Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vonets VOPWRT and How I Spent $8

Forgive the brevity. I don't want to waste much more time on this subject
  • I have WiFi.
  • I have a device that is old and doesn't support WiFi
  • I have experience mucking around in OpenWRT and have setup a few devices.

I figured I'd take this bullet list and put it to good use.
I went on eBay and found an $8 piece of hardware that uses OpenWRT. The Vonets VOPWRT. You won't find much information on Google about it. That should have been a red flag.

The first step of this project was to get this VOPWRT box on my WiFi. Start it up. Connect to the config as listed on the bottom of the box and try.

Try it again. Reset the firmware to factory. Try again the next day. Try again a different way. Try again a third way. Try a couple more different ways and fail. Try via command line stuff. Try again. Give up.

Decide to try upgrading the firmware. Checking the OpenWRT wiki where it lists the device. No supported version of it, but what ever. The version with mt7620a_mt7530 in the name sounds promising as it aligns with the specs listed. Download that and attempt to upgrade.

Flash the image to the device. Notice the upgrade seems to go fine. Watch as the device reboots and it is bricked. Open up the box. Notice no screws so you know it is a high quality product. Note the 3 empty antenna structures clearly designed to make you think it pumps out a great signal.

Take out the 8GB MicroSD card.
Throw everything else away.
Vow to not waste your money on more piece of garbage electronics

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Lubuntu Rythmbox Fix for AutoAudioSink and GStreamer

sudo apt-get install gstreamer1.0-alsa

FWIW, this is what happened to me installing Lubuntu 14.04 from a USB stick.

Did you install Rythmbox in Lubuntu and find that you can't use it because you get an error that says "Couldn't start playback" - "Failed to create autoaudiosink element; check your GStreamer installation" instead?

I did, and it was annoying. Couldn't find any real help anywhere no matter how much I searched. Eventually I stumbled across a bug report for it when I used the correct combination of magical keywords (not the autoaudiosink/gstreamer error). Hopefully you find this post faster now and it solves your problems.

The short version of the bug report is that Rythmbox isn't installed by default so they shouldn't support it by default and it acts differently than the audio players they do support, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ for now.

Rythmbox is trying to find an interface to output the audio. It knows that GStreamer has been installed and it tries to use it. Lubuntu's installation of GStreamer and fails trying to grab an autoaudiosink, whatever that is.

So you just need to give GStreamer a little something else to play with. Install the ALSA driver (make sure you restart Rythmbox) and go about your buisness.
sudo apt-get install gstreamer1.0-alsa

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Art of Getting a Deal on a Sleep Number Bed

I've been through the process of buying a Sleep Number bed and in hindsight, this is how you should do it. If I followed these instructions I'd have been better off.

I don't and haven't worked for Sleep Number but the business model is pretty transparent.

Give Yourself a 3-4 Month Window To Buy a Bed

The Sleep Number people want you to buy a bed now. They'll tell you the best sale is right now but the truth is that all their sales are pretty similar. It's your job to take a look at them from a wider view.

Visit a Store with a Reliable Alibi

Get into whatever mall has the Sleep Number store and let the sales person give you the whole 9-yards and let you lay in all the beds. Come into the store knowing you are NOT going to buy a bed. You'll get less of a hard sale from the store if you tell them why you can't buy a bed (you could be closing on a house or moving to a bigger apartment in 2 months and don't have room to store it). Figure out which range of mattresses you prefer. Thank the salesperson for their time as you leave empty handed.

Visit the Website

There is no good reason to buy your bed at the mall store. The prices and discounts are the same and you won't get the hard sell on a new pillow or accessory. Now that you know which mattresses you liked start looking at prices. Ignore the discounted price for now, and assume you'll buy it at full price (but you won't). Still feel good about your possible new bed? Excellent.

Get Historical Discount Data

Remember how I told you to ignore the discounts? That's because they are useless without historical perspective. Does Sleep Number want you to get their historical discount data? They want you to think there is no discount like the discount today. Fortunately, they have a Twitter account dedicated to promoting current deals that you can use to harvest historical data. Did you notice that they tend to have a different mattress on sale each month? Add your favorite mattresses to the cart with and without bases to see how the current discounts size up. Odds are if there is no discount or a weak discount next Month will be better.

Realize the Base is a Scam

You may have noticed that there is some fluctuations in the the discounts, and that's to be expected in day-to-day marketing. But the bigger changes come because sometimes the discounts are on a "bed" and not a mattress. That means you might only get that $600 discount after you purchase the $300 base. Unfortunately, using only the Twitter data doesn't give you these numbers, but looking at larger trends you can make some estimated guesses.

Did I mention the Base is a scam? for $300 you get a big hunk of plastic. For $150 more you can get some legs on it. For less than that $450 you can go to Ikea or Wayfair and get a nice looking platform bed with a headboard and everything.

Check the Discounts Every Month

If you want to sign up for the mailing list or follow the specified Twitter account you can, but you may as well just check in on the website once a month. Every time they announce a new sale add it to your list of historical data. You'll get a good feel for when it's the right time to buy.