Project – Record Shelf

Since I’ve actually taken an interest in vinyl records, One thing I really wanted to do was build a simple little record shelf. This would serve two purposes basically. One, it looks cool. Two, it gives me another way to decorate the basement a bit. The concrete block walls are a pain to work with, especially the outside wall where all my music stuff is. The temperature changes mean nothing sticks to it long term. In other areas I’ve hung frames from the rafters using small chains. For this space, I’ve got a nice shelf I can use and swap out what’s on display as I get more records.

It wasn’t an overly complicated project, but it took longer than planned since my wife had the garage full of garage sale stuff and I couldn’t really reach any tools. Also it’s been blazing hot out, and I don’t care to work outside in that much heat. On the problem of the heat, probably sometime int he fall, I’ll drag the shelf and the lower shelving out and stain and seal it. Neither plays very well with the heat either.

The shelf itself is a handful of 1×4 pine boards. It’s a bit more complicated than it might seem at first. For starters, I like the look of inset joints over just using metal L braces, so I went and inset and glued the shelves inside the sides. This was a bit tricky because I don’t actually own any bar clamps. I also added the little back catch pieces under each shelf, so the albums wouldn’t be resting on the wall itself. This was slightly complicated because there is a power conduit running down this wall i had to work around. The shelves themselves are notched around the power conduit as well. I also only have so many clamps large enough to glue these, so it took like a week of “clue one piece then come back.”

Each shelf also has an angled groove cut along the length so the albums sit slightly down in the shelf and are more secure. The whole thing is screwed to the rafter above for support. In fact the whole thing is much sturdier than I thought it would be. My main worry is that the albums would tumble off, damaging the records, but now that it’s up, I actually am not worried about that at all. Everything is very stable.

Also, my original plan was to stick the CD holder I had been using back on the lower shelf, in front of the new shelf. I immediately hated this look. But I also realized that there was a small gap near the bottom, so I added one more smaller shelf to put (most of) the CDs on. I really liked this end result. Plus the board I used here was a different type of wood that was just around, and it’s a much sturdier type of wood than the pine, so I didn’t end up needing to add a center leg like I had worried I might need to do.

I suppose it’s also worth noting the equipment itself. The entire set up is pretty minimal. Everything is centered around this small mixer and amp combination.

I originally bought the mixer for use at my PC, I wanted to be able to play games on one machine, and watch a video on another machine, and merge the audio out one headset. That didn’t really work out to be as useful as I had hoped, but instead I get to use the mixer for my music instead. The amp I bought to go with some nice JBL speakers I had, that needed 2 wire connections to work, also connected to the PC originally. Except I never ever use anything but a headset on my PC, so it was a waste.

Connected to the Mixer are the input options. They can be played all at once, since it’s a mixer not a switch, but I’m not sure why you would want to. There is a Raspberry Pi hidden under the little shelf that connect to my music library and can be controlled remotely via a webpage. I have this kind of mediocre CD player that I’ll probably replace one day with something better, but still compact. Even a portable CD player would probably work better. There is also an Amazon Echo connected, but since Amazon jacked up their music service, I don’t use it as much. I also have an aux cord hanging off for connecting to a phone.

Lastly is my record player, which I bought at a garage sale. It works pretty well for my needs though. It’s an Audiotechnica AT-LP60, nothing fancy.

Lastly I have this recently acquired audio switcher. Right now I just have the one set of speakers, but at the very least, it will be easy to add a second set outside so I can listen to music while out on the deck or porch under the deck out back. The output selector will make this much easier to accomplish and it’s something I’d thought about getting at some point before, then I came across one at an estate sale.

Code Project: Fresh RSS to WordPress Digest V 2

A while back, I talked about a little simple project that I build that produces a daily RSS digest post on this blog. This of course broke when my RSS Reader died on me. I managed to get Fresh RSS up and running again in Docker, and I’ve been slowly recovering my feeds, which is incredibly slow and tedious to do because there are a shitload of feeds, and i essentially have to cut and paste each URL into FreshRSS, and select the category and half the time they don’t work, so I need to make a note of it for later checking and it’s just… slow.

But since it’s mostly working, I decided to reset up my RSS poster. I may look into setting up a Docker instance just for running Python automations, but for now, I put it on a different Pi I have floating around that plays music. The music part will be part of a different post, but for this purpose, it runs a script, once a day, that pulls a feed, formats it, and posts it. It isn’t high overhead.

While poking around on setting this up, I decided to get a bit more ambitious and found out that, basically every view has it’s own RSS feed. Previously, I was taking the feed from the Starred Articles. But it turns out that Tags each have their own feed. This allowed me to do something I wanted from the start here, which is create TWO feeds, for both of my blogs. So now, articles related to Technology, Politics, Food, and Music, get fed into Blogging Intensifies, and articles related to toys, movies, and video games, go into Lameazoid.

I’ve also filtered both of these out of the main page. I do share these little link digests for others, if they want to read them, but primarily, it’s a little record for myself, to know what I found interesting and was reading that day. This way if say, my Fresh RSS reader crashes, I still have all the old interesting links available.

The other thing I wanted to do was to use some sort of AI system to produce a summary of each article. Right now it just clips off the first 200 characters or so. At the end of the day, this is probably plenty. I’m not really trying to steal content, I just want to share links, but links are also useful with just a wee bit of context to them.

I mentioned before, making this work involved a bit to tweaking to the scrips I was using. First off is an auth.py file which has a structure like below, one dictionary for each blog, and then each dictionary gets put in a list. Adding additional blogs would be as simple as adding a new dictionary and then adding the entry to the list. I could have done this with a custom Class but this was simpler.

BLOG1 = {
    "blogtitle": "BLOG1NAME",
    "url": "FEEDURL1",
    "wp_user": "YOURUSERNAME",
    "wp_pass": "YOURPASSWORD",
    "wp_url": "BLOG1URL",
}

BLOG2 = {
    "blogtitle": "BLOG2NAME",
    "url": "FEEDURL2",
    "wp_user": "YOURUSERNAME",
    "wp_pass": "YOURPASSWORD",
    "wp_url": "BLOG2URL",
}

blogs = [BLOG1, BLOG2]

The script itself got a bit of modification as well, mostly, the addition of a loop to go through each blog in the list, then some variables changed to be Dictionary look ups instead of straight variables.

Also please excuse the inconsistency on the fstring use. I got errors at first so I started editing and removing the fstrings and then realized I just needed to be using Python3 instead of Python2.

from auth import *
import feedparser
from wordpress_xmlrpc import Client, WordPressPost
from wordpress_xmlrpc.methods.posts import NewPost
from wordpress_xmlrpc.methods import posts
import datetime
from io import StringIO
from html.parser import HTMLParser

cur_date = datetime.datetime.now().strftime(('%A %Y-%m-%d'))

### HTML Stripper from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/753052/strip-html-from-strings-in-python
class MLStripper(HTMLParser):
    def __init__(self):
        super().__init__()
        self.reset()
        self.strict = False
        self.convert_charrefs= True
        self.text = StringIO()
    def handle_data(self, d):
        self.text.write(d)
    def get_data(self):
        return self.text.getvalue()

def strip_tags(html):
    s = MLStripper()
    s.feed(html)
    return s.get_data()

# Get News Feed
def get_feed(feed_url):
    NewsFeed = feedparser.parse(feed_url)
    return NewsFeed

# Create the post text
def make_post(NewsFeed, cur_blog):
    # WordPress API Point
    build_url = f'https://{cur_blog["wp_url"]}/xmlrpc.php'
    #print(build_url)
    wp = Client(build_url, cur_blog["wp_user"], cur_blog["wp_pass"])

    # Create the Basic Post Info, Title, Tags, etc  This can be edited to customize the formatting if you know what you$    post = WordPressPost()
    post.title = f"{cur_date} - Link List"
    post.terms_names = {'category': ['Link List'], 'post_tag': ['links', 'FreshRSS']}
    post.content = f"<p>{cur_blog['blogtitle']} Link List for {cur_date}</p>"
    # Insert Each Feed item into the post with it's posted date, headline, and link to the item.  And a brief summary f$    for each in NewsFeed.entries:
        if len(strip_tags(each.summary)) > 100:
            post_summary = strip_tags(each.summary)[0:100]
        else:
            post_summary = strip_tags(each.summary)
        post.content += f'{each.published[5:-15].replace(" ", "-")} - <a href="{each.links[0].href}">{each.title}</a></$                        f'<p>Brief Summary: "{post_summary}"</p>'
        # print(each.summary_detail.value)
        #print(each)

    # Create the actual post.
    post.post_status = 'publish'
    #print(post.content)
    # For Troubleshooting and reworking, uncomment the above then comment out the below, this will print results instea$    post.id = wp.call(NewPost(post))

    try:
        if post.id:
            post.post_status = 'publish'
            call(posts.EditPost(post.id, post))
    except:
        pass
        #print("Error creating post.")

#Get the news feed
for each in blogs:
    newsfeed = get_feed(each["url"])
# If there are posts, make them.
    if len(newsfeed.entries) > 0:
        make_post(newsfeed, each)
        #print(NewsFeed.entries)

Re-mulching and other Activities Outside the House

I have been slacking on my posts, though technically still doing better than I had been. It’s a combination of being busy and just being generally meh overall. One think keeping me busy was re-mulching the flower beds around the house. Not just throwing down new mulch though, I mean raking up the old and putting down new weed barrier. This meant going around the existing plants and the little metal stakes to hold the weed barrier down were a pain because there is a ton of super packed rock in the area that makes them hard to insert into the ground.

In the case of the tree out back, it also meant digging up the ground around the tree to add a new flower bed space completely. We added a lot of new plants to the area as well, though most in pots for ease of use.

Then my wife put all her decor out again.

We also started working on the basic garden set up for the year. In the past we’ve had issues with trying to garden at this house because there is a lot of wildlife that comes around that eat or dig up everything. Right now it’s in buckets, though I plan to put legs on these wooden boxes we have to put the buckets into. Which is part of what the pile of wood behind the garden plants at the bottom is for. We also may use the stairs as a tiered herb garden. It’s all wood that was salvaged from my parent’s deck which they recently had replaced.

Anyway, here are some photos of the completed set up.

Here is a random bonus of the backyard from when I was mowing recently.

Code Project – JavaScript Pixel Camera

Sometimes I do projects that end up being entirely fruitless and pointless.

Ok, maybe not entirely fruitless, but sometimes I get caught up in an idea, and end up essentially just sort of, reinventing the wheel, in a complicated way. For starters, I got caught up with this little tutorial here: https://thecodingtrain.com/challenges/166-image-to-ascii . It uses JavaScript, to convert the input from your webcam, into ASCII art. It’s a nice little step by step process that really explains what is going on along the way so you get a good understanding of the process.

And I got it to work out just fine. I may mess with it and add the darkness saturation back in because it helps bring emphasis to the video but the finished product is neat.

I then decided I wanted to see if I could modify the code to do some different things.

Specifically, Instead of ASCII characters, I wanted it to show colored blocks, pixels if you will. I managed to modify the code, and the output is indeed a pixilated video, but it’s not video, it’s constantly refreshing text. The problem is, it’s writing out a page where every block, is wrapped in a <font> styling tag, which means it’s writing out a ton of extremely dense HTML code and pushing it out, so it’s a little weird and laggy and pretty resource intensive to run.

I also image, there is a way to simply, downsize the input resolution, and upscale the video, to achieve the exact same effect.

One variant I made also just converts images to single page documents of “pixels”. but, ugly font based pixels, to achieve an effect you can get by resizing an image small then large.

Like I said, kind of fruitless and pointless, but I got caught up in the learning and coding part of things.

I also may go ahead and do some additional modifications to the code to make things a bit more interesting. I could try using it to make my own Game Boy Camera style interface, for example. Then make it output actual savable pictures. I found a similar project to that online but it would be cool to code my own up and give it an actual interface.

Anyway, here is the code for the jankey video JavaScript, sketch.js first then index.html after. Also a Demo is here, though I may remove it int he long run, especially if I make an improve project.

let video;
let asciiDiv;

function setup() {
  noCanvas();
  video = createCapture(VIDEO);
  video.size(48, 48);
  asciiDiv = createDiv();
}

function draw() {
  video.loadPixels();
  let asciiImage = '';
  for (let j=0; j < video.height; j++) {
     for (let i = 0; i <video.width; i++) {
      const pixelIndex = (i+j * video.width) * 4;
      const r = video.pixels[pixelIndex + 0];
      const g = video.pixels[pixelIndex + 1];
      const b = video.pixels[pixelIndex + 2];
      const pixelColor = "rgb(" + String(r) + "," + String(g) + "," + String(b) + ")";
       // console.log(pixelColor);
//      const c = '<font color=rgb('+r+','+g+','+b+')>'+asciiShades.charAt(charIndex)+'</font>';
      const c = '<span style="color: '+pixelColor+';">&#9724;</>';
      asciiImage += c;
    }
    asciiImage += "<br/>";

  }
  asciiDiv.html(asciiImage);

}

index.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/p5.js/1.6.0/p5.js"></script>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/p5.js/1.6.0/addons/p5.sound.min.js"></script>
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="style.css">
    <meta charset="utf-8" />

  </head>
  <body>
    <main>
    </main>
    <script src="sketch.js"></script>
  </body>
</html>

Code Project – Python Flask Top Ten Movies Site

So, I mentioned dumping the Flask Blog a while back, but then I decided that since I had managed to get it all working, it would be somewhat trivial to get it working on a subdomain, instead of a main domain, which had been my original plan to start with.  I was never too excited about dropping this project because I have a few ideas for little projects that I wanted to build that would actually work pretty well in Python and Flask, since it essentially adds a direct path to running a back end style script and a front in interface.  Part of my frustration had come from trying to integrate OTHER Flask projects into the same website and Python code.  Specifically the Top Ten Films website.  

So I stripped out all of the work I had done on integrating the Top Ten movies site, and got the bare Blog running on smallblog.bloggingintensifies.com.  That’s not a link, don’t bother trying to go there, there is nothing there (More on that in a bit).  In this process, I got to thinking, I could run separate Flask Instances, one for each project, though I feel like that’s probably kind of super inefficient for server overhead.  I went and did it anyway, with the Top Ten Movies site.

Which worked fine.

At this point, I realized, I had a working copy of this website to work with and test.  A lot fo my previous frustration was adapting and merging two Python files, which share some redundancy, which share the same names on some secondary files and variables.  I could now, modify the Top Ten Movies code, and test it, to remove the problem duplication.  Satisfied, I shut off the Flask Blog, and merged the code again, and, it worked!  Worked as expected.  I did update the code a bit more again to add in the user/admin features of the Blog to the Movies page, so no one else can change the list.  

I also changed the subdomain from smallblog.bloggingintensifies, to flask.bloggingintensifies.com.  I mostly plan to use this sub domain to show off Flask Python projects, not just this blog I’m never going to fully utilize, so the name change makes more sense.

I also used some of the other HTML knowledge I’ve gained, well, the modern HTML knowledge, to reformat the Movie Site from how it was built in the class.  The class just had a long single column with ten movies.  I’ve changed it so number 1 is large and everything else is a smaller grid.  It’s much prettier looking now.  I doubt it changes much, if at all, but it’s a neat and fun project.