Thursday, November 29, 2012

Q: Will a king bed fit in our new house? A: Google Sketchup (awesome product!)

Robyn and I were trying to figure out whether a king bed will fit in our new house. To answer that question I immediately downloaded Google SketchUp, which is an awesome (and free!) CAD/drawing application.

Using the blueprints of our new house (possession: January!) that we got when we signed the contract, I had a mockup of our top floor, down to the inch, in about 90 minutes. I could have stopped at the bedroom, but we also wanted to see if my giant desk would fit in a spare bedroom.

So, will a king bed fit in our new master bedroom, and will there be room for bedside tables and dressers? The answer is definitely yes:


In 2009, SketchUp also helped me figure out if I could fit a queen bed in my apartment bedroom, along with my huge desk (split in two) and a bookshelf. The answer was yes - barely:


If you've used any CAD programs before, you'll adapt to SketchUp quickly. There are also lots of SketchUp video tutorials and lessons for beginners. SketchUp is a VERY handy program that can always answer the question "will it fit?" - so long as you know your room/house/whatever's dimensions!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Biggest (Gaming) Mistake

After the Nintendo Gamecube was released, I packed up our N64 and all of our games and traded it all towards that stupid purple cube. So many classics gone: Goldeneye, Smash Brothers, Perfect Dark, Mario Party (and sequels), and a rare copy of Bust-a-Move. And Mario Kart 64! Holy crap, me and my siblings played a lot of Mario Kart. Could you hop over the wall in Wario's Stadium? I could.

We had an Xbox already, so I didn't see any reason to keep the N64 even though it was the first console we ever owned. Oh, young Brahm didn't know anything about nostalgia then.

Some years later I took that Gamecube into High Tek Game Traders and swapped it for another N64. Ahhh. That's better. I never bought all of the games back, but I nabbed the important ones. I won't make that mistake again.

--

Robyn recently got the urge to play Super Mario Bros on my NES. I didn't have an NES as a kid but my Uncle Bill and Aunt Erna had one. We'd go over to their farm and run to their bedroom, where it was set up on a little 13" TV. We loved it. In high school, I bought an NES, 2 controllers, the Zapper and about 8 games off my friend Curtis for an absurdly reasonable price (given their current resale prices) - can't quite remember what it was. A couple years later he asked to buy it back. Sorry dude, all sales final.

When Robyn and I unpacked the NES, the Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cartridge was missing! And I know for sure that I owned it, because I have the Duck Hunt gun. We played Bubble Bobble instead.

Oh well. Robyn ordered Mario Bros on eBay. I also ordered River City Ransom and Duck Hunt, and I'm bidding on RBI Baseball. Woo!

I've got a new 72-pin connector in the mail so I can fix the finicky loading on the NES, and a gamebit so I can pop open the cartridges to clean the connectors. I'm going to take care of my sweet little NES and protect it... this is how I'll honour my fallen N64 and Bust-a-Move. Never Forget.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Passive-Mogressive Motes

Last year I complained to the internet about constant charitable fundraising efforts at my work. "Wahhh, I get asked for money too frequently" - me.

For the past three years I've been doing Movember, growing horrible moustaches and raising money for prostate cancer research and men's mental health initiatives. (it's a trap blog post! Donate to me here: mobro.co/bneufeld)

And for each year I've participated in Movember, the event grows. Like a big, beautiful moustache grown over thirty days, it grows. There are more people campaigning for donations, and some people get REALLY into it.

Some outstanding men at the Saskatoon office have taken up the Movember cause, and my email inbox has been a flurry of fundraising updates (hooray for email filters!). One of many events (seriously - there's a steak night too) is a Movember mini-golf tourney - each discipline in the office builds a hole, you pay to play, and the proceeds to to charity. Yay! Fun! Right?

I raised an eyebrow when I saw this email:
"The Movember mini golf tournament is slated to go this week.  I know that we are busy, and this tournament is going to be a fun event for a great cause.  We are not seeking elaborate results.  Rather something reasonably challenging that can be setup in during a coffee break.

"[Organizer Person] was seeking email from those planning to participate as a group; I am going to do the opposite. The groups that will be participating are identified below.  If your group is unable to participate, please provide me with a compelling reason as to why you cannot spare 20 minutes for charity." (NB: emphasis not mine! This was the actual email formatting) 
Oh boy. I support the cause, but come on - this email makes the event sound about as exciting as vacuuming the living room!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Coffee Trap

My sweet lady wife moved into my (our!) apartment right after our wedding. So far Robyn and I are pretty good roommates! We share the chores and are good at living together in a tiny space.

Since we pledged our eternal love for one another, Robyn has been setting traps. All over the place. Traps that didn't seem to spring up when my ex-roommate lived here. Items tumble out of cupboards, or fall off our tiny bathroom shelf into the toilet. Mmm, toilet aspirin.

She denies setting these traps but the evidence keeps piling up!

On Monday she set a trap that will be hard to top. Robyn covertly decided that our electric kettle needed cleaning because it supposedly had too much calcium in it.

Cloaked in silence, she filled the kettle (I can only assume, to the brim) with vinegar, boiled it down (I assume) to a thick vinegar syrup, and planted it in front of the sink for me to find during my morning routine.

The next morning my alarm went off at 5:00AM and I set about my automatic morning routine. Bathroom, shower, get dressed, grind coffee, fill kettle, boil kettle, pack lunch, put coffee & water in french press, eat breakfast, brush teeth, press coffee, pour in travel mug, add milk, depart for carpool.

In the carpool I sipped my coffee and was shocked wide awake. But not due to caffeine. Oh no. I thought my brain might be melting in those early morning hours, so I took another, smaller cautionary sip. I could ONLY taste acetic acid. This was alarming because I brew strong coffee. I thought the milk went bad. Very, very bad. But that didn't compute, because I had a glass of milk with breakfast.

When I got to work I poured my coffee down the sink. The bottom third of my travel mug was filled with a spongy disconnected mass of stinky curdled milk globs. It was super gross. Some people who saw (and smelled) what I was doing mug helpfully commented, "that's gross."

I texted Robyn and asked if she filled the kettle with vinegar, and if not, to watch out for the milk. She texted me her confession and apologized profusely, but I can only imagine that she was clasping her hands together, laughing maniacally and laying her next trap.

I have insider intelligence that she will be blogging her side of the story. I'll leave it to my discerning readers to evaluate the facts for themselves.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Bulletproofing" Apps: Preventing Android from Killing Processes (root)

 
I have been playing with my Android phone lots lately. I installed Cyanogenmod 10 (CM10) on my Galaxy SII and I feel like I've got a brand-new phone - all of my upgrade envy about the latest and greatest devices has evaporated (for now!).
 
I've also installed an app called Llama. Llama watches cell phone towers that I'm nearby, and performs actions based on where I am. You can program in any rules you'd like. I've got Llama set up to do the following:
  • Enable wifi when I'm at home, a buddy's house, or my parents' house;
  • Disable wifi when I leave any of those locations;
  • Turn my ringer to extra-loud when I arrive at work (useful on a construction site!);
  • Mute my phone between 9pm and 4:45am, ONLY when the phone is plugged in (ie, when I have it charging on my nightstand while sleeping).
There are a bunch of apps that can do the same thing, I just happen to like Llama.
 
One annoyance that I've encountered with Llama is that the Android operating system is really good at finding inactive processes and killing them. In other words, if it sees an app running in the background, and that app hasn't done anything in a while, it kills the app to free up the phone's memory to do other things. Often times this means that Llama dies at inopportune times. This results in my wifi staying on (battery drain) or my sounds staying muted (I miss calls!).
 
I finally found an awesome fix though - you can prevent Android from killing certain apps. For it to work, you need your phone to be rooted.
 
The fix can be found in this megathread on xda-developers, which is obscenely large and filled with an intimidating amount of rich text formatting. Don't worry, the fix pretty easy:
  1. Download the latest V6 Supercharger script from this xda-developers post and save it somewhere on your phone. The author has uploaded it as a .pdf (to get around upload size limits) so remove the .pdf extension after downloading (it is an .sh file).
  2. Make sure Busybox is installed on your phone. If your phone is rooted, Busybox is probably installed.
  3. Install Script Manager. This app can run the V6 script.
  4. Run Script Manager, enable the "browse as root" option in the settings.
  5. Open the V6 Supercharger script (that you downloaded in Step 1) in Script Manager, and be sure to run "as root" (the skull and crossbones icon turns green when you've done this right)
  6. Follow all the prompts and select the options you want. To learn more about the options, though... start reading that xda-developers thread.
To "bulletproof" an app and keep it in memory:

  • Select the "Bulletproof Apps" option in the V6 Supercharger script and follow the prompts.
"But... script!? I don't understand! Sounds hard" - you. No, it's easy. Let me calm your fears. When you run the V6 Supercharger script with Script Manager, here's what happens: You see text scrolling by DOS-style as the script runs, explaining what it's doing as it goes. Every once in a while it gives you a few options. You pick an option, hit enter, and the script keeps running. If you don't understand something, you can always choose "no". The script also saves your original settings so you can always revert back if something unexpected happens.
 
The first post in that big megathread has a ton of information on all the options, but you need to click the show/hide buttons to see it all.
 
It took me a LONG time to wrap my head around this fix and get it figured out. This is one of the perks of Android: you can hack it to get it running JUST the way you want it. :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cast Iron Cornbread

Yummmmmmmmmm:


Crunchy, buttery outside, sweet tasty inside!

My favourite new toy is the cast iron pan that Robyn and I got for our wedding. I made this recipe from foodnetwork.com after work today, and YUM, I will be making it again.

Cast iron pans = AWESOME.