chester's blog

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

Connecting a Classic (ADB) Apple Keyboard to a Modern (USB) PC Using a Regular Arduino

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When I saw this person building a Raspberry Pi inside a vintage Apple Keyboard, I thought it could be a comfortable way to play Apple II games on a TV. More important, I happen to have an Apple Extended Keyboard II just waiting for such an experiment…

My winter holiday plans did not include going outside, so I wanted to build it with parts I already had. But the hack uses an Arduino Pro Micro (with a little help of the TMK Keyboard Firmware Collection) as a converter between ADB (the interface used by the Apple IIGS and older Macs) and the familiar USB, and I only had a regular Arduino (actually, a Leonardo-compatible clone).

I wasn’t sure that would do the job, so before tearing the keyboard apart, I decided that my first experiment would be an attempt to connect it to my computer.

Building a Pebble App With C, JavaScript and Rails (Toronto Transit Time)

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Earlier this year I was looking for an app that showed predictions for Toronto streetcars/buses on my Pebble smartwatch. To my surprise, I could not find a single one that worked the way I expected it to (or that worked at all, to be honest), so I decided to build my own.

Little did I know that getting fast and reliable predictions on my wrist wasn’t just a matter of writing C code on the watch – it also required code running on the phone and on a server. Totaly worth it: I use Toronto Transit Time almost daily – and I’m not the only one.

This insight of the development process was originally intended to become a presentation for the likes of PebbleTO, but given the uncertain future of Pebble (recently acquired by FitBit), I decided to just publish it here as a supplement to the application’s source code.

Touring Portugal

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A week in Portugal surely came with a special flavour for Brazilian expats like myself and Vanessa, but it is a trip anyone can enjoy. You get by with English, and also with Romance languages such as Spanish or French. Otherwise, just point the food and enjoy the sights!

Wii U Gamepad (Left) Analog Stick Replacement

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Our Wii U Gamepad’s analog stick was intermittently failing to register, causing frustration right when I most needed fun and happiness. Recalibration didn’t help, and a new Gamepad would be expensive, so I tested my luck by replacing the analog stick with an aftermarket one.

It isn’t a super complex operation, but the components are quite delicate, requiring gentleness and attention. As usual, here is what I learned (and some tips):

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.