Monthly Archives: May 2014

Replacing landline with GSM


I pay $32.17 a month for a landline that doesn’t see much use. Thank you <telco> for increasing this 7-9% every single year around September for the past three years. The majority of the actual use is telemarketers and survey takers calling me, being put through to my voicemail, and then them never leaving a message.

*Update 2014-06-25 – Received the latest bill. It’s now $32.50/month all-in. With no time like the present when you’re fired up about it already – I phoned <telco> right away to cancel the service. They immediately with no questions asked offered to chop the fees in half for a year. ~$15/month for 12 months, then $20/month afterwards (which would be plus fees and taxes). That’s pretty comparable to the $12.49-$18.82 that I expect be paying under the new regime. I want to think that it would be different if they had offered the lower rate on their own initiative based on my usage, but I’m not sure it would have been. It would have made a huge percentage impact on my initial cost/benefit – and while I would be less perturbed about their incessant fee increases I would probably have justified the capital cost as “It’s a project” and called it even with the same operating costs. OR maybe I’m just justifying it because I already spent the cash. Continue reading

Upgraded Flir E4


One of the tools I have available to me at work is a Fluke Ti55. It has proven itself as a highly useful predictive, and also a troubleshooting tool. While not certified, I am somewhat familiar with thermography – at least in an industrial setting.

Every once in a while I would look at the pricing for thermal imaging cameras, and they would be outlandishly beyond where I was willing to go. I was blown away by a teardown of the Flir E4, and then subsequent work in the community to tweak the firmware to get more functionality out of the hardware. The upgraded unit provides a high enough resolution image for the price that it was finally a worthwhile (to me) hobby purchase for home.

Lots of information available at

Communicating to the camera with Windows XP inside a VirtualBox Instance

There were problems trying to work with the firmware because I don’t run any native windows machines at home. I ended up communicating with the camera with a Windows XP instance running inside a VirtualBox VM. There was a nasty rigamarole to get it going that I eventually figured out a procedure for that I don’t have handy anymore. It went something similar to:

  • Delete Flir driver and the network interface it created in the WinXP VM
  • Reboot VM, wait for it to be fully started up
  • Plug in Camera, point it to the driver files
  • only one chance to get it connected and upload/download firmware – then needed to wipe out the network interface again

For each of the firmware upgrade, and the additional menu modification I did a full power off on the camera, battery pull, then did the above all over again. Being upgraded, I’m leaving it alone now.


The camera itself will only record still images – it will record the ‘thermal’ image (which actually includes the temperature scale and other popups inside the image) and optionally a copy of the visible image from the camera. It would be nice for it to store a pure thermal image like the Ti55 does – but it probably wouldn’t be too hard to do some kind of colour mapping after the fact to change the palette.

I thought the one ‘warmer than the rest’ breaker was the one driving the fan in my fan coil 24/7. Had a closer look afterwards, it’s actually the ACFI breaker supplying the bedrooms – one which is actually an office running computers. The GFCI outlet in the bathroom is also showing some heat and it isn’t loaded up. The temperature isn’t hot on these, just warmer than the surroundings, so I’m going to write this off as ‘must be normal’ for now.


Recording Video

The camera will stream images over USB. To record video on my laptop:

ffmpeg -f video4linux2 -r 3.5 -s 320×240 -i /dev/video1 test.avi

Flir E4 Bathroom Sink

Cold into Hot Water

Ye Olde Coleman Lantern

WordPress modifications


Trying a hosted blog for things I may want to refer to later and things that I want to share. Needed something with a proper backend – mostly for tagging and menu interfacing, and with an easy enough to use interface that it doesn’t impede putting out content that I want to.

The initial temptation was to fire up a new VPS, install all the individual packages, and really get it tweaked in exactly the way I wanted. Instead I’m trying a hosted platform, and only doing easy tweaks to it.

Internet items without a timestamp on them are almost as annoying as ones that use an ambiguous date format.

Modified content.php, added:

<?php echo get_the_date('Y-M-d H:i D'); ?>

Then later changed it to:

<?php echo get_the_date('Y-M-d'); ?>

Since the date/time is now at the top, also modify functions.php – function twentytwelve_entry_meta()
*2014-10-05 this is no longer the case, didn’t make this change with the change in hosts.

if ( $tag_list ) {
$utility_text = __( ‘This entry was posted in %1$s and tagged %2$s on %3$s<span class=”by-author”> by %4$s</span>.’, ‘twentytwelve’ );
} elseif ( $categories_list ) {
$utility_text = __( ‘This entry was posted in %1$s on %3$s<span class=”by-author”> by %4$s</span>.’, ‘twentytwelve’ );
} else {
// $utility_text = __( ‘This entry was posted on %3$s<span class=”by-author”> by %4$s</span>.’, ‘twentytwelve’ );