Thanks to Steve from AVT Marketing for making a clear & concise guide for installing drivers & software for RTL-SDR radio dongles on a Raspberry Pi Linux. This excellent video is based on my guide, RTL-SDR for Linux Quick-Start Guide with what you need to know to get it going on Raspberry Pi. Check out his other videos on his Youtube Channel.
Meet Sue, a 22 year old kitty nick-named ‘The Tuna Roomba’ because of her appetite as she’ll just vacuum up all the tuna she finds like a robot. We’re fostering her from Fearless Kitty Rescue due to her age. She needs special attention and consideration, so she wasn’t made available to the general public for adoption. In our home, she has two other cats and a dog with whom she gets along with splendidly. She’s in charge and calls all the shots, no question about it.
I have a personal affection for old girl cats. Recent blood & urine tests indicate her kidneys are in the early stages of renal failure, as is so common in cats. Sue came to us from her original owner who had passed away. She was under-weight at a touch under 5 lbs, but six months later I have her up to a touch over 6 lbs. Doctors orders are to feed her as much as she wants, of which she seems to have zero objections. I hope to have as much time as possible and fuss over her daily.
Nothing could be more accurate than the old saying “Dogs have Masters, Cats have staff”.
If you live in a hot climate like Arizona, a metal garage door turns that space into a solar oven, especially if it’s facing South and/or West. There’s a number of products on the market as well as some creative DIY solutions for those on a limited budget. I did a ton of research and have done several doors so I’ll share that with you here.
1. Cardboard. It’s free, paintable and better than no insulation, but still lets some heat radiate in. Double cardboard works better, but on a double door the weight starts to add up and you might need to adjust your door springs to compensate. I tried a few panels and decided it wasn’t worth the effort to hunt down unmolested sections large enough to do the whole door. I also had some reservations about it being a fire hazard, especially as the heat dried it out and if it got hit with sparks from a metal working project. If any water got through the cracks in the door, it could get soggy and even heavier. So I went with option #2 on my most recent home.
2. Refectix radiant barrier insulation. This is two mylar reflective sheets over a bubble core. It’s a lot more durable than shipping bubble wrap, you can step on this stuff and it doesn’t pop. I did the entire double door for about $60 worth of materials, available at local hardware and home improvement stores. It’s lightweight and easy to cut with a utility knife & straight edge. Just measure the inside of each panel and trim for a snug fit. It’s pretty forgiving to work with and looks alright too. It’s April and we’ve already hit 100 in the afternoon, but standing inside the door I don’t feel like I’m facing a space heater. It provides a minimal amount of sound deadening and if you damage a section you can fix it with aluminium foil tape or buy a small roll to repair what you need. It’s also reasonably fire resistant and unphased by water. If your goal is to mitigate heat and want to keep the costs down without looking ratty, this is a good way to go.
Here’s the thing about radiant barrier insulation: There must be an air gap between the insulation and the surface you’re trying to insulate against heat. I confirmed this by placing one section directly against the garage door panel and sure enough, it heated right up. See also the manufacturer’s product specification sheet. So I added a few double-thick cardboard strips behind the insulation to create a 1/2″ space and sure enough, it now keeps the heat at bay. One could also accomplish proper air gap spacing using strips double-sided tape or the insulation itself.
If you trim your panels for a snug accurate fit, and your door is like mine, they’ll hold in place on their own on the top, bottom and right side. Along the left side, they’ll start to come out when the door is open. You can secure those with double-sided tape, foil tape or some strips of moulding cut for a snug fit. All are viable, choose what ya like! Also note that all garage door panels are not the same size even on the same door, so measure twice, buy & cut once. You can join sections of this material neatly by using foil tape.
3. Ridgid styrofoam. I’ve used this before and it does work quite well for heat and cold. It’s not too expensive when purchased in large sheets but it can be a bit messy to cut and work with and can break while bending it to fit within the panel. I wasn’t crazy about the appearance of the lettering either. They do make garage door insulation kits where one side has a thin plastic veneer and the other side has grooves to facilitate bending without breaking. This system looks very nice but will cost ~$150-200 and you can’t buy just one if a panel gets damaged. If you need to work against heat and cold and want a super clean factory look, those veneered panels are the way to go.
4. Fiberglass batting. Owens Corning makes a kit with a white plastic sheeting on one side. They come with plastic fasteners that look good in concept but in practice break easily. One could secure this in place with some wire or moulding. Cost for a double-door is almost $200, but if your goal is to stop heat and cold and need extra sound insulation in the garage, this option can’t be beat.
5. Spray in insulation. This is the one option I haven’t personally tried. Spray foam insulation is used in better modern homes and renovations. It’s well regarded for complete insulation and blocking all gaps. To the best of my knowledge it needs to be applied with proper equipment and if you don’t like it you can’t easily remove it. That’s why I haven’t tried it.
So there it is, for less than $100 you can greatly extend the hours and season you can work in your garage, plus all that extra heat isn’t radiating into your house nor degrading any items you store in the garage.
– Kenn Ranous
This is just a quick note to help Linux users flash a BIOS upgrade to their system. It’s not a step-by-step so easy your Grandma could do it. Sorry, there’s too many variables to create that. If you’ve ever downloaded and installed Linux via a USB drive this should be just as easy.
If your mainboard BIOS has a built-in utility to upgrade it’s BIOS, use that. It’s the best most foolproof way to go. Visit the website of your MoBo manufacturer for the BIOS update and flashing instructions. Generally all that’s needed is a USB thumb drive formatted to FAT.
If your mainboard does not have a built-in BIOS update feature, check with the manufacturer for options. Unfortunately, many mobo makers assume you have Windows and provide a utility that only runs in Windows or DOS. If you’re setup to dual-boot Linux or Windows, boot into Windows and use their utility. If you’re running Linux only:
1. Download the DOS based BIOS package from your mobo maker. Extract it into a folder of your choice, but keep the name simple as we’ll be using DOS in just a moment.
2. Visit www.freedos.org and download the USB Installer version. Extract it and write the .img file to your USB drive. (hint: use the USB Image Writer utility or Unetbootin)
3. Verify freedos is on your USB drive. You should see autoexec.bat and other DOS looking files. (You may need to reboot your Linux box after initially creating the FreeDOS.)
4. Copy the folder where you extracted the BIOS package onto the FreeDOS USB drive.
5. Reboot the computer and select boot to FreeDOS USB drive.
6. Follow the menus, but don’t choose to install FreeDOS. Instead, exit to DOS.
7. You should now be at a good old fashioned C: prompt. Change to the folder you made in step 4. Run the executable that starts the DOS based flashing utility. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
8. Reboot and confirm you have the new BIOS. You can also verify BIOS version in Linux by using the hardinfo utility or in a terminal type:
sudo dmidecode -s bios-version
That’s all there is to it. Easy as making a bootable floppy but better.
Side note: FreeDOS also works well in VirtualBox, although I would NOT advise trying to flash your BIOS while running in a virtual environment, best to do that as described above. Good to know if you have some old DOS games you want to run.
Sharing folders and files in Linux Mint is a simple affair but sometimes the option to right-click and share a folder isn’t present or doesn’t work. Fret not for it’s an easy fix. If you’ve ever installed Linux and your computers are able to access the Internet then you can do this and you’re almost there.
First, a little background. Samba is a networking protocol that allows file and print sharing across a network. It’s also cross-platform, allowing sharing of files across most operating system. It’s part of the default installation of Linux Mint. You can confirm this protocol is installed by opening your Synaptic Package Manager and typing ‘samba’ in the search bar. If not, install it now. It needs to be installed on both client and server machines.
On the machine with files to be shared (aka your Server), install the samba sharing extension for your file browser. If you’re on Mint with the Mate desktop, this would be the Caja file manager. In Synaptic Package Manager, search for caja-share and install it. Restart the machine, navigate to the folder you wish to share, right-click > Sharing Options. It’s self explanatory from there but do limit access if your machine will be on a public LAN. (Cafe, school, work, IRS waiting room, etc.)
If you have a software firewall running on your server either disable it or add a rule to allow Samba. Using Synaptic, get the GUFW (GUI for Uncomplicated Fire Wall) application. It’s a GUI for the firewall that comes with Linux Mint and makes configuration easy. Launch it from the Control Center, click Rules, click the + sign and scroll down to Samba. Click OK.
On your other computer (aka the client), open Caja and select Browse network. Your server should appear, in some cases within the ‘Windows Network’ sub-folder. Double-click to connect and enter login credentials if you specified any during the share process, otherwise use ‘connect anonymously’.
That’s it. You’re now free to move files from one PC to another and make more copies of stuff than you can keep track of. Samba shares created in Linux Mint are readable (and writeable if you allowed it) in Windows XP, Windows 10, Mac OS-X and other operating systems, allowing you to make a huge network mess if desired.
FAQs & WTFs:
If you’re having difficulty finding the server from a client, try the following:
Other file managers such as Nautilus and Nemo have similar folder sharing extensions. You can view the extensions you have installed in Caja by clicking Edit > Preferences > Extensions.
Assuming you’re behind a router/firewall (Cisco, Netgear, etc.) none of these LAN shares will be visible from the outside Internet. You’ll need to configure your router for that, and there are more secure ways to transfer files remotely.
If for bizarre and unexplainable reasons the sharing extension for your file manager isn’t playing nice (or there isn’t one available) there’s a application called Samba Server Configuration (available in Synaptic) that will create and manage Samba shares. If you use it, you’ll need to set permissions for the shared folder, where caja-share does this for you. Well … caja-share is supposed to set folder permissions, but sometimes it doesn’t. If that happens, right-click the folder > Properties > Permissions.
If you’ve read this far and it’s still not working, confirm your network functionality. Determine the server IP address and try to ping it from your client. If you’re getting a response then your network and TCP/IP is functioning and the problem is more likely firewall, permissions or missing Samba files. There are many helpful people on the Linux Mint Forums that can help you troubleshoot a problem.