Arduino Mega 2560 R3 Flash New Firmware

So this Arduino board has been replaced by newer boards with better keyboard controls that can use commands like the keyboard.xxx series, like keyboard.begin and keyboard.write. With that said, I wanted to flash my Mega 2560 with some new firmware. There are plenty of instructions for doing this with the UNO but with the MEGA 2560 (especially the R3) it was a little less straight forward. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just try to post the differences here. Of course the disclaimer of if you damage your board it’s not my fault, etc. holds true here.
1. Follow the instructions here and get an updated firmware to do what you’d like. In fact, you should mostly follow this article except for the instructions I put below specifically for the Mega 2560 R3 if you’re having trouble and keep getting the “dfu-programmer: no device present” error.
http://www.arduino.cc/en/Hacking/DFUProgramming8U2
2. Here are the command line instructions for using the DFU programmer with Ubuntu Linux. I have Ubuntu 14.04 at the time of this writing. They are slightly different than the above link.
sudo dfu-programmer atmega16u2 erase
sudo dfu-programmer atmega16u2 flash “Whatever_You_Called_It_New_Firmware”.hex
sudo dfu-programmer atmega16u2 reset

That’s it really. The original instructions are good, it’s just that some of us need the above instructions to flash the R3. Obviously the key was to use atmega16u2 instead of 8u2 or at90usb82.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine “Top Ten Episodes”

Ok, so I put top ten episodes in quotes above because I am not going to do a top ten for DS9. The best thing going on in the series in the dominion war. Since you have to watch the episodes in order to know what’s going on, I’m just going to say that you should do that. It is worth saying that although I love DS9, there are some truly awful episodes realted mostly to things that don’t have to do with the war, and they are mostly in season 1. Here is the list that I used for the Dominion War, the first time you watch them you should watch the optional episodes for some important background information. The second time around you can skip them. http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=124492

 

My Magnavox 50ME314V/F7 50 Inch TV Warranty Horror Story (Or Buying a Magnavox, Dumb, Very Dumb)


So about 4 months ago I purchased a Magnavox TV from my local Fred Meyer. I also own a Samsung that has never given me any trouble. Oh yeah, this article is a total first world problems article. Anyway, after about 3 months the TV started not turning on all of the time, especially if it was unplugged for a while. It was not an issue related to warm up because this would happen after the TV had been plugged back in for days. I tried basic troubleshooting but the problems only got worse. It started randomly changing channels and muting itself as well. So I finally called Magnavox. Who sent a tech out. Who was here for about 20 minutes. Ran their proprietary software test tools, and could not reproduce the problem so left without putting in the parts they they had sent him to put it. It wasn’t his fault. You see, they have to reproduce the problem to put parts in, according to Magnavox because the real reason Magnavox sends a tech out is to cover their ass. Now, they knew that it was an intermittent problem before sending the tech out and many other Magnavox TVs have been having power supply problems. Still, those of us that work or have worked in the industry know that their testing tools are there to protect the company, and not to actually fix your problem. Meaning, they are not very good and are not designed to be good. Plus the problem is intermittent so it would take real time to torubleshiit. Plus, TVs now have big computers in them, so why not just run a log in the TV. I’ll tell you why, because they don’t want to fix the TV. They want to run out the warranty periods and pretend that they tried to fix them. I had to call 4 times. Once for each problem (the random muting and the random channel changing) and twice for the power issue. The technician has told me that if I get videos of the problems they might accept that and finally replace the TV, but that is taking up a huge amount of my time.

Here is the way they should have handled it. They should have shipped me a new TV with a return label. They could then have inspected the old TV and sold it as refurbished through Newegg or another retailer that sells refurbished products. There was no risk to them in providing good customer service in this way and basically no money lost if they had. Anyway, I’ll post the videos as I get them. The funny thing is, this could all be a firmware issue, but they are very careful not to admit to anything. Yet we wonder why the consumer confidence index is so low. Perhaps companies shouldn’t release products before they’re really ready to go. Anyway, don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t buy a Magnavox. Spend the extra few bucks on a Samsung. I’ll recant this article if they actually provide me with good service, but so far that hasn’t been the case. This has been going on for several weeks now. They even accused me of lying, in a very nice corporate way, about the power issue on the first call. If I was lying I’d be asking for my money back, not a replacement TV.

Update: Even after providing them with video evidence and reporting 2 additional problems, indicating most likely a cascade failure, they are still not honoring their warranty. They ware waiting for the report from the technician that they know they didn’t authorize to replace any parts. It’s basically their way to pretend that they’re being professional and investigating it properly, when they really just don’t want to replace my broken TV which again, is 4 months old. Guess their warranty is total bullshit. Their customer service certainly is. At least they’re very courteous when they basically tell you they’re not going to do anything about it.

Update: 4 days later they are still using the excuse that they are waiting for the now 2 week old technician’s report. Who again, they didn’t authorize to do anything. They’re just going to keep using this excuse until I go away, or so they hope. Please, do yourself a favor and don’t buy a Magnavox. The $150 I “saved” over a similar Samsung is not worth this bullshit. A week ago a technician told me they’d be replacing the TV, but they’ve decided to simply “forget” about it.

Update: After ignoring me for a while they finally responded by telling me to call the main support line again. Now I’m enjoying wait times of, well it’s still going, while I’m writing this it’s currently 45 minutes 33 seconds on hold. What they are probably going to do is pretend that they’re starting from scratch, or simply not answer the phone now that they know my number. Then they can act like they tried to provide service but I simply never called, was not willing to be helped using their methods, or some other awful corporately planned, calculated BS. Again, I provided them with a video showing the error. It is intermittent, so they are probably just hoping to catch me when it does work, so they can say it’s fine and it’s a case of user error. Those who know me, and my extensive experience with electronics, know that can’t be the case, but the general public will probably believe them.

Update: After being told I would be contacted by a supervisor I received two erroneous e-mails from their support today. The second telling me that my case has been closed and asking me to take a survey. Since neither they, or Fred Meyer, have provided me a solution yet I am not sure what they are doing.

Last Update: Ok, I think this is the last one. Magnavox was not sure why I got a survey, but is still “looking for the best solution for my TV.” I’ve been keeping my local Fred Meyer up to date on what has been going on. Since I’m a good customer, tried to do the right thing at first, etc. they finally allowed me to get store credit on the old Magnavox and I paid a bit more and got a Samsung Series 6. My plan was to take this post and You Tube videos down if Magnavox ever made good on their warranty. Since they didn’t I guess I’ll just leave everything up. It cracks me up when people wonder why the Consumer Confidence Index is down when many companies behave like Magnavox on a regular basis.

Update: Ok, I thought the last one was the last one but Magnavox finally responded to my Better Business Bureau complaint. They never had a supervisor or higher up call me, and their response was in broken English. They intentionally got the order of events wrong, and said the TV was fine. Even though I provided the video and reported several other issues, they pretty much ignored it. For the love of God, don’t but a Magnavox! There are many, better TVs for around the same price. Again, my hat is off to Fred Meyer for doing the right thing in the end. I know they are considering not carrying Magnavox in the future. I hope they follow through with it. It’s not worth losing a good customer to carry a brand that is supported like this.

So in the end. Magnavox’s final response can be paraphrased like this. “Up yours, we don’t ever make mistakes, enjoy your TV, if you can. Oh, and you’re not high enough up on our social totem pole to even get the time of day from one of our supervisors in the US.” This last point is important because they lied in their response to the BBB and my complaint to them. Saying that they did not violate the warranty and were “working towards a solution,” and of course getting the order of events wrong in their response too. Well that simply wasn’t true. They never called me to setup any kind of even 2nd evaluation and did not ever provide it to me as an option or any other option. They just told the BBB that they did because that’s how they do things. In the end I had a broken TV, jumped through their hoops, provided a video, and they simply stopped responding and said it was fine. Meaning they did violate their warranty. Still, thank God for Fred Meyer’s excellent customer service. I’m glad I’m not stuck with a broken TV, especailly a 4 month old one, and especially a Magnavox.

Sorry, one more update. This process has been so ridiculious it was trough to keep track of everything. They seem to have forged a contact in my name. I know it was them since only they, I and the BBB have the case number. On a day I did not contact them I received an e-mail thanking me for my recent contact. Seven minutes later I received an e-mail closing the case and asking me to take a survey to tell them how they did. I of course gave them all zeroes since they didn’t provide me with a solution. Still, the lied to the BBB, me and countless other customers so this hardly surprised me. Ok, now I think that’s everything.

Apples New Environomental Statement or How to Properly Greenwash an Apple

So Apple recently released another set of videos and documents on their commitment to the environment. As usual, their videos are very well done and if you don’t scratch the surface you won’t get the classic smell of Apple bullshit to rise from the Apple logo. Here’s the truth about manufacturing overseas.

1. The trip from Hongyuan, China (where their solar plant is) to just the West Coast of the USA is over 6,000 miles (or about 9,904 Kilometers). This is true of pretty much everything they make. Add 3,000 miles (about 4,828 Kilometers) to anything you’re getting on the East Coast. There is no way that can be green. If they really gave a shit they would manufacture things here in the US, like many foreign auto manufacturers do.

2. “They decide what to put in and what to take out to save resources?” Of course they do, every manufacturer does. That has always saved them money and therefore has always been the case. They’re patting themselves on the back again for something every manufacturer does and selling it to you like they really care.

3. Ok, good on them for the better packaging thing.

4. Green power to the stores. Well better late then never I guess, but I know that at least one store on the East Coast was approached about this years ago and laughed it off. They wanted the power company to pay them to do it. Still, the way they run their stores is very wasteful. How about they start by turning off some of the computers every once in a while and not shipping their in store promotional materials in the biggest packaging possible? Oh yeah, because then it wouldn’t look good enough to brainwash the sheep that go there into thinking that they’re green.

Sure, most electronics manufacturers make their stuff in some country that is very far away from the US. The problem here is that Apple is trying to tell you that that is a green thing to do when it never can be as efficient as building their products directly in the USA or Europe. I hear the Germans are very good at making things, for example. They’re trying to get you to think that they have to manufacturer things in China, but they’re doing the best they can with it, when they could just make things directly in the US and Europe and drastically cut down the energy used to transport their products. We’d need to do a raw materials analysis to see if it would reduce the energy cost of getting the materials they need too, but aluminum is very abundant, for example. They want to keep making things in China so they can keep abusing people at Foxconn, and get you to think that they’re green so they don’t have to stop.

In the end the current state of electronics manufacturing is sad indeed, but the American public (who still replaces their smartphones about every 18 months) still drives this engine of Environmental and human abuse through their over consumption. Apple is playing on our lack of care, and outright stupidity, to try and convince us that they care, but we should all know better by now. When is the last time you’ve really received good warranty service from any manufacturer? Most people have horror stories about this. Which leads to my next article about my 4 month old, broken Magnavox TV.

— One last thing. I’ve seen environmental groups like Greenpeace come out in support of Apple’s “commitment to the environment.” This is very irresponsible. For the reasons I’ve written about here, their many human rights violations (which I and many others have written about) and because it shows Greenpeace’s (and environmentalists in general) level of technological and statistical understanding. Meaning, it’s very low or just not considered. It’s more about tribalism to them than real change, and of course donations. If Greenpeace cared about the environment and technology they would pair up with a good small manufacturer that uses an easy to use Linux distro (like Ubuntu) and put it on truly sustainably made hardware. With Linux on it it will probably actually run well for more than 3 to 5 years and again, can be built from the ground up to be truly sustainable. Something Apple will probably never really commit too, or Dell, or (pick a big manufacturer). Perhaps they can even be built in the US. So yeah, way to jump on the hypocritical USS Crapple Greenpeace. Then again, you couldn’t be real environmentalists unless you talked out of your ass most of the time and refused to do math.

Amazon Echo, The Future… Well Almost

The last time I used a device I knew re-shaped the way the world would use technology was when I used an iPhone for the first time. Sure it had the nation’s shittiest, most corrupt carrier behind it (AT&T) who later would receive a class action lawsuit in relation to their behavior towards their customers in relation to the iPhone and everyone except Apple knew it was coming cause AT&T always sucked really hard, but the phone itself was amazing. Of course Apple released the phone and quickly stopped really paying attention to their computers and then got rapidly outpaced in the phone market especially by Samsung, but when it was released man was it an amazing product. It had its problems. The SDK wasn’t quite there yet, and it had a stupid headphone jack that required a very thin connector, but still it was amazing and for about 6 months no one could even touch it.
This leads me to the Amazon Echo. The Echo has even more potential than a touchscreen smartphone. Remember that we have been interfacing with computers using touch, especially if you include keyboards and earlier touch screen kiosks, (yes Apple was not the first by a long shot, in fact the whole multi-touch technology comes from the University of Delaware) for decades now. Attempts at voice-recognition were often expensive, clumsy and still not very useful.
The Echo solves those problems, or at least it seems like it might. Right off the bat it is very useful, but there is a lot left to be desired. Just think of how much safer it would be to have an Echo enabled car stereo, for example. Sure, some phones do this now but how about having this tech without getting bent over by a cell phone company on a monthly rate. How about this becoming just a built in feature with no other strings attached in most devices. Yes, I know, you can buy most phones outright now and go month by month with most carriers, but most of those phones are obscenely expensive and the Echo is not. I know it’s no a phone, I’m just thinking about having voice recognition available in most devices.
For those of us who watched Star Trek, especially TNG, we hope the Amazon programmers are fans too. This is the way we want the Echo to interact. Currently just thanking the Echo takes a separate command. Here’s an example conversation. Continue reading Amazon Echo, The Future… Well Almost

1997 Accord Engine Rebuild Notes

I’m going to mostly copy and paste a Doc I was keeping for notes on this one here. This is of course a use at your own risk document. You will need a service manual for the vehicle and an engine rebuild guide as listed below, especially if you’ve never done this before. You should also have more than a few hours of repair work under your belt before attempting this.
Yes I know the F22B2 isn’t the most popular engine to rebuild, and if you’re spending the time rebuilding an engine to put back into a mid through late 90’s Accord you’d probably want at least the F22B1, but I wanted to rebuild the engine that got my ass around for so many years.

— Thanks to Eric the Car Guy, and many others, that helped me get to the point where I could attempt this engine rebuild. Especially Andrew (aka ManDrew) for his help, and many innovative solutions as we ran into stubborn bolts that even PB Blaster, praying to our god, and elbow grease could not best.

  • — At certain points I used the official 1997 Honda Accord Service manual, and the B-Series Engine Rebuild Manual (ISBN-13 #978-1932494785) by Jason Siu. You will need both of these to follow this document. You should probably have a service manual for you car anyway and the B-Series book is fantastic, even if you are not rebuilding a B-Series Engine, or even a Honda Engine. It’s just a really well done book. I got my service manual used from http://www.books4cars.com/

 Note: The perspective for engine removal is looking at the engine from the front. Pictures are being taken too.

Continue reading 1997 Accord Engine Rebuild Notes

Applewatch, Another Non-Standalone Joke

This one this short. I just want to say that companies really need to focus on making standalone smartwatches. Those of us that do not want to lug around a smartphone, or pay the ridiculous monthly rates on one, really do want a good phone/watch. Samsung makes a smartwatch called the Gear S that does this. So why did Apple release another phone accessory when the market clearly is open for watches more like the Gear S? I guess they just want Samsung to kick their ass, again. Still, the Crapple watch is selling well. This shows us that just like Harley, not matter how bad, or overpriced of a product they make, many will still buy it out of an odd sense of loyalty to Apple. Wonder if the guys jumping off of the Foxconn buildings feel this sense of loyalty to Apple. I wonder if they are playing with their watches on the way down.

Government Responds to “The Interview” Cyber-Attack?

So corporate America was attacked, specifically Sony, again. In general I seem to recall another attack against Sony regarding credit card numbers not too long ago. Everyone thought they would have tightened their security, but not me. I know that corporations only ever do the bare minimum about anything. Anyway, Sony decided not to release the new Seth Rogen film “The Interview” because it, and theaters were warned by North Korea not to do so, were cyber-attacked, etc. but isn’t it Sony’s responsibility to actually put some of their huge amount of money into real cyber security. Aren’t corporations usually bending our government, and our citizens over as often as possible to drain our resources and money as quickly as possible, essentially to fuck us as much as possible? So why would we take care of a threat that Sony should take care of themselves? They definitely have more resources than North Korea in many ways. Don’t kid yourselves, they do. They are one of the biggest multi-national corporations ever. Oh yeah, because the US Government is the total bitch of large corporations and we really have a corporate run government. Guess I forgot about that part for a second. Oh and Sony was a total bitch for pulling the film. Guess that shows that American corporations don’t have our values like freedom, and value free speech, and are therefore not really American. So why are we committing US military resources to attack North Korea over this again? Sony is like it’s own fascist country itself. Just like Apple, etc., etc.

GM Offers Mobile Wi-Fi, How About They Start By Building A Decent Car Instead?

GM, a name that used to be great, but then became synonymous with building cars that suck as hard as possible, with the only exceptions being some of the items in their line of gas guzzling tanks. So what are they doing about it, are they kicking their R&D into overdrive, like Ford, and actually getting better? Nope, they’re giving you a feature that has already available in a more convenient, slightly different way, from cell phone providers for years now. Mobile Wi-Fi in your car. Let me ask you this. Would you rather get where you’re going, say in a Honda, and carry a Wi-Fi card from Verizon, or be broken down in your GM and be able to use the Wi-Fi until your car battery dies? Example text, “Hey guys, writing to you from my broken down GM AGAIN, using the built in Wi-Fi, perhaps the only decent thing on this car. Should have bought a Honda and just carried a Wi-Fi card I guess. HaHa, joke’s on me for trusting GM I guess. OMG THIS GM SUX!!! #FuckYouGM” When is GM going to realize that if they want to have a real chance of surviving they need to start building a decent small car and sell it for way less than a Honda for  a while, until they rebuild consumer confidence? Plus Tesla has open sourced their information, so every serious car company should be releasing a good electric car soon. Even if gas prices have fallen. You have to ask yourself, how did they fall so suddenly? Was OPEC lying to us all of these years about production cost, etc.? The answer is yes, corporations lie to you all of the time, and everyone else associated with them too.

Apple OSX 10.6 Can’t Copy Home Folders to External Hard Drive for Backup

So maybe, like me, you’ve realized that Apple computers at best aren’t any better than the competition and you just want to backup your files to an external hard drive and get something that’s both cheaper and better (which isn’t hard to do). You create a separate admin account, and log into it so you can copy the folder that you want, but the Crapple keeps telling you that it can’t copy the files (error code 0), and asking you to authenticate, but then never presents you with an authentication window. Crapple support tells you to use Time Machine, but then you realize that you can’t fully restore to anything but another Crapple with Time Machine, so it’s not a real backup. Even Apple Support has told me that “it’s not a real backup.” Which is funny because when you buy your computer, etc. they sell it as the best, easiest to use backup feature EVER! Hardly the first time they’ve been full of shit. Anyway, here’s what to do. The underlying problem here is that FAT doesn’t support file sizes larger than 4GB, so this won’t work if you are in that boat, but smaller stuff can be copied using this method. SOme have had luck using Microsoft’s native file system, NTFS, which is only sort of supported in OSX 10.6, meaning it can read NTFS drives, but many still recommend against read/write NTFS wit this OS version. In the end, the real solution is not to use computers made by companies that have no interest in making it easy to have free, universally accessible backups.

0. Hookup your external FAT hard drive. (Yeah, this is an old Filesystem that could easily be replaced by a better open FS like EXT4, but then Crapple, Sony, Nintendo and Microshaft would have to fully support EXT4). So you’re probably using FAT.

1. Create another admin user to log in as (If you haven’t already)

2. Navigate to the Users folder and open it.

3. Find the folder with the user name you want to backup.

4. Right Click on it and choose Get Info, or Command + i (aka Apple + i)

5. Use the disclosure triangle next to Sharing & Permissions to show Permissions

6. Click the lock and authenticate to unlock it

7. Click the Plus symbol and Add the Administrator Group, and give it read and write permissions. (Security minded folks, probably not most Apple users, may just add the admin you’re using to copy the files with.)

8. Close the lock.

9. Copy your home folder to your external hard drive.

Warnings: Your proprietary Crapple Applications live in the Applications folder. So you won’t have them by backing up your home folder, just your files that live there. Since alot of your documents can’t be read by anything but Crapple Applications on a Crapple computer you probably can’t run them on anything else anyway. So, you may want to take your Pages documents, for example, and save them in another more universal format like RTF or even as a Word Document or PDF. Security minded folks will notice that giving permissions to anyone else creates a potential security problem. You may want to remove the access given above after you copy your files. It depends on your situation.