Category Archives: Thoughts

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/deanster/ on line 213

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use strict;
use warnings;

foreach my $statement (
   'give you up',
   'let you down',
   'run around',
   'desert you',
   'make you cry',
   'say good bye',
   'tell a lie',
   'hurt you')
   print "I'm never gonna $statement.\n";

Easy Automatic Control for Holiday Lights

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Holiday Light Timer with Light Sensor

We put up the Halloween lights over the weekend and I was reflecting that these timers really help make it an easy and no fuss set up.

It turns everything on at sundown and stays on as many hours as you specify. You can also just leave in on dusk to dawn or simply on or off for debugging.

It’s really nice enjoy your own lights if you come home after dark plus I feel better about using the energy since I minimize it by only having on for a few hours each night.

Coleman Cable 13547 6-Outlet Power Stake with Light Sensor and 6-Foot Cord

$20 Projector Screen

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Blackout cloth is used to line curtains to block the light so you can sleep in on a sunny morning. Blackout cloth is white or cream colored; it’s not black like you might assume.

A friend had cautioned me about being sure to not get anything translucent as he had some strange effects from his screen where the image was reflecting from the wall and back through his screen. Even without that, any light that penetrates the screen is not coming back to the viewer and is wasted.

I beamed the largest in focus image I could on my wall and measured. I got 8 feet of blackout cloth (it’s was 54 inches wide), three 8 foot 1x4s and a 2×4 foot piece of light plywood.

The plywood was cut into four triangles. The 1×4’s were cut so they fit together to match my measurements and screwed together in a rectangle using the plywood triangles on the corners.

I spread the fabric out on a clean surface, coated side down and carefully lay the 1×4 frame on top of it. I wrapped the fabric over the frame, stapled it to the wood and trimmed the surplus fabric. To mount the result to the wall I used small angle brackets; they were screwed into the wall in line with the top and bottom of the screen, then I slid the screen in between them and screwed directly into the top and bottom of the screen so the brackets were concealed.

I’m very pleased with the results.

How to Automatically Download TV Shows for XBMC

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Sickbeard turns xbmc into a TiVO

1. You tell Sickbeard which shows to track.
2. Sickbeard finds nzb files for you online and hands them off to sabnzbd.
3. Sabnzbd grabs the files from your usenet feed and assembles them into videos.
4. Sickbeard fixes file names for easy consumption by xbmc
5. After the files are complete, Hazel moves them onto the drive used by xbmc.

This all is implemented in python and uses web pages for the ui. It all runs perfectly on my Mac mini but works on Windows or Linux as well.

There are numerous ways for a hacker to to set up this functionality but this works very reliably for an out of the box solution.

Jetshred had a dead simple guide to OS X set up.

Strike Two for Angie’s List

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Looking for a window installer was my second test for Angie’s List. I know there are dozens of people who can install windows in less than 5 miles of my house but Angie’s List seems to treat my house as being in LA (the next county) so they have hits that are 80 miles and specifically don’t service Ventura.

I still really like the concept and have not given up but expect more from a pay service.

I was happy with my Ventura water softener people (Harris / Culligan) and gave them a nice review on Angie’s List so hopefully I can help the next guy.

Sweet little projector: Optoma HD66

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I’ve finally taken the high definition TV plunge with this sweet little projector. It’s also 3d-ready but I haven’t played with that at all.

It dropped into my old-school TiVo, xBox, and PC running XBMC environment surprisingly easily.

Angie’s List Fails on my Trial Run

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I’ve always liked the idea of Angie’s List. I’m a firm believer that the right lead saves money, time and stress. In need of a Water Softener I finally had a legitimate need for their services and signed up: ~$30 for two years.

Only one entry under category Water Softener in my area was even ranked and he had a D! Most of the local Water Softener services Angie’s List listed were plumbers in any case and I’d rather have the tanks simply swapped out so they can’t help me.

I picked a name brand and will add a report to Angie’s List when I have a verdict. Still holding out hope for getting useful advise from Angie’s List.

Mark your calendar and save the date!

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It drives me crazy when I receive email at work asking me to “mark my calendar.”

Outlook is clunky but it has a functioning calendar.

If you’re sending me email with a date and time in it you probably need to start over with a calendar invitation.

Additional Stories mid-Sprint

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I was too lax recently when a Scrum Team ran low and picked up some additional Stories. The quick email discussion going over the Stories was probably insufficient to get unanimous buy-in and a Failed Sprint might have been avoided.

Moving forward, I will always have a mini-Sprint Planning Meeting when any new Stories are considered.

Clean End

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One of the things we’ve been tracking is Pass or Fail for a Sprint All the work you set out to do was done? Pass. You missed a Story? Fail. There’s no associated reward or punishment but the teams get pretty serious about it.

A Sprint ended Friday and the Team was patting themselves on the back for their Pass even though at 7:30 PM the Team was still scrammbling to wrap up 3 Tasks. One of the engineers had to cancel dinner plans and was working alone at the office feeling solely responsible for the team’s success.

So now I get be the mean ScrumMaster and give them a big ol’ Fail and explain that the planning and estimates should not require last minute heroics and all-nighters.

I’m adding to my ScrumMaster checklist: Put a clear deadline in Exchange noting the date and hour of the Pass/Fail deadline. I’m a chump for not doing that automatically.