Monday, January 16, 2017


Mono Island diet

About three months ago, September 2016, I watched an entertaining book talk by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller), which was my introduction to Mono Island. 

The idea is simple enough:
  • EAT ONE FOOD: Pick one of your favorite foods, which will make it easier to work with. Keep it basic, so no pre packaged stuff -- and alcohol is not a sensible option, and neither are things like candy, cake, spam, bacon, sausage, McNuggets, pizza, or ice cream, as they will not help you. If you pick a meat then you will find yourself on the Atkins diet, not Mono Island -- they're different things. Cooking should be minimal, undecorated, and essentially keeping the food boring. I think that this leaves fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and mushrooms on your table of options -- not no combining, just one.
  • ALL YOU CAN EAT: You can eat as much as you like! But you will get sick of eating pretty quickly, so you end up eating less by about day 2 as a consequence of eating just one thing.
  • JUST 2 WEEKS: Go to mono island for 2 weeks only, but no less, otherwise it will not work. The time period is a habit breaker, to break your bad eating habits. Bad habits include things like snacking, binging, and eating when you're not hungry. No alcohol, and especially no wine which is high in sugars and hence not helpful here -- incidentally, give your liver and brain a nice break away from alcohol.
  • WATER: Don't forget that you need to drink a good amount of it.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Be mindful of your Recommended Daily Intake of vitamins and minerals, but this depends of what food you choose -- you can pop a multivitamin pill for good measure. If you miss out on the correct amount of sodium and potassium something weird might happen.

I did a bit of research and also found Banana Girl. She's a youtube celebrity. Her schtick is bananas, no mystery there.

And so in the spirit of new year's resolutions I committed to trying Mono. After all, it's just two weeks. How hard can it be?

I picked Bananas because there is no cooking required, which is a convenient feature. Bananas have a reputation as being a super-food, and contain just about everything you need in one convenient wrapper, and are delicious. I  started on the second of January, on a Saturday, and lasted about 5 hours before cracking! What may have been unhelpful was that I got caught out with only 3 bananas on hand for a period of quite a few hours. Had I prepared better and stocked up with an all-you-can-eat amount available all day, this may have worked better. Damn.

Next on my list were potatoes. I love potatoes. I could live on beer and chips. About a week after the banana epic fail, I cleared my head and got ready for potatoes. This time I stocked up with a 2Kg bag for day one. This was a good day. I cooked servings of 3 to 4 spuds, in a bowl, for 10 minutes in the microwave -- simple. By day two, my intake dropped profoundly, from a whole bag the day before to only 4 potatoes! I was excited that this was working. But by day three the cracks were starting to show. I was sick of potatoes, having only a few bites here and there -- also we were approaching the prospect of an enjoyable and social weekend. By the end of the day I cracked and went to the store to get some wine, bread, etc. This was far short of the two week target, but three days on potatoes was certainly an improvement on five hours on bananas.

For now I'm quitting mono island. However can't help but wonder if I could do better with rice maybe?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Chairman Mao (7)

Soybeans with chilli ***
Stir fried Celery with five-spice bean curd and chili ***
Human style dumplings in hot and sour soup **

Friday, December 30, 2016

Laptop PSU power supply fix

So I had a wonky PSU for a few weeks. It worked, kinda, but the DC cable needed to be in a constant state of twist and tension -- investigating the specifics of the fault was a low priority so I just did whatever worked, that is until today.

I remembered that in some of my past laptops there was a power fault that developed over time. The cause had been to do with a drying and deteriorating solder joint inside the laptop at the DC input. And so now in this case I firstly suspected something similar was happening, but inside the PSU.

With considerable difficulty I managed to pry open the PSU case only to find that everything inside was still quite perfect. The difference was that now I had a horribly disfigured unit that needed to be taped up.

My next hunch was to investigate was the funny looking cable segment just after the PSU DC output. And behold! I found that the negative wiring had become cut underneath the insulation. I can only speculate that at some point in the past the cable was jammed in a door or a drawer, and experienced a shearing force enough to eventually cause this fault.

The temporary fix was just to cut open some of the insulation, and twist the negative wires together. Unfortunately in the process I managed to nick some of the insulation to the positive cable, but will get by for now.

No matter how you look at this, it's not pretty. However, I was able to return back to work, and also to report back what was learned.

I expect that this situation will only improve with the purchase of a new PSU in the near future.

And yes, the twisted mangled result was reasonably taped up before put back into use.

Friday, December 09, 2016

TPA3118 2X30W Bluetooth Digital Power Amplifier for Modified Bluetooth Speaker

I have this old BO speaker that's built like a tank, but what good is it when it does not connect to anything. I was going to throw it out, but had one more idea for it.

So I got this Bluetooth amp module from eBay:

TPA3118 2X30W Bluetooth Digital Power Amplifier for Modified Bluetooth Speaker
US $10.89

The DIY mod:
  1. Open the speaker enclosure
  2. Uninstall the crossover board
  3. Connect the woofer to the module's right channel output
  4. Connect the mid-range and tweeter (in parallel) to the left channel output
  5. Drill a hole for the power cable and push it through
  6. Attach the module to the inside cover of the speaker enclosure with tape
  7. Close it up

Currently the system is powered by 4x 18650 lithium battery pack that sits on the outside -- it lasts for about a day before needing a recharge). The audio signal connects via Bluetooth.

When it powers up, a voice prompt (in a Chinese accent) asks to pair, and then says that it's connected.

At minimum volume the sound can be quite hissy. The only volume control is via the source device, so I assume that the module is set to maximum preamp volume, hence the hiss. I am yet to try the 3.5mm input and test the hiss, but at low priority.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Chairman Mao (6)

Pickled cucumbers with chili ***
Stir fried bitter melon with preserved mustard root and red chili **
Hunan style fried rice ***

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hyundai i30 Android Auto upgrade

The other day I went back to the Suttons City, where we got the car, and upgraded the car software to get Android Auto on the audio console.

First impressions:
  1. Install Android auto on your mobile. Then it opens automatically by connecting the android phone to the car USB via a data cable (not just power cable, and not Bluetooth).
  2. Very simplified controls:

    Navigate (Google Maps only, not Waze);

    Phone (only normal mobile, not Hangouts or Skype etc.);

    Home screen (displays cards like Google Now does);

    Music (Google music, but I believe it works with other services like Spotify but not Soundcloud which is the one I use);

    Car audio back button (give you access to the radio, but you can get back to AA);
  3. Weird and unexpected interim results:

    I seem to be listening to AM talk-shows now which I never would otherwise;

    I don't use my favorite driving app, Waze (with alternative GPS navigation, GPS based speedometer, speed signs, speed over warning, safety camera warning, police presence and traffic incident crowd-sourced reporting, improved accuracy screen orientation, alternative driver focused voice prompts).

    No music (I don't normally play any anyway);

    Much less mobile interaction while stationary (like simple ETA update messages, status bar updates, non-sticky lookups, etc.);

    No incoming calls (in the one interaction so far, the mobile did not ring, instead a missed call message icon appeared)
  4. Interim conclusions:

    I want to give Android Auto a good try and see how it goes;

    I expect software and feature updates on Android Auto as with regular Android (although I don't know if the car software works like an monitor port with data and the smarts are on the mobile which would get regular app updates, or if there are no OTA updates at all);

    I believe that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement here and love to see more features or plugins from the developer ecosystem.

After update (I did not think of taking a before snap to compare)

Revision 17 January 2017:

  • I gotta mention that we have not been using Android Auto much. And, I have to say, it's a bit lame. I still like it to be there, but it's a bit lame.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Composing simple messages

It's amazing what you can do with a vector clipping path (inkscape) and layout in 3d (blender). I used to retouch all of my work, and add creative repetition in vector. Now after a shift across to 3d everything seems energized.

Friday, November 18, 2016

halftone newsprint offset inkscape vectors

I saw something on a THERE (ad agency) website and started to wonder how to do halftone in vectors. Of course for bitmaps, there's a filter for it ( gimp/filter/distort/newsprint ), but it never came up as something to want in vectors until now. After a bit of googling and some failed attempts I made sense of it, via . The solution was hiding in a place that is not quite intuitive but sometimes such is live ( inkscape/edit/clone/createtiledclone/trace )