Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Installing Sirius into a Chevrolet Silverado

This install was performed on a 2000 Chevy Silverado using the KTC-H2EC kit from Kenwood which includes the Sirius receiver and car installation accessories. In addition to this package you will also need:
  1. Panavise dashmount 751101799
  2. PIE GM9-AUX converter
  3. 6-ft shielded audio cables (Radioshack part no. 42-2483)
  4. Four 16-gauge butt crimps
  5. At least 2 ft. of 16-gauge wire
Wiring that allows for a direct connection to the vehicle's switched power is included but the included wire is too short for the Silverado's dash length. Therefore you will need to splice in an additional foot of wire using the 16-gauge wire listed. You will also use the butt crimps in this step. Be sure to splice it on the side between the in-line fuse and the connection to the car so as to not interfere with routing through the dash and into the receiver.

After splicing, you will need to open the fusebox located on the lower part of the dashboard on the driver's side. It is accessible when the door on that side is open. Attach the negative lead to the lower bolt on the inside of the fuse panel. Wrap the positive lead around one of the posts of the fuse labelled RDO #1. This will allow the unit to perform just like the radio, even staying on when the car is off until the door is opened. The labelling for the fuses can be found on the plastic piece covering the fuses.

This shows the fusebox covering removed

Next we'll want to attach the antenna for the receiver to the roof. Remove the third brakelight above the rear window using a screwdriver. Thread the antenna wire over to the passenger side using a coat hanger. On the passenger side of the car you will need to pull out the tabs holding the overhead handles in place. Once these are loose you can pull down on the handles to remove the edge of the headlining. You can then push the coat hanger through and thread the antenna wire the rest of the way down past the A-pillar and just below the glove box.

The tabs on the handles need to be pulled out

Now we'll want to get the audio portion hooked up. Make sure that the vehicle has the parking brake on and is on a flat surface. Put the key in the ignition and turn it once so that you can put the vehicle in 1st gear. As well, move the steering wheel into the lowest position. Remove the ashtry and feel underneath the bezel of the dashboard. Pull gently until you hear a click and it comes away from the rest of the dash. Continue in this fashion counter-clockwise around the edges of the bezel until you have completely removed it.

The stereo headunit is held in place by a clip on either side. Remove the unit and do the same for the environmental controls located just underneath it. Using the harness that comes with the GM9-AUX, route the end with the 9-pin connector up behind where the stereo would go leaving the other end to come out in the space below. Put some strong adhesive tape, such as duct tape, on the bottom of the GM9-AUX unit itself and place it just behind where the environmental controls would go. Plug the clear plastic connect on the harness into the GM9-AUX and plug the other end of the harness into the 9-pin connector on the back of the stereo headunit. Then plug the stereo plugs of the 6-ft. audio cable into the other side of the GM9-AUX and route the stereo wires into the compartment just right of it.

The harness included with the GM9-AUX plugs into the back of the stereo headunit

The GM9-AUX fits snugly behind the environmental controls

Now you'll want to route the power cable and antenna cable into the same compartment as the stereo cables were routed. Eventually these three cables will come out of the right side of the bezel via a drill hole. When drilling the bezel, keep in mind you will need a 1/2" drill size for a 3/8" grommet. As well, a small notch will need to be cut out next to the hole to fit the wires through since the right-angle plugs make fishing them through the hole impossible. At this step you will also want to finish up the antenna installation. Center the Sirius antenna on the roof using the length of the wire protector as a guide. Be sure to wipe down the area where the wire protector will go with isopropyl alcohol so that it will adhere cleanly. Reattach the third brake light after you are finished with this.

The power, stereo and antenna wires will exit the bezel on the right side

The Sirius antenna with a clean centered look

Using the bolts found on the upper right edge of the dash where the bezel would be attach the Panavise dashmount. Reattach the bezel to the dash by gently pushing in the edges of it and moving in a clockwise fashion around the rest of the bezel. Cut the 3/8" grommet in half so you can put the wires through it. Using a small jeweler's flathead screwdriver, gently push the grommet into the 1/2" drilled hole in the bezel making sure the wires are long enough to reach the dashmount. Attach the Sirius receiver's dock to the dashmount using the four small screws provided with the H2EC kit. Plug the wires into their respective inputs and plug the receiver into the dock. Provided the radio is on then your Sirius receiver should be on too though you may have to press the power button (the small upside-down red triangle) the first time. You may also need to press the CD/AUX button to select that audio input. Congratulations, you are now ready to activate your Sirius receiver and enjoy radio again.

Final installation


Email me at sean.soper@gmail.com if you have any.

Legal stuff
All brands mentioned in this document are copyright of their respective owners. I am not responsible if your equipment or vehicle malfunctions after following these instructions. You may copy this information as you see fit but please cite this article as a source if you do so.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Syriana' proposes bold changes for US foreign policy

The mechanisms of terrorism are complex and interwoven but capturing that interplay is what Steven Gaghan attempts with his latest film Syriana. It starts out in modern day Iran showing a beautiful and scantily-clad young Persian woman preparing to leave a Western-style party by covering up in the heavy dress required by that country's religious leaders. This stark contrast between appearance and reality sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The opening scene is not the only one where a hijab and abaya are present. Much of the movie takes place in the Middle East and concerns the plans of Prince Nasir Al-Subaai, played by the very talented Alexander Siddig of DS9 fame. Throw in a CIA agent who has outlived his usefulness, a genius economist, a no-holds barred lawyer and some greedy oil executives and you get a full-blown Parallax View-like movie revolving around our ever-increasing need for oil.

Now this movie is not for those looking for cheap thrills or a sultry love story. It requires intelligence and quickness to keep up with the tempo. The scenes come at you at a fairly brisk pace and the large number of seemingly extraneous characters can be confusing. But the payoff at the end of the film is well worth any resultant head-scratching for with this movie comes a powerful and very real message: the US substitutes short-term gain for long-term prosperity and in the process creates its own enemies.

The worst part of it is that there are well-meaning people working against our best interests without even knowing it. A lawyer fighting to put corrupt oil executives behind bars can't possibly be expected to know that their actions are helping to create suicide bombers on the other side of the globe. And thus it is with this powerful imagery that we are shown how a contradictory foreign policy works against our long-term interests.

If we are to survive the next century, what with being sandwiched between China's growing need for oil and the Middle East's increasingly turbulent atmosphere, then we will need to have a unified approach to foreign policy. The doctrine that gave the mujahideen arms to defeat the Soviets but not the means to rule themselves democratically once the Soviets left will not pass muster in this new century. We must stop seeing only the short-term gains. Our long-term survival depends on it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Howard Stern's last day on Earth

Today was Howard Stern's last day on terrestrial (or as Sirius puts it, boring and old-fashioned) radio. Being as my commute is only 30 minutes I didn't get to hear alot of it and certainly not any of the show that he did out in the street. But all-in-all it sounded like a great time was had by everybody. What is curious though is that I wouldn't have really cared much a few years ago about what was going on with the Stern show.

Back then I was only a casual listener, tuning into him when the other stations went to ads. It seemed repetitive what with the Whack Pack always on. That and it appeared that the show existed just to get the biggest gross-out [nsfw] possible. But then the FCC clamped down on him and the pro-censor activists came out in force to push him off the air. They'd been trying for years but now they had the federal government on their side.

In what has turned out to be a stunning move, Howard took what he'd been fighting nearly since the show's inception and turned it into a cause célèbre that people could rally around. Suddenly he was the symbol of a generation tired of having government censors dictate what they could hear. And our weapon of choice was not here on Earth but high up in space.

Before Howard's announcement, satellite radio was a steady but slow-growth technology for tech watchers. But since that fateful day 14 months ago (I remember every detail of what I was doing when I heard the news) satellite radios have skyrocketed in popularity. Like Prometheus bringing fire to Man, so Howard has brought censorship-free radio to America.

Let us hope that he escapes Prometheus' fate.

Monday, December 12, 2005

SUSE 10 and a glass of gin and tonic

For the purpose of installing Battlefield 2 onto my computer, I had to create more room on my Windows partition. I had considered simply attempting to resize my existing partitions but was advised against this by a friend familiar with fsck (pronounced f-suck due to its unwieldy interface and ability to induce psychosis). So it appeared that I would need to reinstall Linux if I were to expand my Windows partition. Having just found out that SUSE 10 was released via openSUSE, I now had a good excuse to spend my evening installing the latest version of my favorite distro.

But I was to be disappointed because SUSE 10 practically installs itself. After downloading the boot ISO image and burning it to disc, I then copied down all the relevant information about my chosen installation server. In this case I chose suse.mirrors.tds.net (path to install is /pub/opensuse/distribution/SL-10.0-OSS/inst-source). The partitioning took a few minutes to set up properly as I ended up having to delete all the Linux partitions, expand the Windows partition, and then recreate the ones required for SUSE 10. Package selection hadn't changed since 9.1 (my first experience with SUSE) and hardware detection got everything. It even got my 11-in-1 card reader which 9.1 had refused to recognize.

Upon reboot, my system came up quickly, much quicker than it had with the previous version of SUSE. Within 30 minutes I had Firefox, Thunderbird and my ATI drivers all installed without any issue. Hence the reference to gin and tonic in the title. It really did take me less time to install SUSE 10, package download notwithstanding, than to drink a 10 oz. glass of my favorite mixed drink. And now that I can get my camera's pictures without having to boot into Windows, the only reason to keep that OS on my hard drive is to play sweet games.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Using CSS constants with PHP

I ran across an article the other day using my favorite Web 2.0 app that described how to use constants in CSS with PHP. The author's method I felt was a bit overly complicated however since it required the use of an additional file that would essentially replace the embeded PHP variables with their respective values. I think there is a much easier way to do this which I will demonstrate.

** file: mycss.php **
<? $mycolor = "blue"; ?>

.myclass {
font-size: 12pt;
color: <? echo $mycolor ?>
** file: index.php **
<link rel="stylesheet" href="mycss.php" type="text/css">
<span class="myclass">Hello world!</span>
This works because PHP is interpreting the CSS file as if it were PHP code. After it interprets it, what is left is CSS code and thanks to the type directive in the link tag, that is how it is rendered by the browser. Hence, no need for an additional file that does a massive search and replace. An online example can be found at my site.

The next challenge for me is to get something like this working in Ruby on Rails.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A reason to hope

First, I would like to try and explain my previous post. I wrote that after having a great evening at my company's Christmas party hosted at the Suntree Country Club. In only the few months that I've been here I have made so many friends and learned so much. I suppose looking back on where I was last year at this time, desperately searching for a new job, and comparing it to now, things have definitely changed. And this came out a bit stronger than I had anticipated. Regardless, I don't regret writing any of it.

Now I was going to use this space to write about the contribution that Open Source software, or OSS, has and will continue to make to our society at both the commerical and public sector level. But today I found out some news which really disappointed me. My friend and boss has decided to move on. Now it's not exactly public info quite yet but since nobody reads my blog I think I'm in the clear.

The last boss that I can really remember liking was five years ago when I worked for a company called ID Training. I only worked there for a few months during the summer of 2000 but I had a great time and really got to know the people there. It was painful to hear that just a few months later nearly everyone was laid off and the company was literally scrapped for parts. Anyways, my boss's name was Andy and he was super laid back. He kept me on track to finish my projects but also gave me my creative space to explore new forthcoming technologies.

My bosses of the past few years have not had such great track records. My last one liked to square the peons, namely us, off against each other in a vain effort to raise their own status. The one before that made a habit of sleeping with team members. Neither of these methods are what we would call good for 'team building'. So as you can see, my view of management had been greatly diminished by the time I arrived at my current employer. But within a short amount of time, I had a whole new perspective.

My boss Ryan never pretended to be above us but the way he treated the group got us to give him our respect. We could always count on him to get us what we needed to do our job and to those requests that were out-of-scope he gave us an honest answer. And he always put the welfare of the team above his own. I do not hand out praise like this lightly. He truly is a great manager and he will be sorely missed.

However, I must also look to the future and that means dealing with his replacement, for better or worse. In my limited experience with upper management, I think I have a lot to be hopeful for. Procedures are firmly in place within this organization and training for managers is required. Such assignments are not handed out solely based on time served. As well, yearly surveys are issued to employees to measure their managers' abilities and these results are pored over for signs of weak leaders.

So even though the best manager I've had in a long time has decided to move on, I'm not sad. I am happy that he is pursuing what is essentially his life's dream. And I am also confident that whatever person does come in to fill those very large shoes will have the training and experience necessary to do the job.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The importance of camaraderie in the work environment

I just got back from a Christmas party thrown by my company and let me tell you, it was a blast. In over three years of working at Harris I never had as good a time as I did tonight. Everybody was there from customer service on up to the executives and nobody was made to feel left out. Throw in the great food and the 'liquid' refreshments provided and it made for the best company Christmas party that I've ever been to.

Truth be told, this is the first company Christmas party that I have been to as Harris never threw one. It might have been because of the number of people in the organization but it was probably more likely due to the fact that the previous company I worked for was run by a bunch of cheap bastards. From shitty pay to horrible management, Harris has shown itself as a company unwilling to make the necessary investment to keep its employees truly happy.

The thing that brings employees together is not the common banner under which they provide labor for but instead the goal that will bring them a sense of satisfaction in their lives. Naturally this was something that Harris was never able to provide but they attempted to make up for it by always having a plethora of projects available for me to work on. Yet with my new company, despite the large number of projects that need attention, I always know that the goal of helping people is there just waiting to be attained. It must sound cheesy for those of you reading this but from my point of view it's an absolutely novel concept.

My division provides first rate medical care for those in Brevard county and will most likely enjoy many more profitable years. Their goal is not the largest profit nor the lowest operating cost but instead it is to have the happiest customers. This might sound like a strange goal for an insurance company but it's true. After bullshitting with the guys from claims and boogying with the ladies from HR, I really feel like a part of the family.

This company has treated me better in the past five months than Harris ever did in the previous three years. As a result, I will work harder and more diligently for this company than I ever have before. I want this company to succeed and my work will show that.