Ring DoorBell Pro Review – Piece of Fucking Shit

Yep.  My blog.  I can say whatever I want.  The Ring Doorbell platform is a piece of fucking shit.

I had a Ring Doorbell for a couple of years and it would intermittently die, would not connect to a live stream if I got a notification and would die for days only to come back to life mysteriously.

So brilliant guy I am I bought another one to replace it.  A Ring Doorbell Pro.   It is two wires and an app connection yet somehow it took me two hours to install and I’m a geek.

It’s a piece of fucking shit.  When it did finally install after I found an obscure reference in their forum that said to turn off cellular data on the phone while installing it was hit or miss on live view.

I got a hair emotional when I wrote this😃.  I’ve edited to add a fact or two but my review stands mostly as is.

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Refoaming Old Speakers

A couple of years ago I bought an old set of Bose 501 speakers.  Audiophiles poo-poo Bose speakers but the truth is way back in the 70’s they made some decent speakers and the 501’s were one of them.

However 40 years of sitting around tends to dry rot the foam surrounds on the speakers.

Dry rotted Foam Surrounds on Bose 501

Yep, that’s what both of the speakers looked like.  And they sounded worse than they looked as well.  Actually they would sound okay at super low volume but as soon as you turned them up …….they sounded awful.

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DIY GPS Puck for Uniden Homepatrol Scanners

Yes Uniden makes a GPS kit for their scanners.  It’s $80.  You can DIY one up for less than half the cost.  And it’s fun to make your own stuff and you’ll learn a thing or two as well.

Here’s what you need.

  • GPS Puck – I used a GlobalSat BR-355S4 $35 approx
  • USB cable – USB A to USB Mini Type B (4pin) $4.50.  You will not walk in a store and find one of these. They are just a little hard to find.  I used a Promaster #3696 cable.
  • Skillz – Mad Skillz

Promaster #3696

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SDS200 And Proscan Software. A Powerful Combination

Uniden SDS200

Ever since I was a little boy, which may have been a few years ago, I have been fascinated with radio.  They had things called “World Band” radios when I was a kid.   I would sit for hours and spin the dial trying to hear far away places.  There was mystery, intrigue, challenge, exotic languages………these are the things boyhood is made of.  Not Drag Queen Hour 🙄. Then there was Citizens Band (CB) Radio.  I had one and was prolific on it.  What I really wanted was a ham radio and it took me a few years, but I climbed that hurdle as well.  I am now licensed as KN4FMV.

You might think I’m a weirdo however in the radio hobby probably the quintessential website for radio systems and frequencies is called radioreference.com   If you go to their web page you will see that there are almost 1.5 million subscribers.  So………I’m in good company.

So I dig radios.  And the older I get, the worse, not better, it seems to get.  I still spin the dial on shortwave radios, sometimes for hours. I have multiple Software Defined Radios (RTL-SDR’s) and I have police scanners, with the actual name of them being called “radio scanners”.

Every so often in any hobby one item will rise to the top of the heap.

In my opinion, in the world of Radio Scanners that device is the Uniden SDS200.  This is an advanced radio for advanced users.  Most places you buy from will preprogram them for you for free, so if you know nothing about radios or police scanners let me forewarn you that the learning curve could be STEEP.  Everything is well documented but to an outsider to the hobby it could still be confusing.
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Police Scanners – How to choose

I have gotten the police scanner bug again.  There are a lot of reasons to have a radio scanner (the proper term for police scanner) with the best reason being informed during emergencies.  Other reasons could include being aware of your surroundings, listening to news as it happens directly from the source, having knowledge of criminal activity in your area, or just plain old being a radio geek who likes to listen to stuff.

Ways To Listen

There are a few ways to listen.

  • Having a dedicated hardware radio scanner
  • Streaming from the internet on systems such as Broadcastify.  While these are handy and free you are going to hear one system at a time. In my case if I listen to my city system, I will completely miss the statewide system, the sheriff’s system, and all analog broadcasts.  You can listen to just one thing at a time.
  • Streaming from smartphone apps (which mostly tie into Broadcastify). You should note that the internet streaming and apps generally are about 30 seconds to a minute or two behind real time.  Bad boys, bad boys could be busting down your door before you hear it on the iPhone app.
  • Creating a software radio using an RTL-SDR USB radio device and software designed for digital trunking radio.

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Pirate Audio Line Out For Raspberry Pi

Pirate Audio Line Out Device

Here’s a fun little project. This is the Pimoroni Pirate Audio Line Out Device .  Pimoroni sells several devices including a 3watt amp, a speaker, and a headphone amp but I chose the Line Out Device for home stereo use.

You could make a headphone amp and power it from a small charging brick and with a wireless Raspberry Pi (Pi Zero W) you could use your phone as a hotspot and have the most original “Walkman” on the block.

So what you need essentially is:

  1. Raspberry Pi – Get the Pi Zero W (W = WiFi) – links just below
  2. Pirate Audio Line Out Board
  3. SD Card – I use SanDisk cards 16 or 32 GB
  4. Micro USB power cable – you have one laying around already
  5. Y adapter cable to hook Line Out to your stereo.

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Firewalls And BIOS’s And Coreboot

I’m into computer security a little bit and always striving to learn more.  I’m also a firm believer in Open Source software.  In Proprietary software you don’t know really know what’s going on.  Case in point:  Alexa, Siri, Hey Google.  They say it isn’t spying on you but you know that it is.

With Open Source software you can view the code and see if any hanky panky is going on.

There are a lot of Open Source Operating Systems such a Linux.  But here’s the catch.  You run your Open Source OS which gets launched by a firmware (BIOS – Built In Operating System) which is PROPRIETARY!.  Also it can prevent you from installing a 3rd party device such as a battery, or charging brick.   Major exploits such as HeartBleed (remember that scare a few years ago) live and breathe in the firmware.   You can slick the OS, change the hard drive all you want but you are still compromised AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

Let’s lay out a scenario.
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What To Look For In A Used Bike

It is nearly impossible to buy a new bicycle from the local bike shop but there are a lot of used bicycles out there.  Beware though as it is a sellers market and if you see a gem you should snatch it up as quick as you can.

The funny thing I think I have noticed is that vintage (1990 and older) bikes are reasonably priced.  Just looking through Facebook marketplace shows some very fairly priced Trek 800 and Trek 830 bikes.  Those were Chromoly Steel bikes and many, many people use these  old steel frames to build up top of the line touring bikes.  So the Facebook Marketplace sellers have it exactly backwards on the vintage stuff.

Which leads me into my next point…………As long as the frame and the fork and bottom bracket is okay MOST EVERYTHING ELSE IS A CHEAP AND EASY REPLACEMENT.

Case in point.  Here’s a Tern Folding Bike I found a while back.  I will use this bike as an example of used bike selection.  It was in essentially good shape with minimal issues that were cheaply fixed.  It also came with lots of extras making it a good purchase candidate.

Tern Link D7i

There was quite a few things that needed some attention on this bike BUT IT WAS STILL A GOOD DEAL because none of those things cost a lot to fix.  Here’s a list of things I noticed on first inspection:
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Folding Bikes – Dahon Review

1968 Schwinn Stingray

Do you remember your first bike?  I do.  That first bicycle was your ticket to independence.  You could GO PLACES that were previously unobtainable to you or they suddenly became obtainable a lot faster.

This may have not been my absolute first bike but it was my first REAL bike.  A 1968 Schwinn Stingray.  I’m mostly sure about this because I remember the Coppertone color and not the year but the Stingray history has the Coppertone color in 1968 which would have been about the right time as well.

Getting a new bike is still like that for me.  Although primarily I ride my bike to lose weight and maintain health I still get a thrill of GOING PLACES and driving down roads that I probably wouldn’t take my car down.  The ability to view your surroundings is greatly enhanced with a 360 degree unobstructed view traveling at 15 miles per hour vice 55 miles per hour in a metal cage.

Alas, this is supposed to be a Tech Blog but bicycles are quite technical these days, and what could be more technical than a bicycle that folds up into a small space and is ready to unfold and ride in SECONDS?.

I got my first folding bicycle around 2008, I think, from a Sporting Goods shop in Okinawa called Sports Depo.   Pretty sure it was a 2008 Dahon MU P8.

Dahon MU P8

I was going through a bike phase and something about this bike intrigued me.   It was small, relatively light, and folded up into a neat little square.

I used to travel to a nearby island for work called Ie Shima which was accessible by ferry. I would sometimes just carry the bike onboard with me and unfold on the other side and go have an adventure.  Such are the things memories are made of.

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Bicycles – Saving Your Life Since 1817

Several months ago I reached a saturation point with the guy in the mirror.  He was clearly getting too fat.  I was also staring my retirement directly in the face and didn’t want to be old, and fat, and on the couch.  I wanted to LIVE and ENJOY my retirement.

When I lived in Japan about 6 years ago I was an avid runner, and bicyclist, and when I moved back to the US all those interests began to slide.  It’s a lot more dangerous to ride in the US than it is in Japan and in fact on my very first bike ride in the US in New Bern, NC 6 years ago someone threw a bottle at me.  On a Sunday morning, no less.

So I dedicate this post to Baron Karl von Drais who is credited with inventing the first bicycle called the “Draisine”.  Too bad for him we don’t still call it that.  Then again one of the guys who didn’t necessarily invent something first but made patented improvements on it may have something to say about having things named after you.  Case in point.  Thomas Crapper.  People are forever still going to “The Crapper”.   I’m not joking.  Look it up.

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