Woah, there’s a Tesla charging station in my city! Click the title of this post to see where it is. In a few years I hope to own one of their vehicles, so this is great news.
Personal projects and self-hosted tools
A recent scroll through my blog posts got me thinking about the personal projects I’ve worked on in recent years. Last month I built my own wifi router over a three week period. It was invigorating. Similarly hardware-related, I came across a three-year-old blog post from when I built my current desktop PC. It still meets my needs quite nicely so I’ve no need to upgrade, which is a nice feeling. On the software side, a much older project is a web application I call Tracker. It’s something I use roughly 355 days a year.
I’ve been using tracker in some form since January 2008. It houses my daily journal entries, project ideas, URLs that I find important. This blog post also began life there. There are currently 3800 entries in my database, and 7400 usages of 801 unique tags. I plan to keep using it for years to come.
This year, Tracker got a new sibling. It’s also a web application, but one built specifically for hosting and sharing photos. I call it Collections.
I’ve had a Flickr account for a few years now, but never fully embraced it. I find Flickr’s concept of collections and sets confusing, and I very rarely share photos with non-family members. So I decided to build something I had more control over, that stored images on my own server.
The code isn’t public yet. There are a few features I need to add, and some usability cleanups to do first.
- Tags for organization
- Simple UI for choosing which photos to share
- Unique, unguessable URLs for sharing each curation. I can simply email a link to my family.
- Serve as off-site photo backup
- Android app that uploads photos nightly
The main thing missing from Collections is an accompanying android app that uploads photos nightly. It won’t be a huge undertaking to create the first version of the app, but I’ve been distracted by my beagleboard wifi router and a toy micro-services framework lately. Bookmark my blog or follow me on github if you want to know when I release it.
For the past year I’ve been using a TP-Link WDR4300 wireless router. I tried installing OpenWrt on it but it became unusable so I reverted back to stock. Last month I decided to build my own wireless router out of the beagleboard-xM I bought three years ago.
What are the benefits of building my own router?
- It could provide network attached storage via a USB drive or MicroSD card. Could use something more robust than the FAT filesystem too.
- It uses less power by 3 watts. 5v @ 3A compared to 12V @ 1.5A. I think this comes out to a savings of $2 per year.
- The Beagleboard with an external USB wireless adapter is slightly smaller than my current router
- When new wireless technologies come out (like 80211ac) I could simply buy a new USB wireless adapter rather than having to replace the whole unit.
- With 4 USB ports, I could add extra wireless adapters to cover the 5Ghz spectrum
TL;DR version of all the hurdles I encountered along the way:
- The first Edulink adapter that I bought wasn’t stable, due to hostapd not supporting RTL8192 chipsets out of the box.
- Bought another adapter that was supposed to use an Atheros chipset. But Amazon sent me version 1 of the adapter, which uses the RTL8192 chipset.
- I tried to overcome this by compiling a version of hostapd specifically for the RTL8192 chipsets. While I could connect to my new wifi network from some devices, my MacBook wouldn’t connect, and my tablet dropped the connection every 10 seconds.
- I then found an ALFA adapter that uses an Atheros (ath9k) chipset, and only had 1 hardware version. It works great!
I’ve yet to try using 40Mhz spread, but I don’t have a real need for the speed gain. Plus, it would likely only cause conflicts with nearby wireless networks.
The beagleboard is currently running an ARM version of ArchLinux. I should probably publish my configuration, because getting MAC cloning working on the ethernet port was less-than-trivial.
Update: You can find the config files here.
The National Park Service tells the Associated Press that it’s about to order all 401 of its parks to ban unfettered use of drones on their grounds.
I kinda want a drone, or some sort of flying radio-controlled vehicle of my own, but nevertheless I’m quite happy about this.
Today I gave money to support Soma FM. iTunes radio is starting to remind me of Pandora with it’s repetition (and ads!), so I figured I should support Soma FM and add them back to my rotation. They’re ad-free and they keep adding stations … kinda blows my mind.
Learn how foreign aid reduces overpopulation, dependency on aid for impoverished countries, and makes a sustainable future for our planet.
This letter is a great read. It invigorates my optimism. “In just 25 years, new cases of polio were reduced from 350,000 annually, to less than 400 in 2013.” Simply, wow.
On October 26th, people from all walks of life will descend on Washington, DC to call for an end to mass NSA surveillance. Will you be there?
* The moon is rich in rare-earth elements. Sounds kinda funny when you think about it. The moon is rich in unrare-moon elements.
* There is a US rare-earth element mine, and it has recently opened back up. If only mining had fewer long term environmental risks.
* And of course, recycle your cell phones.