IMG_3239Over the last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a camping trip into the back country of Death Valley National Park.  We were inspired to return to Racetrack Valley, and over night at the Homestake Dry campground.  Upon our return, we were greeted with the grim news that another hiker had died in Zion National Park.  Zion is a personal favorite location and I know it well, and every time someone has an accident in the area I can’t help of think of the small little details that allow these tragedy’s to occur.  I would later recall that an actor died in Death Valley National Park this year.  There is, in fact, a book series written by Michael P. Ghiglieri that emphasizes death in various National Parks and the locations of each, are places which I frequent.

To be sure, although stories like these grab attention and headlines I am sure that they are overblown in their publicity and for the most park the National Parks are safe.  The drama in each example is that we all visit there locations and with rare exception we all return with photo graphs and memories to last a life.  Many of this accidents are preventable, with the understanding the hindsight is always clear, I still can’t help but wonder what would happen should I ever find myself in a one of these situation?

Read the rest of this entry

,



I own and operate a website called Destination4x4.com.  I started the website about two years ago with the primary goal of keeping my website skill set at a cutting edge of website development.  My past projects include a lot of LAMP based database driven content and custom built shopping carts.  During my time doing web development it became easy to fall upon past skills, knowledge bases and technology, however the results continued to be profitable.  Several years ago, my career path was changed rather dramatically.

I lost a job of 15 years which I loved, and found myself looking for work for the fist time in over a decade.  Fortunately, my job search did not last long and I found myself working in the Gaming Industry here in Nevada.  As new opportunities presented themselves, I was quick to prove my worth and began to flourish in my new job.  However, I could tell that my old skill sets were being diminished as time went on.  As much as I love my new job, it is not a creative endeavor.

To address my own personal needs I decided to start Destination4x4.com.  The site combines several personal points of interest: off road and back country driving, 4x4s, camping, hiking, photography, exploration, history  and website technology.  The primary purpose to personal continuing education, but as an additional side effect, the problem solving and research that I already conduct for my own trips, now has an outlet and can be branded to a property that I own.

Read the rest of this entry

, ,



111174350993_1For years, I have been experimenting with home security and video surveillance systems.  I have seen a variety of them offered on ebay and various manufactures in China, some of which are pretty inexpensive.  However, they all of fail is the usability side and are locked down to such a degree that you can’t update them easily to add new features, and for the mon ey the manufacturers  wont update the software.  Those systems that do run with a large feature set tend to be much more expensive than one can afford for the home.  I have long worried about the safety of my family and house and beyond serving as a means to catch a potential, I also benefit from the system being a deterrent.

Web Enabled

Most of my experimenting was done in ZoneMinder.  ZoneMinder is an open source Linux CCTV security system which  is access via the web.   So, with ZoneMinder, out of the box you have the ability to monitor your video cameras on the Internet, or even a smart phone app.  It supports a variety of cameras including USB, composite video (with additional card), remote camera servers, etc…  So, essentially, any camera configured with ZoneMinder is now online for remote access.

Read the rest of this entry




Overview

For years I have wanted a centralized digital home theater system.  The limitations of almost every component failed for a variety of reasons.  Cost being a big issue, limitations in computer speeds, noise and complexity all played their part in preventing me from getting the system that I wanted.  The biggest issue was not requiring a full blown media center enabled PC on every television in the house.  Even the cheapest PC is several hundred dollars, and you are forced to deal with consumable parts such as hard drives and fans wearing out.  Size is also a big issue, and boot up times is REALLY annoying.  Additionally, even the quietest of PC’s will add at least 30DB’s to the noise of the system by the time you add in several quiet cooling fans, power supplies, spinning hard drives, etc…  The way around this is long cables, dedicated rooms, etc… which is just more cost, complexity, etc…

Read the rest of this entry

, ,



rasppi-voiceLast year, I wrote about cancelling my home phone line with our local provider and replacing this home service using the wonderful “PBX in a Flash” software on a server located in my house.  The original article details the process and hardware utilized.  Of coarse, the overall goal of this project is to cut home phone service costs, provided better phone service.  My wife Heather LOVES receiving voice mail messages on her computer via email.

In practice, there are a few draw backs to the the setup.  The good news is that there are solutions to every problem.

Read the rest of this entry

, , ,