Windows 8.1 on ASUS Eee PC 1018PB

Although I really like Debian 8 (Jessie) running on my ASUS 1018PB netbook, most of the
software for the things I want to do with this are windows based. Of those that are not,
I just don’t want to take the time to get them properly configured to run in Linux.
With that in mind, I decided to install Windows 8 on my netbook and see what happened.

I purchased a full version of Windows 8.1 from Best Buy and began the installation, deleting the old partitions on my hard disk and creating a single new one. I’m installing the 64-bit version, although for my purposes, the 32-bit version would probably have fit my needs.

As expected, my hot keys did not work – with the exception of the screen brightness keys
(Fn+F5, Fn+F6 and Fn+F7). Following information found on this website, I downloaded the Hotkey service driver version 1.48 for the Eee PC 1225B along with the SuperHybridEngine, driver for same. First, I installed the Hotkey service. Following the required reboot I received a message to install a touchpad driver. Other than the touchpad, all the other hotkeys work. From the link provided on the above website, I downloaded and installed the Elantech Touchpad driver, version for Windows 7 32/64.

Interestingly, the touchpad is disabled when I use an external mouse. It also doesn’t enable when the mouse is unplugged. This isn’t a huge issue for me. I restarted the computer with the external mouse unplugged and the touchpad seems to work fine then. The only problem is that I still cannot get the touchpad hotkey (Fn+F3) to work. When pressed, the on-screen display shows “Touch pad ON” every time I press the keys. It doesn’t toggle between on and off. In any case, this is not a deal breaker – at least not yet.

I then installed the SuperHybridEngine driver and that is working fine, toggling between Super Performance, High Performance, Power Saving, and Auto High-Performance.

Now it’s time to install some SDR software.

Returning to Radio Monitoring

While going through the boxes in storage looking for my music CDs I found some of my Software Defined Radio (SDR) gear. My Afedri-SDR-Net receiver, a NooElec R820T RTL-SDR USB dongle and a NooElec 100MHz Upconverter for the RTL-SDR. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my antennas or any of the other hardware I had. Looking on I found a newer NooElec RTL-SDR with an antenna for less than I could buy just an antenna, so I bought that. I also purchased two ebooks, Radio On A Tight Budget: RTL-SDR For Everyone and The Hobbyist’s Guide to the RTL-SDR: Really Cheap Software Defined Radio.

I’m currently living in an apartment, so I’m limited to some type of indoor antenna. That will be my next project.

From previous experience, SDR software for Mac is very limited. Before moving to North Dakota, I had used SDRdx, but i will not work with an SDR-RTL dongle. Since most of the software is written for the Microsoft Windows platform I have used BootCamp to set up my iMac to dual-boot Windows 8.1 and OS X Yosemite. On the Windows side I have installed SDR# (SDR Sharp) per the recommendations of the above books along with CubicSDR which is a cross-platform SDR software. This is also installed on my Netbook running Debian 8 and the OS X partition on my iMac.

One of the sites I’m following is as I get back into this hobby.

Rebuilding my iTunes Music Library

About two weeks ago, I got the wild idea to update my iTunes music library. I had been using iTunes Match, and noticed that I now had duplicates for a lot of my music. I decided to turn off iTunes Match and re-rip my CD collection. In the process I was going to rip the CDs with Apple’s Lossless codec (ALAC). After getting the boxes of CDs out of storage, I began ripping. After setting my iTunes preferences to begin ripping when a CD is inserted in the drive and to encode using the ALAC codec I began. I also created a spreadsheet to track what music I had ripped.

If the CD I was ripping was already in my iTunes library, iTunes would ask if I wanted to replace the tracks to which I would answer yes. Upon checking later, I discovered that somehow, not all of my “lossy” (AAC) music has been replaced and I now had duplicates of some songs in both ACC and ALAC. After deleting the ACC files I then began deleting the CD from my library (and moving the files to the trash) before ripping the CD back into iTunes. As of this post I have ripped 253 CDs and I still have one box left.

When finished, the only ACC or MP3 files I will have are those for which I don’t have a CD. I have created three “smart playlists” for the file types “lossless” (ALAC & FLAC), “AAC” and “MPEG”. I will then begin to get CDs to replace my ACC and MP3 files.

Although I’m not sure if I can hear the difference between the lossy and lossless formats I want to keep my music as close to the original as possible.

Switch From Arch to Debian

A few weeks ago I switched from Arch Linux to Debian 8 (Jessie). This was a difficult choice for me, but some software I wanted to use was not available in Arch. Another plus is that with the Debian install the hotkey to deactivate the touchpad works! I installed Debian with the Mate Desktop and I am very happy with how it runs on my Asus 1018P.

Frazier Hunting Site Merged

I have a hard enough time maintaining one blog, so I have decided to close my genealogy blog “Frazier Hunting” and make all posts here on this blog. Since I had not posted anything since my welcome message I’ll copy that information below.

The surnames I will be researching are:

Frazier – My paternal grandfather’s line.
Eldredge – My paternal grandmother’s line.
Vernon – My maternal grandfather’s line.
Siddoway – My maternal grandmother’s line.

As of this post, I am taking a break from my research.

Asus Eeepc Update

I finally settled on a setup for my Asus 1018P. I’m running a very minimal install of Arch Linux with the Awesome window manager. I’m using Lightdm as my login manager and wicd for networking. Currently, the only applications I have installed that were not part of the base install are Chromium and Firefox browsers, xterm and urxvt terminals, and Geeqie as my image viewer.  I also managed to do some editing to my rc.lua file and create a theme personalized theme.

I am not planning on making any other changes for a while, and will be using this for basic web surfing and learning the Python programming language.

Arch Linux on an ASUS Eee-PC 1018P

Over the last 10 days I’ve been playing with different installs of Linux on my ASUS Eee-PC 1018P.  From past experiences, I have found that I really like “minimal” desktops with my favorite being Openbox. Another window manager that I wanted to test more with was awesome. The only drawback  to either of these was I couldn’t find a way to disable my touch pad. Being able to disable this is a must for me. as the touch pad seems hyper-sensitive and when ever I am typing the cursor jumps all over the screen.  I was only able to disable my touch pad using the GNOME Desktop Environment.

I began with an install of Debian 7.0 (Wheezy). Wheezy ran great, and I didn’t have any issues with my hot keys, but I really wanted something a little more “current”. I also wasn’t sure if I liked the GNOME 3 desktop.

I next tried Linux Mint with the MATE desktop, which is forked from the GNOME 2 desktop. I liked the looks of this, but some of my hot keys didn’t work.

I then installed Arch Linux.  The first time I installed the MATE desktop, installing the “mate-panel” package which is a minimal desktop shell according to the Arch Wiki entry. I installed this package because from past experiences installing GNOME  has installed a lot of stuff that I didn’t want or need.  After the install I found I did indeed have a minimal install like I wanted, but the hot key to disable my touch pad wasn’t working.

I next tried the GNOME desktop.  With this install all of the hot keys I use worked, but there was just something I didn’t like visually. I stayed with this setup but I still wanted to go back to either Openbox or Awesome as my window manager (WM).

This morning, a thought came to me that there should be a way to disable the touch pad other than using the hot key, so I began researching.  I found my answer on the Advanced configuration section of the Arch Wiki Touchpad Synaptics page! I could use the xinput command to enable and disable my touchpad.  I have created an alias for each command and added it to my .bashrc.

I’m going to do a clean reinstall on my netbook over the weekend.

Back to Linux

I recently found my old ASUS Eee PC that I had packed away when we moved.  It had Debian GNU/Linux installed, but I can’t remember my password.  I think I’m going to install Arch Linux on it now. While I’m at it, I’m installing Arch on a Parallels virtual machine (VM) on my iMac. I’ll use this as a testing environment.  It has been a couple of years since I’ve done anything with Linux.

Model Railroad

When I was a boy, my parents gave me a Lionel train set for Christmas. This was the old 3-rail type with a steam locomotive and tender, gondola, boxcar and caboose. (It may also have a tank car, but I can’t remember for sure and the set is now in storage.) There were drops or tablets that you could put in the smoke stack and the locomotive would then produce “smoke” as the train ran around the track. I only had enough track to make a loop, no switches. Being a boy, I spent my time running the train as fast as it would go trying to get it to jump the rails in the curves. That train set is now showing the abuse I gave it. Some of the couplers were broken and are now glued in the closed position. One corner of the locomotive “roof” was broken off also. But last I checked, it still runs!

In my teens (1970’s), I began reading Model Railroading Magazine and decided I wanted to build a “real” model railroad like I saw in the magazines. The problem was there wasn’t any spare room, let alone a basement, in my parent’s house and I wasn’t aware of the idea of a shelf-layout at the time. I finally convinced my parents to let me build a layout in the garage. This would be a HO layout following a track plan I had seen in one of the magazines. It would be suspended from the ceiling using ropes and a pulley system. This would allow it to be pulled up to allow parking the car in the garage and lowered to run the trains.  I got as far as building the  and roadbed, using the “cookie-cutter” method.  One of my friends has also began to purchase some locomotives and rolling stock along with some structure kits.  There was no pre-planning and thing were bought based on what was in the hobby shop and caught our eye.  The layout never got any further and was eventually dismantled. I can’t remember the exact model of locomotive, but it was an Atlas EMD GP in Union Pacific livery. Even then, I had planned on modeling the modern era.  I had no interest in steam or transition era modeling.  I kept that locomotive until July of 2014 when I donated it to a local club just before we moved from Texas to North Dakota.

Time moves on and I still haven’t built a layout.  I’ve started planning on several different occasions but have never gotten past the design phase. No construction and no purchases.

Hopefully in 2015 this will change. I’ve become inspired by Lance Mindheim’s books and website and I am looking forward to building a shelf-layout of my own.  When I get settled on a name and location for my railroad I plan on creating a website for that. In the meantime, I’ll post my thoughts and progress here.