i wasn't expecting to see snow this morning. don had already shoveled his portion of the sidewalk, so i felt obligated to do mine as well. there wasn't a lot of snow, maybe a centimeter at most, but with the temperature hovering below the freezing mark, none of it was going to melt anytime soon. most nearby neighbors didn't bother shoveling their sidewalks, but i did mine anyway, despite having a hard time because there had already been traffic on it and much of the snow was already compacted. i also noticed that weren't any footprints on the front porch, meaning my upstairs neighbors weren't home, despite their cars parked outside. they probably weren't home yesterday, but i could've sworn i heard music, but maybe it was just my traumatized imagination playing tricks.

my toilet has been acting strangely lately. after i flush it, it still seems to be slowly trickling water into the bowl. normally that'd be a flapper problem, and those things are easy to replace, except the trickle will stop eventually. i finally opened up the tank to see what's going on. the water seems to be coming from the overflow spout. maybe it's always done this and i've only just noticed. but i tried to fix it by adjusting the limiting rod of the float valve, and somehow i made it worse. now when i flush the toilet, it doesn't fill the tank for the first 10-15 seconds, and then i hear it filling. toilets don't scare me, and if anything breaks it's easy to repair (i replaced fill valve back in 2009). eventually i adjusted the toilet back to the way it was before. i can live with a small overflow trickle, no harm no foul.

later after some leftover pizza for lunch, i shoveled into the backyard to retrieve my utility bicycle. i wanted to go to chinatown to get some kimchi ingredients (going to make a second batch with fresh pepper powder this time), but first i made a short trip to market basket to buy some kitchen paper towels. i didn't plan on getting anything else but still spent nearly $20 (that seems to be my weekly grocery allowance, regardless if i'm cooking or not). the weather was raw enough that it made me reconsider going to chinatown. i'll probably regret it because today seems like the last day of good biking weather, before the possibility of more than a foot of snow falling on boston tomorrow. if precipitation amount holds true, this will be our biggest snowstorm in 2 years, which is kind of exciting but also scary.

i made a trip down to the community garden in the afternoon. i was curious to see my old plot, but my real reason for going was to double visit 4 pokestops to stock up on pokemon supplies (primarily pokeballs). it's sort of weird being there because i don't yet have a garden for next season, as my plot will be turned into a park pathway. at the very least i will get a new plot at the back of the community garden, but it's a tough place to grow because it's underneath a rather large tree. i'm hoping i'll get lucky in the plot lottery and get one of the sunnier plots in front of the garden. i knew they chopped down the mulberry tree but it was still unreal to see it missing from the landscape. a large snow-covered stump was the only evidence there once was a majestic tree here. i was also glad to see my larkspur seedlings still doing well despite the snow. if we get an early spring, i might be able to dig some more out before the city finally reclaim my garden.

i finally got around to playing around with the 433MHz receiver (larger, right) and transmitter (left) modules. after reading up various articles about the 433MHz modules (1 2 3 4 5) and then familiarizing myself with the mini breadboard so i attached the modules in the right position, i began connecting the data/power/ground connectors of the module to the GPIO port of the raspberry pi 3. i used GPIO17 for transmitting and GPIO27 for receiving.

next i installed some software. first was wiringPi; not really sure what it does, but many 433 MHz tools require it, so i installed it. then i installed the 433Utils. i couldn't get the code to compile until i redownloaded all the files again using git clone --recursive git://github.com/ninjablocks/433Utils.git to recursively download the rc-switch submodule as well. that compiled successfully, and i was able to run sudo ./RFSniffer to receive the 6-digit on/off codes from my light switch remote. the 433MHz receiver has a very short range - just a few inches - i basically had to point the remote next to the module. next i tried running codesend but it didn't do anything. either the code didn't work, or maybe the transmitting module was broken.

i ended up downloading tim leland's rfoutlet package. he has his own RFSniffer which not only showed me the 6-digit code but also the pulse length. when i click the button on the remote, it actually sends out the signal code multiple times, sometimes at different pulse length. rfoutlet also comes with its own version of sendcode. when i issued the command sudo ./codesend 349644 -l 184 -p 0 one of my living room light turned off. success!

here's what i discovered from testing: the transmitter has a longer range than the receiver, but it still needs line of sight. i was able to control the lights in the living room, and also the light in the small hallway area next to the living room. however, it wasn't able to turn on the light at the far end of the house, although it did work once but i couldn't get it to repeat. the transmitter has a place where you can solder an antenna, and i jerryrigged something simple with a piece of wire tie, but that still didn't work. maybe it needs to be something more conductive, like a length of copper wire.

but as a proof of concept, i know it can be done, that the raspberry pi can be used to control my lights. the next step is to tie it into a web server, so i can control the lights remotely from the internet when i'm not home. it'd also be cool if i can control the lights using voice commands, but i wasn't very successful playing around with the voice input software a few weeks ago (i think the problem was hardware related, need to get a better microphone and try again).

for dinner i heated up two slices of chicken pot pie. feeling the need to snack on something sour, i filled up a small bowl of homemade sauerkraut to eat. i watched the 2-hour premiere of emerald city on NBC, a new series about the land of oz. story-wise there were some weak points, but the show looks fantastic, directed by tarsem singh.