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.

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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…

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rasppiFor months I considered purchasing a Raspberry Pi single board computer.  For the unaware, the Raspberry Pi is a single board computer, which is amazingly inexpensive ($35) and reasonably powerful for its size and cost.  The design concept was to create a small, inexpensive computer to use as a learning tool for children.  The back-story is really cool and a great example of how things should be done, well worth the read.

The Raspberry Pi Model B is a 700Mhz ARM1176JZF-S core processor with 512 MB of ram.  It has an HDMI and RCA video out, built in Ethernet, 2 USB connections and audio out.  Storage is done with an SD card and powered by a 5 Volt, micro USB connection.

The first thing to know about the Raspberry Pi, is that this is all about cost for them.  So, there is nothing extra in the package.  When ordered, your will get the ‘board’, no power cord, no SD card, no case, nothing.  This is not a pick one up from Best Buy and plug it in kind of computer.  But that is part of its charm, and the intent behind it, is to teach kids how to work with computers.

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vmfullRecently, I inherited a project which caused a bit of nervousness.  I inherited a custom compiled application with a set of dependencies that can’t be fulfilled with modern Linux distributions.  This program needed to compiled against MySQL headers for version 3.23.   To compile the program, it was determined that the best solution was FreeBSD 6.2.  This was the last version of FreeBSD which supported the required libraries.  I did try other distributions included Suse, Gentoo and Redhat, but I ran into circular dependencies issues which precluded this use.  However, the HCL for FreeBSD 6.2 is a little old at this point.

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