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June 23, 2008

V4 Car Computer Progress

I'm finally installing V4 of the car computer project.  On Sunday afternoon I started making a wiring harness that would run from the dash and the Xenarc MDT-X7000 Display to the back of the FJ where the computer will live.   Just to make sure everything was working, I plugged the computer into the Xenarc using an extension cord for power and I discovered I have a driver problem.  Everything works fine as long as I boot into safe mode, but otherwise the Xenarc displays an error of "Out of Range" followed by "No Signal."  I've had some other issues with the Xenarc, with it hanging randomly so I emailed their tech support.  It turns out that even though I bought the display only a few weeks ago, the firmware is out of date, and to update it - wait for it - I have to send it back to the factory.  I decided to keep going on the wiring though and I finished it tonight.


IMG_1076 IMG_1080


IMG_1081 I thought it would be nice to have a power switch to the whole installation, just to make reboots easier.  Earlier this week I was having to occasionally pull the terminal of the batter to get the Xenarc rebooted.  This will be much easier, and when I drop the FJ off for service I can cut the power to the computer if I want.

So here's where I'm at.  The wiring harness works and I'm able to boot the computer up.

IMG_1087 Everything looks good until I log on, and then I get the "Out of Range" error and then no signal.  I'm going to email Xenarc, who to their credit did respond within a couple of hours to my last email, to see if this is a known issue.  On their FAQ they mention that they did a firmware update to make the screen "Vista Compatible" so I'm afraid I'm going to have to send it back to the factory so they can do the update.  Given that it has a CD/DVD reader and a USB port, it is a shame they couldn't make firmware updates installable in the field.

I feel pretty good about the progress.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make the wiring harness without help, but I just worked through it one wire at a time and got it working.

June 23, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

Testing Live Writer

After fooling with Typepad again, I've decided to give Windows Live Writer a try.


Map image

Nice!  I'm done testing for awhile now.

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June 18, 2008 in Blogging, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack

Another Intense Debate test

I'm still testing Intense Debate comments. This is a photo I took this weekend up near Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.


June 18, 2008 in Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

Testing Intense Debate with Prairie Dogs

I'm testing Intense Debate comments.  Here's a photo of a couple of Prairie Dogs that I took yesterday evening while out with my Nephew Jim and his wife Angela.  They've never seen Prairie Dogs before and have really enjoyed watching them.


June 13, 2008 in Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

Interesting uses of Unified Communications

It's late on a Friday afternoon, and I just got an IM from someone at my company asking if I had a master key to his office.  He had locked himself out with his wallet and keys inside, but he was able to get to a computer and he used Office Communicator to see who was still in the office.  Without communicator, he would have had to start calling people hoping someone would pick up the phone at 6:10 on a Friday night, or he would have had to send out an email to everyone in the company asking for help.  This way, only me and one other person knew about his mistake.  Until now that is . . . . :-)




June 6, 2008 in Unified Communications | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kentuckian, inventor of Wireless Telephony

I was exchanging emails with a new friend in Australia who is promoting Gold Systems' Password Reset product, and in the conversation I mentioned (as I often do) that I was originally from Kentucky.  I have a list of Kentucky facts to counter any hillbilly jokes, and I sent him a few.  Since he's from Australia I figured he might know about Daniel Boone or the Beverly Hillbillies but not much else.

One of the facts is this:

  • The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

As I hit send, I wondered, is this really true?  Well, according to Wikipedia, it is - sort of.

Nathan B. Stubblefield (November 22, 1860 - March 28, 1928) was an American inventor and Kentucky melon farmer. It has been claimed that Stubblefield invented the radio before either Nikola Tesla or Guglielmo Marconi, but his devices seem to have worked by audio frequency induction or, later, audio frequency earth conduction [1] (creating disturbances in the near-field region) rather than by radio frequency radiation for radio transmission telecommunications. Though there were contemporaneous experiments by others such as William Preece, Stubblefield has been proposed as a claimant for the invention of wireless telephony, or wireless transmission of the human voice.  -- From Wikipedia

So, I'm not the first kid from Kentucky to get involved with telephony.  I love the fact that he was described as an American inventor and melon farmer.

Now here is one of those coincidences that I love so much.  Another fact that I have in my list is:

  • The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

I don't have a reference to that, so I did a quick search.  While it may be true that the first American public display was in Kentucky, in 1883, according to this website, the first publc display was in 1863, in . . . . Australia.

June 6, 2008 in Unified Communications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2008

Leaving comments in documents - how NOT to get funded

I know I'm going to be passing this story on in the future, so I'm saving it here.

Rick Segal, a blogger and VC in Canada tells a story about receiving a business plan from an entrepreneur who forgot, or more likely didn't know, to remove comments in the Word Document before sending it out.  I often look at documents that people send me to see if they have left comments in, or to see if the properties of the document contains anything interesting.  See Rick's post for the whole thing, but here are a few of the choice comments that he found in the business plan.

  • I'd delete this section since we don't have these features on the roadmap and haven't figured out how to code this unless you believe the investors won't catch this
  • VCs are typically stupid when it comes to this section so be prepared for a dumb question blizzard
  • Scratched out Beta is in 6 months replaced with code is out there now

I'm guessing these guys didn't get called in to do a pitch.  Word 2007 makes it easier to avoid this embarrassment. Press the Office button, then click Prepare and Inspect Document. Now if only Outlook would notice if a Word document is being emailed that hasn't been checked.

On a related note, just don't write anything that you don't want someone else to read.

June 4, 2008 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

FJ Cruiser Car Computer V4 Install Begins . . .

I began the install of V4 of the car computer this weekend.


First the old radio is removed.  Because of the great job Woody did installing V1, everything unplugs and I have a wiring harness ready to plug in for the most part.  I had to add a few connectors.


Here I have the old harness connected to the new harness that came with the Xenarc display and radio combo.  I labeled several wires that weren't labeled before - I know I'm going to be in there again soon and I want to make it as easy as possible.


I've learned to test before bolting everything back into the dash.  I always put a fire extinguisher and a telephone next to the FJ before reconnecting the battery.  I'm not THAT confident in my wiring ability.


It will be nice to have a backup camera again.


This is not really a computer - it's a combination radio/CD player, with a motorized touchscreen that will connect to the computer, which is going to be installed elsewhere.


I have to say that the Xenarc MDT-X7000 display for radio is pretty ugly.  It looks more like a Commodore 64.  Hopefully Xenarc will update the firmware and improve it.

I made good progress this weekend, but I didn't get the actual computer installed yet.  I went to wire in the power supply for the computer and I realized that mp3car.com had sent me two of one harness and none of the other harness that was supposed to ship with the power supply.  Now I'm going to be delayed another week at least as I try to get the harness.  Of course it isn't a standard plug . . .   

June 2, 2008 in Car Computer | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack