Gizmokid2005, Organized Chaos!

Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Raspberry Pi Wall Calendar

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

I recently decided to take it upon myself to build a wall-mounted simple calendar using a RaspberryPi I had laying around, trying to make it as lightweight as possible and without depending on other services (except for Google Calendar where the calendar actually lives). Here I’m going to put together as much information surrounding this build as I can.

Hardware (including the prices I paid when I ordered):

Product Price Notes
Raspberry Pi B2 $35 (Had this on-hand, bought years ago when it first came out.)
Wifi Adapter $5 I used an adapter I had laying around from an original Pi project I wasn't using anymore, pretty much anything should work.
Acer V226HQL 22" Monitor (Amazon) $89.99
AmazonBasics HDMI-DVI 3' adapter (Amazon) $5.49
AUKEY USB Wall charger (Amazon) $9.99
Anker 1' microUSB Cable (Amazon) $14.99 I only used 1 of the 6 cables included in this set, but the cables have always held up well and work great for other things.
Generic 8' extension cord (Amazon) $7.24
3M Command Strips #17201-ES (Amazon) $2-4 I bought these from the local Home Depot as it was easier to determine what exactly I had for options and what I wanted to use.
3M Command Strips #17206-ES (Amazon) $2-4 I bought these from the local Home Depot as well, and with both sets I was able to get smaller quantities so I didn't have much extra.
Total ~$170

For the software, I simply used the default Raspbian distro. I installed Firefox to use for the browser and installed the mFull extension to allow for full-screen setup and set Firefox to autolaunch.

I wound up using 3M command strips for all of the mounting as I didn’t want to try and drill into the walls in the apartment (and subsequently need to patch them when I moved out). It also worked great to mount the plugs to the open space behind the display panel.

The code that I used for the simple html file I’m using is below, obfuscated for obvious reasons.

        <!-- This is the line that refreshes the calendar every 300 seconds. -->
        <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="300" >
        <title>Home Calendar</title>
    <body style="background-color:#CCCCCC;"> <!-- I didn't want a completely white background, but not very dark either. -->
            <!-- This is a widget from -->
            <iframe src="REDACTED" frameborder="0" width="322" height="74"></iframe>
            <!-- This is one of Weather Underground's free "stickers" that you can get (they're the best I could find but I'm still not completely happy with them): -->
            <span style='display:block !important; width: 488px; text-align: center; font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 12px;'><a href='REDACTED' title='LOCATION Weather Forecast'><img src='REDACTED' alt='Find more about Weather in LOCATION' /></a></span>
            <!-- Here I just used the embed code from Google Calendar, did two separate embeds, one for the month view and one for the agenda view -->
            <iframe src="REDACTED" style="border-width:0" width="900" height="800" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>
            <iframe src="REDACTED" style="border-width:0" width="900" height="800" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

I used 2 simple bash scripts in a cron to turn the monitor off at night and on in the morning.

# m h  dom mon dow   command
0 7 * * * /home/pi/
0 23 * * * /home/pi/

/usr/bin/tvservice -p
chvt 1
chvt 7

/usr/bin/tvservice -p
/usr/bin/tvservice -o

The obligatory pictures of the finished product.

Raspberry Pi Wall calendar

So far I’ve had no issues with this setup. I’ve also enabled VNC and SSH on the pi for management without needing to disturb the setup.

Hopefully this information helps someone else!


ToDoList Portable and AbstractSpoon Software

Monday, March 17th, 2014

It has come to my attention today that the creator of ToDoList (AbstractSpoon) has, more or less, waged war upon It seems as if the developer was having some issues handling support for the app as indicated by his post here. As you can see, he was getting a decent amount of support from other developers/users of PortableApps, but it doesn’t seem that the issues were taken any further than this post.

It seems that TodoList was originally released in November of 2003 (according to this page from CodeProject). The developer himself posted on asking if/how he could get this application into the format and released within the platform. In this post there was a lot of discussion that even led the developer to changing the license to the Eclipse OSI approve OSS license to allow better control and fit within

It looks like the first official release on was back in February of 2011. Since then it has been regularly updated to keep inline with the main app development. And in that time there doesn’t seem to be any major issues/complaints in the forums at all, data issues or otherwise.

However, according to this post from John, the owner of, there was an issue where the data was being saved in the App folder and not the Data folder as the PAF (PortableApp Format) specification states should be done. Upon hearing this, an update was released to fix it nearly immediately. However, AbstractSpoon has seem to have taken it upon themselves to run a smear campaign against Up to and including a banner at the top of their website stating that their mild fork is a “complete ripoff” of his application, of which is released under a FOSS OSI approved license.


Please note, the “wrapper” that is mentioned above is the same launcher that is included in every application that is released by, whether it be Firefox, Thunderbird, Google Chrome, Skype, Pidgin or others. It is designed to ensure the app continues to function within the constraints of being a portable application, up to and including handling any registry entries that the app may create, on top of any data movement that is needed to conform to the specification.

It seems that AbstractSpoon doesn’t understand the purpose of OSS and subsequent licensing. It’s sad to see such a bright company/person resort to what they have because of what seems to be an issue that could be easily solved.

In short, should you run into any questions about this situation or any smearing, please take into consideration everything above and know that at every available instance tried to work with the developer to solve any issues, however they were unwilling to do so amicably.


T-Mobile Galaxy S4 on AT&T

Friday, October 4th, 2013

I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy S4 from T-Mobile. I liked the fact that they have an unlocked boot loader and I am trying to cut down on my outrageous phone bill. One thing that was a requirement was that the device had to work with AT&T’s 4G & LTE bands in case T-Mobile didn’t have all of the coverage that AT&T did. So I did a comparison of specs between AT&T and T-Mobile as shown below.

T-Mobile vs AT&T Galaxy S4

Turns out they’re basically the same hardware. Sadly, T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t as good as AT&T’s is so I had to swap back in my AT&T SIM card. I can confirm from actual usage that AT&T’s service works GREAT on the T-Mobile Galaxy S4!

I did have a bit of trouble getting the service to work entirely, AT&T wasn’t the most willing to help, so below are the APN settings you’ll need to get your phone working correctly.

Name: ATT PTA (This can be whatever you want)

APN: pta

Proxy: Not Set

Port: Not Set

User name: Not Set

Password: Not Set

Server: Not Set


MMS Proxy:

MMS Port: 80

MCC: 310

MNC: 410

Authentication Type: Not Set

APN Type: default,mms,supl,hipri

APN Protocol: IPv4

APN Roaming Protocol: IPv4

Bearer: Unspecified


That’s it! Enjoy your T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S4 on AT&T!


Windows Activation “DNS name does not exist” error (0x8007232B)

Friday, June 14th, 2013

This can be an infuriating error if you ever run into it, largely this post applies to Windows 7 (and equivalents) and above.

Error Code:



Running into the above error when trying to activate an installation of windows, especially if it’s a volume license/enterprise edition, can be mind boggling and not make any sense.

I recently got a new machine at work and installed our Enterprise edition of Windows 8. It turns out we don’t have the auto-activation file in our ISO so during the installation the appropriate key wasn’t used and activated properly.

Thankfully there is an easy way to get around this.

  1. Open Command Prompt (WIN+R, type “cmd”, ENTER)
  2. Type “slui.exe 0x3” and hit enter.
  3. This should open the Key entry GUI to allow you to enter your key and activate windows.

Hope this helps anyone who’s run into it!

Convert Excel 5 digit (serial) date numbers to Date

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I spent a lot of time trying to figure this out and found the easiest way to do it. Below is the detail.

Excel’s serialized dates are the number of days since 1/1/1900. In order to figure out the date again, we have to add the serial number worth of days (subtracting one to account for the inability to not count 1/1/1900 as a day).

Quick Date Convert
1 Original Date Serial Formula Converted Date
2 5/3/2013 41397 =DATE(1900,1,1)+B2-1 5/3/2013
3 5/3/2013 41397 =TEXT(B3,"mm/dd/yyyy") 5/3/2013


How to Use Custom Car Models Trackmania 2 Stadium

Monday, March 4th, 2013

After lots of looking on how to get this going appropriately I decided to post a quick how-to on getting a custom 3D car model going in TM2 Stadium. It’s actually much easier than it seems, so here we go!

  1. Locate your StadiumCar folder. It should be in your Documents folder under “ManiaPlanet” then in Skins, then Models. (Typical path on Windows 7 is Documents\ManiaPlanet\Skins\Models\StadiumCar). If this folder does not exist, create it.
  2. Next, locate the model that you would like to use (ManiaPark is a good resource for this). You need both the .zip AND the .loc (locator) files.
  3. Place BOTH files (the .zip and the .loc) in the StadiumCar folder identified above.
  4. If TrackMania 2 is open, close it now and restart it. If it’s closed, open it. This is required to allow the game to find the new files.
  5. FIREWALL & Port Forward!!!
    1. You will need to make sure that your firewall and port forwards have the following ports and protocols forwarded and unblocked to your computer in order for the skin to work:
    2. 2350 UDP & TCP
    3. 3450 UDP & TCP
  6. Now go into Stadium, then click on “Profile.”
  7. Next click on “Models.”
  8. Now select the appropriate model you want (they show up in the beginning of the list (all the way to the left)).
  9. Hit back to the main menu.
  10. ENJOY!

NOTE: These models aren’t small and will take time for other users to download them, until which time they will see a silver F1 car. This is normal and will resolve itself as the model is downloaded by other users.

Hope this helps someone else figure this out!

Farming Simulator 2013 Crop Symbol Breakdown

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

So, if you play Farming Simulator 2013, you’re probably looking for an easy way to figure out what symbols are what crop well here you go.

I’ve taken a map provided graciously by another member of the community and added the crop symbols to it. Hopefully this will make your life easier as it did me 🙂

Feel free to save it, share it and use it!

Farming Simulator 2013 Map with Crops

Farming Simulator 2013 Map with Crops

My Time with the E7

Monday, September 12th, 2011

So, I was going to make this a nice long detailed review, but I can’t find time or the will to bring myself to do it. There are plenty of other excellent review out there of this device done by authors who are much more versed and well-written in mobile phone reviewing than I am. I apologize in advance if this isn’t what you’re looking for, but these are my few thoughts on the device. (more…)

Logitech Momo Review

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

I was recently alerted to an unbeatable deal on a Logitech Momo Racing Wheel and Pedals. A friend of mine found a set, in presumably working condition, at a local Goodwill store. After I did a bit of on the fly research and investigation, I figured it was an unbeatable deal and had him pick it up for me. (more…)

Symbian, N8, N900 Thoughts and Questions

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Tonight I was thinking, as I so often do, about mobile phones, how my current usage dictates what I buy and use, and how a different device, in one way or the other, can benefit or change my current experience of a mobile device. (more…)