1994 Fender Blues Deluxe (reissue) Amp For Sale

I’ve lost count of how long I’ve been gigging with this amplifier. At least 10 years. Maybe closer to 15. It’s played hundreds of shows, that’s for sure. And it has never let me down. 

I’m thinking about selling it because I am too old to carry it around any more. It’s not that it’s *that* heavy. It’s just not light and I need something light.

It is cosmetically beat up, for sure. But is sounds amazing and is so much more reliable than any of the crazy expensive amps (Victoria, etc.) that other guitarists I’ve played with use.

According to the fender website this amp was manufactured around September 1994. It’s got a 12” speaker and 40watts of tube power. Read more specs here.

Here are some pictures. If you are interested, drop me an email or DM me @sjwillis on twitter.

DSCF0242

DSCF0244

DSCF0243

Securing websites with a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt

In trying to harden my WordPress install that’s hosted on Linode I decided to enable https for encrypting the login page. At first I just went with the old self-signed certificate route and it was fine but boy did I have to jump through some hoops to get iOS/my iPhone to play nicely.

Then I noticed that Google’s Chrome browser was giving me a “not secure” message on my site (and on the other sites I host on Linode) and realized that Google no-likey the self-signed certificates and further research showed that Google may actually penalize your site in search results if you don’t have a CA-signed SSL cert.

I didn’t want to pay for an SSL cert just to encrypt my WordPress login and googling didn’t return much until I came across Linode’s great documentation for Securing HTTP Traffic with Certbot.

Here I learned about Let’s Encrypt and the way they handle requesting certificates. Super, super cool. And Free. And with the instructions from Linode it was so easy to do.

And now none of my hosted sites are getting that pesky Not-Secure error from Google Chrome!

Paradigm PDR subwoofer repair

TL;DR, if your paradigm PDR-10 isn’t powering on automatically, check the fuse. It can be easily accessed by removing the back panel of the subwoofer.

Sunday morning and I had the house to myself for a few hours so decided to listen to my favorite recording of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Firing up the 3rd and 4th movements really loud always serves to restore my faith in humanity. 

paradigm pdr 10

Anyway, a few bars into the 3rd movement and I knew something was up with my hifi. My Vandersteen’s sounded a bit thin and I noticed that my subwoofer power light wasn’t on. The paradigm pdr-10 that I have is not a great subwoofer but the vandersteens towers that I have are such that they only need a tiny bit of reinforcement in the very bottom end so it works for me. It is supposed to power on automatically once it detects a signal from the receiver but for some reason it wasn’t powering on and I couldn’t get the light on the front to come on. 

I hit pause on the symphony and brought the subwoofer over to my kitchen table where a few screws later I determined that a blown fuse was likely my problem. Unfortunately this was not an easy fuse to source. It is a 1 1/2 amp time delay fuse. My local hardware store, which has EVERYTHING didn’t have it but they did test the fuse I brought in and confirmed it was blown so I knew I was on the right track.

IMG 0384

 

Ultimately I purchased the replacement part from Amazon and finally got around to hearing the 4th movement in all of its bottom-heavy beauty. 

This is the fuse you want to order:

IMG 0385

Amazon Dash button to call an Applescript

The other day Amazon put several of their Amazon Dash buttons on sale for $1.99. I picked up a few.

The first project I tackled was to get a Dash button to let everyone in the house know that the dog has been fed. This was pretty easy. 

  • Someone feeds the dog and presses the Dash button on the dog food bin
  • a computer on my network (a MacBook Air in my stereo cabinet) running Dasher listens for the Dash button to be pressed
  • that computer uses some java code to call a pre-defined IFTTT webhooks/Maker URL
  • that triggers a text message to everyone in the family that the dog has been fed

There are step by step instructions for doing much of this in this article. It is surprisingly easy and relies upon the Dasher project code. 

As I started looking at the Dasher code I realized that it also had a hook for ExecFile and that could be used to call a script/program etc instead of just calling a URL. Super!

Using an Amazon Dash Button to Play a Spotify Playlist

Most of the dash button hacks that people have documented rely on IFTTT. While IFTTT is no doubt super useful, I needed a bit more granularity in what I wanted my buttons to do and wanted to be able to call something more robust like a python or AppleScript file when the button was pressed. As a starter project, I wrote an AppleScript that checks the current time of day and then launches a playlist (and sets the volume) for that time of day. Unfortunately I could not get Dasher to work with the AppleScript.

I tried:

  • Saving the script as a compiled application and calling it in the command section, this just errored out and didn’t give me any clues
  • Then I wrapped the AppleScript in a shell script calling it with osascript, that errored out with a (-600) “application isn’t running” error which told me that at least the script was getting launched but wouldn’t run right
  • Then I realized that the process calling the shell script was running as root and as such the AppleScript was being called from root.
  • At first I tried all sorts of setuid BS on the shell script but that didn’t work
  • Then in an aha! moment I changed the shell script from ‘osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt” to:
    • sudo -u jimwillis osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt
  • Voila! It worked like a champ, I just needed to make sure that the AppleScript was being called/run as me, not root!

Calling an AppleScript from Dasher

So the key here is:

Setup Dasher to call a shell script in the dasher config.json file, like this:

{
"name": “Spotify-button",
"address": "78:E1:03:C5:D8:AF",
"cmd": "/Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify.sh",
"debug": false
}

Then, make sure that the AppleScript is running as you, not root by calling osascript with sudo -u {yourUserName}, so the shell script I’m calling is just a one-liner that looks like:

sudo -u jimwillis osascript /Users/jimwillis/bin/scripts/spotify_launch.scpt

Have fun!!  Huge thanks to John Maddox for writing Dasher and Jeff MacDonald for the great HowTo