Controlling LEDs From a Raspberry Pi

A friend of ours called and asked my wife, Debbie, if we had a Raspberry Pi and knew how to use it. Her son had a project due for school and needed to control about 20 LEDs - sequencing when they were on and off. I had all of the hardware because I had played around with an Arduino and had bought some electronics parts that would be needed - breadboard, LEDs, resistors, and wires. I had also purchased a Pi Cobbler Plus Breakout board to simplify connecting the Pi. The only thing I had really done with the Pi to this point was copying the Raspian OS to an microSD memory card and booting the Pi. Time for me to learn some Python and put the Pi to work.

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A More Healthy Habitat

Like most people in my profession, I spend most of my waking hours behind a desk - normally 8+ hours at the office and 2-3 hours at home each evening. I’ve suffered with lower back pain for a number of years and have recently switched to using a sit-stand desk both at work and at home to help alleviate some of the pain and stiffness.

Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.


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Getting Started with AngularJS

I have spent the last couple of weeks going through the “AngularJS: Get Started” course produced by Scott Allen at Pluralsight. It is a beginner-level course that walks you through the process of creating your first AngularJS single page application (SPA). If you are familiar with creating a web page, and have some basic knowledge of JavaScript programming, you should be able to walk through the example with Scott and produce your own copy of the application.

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Save Your Discoveries

I spend a lot of time “surfing the web” and come across a lot of information that I’d like to refer back to at a later time. I’ve used a number of tools to try and keep up with all of this stuff and for the past four years I’ve been using Pinboard because it is cross-platform and has the ability to add links through e-mail. I was one of the earlier supporters of the site. I’ve also purchased a couple of client apps to make finding and using these “Pinned” sites quicker. However, the web interface of the Pinboard site is very dated and no frills.

Today I came across kifi which is a website and an integrated plug-in for Chrome and Firefox that allows you to capture and collaborate on pages that you find on the web.

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Why Blog?

I became a fan of Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman from listening to his technology-related podcast Hanselminutes and was inspired by a couple of his blog posts to start my own. He suggests that this is a way for individuals to contribute back to the community and participate in the global discussion. He also recommended that you have your own custom domain name and you “own” the content that you produce and not rely on social networks to maintain your web presence. Another great source of information is the free course that Scott produced with Rob Conery entitled “Get Involved” were they discuss becoming a “social developer”. Follow Scott on Twitter at @shanselman; everything he produces is gold.

Anyone who knows me will see two big problems with me writing a blog. First, I don’t enjoy writing - in fact, I would say that I dislike writing text and have since my days at Cooper Elementary school. I enjoyed all of my classes more than English. Second, it seems that I am continually drawn to the “shiny” new technology and that I don’t spend enough time on any one subject to learn enough that what I share will be of benefit to someone other than myself. John Sonmez, founder of the Simple Programmer site, recommends that you focus on a niche and become the expert for that area; my plan is to write about whatever interests me at the time and hope that it leads to something beneficial.

I created this first post using the Jekyll static website generator. I was intrigued with the idea of maintaining a blog without having to keep up with a CMS (WordPress, ) and database updates and security breaches. Jekyll is written in Ruby and I haven’t had a great desire to learn the language. I’ve been interested in Node.js and have some experience in my day job with writing JavaScript code. A search on JavaScript-based static site generators revealed a couple of alternatives and I settled on Hexo. It works like Jekyll, but if I want to try and extend the platform, I’ll be using JavaScript instead of Ruby. At least I don’t have a lot of blog posts to try and convert.

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