Asia Trip 2019 part 1/2 Chongqing China

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 16:53

For work I got to spend a few weeks in and around Chongqing China as well as Taipei. Apparently Chongqing has more people living in it than the entire great state of Texas, and I had not even heard of it before I was told to go there. I enjoyed the hell out of this trip, was a great time. The locals in both countries were very friendly and I got tons of photos. Also my travelling companions from Google were awesome, was great to have them with me.

me at river
Me at the Yangtze River and

Stepping off the airplane was invigorating yet terrifying. I initially landed in Beijing and had to catch a domestic transfer to my final destination. The Beijing airport is not particularly difficult for foreigners but its definitely not a walk in the park! Once I got on the transfer I did not see another Westerner for quite some time.

I learned probably 20-30 Mandarin words specifically for this trip. If you ever go I highly recommend learning at least some of the language, many of the things I did while I was there were only possible because I could speak and recognize some words. 

I bought a Chinese SIM card off of Amazon before travelling, I highly recommend this for anyone travelling there. You will still have to tunnel out of the Great Firewall with a VPN but you need internet these days. I also highly recommend two phones, one with the google translate app and the other for browsing. That way you can easily use Didi (Chinese Uber equivalent) and other services that would otherwise be unavailable.

View from my hotel
View from my hotel

Dinner the first night I went all out. All of this was only $30! I only drank beer eating out because of prior experience in China, avoid the water at all costs. In this case I think the compromise to accomplish this was fairly minimal :) .

Sailing Trip

Submitted by Matt on Thu, 05/16/2019 - 19:30

We got invited to go sailing on a private catamaran with 3 other couples in the British Virgin Islands. It was pretty bad-ass.

Drone pic of our boat
Drone picture of our boat at an anchorage 


Sailing path
I setup a Raspberry Pi with a GPS module to record our position throughout the trip.


The Ship
The Fin and Tonic (our ship)


New Tesla Model 3

Submitted by Matt on Sat, 07/28/2018 - 16:48

So after paying a $1000 deposit almost 3 years ago I finally have a new car! It is wonderful so far.

Matt and Kat Tesla Model 3

It is the most technologically advanced car ever made, and likely will be so for some time. The infotainment system is probably 2 decades ahead of what any other automaker provides.

BONUS: The dog seems to like it as well!

dog in car



New Zealand 2016

Submitted by Matt on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 10:39

We took a trip to New Zealand in late February.

Weiheke Island
Weiheke Island Winery

We got a steal of a deal on some nonestop New Zealand Air tickets. We paid $1000 for two tickets round trip thanks to Cyber Monday in 2015. We had not been specifically looking for tickets to NZ. But we had been eager for a getaway after we got suckered out of our winter break due to work commitments. So when I saw the deal I pounced.

I had always heard NZ was a nice country to visit, but I had no idea what we were in store for. The place was literally magical, I can see why they chose to film lots of movies there.

Some of the more impressive photos are attached below:

Sailboat Pic
Evening Sail in Lake Taupo


Wellington Sunset
Wellington Sunset


Weiheke Beach House
Weiheke Beach House


Weiheke Island Grilling
Weiheke Island Grilling


Falcon 9 Has Landed

Submitted by Matt on Tue, 12/29/2015 - 14:17

SpaceX has successfully landed one of their first stage rocket boosters after putting a payload in orbit. This has never been done before.


For all space launches in history (except for this one), the first stage is jettisoned and destroyed during reentry.

The reason space exploration is so expensive for individuals corporations and even governments is the cost of launching mass into orbit. This is due in part to the expense of having to build and throw away the first stage for every launch.

A good analogy:

Imagine if commercial airlines had to throw away their Boeing 747s after every international flight. If this were the case, each trip would be so prohibitively expensive that no one except the richest people would be able to pay for it.

The Falcon 9 is the first rocket engineered from the ground up with reuse in mind. Hopefully we see many more Falcon 9 boosters recovered next year. If so, we could see the cost of launching something into orbit fall by as much as 80% by some highly optimistic estimations. This could mark the beginning of a new space age.

Launch and Landing


Pluto Footage From New Horizons

Submitted by Matt on Sun, 12/06/2015 - 20:54

NASA Just released recently received footage from the New Horizons probe

These images were taken a few months ago. But we are just now receiving them as they are transmitted back through the Deep Space Network.

Pretty crazy to think about how far away Pluto is. It receives about 1% of the sunlight that the earth receives.






Pluto And Its Moons


Testing Out This CMS

Submitted by Matt on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 13:56

My Drupal 7 install had some issues. Rather than fix the issues I am just going to go ahead and install Drupal 8.

Testing inline images

Earth Mars














Testing the new WYSIWYG editor

UPDATE: So far i think Drupal 8 is far superior to 7 so I will be sticking with it. I will be importing my old articles one by one.


Power Hour App

Submitted by Matt on Sat, 11/14/2015 - 15:07

I recently needed to write a quick power hour app for an event at my house.

Power hour screen shot

The app works with any music playing software. I personally like to use use Spotify. Be sure and have whatever player you are using open and the playlist queued up prior to pressing "Start/Resume." This app needs no special APIs to control the trackes. It uses the media forward button to do all the work. There is a siren on the transition to every song. Enjoy!

It was a quick and dirty implementation but it gets the job done. This was written in C# and runs on Windows. App and zipped source is attached for now. I will be opening a github or public git soon that has the code, so stay tuned!

I may add features and port it to Android/iOS later if there is need.