Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kitchen remodel (be your own contractor, or don't hire Millholl Custom)

After living in our house for a handful of years, it was time to update the kitchen. This began a nearly 2 year planing process that started as a minor face lift with new cabinets (Ikea) to ending up deciding to basically tear out everything, change the footprint and start over.

Once we decided this was going to go beyond a simple face lift and would require plumbers, electricians, drywallers, etc - we made the decision (mistake) to get a general contractor.

We visited the Home and Garden show, twice. We talked to a handful of contractors and designers. We did our due diligence and got a number of bids. At the end of all this, Millholl Custom, LLC appeared to be the clear winner. John, the owner, did a very thorough job of walking us through what the project would look like. The bid was the most detailed (a problem later on) and we were left with the confidence that he knew his business.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lockitron, Doorbot and other Kickstarter crap (updated)

I'm an early adopter.  Always have been and probably always will be.  The average age of my cell
phones over the last 20 years has been around 9 months.  However, I also have a very low tolerance for crap. While I am willing to test new gear, if it sucks, I won't put up for it very long.

As someone who is an early adopter, Kickstarter is a potential dream come true. You get in on the action on brand new gear at a reduced price.  You get to use high tech equipment before it ever hits the shelves (some of the time).

I jumped on the Kickstarter bandwagon.  I bought in early on a couple projects that have finally hit the mainstream.  So far, I've supported 4 campaigns on Kickstarter.  I've received 3 products and the 4th is a film still in development. So, how have I fared?  Of the 3 products (discussed below), all 3 are total crap. The film is about olympic swimmers and I backed it because it sounded interesting.

So, what did I buy?  The first product I backed was the one I was most interested in: Lockitron. This is right in my wheelhouse for good ideas.  I love home automation and products designed to make our lives easier.  Why we still carry keys is beyond me.  Technology has advanced - or so I thought. One of the features I required in my new car was push-button start so I never had to use a key.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Using Raspberry Pi for Webview

I've been asked to write up a step by step for using a Raspberry Pi (RPi) computer as an Active911 Webview monitor.

- I purchased a Raspberry Pi computer from Amazon.

- This also needs an operating system.  I bought a 32 GB SD card from Staples and then downloaded the NOOBS image.  Step by step instructions for doing this are at: http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

- Once that was done, I downloaded the Chromium browser and installed it onto the machine. It seems to be a better browser for handling Active911 Webview.

- Launch Chromium and enter the Registration Code for your Webview session.  This saved it so when I launch it in kiosk mode, it simply logs in.

Now I needed to do some configuring so I can boot the RPi and have it launch Chromium in kiosk mode and not have the screen saver come on (I am connected to a 1080i monitor via an HDMI cable for all of this).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Track your bike workouts - for Android users

Recently, I read a well researched post written by a friend of mine about building the perfect high-tech home gym. What I found was most of those cool tech gadgets he discussed were aimed at the Apple iOS ecosystem. As a long time Android user, I started looking for options for us.

Since my preferred activity for exercise (at least in the summer) is road biking, this is where I started my search.

I already have a Garmin Edge 305 bike computer. I've had it for years and it works great (after soldering the battery to the motherboard - a common problem related to vibration). However, I always ride with my Android phone and I figured there had to be some better solutions out there, or at least complimentary ones.

What I wanted was to turn my phone into a bike computer and allow the ability to upload to Strava (which I am beginning to get addicted to), look at maps, follow routes, etc. Stuff we should expect to do on a bike computer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Aurora Mall shooting fireground audio

It's rare you get the opportunity to listen to complete fireground audio from an event like what took place the morning of 7/20/12 at the Aurora Mall.  Outstanding job by all involved as well as Aurora Fire Dispatch.  Recognized a couple voices on the radio as former instructors of mine at Aurora Fire Academy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Active911 Instructional Video

A quick instructional video on the operation of Active911 on iPads in the rigs. Video contains some troubleshooting techniques and suggestions as well.


Feel free to enter your comments here if you have suggestions and other techniques that you use.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Setting up your smart phone for Active 911 / CADpage

This should be a simple step by step for activating your cell phone for Active911 / CADPage to receive calls from Golden Fire in real time and give you the ability to map those calls.