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Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

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Latest Posts

  • retroCombs: MEGA 65 Open the box, assembly, and first use – December 01, 2020

    I’m really excited! I mean, 15 year-old boy excited. That’s how I felt while opening the box, unpacking, assembling, and turning on the new MEGA 65 developer’s kit (DevKit) for the first time. Seriously, I’ve not been that excited about...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual Chapter 6 - Beginning BASIC Programming – November 25, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode and companion blog post, I cover Chapter 6, Beginning BASIC Programming, of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, we begin where everyone should with their Commodore computer; learning the BASIC programming language....

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: WYZE Headphones – November 22, 2020

    It’s time for another WYZE product OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE. This time, it’s the WYZE Headphones. As an early backer, I received a pair faster than most; however, you can now purchase your own pair and according to...

  • FAST LOAD: Upgrade THEC64 mini firmware (v.1.4.2) – November 11, 2020

    One of my favorite retro-computing devices of 2019 was THEC64 mini. I love that it was a mini recreation of the Commodore 64 that not only looked like the original, but when plugged into an HDMI monitor, would also...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual Chapter 5 - Numbers and Calculations – October 25, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 5 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, Number and Calculation, I learn how to use the Plus/4 as a calculator in immediate mode, create a function, and learn...

  • retroCombs: FAST LOAD - Install DirMaster on Linux – October 22, 2020

    There are many modern retro-computing applications available that run (see what I did there?) on modern computers to support our hobby. Longtime retroCombs readers and watcherknow I like to take a modern spin on retro-computing and...

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Chromecast with Google TV (and the Google TV Android app) – October 11, 2020

    During Google’s 2020 “Launch Night In” event, the Chromecast with Google TV was announced. Not a surprise, not much is anymore; however, even when the whispers of this device echoed in the halls of the Internet, I was intrigued....

  • retroCombs: TEDuino: A Modern TED (264) Series Commodore Datasette – October 06, 2020

    As part of my Commodore Plus/4 series, chapter three of the user’s manual includes a section on using a Commodore Datasette. In a previous post, I assembled the modern replacement for the Datasette, the Tapuino. “What’s a Tapuino,”...

  • REVIEW: Lenovo YOGA TAB with Google Assistant – September 26, 2020

    I posted an “open-the-box” video for the Lenovo Smart Tab with Google Assistant. In the video, I mention a follow-up video review. Many folks called me out for not producing this video so I decided to provide my review as...

  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: VictSing Wireless (USB and Bluetooth) Mouse – September 19, 2020

    My trusty 2010 Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 gave up the electronic ghost this past week. Over time, the device became less trustworthy. Is ten years the life span of an electronic rodent? Not sure, but the mouse served me...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 4 - Getting Started – August 30, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 4 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. In this chapter, Getting Started I, “begin to acquaint you with some of the characteristics and capabilities of the Plus/4, and how to take...

  • OPEN THE BOX (BAG): ORIA Precision Screwdriver Set, 86in1 Magnetic Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag – August 29, 2020

    This is the companion blog post for a quick open the box (bag) video, streamed on YouTube live, for the $25 ORIA Precision Screwdriver Set, 86 in 1 Magnetic Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag (#Ad). In this video...

  • OPEN THE BOX and SETUP: WYZE Cam Outdoor (Squirrel Cam One) – August 17, 2020

    I’m a WYZE fan! Except for the WYZE Lock (#Ad), I “reckon” I have at least one of every product and not because they are sent to me to review–I purchase every WYZE product I review. Although, if you...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 3 - Using Software – August 02, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 3 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. This chapter is dedicated to Using Software and there are several ways to load and save software using; cartridges, datasettes, and diskettes. In this...

  • OPEN THE (ADA) BOX: Adafruit Industries ADA BOX 015 – July 31, 2020

    I don’t know why I started my subscription to Adafruit’s ADA BOX plan so late in the game with box #014. To make it happen, I cancelled the subscription to the Field Notes Quarterly and reallocated this “fun-money”...

  • OPEN THE BOX: TASCAM DR-40X four track linear PCM digital audio recorder – July 28, 2020

    I purchased another tool to add to my podcast and YouTube tool chest, the TASCAM DR-40X audio recorder (#Ad). In the short video below, I open the box, share some accessories, and attempt to turn the unit on, and...

  • retroCombs: The Tapuino Project - Build an Arduino powered Commodore Datasette clone for the Commodore Plus/4 – July 19, 2020

    As part of my Commodore Plus/4 series, chapter three of the user’s manual includes a section on using a Commodore Datasette and a 1541 Diskette Drive. In a previous post, I assembled the modern replacement for the disk...

  • HOWTO: Easy to Build LEGO Minifig Display with IKEA Lustigt – July 06, 2020

    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything LEGO related. I wouldn’t say that I’m in my “dark years;” however, my LEGO hobby has been put on hold for some pressing work concerns and priority with other hobbies (I have way...

  • retroCombs: Create a blank .c64 disk image for the Pi1541 or SD2IEC – June 27, 2020

    In my last post and video, I shared my experience with the assembly and first use of a Commodore4Ever Pi1541 for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Not familiar with the device? Take look here for more information.

    ...
  • retroCombs: Pi1541 Assembly and First Use – June 21, 2020

    In this supplemental episode to my Commodore Plus/4 series, I share my experiences assembling the Pi1541 Hat for a Raspberry Pi Zero. In the episode, I solder a pin connector onto the Raspberry Pi Zero, solder and...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 2 - Using the Keyboard and the Screen – June 10, 2020

    In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 2 in the user’s manual entitled, Using the Keyboard and the Screen. This chapter is chock full of keyboard instructions to help the user move around the screen, change text highlighting,...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 1 - Unpacking and Setting Up – June 04, 2020

    In the next Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I open the Commodore Plus/4 manual for the first time to look at Chapter 1: Unpacking and Setting Up. Since the previous episode was an Open the Box, unpacking is already complete...

  • Creating my YouTube retroCombs video bumper – June 02, 2020

    On 2020-05-23, I began a new series of YouTube videos about the Commodore Plus/4. You can learn more about the first episode and the series here. In preparation of that series, I created a video bumper; a short 14...

  • retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 0 - Open the Box – May 23, 2020

    Today I unveil the first in a new theme of posts, retroCombs. This theme is devoted to my love of retro computing and gaming. I have a couple of retro posts on the blog, but now I have a...

  • HOWTO: Install Super Retroboy on the Retroflag GPi Case – May 16, 2020

    This blog post is a companion page to two YouTube videos and provides all the links and additional information necessary for you to install Super RetroPie on a microSD card that will power a RetroFlag GPi Case for...

  • HOWTO: Level a Creality Ender 3 Surface Bed and Print a Commodore VIC-20 Key Plunger – May 02, 2020

    Since I finally have my process working consistently, it is time to share how I level the bed on my Creality Ender-3 (#Ad) 3D printer with Creality Upgraded 3D Printer Platform Heated Bed Build Surface Glass Plate (#Ad)...

  • FIRST USE: Xfinity Flex Video Streamer – April 30, 2020

    In my last blog post, I shared my YouTube OPEN THE BOX video for the Xfinity Flex video streaming device. This blog post and companion video serves as a follow-up for those interested in this streamer. In the video,...

  • OPEN THE BOX: Xfinity Flex – April 24, 2020

    Two weeks ago, an email arrived from Xfinity. This isn’t unusual. I’m an Internet only customer (cord-cutter) with electronic billing. The message contained an offer for an Xfinity Flex. A what? What in the world is a Flex and how...

  • FIRST USE: Cloner Alliance Box Pro (a good tool for retro-computing fans?) – April 21, 2020

    In a previous blog post, I shared my YouTube OPEN THE BOX video on the Cloner Alliance Box Pro (#Ad). After posting that video, several readers and YouTube watchers (well a couple anyway) asked if I planned a...

  • LINUX TIP: Turn the Caps Lock key into a launcher key – April 14, 2020

    As a guy who uses multiple platforms (Mac OS, ChromeOS, and Elementary OS), I like to ensure that my typing muscle memory remains the same across platforms. On each of these platforms I use the following launchers:

    • Mac OS »...
  • OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE: Wyze Scale and Wyze Band – April 13, 2020

    I’ve created a new OPEN THE BOX and FIRST USE video and it’s a twofer! Last week I received two packages from Wyze Labs (makers of the insanely cool an inexpensive Wyze Cams (#Ad) and Plugs (#Ad)): A...

  • HOWTO & OPEN THE BOX: Convert a Wyze Cam Black into a webcam with Wyze's new firmware – April 05, 2020

    On March 31, 2019 and during the height of COVID-19, the folks who make the popular Wyze cam (#Ad) released a firmware update that allows you to convert their popular security camera into a webcam. This is a nice...

  • OPEN THE BOX: Cloner Alliance Box Pro – March 28, 2020

    Time to open the box on a Cloner Alliance Box Pro (#Ad); a device that promises to be the one device to capture them all (video that is). This post is not a full review, just a few thoughts...

  • BUILD & CODE: Elegoo Arduino starter kit servo, LED, and encoder project – March 15, 2020

    Expanding on my previous OPEN THE BOX and LED and pushbutton Arduino projects, this post provides instructions to control a servo motor with and encoder on an ELEGOO Arduino Mega 2560; with a twist (pun intended)!

    This project...

  • OPEN THE BOX: Keychron K2 keyboard for Mac – February 29, 2020

    It was time to get a new Mac keyboard. I’ve been using the same Matias One Keyboard for iPhone and Mac for many years. Back in the day, the Matias had a few unique design features and the keyboard provided...

  • OPEN THE BOX: Lenovo YOGA TAB with Google Assistant – February 09, 2020

    It’s time. Time to leave the iOS tablet ecosystem. I’ve used an iPad for the entire 10 years of the device’s life and have moved from an original iPad to a 9.7 inch iPad Pro. I’ve not used an iOS...

  • What's in my technology travel bag? – February 02, 2020

    Because of my love of technology, and especially Chrome OS devices, I’ve been asked what technology I take on the road. That question was the perfect opportunity for a short blog post and picture. First, here’s an image of...

  • HOWTO: Install Arduino IDE on Chrome OS - now with device support! – January 20, 2020

    After my previous Arduino IDE post, I wondered if I could now install the latest version of the Arduino IDE on Chrome OS using the Crostini Linux VM. In the past, you could use the apt package...

  • BUILD & CODE: Arduino Hello World! (build-code-operate) – January 20, 2020

    A project that brand-new Arduino users often complete is to connect an LED to the board and create a program to turn on the LED. This is the Arduino’s equivilent of the programmer’s “Hello World!”” I wanted the first...

  • OPEN THE BOX: Elegoo Arduino Mega Starter Kit – January 11, 2020

    I am priviledged to have the opportunity teach a course at our local Purdue Polytechnic Columbus campus. The course is TECH 120: Design Thinking in Technology. The focus of the course is to create solutions to modern problems, using software...

  • HOWTO: Install the Arduino IDE on Ubuntu Mate – December 31, 2019

    It is possible to install the Arduino IDE from the default Ubuntu repositories using sudo apt install arduino; however, what you will install is a woefully “out-of-date” version. Let’s install the most “up-to-date” software so we can take...

  • BULLET REVIEW: The AuKing $52 LCD Projector – October 19, 2019

    A couple of years ago, we received the Star Shower Window Wonderland (#Ad) as a gift from family members who knew our love of holiday decorations. We used this little single-use projector for both Halloween and Christmas. It served...

  • Creality Ender-3 build surface upgrade – June 08, 2019

    I mentioned in my last post that my new Creality Ender-3 3D printer build surface is warped. I blame myself because when I removed fresh prints, I would often bend the build surface slightly to remove the new...

  • HOWTO: Set up the Creality Ender-3 for first print – June 02, 2019

    In my last post I journaldocumented my experience assembling my new Creality Ender-3 3D printer. As I mentioned in that post, I have no experience with 3D printer and have no idea what to do first. Luckily, a...

  • HOWTO: Assemble the Creality Ender-Pro 3D Printer – May 29, 2019

    I purchased my first 3D Printer over the 2019 Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been researching 3D printers for over 18 months and found it difficult to choose a brand and model. I have been searching for a printer that meets...

  • My Android TV remote chart – February 22, 2019

    In episode 0012 of my podcast, Pixel Power Podcast, I share my experiences with several Android TV remotes. While preparing for the episode, I created a Google Sheet to compare the features of each remote I tried....

  • I am podcasting again – December 17, 2018

    Some may remember that many years ago Nikki and I had a podcast centered around Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL). After a long hiatus away from the microphone, I decided to return; but with a brand new subject: Google services...

  • SKETCHNOTE: Civic Lab Training – June 18, 2018

    The CivicLab provided our college with some excellent community engagement skills today. A quick description is below:

    CivicLab is an institute dedicated to advancing the practice of civic collaboration. Led by a team of pragmatic practitioners, CivicLab creates...

  • HOWTO: Prepare for NaNoWriMo 2017 – October 22, 2017

    During February 2017, I announced that I will write my first work of fiction. This became official in a blog post on this site and on Facebook to my friends and family. This announcement was designed to keep me...

  • HOWTO: Remove previous recipients from Apple Mail – July 31, 2017

    Here’s a quick tip for those who may be battling the “previous recipients issue” in Apple Mail. For those not familiar with the issue, let me give you a quick example.

    You compose a message in Apple Mail and...