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Thoughts from Steven B. Combs as he goes combsing through the minutia and shares his thoughts on tech, gadgets, Google, higher education, physical computing, and military topics.

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Latest Posts

  • OPEN THE BOX: ClonerAlliance HDML-Cloner Box Pro – March 28, 2020

    Time to open the box on a ClonerAlliance HDML-Cloner Box Pro; a device that promises to be the one device to capture them (video that is) all. Not a full review, just a quick YouTube video to show what’s...

  • 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 print....

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

    In my last post I journaled my experience assembling my new Creality Ender-3 3D printer. As I mentioned in that post, I have never created a 3D print 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...

  • HOWTO: Make a Mac to C.H.I.P. USB OTG serial connection – August 07, 2016

    A key feature of the C.H.I.P. is the 4Gb onboard flash memory. Unlike a Raspberry Pi, the C.H.I.P. does not require a microSD card (making the cost to operate a C.H.I.P. even less than a Raspberry Pi). You simply connect...

  • HOWTO: Project Fi bricks meet Pocket C.H.I.P. – July 30, 2016

    In November of 2015, Project Fi (Google’s mobile phone service), sent out Happy Holidays kits to their users. Inside the kit were Project Fi building bricks. Many folks online inaccurately called them LEGO bricks. These bricks are definitely not...

  • Things to know about your new Pocket C.H.I.P. – June 28, 2016

    I’ve had fun playing with the Pocket C.H.I.P. since it landed on my door. While I do plan to write a full review at some point, for now, I have ten things to share that might be of interest to...

  • Raspberry Pi presentation page now available – June 18, 2016

    On June 17th, I was the guest speaker for our local Columbus area Chamber of Commerce TANK Talk. I was asked to give a presentation about the Raspberry Pi and its use in physical computing, making and education. I...

  • HOWTO: Update your Raspberry Pi OS and software – May 25, 2016

    The Raspberry Pi’s operating system (OS) is a modified version of the open source (free) Debian Linux distribution. Debian includes a package (software) manager know as the advanced packaging tool. This tool is used to update the Raspberry...

  • HOWTO: Change the Terminal font size on Raspberry Pi – May 18, 2016

    If you connect a Raspberry Pi to an HDMI monitor, you may find the terminal font size to be a bit small; especially if the monitor sits a foot or more away. This post demonstrates how to choose a different...

  • An iOS user talks Android – April 30, 2016

    Android has come a long way in the past several years and during that time, there has been a Hatfield/McCoy divide among Android and iOS users. Until recently, the only smart phone I have used is the iPhone. Since standing...

  • HOWTO: Use Gist to archive and share code snippets – April 04, 2016

    This is a short post for those new to coding (Arduino, CSS, HTML, Python, Javascript, Ruby, etc). Lately, I’ve been reactivating my dormant coding skills. As I complete projects and tutorials, I often like to save my code, or snippets...

  • HOWTO: Mirror a monitor connected to a Raspberry Pi on a Mac – March 24, 2016

    There are several tutorials available online that demonstrate how to setup a VNC connection to a Raspberry Pi from a Mac; however, most of them use TightVNC. This is fine if you want to control your Raspberry Pi remotely...

  • HOWTO: Easily install openHAB on a Raspberry Pi – March 20, 2016

    This post shares the process I use to install openHAB, the “vendor and technology agnostic open source automation software for your home,” on a Raspberry Pi 2. While I use the Raspberry Pi 2, this process should work on...

  • BULLET REVIEW: New Trent Arcadia dual port AC charger – February 26, 2016

    New Trent once again provided me with an opportunity to review a new product; the Arcadia dual port AC charger. When I received an email that the product was available for review, I must admit, my decision to...

  • HOWTO: Connect Chromecast to hotel (captive portal) Wi-Fi – November 29, 2015

    The Chromecast, while a great device, has one huge flaw. Unlike the Amazon Fire TV (or Stick), it does not have a way to authenticate into a hotel that has a captive portal web page. This is an omission...

  • BOOK REVIEW: The LEGO Architect – September 19, 2015

    No Starch Press sent me a prerelease copy (release date: September 24th, 2015) of their latest LEGO related title, The LEGO Architect. I AM GLAD THEY DID! Everyone knows that I am a huge fan of Allan Bedford’s

  • HOWTO: Say goodbye to TextExpander and hello to Dash – September 16, 2015

    For several years TextExpander has been my go to Mac text expansion utility. There was a brief switch to aText; however, I came back to TextExpander because it has more polish and better community support. Recently a new...

  • The electronic devices we use – September 15, 2015

    I’m often asked what electronic devices we use on a regular basis. This post lists those devices and provides a bit of information about their use and location in our home. This is a live, and very unorganized, list that...

  • Geeking Out – August 31, 2015

    Last week Julie McClure with our local newspaper, The Republic, stopped by my office for an interview. The original intent of the article was to focus on this blog and the gadgets I review. She became aware of my...

  • The wallpaper that should come with the Project Fi Nexus 6 – August 09, 2015

    I’ve been on the hunt for wallpaper for my Nexus 6 Project Fi phone. There are very few available and my preference is to highlight the Fi logo and add a touch of material design to match Android 5.1.1 Lollipop....

  • HOWTO: Duplicate an Evernote note – July 24, 2015

    Similar to my first Evernote Know How blog post. This is a simple tip, but not immediately obvious. The task today is to simply duplicate a note. There are many reasons to duplicate a note and if you need...

  • REVIEW: New Trent Trentium iPhone 5/5s rugged case – July 12, 2015

    Once again, New Trent sent an opportunity to review one of their products, the New Trent Trentium. I really enjoy their line of iOS accessories and the chance to review their rugged iPhone 5/5s case makes a good...