Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sounds Like a Dump Truck

Not a whole lot going on these days. I haven't touched the bike in months except for plugging in the battery tender. I do have some parts waiting to be swapped in such as fork seals and since I ordered a replacement master cylinder last May, I might as well put it in when I replace the brake fluid.

The new car had this annoying "safety feature". When you put it into reverse, it sounded like a dump truck with it's beep-beep-beep sounds. To me, it may have been useful as a safety feature if the sound could be heard behind the vehicle but, no, it could only be heard on the inside. It was a reminder to the driver that you were in reverse. Dumb. I had asked the dealer to change the sound to a single beep as I knew it was on option that they could set through their computer. (It says so in the owners manual) But they pleaded ignorance so instead of arguing with them, I picked up this OBD-II Bluetooth interface from Amazon for $21. This allows me to connect my laptop to the computer and change the setting myself.

The procedure was fairly painless thanks to the Internet. I paired the device with my laptop using the pairing code sent by the manufacturer of the device. Then started up my serial terminal program, ZTerm, set it to 9600, 8, N,1 and connected in. For those long time users of the Internet, they may recognize this as 9600 baud, 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit. I then sent a handful of "AT" commands to the device to show headers, add a linefeed, set the communications protocol, etc. Then had it connect to the appropriate computer, report back the current setting then I issued the command to change it. The whole process took less than a minute. Again, thanks to the Internet for the command sequences. In case you are interested, here is the command sequence and responses.

ELM327 v1.5
>AT H1
>AT L1
>AT SP 6
ISO 15765-4 (CAN 11/500)
>AT SH 7c0
>21 ac
7C8 03 61 AC 00
>3b ac 40
7C8 03 7F 3B 78
7C8 02 7B AC
>21 ac
7C8 03 61 AC 40

No more beeping. Maybe I should have changed the seatbelt beep at the same time. And time to look into what else I can use this for...

And aren't you glad the Internet has evolved to the current, web based version and we don't need to mess with terminal interfaces.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ice Sculptures

This evening, I went to see the ice sculptures since our local credit union was paying for admission (if you are 55 or older). I didn't write down the names of the carvings nor the awards won. I hadn't been to the ice festival in probably ten years but since the price was right....

Small Slide

We also just picked up a replacement for our Toyota Sienna AWD minivan. This doesn't have AWD but hopefully it still will manage to get up our driveway...

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Trobairitz offered up a challenge in a recent post called Patiently Waiting for Spring Challenge. I heard a rumor that Spring was coming but after looking at the thermometer and seeing -13°F, Spring seems as far away as ever. In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't arrive by March 21. This is a stock PhotoBooth background and given the disaster that I call my office. I figured that this may be better than reality. After capturing the photo on my laptop, the magic of Apple's iCloud made the image available on my phone so I used the "Ansel" effect within the Camera+ app. Saving the photo causes the new image to be available on the laptop again in my PhotoStream. This feature seems to be the most useful feature of iCloud. My photo's are backed up immediately as long as I have Internet connectivity.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Winter Storm Warning

We still have no cheery daffodils or any other bright colors announcing the arrival of Spring. Last night, we had almost another foot of snow. The storm seemed to come out of nowhere after a bright and sunny day. It should make for pretty nice x-country skiing this afternoon. My phone has been beeping all morning from emergency alerts sent out by our police department warning folks about multi-vehicle accidents all over the area. I guess people forget that snow is slippery or something like that. On the drive in this morning, the lanes were barely visible even with all of the commuter traffic and visibility poor. Especially with snow being blown around by other traffic.

These pictures are just from the area outside of my building. When I came into the parking lot this morning, I was greeted with the sight of multiple vehicles pulling out stuck cars and trucks as they were trying to pull into parking spaces. Quite a mess.

I think that even a Ural would have difficulty with snow days like today.