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February 28, 2009

Who watches the watchmen (or your baby monitor)

Recently I had a discussion about video baby monitors with a neighbor.  I mentioned that we had bought a unit that digitally encrypted the video and audio stream, so that creepy people would not be able to watch our baby sleep.  They seemed to think that it wasn't such a big deal and that you would need a lot of equipment to spy on your neighbors.  To rebut this I have two items that are freely available in the United States for a minimal cost.  Both of these items can be outfitted with higher gain antennas to allow for the long range monitoring and reception of video signals.

 

  • The discontinued ICOM R3 scanner with Video (About $400 USD on eBay)
  • The AOR-STV Unit.  At approximately $900 USD, this thing can view any NTSC or PAL nannycam, baby monitor, backup camera, or analog wireless camera in production. 

 

AOR STV unit 

February 27, 2009

Ubuntu on the XO

 

I had read several articles on the web about loading different operating systems on the XO-1 hardware platform.  I have been really short on time lately due to our first son being born two weeks ago, so when I found XO Explosion offering a turnkey Ubuntu on XO-1 solution, I exercised my Paypal account immediately.  This vendor also has a lot of great spare parts for the XO-1 unit including displays, power bricks, batteries, and other addons.

After ordering, I received my SD card in mail a few days later.  I was able to drop my developer key right on to the SD card and within two minutes I had rebooted and was up and running on Ubuntu.  I know I lose a little bit to geek street cred for not going through the who installation process myself, but for $49 this is a great deal.  Once I work through the WiFi WEP connection issue on the XO, I'll be totally set.

Links:

February 21, 2009

Digital TV Conversion and what you can do to help

I just received this today in the ARRL weekly e-mail newsletter.  While it is targeted at Amateur Radio operators (Hams), it has a lot of great debugging tips for technical types wanting to get their friends and family back watching over the air television.

 

==> HAMS CAN STILL HELP WITH DIGITAL TV (DTV) CONVERSION

Even though the mandatory conversion date for television stations to
switch from analog signals to digital has been delayed by four months
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-9A1.pdf>, hams
are still assisting the FCC and their communities by providing technical
support to those who need assistance
<http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/12/10/10499/>. Although many TV
stations won't turn off their analog signals until the new deadline, the
law allows stations to apply to switch on the original date -- February
17 -- or any time before June 12.

According to the FCC, there are nearly 1800 full-power televisions
stations in the US. Of these, the FCC said that "220 will have
terminated their analog signals before Tuesday [February 17] and another
421 will terminate their analog signals on Tuesday [February 17] before
11:59 PM, for a total of 641 stations, or about 36 percent of all
full-power stations nationwide." The FCC has posted a list of stations
making the conversion on or before February 17 on their Web site
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-288530A2.pdf>.

ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, said he has
been getting e-mails and phone calls from Amateur Radio operators
concerning the digital TV conversion, now set to take place on Friday,
June 12. "People are asking what's happening with the DTV conversion --
especially now that it's been delayed -- and wondering what we as hams
can do to help," he said. "There has been considerable confusion
concerning the extension of the date, but the role of Amateur Radio is
simply to be helpful to the people in our communities."

Pitts advises those hams that are helping to provide technical
educational assistance keep in mind the following troubleshooting
pointers, provided by the FCC:

* Check Your Connections
Check that your digital-to-analog converter box (or digital television)
is connected properly. Make sure that your antenna is connected to the
antenna input of your digital-to-analog converter box (or digital
television). If you are using a digital-to-analog converter box, ensure
that the antenna output of the converter box is connected to the antenna
input of your analog TV. If you are unsure of the proper connections,
refer to your owners manual.

Make sure that your components are plugged in and turned on.
If using a digital-to-analog converter box, tune your analog TV to
channel 3. You should see a set-up menu or picture on your screen. If
you do not see this, re-check your connections.

* Perform a Channel Scan
Digital-to-analog converter boxes (and digital televisions) have a
button -- usually on the remote control -- that is labeled "Set-up" or
"Menu" or some similar term. Press that button to access the set-up
menu. Using the directional arrow buttons on your remote, scroll to the
option that allows you to perform a "channel scan." The channel scan
will search for digital broadcast channels that are available in your
area. If you are unsure how to do a channel scan, please refer to the
owners manual for your converter box or digital television (whichever
applies).

Once the channel scan is complete, you will be able to tune to the
digital channels received by your antenna.

* Adjust Your Antenna
As many hams know, small adjustments to an antenna can make a big
difference; digital TV is no exception. If you have an indoor antenna,
try elevating it and moving it closer to an exterior wall of your home.
After adjusting your antenna, perform another channel scan to see if
your reception has improved.

While adjusting your antenna, it may be helpful to access the "Signal
strength meter" on your converter box or digital television set to
determine whether your adjustments are improving the signals' strength.
You can probably find your signal strength meter via the "Menu" function
on your remote control, and your owners manual will provide detailed
information on how to perform this function. Remember to do another
channel scan after you have adjusted your antenna.

Make sure that you are using an antenna that covers both the UHF and VHF
bands and that is connected properly (depending on what channels are in
use in your area).

Late last year, the FCC requested assistance from the ARRL in providing
educational support to local communities regarding the digital TV
conversion.

"I really appreciate the willingness of the ARRL to actively participate
in helping Americans with the transition to DTV and your helpful
suggestions," said George Dillon, FCC Deputy Bureau Chief for Field
Operations (now retired). "The DTV transition will be an historic moment
in the evolution of TV. Broadcast television stations can offer viewers
improved picture and sound quality and new programming choices.
All-digital broadcasting also will allow [the FCC] to significantly
improve public safety communications and will usher in a new era of
advanced wireless services such as the widespread deployment of wireless
broadband. Our goal is to engage the amateur community on a cooperative
basis to help with the DTV outreach and to educate consumers."

The FCC said that it is seeking to ensure that even where all or most
stations in a market are terminating analog service, consumers who are
unprepared for the switch will continue to have access to critical local
news and emergency information. In a statement released by the FCC, the
Commission "examined each market in which stations planned to end analog
service to try to ensure that at least one affiliate of the four major
networks -- ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- would continue broadcasting in
analog after February 17. Many had such a station, but in those
instances in which there would be no top-four affiliate remaining in a
market, the FCC attempted to ensure that analog local news and emergency
information would remain available -- generally through what is being
called 'enhanced analog nightlight' service. Under 'enhanced analog
nightlight,' the top-four affiliates must keep at least one analog
signal on the air to provide programming that includes, at a minimum,
local news and emergency information"
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-288530A1.pdf>.

FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps said that the Commission is "trying to
make the best of a difficult situation. While this staggered transition
is confusing and disruptive for some consumers, the confusion and
disruption would have been far worse had we gone ahead with a nationwide
transition on [February 17]."

For more information on the conversion to digital television, please see
the DTV Conversion Web site <http://www.dtv.gov/>.

February 19, 2009

Fun with cats

The world famous "Kitty Go Round" is actually located at our home. Mr. F is demonstrating how fun this home office/amusement park for felines really is. These are the things that we do to amuse out infant and get him to stop crying. This time, mission accomplished!

February 13, 2009

Two Weeks

Miles visited the Pediatrician today and is up to 9 pounds 8 ounces.  His main goals in life right now are eating, sleeping and being cute. 

Miles and Mr. F the cat. 

February 12, 2009

Blessings and Lessons

Sometimes when you look back on your experiences, you can clearly see that the world was preparing you for the future.  Over the past two weeks, we've experienced sleepless nights and the need to change poop filled diapers on an inconsolable child.  This is not the first time that Christie and I have experienced this.  Those of you who know the details of our life, know that Duke the Dalmatian was taken from this world last December.  What many people might not know is that the same day that Duke's bladder burst following his cancer surgeries, and we decided to not put him down and do everything we could to bring his life back to normal, is the same day that we found out that we were pregnant with Miles.  We chose life that day. 

 

In some ways Duke gave us Olympic level training.  Changing the blood and feces soaked dressings on a 70 pound dog will always trumph a few ounces of yellow poop.   Dealing with an inconsolable dog that is in pain and is depressed because he can't sleep in your bed anymore due to the mess and safety issues (falling off the bed) will always trumph a baby that can be satiated by a bottle or a diaper change.  Duke gave us the lesson of undying affection and the need to pull out all the stops for a family member.    Whatever the long term outcome, you know you tried your best and explored every possible route.

I don't know what Miles' life is going to be all about, but I'm glad the world has provided us with lessons whether they be blunt or subtle.  Every life has a plan and purpose, but sometimes you just don't see it right away.  

 

February 11, 2009

Born to be in pictures

Everyone has been asking me about the baby photos recently.  I've just uploaded them recently and have made them accessible through Flickr.  Without an account you can see a few photos, but to see everything you'll have to have a Flickr/Yahoo account, which then I can grant access to see all the photos. 

These are the photo sets so far:

We also have some video to share as well, but I'll have to do a bit of video editing before it will all be releasable.  Sorry for the delay, as we've be up to our neck in diapers.

 

In the future you can see any Miles related photo sets here:

February 05, 2009

Let there be light

The last few days have been fairly crazy.  We didn't have much sleep in the hospital, or after we came home.  The day after we were discharged we dragged ourselves out to our first pediatrician appointment with the requisite lab work.  A few hours later we received a shocking call from our pediatrician that we would need to readmit Miles to the hospital.  It seems that his minor jaundice wasn't so minor, and he would need light therapy to get the bilirubin levels in his system down to where they were not a health risk.  Off we sped to the hospital, where we spent another 24 hours with him as he received his therapy. 

 

Like magic, after 24 hours, his mood improved, he started eating more and the jaundice was almost gone.

 

We are so glad to be back home!

February 02, 2009

hello_world()

Hello Everyone,
      I just wanted to send off a quick note announcing our new arrival.  We've been at the hospital for the last few days, so unfortunately we were only able to do a few announcements via phone.  Miles Arthur Anderer was born at 9:36AM on Friday January 30 at ValleyCare Hospital in Pleasanton, California.  Our baby boy's birth weight is 8 lbs 11 1/2 oz and he is 19 3/4 inches.  We came home from the hospital today February 2 after the doctors signed off on an early release.
      Originally this was a planned induction, which turned into a cesarean birth after half a day of labor.  Christie's doctor was kind enough to allow Aaron full access to the whole event, so we could experience the birth together.        
      Thanks for all the kind wishes and greetings from everyone!  We haven't been ignoring you emails, we just didn't have Wi-Fi access at the hospital and just got home.  :)  
      We've attached some pictures that you might enjoy.  If you want to keep up to date with what we are up to, check out http://baby.spectrox.com

 

Warm Regards,
Christie, Aaron and Miles