Travel Hacking!

I have been so caught up in building my homestead that I haven’t traveled in a while. I mean really traveled. Sure, I have been to Costa Rica and Hawaii recently but those trips were far enough apart that my frequent flier miles expired.

Well, I have the bug again and need some serious adventure in my life. I read a great book called Big Travel, Small Budget which has me truly inspired. Not only does he discuss how to travel for cheaper than it is to live stationary, he gives some great tips on how to make money traveling or to travel for almost free!

Currently I am playing with what is called travel hacking. It’s basically using both your travel and standard expenses to earn frequent flier miles that can get you all sorts of stuff for free.

I have a United Mileage Plus Account and am getting miles from the following places:

Chase United Explorer Card: I just got approved for this card. If you aren’t the type that pays your entire card bill at the end of the month, this part of travel hacking is not for you. However I do pay my whole balance so I will use this card where I would normally use my check card from my bank, which is for most of my purchases. This card offers bonus miles for signing up, 2 miles for every dollar spent on tickets from United, 1 mile for all others. Couple this card to your united dining membership for massive miles scored when you dine out.

United Affiliates page has links to all sorts of programs from dining to online shopping.

FTD Florist: You can link to FTD from the United Affiliates page and get miles there. Just earned 1700 miles for getting my mom some Mother’s Day flowers. Probably sending some to Grandma too!

Opinion Miles Club Earn miles for taking surveys. I had to start like 10 different surveys before I got to one that actually let me finish. Time to try for another. I have been at this like an hour and have written this post and earned 300 miles.The miles were posted instantly! Much better than the FTD ones ( though not as many! )

E-Miles Earn miles for completing offers and surveys. Similar to above but likely more simple. Also has as some good join bonuses. No affiliate link I could find so far. Posts miles quickly to your account but only in multiples of 250. If you already donate to non-profits ( like me ) then you can earn some extra miles here for doing so.

The key is to earn miles on things you do anyway. Miles lead to free air travel, upgrades and all sorts of other travel related expenses.

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Play Pocket Mortys on Linux!

 

As a huge Rick and Morty fan, I was eager to play Pocket Mortys. Alas, it is only available for Android and therefore won’t work on my Ubuntu Phone.

Don’t panic! There is a solution! This howto might also be useful to anyone having trouble getting Google Play Services to work with Genymotion.

Step One:

Install Virtualbox www.virtualbox.org
This is pretty straightforward. Instructions are on the website

Step Two:

Install Genymotion www.genymotion.com
You will need to create a login. Use the free version.

Step Three:

Start Genymotion. Click the plus sign to add a new machine. Select Custom Phone 5.1. This will download and install the machine.
Once the machine is installed, start it from Genymotion. If you get a working phone simulation it’s time to move to the next step.

Step Four:

Install google apps. Genymotion doesn’t include google apps so you will have to install it. The only one I found to work was downloaded from github, here https://github.com/cgapps/vendor_google/tree/builds/x86. Be sure to download the zip and the md5 sum to ensure the file downloaded properly. Be sure to use the x86 version and do not install the arm translator as described in other howtos.

Step Five:

Drag the zip file downloaded from the link above from your downloads folder to the virtual phone from step three. There will be a transfer dialog then a window popping up asking if you want to flash the archive to the ROM. Click OK. You will be notified when the update is complete. Click OK and close the virtual phone window.

Step Six:

Start custom phone in Genymotion. Once the phone boots, open the google play app and update it. Once updated click OPEN and it will then ask you to update google play services. Run that update and when it’s done click OPEN. You can now install Pocket Mortys. The first time you run PMort you will be asked to install google play games.

Screenshot_2016-01-24_19-54-54

Screenshot_2016-01-24_19-55-21Screenshot_2016-01-24_19-57-34

 

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Kombucha Recipe

We can all thank the Angelfish for giving me a reason to post this đŸ™‚

The following recipe is for 1 gallon of ‘buch. It can be halved/doubled etc. to match your needs. All cooking times stay the same.

You will need:

Kombucha Brewing
Kombucha Brewing

2 quart pot
1 gallon of good water
1 cup sugar, organic unrefined preferred
1 SCOBY (AKA the Mother… a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast)
1 cup starter tea
8 oolong, green or black tea bags
1 g glass jar. NO METAL!
1 piece of cotton cloth or paper towel. Holes in cheesecloth are too large, if using cheesecloth use at least 3 layers.
1 rubber band

Procedure:
Clean hands and all utensils with distilled vinegar after washing with NON-Antibacterial Soap.
Bring 4 cups of water and sugar to a boil.
Once boiling add the teabags, count to ten, then remove the pot from heat source.
Put the lid on the pot (leaving tea bags in) and wait for 5 mintues.
After 5 minutes remove the lid and add some water to fill up the pot.
Wait 5 more minutes.

SCOBY Farm!
SCOBY Farm!

Remove tea bags and squeeze them out. Let this “sweet-tea” sit and cool off for at least 20 minutes. Ideally temp should be below 110 degrees Fahrenheit before continuing.
Put SCOBY and starter tea in brewing jar. Pour sweet-tea into jar. Fill remaining space with water up to 1.5-2 inches from top of jar. Stir with WOODEN or PLASTIC spoon.
Cover jar with cloth and secure cloth with rubber band. Put jar in cool dark place (pantry or cupboard). Do not disturb jar while fermenting.

In a few days a new SCOBY will start to form on the top of the tea. After about a week start tasting your brew using a wooden or plastic spoon. When you like the flavor, you are done! Bottle it up and enjoy. Google for more recipes and flavoring ideas.

Baby SCOBYs
I got SCOBYs, who wants one???

NOTES:
Never expose SCOBY or ‘butch to direct sunlight.
Never expose brew to any type of metal.
When you first start brewing, there will be more yeast than usual.

It’s brown and gross looking. This is normal. Unless your SCOBY is super fuzzy everything is probably normal. As your SCOBY adjusts to it’s new environment it will get whiter and produce less yeast strands.
After brewing is finished, the new SCOBY can be separated from the old to start a new batch, make additional batches, give to a friend, make bio-pleather, etc.

After the first harvest, bottle all but a cup or two of the brew and just pour some new sweet tea in the jar and brew it.

 

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Using BUTT (Broadcast Using This Tool) with Rhythmbox 3

I have been doing a lot of work and research to get the Pirates in Teepees Radio station working. I am putting this together in hopes it helps someone else get their radio going.

I am running Ubuntu Linux 14.04.1 Trusty Thar

I have been able to set up BUTT to work in two ways:

1. Broadcast from JackD ( see my other post on this )
2. Broadcast from Rhythmbox 3 / Pulseaudio ( keep reading )

I am assuming you already have an icecast server to connect to and a pulse compatible media player that is shuffling your songs.

Open up BUTT and configure it to connect to your Icecast server.

Set the Audio Device to “pulse”. If you are unable to change the Audio Device via the menu or doing so causes BUTT to crash, do the following:
– Configure everything in BUTT except for the Audio Device ( don’t even touch this menu )
– Click on “Save Settings”
– Quit BUTT
– Open .buttrc in your home directory
– In the [Audio] section change the line “device = 0” to “device = 1”
– Save file and relaunch BUTT, you should now be able to select “pulse”

Install the program “pavucontrol” (sudo apt-get install pavucontrol)

Launch Rhythmbox

Launch pavucontrol ( this will launch a window called “Volume Control” )

In the Recording tab of Volume Control you will see “ALSA plug-in [butt]: ALSA Capture from” Change the select box to capture from the device Rhythmbox is playing through.

You should now see the indicator lights in BUTT going with your Rhythmbox music.

You can stream the audio like this, but your stream will not be updated with your currently playing song metadata. You need to write the current track name to a file and point BUTT to that file in your stream tab.

I googled forever to find a solution to this. How do I find out what song is currently playing in Rhythmbox and write that name to a file? All the solutions I found were for old versions of Rhthmbox which talks differently to D-BUS than Rhythmbox3 does. After bouncing around a few forums with people looking for this and similar solutions, I was able to come up with a python script that monitors Rhythmbox and when the song changes updates .now_playing file in your home directory. Copy the code to /usr/local/bin/now_playing, chmod it to 755 ( both these will need to be done as root ) and run it:

now_playing&

Go back to the BUTT settings window, stream tab and set the “Update song from file” value to be ~/.now_playing

You should be good to go.

/usr/local/bin/now_playing

#!/usr/bin/python

import dbus
import dbus.mainloop.glib
import glib

# This gets called whenever Rhythmbox sends the playingUriChanged signal
def playing_song_changed (Player,two,three):
    global iface
    global track
    global home
    track2 = iface.Get(Player,"Metadata").get(dbus.String(u'xesam:artist'))[0] + " - "+ iface.Get(Player,"Metadata").get(dbus.String(u'xesam:title'))

    if track != track2:
        track = iface.Get(Player,"Metadata").get(dbus.String(u'xesam:artist'))[0] + " - "+ iface.Get(Player,"Metadata").get(dbus.String(u'xesam:title'))
        f = open( home + '/.now_playing', 'w' )
        f.write( track + '\n' )
        f.close()


dbus.mainloop.glib.DBusGMainLoop (set_as_default = True)

bus = dbus.SessionBus ()
from os.path import expanduser
home = expanduser("~")
player = bus.get_object ("org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.rhythmbox", "/org/mpris/MediaPlayer2")
iface = dbus.Interface (player, "org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties")

track = iface.Get("org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player","Metadata").get(dbus.String(u'xesam:artist'))[0] + " - "+ iface.Get("org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player","Metadata").get(dbus.Strin$
f = open( home + "/.now_playing", 'w' )
f.write( track + '\n' )
f.close()

iface.connect_to_signal ("PropertiesChanged", playing_song_changed)

# Run the GLib event loop to process DBus signals as they arrive
mainloop = glib.MainLoop ()
mainloop.run ()
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Envision Festival Submission

Team Pirates in Teepees ( Melissa Lintern, Igor and Myself ) have submitted our entry for art projects to Envision Festival 2015.

We are hoping to build a teepee like shade structure with a Solar X-Mas LED lit sculpture of a dragonfly on the top. If we can get a grant we will add a more advanced solar system that includes USB charging station for festival goers.

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Pirates in Teepees goes LIVE!

We are a community of creative individuals focused on Free (freedom AND beer!), Open Source and Independent project of all sorts.

Current Community Projects:

  • Icecast Radio Station: http://pirates.noip.me
    Right now radio service is sporadic as we need more DJs and I haven’t been able to get the Airtime software to work yet. I am debating whether or not to subscribe to their paid service as it is only $10 a month.
  • This Blog: http://pirates.jairaja.org

In the Works

  • ELECTRIC DRAGONFLY: Envision Festival Art Installation Myself, Igor and Melissa are working on getting a combination shade structure/art sculpture/usb charging station approved for next year’s festival. See the video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDCENo9elSk

 

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