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A Sudden BeckerCAD 3D Pro Review

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Occasionally I run into an interesting piece of software while doing unrelated things, and this time I stumbled upon a Windows-only “BeckerCAD 12 3D Pro” application on sale in SoftMaker store, a company developing the blazing fast Linux/Windows/Mac OS X SoftMaker Office suite, and a free FreeOffice version of one.

I like Google Docs as much as the next guy, but sometimes I enjoy looking at what else is out there. So I bought a license to the office suite that I’ve had my eyes on for some time, and put a $20 BeckerCAD12 3D Pro in the cart along for the ride.

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Since 2017...

For a long time my last post here was about my laptop, and even though I have changed jobs, locations, and interests, I did not find anything worth sharing.

Now, having re-published a few posts I wrote on Reddit to my blog, I'd like to close the loop on some of the projects I have been working on in the past.

MediaFire/duplicity

Due to copyright attribution requirements and potential conflict of interest, I stopped contributing to MediaFire Python Open SDK and the duplicity backend. This resulted in the MediaFire backend removal from duplicity.

I no longer have access to the original MediaFire/mediafire-python-open-sdk repository.

I was approached by a user of MediaFire to add another maintainer, so szlaci83 is now a co-maintainer of Python MediaFire client library.

Music

Throughout 2020 I set a target of publishing at least 1 music piece, and the result is https://soundcloud.com/roman-yepishev/sets/album-2020.

WD MyCloud (sequoia)

For some time in 2019 I have been tinkering with the first generation version of WD MyCloud which ran on Comcerto2000 platform (AKA FreeScale/NXP QorIQ LS1024A), and had some success with booting the 3.19 kernel, described in my WD Community post).

While I got most of the board working, the networking performance was awful, and after a few weeks I gave up.

OpenStreetMap

Almost no involvement with the project since we left Michigan.

This blog

I disabled the commenting system provided by disqus, and feel free to write rye@ an e-mail.

Cheers.

Inside the Spark: Continuously Variable Transmission: It's All About the Fluid

This post originally appeared on Reddit.

TL; DR

  1. Both Gen 1 2014-2015 and Gen 2 2016+ Chevy Spark models have a variant of Jatco JF015E.

  2. Originally 2014 Sparks came with transmission software that was always shifting to the low gear, causing shocks, resulting in premature belt and pulley metal wear. An update was issued for CVT firmware to prefer staying in high gear on deceleration (PI1309). 2015+ Sparks are coming with this update preinstalled. This is now a normal behavior and can't be changed.

  3. CVTs on all 2014+ Spark models are not sealed. They are serviceable and you should perform the maintenance at least every 45K miles unless you drive on the highway all the time.

  4. CVT performance is heavily influenced by the state of the fluid inside. Deteriorated fluid will cause the belt to slip producing shudder. No, this shudder won’t disappear on its own, it will only get worse.

  5. Shudder is different from slow smooth acceleration, which is a feature of this transmission.

  6. Fluid is not the only thing that can go wrong, so contact your dealer if you have transmission concerns. If you are driving a 2014 model and did not get the CVT TCM update at the dealer, the chances of transmission damage increase, so there is a campaign for 2014-2015 model year vehicles to replace damaged transmissions.

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Inside the Spark: Why Your Spark is Slow - It's the Engine

This post originally appeared on Reddit.

I've been meaning to look into the performance of MY2016 spark for the past two years, so I finally sat down, went through the documents and used a wonderful site https://www.carspecs.us/calculator/0-60 to finally come to the conclusion.

Before we start, note that I am in no way a car enthusiast, so if you see glaring omissions or errors, please comment, and again this is specific to MY2016+, earlier model years have different engines and, probably, transmissions.

Anyway, the conclusion is:

Your Chevrolet Spark is slow because it has a relatively low power engine and it weighs a lot (for good reasons).

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Inside Spark: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

This post was originally published on Reddit.

The following is based on official service documentation, personal experience and research driven by desire to know every little bit about this first car of mine. Sharing this because it may be interesting if this is your first car, but it may explain things in general. This post is specific to US MY2016+ models.

TL;DR: Air in the car generally:

  • is sucked in through the vents from under the windshield,
  • into the compartment behind the glove box,
  • through the filter which you should regularly replace,
  • then blower motor turbine,
  • through an “Evaporator Core” if AC is present,
  • a “Heater Core”,
  • the vents into the main cabin,
  • and goes outside through the pressure valve in the trunk area.

Now, details.

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2016-2017 BYOM2 Infotainment update

This post originally appeared on Reddit.

Just a heads up that if you bought your 2016 Chevrolet Spark before May 2017, then the LG BYOM2 infotainment system can be updated by your dealer to the 05.02.2017 build to:

  • Fix Android Auto audio and voice (navigation prompt) stream separation, so that you'll be able to set music and navigation volume separately.
  • Fix loss of Bluetooth audio at the start of stream (very noticeable in navigation, turning "In 1 mile turn right" into just "e turn right").
  • No longer show the second USB input in source list.
  • Remove simultaneous CarPlay/Android Auto mode (not sure whether that's an upgrade).
  • Possibly other fixes.

BYOM2 - Bring Your Own Media v2 system was running on Sparks from 2016 to 2018, then replaced for model year 2019 by INFO3 system running a version of Android.

Dell OS Recovery Tool Under Linux Mini-HOWTO

This post originally appeared as a Github Gist.

Since I was unable to find a specific answer to how can one create a Dell recovery disk from within Linux, I decided to write the steps here.

If you write the CD image directly to the USB drive (or create a new partition and write it there), the laptop will not boot. You need your USB media to be in FAT32 format with the contents of the recovery ISO.

  1. Download the recovery ISO from the support section of Dell website.
  2. Insert a USB Drive with enough capacity to hold the contents of the ISO image.
  3. Format the drive and create a filesystem where $USB_DEVICE is your USB drive (check with fdisk -l, it may be something like /dev/sdb):

    # parted $USB_DEVICE
    (parted) mklabel msdos
    (parted) mkpart primary fat32 0% 100%
    (parted) quit
    # mkfs.vfat -n DellRestore ${USB_DEVICE}1
    
  4. Copy the contents of the ISO file to the new FAT32 partition:

    # mkdir /mnt/{source,target}
    # mount -o loop,ro ~/Downloads/2DF4FA00_W10x64ROW_pro\(DL\)_v3.iso /mnt/source
    # mount ${USB_DEVICE}1 /mnt/target
    # rsync -r /mnt/source/. /mnt/target/
    # umount /mnt/source
    # umount /mnt/target
    
  5. Reboot and start your machine from the USB drive.

This should have been obvious, but I've spent a few hours testing various ways to boot from that ISO (unetbootin, writing the image directlry to drive, writing to first partition), so I hope it is going to be useful to somebody else as well.

Dell Inspiron 13" 7378 Logbook

Specs

  • Dell Inspiron 13-7378
  • Intel ® Core ™ i7-7500U CPU @ 2.7 GHz
  • 16 GB RAM of DDR 4.
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (10.0.14393)
  • Premium Support, Complete Care, and Onsite Service package.

Current status: Laptop is fully operational.

Issues

Display flickering, complete freeze when moved, gap between LCD panel and top cover, grinding fan noise.

Fixes

Laptop 1: Display flickering. MB, LCD Panel, IO Cables replaced, chassis issues, audio and sensors broke, exchanged.

Laptop 2: Display flickering, completely locks up if moved. LCD Panel replaced, MB replaced, locks up on any key pressure (when Intel drivers are running), won't return to working state on reboot until powercycled enough times. Disassembled the laptop and put electrical tape over the "bumps" under the motherboard. Fan and heatsink replaced, attempted to replace LCD panel again due to brightness gradient, the "new" panel had all bottom clips broken.

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Is this thing on?

Hi,

I neglected the blog for the last half a year, so here's the list of things that were going behind the scenes.

  • I submitted around 400 km of Mapillary photos.

  • I am giving up on getting the permission from Boston GIS to use their data in OpenStreetMap.

  • On the other hand, I am actively mapping cities of Farmington Hills and Novi.

  • I started a new job which I hopefully will be able to talk about soon.

  • US just had a presidential election and the future looks ... mmm... not normal.

And if you see this post, then my nikola setup is again up and running.

OsmAnd: Navigating With OpenStreetMap

Chances are you using Google Maps for all your navigation needs. Why shouldn't you?

Once upon a time I had to provide my modem to a Comcast representative so that they could disconnect it from my account. I looked up the nearest Comcast location and embarked on a journey. The Google Maps pin was pointing to a non-residential building, so I blindly trusted Google to guide me to the correct location. Upon arriving at the building under a light rain, I was surprised to find out it was actually a public pool/Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) office. I wasn't the first one to get there by mistake, so I was redirected to the end of the road, just a couple blocks away.

Please note that I did not own a car, and no buses were going that route, so a couple of blocks away (half a mile, 800m) turned into a 20 minute walk under what turned to be an umbrella-bending thunderstorm.

Having returned home, I decided to notify Google of the wrong marker location. I sent a request explaining the issue. A few days later I received the notification that my case was closed and no action taken since not enough proof was provided. I tried the second time, but something did not work quite right then either.

Since I started driving, I've missed a number of turns because the map did not match what was on the ground, Google Maps would announce "Arrived" when my destination entrance was concealed by the trees and there was a whole parking lot between us, we've been guided through that Casey Overpass WIP site where left turn is a suicide because you don't see oncoming traffic. I started to care deeply about those things, but I can't influence a corporation to care about a small misplaced road.

So now I fix things myself. And when a number of naviqgation applications pick these changes up, I can benefit from having an accurate map at my disposal.


So the first application I downloaded related to OpenStreetMap was OsmAnd.

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TL;DR

Name

OsmAnd (free), OsmAnd+ (paid, $6.49)

Version

2.3.5

Map update

May 1st, 2016 (monthly)

Platforms

Android, iOS

Supports

offline: car, foot, bicycle; online: OSRM, YOURS

License

GPLv3, CC-BY-ND-NC, various third-party licenses

Permissions

Camera, Location, Microphone, and Storage

Outstanding Features

Live(-ish) map update, generate/export GPX, display/follow GPX route, block roads, add OSM POIs and notes.

Pros

  • Open Source (mostly GPLv3).

  • Adding POIs and Notes from Android device.

  • Creating georeferenced photos and audio commentary.

  • Writes GPS Tracks.

  • Car parking plugin.

  • Different detail level for car, foot, and bicycle.

  • Frequent map updates, provides tools to generate maps by end-user.

Cons:

  • Extremely visible map redraws and jumpy panning.

  • Map rendering is crowded with details.

  • You can get lost in configuration menus.

  • OSRM (online) turn-by-turn navigation lacks street names.

  • Live Map updates (beta) do not change routing patterns.

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