FRC helps me know who not to vote for

Yesterday I received an FRC Action Alert email (i.e., Family Research Council) that wasn’t the usual request to pray the gay away. Instead it directed me to that would help me “vote my values”. Which is Christian dog whistle meaning “vote for people who will legislate to shove Jebus/Jesus/God/Yahweh down everyones throats”.

I was ecstatic. Unlike most email from the FRC that link was something I could actually use. Specifically, I could use it to avoid inadvertently voting for theocrats intent on subverting the secular principles our nation was founded upon.

I currently reside in Santa Clara, CA. Not surprisingly the recommendations for me were 100% Republican candidates. At least where the party affiliation matters. Where the political party is not listed (e.g., California Supreme Court) their advice tells me who not to vote for.

I despise people who mindlessly vote for the political party they belong to. It is fine to use party affiliation as a tie breaker if you can’t otherwise decide between candidates. But to use party affiliation as your sole or even primary consideration for who to vote for marks you not as a citizen but an unthinking member of a tribe. A tribe member likely to be used as cannon fodder.

Sadly todays Republican party has been suffering from prion disease since the 1980’s when Saint Ronald Reagan was elected. The disease hasn’t been treated and the Republican party has entered stage four wherein the crazy is most pronounced and a peaceful death is, hopefully, imminent. We should do what we can to hasten that end by not voting for a Republican candidate unless the other candidates are certifiably insane.

Fixing PS3 controller assignments when using an Auvio enabled remote

Recently I purchased an AUVIO Universal Remote Receiver for Playstation 3 to make it easy to use my Logitech Harmony remote control with my Sony Playstation 3 (PS3). In this post I described the challenge of doing the initial setup given the odd mapping of Sony BluRay player commands to PS3 commands. In particular, the mapping of “Stop” to the PS3 “X” button which is typically used as an “enter” or “execute” function for most PS3 software.

What I didn’t mention in that previous post is that the Auvio receiver ends up being the first controller. Which means the PS3 Dual-Shock gamepad ends up being controller number two. That makes the PS3 gamepad unusable in the single-player games I’ve tried to date (e.g., “The Last Of Us”). The PS3 gamepad has to be assigned as controller number one to be usable in a game.

What I decided to do was create a sequence of commands and assign them to a “soft button” (i.e., touchscreen button) on my “Play a DVD/PS3” activity. This means that I can

  1. Use my Logitech Harmony remote to power up my TV and audio receiver and set them to the correct inputs and setting.
  2. Press the “home” button my PS3 gamepad to power up my PS3.
  3. When the PS3 has finished booting press the “PS3 fix controller number” soft button on my remote control to do what the name implies.

The “PS3 fix controller number” sequence on my remote control is programmed to send these commands:

  • 7 left commands (“DirectionLeft”)
  • 8 down commands (“DirectionDown”)
  • 1 button X (“Stop”)
  • 1 down command (“DirectionDown”)
  • 1 button X (“Stop”)
  • 1 up command (“DirectionUp”)
  • 1 button X (“Stop”)
  • 1 left command (“DirectionLeft”)
  • 4 right commands (“DirectionRight”)

Using an Auvio receiver and Logitech Harmony remote to control a PS3

Update: See my second post where I talk about dealing with the Auvio receiver always being assigned as the first controller. Which tends to make the PS3 gamepad unusable inside a single-player game.

A Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) is a decent Blu-Ray DVD player in addition to being a game console. So it would be nice if you could use your normal infrared remote control to play and interact with DVDs. The AUVIO Universal Remote Receiver for Playstation 3 is one way to achieve that goal.

However, there are two problems. First, neither the Auvio user guide, nor the top rated review on Amazon for the product, make it clear that you need to distinguish between the command being sent and the purpose of the button on the remote control (as indicated by its label or ideogram). Yes, this may be obvious to a tech savvy person accustomed to setting up complicated A/V systems. But an average person is likely to be confused by the idea that you can assign the “stop” action to the “ok” button on their remote.

The second, and more serious problem, is that the Auvio receiver maps the remote controls “stop” command to the “X” button which is generally used as the “enter” or “select” action on a PS3. The Auvio also maps the remote controls “ok/enter” command to the “O” button which is generally used as a back “back” or “cancel” action. So if your Logitech Harmony remote has an “OK” button you do not want to assign the “ok/enter” command (the “O” button on a PS3 controller) to it. You want to assign the “stop” command (the “X” button on a PS3 controller) to the “OK” button on the remote. This is obviously counterintuitive. Similarly you want to assign the remote controls “ok/enter” command to the “stop” and “back” buttons on the remote control.

Setting up a Robomow RC306 robotic lawn mower

It isn’t obvious how to setup a new Robomow RC306 (or RC302 or RC304) when you can’t place the charging station according to the instructions. The directions assume you can place the charging station along the path of the perimeter wire. If you have to place the base station elsewhere, such as in your garage, it isn’t at all obvious how to set things up. The user manual focuses exclusively on how to set things up so the mower will automatically leave and return to the charging station.

The solution is straightforward and obvious once you ask Robomow’s customer service department. You’ll probably need a second perimeter switch. In my case I continued to use the one I installed for my old Robomow RM200. Put the power box for the new RC306 near the charging station (in my case that means in the garage). Press the power box on/off button for two seconds to disable automatic operation (section 7.3 on page 36 of the user manual). Press the power box on/off button for ten seconds to disable the error buzzer (section 7.2 on page 36) since you won’t be connecting the perimeter wire to the power box and won’t want to listen to the error buzzer whenever the Robomow isn’t docked.

Last but not least configure and use a “separated zone” for mowing. This can be done using the buttons on the mower but I recommend using the iOS or Android app. Using a separated zone will keep the mower from hunting for the charging station at the end of the mowing cycle. Then simply use the smartphone/tablet app to navigate between the charging station and the lawn or, since the mower isn’t very heavy, just carry it whenever you want to mow the lawn (mostly) unattended. When starting a mowing cycle use the second (“L2”) zone you defined.

P.S., Why did I write this article? I broke my Robomow RM200 when I replaced the batteries. Specifically, I broke the bumper pressed detector when I didn’t exercise enough care in removing the cover over the batteries and electronics. Since it was over five years old I decided to replace the whole unit rather than repair it. Because the RM200 didn’t support automated recharging and scheduled mowings (at least not without spending more money for its optional base station) I simply shuttled it between my garage and front lawn. The RM200 user manual assumes this is how it will be set up. Thus the issue of not having the charging station located along the path of the perimeter wire had not been an issue.

Changing the title of this blog

I originally chose “Life Itself” because I started this blog shortly after seeing the movie about Roger Ebert’s life. That movie is a must see for anyone who still watches movies (excluding crap like “Transformers”) in a theatre. And, frankly, I was at something of a loss for a pithy title. But after some reflection I’ve decided to change the name to something that better reflects what I find important:

  • my love of dogs, and
  • my atheism.

Hence the new name “Dog Is My Copilot”.