Tynan http://tynan.com Life Outside the Box en-us Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:47:38 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator What I love about Summer where I live http://tynan.com/community/1159784 We have endured a pretty cold Winter here on the East Coast. I think everyone is ready for the warm weather. There are a few things that I really love about my area in the Summer.

The first thing is juicy, delicious tomatoes. My area, like many, takes a lot of pride in our tomatoes. We like to think ours are the best in the world. They are especially nice after eating the tomatoes we get in the stores during the Winter that have NO flavor at all.

I am planting the seeds for my garden inside. I can't wait until everyday I can walk outside and pick my fresh vegetables for a healthy salad. For those of you that like to live frugal, this is the way to go.

I have one section of my garden that is simply a free garden and compost area. It is a variety of tomatoes and cherry tomato plants that come up all on there own each year. It looks that a jungle by July, but I trim out some plants and build a fence to let the plants climb. I always squeeze out a number of tomatoes to let more seeds go back into the ground.

A friend of mine takes potato peelings and plants them. Sure enough, he gets pounds of potatoes each year.

Our next treasure here is Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs. We steam them with Old Bay seasoning. Then we have fun sitting on our deck picking them (eating the meat), drinking cold beverages, listening to music and talking. A Virginia tradition. It's Heaven on Earth.

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Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:19:56 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1159784
Fold-up motorcycle carrier for my Rialta http://tynan.com/community/38444 Video here: http://youtu.be/I7KRdh2dySs
Pics here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100818256773744.3282966.8329234&type=1&l=2aa5d7cf57

It works great and doesn't seem to affect the Rialta negatively. I haven't weighed it in over a year, but I'd guess it's at ~7500 now with water and excluding 550lb bike, which has it's weight split with the carrier's wheel & RV when loaded. I have a leaky suspension airbag, but even flat, the rear doesn't bottom out or drag in dips. I've looked at the Pit Bull trailer restraint and the Tyre Down as options of better securing it without pulling down on suspension. Since that video, I've added self-retracting ratchet straps permanently attached to the carrier that grab a strap set up like the Tyre Down atop of my rear tire (see pictures in album) and plan to build a collapsible front chock soon. I had to take off the front fender of my bike to restrain it like I have been, but think I can make attachment for hooking on the outsides of the installed fender. Also added on the Rialta is a company logo on the doors and fleet numbers on the corners to appear more "utility van".

I'd be happy to help anyone out with dimensions or more details on the design; I built it in my Dad's shop at home, so can't easily reproduce one right now. If it's feasible to build the carrier frame with aluminum, that would help with weight, but you'll probably have to reinforce it in more places.Tynan, sorry for this post's delay; I didn't realize that uploading a video on mobile broadband was completely hopeless. Bonus pic of the Austin Clique attached.

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Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:27:14 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/38444
The Ultimate Travel Laptop http://tynan.com/community/ux21a Two years ago I finally jumped off the Thinkpad wagon to buy a Sony Z12. I have my loyalties and preferences, but at the end of the day I know that the one feature that actually directly impacts my productivity is screen resolution. The higher the resolution, the more st]]>

Two years ago I finally jumped off the Thinkpad wagon to buy a Sony Z12. I have my loyalties and preferences, but at the end of the day I know that the one feature that actually directly impacts my productivity is screen resolution. The higher the resolution, the more stuff that can fit on the screen at once. The more I can fit on the screen, the less swapping between windows I have to do, and thus the less I have to interrupt my workflow. At the same time, I travel a lot, so I need a small computer. My criteria will always be the smallest usable computer with the highest resolution.

For a long time, the Sony was that computer. New computers came out over the past two years, but none of them stacked up well against the Sony. Even the Z12's successor, the Z21, wasn't much to write home about.

Then one day I read an announcement saying that Asus was releasing two new ultrabooks (you know, the Windows laptops that look like Macbook Airs), an 11.6" and a 13", and both would have full 1920x1080 screens. They'd be about half the thickness of my existing laptop, and the smaller of the two would be half a pound lighter. I was sold.

I bought the 11.6" version, the Asus UX21A Zenbook Prime.

The screen on the UX21A, particularly on the Japanese version, which ships with a matte screen, is excellent. You know that 42" LCD TV you have in your living room? This little sucker has the exact same resolution. HD video looks unbelievably crisp. The gamut range is far better than normal laptops, but not quite as good as the Sony Z12. Brightness is as good as I've ever seen on a laptop.

The processor and SSD are fast, but finding a fast computer is easy, so I'm not going to get into all that. Suffice to say that the 1.9gHz i7 is fast enough for anything you'll throw its way.

They keyboard, especially the Japanese one with the extra keys, is very good. No complaints, but not as sublime as the Thinkpad keyboard is/used to be. The trackpad is huge and responsive, with the best two finger scrolling I've ever seen on a PC. Still, I hate trackpads and am still shocked that people like them. I've used a trackpad exclusively for two years and would still much prefer the eraser-like pointing stick found on Thinkpads. Besides far better control and not having to move your hands to move the mouse, you completely eliminate the very real problem of your palms mashing on the touchpad as you type. If I have any complaint about the UX21A, it's that it has a trackpad like every other laptop. I don't expect any different, though.

Despite being a small eleven inch laptop, the speakers on the UX21A are the best I've heard on a laptop. They still aren't great, per se, but they're loud and clear. The high range is excellent and it degrades down the spectrum to having no bass to speak of.

Besides the high resolution and reasonable 5hour+ battery life, what makes this laptop particularly great for travelers is that it doesn't have to be removed from your bag when you travel. I think that subconsciously that may be the driving force behind me choosing this laptop over its larger brother.

Oh, and the other major traveler-friendly feature: its USB ports charge at 2.1 amps, even when it's off! This is HUGE. It means that the laptop doubles as a very ast cell phone / kindle / camera charger. No other laptop does this (although a few charge at .5 amps).

To make the inevitable comparison between this and the MacBook Air, the Asus has a much much better screen and speakers and can charge your gadgets. The Macbook Air can be configured with a bigger hard drive and more ram, and has better battery life. I think it's a pretty easy choice, but if you're not hardcore about screens or have bad vision, the MacBook could be a better option.

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Wed, 08 Aug 2012 21:46:30 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/ux21a
How to Get 3.5mm Audio-In on the Sony NEX-5 series http://tynan.com/community/nex-5-audio-in Ever since the first NEX-5 came out, I've been trumpeting its strong points. With the notable exception of the amazing new Sony RX1, the NEX-5 series is the smallest camera with an APS-C or bigger sensor. In other words, it's the smallest camera that you can really get ]]>

Ever since the first NEX-5 came out, I've been trumpeting its strong points. With the notable exception of the amazing new Sony RX1, the NEX-5 series is the smallest camera with an APS-C or bigger sensor. In other words, it's the smallest camera that you can really get professional level shots out of. The two big features that I've wanted ever since Sony came out with this camera are in-camera charging so that I don't have to carry around a separate charger, and an audio-in port.

The built in microphone is acceptable, but if there's any amount of wind or background noise, audio quality degrades very quickly. Despite the incredible optical quality of the camera, the audio quality when recording videos has been its Achilles' heel, making many videos unusable. All that Sony would need to do to fix this is put a tiny little microphone jack on the camera. The new NEX-6 and the NEX-7 both have microphone jacks, but getting that jack isn't worth the (admittedly small) increase in camera size.

In a desperate attempt to improve sound quality, I bought Sony's own solution, a microphone that clips to the top of the camera. While it's better than the built-in mic, the microphone was still vulnerable to camera noise as well as background noise. Plus, sometimes you just want to wear a little clip-on lav mic and not worry about outside sounds.

I searched online for some solution, but although there was speculation that it might be possible to hack something together, no one had actually done it. One night, as I drifted off to sleep, my mind circled back around to the microphone issue. I had been recording a video every day for a couple months, and I really wished that I could just plug a microphone in. There had to be a solution. I decided that since the add-on Sony mic wasn't that great anyway, I'd take it apart the next day and see what I could figure out.

Now, it may be worth pausing here to mention that I am not great with electronics. I have the cheapest soldering iron available, and I barely know how to use it. In fact, my method of soldering is so bad that I suspect I'm the only one who does it this way. Other than a childhood penchant for taking things apart (and usually not bothering to put them back together), I have no real experience with this sort of stuff. I mention all this, because I imagine that the following paragraphs are going to a) make me sound like I know what I'm doing and b) possibly scare you away from trying this. The reality is that I'm a complete amateur who's just dedicated and reckless enough to make stuff like this happen, and that the process is actually pretty easy.

So the next morning I woke up and began prying away at the microphone. It was actually pretty fun finding all the hidden screws and detentes holding the thing together. Cut down to its bare components, the Sony ECM-SST1 has a very strange design. It has two very cheap looking microphones, but they're suspended by rubber bands as you'd expect a high-end microphone to be constructed. One faces straight forward and the other faces directly perpendicular to the side. I can't quite wrap my head around how Sony gets good stereo separation from a design like this, but it does. Upon seeing the setup, I actually put the mic back together to test the stereo functionality. My guess is that the front mic is responsible for picking up all the sound and that the sideways mic is responsible for positioning. I mention this not because it's at all relevant to the procedure I'm going to outline, but rather because I figure it may give more experienced people some ideas on how to improve my method.

I found a pinout diagram online of the proprietary (why does everything have to be proprietary, Sony?) connector, which clearly labeled the microphone channels. Of interest is that there are actually THREE channels, plus a ground. Left, right, and center. Also of interest, the microphone doesn't use the center channel. So it's there for some accessory that hasn't yet revealed itself, I guess. I cut the left, right, and microphone ground, and wired them up to a microphone.

It recorded sound, but it was extremely noisy and hard to hear. Far worse than the internal mic. I tried reversing the channels, using just left or just right as mono channels, grounding the ground to other stuff, but nothing would make it sound anywhere approaching decent. Always noisy. This was pretty frustrating, because I was sure that it would work. I was impelled to give up, but the dream of audio-in for the NEX was just too real. There had to be some way to do it.

I clumsily soldered the tiny wires that I had cut back together, insulated them with heat shrink tubing, and stared at the blasted contraption. I cut all of the wires going to the two front microphones and decided to test what would happen if I hooked the front one up to an audio jack. I should mention here that the suspense was excruciating, because for every test I'd have to solder everything together, record a video, and then transfer it to the computer to listen and make sure the audio quality was good. But in this case it paid off-- I was rewarded with crystal clear audio! The first words ever uttered into an NEX-5N via a 3rd party microphone were "Oh god, this had better work."

Giddy with success, I immediately set out to figure out the best way to use my contraption on a long term basis. All of my tests had been done with the guts of the microphone strung along across the top of the camera. Hardly a sustainable solution. My first inclination was to use the now defunct microphone enclosure, adding an audio port to the back. I actually went so far as to drill a hole in the back of it, when I spotted the NEX flash across my desk. Now, I'm not sure if I'm just such a bad photographer that I don't understand how to use the flash, or if this flash is so bad that makes every photo look worse, but I never use it. Maybe, I thought, I could make it into an enclosure for the microphone circuitry. This would allow me to have a much smaller unit and a flat surface on the top to mount a microphone-carrying cold shoe.

Next thing I knew, I was prying apart the flash and had discarded the innards of it, leaving a nice empty shell to play with. A bit of drilling and cajoling later, I had my unit all together. Nonfunctional flash in front, audio processing on the inside, and a nice 3.5mm audio jack on the side. Triumphantly I recorded a video explaining what I had done and swapped it over to my computer to hear how good it sounded. And it did sound good-- in the left channel. It turns out that in my haste to put the flash back together, I had pulled loose one of the extremely delicate wires attached to the connector. The next half hour of my life was spent trying to fix this, and, in the process, breaking most of the other wires and covering the whole hot mess in solder. In short, I completely ruined everything.

I did what any other reasonable person would do next, and I ordered another Sony microphone to gut for parts. It arrived today, and I'm happy to say that using its cable I was able to hook up my original board to make the first ever fully-functional 3.5mm microphone port for a Sony NEX-5. Here's proof:

If you'd like to do the same, here's how (video at the bottom):

1. First, take apart the microphone. I recorded a full video on how to do this below, so I won't get into the particulars here. The short version of it is that you uncover the hidden screws at the bottom to remove the connector, and then very carefully pry everything else apart. Be particularly careful with the cable that runs from the connector to the board, because it's damn near impossible to repair if you break it.

2. From the microphone, all you need is the cable I mentioned in step one, and the squarish logic board. There are five or so wires coming off of the board. If you're a better tinkerer than I am, I bet you can figure out how to use them all to get stereo sound. If you're not that clever, just pull off all of them except for the two closest to the edge, labeled M1 and MicGND. I pulled those off, too, and soldered directly to their pads, but this was pretty tricky and I wouldn't bet in favor of me duplicating the feat. Better to just leave the wires attached and use them.

3. Desolder the switch. To do that, just pinch the switch in a way that pulls it from the board, while applying the soldering iron to the opposite side. Hold it until your fingers burn, take a second to cool down, and try again. You'll make incremental progress, feeling the switch detaching from the board. Just a couple minutes of this will get it off. I blobbed a bunch of solder between the two contacts labeled 90. I'm not sure if it's necessary to do this or not, but it seemed like a solid idea.

4. So now you should have a cable, the square board, and just two leads coming off of it. Now look towards your flash with warring eyes and start taking it apart, too. Just remove the connector part as we did with the microphone, and then remove the plastic sticky panels on the side and hit those four black screws. Whatever you do, do not remove the silver screws that are holding the springs down. It's not necessary, and I'm not sure there's a more frustrating task than trying to put them back in. Pull out all the flash business, keeping only the plastic grey shell and the clear plastic lens. You can also get rid of the big vertical piece of plastic inside the flash and the smaller vertical piece behind the big thumbscrew. Pay special attention to the angle that the clear flash lens sits at-- it's not obvious once you take it apart.

5. Next you drill a 1/4" hole in the side of the flash for the audio jack to go through. You'll have to do a bit of positioning and measuring to find the right spot for it. Only once you've drilled that hole should you solder the leads of the audio jack to the leads coming off of your audio board.

6. I covered the whole board in masking tape just to make sure it didn't accidentally bump up against the audio jack contacts and short something.

7. There will probably be only one way that the board will fit in at this point, so go ahead and put it in. Hopefully you tested this before positioning your audio jack.

8. Now just close the whole thing up. The two front black screws won't have anything to bite into anymore, but put them in anyway. The adhesive plastic will hold them in place and together they'll prevent the top from becoming separated. Use the connector cladding pieces that you took from the microphone. The ones that came with the flash won't connect correctly without some modification.

And that's it! If it comes out anything like mine, it will be just a little bit janky looking, but will function like a champ. Here's a video of the procedure:

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Thu, 27 Sep 2012 07:21:52 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/nex-5-audio-in
Sett SEO? http://tynan.com/community/1142466 Hey guys, I'm curious about if theres anything I need to do to optimize SEO for my site powered by Sett. Apparently google can't find the robots.txt and I'm not sure if I need a sitemap like other wordpress sites.

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Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:10:40 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1142466
New SETT Blogs http://tynan.com/community/42181 Hey guys, I'd like to stop by your site and connect with all the new SETT bloggers getting started since the launch.   Post your URLs!


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Sat, 26 Jan 2013 15:30:09 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/42181
Bitcoin is so cheap now, thoughts? http://tynan.com/community/1139829 Last time i checked on coinbase a bitcoin only costs $220 and I've seen prices at $180. The trend seems that bitcoin is dropping, what do you guys think of this? Is it a good time to buy? If ~$200 is market value, what do you guys think actual value is (of course "actual" is speculative)

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Fri, 23 Jan 2015 01:34:57 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1139829
Rialta remodel http://tynan.com/community/11323 I bought a 1996 Winnebago Rialta to live in starting when the lease on my house is done at the end of May. Obviously Tynan was an inspiration in the sense that I would never have considered an RV if not for him, but long before he and I reconnected I'd always taken the stance that I would live in the smallest living space possible as long as I had a great kitchen.

So, when I was looking around at apartments in Seattle's Capitol Hill recently and dreading moving into a lousy studio in some nice building's basement with an electric stove and a crummy refrigerator, I thought, wait a minute, Tynan's got a great kitchen in his RV. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

I've done a fair amount of work on it. The Community section of tynan.com is a perfect place to log this stuff. I'll post some status here in a minute.

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Sun, 25 Mar 2012 03:33:55 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/11323
Question about computer being faster and able to run programs faster http://tynan.com/community/1136288 My question is for those computer guys. I have 3 computers in my house. I have 2 Acers and 1 Dell laptop. I bought them at Wal-Mart, so they are the basic computers. I have Verizon FIOS internet service, which I believe to be a pretty fast connection service.

Lately, all of the computers have a pop up on bottom right of screen that says "High Disk Usage" and another pop up in the middle/top of screen that asks "Do you want to kill page or wait". This just started happening about a month ago. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds or more to load a new web page.

I do a "disk cleanup" and it helps a little. There isn't much to clean up if you do that several times a day.

One of the computers has a tendency now to just lose the internet connection when this "kill or wait" occurs. If I turn the computer off and back on, it works.

Any suggestions on what to do to end this problem?


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Mon, 19 Jan 2015 15:47:39 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1136288
Thoughts on My Habit Building Process? http://tynan.com/community/1123193 I've been playing around with different ideas and techniques for habit building over the years, and this is my most recent take on it (well, the short version):

Each month, I publish a list of the habits I’m currently trying to establish in my life on my blog (like “only do one cheat meal per week”) and document my day-to-day successes and failures via Google Docs. And then I punish myself for the latter ones… $10 for every single time I didn’t stick to a habit.

If you want to read about my process in more detail:


Since habit building is one of the main things Tynan talks about (that's why I started reading his blog in the first place) and since I imagine his readers to be pretty experienced with habit building strategies as well, I would be very interested in your feedback, to further optimize my process! Specifically:

  • Do you use self-punishment as well and if yes, what types of self-punishment?
  • Do you also use incentives to get yourself to do certain things? (not part of my process at all yet...). If yes, what kind of incentives?
  • What types of habits are you primarily working on? Which ones do you struggle the most with?

I would be super interested to hear your ideas!



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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 21:48:03 +0000 http://tynan.com/community/1123193