Publishing Miz Lou

Here’s a progress report for Miz Lou’s Novel “High Mangress.” As some of you
know Wendy and I went to Largo for Thanksgiving. One of the events was
visiting mom at the Barrington and while we were there she pointed out that
her novel needed to be published. No problema, I thought, but I better get busy as Miz Lou turned 102 just before Thanksgiving. The result was that son Richard (Ricky by the sea) copied each chapter into a .pdf and emailed me the batch.

The next step was translating the .pdf chapter into readable text. I eventually bought some software from Dragon Naturally Speaking called OmniPage18 which is an OCR translator for .pdf image files. You can open a .pdf into the program and it will translate the .pdf image into a text file which can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Word.

After consulting my writing buddies, a self-publishing service called
CreateSpace from Amazon was selected to be the publisher/printer. There is
all sorts of good advice on the web about using this service. Eventually, I
had to buy a copy of Microsoft Word 2013, as my copy of Word didn’t quite do
what I wanted to do and it was much easier to work with a new copy that
various writers were using in demos rather than attempt to setup the old copy
I had.

It took several days for me to set the new copy of Word so it would produce a
document that CreateSpace might be able to digest. Now a chapter is read into
OmniPage18, converted into a text file, and then is pasted into Word for
CreateSpace formatting. Generally, each chapter is printed twice so the
printed page can be used for proofing-editing.

One of the other things I was advised to do was own the ISBNs rather than let
Amazon publishing have any publishing rights beyond charging for book copies.
Accordingly, I bought a block of 10 from Bowker Identfier Service. One of
them is 978-0-9860721-0-9.
The other tidbit is the book will be 6″X9″ with a nice color cover and black
and white pages or maybe cream colored pages. All of this is being saved in
the cloud on Dropbox.

As you can see, it’s slightly more involved than “no problema” but things are
progressing nicely.

Useful Links:  Bowker registers ISBNs in the United States and in some cases world wide. If you don’t want to register your own ISBM, most of the self-publishers will do it for you with a few strings attached.   A self publishing service run by Amazon.  There are many more but this the one I choose to use.  Lisa Shea is the Moderator for the Boston Mensa Writing group and hosts a webpage featuring a variety of subjects ranging from Origami Cranes – Flowers to Dune and Bene Gesserit .  Gregory L. Mahan shares some of his insights about self-publishing.

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Old Dog Learns New Trick

For the last 75 years I been tying my shoelaces with a simple bow that I learned when I was five years old. Recently, I grumbled about my laces untying themselves while hiking on the various trails we go geocaching on. So, for my 80th birthday which was on Thanksgiving, Wendy showed me the way her family has always tied their laces and they were not troubled by laces untying themselves.

Here’s a series of photos showing the Wendy shoelace technique.

Start with a simple bow, leaving a loose opening below the bow.

Loop one the bows back around through the loose opening.DSCN0739B

Pull tight on the bow ends to snug everything.

The laces will untie by pulling on one or both of the lace ends.

Happy tying.

Tom B

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The Burial Ground at Grafton State Hospital.

We found the Tower geocache (GC17MA5) near the old burial ground for the Grafton State Hospital on Saturday (2012-06-16) It could be a great cache for visiting on days of atonement or on Memorial day. Much to our surprise the trip to the cache went by a ruined water tower in a field of unnamed graves marked only by rows and columns of grave markers bearing only sequential numbers. If you were to reflect for a moment, you might ponder the thought that all of us will be nameless after our geocaching days are done even though our graves might have elaborate monuments. All who knew us will be gone as well. We will be remembered scarcely longer than those under the sequential stones.

Find a Grave  Some interesting facts about Grafton State Hospital

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Android Run at Bootup

There are two considerations for Run at Bootup.

public class SubLauncher extends Activity {
/** Called when the activity is first created. */
private static final String TAG = "NSubLauncher1";
public void onCreate(Bundle ThomasofNeedham) {
try {
// comment out the following three lines if you want to keep slidelock
KeyguardManager  mKeyGuardManager =  (KeyguardManager) getSystemService(KEYGUARD_SERVICE);
KeyguardLock mLock = mKeyGuardManager.newKeyguardLock("SubLauncher");
//     end slidelock  disable

//      Intent openStartingPoint = new Intent("com.thomas.needham.HELLOWORLD");
//    Intent openStartingPoint = new Intent("");
Intent openStartingPoint = new Intent("");

Log.d(TAG, "IntentopenStartingPoint: "+ openStartingPoint );

} catch  (ActivityNotFoundException e) {






The first consideration is should the KeySlide be enabled?  If the application is truly embedded, then the KeySlide needs to be disabled.  This little code snippet accomplishes this.



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Android Enternal Power Switch.

Android Tablet Power Sequence

If the Android is to be embedded in a stand-alone manner, there must be a method of automatically monitoring the power input, turning the device on and booting up into an application.  This page describes how to add a jumper to the power on/off so that some external monitor/controller can  apply the power ON sequence and the power OFF as needed.  The power on sequence in most android devices is Hold the Power Switch Down briefly and the power on/boot sequence begins.  Power Down is slightly more complicated.  Hold the power button down while the unit is on and shortly a “Power Down” question will appear.  The saving grace is that if the “Power Down”  is  pressed longer for perhaps 10 seconds, the unit will bypass the question and power off when the button is released.  The power switch in the Android (or at least the ZT-180 tablet) is reasonably accessible and the contacts can be extended via a small cable so that an external controller can supply a simulated power ON button press or a simulated long power OFF button press.

Materials Needed

A. Small tip Phillips screwdriver.
B. Paperclip or a very small blade Jewelers Screwdriver for pressing on  slides.
C. 15 watt soldering iron.
D. Small amount of 1/32″ rosin core solder.
E. About 18″ two conductor of 24 awg zip wire or finer wire.
F. Wire cutter and stripper.
G. Electrical or masking tape for insulation.
H. Ohm meter.

Opening the Tablet.

Please Note: I’m sure opening the tablet and soldering a power switch jumper wire voids any warranty you might have at all levels. 

There are two small openings on the left side end of the tablet.  They may be under  small labels.  They may be a small hole about paper clip size or they may allow a small screw driver tip to be inserted.  The small  openings allow access to the two slides that hold the unit in the case.  If you press down with a paper clip on the end of the slides they will slide down a short distance and you can gently lift the unit out of the rear case.  Once you have done this disconnect the battery before going any farther.

Freeing The Motherboard

There are about five small screws that secure the motherboard.  Remove these and then free the small ribbon cable from its connector.  Gently turn the motherboard over and locate the push button power switch where you will solder the jumper.




Adding the Jumper Cable.

A. Preheat the soldering iron.
B. Prepare the wire by splitting the cable on both ends and then strip the insulation back approx 1/8 “.
C. Tin the wire ends that are to be soldered to the power switch. 
D. Add a small amount of tape to the components near the power switch for insulation
E.  Solder one wire end to one of the power connectors and solder the other the the remaining power connector.
F. Connect the ohmmeter to the other ends of the connector wire.  There should not be any reading until the power switch is pressed.  If there is a reading, inspect for a solder short.  Press the power button.  The ohmmeter should indicate a complete circuit.




Getting The Extension Cable Outside.

Before reassembling the tablet,  you should consider how the cable should  be routed outside.  I chose to drill a small 5/32″ 4mm hole  in the back case.  See figure.


Reassemble Tablet And Test.

Carefully reverse the dis-assembly process, by reattaching the motherboard,  reconnecting the small ribbon cable, and lastly reconnecting the battery.  Test the new power cable by briefly touching the ends together.  The android should power on and boot up in the usual manner.  Once the unit has power up, test the power down sequence by touching the external power cable’s ends together for about ten seconds.  The screen should display the “power down” question and go blank when the two ends are released. Route the cable outside and re-assemble the front and rear case.

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Embedded Android Introduction

Occasionally, there is a need to have a application that does not depend upon the user pressing the start button when the system starts after power up. This is a series of posts about the hardware and software to achieve the standalone android. Typical might be remote data sensing and display, and kiosks that are left unattended.
Here’s a link to a detailed discussion

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Occupy Boston October 25, 2011 by Tom Birchmire

Needham, Ma is perhaps 11 miles from Dewey Square in downtown Boston and light-years away when measured in terms of social anxieties. In Needham, those concerns are about how much we will vote to raise our taxes to pay for the latest educational need, while in Dewey Square every raw social issue is expressed on hand lettered signs. One theme throughout the square is social inequality and how the system has been perverted to serve the privileged. Occupy Boston has another theme and that is more about the need to reach consensus on how to solve these issues. Needham is also connected to Boston and probably Dewey Square in a more physical way.

Beginning In the early 1800s and lasting until the early 1900s, the hills of Needham were scooped up, hauled by rail, and used to fill the Back Bay and other areas around Boston. As an historical footnote, the one gold nugget found in Needham, now resides in the Harvard museum. There’s a metaphor in all of this. (The hills of the farming community of Needham sent their essence to Boston and their one nugget to Harvard?) It’s only fair – now Boston sends its essence and gold to Needham.
With that history in mind I traveled this rare autumn afternoon by the Green line from Riverside at the end of the line, into the earth at Kenmore, to Park Station, transferred to the Red line, traveled two stations, and stepped out of South Station, into the sunlight, onto the edge of the current revolution in Boston at Dewey Square. The other more violent revolution started several blocks over back when this area was still under Boston Harbor. Other history factoid: Dewey Square was named after Admiral Dewey of Civil War and Spanish American War fame.

Camp Alex

When I came out of South Station I stared across Summer St and Atlantic Ave. Normally this tiny park, less than an acre in size, is home to an organic Farmer’s market. Today the Farmer’s market is still there but has been pushed to the South end of the park. The rest is covered with tents and protest signs. I decided to walk around a get a few pictures.

Lance Corporal Alexander S. Arredondo

In my mind, honoring those fallen in battle in Iraq isn’t a protest but more a reminder to us to remember our veterans. Lance Corporal Alexander S. Arredondo was on his second tour of duty when he was killed in battle in August 2004 while fighting in Najaf. Read more about Arrendondo
Continuing down the Atlantic Ave side, the mood changed. An earnest young guy dressed in camouflage was explaining his life view to a uniformed Boston cop who listened politely, interrupting only to say how a food donation could be delivered.

Rose Garden Protest Signs

There were a few protest signs neatly arranged along the Rose garden and a tent covered with slogans from friends and well wishers.

Well Wishers Sign-in Sheet

Around the corner was the answer to Mitt Romney’s “Corporations are People”  absurdity.

Answer to Romney






Turning inside the park, a group was drumming. Note the solar panel on the left. It turned out to be providing power to the media tent and not the band’s equipment.

Drummers and Solar Panel

Eventually, I went down an alley, a narrow path through the tents rather than the nice path, and listened to some mental health professionals calm down an overly excited young man. A number of social workers and mental health professionals volunteer their services as Occupy Boston is a focal point for all of society including the disturbed.
Ken was seating in a chair along the main walk chatting with a pleasant middle aged woman. She was trying to convince Ken an articulate black guy with the ability to ask insightful questions that almost immediately summed up his viewpoint and generally answered the question. The pleasant woman was trying to convince Ken that this country was the best ever after all “Wasn’t Obama a black guy president?” Ken looked around and just shook his head. The polite woman went on to say to me she liked coming down to Occupy Boston because she liked the food better than at the soup kitchen. I chatted with Ken for a while but he was much better asking questions about me than I was asking questions about him and getting any information.

Today's Activities

Up towards Occupy Boston’s entrance from the Farmer’s market there is a sort of an “In Charge” tent staffed with knowledgeable people. While I was studying the bulletin board which listed the day’s activities,  Karen the union electrician came by with a lady friend to see what was going on that hour. Karen volunteers as a guide to show people around. This was indeed fortunate because Karen appeared to know everyone and what was in each tent. The tour went by Ken, I waved as I went by, near the statue of Gandhi, past the food tent where volunteers were serving the donated meal of the hour, Karen stopped to open up a tent were she pointed out an exercise like bike that would also charge my phone, then to the media center where I obtained a copy of “OCCUPY!” an “OWS INSPIRED GAZETTE” to quote their logo below their large red font OCCUPY! title.

The grand tour

After Karen chatted with the media tent’s inhabitants, our tour continued past the band, and left down Atlantic Ave past some other tents who were there as a sort-of squatter like addition to Occupy Boston and down to the street to look over to an unoccupied bit of park. Earlier this month some people had tried to cross Congress St. and expand further into Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. At this several hundred police arrested some and the others were persuaded to return to Dewey Square. Mayor Menino always has a sense of the political wind and his actions hinted at a belief that peaceful protestors camping out in Dewey Square are one thing and allowing the tent city to expand into other areas would look like a loss of control on the issue.

Karen the Union Electrician

Food Tent

Karen eventually led me to the Farmer’s market where she needed to go to pickup a food donation for the food tent. The food tent relies upon donations, either that which can be served raw or is delivered cooked. Cooking is not allowed and evidently neither are Porta-Lets. South Station and its restrooms are open 24 hours a day. I thanked Karen for the tour and went back to the statue of Gandhi and to Ken and to listen to him interact with Bob who turned out to be one of the volunteers. From time to time, teams of two walked by carrying microphones and overly large TV cameras looking for people to interview for some of the local cable channels or maybe for their class media project. Today the major media were somewhere else. No blood, no riots, no major media presence no coverage.
Today Bob’s concerns were about attending the security discussion and how the question of who might volunteer to act as security could be handled. The sense of the issue was the Occupy facilitators wanted more volunteers to be involved with the security issues. The general philosophy is no one is all-the-time in charge of anything. Bob moved on and after a while Ken moved along. One of the things Bob mentioned was I could connect to the free internet, here at Dewey Square, with my smart phone and shortly afterward, some people could view Occupy Boston’s activity in real time video, in a café in Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia where it all began.

Shortly after that a pleasant but serious man came by handling out “FreeArnold” literature about the size of long postcards. Arnold Giammarco is in danger of being deported and the pleasant but serious man was a relative. FreeArnold Arnold is a veteran has made a mistake or two in his life but seems to have turned his and his wife’s life around and now is in danger of being deported.

It was getting late so I walked over to South Station, got on the Red Line, transferred to the Green Line at Park , boarded the D to Riverside car, arrived at Riverside, picked up my car, drove to Needham, stopped in at the local sub-shop, listening to protests gives one a hunger for a small super steak, drove home, where Wendy was working on a mosaic creation, and eventually sat down with a Dos Equi lager, turned on the TV, sat back and ate the small super steak sub, watched the news, sipped a little and thought about my day.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are often criticized because they don’t have demands. They can’t have demands because the things they are objecting to are symptoms of a malfunctioning social system.
Some of the symptoms are “Income Inequality”, “Unemployment for large numbers of people”, “Large amount of private and public debt”, and “Local and Federal Government running deficits” just to name a few. The Occupy movement is about building consensus, not about agreeing we have problems, but about a consensus on what to do. It is too early in the process to have demands. The country is only beginning to stir and it is early in the beginning of the election process. So far the discussion has been “let’s spend more money” and “let’s not.”

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY:  I’m ready to hear the proposals that go beyond “tax the rich“ or “flat tax” and address how some the gains in productivity can be used to correct this “Income Inequality.” I don’t know if correcting this inequality will help with the other problems but it’s a good start. We might try making the market work by putting “failure” back into “Too big to fail.”

The inequalities that led to the Arab Spring began long ago, but nothing happened until a street vendor in Tunisia, in Sidi Bouzid, felt so hopeless and so disrespected he set himself on fire in a public place. He could just have easily disappeared into some prison and then into in a secret grave in the desert. But he didn’t, he met his end in a public way, into the internet, into the Arab Spring, and hence to Dewey Square in Boston. The internet has connected us one to one so that obscure events in a unremarkable North African town have us occupying a square in Boston, occupying public spaces around the country, and in a nice turn connecting Dewey Square to Sidi Bouzid, that remote city in Tunisia.

The Boston Globe for October 27, 2011 has a nice article on local activism in Needham, Ma. It’s interesting how some guys in some tents in a Square in Boston are influencing actions in Needham a place where I thought the concerns were on “how much to raise our school taxes.” I should pay more attention.
Boston Globe Occupy Boston

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Wendy and Tom at a Halloween Party

Francis V,  a friend of ours in Salem, invited us to a Halloween party on October 22, 2011. Wendy came as an Angry Bird complete with sound and I as the Ghost of Programmers Past.  If you look closely at the cross, you can see the Pentium chip.  Some suggested I should be Intel Outside to complete the nerd humor.

Here are a few photos

Nerd discovers religion. Uses Pentium Cross.

Intel Outside

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New Hampshire wonderer finds its way to Rhode Island.

Plastic Mesh treatment disk about 2 inchs across.

Brenton Point RI Oct 15, 2011

On March 6th, 2011 the treatment plant at Hooksett, NH overflowed into the Merrimack River.  Ordinarily this would have passed without notice except this overflow carried several  million cute plastic disks with it.  These tiny mesh disks provide bacteria a place to cling to while they go about removing phosphorous and other impurities.  Eventually, they found their way down the river to the sea, where they began to show up on the beaches in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Long Island in New York.  There was no particular health problem as the sun and the scouring action of the surf pretty well cleaned them. I found this one on the beach at Brenton Point in Rhode Island on October 15, 2011 on a breezy Sunday afternoon.  It’s one of the unexpected bonuses to Geocaching.  Wendy and I found the geocache cleverly hidden on a bluff just above the beach.

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A great commercial that misses the target

Every time I see the Talbot’s commercial I think this is a great ad; it’s too bad I’m an old white guy instead of a 30 year old chic woman who is tuned into timeless fashion.  How could Talbots miss so completely.  If you are one of these 30 year old chic women with great style sense you can let me know what you think.  Indeed if you are a woman who buys clothes occasionally, you might venture your opinion of the ad.

Here’s a link to a complete version.   Dame Shirley Bassey and Propeller heads


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