple decides to instead of going to sleep, it takes a total shit and I have to kill and reboot it. Again not exactly something that makes me feel like I got myself something of great quality, instead it is just another box.

The USB's are on the back and they have nothing on the front. Shit at least one USB on the front panel would be nice for a thumb drive. This is one of those things where aesthetics should take a back seat to usability.

And don't get into that myth where Macs do not need to be rebooted. Once every couple of days I get another stupid update notice and in order to install that update, it wants me to reboot the system. Fucker.

And then I had some issues getting the proper system name on my network. Why the hell should I be editing plists and config files? Umm this is not a freebie *nix system. This is the best OS in the whole wide world. OR at least that is what the fan-boys and Cupertino want me to believe.

All inall, if you really don't need much or expect a whole lot, a mini isn't a real bad thing. But for me, it could never replace what I keep here around the house.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Linux, LIRC, Imon, and Antec Veris

This is as much for me as for anyone else looking for info.

In my earlier post where I fixed my TV, I mentioned that I use a Linux box for a media center. So this job has been done on the cheap, spare parts and existing setup were being modified to work. No buying an Apple TV or a special set top system.

So i have been bouncing back and forth between Boxee, MythTv and XBMC. All of them have their own merits, but I have been leaning towards XBMC and Boxee. MythTV really doesn't meet my particular needs, though it is a great system.

But the ultimate suck of my setup was the lack of a remote.

So last week I had to meet up with my boss to pick up a Mac Mini for work ( I'll be posting my thoughts on that later), I had to run over to Best Buy and get a keyboard. While I was there I saw an Antec Veris Basic remote for relatively cheap. 30 bucks later and I had myself a remote for my XBMC use.

Well my initial browsing showed that the Antec was compatible with LIRC so I figured I was good to go. Fuck was I ever wrong. First off, Soundmon which makes these devices and then repackages them with other companies names is known to work differently than most standard remotes, the particular version I bought has only recently been added to the LIRC builds, and it wasn't available in the APT repository for my Ubuntu distro. So my first thought was to go back to my favorite distro Debian, but after finding out that neither Boxee nor XBMC will build worth a damn in Debian and their LIRC modules were out of date even using the Unstable files I gave up. Better to build from source on one item and not on three.

So here is what I had to do to get it to work.

First thing first, this thing is taken over by usbhid. That means it tries to treat my shit like it's a mouse or keyboard. Well that won't work. So in Debian and Ubuntu you need to do acouple of things to find out what driver it is using and also what the the hardware is.

So in Ubuntu and Debian you need to take these two steps...

mount -t usbfs none /proc/bus/usb


cat /proc/bus/usb/devices

This took me some googling to find out about the usbhid issue.

This next part come from here

1) Edit /etc/modprobe.d/usbhid (create it if it doesn't exist) and add the following line. The first hex code is the vendor ID, the second is the product ID, and the 0x0004 means ignore this device.

options usbhid quirks=0x15c2:0x0038:0x0004

2) Run the command: depmod -ae
3) You need to rebuild your initrd. If you are running a typical installation, you can do this by running:

update-initramfs -u

Mine has a different set of codes, so usbhid number was 0x15c2:0x0043

So I made the appropriate edits. And then I followed the rest of the steps from the site.

From here it was time to build my modules. Since I wasn't lucky enough that my stuff was handled in the version easily available to me, I had to go and build from source. The CVS actually.

So I had to add CVS to my Ubuntu build and then I created a folder in my home directory called source. Mainly fearing that this will not be the last time I have to do something like this.

From here I had to do this from the terminal...

sudo cvs login
sudo cvs -z8 co lirc
Once the files were downloaded I cd'd into the new directory and did...

Selecting the correct options for me, in this case the imon IR driver.

Once this was done I rebooted me system since it created some crap in my /dev directory.

After that I went back into the terminal and did a
sudo ls /dev/lir*
This gave me
lirc0 lirc1 lircd
Woohoo!!!! Just what I wanted to see. Now onto testing out my install.
sudo mode2 -d /dev/lirc0 --raw
sudo mode2 -d /dev/lirc1 --raw


The aggravating thing about the imon systems is that the buttons don't go through a single lirc like other remotes, instead it goes through two. So there is a few tweaks to get it to work, neither were what I needed. And the new CVS has a section for my RM100 remote, but the codes were wrong. I am wondering if they changed them recently. So I had to build an lircd.conf file for both lirc0 and lirc1 using irrecord.

I then created a folder in /etc named lirc. In there I placed my two lircd files named rm100_0.conf and rm100_1.conf respectively.

Once I did this I had to get the lircd daemon running. Since I need two of them and also needed them to link up together I had to run these commands.

/usr/local/sbin/lircd --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc0 --pidfile=/var/run/ --listen=8765 /etc/lirc/rm100_0.conf
/usr/local/sbin/lircd --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc1 --pidfile=/var/run/ --output=/dev/lircd --connect=localhost:8765 /etc/lirc/rm100_1.conf

This linked up both of the daemon processes and then pointed them to their respective config files.

Now I was able to run irw to test out my config. Well this stupid fucking remote does a double signal. One for press and the other when you let go. Now the shitty part is that there are ways to delay and make the config files ignore double presses, but these are not double key presses. Nope two seperate events, so that mean that I had to figure out a way to get my lirc to ignore the second event. Some more googling garnered me a post somewhere that showed how a person changed the toggle_bit_mask in the config files to basically fuck up the remote codes. Crappy breaking code hack, but fuck it, it worked.

So in one remote I had

so I changed it to

The other had

So I changed it to

Sufficiently broken. So now when I click a button it only showed one event.

Now that it was finally working, I needed to get this stuff to autostart when I botted up. So onto making a shell script with the commands to kick in the two daemons and placing it into /etc/init.d/ . I named my script lirc and then added it as a startup item. Google it, this one is not hard to find.

From here I created my Lircmap.xml for XBMC and got all the keys to do what I wanted.

T was looking over my shoulder while I was writing this up and said "Are you still working on that post?"

And I have to agree with her. this was one shitty, nasty, painful install. I should learn to just get easily supported crap for my Linux boxes, but really I am not that smart. So instead I am writing a blog post so I can remember what I did.

If you made it this far I commend you. Because fi you are coming from the motorcycle sites, you probably didn't really give a fuck about this, and if you bought one of these Soundmon things, you have probably spent a fucking week trying to get it to run. Just. Like. Me.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Not sure how, but I got it all onto one desk.

And to think, I have to add a Mac Mini to this mess of crap soon. I really need a KVM.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For the m-f'n WIN!!!

So we got a big ol' TV. Huge really. 52 inches of HD projection TV goodness. We picked this up a few months ago when we moved to this house. Got a good deal and it has been sweet watching movies on it. I mean it fucking rocks.

Well it has always had a few quirks. It would flicker when we would first turn it on. Not often and once it flickered it would be fine for the rest of the time.

Well that was until last night. I was playing music through it (I use XBMC and Boxee for media centers) and after dinner I noticed it was off. At first I thought one of the boys shut it down before dinner. That is until I tried to turn it back on. The sound of crackling and good burning stench came from the back of the TV. SHIT!!!

Well this wasn't a 10 year old Wal-Mart special. It was a relatively new, and expensive to replace, tellie. So out came the tools and I began to tear it down. Piece by piece I pulled stuff off. At first I had my fingers crossed and hoped that it was the mounds of dust and dirt inside. A dust off later, and it was still making the racket. So I finally started to look for the short and found it. It was under one of the main boards.

When I pulled it apart I found this...

So there was the source of all the trouble. Well at first I figured that I would try and find parts, no luck. Then I located a repair place, but that costs money, more than I got at least. So I figured hell with it, I am just gonna fix it myself. If I make it worse, what did I lose, I was gonna have to replace the board anyway.

So today me and the boys went off to Radio Shack and picked up some tools. $25 bucks later I had what I needed.

And I was off to work. A bit of cleaning and scraping and we were ready to work. After a few minutes I had this...

So it ain't pretty, but it works!!!

And right now we got XBMC playing some Howl's Moving Castle and the screen actually looks better than it ever has. Sometimes saying "fuck it" actually pays off.

And other times it comes and bites you in the ass, but we won't go there today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Minor site update.

I have added a little section to my sidebar for your listening enjoyment/torture.

It's just a little music app where I will attempt to add people that I am playing heavily on repeat or think could be interesting.

Right now I have two songs in my list. Dave Alvin and X. The X song is 4th of July, and if you are a fan, you have probably already heard it. What I just found out is that Dave Alvin penned this back in the 80's. Now Alvin has some serious indie cred, though over the years he is more on the Americana side of the dial. So I also added his song, King of California. It seemed to be fitting considering our upcoming move.

Now one thing you will notice is that you actually have to start it manually. I can't stand it when a site pukes out music on me and I would never subject that to anyone that comes here. I think it is in poor taste to do that. First, maybe you don't want to listen to my crap. And second, what if you are at work? That would be a great way to keep your time-wasting activities quiet, my site music blaring over the speakers.

Anyway, if you are curious, give it a click. If not, ignore this post completely.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ha Dad! You're an empty box!


Did I ever mention how much I despise packing? The packing of all my crap into little boxes, figuring out what needs to go in the trash and what I need to keep. It is this painful, mind numbing process.

See this isn't moving across the town, this is 700 miles. So that kinda rules out plastic bags and tossing crap in the back seat of the car. We have to carefully get things boxed, tagged and wrapped. Sucks.

Today has been really quiet so I have been packing up some stuff we won't need. So the bookcase is being dismantled right now. I haven't been reading much lately anyhow. Though I am slowly working my way through a Daniel Boone biography.


It has been cold lately. Not like Minnesota cold, but definitely not fun standing outside with a cigarette. In the mornings I have been going out and the trees are covered in frost.

It looks neat though.


Back to work. I need to pack up the Honda pieces and get the garage sorted soon. I have to freecycle two big desks, a treadmill and an old flat trailer I acquired. It is just more junk than we need.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Star Wars - Revisited.

Since I am not doing anything motorcycle related, I am using this for random videos.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Goin' back to

Cali. to Cali. to Cali.

That's right. We are heading back. Too cold too far from family and all that stuff. But there are a couple other reasons too. But anyway, I will be in move everything mode again for a while. I mean it, I am not going nowhere for a while this time.

And if LL ain't your cup o' tea.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Iron Maiden????

I have to thank Jim for this one.

Odd, wrong, but so damn fun to listen to. Then again I enjoy listening to strange shit like this. And I am a big Harpo Marx fan.

And if you are curious, he has his own youtube channel. Heavy metal harp at its best.