Raspberry Pi Zero 1.3 for nearly Free

For a brief time, MicroCenter had offered the Raspberry Pi Zero 1.3 for 99 cents. The current suggested retail price is still only $5.00 US.


  • 1Ghz, Single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports
  • Micro USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers


I have a lot of fun comparing modern computing power to my first computing experience. The Radio Shack TRS-80

Catalog: 26-1001 TRS-80 Model 1
Released: August 1977
Price: US $599.95 (with monitor)
Video: 64 x 16 text
CPU: Zilog Z-80A, 1.77 MHz
RAM: 4KB, 16KB max (or 48Kb with the expansion interface)


Migrating from XCode 7 to XCode 8 with Jenkins Continuous Integration

During the latest iOS release, a new version of XCode was released. We have continuous integration using Jenkins installed on a Mac. It has XCode and Xamarin installed. We encountered problems in the initial rollout to the build server of XCode.

But, I have worked out what the trouble was with XCode 8. It does not seem to have anything to do with XCode itself, but the fact that XCode 8 uses a different svn client.

  • XCode 8 installs SVN client tool for Subversion 1.9, where the previous version was 1.7 in /usr/bin/svn. The 1.9 client cannot handle reading a 1.7 repository. The current version of Jenkins SVN plugin is set to check out at 1.7, and does not have support for 1.9, although it could be updated. There was a call in the Touch.Build.sh script to get the svn revision number ( REVISION=`svn info ../.. | awk ‘/^Last Changed Rev:/ {print $NF}’` ). This was necessary for CruiseControl on the old Mac Build server, but is no longer necessary in Jenkins because I have added an SVN Revision variable in the Jenkins configuration.
  • Modifiying the Info.plist has been a vexing problem, because the Jenkins build would report this error every time I modified the Info.plist, no matter how I did it.

Encountered unknown tag <<<<<< on line 59

Error Reading File: ../Containers/Touch.Container/Info.plist

Encountered unknown tag <<<<<< on line 59

Error Reading File: ../Containers/Touch.Container/Info.plist

Xamarin Studio Build Tool

It was actually reporting this because the Subversion client was failing to merge on the svn update for the next build. The merge conflict exists because we use a tool called “Plistbuddy” to alter the Info.plist with the build number. It actually re-arranges the XML significantly. Then the next svn merge puts text in like >>>>>>>.mine. The workaround is twofold:

  1. Go to Jenkins and clear the workspace so that the new Info.plist gets read and no merge occurs
  2. Set the svn update in Jenkins to be “revert and update” not just “update”.


Windows Phone Is Out Of Time

I’m in a very small minority of people who have tried a Windows Phone. I have experience with two phones, the HTC Titan and the HTC One M8. I never tried any of the Nokia phones, which many people had. From the start, there was no excitement for the Windows phones. Here are some of my thoughts on the reasons to not push the Windows phones, which were apparent four years ago.

Apps: easy enough, Android and iPhone already had a huge head start on apps, with significant market penetration. Some of the Windows phone apps that did appear, were superior than their counterparts for a while. This was probably because the teams focused on the new platform for a release.  Ultimately, no further development was done when the audience did not show up.

Marketplace: The carrier retail locations did not push them. You had to ask specifically, and then they would talk about them. I am not sure what the markup or kickback was, but it must not have been significant enough to give these phones a try. I don’t know what was spent on marketing these, but it was not enough and not in the right places

Popularity: Not many people had them. They were not going to become popular unless they had something that was really outstanding.

Cool factor: They were “Microsoft” phones. Despite their range of productions and familiarity, “Microsoft” and “Windows” are not “cool” brand names. People speculated that there would have been more success if they had been branded “XBox” phones. The XBox people were probably afraid it would dilute the brand. Nokia was cool, but they are all dead now.

Music: Microsoft had already fallen down with the Zune player, which was a joke by the time the Windows phones came around. But you still used the Zune software to load music. Apple had really set the bar high here with iTunes and the Apple store. The iTunes software may be a horribly unreliable sync tool (which even MacWorld has admitted), but it is a great retail tool and great free music organizer.

At this point the main apps I use are failing. The Amazon Windows app is suspended as of August 15, 2016. The Fitbit app is very slow to sync, and now poor in comparison with the iPhone version. The MapMyRun has not been syncing for at least a year. But it makes nicer run screen shots than the iPhone version. The LinkedIn app is way behind the iPhone version. The iPhone camera has jumped ahead of the HTC cameras and photo apps.

The live tiles are still cool. The Microsoft Solitaire is still the best. But honestly, you cannot play Pokemon Go on a Windows phone.

So, why did I stick with it for so long? I think the easy answer is that because I work with iPhones all day, it was kind of like a holiday. I have a work iPhone that I could turn to if I wanted. The fact that I rarely wanted to told me that what I had was good. But, now that I have an iPhone SE with iOS 9, I find myself using it more and more.


Spring tree has sprung

It took 4 years to get this shot, but here is the spring tree in all its glory with green grass and blue sky, and no color touch up!


Build 2016 Raspberry Pi 2 and FezHat

I felt the IoT Internet of Things hands-on Lab at the Build 2016 conference was the best thing I could have done. The lab called for you to make use of GitHub, NuGet, Visual Studio Team System on Line, Xamarin, and Azure portals. The hardware itself was a Windows 10 PC and a Raspberry Pi 2. The Raspberry Pi was outfitted with a FezHat board mounted on it that had a light , temperature and humidity sensor on board. You had to deploy an app onto the Raspberry Pi and have it start collecting statistics on Azure.

Now, would you want to actually build an app that simply? I am not sure.


The Curtlee Mansion from John Lescroart’s Damage

While I was in San Francisco, I stopped at a bookstore on California Street. I asked for a mystery set in San Francisco. The helpful people at Books Inc. pointed me to a mystery called Damage by John Lescroart. The mansion of the rich Curtlee family is described in the beginning of chapter 6 as follows:

“The Curtlee mansion and its grounds took up the last third of Vallejo Street on the uphill side in the last block before it abutted into the abundant greenery of the tamed forest that was the Presidio.”

I stood in the abundant greenery this morning and snapped a picture of what must be the model for the mansion.

vallejo Curtlee Mansion Damage

It’s a nice place. This house at 2460 Lyon street has an estimated worth of $13 million according to Zillow. It’s not even the nicest property in the neighborhood. Even the nearby Russian Consulate General is not even the nicest property. All seem to be renting for somewhere around $50,000 per month from whoever the real owners are, which I am guessing are Illuminati at this point.

Damage was a real page turner by the way, and I enjoyed it immensely. I now am going to start in on The Maltese Falcon.

Ready for the Microsoft Build 2016 Conference

I had an interruption in my planned enrollment for the 2016 Microsoft Professional Developer Conference. I did not begin the process until 3 minutes after 9 PST, and found myself on the waiting list. I just got the invitation yesterday, so I am back on!


Add in the Snow filter to your picture

Heavy winter storm coming here in February 2016.

Nice and Naughty Minnesota

I did this merge with Paint.net http://www.getpaint.net/index.html

We are the Milk and Bread advisory band!


The weather tree in winter

It looks dead, yet is merely waiting.

The Weather tree in the dead of Winter

The Weather tree in the dead of Winter


For some reason, WordPress for Windows Phone does not handle the rotation correctly. It must go by Landscape.

Drawing essentials

I was at the Blick Studio store. Ahead of me in line, a person bought 18 Strathmore 400 drawing pads and 18 Dixon Black Ticonderoga HB pencils. The drawing tablets were on sale. This is someone who knows exactly what works, and probably does a lot of sketching.

Dixon Black+ Strathmore 400

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