Uncategorized

Yet Another Raspberry Pi Jukebox

We decided to move the Amazon spybot Echo out of the living room and I needed to come up with a new way for the kids to play music, since they can no longer run around yelling “Alexa, play Katie Perry!” 200 times per day.

I combined a Raspberry Pi with an RFID reader to make a system where the kids can grab a card and swipe it in order to play a song or playlist.

I’ve seen both RFID and mag-stripe based music players built around Raspberry Pis so putting this together was more about assembling the bits that suited my needs rather than actually doing any hard work. Helen Hou-Sandí has a really thorough write up of her project which was the jumping off point for mine.

I ended up installing and configuring the music server by hand rather than using Pi MusicBox. Pi MusicBox is built on top of Mopidy, which I installed on a fresh copy of Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian). I added in four extensions: Mopidy-Iris (web frontend), Mopidy-MPD (needed for command line control of the player), Mopidy-Spotify, and Mopidy-Local (which used to be bundled with the core but is now separate). This was a moderate pain so if you’re not familiar with the joys of Linux and Raspberry pi I suggest sticking with Pi MusicBox, which Just Works.

While I’m not an audiophile I do think the sound output on the Raspberry Pi is pretty miserable so I added a Hifiberry DAC+ card to it, which has RCA outputs I can connect to my stereo. Configuring the card is pretty easy, you just need to make sure you set the appropriate Mopidy config so it uses the RCA out and not the onboard headphone jack.

I picked up a 125kHz RFID reader and a package of 100 RFID cards. The RFID reader is a ready to go USB device that functions like a keyboard when you plug it into a computer, so no driver setup was needed for the pi.

Side note: the RFID reader has the weirdest configuration method I have ever seen. You plug it into your PC, swipe a special “configuration card” and then it will start spitting out config options, one second at a time, into Notepad or whatever you’ve opened up to accept text input. When it gets to the setting you want you unplug it to “save” that setting.

When the Pi boots up it runs a bash script that listens for the RFID reader’s input. The cards I got were pre-programmed and read only, so I set up a document that correlates the card number to the song or playlist to play. Each line has the 10 digit card number, track URI, and a comment about what it is to make the list easier to update later. The script is a fork of the one Helen wrote for her jukebox project. I tweaked it so I could include the card number and comment in the song list, and designated a specific card to trigger a graceful shutdown in case it needs to be unplugged, moved, etc.

Helen’s original repo is here and my modified version of the file is here.

My hamburger of the Pi, Hifiberry DAC+, and RFID reader.

I’m using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ which has the ethernet jack on the side and I wanted everything to be on the same face so I make a short ethernet cord to bring the jack around to the back.

I had all these parts lying around like a totally normal person.

Eventually I’d like to make a nice enclosure for it but right now this cardboard box is doing just fine. I made a template for the outputs and hacked some holes in it with an xacto knife.

Here’s everything nestled into the box, with plenty of room to spare:

I put together a quick tool to generate the labels. Photoshop has surprisingly clean SVG output. I was able to use that with a script that swaps in the artist / song title and changes the colors for each label. I’m still working on tweaking the label images but the basic process is to put the titles into a JSON file, run that through the script which outputs to a browser, then use Chrome’s “print to PDF” to print it out. It’s not really the best way to dynamically create printable PDFs but it was easy and it works.

Printing the labels in Chrome

Future Enhancements

I’ve got it working well enough to suit our needs but there are definitely some things that could improve it for the future, including:

  • Nice looking enclosure
  • Attached card holder / organization
  • Physical play / pause / next / previous and power buttons
  • Moving the track listing into a database of some sort (maybe Airtable) for easier updating and maintenance
  • Cutting out the labels on my Silhoutte Cameo rather than by hand
  • Amiibo support

The last one is just a silly add-on. I realized after I’d ordered the reader and cards that Amiibo use NFC and it would be neat to be able to scan those and play songs as well. Unfortunately it’s a different frequency than the reader I ordered.

Originally I had planned for a card holder to slide the currently playing card into, and have it look like a cassette deck. Right now this doesn’t work because after a few seconds the RFID reader scans it again and starts the song over. I’m sure I could come up with a software workout for that though.

Materials

Here’s a list of materials and components, most of which I already had lying around.

  • Raspberry Pi 3B+ ($25 at Microcenter)
  • Hifiberry DAC+ ($29 at Hifiberry)
  • 125kHz RFID reader ($34 on Amazon, though this is a generic Chinese brand)
  • 125kHz RFID cards ($22 for 100 on Amazon)
  • Ethernet extender (I made my own but they’re $5 on Adafruit)
  • Sticker Paper ( $37 for a 100 sheets at Onlinelabels, you can find smaller quantities at Michaels or Staples)

Uncategorized

Tabletop Game Organization

The past three years we have attended PAX Unplugged and the general pattern goes like this:

  • Play a bunch of games at PAX
  • Buy a bunch of games at PAX
  • Put those games away
  • Go back to mostly playing Galaxy Truckers and Sagrada

This came to a head this past Chrismas when I went to put away some games we’d gotten as gifts (Mega City: Oceana and Ticket to Ride: London) and there just wasn’t any room on the shelf. As I shuffled things around I came across games we’d only played once, games we’d never opened, and games I swear I’ve never seen before. It was then I realized there needed to be a Reckoning.

What even is all this stuff?

The first step in getting organized is figuring out what you have so I set out to inventory my games. I started out with a spreadsheet but quickly decided to switch to using my account at BoardGameGeek.

The awesome thing about BoardGameGeek is that is has a really comprehensive database of pretty much every tabletop game. The less awesome thing is that the UI is completely overwhelming and I didn’t find out until after I was done entering everything that there were some shortcuts I could have taken (namely the tiny ‘add game’ button at the top of your collection list).

Once it was all in BGG I connected my account to a site called GeekGroup.app which has a very nice UI and got this easy to digest list of games:

Nine of the 49 tabletop games I own

What’s also neat is you can make a group collection with friends who have done the same. This does mean badgering your friends into logging everything in BGG, but the reward is a list that makes it easy to see who owns what (and thus whether you can leave Galaxy Trucker at home because there will be a copy where you’re going.

Circled letters under each game title indicate who owns what

Planning to play games

I came across the idea of a 10 by 10 challenge wherein you set out to play 10 games 10 times in a year (or other timeframe of your choosing). You can decide how strict you want to be (I’m allowing myself to swap out games if I really start to hate them)

10 by 10 tracker by daftconcepts on Etsy

I don’t have a fancy board so I’m using a phone app called BGStats to track my plays. Each time I play a game I log who I played it with, what the score was (where applicable), and who won. I hand picked 6 games that I want to play this year (Chaturanga, Eclipse, The Expanse Board Game, Mage Knight, Pandemic Legacy, and Power Grid) and the other four will auto-fill in the app based on whatever I’m playing the most.

More Stats

Now that I’m tracking my games I suddenly have all this data! Data which can be used to generate… MORE STATS AND VISUALIZATIONS.

GeekGroup has a bunch of different ways to visualize your playing. There’s the streaks and records page:

But what I really love is the playback visualization which walks through the timeline of your plays. Check it out on the GeekGroup site to get the full effect.

I’m heading into 2020 with a goal to get to know my game collection better (and jettison anything we just don’t like to play). I’m excited to dig into some games that I’ve only played once or twice, and even more excited at the idea of getting away from Weekly Rules Explanation Night by playing repeats.

Crafting

Making school valentines on my crafty robot

For Christmas I got myself a crafting robot. It’s a Silhouette Cameo, which is basically an ink jet printer with a knife where the ink ought to be. It’s a pretty neat bit of crafty hardware!

Like all good parents I started thinking about valentines for my kid’s class approximately 12 hours before her class party. Like all good craft hoarders I had a couple packs of festive pencils leftover from kiddo’s birthday party goodie bags, so I decided to make some pencil-holder valentines on the Silhouette Cameo . These were super quick to whip up and a great option for when you want it to look like you care (but you don’t).

The first step, and the one that took the longest, was finding a picture of a heart that was sufficiently cute. I got mine from OpenClipArt. I imported it into Silhouette Design Studio and resized it to be about 3″ tall.

Resize by selecting the image and dragging the handles

Next I drew a rough outline of the heard with the “Draw a curve shape” tool.

The tool icon kind of looks like the infinity symbol

Then I cleaned up the shape with the point editing tool (2nd icon from the top of the toolbar)

I have the heart a 1/8″ border by using the offset tool. I like borders like this because it hides any minor issues with registration. In general the Cameo is great with registration, but when you’re running a classroom’s worth of valentines it’s easy to get lazy.

The last step of the design was to remove the inner cut line (the original curve line I drew) and add a few slits for the pencil. Make sure these are at least an inch wide or you’ll have trouble getting the pencil through and have to widen them by hand with an xacto knife. Ask me how I know this.

I was able to fit 6 of each heart per page by flipping half of them upside down.

Before printing I had to nudge the hearts around a bit to make sure nothing was outside the registration area (red border) or within the registration margins (hatched area). The size of this area is determined by how close your printer can print to the edge of the page.

After printing the sheets on my laser printer cutting them on the Cameo was pretty straightforward. I used the default cardstock setting and the automatic blade. My daughter addressed / decorated the backs and I pushed the pencils through the slits.

Don’t feel like doing all that work? Feel free to download the Silhouette file and print out these right now!

1916 Row Home, Crafting

Rhinebeck and other Knitting Things

Guys I have a secret… I have another blog. One dedicated specifically to knitting. I started it last year meaning for it to be a site for aggregating knitting news and information, but didn’t have the time to put into it. The idea was that it would be sort of like a long-form Pinterest board to save knitting stuff I care about. Now it’s just sort of my awkward spot for writing about my own knitting. I haven’t figure out exactly how I plan to approach having two separate places for stuff. For a while at least I’ll probably cross post things here. Like this post about my trip up to Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Sheep and Wool festival. Spoiler alert: I bought some yarn.

http://balderstash.com/2016/11/29/notes-from-a-successful-rhinebeck-weekend/

I’ve been doing a ton of knitting, so at least for the next few months there will probably be a fair amount of activity there. I do have a bunch of stuff to post here about the house I’m working on, but I’m waiting until that whole project is wrapped up to share more. Mostly because I haven’t had a chance to get any decent photos lately. Between work, kids, the house, and my husband’s ice cream shop it’s easy to let stuff fall through the cracks. But in case you’re waiting with bated breath, here’s a crappy cell phone shot of the kitchen!

 

2016-11-17-15-59-12

DIY Ikea Kitchen
1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

My DIY Ikea Kitchen 1 Year Later

It’s been a year since our “kitchenwarming” down the shore, and it’s finally starting to feel like a functional place to cook and not just a showroom. It took a while to stock it; to collect all the spices we use regularly, to amass odds and ends like cupcake liners and cutting boards. We’ve gotten used to how it functions, and started agreeing on where we keep things. I’ve had some time to think about what I’d change if I were to do it all again (I’m not).

DIY Ikea Kitchen

The custom-made cabinet doors

I didn’t like the available Ikea doors so we got custom made doors and I painted them myself. They look great, and didn’t cost much more than the Ikea doors, but it was a ton of work and honestly not worth it for a kitchen I only see on weekends and the occasional vacation week. Even with a sprayer, priming and painting the doors was a pain. I still think the custom doors are a good way to get a high end look in an otherwise budget kitchen, but I think I could have skipped it for this particular project.

The only really frustrating thing about the custom doors is that you’ve got no room to change your mind later. On our sink cabinet I had originally planned for a pull out trash drawer. Once everything was in it was very obvious that wouldn’t fit under the garbage disposal. I needed to switch from a drawer front to hinged doors, and ended up going with some that don’t quite match (and I still haven’t gotten around to painting). Granted I could have ordered more doors from the cabinetry company, but that would have taken another few weeks and I wanted to be done.

Custom doors on Ikea cabinet

 

The island

Our kitchen is about 10 foot square and I really didn’t think we had room for an island. I taped it out on the floor and took a while to pace around the room trying to get a feel for it. I’m really glad we put it in, the island makes it much easier for two people to work in the kitchen at once.

I think if I did it again though I’d get a freestanding island rather than a built in one. It would be nice to be able to move it out of the way for parties, and we really don’t need the massive amount of storage space it provides. Half the drawers in it are still empty.

Ikea kitchen island

The flooring

We went with luxury vinyl tile and it looks great. It’s waterproof, durable, and most people haven’t noticed it isn’t wood. To be fair, most people are also not looking because they are busy being on vacation. We’ve gotten many compliments on it. The transition molding I picked up from Lowes isn’t a perfect match, but it’s enough to make the room feel finished and put together.

Carpet to Vinyl transition

The drawers within drawers

Ikea has this feature where you can put drawers inside of doors or other drawers. We actually have this in our non-Ikea kitchen at home, and inside cabinets with doors it’s pretty great. It functions kind of like a pull out shelf for your pot lids or other doodads.

Ikea cabinets function on the idea of elements being a certain number of “units” high. Drawers can take up 1, 2, or 3 units. Our configuration has 2-high exterior drawers with a smaller 1-high drawer inside it.

Ikea drawer-within-a-drawer

It sounds great in theory but in practice the smaller drawer is practically invisible if it’s closed. We’ve started calling them the ‘secret drawers’ because guests can’t find them.

Hidden Ikea drawer

Additionally there are two small spots where the paint has worn away due to the hardware we used to mount the handles. I’m not sure if we were supposed to countersink the screw holes on the back, but we didn’t so they stick out a bit and rub against the smaller drawer.

Screws sticking out back

The lighting

For the most part I am very happy with the lighting choices we made in the kitchen, especially having the recessed lighting put in over the counter area. Having a well lit work area is essential. The only thing I don’t love is the Ikea ANSULT undercabinet lighting, which is pretty poorly made. If I were to do it again I’d get my cabinet lighting from someone else.

Overall we’re still really happy with the kitchen, and I’d use Ikea again. In fact I am using Ikea again in our rental remodel.

The glass subway tile backsplash looks amazing, but it was a huge pain to install and they were expensive. I’m not sure whether I’d do it again, I’d have to really love the project.

I still absolutely love the quartz countertops and while they were out of budget for the rental, I would use them again in a heartbeat.

 

Removing carpet staples
1916 Row Home

How to Remove Old Carpet and Flooring Staples


Our 100 year old house came with wall to wall carpeting everywhere except the kitchen and bathroom.

Old blue carpet

Actually there’s evidence there was once carpet in the kitchen too.

Kitchen carpet scrap

I ripped out all the carpet and found all sorts of things, like this very old outlet that had just been carpeted over at some point. I hope they had the common sense to disconnect the outlet first, but who knows. We put all new outlets in so now this thing can be safely removed.

Hidden Outlet

The flooring under the carpet is indeed solid wood, and it’s in OK shape, but it’s really just 100 year old subfloor. At some point it was painted brown. It has been carpeted over many times and the carpet padding was a disintegrating sticky mess. It left behind at least 60 years worth of rotting wood tack strips, rusted nails, and gunked up staples.

Old carpet padding

The tack strips can be removed with a pry bar and some patience, but the carpet staples are trickier. For a while I was using a pair of normal pliers and then the plumber took pity on me and lent me a pair of end cut pliers. It makes the task much easier.

It’s worth mentioning that I have heard this particular tool called a “cross cutter,” “end cutter,” and “side cutter” by various people. End cutter looks the most correct to me, so I’m going to go with that one.

I also have a teeny tiny pry bar that I use for the ones that are really flush to the floor. It came in a 3 pack of adorable pry bars and they’ve been super handy during this whole process.

dasco

The first step is to find a nice line of staples to work on. I find it easiest to work in one small area at a time. Keep a handheld brush or broom handy so you can keep the area clean and see what you’re doing.

Old Carpet Staples

Sometimes there’s a ton of padding around the staple, to the point where you can’t even see which way it faces. Use the tiny pry bar to scrape away gunk until you can see your target. Then place the pliers over it and gently grab it. You don’t want to actually cut it, just grab it.

Removing carpet staples

Then rock the pliers to the side in order to pull up the staple.

Removing carpet staples

Voila!

Removing carpet staples

Some staples need to be coaxed up a bit with the pry bar first, and a few staples were so stuck I actually had to get a pair of vice grips to get them out. But most of them come out pretty easily this way. It’s still not a quick process, but if you get into the swing of it there’s a nice sort of tedium. Keep sweeping up as you go, the little bits of carpet fuzz and staples get everywhere and if you don’t stay on top of it you won’t be able to see what you’re doing.

One thing about this process is that it’s pretty hard on your hands after a while. Take breaks and stretch out your wrists, no one wants to get carpal tunnel from staple removal!

Bare original floor
1916 Row Home

Preparing the Kitchen

The photo below shows the old kitchen in the house I’m remodeling. It was taken from the doorway and shows pretty much the whole room. Notice anything missing?

Small, cramped kitchen

That’s right, this kitchen lacks a stove. There actually is a stove, it’s in the room behind the kitchen on the same wall as the sink. This means that if you have a pot of hot something on the stove you have to carry it around the corner into another room. There’s no counter space next to the stove, so you’ve got nowhere to set things besides the stove itself. The paneling, flooring, and cabinets are all things I could live with; having the stove another room was not.

On one wall we’ve got a giant window and giant radiator taking up nearly all the space. On the other (next to where I’m standing taking the above photo) we’ve got a door to the basement, significantly cutting into where we can put things. The previous owners put the fridge in the middle of the room which I guess makes sort of a work triangle with the back room stove but… ugh.

Empty kitchen

The first major step was to move that doorway. I put it around the corner, in the dining room. This gives us more space in the kitchen as well as a small storage area behind the door at the top of the basement stairs.

Doorway moved

That hole above the new drywall is for the central air! We ended up hanging new sheetrock over this wall. Underneath the wood paneling it was in pretty rough shape. Before the wood paneling, which tore up the plaster with a million nails, someone had glued a faux tin textured… thing… and it wanted to take the plaster with it when it came down. Sheet rock over plaster isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but in this instance it was our best option.

Old and new doorways

With the doorway moved we installed a new prehung door and fit it with trim to match the rest of the house. On the left is the existing doorway to the kitchen with original trim, and on the right is the new door with new trim. The wide angle camera lens I used is doing some funny things with the perspective, the door looks much wider than it really is. In reality the space between the door and doorway is wider than the door itself.

The contractors removed the cabinets and moved the utilities. I was all excited to start putting it back together. And then I started looking at the flooring, which I was going to just floor over with click-lock vinyl. Specifically I looked at the spot where the cabinets had been to figure out what I was going to do about it.

Old kitchen carpet

Why yes, that IS carpet. The flooring here is more than half an inch thick, and that’s after I’d peeled up the first layer. There are at least 3 layers of flooring here and they’re all rotted / falling apart. The thought of putting even more thick flooring on top of that made me a bit ill. I made a somewhat hasty decision to take it all out.

Bare original floor

All things considered this part wasn’t too bad. It took my dad and I about 3 hours, the last of which was just removing all the *&@$# nails from the floor. The hardest part was that it’s just really dark in there. The recessed lighting isn’t working yet, and with all the rain we’ve had there wasn’t much natural light coming in. My dad brought a small work light (sitting on the window sill) which helped… unless one of us was standing in front of it. “Hey where’d the light go?” “I’m a human eclipse!”

Kitchen rear

With the flooring out I think we officially have a blank slate with this kitchen. The next step is to finish and sand the walls. Then we put in the flooring and replace all the trim. Once the trim is in we can paint. Of course by “we” I really mean my contractor. I’m also having my contractor hang the mounting rails for the cabinets because the wall they’re going on is masonry and I don’t have any of the equipment needed. Then I can build and hang the cabinets myself.

Ikea kitchen design

I’m using Ikea SEKTION again, because it’s affordable and since I’ve used it before it’s a known quantity. I also like that it’s modular, meaning if a tenant destroys one of the doors I can pick up a replacement locally and install it with minimal hassle.

kitchenoverhead

The layout isn’t perfect but I think it’s the best we’re going to do on the budget I have. Moving the radiator and resizing the window wasn’t an option for this project. The radiator pipes in the southwest corner keep me from taking the cabinets all the way into it. It’s a bit of an awkward space, but still not nearly as bad as having the range in a totally different room!

I still need to decide what I’m doing for the backsplash. The cabinets will be white and the counters I’m going with are a black and white textured granite called ‘white mist,’ which I’m hoping will be forgiving when it comes to hiding minor tenant damage. The floors will be a warm wood look vinyl plank.

White Mist Granite Slab

I’m trying to find an affordable tile backsplash with some color in it but I don’t want it to feel completely dated in a few years. If anyone has suggestions I’m all ears!

Ikea lamp
1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

A Tour de Light at the Shore House

Shopping for fixtures in the 100 year old house I’m renovating got me thinking about the lighting we chose for the shore house. When we started working on the house I hadn’t put any thought into lighting. It was only when I had an electrician over to disconnect the old lighting that I realized we were going to want more than just a flushmount fixture in the middle of the room.

I mean, it's not the worst.

The first thing we did was put in recessed lighting. Retrofitting can lights into the ceiling makes a mess of the drywall, and if I was going to do it again I would just rip out all the drywall and put up fresh sheetrock. It would have saved both the electrician and the painter a ton of time and been cheaper in the long run.

Ikea kitchen with recessed lighting

For the island I went with simple mini pendant lights from Lowes.

Pendant lights for island

I also installed Ikea ANSULTA undercabinet lighting, which honestly I can’t recommend. We’ve have problems with the transformers humming very loudly, and every time the power goes out they get de-sync’d from the wireless power switch and I have to climb up on a ladder to re-sync them  (the transformers are in the cabinet above the microwave). It’s a pain in the ass and we’ve really just stopped using them.

Finished kitchen with lights on

In the living room we have 4 more recessed lights and this table lamp. This lamp is special because it has an LIFX wifi multicolor bulb in it. The bulb is set up to change colors when my in-laws next door press a button to let us know they’re awake.

Table lamp from Target

Moving on to the bathroom, the vanity has both recessed lights and side lights. I may have gone a little nuts on lighting in there. The side lights, Livex Lighting Aero 2 vanity lights, each take two bulbs.

Vanity Lighting

There are actually TWO OTHER light fixtures in the bathroom: a recessed light in the shower and this combination light and exhaust fan in the middle of the room. You could do surgery in this bathroom it’s so well lit.

Bathroom fan and light

The last light I have to show off is a fun Ikea lamp we got for my daughter’s room. The white thing next to it is a noise machine, which I consider an absolutely essential item in a house that sleeps up to 14 people.

Ikea lamp

There are still a bunch of flushmount fixtures I’d like to replace some day, but right now I’m sort of OD’d on looking at lights so it will have to wait. I’m having trouble finding anything I really like; the ceilings upstairs are only 7 feet high and most of the low profile flush mount fixtures are no less ugly than what we’ve got in there now.

If you come across any nice looking low-profile flush mount lights be sure to let me know!

Hacking

Make Google Voice Literally Ring

2016-09-19-19-26-59

I use a Google Voice number for business and one thing I really miss is having a physical phone that literally rings. It sucks to miss important business calls because I left my phone in the car or on mute or otherwise can’t be trusted to keep track of the damned thing. My Voice number rings through to my cell, and I can pick it up via Google Hangouts if I happen to be sitting at my computer, but what I really wanted was an honest to god phone. And so I got one!

The phone I got is a vintage-style brand new boring old analog telephone. It will work with any landline, and if I had one of those I could just forward my Google Voice number there and call (ha!) it a day. But I don’t have a landline. So I set up my own little pbx phone system to connect the phone to the internet.

The basic process is to get an adapter to connect our phone to our home network and then set up some software to connect that network to Google Voice.

 

Installing the Analog Telephone Adapter

The analog telephone adapter (ATA) connects your dumb old phone to your network. I bought a Grandstream Handytone 701 off Amazon. The software isn’t quite as nice as the Linksys/Cisco that’s popular, but it was cheap and you really only have to deal with the software when you’re setting it up.

The ATA needs to be connected to both your phone (via a normal phone cord) and the internet (via an ethernet cable to your router). My house is wired for ethernet but you can also use a powerline ethernet adapter to bring your home network from wherever you keep your router to wherever you want your phone.

Once you hook it all up and lift the receiver you’ll get a dialtone! Magic! And then if you dial a number… nothing will happen! Great! The software in the ATA needs to be configured to use your Google Voice SIP trunk.

Getting Google Voice Set Up as an SIP Trunk

There are a bunch of different ways to get Google Voice to interface with a phone system, but by far the easiest option is to just pay Simonics $5 (one time). The benefit of using them is that it’s easy and cheap. The downside is if they ever go out of business or stop providing the service I will be out $5. After spending multiple hours trying to get Google Voice to authenticate on a traditional Asterisk server it’s a risk I’m willing to take. SIP is a voice over internet (VoIP) protocol.

If you are dead set on not spending $5, check the PBX In A Flash community forums for the latest on setting up Google Voice as a SIP Trunk.

Once that’s set up you can test it using any software SIP phone. I use X-Lite on my PC.

Configuring the Grandstream Handytone ATA for Google Voice via Simonics

The next step is to find the IP address of the ATA. You do this by picking up the phone, pressing * * * and then pressing 0 2. A robot will read off the IP address to you. It’s sort of surreal honestly. After you pop that IP address into a web browser you’ll get a login page like this:

capture

The default password is ‘admin’

Once you log in you can see we have a pretty ugly GUI. But we didn’t buy this thing for its incredible interface design. Once you’re logged in click the tab that says FXS port. In another browser window log in to Simonics and fill out the ATA settings with the following info:

Primary SIP Server: [Server (something like gvgw.simonics.com)]
SIP User ID: [SIP Login/prefix]
Authenticate ID:  [SIP Login/prefix]
Authenticate Password: [SIP Password]

You can leave everything else blank. Make sure that your Google Voice Account status at Simonics says “Online” and you should be good to go. Hit “Apply” at the bottom of the page.

If all went well you should see “Registered” in the registration column for the FXS port.

Making it more fancy

If you like messing around with stuff you can set up an Asterisk server on a RaspberryPi and do all sorts of fun things like have it automatically go straight to voicemail at night, use different ring patterns for different numbers, set up an infuriating phone tree for people to argue with… the list goes on. For me though just having the stupid thing ring is all I really need.

Connect Google Voice to a real phone without a landline, works with any old phone.

<
Tada!

Uncategorized

Questions I have about Stranger Things

strangerthings

Warning: this post contains major spoilers for Stranger Things season 1. If you do not want to know what happens in the series do not read any further!

The end of Stranger Things season 1 left a lot of unanswered questions, which is not surprising to anyone. Various websites have put together lists of questions which are all things obviously meant to be ambiguous. Let’s address a few of them before moving on:

Is El still alive?

Yes, obviously.

Is Beth Barb really dead?

Yes, obviously. She seemed pretty clearly dead from the moment she got pulled into the pool. Her character wasn’t particularly well developed. She exists only for the purpose of getting Nancy involved in the story. She’s not coming back.

Edit: see she is such a non-character that I got her name wrong.

Is Dr Brenner really dead?

First rule of Hollywood: if you don’t see the bad guy die on screen, he is not dead.

What’s with Will and the slugs and the upside-down?

Gee I guess we’ll have to wait ’til season 2 comes out to find out!

Ok, with those out of the way, here are some of my questions. And whether I think we’ll find the answers.

  1. How is/was the Demagorgon moving between the normal world and Upside-Down? He’s obviously popping out in places without using the Big Ass Gate. Does he control openings like the one that idiot Nancy crawled into? Or do they just show up whenever someone cuts themselves?
    Odds of getting an answer next season: pretty high
  2. Who is Mr Clark’s girlfriend and did she dump him after he interrupted their date to tell some kids how to make a saltwater tank?
    Odds of getting an answer: maybe
  3. Did insurance cover the damages to Joyce’s house, or did they have to cover it out of pocket? If so, how? If she doesn’t have the cash for a new phone, she definitely doesn’t have the cash to repair the fire/hatchet/etc damage.
    Answer odds: low
  4. Did Mike’s mom realize the hairs she found in the basement were from a wig?
    Answer odds: nil
  5. Why on earth did Hopper think they’d be able to get into the lab the 2nd time around?
    Answer odds: medium. I think we’ll learn a lot more about Hop next season.
  6. What happened to the other 2 Bad Men in the scene where Hopper comes to get the kids from the junkyard? Did he pop all 3 of them or what?
    Answer odds: nil
  7. If the series makes it up to 1988 will there be Heathers and Beetlejuice references?
    Answer odds: slim
  8. Does anyone else refer to Steve as Steve Holt?
    Answer odds: tell me in the comments!