Showing posts from July, 2015

Happiest recent purchases

A few products that made my summer family travels happier:
Photive 6 port Desktop USB Charger.
Anker 4-port USB car cigaret lighter charger.
Car vent phone holder (don't remember the brand.)
Short stereo audio cable. It's ghetto compared to bluetooth, but more reliable.

Family Computers, 2015 edition

As summer draws to a close, I am planning my family's computer use for the 2015-2016 school year.

My plans for this year are:
Each family member gets their own mobile phone and laptop.We also have a shared desktop and a few shared tablets.Shared network scanner/laser printer.We print color documents and pictures at the library or at the drugstore.Android TV for shared movie watching.Chromecast for audio sharing.Comcast Business InternetApple Time Capsule for backup / WiFi / NAT Note the lack of a dedicated game console. The kids play games on mobile, tablets, and laptops (for Minecraft specifically!).
My two youngest kids are getting their first phones this year. I'm worried about their phones getting lost, broken, or stolen. So for the first six months my kids will use hand-me-down phones. After they've learned to take care of phones, I'm going to give them better phones. (Still used, though!)
To achieve my plan I need to buy one laptop and three mobile phones. For the…

There's (Already) an App for That

Story of my hobby hacking life these days:

Think of an idea for a small application to write to learn a new technology and incidentally make my life better.Prototype the app.Plan a MVP, estimate costs in time and money to develop.Search Play Market and/or IOS App Store, find that reasonable equivalent already exists, and is only $2.Buy the existing app, get on with life. This happened to me last week with the concept of a "comic book reader". I wrote a prototype that let me browse my collection. I was starting to list out all the features I needed to add (zooming, panning, sorting,RAR archive support...). And then I did a web search for comic book reader, spent a couple of minutes reading reviews, and bought one of the popular ones for $2. Sure it's got UI issues, and bugs, and doesn't quite work like it should, but I saved myself weeks of development time.
I need to think through how best to spend my hacking time in today's world of super abundance. What's my…

Pixar Non-Commercial Renderman for OS X

Pixar released their Non Commercial version of Renderman. Woo! Hurray for patent expiration dates!

If you don't have Maya and you do have Mac and you just want to play with the command-line version, you have to jump through several hoops:

You need to install XQuartz before trying to install Renderman. (Otherwise the Renderman installer will fail.)

You need to copy /Applications/Pixar/RenderManProServer-19.0/etc/rendermn.ini to ~/.rendermn.ini  (Note the added "." in the front.)
You need to edit .rendermn.ini to add the line

    /licenseserver    ${RMANTREE}/../pixar.license

You need to add these lines to your bashrc (or equivalent, depending on your shell.) 
(Found on

export RMANTREE=/Applications/Pixar/RenderManProServer-19.0/ export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=/Applications/Pixar/RenderManProServer-19.0/lib/ export RMANFB=it export export PATH=$PATH:$RMANTREE/bin:$RMSTREE/bin/$RMSTREE/bin/