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Thoughts from Steven as he goes "combsing through the minutia" to discover tech, retro-computing, gadgets, Google, higher education, physical computing, and sci-fi.

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Latest Posts

  • retroCombs: Commodore Plus/4 - 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. In the short video below, I open the box, share some accessories, and attempt to turn the unit on, and record...

  • retroCombs: The Tapuino Project - Build an Arduino powered Commodore Datasette clone – July 19, 2020

    As part of my Commodore Plus/4 series, chapter three, of the user’s manual, includes a sections on using a datasette and a disk drive. In a previous post, I created the modern replacement for the disk drive, now...

  • 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: Commodore Plus/4 - 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: Commodore Plus/4 - 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: Commodore Plus/4 - Part 1, 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 3D printer with Creality Upgraded 3D Printer Platform Heated Bed Build Surface Glass Plate upgrade. If...

  • 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. After posting that video, several readers and YouTube watchers (well a couple anyway) asked if I planned a follow-up...

  • 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 and Plugs): A Wyze Scale...

  • 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 released a firmware update that allows you to convert their popular security camera into a webcam. This is a nice philanthropic...

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

    Time to open the box on a Cloner Alliance Box Pro; 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 and...

  • 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 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 us...

  • 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...

  • RETRO: Commodore VIC-20 eBay purchase – July 26, 2017

    I’ve been reminiscing about my first computer, the Commodore VIC-20, since deciding my first work of fiction will take place during the 1980s. During a hot July weekend in 2017, I decided to scratch my retro computer itch...

  • REVIEW: Relive the 1980s with a Unicomp Keyboard – July 09, 2017

    I’m a keyboard nerd. I enjoy trying different keyboards with different key mechanisms. I have fond memories of an IBM keyboard I used as a student worker at Murray State University back in the 1980s. While I wasn’t as obsessed...

  • I am writing a book, and sharing a Ulysses tip – July 04, 2017

    Today I announce, I am writing a book! Yes, I’ve written books in the past, but this is my first piece of fiction. I’ve been working on the plot, scenes, characters, themes and research since February 20th, 2017; a...

  • 2016 top 10 posts – December 31, 2016

    Today I took a look at the 2016 top 10 posts on StevenCombs.com. Review of top posts is an annual event. This year though, I decided to create a post to capture and share. Below is a list...

  • My favorite gadgets of 2016 – December 18, 2016

    This past year brought many gadgets into our home. As the year winds up, I decided to share my favorites and those I use on a regular basis. Some of these were purchased prior to 2016, but remain useful. I...

  • BOOK REVIEW: The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book – December 01, 2016

    In the past year, No Starch Press sent both The LEGO Architect and Geeky LEGO Crafts: 21 Fun and Quirky Projects for a review. On October 6, 2016, I also found Chris McVeigh’s new book, The...

  • Three week thoughts on the Google Pixel – November 13, 2016

    The new Google Pixel smartphone arrived on my door step October 21, 2016; a day after the official release. I preordered the phone the next day. As Google made the phone demonstration at their October 4 event (see video below),...

  • REVIEW: Field Notes Sweet Tooth memo books – October 09, 2016

    Rhodia has replaced the Moleskine brand as my new favorite notebooks. I currently use a Rhodia Black Webnotebook 5.5 inch x 8.3 inch Dot Grid. I enjoy the Rhodia because of its high quality assembly, thick/no-bleed/gloss paper and...

  • SKETCHNOTE: Exhibit Columbus – October 03, 2016

    I created this sketchnote during the Friday, September 30th, 2016 morning session of Exhibit Columbus. The Exhibit Columbus website describes this event as, “an annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community with programming that alternates between symposium and...

  • BOOK REVIEW: Geeky LEGO Crafts – October 02, 2016

    Each year before the holidays begin, No Starch Press sends me a review copy of their latest LEGO title. Last year it was the The LEGO Architect and this year it is, Geeky LEGO Crafts: 21 Fun...

  • SKETCHNOTE: Edward Tufte seminar – September 01, 2016

    On Friday, August 26th, 2016 I had the opportunity to attend the EDWARD TUFTE: PRESENTING DATA AND INFORMATION one-day seminar at the Westin in Chicago, Illinois. I generated a sketchnote during the session as I will describe below.

  • HOWTO: Program C.H.I.P. with Python to control LED – August 14, 2016

    The C.H.I.P. packs a lot of power into a tiny board that includes both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s the perfect combination of small size and performance to power physical computing projects.

    I recently built a tracked robotic platform, shown...

  • HOWTO: Fish on C.H.I.P.s – August 13, 2016

    The PocketC.H.I.P. keyboard can be a bit of bear when trying to enter long commands in the Terminal. C.H.I.P. comes with bash as the default Terminal shell (as do most Debian Linux distributions). However, we are not confined...