Plantstation2 Logging with Logstash

Background Info

Last time I fiddled with Arduino, I built Plantstation, a system to ‘care’ for plants.


It kept track of ambient and soil temperature. It also kept track of soil moisture, humidity and ambient light levels. Based on this information, it used relays to manage both irrigation and artificial lights.
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Hydroponics System Update – Month One

This is an update of everything that has happened since I setup my first hydroponic system.


This is the second post; the first one is here.  For the past month, I’ve learned much about patience, balance and planning that I hope will make this system a success.  I still can’t hold a candle with my mom; she can grow anything just about anywhere…

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Hydroponics A-Frame Build Log

After the fact, here is a photo build log of step one; Building an a-frame hydroponics tree.  Most of the knowledge in building this comes from here and here. It is a shame that the second site has had all the pages removed.  This person did so much good work.  Regardless, the cached version of his instructions, the ones I followed, are here.  You might as well print that and follow it.  I pretty much did what he did…

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Polar M400 Sync Fail Workaround

tl;dr – First put the phone in airplane mode.  Next, sync your activity  to the phone.  Lastly, take  airplane mode off and sync your activity to Polar Flow.

I ran after flying and hadn’t taken phone off of airplane mode; happy coincidence.  Here’s the complete rundown that works for me.

First, put the phone on airplane mode, then open the Polar Flow App.  A popup asking for permission to turn Bluetooth on appears; say yes.  Next, sync your M400 with your phone as usual.

On the phone, you will be able to tell that your activity has been uploaded (to phone, not to Polar) by looking at the daily activity window.  This window will have noted your activity in the doughnut chart.  Your activity will NOT show in the training portion of the app.  Close the Polar Flow app.  This completes step on.

Lastly, just take airplane mode off and open the Polar Flow app again.  Now just wait for app to syn to Polar site.  After the usual wait, your activity will show up in the training portion of app, success!

Once the activity has been recorded (you will see the circle graph

Polar M400 syncc Fail Android Workaround

Two-step.  First sync watch with Android phone in Airplane Mode.  Watch will state sync fail… let it be.  Run will NOT show up in Flow app in phone. Lastly, turn Airplane mode off and sync app again (so that it syncs with Polar service this time.)

Filadelfia Plantation – Express Coffee Tour

This is the entrance to Filadelfia Coffee Plantation.  Having recently gone on a coffee tour here, I’ve decided to photo-blog the tour to share.  Every inaccuracy here is mine.  My tour guide, David, was awesome, patient and knowledgeable in everything coffee.  It is my failure if much is lost here.  For the best experience possible, take the tour!

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Alexa Skill Published

Turnaround time from submission to Amazon response was but a few days. My skill was rejected because I hadn’t properly setup ‘out’ links from skill.


The root cause was that my links were going to the rss page itself.  I did not know why I even needed links; I thought it was part of the RSS Feed Spec Amazon required.  However,  In the Amazon Website, you can click ‘read more’ for ever news item read


This was an easy enough fix.  I just used Google to take care of the outbound link and resubmitted my skill.  I also added a case for when there hasn’t been a notable death in a while.



I got a response in a few days telling me that now my skill has been approved and you can see it in Alexa’s Skill site.


I am really impressed with the Alexa Development Ecosystem and the capabilities of the platform.  It has been a breeze to find my way around.  This changes everything in development.  I believe it will not take long before there’s Alexa’s everywhere doing so many useful things.

Building An Alexa Skill – Who Passed Away?

Motivation often comes when multiple things come together.  I started running three years ago when my (first and second) doctor said I was fat, Zombies was all the craze and Zombies Run, the phone app, was created.  I’ve since made running a part of my life and my life is much better now but I digress.

Sometimes, the end results are not this significant.  Regardless, Amazon recently discounted the  Amazon Echo to $40, I had a week of forced vacations at work and also had to sit house while some tile work.  On a very sour side note, a lot of notable people are passing away.  This past week, George Micheal, Carrie Fisher (and Carrie’s mom, Debbie Reynolds) and Vera Rubin left us.  Having been playing with Alexa for a few days, I wondered: ‘How difficult would it be? – to have Alexa tell me who just died’.

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Kaggle – Bimbo Group Wrap-up


I scored top 65% ranking on the private leaderboard, which counts as the official score for this contest. Of 1,969 teams, my team (myself) ranked 1,261 using RMSLE as the measurement of accuracy with 0.56330. 



For the public leaderboard however, I got 18% ranking instead with an RMSLE of 0.45970.

This second score is a lot better because I was able to submit my model for scoring, up to three times a day, and refine my model accordingly.  At some point, I was was ranked top 11% but this was short lived, lasting no more than a week or so before some statistic giants woke up and ate my lunch.


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