Digging more into this strange camera artifact problem I've been having, I decided to try uninstalling/reinstalling the Google Camera app. In this case, it means uninstalling any updates and and updating again from the Google Play store.

Uninstalling and reinstalling the update (2.5.052) didn't help things. The shifting is most visible with the red in the map on the book cover, but it's a global shift in the entire image.


Then I thought I'd just uninstall the updates and revert back to the built-in version of the camera app (2.4.018) to try that out. Much to my surprise, I got a perfect picture.


It's pretty reproducible too. With the latest update, the colour shift artifact is there. Back to the built-in version, it's gone. This is getting a little more interesting. Seems more a software issue now than hardware like I was starting to suspect earlier.

A few weeks ago the pictures coming out of my Nexus 5 started having this weird colour shifting artifact.


Note how the green is bleeding off to the right. Look a little closer and there's a strange colour shift across the entire image. Also on the left side of the image is a bar of digital artifact of some kind. Strangely enough, it only appears to happen when taking pictures in portrait orientation. It doesn't happen when I take pictures in landscape orientation.



Even more strangely, it also doesn't happen if I turn the N5 180 degrees (using the phone upside down).


Not entirely sure what's going on here, and so far my Google-fu has been unhelpful. I'm wondering if one of the tumbles my phone has taken recently might have messed something up.

Orlando mini-vacation

This past weekend we made a road trip down to Orlando to catch up with my sister and her family on their vacation. It also happened to be Field Day, so I put the HF rig back into Connie's car so we could play some radio over the weekend.

We drove down Friday and got to Orlando early enough to spend some time browsing around Skycraft Parts and Surplus, a big junk store filled with all manner of awesome stuff for DIY type people.


Part museum, part junk shop, lots of neat stuff. There were bins of electronic components, aisles of nuts, bolts, washers of all sizes, electronic equipment, some tools, wire, rope. Just like being in a candy store.


Don't forget to look up. Lots of stuff hanging from the ceiling in this place, some for sale, some just on display.


That evening we had dinner at Thani Thai which turned out to be quite excellent. Very tasty food, nicely decorated inside.

Saturday morning, we stopped at the Mary Queen of the Universe basilica for a visit and to check out their gift shop. Big church, very nice inside.



As you're walking toward the church from the parking lot, there's a pretty neat statue of Saint Michael


Off to the side of the church is a peaceful little rosary garden.


After the church, we still had a little bit of time to kill before meeting my sister. We found this neat little used book shop called The Book Worm on the way and explored it a bit.


They have a "Things found in books" bulletin board with some interesting items.


If you're looking for the politics section, it's in the bathroom.


Then it was off to meet my sister and her family at the Orlando Science Center. This turned out to be a pretty awesome place, and we ended up spending pretty much the entire afternoon here. There are 4 levels to explore, tons of interactive exhibits to play with and lots of things for kids (big and small) to learn about. Mummies of the World is their current headline exhibit and is pretty cool. Very expansive exhibit with actual mummified bodies and parts. You'll learn about how mummies are created both naturally and by people and get to see them up close and personal. No pictures allowed though.

The rest of OSC is a lot of fun to explore. Dinosaurs, weather, reptiles, several halls filled with hands on interactive exhibits to play with. It's definitely a place worth visiting and spending the day at.

Had a great time in Orlando, and was glad we were able to meet up with my sister and family.



SpaceX (CRS-7) launch

We were out in Orlando for the weekend (more about that later) and as luck would have it, were able to find a spot to watch the SpaceX Dragon launch (CRS-7) off US-528 a few miles from the launch site. This was the first rocket launch I've seen in person and "up close", so I was pretty excited. There were a fair number of people gathered at the same spot to see the launch too, but it wasn't super crowded fortunately. The mid-morning launch also meant the sun was hot, but not unbearably so. I even had a random eyeball QSO with another ham who spotted me tuning around on my HT listening for any launch related radio chatter.

Managed to get some pretty decent pictures of the launch and the rocket ascending with my SLR and 300mm lens. The images are cropped in from the original with some histogram enhancement applied.

Launch time!




About 20 seconds or so after the launch, the loud rumbling sound of the rocket firing reached us.

This was the last photo I took of the rocket before it disappeared behind the cloud. Not long after this shot, Connie told me the rocket had blown up.


The crowd starting to leave the observing site after the launch.


It was a very exciting first launch experience, although hearing about the rocket failure was very disappointing. I'm glad Connie found us a good spot to catch the launch from.

Bulgogi marinade

This is a recipe for a Korean bulgogi marinade that comes from Korean Cooking: Explore One of the Orient's Greatest Culinary Secrets by Hilaire Walden. It's a cookbook that's been on my shelf for quite a while now, and has several dishes that I've enjoyed making. Not sure how easy it is to get now, but you might get lucky and find one at your favourite used book store. It's got some great recipes that don't require special or hard to get ingredients.

  • 4 scallions coarsely chopped (I usually leave these out...not a big fan of onion-y things)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (fresh is best, but the pre-chopped stuff in a jar will do in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed toasted sesame seeds (mortar and pestle are great for the crushing part)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I usually use the low salt version...turns out fine)
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine/dry sherry (I never have any on hand so usually leave it out)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (if you can find toasted sesame seed oil, go with that)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I like to use brown sugar)
  • freshly ground pepper (I always forget this)

This should make enough to marinate about a pound or so of your preferred meat/protein product.

After being a volunteer at the SC Aquarium for nearly 10 years and close to 700 hours, I decided it was time to retire and reclaim some of my weekends.

Being a volunteer there was a lot of fun and immensely rewarding. I got to get up close to a lot of cool birds, handled owls, hawks, an eagle, penguins, parrots and other birds there. The work I did was all behind the scenes stuff, nothing glamorous, but it was enjoyable.


I'll miss seeing the birds every other week, and seeing the other staff and volunteers there. Now I'll have some more time to work on other things that have been waiting on the sidelines.

Something I rediscovered recently is that almost of the titles in the National Academies Press catalog are now available to read online for free or as a free PDF download.

The National Academies Press (NAP) was created by the National Academy of Sciences to publish the reports of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council, all operating under a charter granted by the Congress of the United States. The NAP publishes more than 200 books a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and medicine, providing authoritative information on important matters in science and health policy. The institutions served by the NAP are unique in their ability to attract leading experts in many fields to join panels and committees charged with providing policy advice on some of the nation's most pressing scientific, technical, and health-related issues.

There are a great many titles available covering a wide range of scientific topics. The catalog is an interesting place to browse and I've already grabbed a handful of publications including some previous BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) reports.

USPS package tracking fails

Until fairly recently (like up until a few months ago), I've never had many issues with USPS package tracking. So far this year, USPS has been pretty abysmal with their package tracking.

Slow deliveries I don't mind so much. It's USPS, I'm used to them being slow. When I was in Detroit, it didn't matter where something was being mailed from. It always took a week to get to me. The lack of package tracking updates is what annoys me.

Earlier this year, I was having some items from Etherkit sent to me. USPS tracking showed the shipping label being created, and then nothing for 7 days when it pops up in Ft. Worth, TX. It left there and disappeared for another 5 days before showing up in Columbia SC and finally arriving in my mailbox the next day.

A few months ago, I was waiting on an order from Sparkfun. After taking 2 days to leave Colorado (where Sparkfun lives), it disappeared for 6 days and popped up in Philadelphia. A couple of days later the package finally arrived after bouncing around to a couple of places here.

The latest package we're waiting for now hasn't had any tracking updates in 7 days when it was first scanned into the system.

Granted my sample size is pretty small. However, Adafruit, who ships many more packages than I'll ever receive, has a much larger sample size to work with and has written a few times about USPS' recent failings

At this rate, I'm pretty much ready to say "Screw USPS" and eat the higher shipping costs for UPS/Fedex for future orders. At least their tracking updates are more reliable.

Update: After 10 days without any updates, the package showed up in Aurora, CO. Totally in the wrong direction. That was a mighty slow truck to take 10 days to go from CT to CO. It left CO, and two days later the tracking showed it in Columbia, SC. Finally, the next day it arrived in our mailbox. 13 days for a "Priority 3-day" package. USPS, you're totally failing.

Updated to Fedora 22

Ran the upgrade to Fedora 22 yesterday using the fedup utility. With the Fedora 20->21 upgrade, a --product option was added to fedup to allow the user to select whether to install the Workstation, Server or Cloud version. The latest version of fedup does away with the --product option.

A little over 4200 packages got upgraded on the computer, so the download and install took a while. I let the downloading run overnight, and rebooted to do the install while I was at work. When I came home, a new Fedora 22 login screen was waiting for me.

First thing I discovered upon logging in was that my old KDE 4 Plasma environment was no longer valid, so I had to start off completely fresh with KDE 5. 

The second thing that struck me was KDE 5's appearance and icons are flat. Solid colours, kind of old school feeling not unlike the icons used in Google's Material Design.

I also can't add frequently used application icons to the KDE 5 panel. I don't know yet if that's just been done away with or if I have to add a new widget to the panel.

So far most of the changes I've noticed are cosmetic. I've been mostly just exploring the new KDE 5 desktop and getting things close to what I had before. Then I'll be able to dive in a little deeper.

DLink DIR-655 autopsy

On the dissection table today is the old D-Link DIR-655 wifi router that kept flaking out last year.

Getting the cover off wasn't too difficult. Two screws hidden under the rubber feet are all that need to be removed. A little bit of gentle pushing and prying undid the clips that hold the top cover on revealing the guts of the beast.


The inside is relatively sparse. The large black boxes at the top are the RJ-45 connectors. Based on the icon printed on the HN4843CG and HN2443CG objects below them, I'd guess they're isolation transformers for the RJ-45s. The bits under the metal shield are probably the wifi radio-related parts.

The large gray thing is some kind of stone-like substance acting as a heat sink for the large chip underneath. It's held on by a piece of thermal tape. A little bit of prying popped it off pretty easily revealing an Atheros IC (AR 8316) which I think handles the ethernet stuff.



To the left of the shielded bit, the most interesting thing is an IC labeled MX25L6445EMI-10G which is a 64Mbit flash memory chip.


Underneath the RF shield are a few other large ICs: an Atheros AR9223 802.11b/g/n wifi module, an Ubicom IP7150U which appears to be the actual router controller and a Zentel A3R12E4JFF IC (SDRAM perhaps?).


I didn't see anything obvious to explain why the router kept flaking out. The thermal tape holding the heatsink rock to the AR 8316 chip was mostly holding on by the edges and corners and the sticky part in the center area was shiny, suggesting it wasn't making very good contact with the chip anymore. Overheating could certainly explain intermittent issues. Would be an easy fix with some new adhesive thermal compound and a low profile heatsink. The RF shield got mangled a bit in the removal process though, so this board is off to the workbench.