So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2014 Edition

So its annual recap time. Usually I have a wealth of blog posts to draw on, and write this thing by wrapping summary prose around links. This year continues the steady decline of the website, so that all my posts for the last 12 months fit on one page. That doesn’t mean that life didn’t happen, just that there are other tools to document it now — and more and more reasons to document less. As our kids grow up, I’m aware that at some point they’ll have their own online identity to curate, and what I write here can impact that.
Said another way, our identity is slowly becoming “So-and-so’s parents” and it probably behooves us to keep some of our opinions to ourselves. (The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of our children!)
In fact, as much as they still are our little cherubs, I’m acutely aware that my 8-year (in particular, although this goes for the other two as well) is watching us closely, forming his own opinions of the world. While my teen years had their challenges, I enjoyed an optimistic and enthusiastic 20s, and the cynicism of my 30s shouldn’t be allowed to temper my kids enthusiasm for life.
So let’s stick to the facts. We traveled a fair bit this year — myself a little further abroad than the rest of the clan. I forgive myself for this on the rationalization that my need to explore (and the travel requirements of my job) exceeds that of my more easily contended (eg: patient) bride. But this won’t stand much longer, and related to my paragraph above about shaping my kid’s world view, we need to find more opportunities to help our kids explore beyond North America. This summer we had a few chances to stretch our legs along the West Coast, and have decided we liked it. In fact, the desire to wring everything we can out of this time zone while we’re here partially informed our new vehicle purchase. If finances allow, we’ll pay that off this year, then attach a little boat (or at least a trailer) to it this coming summer, and spend some long weekends camping more places like this.
On the topic of travel, Nicole and I enjoyed our first completely kid-free, completely work-free, vacation since our honeymoon. Hawaii was great, but so was discovering that we still function as a couple when we’re not chasing little people to the potty, or trying to convince them to eat food they liked last week but hate this week, or working on new ways to explain simple math or phonics to our young students. I’ve long eschewed vacations as being a waste of time, but it turns out I’d be OK with another trip like that sometime soon.
As usual, we delighted in hosting visitors, and showing them the beautiful part of the world God placed us in. As much as this place feels like home, and we continued to invest in community with whatever spare time and energy we can find, it feels so much more real to show it to the people we love.
That said, there are some things missing here. And we’re not sure how to resolve them all. 2015 brings yet another career adjustment, as I step into a new role again. As usual, I’m excited to learn something new and do something different — this time, I may even find what I’m looking for. But beyond that, we don’t really know what’s next. We know God is in control of that, and we trust Him to show us where to step and when. Perhaps by the end of 2015, we’ll have a better idea of what that looks like.

Fire TV as a Web Server

Obviously I’m biased, but the Fire TV is my new favorite streaming device. And in a cable-free (for 7 years!) household with 3 children, I’ve tried them all. Other than being a slick little box (made by a great team ;- ) its also a true Android device. Of course there’s a great Appstore, but some of us like to think a little outside that box. Fortunately, there’s no need to Jailbreak or otherwise hack your Fire TV — just enable the Developer features in Settings and side-load to your heart’s content.
ADB works, with the slight caveat that you need to connect over TCP instead of USB — but there’s no additional software needed to do it. Check out the instructions on the Developer site.
Once that’s done, it turns out that the Fire TV makes for a handy little web server. I was able to pull the Jobo.TV APK off their website and side-load it, unmodified onto my retail Fire TV. The Launcher won’t present apps that don’t come from the Appstore, but you can still kick it off from the Settings > Applications menu using your Fire TV remote control. It’ll stay running until next time you reboot, and by default it runs on 8080. I couldn’t find the configuration for the Jobo server (although I didn’t look very hard), but you’ll want to serve up HTML pages using the get_file.jobo script. A simple walk-through…

  • Connect ADB to the FireTV: adb connect [FireTVIP]
  • Use ADB to copy your HTML page to the shared directory: adb push YourPage.html /sdcard/Jobo.TV/Shared/YourPage.html
  • Using a browser on another device in your network, navigate to http:// FireTVIP:8080/files/get_file.jobo?filename=/storage/emulated/0/Jobo.TV/Shared/YourPage.html

You can serve up images, text, media and static HTML (with Javascript) internally without issues. I’ve had intermittent success exposing the server to the broader internets. That’s not really my use case, so I haven’t explored it, but it appears to be a limitation of the Jobo server. Here’s what I did with mine…
Screen shot 2014-12-01 at 9.32.32 PM