Sunday, April 30, 2017

DIY: Bluebird House

Hey fellow wood-workers! Spring is here and if its not too late, here's something I've made a few of years back... blue bird houses! These are solid and work great! Its really nice that you can flip down the front piece at the end of the season to remove the old nest. Simply close it back up and insert the pin the following year for a renewed use!

Click here for some old-school DIY dimension cutouts!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GoPro footage: Timelapse of drive

So just for funsies, I created a timelapse video of a family drive from our home in sweet Carver, MN to the urban jungle of a state called Illinois. OK, it wasn't a drive to the shady area of Chi-town, but rather to the area of Rockford and its surrounding communities (even through there was a shooting in a few miles from where we were at during the time; we went out to eat across from the scenes of the crime).

This was an experiment and a little fun for me to test drive the GoPro Hero 5 action cam. Enjoy!

On the way out (check out G rockin' in the background!):

On the way back (yes we drove past a crash on our way back!):

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Retropie HDMI audio fix

Here's a quick fix for those of you scouring the interwebs for a reason (fix) why HDMI audio isn't working on you Raspberry Pi. It looks like some settings need to be configured within the config.txt file within Retropie. Here's the original video that solved my issue, but I'll break it down real quick for ya:

1. Boot up Retropie and exit out of Emulation Station using the GUI. This will get you to the shell/command line. From here do the following:
Type sudo nano /boot/config.txt (this will open the config.txt file in an editable form)

2.Find the following line and remove the "#" to uncomment out the setting (make them live)

3. Add the following (anywhere in the file; I did mine at the top)

4. Save by holding down the CTRL-X keys and type "Y" when is asks you to save and overwrite the current file

5. Reboot Retropie by typing in sudo reboot

BOOM! All should be fixed. Open a game and confirm all is well!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bliss for music libray management

So I've become pretty "knee-deep" in an upcoming post; something that I've been working on for many years as a matter of fact. It has to do with me, my personal music collection and how I've moved from cassette tapes to compact discs over the years to now having everything digitally available on my home network. PLEASE NOTE: I still love 'owning the media', but because I am always on the go, in different places all the time, so having everything in portable format is great. You ask, "Why not just stream it?" I know that seems to be what the thing to do is today, but I guess I consider myself 'old school' and like to 'own' my music from the first track to the last!

The reason for this post (and the piece of software I am about to tell you about) is because I was trying to understand why some of my album art was not showing up on my Ford Sync 3's head unit in my (2016 Black Friday purchase) truck. Well after a quick Google search, I came across a blog post from Dan at Bliss. Basically this article mentioned without the proper ID3 tags and image size, the info/album art limits what will show in the Sync's display unit. This really prompted me to finish this cleanup/migration effort of mine that has been in progress for years.

Bliss is one of those apps that is a key player now in the management of my music collection. It used to be TuneUp, but seeing the support for that product is pretty much dead, Bliss has filled that hole. I like that the application supports the macOS platform (as thats my OS of choice) but also has flavors for other operating systems as well. After installing, it basically runs a 'server' type service on your local machine that you configure to point to a 'watched folder' so it can scan, analyze and report what may be wrong with the media. Whats also greta about it is you can customize what you want this tool to do down to some semi-granular detail.

Settings such as album art size is a key thing you can set. In my case, I wanted to make sure album art was no larger than 500x500 pixels, yet no smaller than 300x300. This way, it would render in my car deck (old school term right there, huh?). It can assist with locating or even uploading album art if you are missing it altogether. Pair that with proper ID3 tags (metadata tags) along with a standard file naming convention, it can turn a mess of a collection into a well organized one. Take a look at the before and after screenshot of all my "Lo-Fi" music files!

If you are someone like me and had a mess of a digital music library collection after burning all those compact discs and such, Bliss truly made this whole process a breeze.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Concert review: AC/DC (1 year later)

OK, so there has been alot that has happened in the AC/DC camp in the past year, but I decided to finally publish my review on the show they did (just weeks) before Brian Johnson left was outed by the band. I've been sitting on most of my words in draft form here on my blog since the event, not knowing when the best time to post this would be. With it being a year later, I think its an appropriate time.

To start, I've seen AC/DC once before - back on June 27 1991 as a matter-of-fact, at the ol' Met Center in St. Paul, MN. I was in high school then and attended the show with my great friend, Gary. I remember that concert pretty well. I actually still have some "Money Talks" Angus cash from that show! Fast forward ~30 years later - guess who I went and saw them again with? YES, Gary (along with a couple other great friends - Tim V. & Patrick M.)! I want to say this concert was one of the best shows I've seen in years. Maybe it was because I got to re-experience it with an old friend as well as witnessing the "shock-and-awe" on my others friends' faces as they experienced them live for the very first time. All I know is I was smiling ear to ear for a long time during this show.

Although it wasn't exactly the best day to see a concert, Valentines Day (February 14 2016), it was still very well worth it. To describe the atmosphere, the arena was packed! The blinking, red, light-up Angus devil horns souvenirs (mainly purchased by female fans) had illuminated the open arena space and lit the place up like little red stars in the night sky (kinda romantic, eh?). And by the amount of open space the Xcel Energy Center offers, it was pretty damn cool to look at.

The stage was pretty generic, a stack of vintage Marshall cabinets, 3 high by 6 wide, filled the left and right side of the center stage/drumset. The stage itself had a left, right and middle wing as well as a long center walkway that reached out to the middle of the venue. As someone that has a seen a few shows, I could see there was something 'special' at the end of that walkway awaiting the audience at some point in time of the show... (yeah, Angus guitar solo time!)

As the lights dimmed, the crowd immediately roars in response. The trifecta of huge video screens to the left center and right of the stage light up with a montage of astronauts in space landing on a distant planet then exploring for a bit only to come across a glowing vessel with the AC/DC logo on it. In a few moments that vessel is in space making its way to planet earth.... north America, Minnesota... St. Paul.... Xcel Energy Center! In a flash, just as the vessel crashes, out comes the band!

They opened with their latest hit, Rock or Bust which got the crowd roaring even louder than before. At this point, It was all smiles. Mesmerized by the ever-moving Angus Young on guitar and the body contorting, high schrill-of-a-vocalist sounds of Brian Johnson, I was having a blast. To watch these guys at their age (in their 60's) move and play like this was absolutely fascinating. As someone in his 40's at this point in time, I could only imagine what it feels like playing for 2 hours at that age. I bet it takes a few days to recover (no wonder they have a few days off between shows!)

Although the ticket was rather spendy ($160.00 - Club level, Section C22), I truly feel this was probably THE BEST SHOW I have seen in many, many years. The performance these guys put on was absolutely fascinating to watch, they didn't miss a beat when they played and truly proved why they are one of the biggest rock bands in history. I smiled almost all the way through the first handful of songs as I watched my friends rocking-out to each song, hit after hit. If this is the last time I see Brian Johnson and Angus Young, I am 100% content and very happy I saw them one last time.

See below for the set list (taken from as well as some photos taken by yours truly as well as some curated by others at the show and captured via Twitter the night of the event.

Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
High Voltage
Rock 'n' Roll Train
Hells Bells
Given the Dog a Bone
Sin City
You Shook Me All Night Long
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock (w/ Angus Young guitar solo)
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

Friday, January 27, 2017

My recently played music tracks!

Here's something not new, but still cool; a somewhat real-time display of what I've been listening to! Powered by, I have an audio scrobbler that keeps tracks which 'tracks' I've been listening to. Kinda geeky, I know, but I still think its neat.

"Scrobbling" is a feature which keeps tracks are being played. Like mentioned before, it tracks anything I play on my computer, iPhone or iPad! Not necessarily in real time, but it will eventually get synchronized with my account at some point. You've probably noticed that I've written about before, utilizing some Wordpress and other website plugins, but these days I am just using it to "track" my tracks played. Now you can still see what I've got spinning on my player at any time by clicking HERE! You can also join and become music buddies; so we can each check out what we're both listening to.

NOTE: If you see Justing Bieber and other "pop' tunes on my list of top 10 tracks being played, its not me! (its for my boys and general party-vibe music... ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Surly Brewing Co. Release Calendar!

Some of you may or may not know that I am a big fan of the Surly Brewing Co based out of Minnesota. I collect, consume and partake in the beers as well as their Surly Gives A Damn charitable work (yeah, I've done charitable things with them from - rounding up Nice Ride bikes from the U of M campus to spending time cleaning up at the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's ReStore location. Aside from doing these great things for the state, they kinda kicked it all off back in 2011 its key, now deemed, "Surly Bill" which has since opened the door for many other great breweries in the great state of Minnesota such as Fulton, Dangerous Man and many, many others. On top of their great beers, I simply love their 'vibe' as well as design that they have!

Even though I am somewhat sad and disappointed in more recent news that co-founder and head brewer, Todd Haug left only to join up with another forceful brewery, Three Floyds based out of Indiana, I am still diggin' what Surly does and will continue to support them. I am eagerly anticipating their releases this year, especially from their bottle program. Click below to check out their 2017 release schedule as mentioned in one of their recent e-mail newsletters:

 Click here to view larger version!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Humor: Best DUI ever

I know, I know, I know... You've prolly seen this one a few times. It's so goo though, I have to share the love! Not much more I can say about this, but it may have been staged, but its an instant classic!