Welcome to California

Well, it is technically a “welcome back”, as I grew up here in Silicon Valley.

My job relocated us to Santa Clara, and over the last week, we made the “move“. The positive is that the movers rocked, and really got our stuff packed and loaded in record time.

After spending the weekend on a leisurely drive from Phoenix to Santa Clara (via the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and Lake Tahoe) we got to our temporary housing Monday morning.

Our last relocation to Tucson in 2003 found us put up in a decrepit Extended Stay America in Tucson. Shudder. Here our digs are a bit better (ok, a LOT better). We are in an Avalon apartment, well furnished, and a reasonable size. Sure, it has lousy appliances, and the washer and dryer sound like a mac truck is driving through, but it is very serviceable.

Our first trip to the grocery store was expensive (over $400). Partly because groceries are more expensive here, but mainly due to the need to stock up.

When I picked up my car, I lamented the fact that it needed to be less than 1/4 full of gas. First thing, a fill of premium. Gulp, it’s about $.70 a gallon more than in AZ. Sigh, might be time to buy something more fuel efficient than the S2000.

The weather is pretty awesome. Mid to upper 70’s during the day, and very pleasant at night. Humidity is high compared to what I am used to (low teens in AZ).

Tuesday was the first day in the office. The apartment is a hair over 4 miles from the office, a straight shot down Lawrence expressway. And I am going the counter commute direction, so it is a short commute. Sadly, the house we will likely be able to afford is not going to have such a wickedly awesome commute. Sigh.

Oh, and California finally figured out how to time their traffic lights. Today I didn’t hit one red light on Lawrence.

We do miss our dogs, so I am looking forward to picking them up in Tucson over the 4th of July weekend.

Now we just need our house in Chandler to sell. We are still priced the lowest of all the SE valley single stories, a good $12 – $18 per sqft under the area.

Fingers crossed.

Next up on the Raspberry Pi

Last week, I wrote about how I on a lark bought one of the raspberry pi single board computers. The first round of goodies for it was a SD card (to write the OS to and boot from), and a HDMI cable to connect it to my Samsung monitor.  Got it fired up and all was cool.  Of course, it sitting naked on my CSS reference book was a bit clunky, so back to Amazon I go.

Now it is in a clear plastic case, and I have a dedicated power supply for it.  I also have a WiFI dongle to get it on the internet, and ready to do more heavy lifting. I began to work my way through a Python tutorial, and will continue that this weekend.

Next up, I am going to have to move my kit to the living room for a couple hours.  Alas, to get the Linux install updated, and to add the correct kernel modules for the WiFi dongle, I need to be on the internet, and that is where the router is. Oh well, but after that, I should be good to go.

I am still impressed with what comes on this little board for a mere $35.00. I bought it to bring back memories of my early computer experiences, an 8-bit Atari system, but this has so much more, including internet, and HD video output.  I remember endlessly fiddling to get a decent serial port (the 850 module) and a modem to connect to the outside world (there was no private internet at that time), living with composite video out on a mediocre CRT display. Living with 48K of memory (actually, that was a luxury), writing small assembly language adjuncts to speed up Basic or Basic XL (OSS System software ROCKED), and running a full featured BBS system.

I still have an old Atari (some of its games are still very playable), but I don’t break it out often, because it is so painful to setup, so this will be my “toy” for now.

But what will I do with it in the long term?  Media center? MAME cabinet? Do some robotics?  Maybe build a weather monitoring system?  Hoo boy, it will be fun.

Next post will have pictures, I promise.

Vacations What they are about

I have been doing some R&R here in Sedona AZ, and one of the activities I have done was a jeep rental.  My wife and I rented a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and did two moderate to advanced forest roads, one of them called “Outlaw Trail”.  Below is a picture from the trail.  Awesome.

2011_sedona

By the way, I can’t recommend highly enough Barlow’s Jeep Rental.  Great people, and top notch gear.  Will not set you on the wrong path.