chester's blog

technology, travel, comics, books, math, web, software and random thoughts

Fixing Screen Tear on a Pebble Classic With… Toilet Paper!

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The first-generation Pebble (now dubbed Pebble Classic) is, in my opinion, the best smartwatch in terms of cost/benefit. Unfortunately, a few of them start to manifest screen tearing after a few months of use, and mine was one of the “lucky” ones:

At first I thought it was a software issue, but the actual cause is that the screen connector does not cope well with the frequent vibration alerts. Such connectors are usually hard to fix/replace, but the gentleman on the video below realized that some pressure over the connector solved the issue. His ingenious choice of padding material caught my eye: small pieces of toilet paper!

Five Canadian Provinces in Fifteen Days

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Despite living in Canada for three years now, I didn’t travel much outside the Great Toronto Area. My job at VarageSale and Vanessa’s at Shopify granted us a fair share of trips to their respective Montreal and Ottawa offices, but that still limits one’s mental map to Central Canada.

As part of my current sabbatical, I decided to learn more about my new country, so I joined Vanessa on a 6-day plane trip to the east, then got plane tickets to Saskatoon and from Vancouver with nine days between them, forcing myself to figure out a bus/train path connecting the dots.

Here are the cities I visited (all links are photo albums), followed by a wrap-up on each one:

A Trip to Japan

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Judging by how much of my life I spent reading manga, watching anime and tokusastu, playing Pokémon on Nintendo, eating tempura, yakisoba and mochi, learning kanji, and so on, it just had to happen: Bani and I went to Japan!

After a daunting half-day flight and timezone shift, we spent a couple days in Osaka, followed by a 9-day travel package that took us to Koyasan, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Hakone, and finally Tokyo – where we had five more days of hectic fun.

Our adventures included a sleepover on a Buddhist monastery, volcano-boiled eggs, giant robots, purification rituals, a deer-populated sacred island, bullet trains, psychedelic dances, a manga museum and – why not – ear channel violation.

My Experience With PiScreen

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Even though you can plug a Raspberry Pi to any modern TV/monitor, its diminutive size screams for a smaller screen, ideally a touch-sensitive one. PiScreen was one of the first (relatively) inexpensive screens like that. Excited by the video below, I backed its KickStarter in April, received it in October and just found the time to build it.

I had some fun, and I will still do some interesting stuff with it. Some projects are more suited for it than others, so you may want to check my experience and decide whether it suits your needs.

It Was Easy to Plug This Atari In…

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I just had to:

  • Connect the Atari antenna output to a Coaxial (F-type) to Female RCA adapter;
  • Plug that in the antenna input of a the VCR;
  • Use 3 RCA cables to feed the VCR A/V output into an AV-to-HDMI adapter;
  • Connect the adapter HDMI output to the monitor;
  • Configure the Atari to the “Channel 3” position;
  • Select channel 3 on the VCR.

Easy, right? :-P Now I can play my homebrew (2048 2600) on the real thing.

By the way, if you want to buy a physical 2048 2600 cart, Good Deal Games sells them. I have no participation in that (other than coding the open-source game and pestering Jenn Harrison into drawing the cool cartridge front art), but I’m really happy to have my game on a real cart!

Space Nutrients Station 100%FOOD (Meal Replacement)

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I got pretty excited when I first read about Soylent. Don’t get me wrong: I do like food (otherwise I’d not need to track everything I eat to mantain my weight), and I also understand its social aspect. But having to decide what to eat, preparing/going after it burns a time I’d rather spend on more fun things.

Unfortunately, Soylent doesn’t deliver in Canada (yet). But I found an alternative in Space Nutrients Station 100% Food. It is a mix of different foods that, just like its creppy-sci-fi-named competitor, claims to offer all the nutrients you need on a single meal. After a quick exchange of emails, I purchased an 8-bottle sampler kit with PayPal and had it here in about a week.

Building Bash From Source (Shellshock Mitigation for Ubuntu 13.04 and Other Unsupported Distros)

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Shellshock is a serious server security issue that was made public yesterday. The best fix is to apply security updates from your Linux distribution, as they become available.

If that is not possible for any reason (e.g., unsupported distros, like the Ubuntu 13.04 boxes we have not killed yet), you will need to compile bash from the source (including all the patches) – which may be confusing if you are not used to build C/C++ software “by hand”.

There are some scripts that compile and install a new bash (like’s curl | sh), but they assume you are ok with the latest bash version (4.3), and I needed to stay with 4.2. Here is how I did it: