Reviving my Asus Transformer TF700T with the KatKiss ROM

Buying the TF700T had been a mistake. It was ahead of its time and not powerful enough for the tablet it wanted to be. I hadn’t given myself enough time to try it out during the return period, so I was stuck with it. I tried reflashing it with other ROMs like CROMBi-kk, but the lack of responsiveness still drove me crazy. I put the tablet in our old electronics bin and moved on. It survived a number of e-recycling purges through the years partly because it looked in such good condition that it would be a shame to throw away, and partly because it was too frustrating a machine to inflict on anyone else.

Now we find ourselves with a toddler who wants to type. W- fixed up his old X220 tablet PC to boot to console mode with 640×480 resolution so that the text is easy to see, but it’s heavy and has poor battery life. A- declared the Sony Vaio U1 to be too small for her, so we dusted off the TF700T and W- found the charger. It was still frustratingly slow. We want computing to be pleasant. I didn’t want to give up hope, though, especially since I’d found surprisingly recent Reddit threads about people using the TF700T.

Formatting the tablet took longer than I thought it would, but fortunately the forum posts reassured me that I didn’t mess it up. After that, I reflashed it to KatKiss Nougatella following the instructions for reflashing the TF700, it actually became somewhat usable. I installed a text editor and an SSH client, docked it into the keyboard, and let A- play.

A-‘s okay with using the TF700, although she misses using F1 to bring up the help screen in Vim. (W-‘s influence! Maybe I can sneak in some Emacs if I remap Emacs’ F1 to bring up something like view-hello-file…) We’re still leaning towards the X220 since it’s more configurable, but the TF700 can be good for guided exploration too.

We don’t care about making sure A- learns how to type so early, and she’s got plenty of time to do other non-computer things. But sometimes she sees W- working on his laptop and she wants to do it too, so she might as well do something useful. I kinda like how her interface is pretty basic. No whizbang animations enticing her to play, just the feedback of seeing text appear on the screen as she presses buttons. She can toggle Caps Lock to make uppercase and lowercase letters, and she knows how to make “?” by pressing Shift with another key. She can spell her name if we tell her which letters to look for. If she happens to type 1 and 0 in the process of banging on the keyboard, she reads it out as “ten.” We’ll let her explore when that’s what she’s curious about, and we’ll also draw her away from it with lots of other activities and by keeping it out of sight as needed.

We have another under-utilized Android tablet. The TF700T’s special because it has a docking keyboard and therefore passes A-‘s “Is this a laptop?” test, while the tablet + Bluetooth keyboard combination does not. I wonder what we’ll end up doing with it. Who knows, if the battery life isn’t dismal, I might even end up using it for writing once A- is old enough for drop-off classes.

Hooray for people working on making old tech more usable!

2018-12-31 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, /r/planetemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Weekly review: Week ending December 28, 2018

This week was mostly about recovering from coughs, colds, and ear infection (A-), and working on cooking more often.

  • Kaizen
    • W- reminded me that I can take the initiative instead of basically looking for permission or approval when planning meals.
    • Watching cooking videos together with W- seems to be a good way to be inspired to cook new recipes.
  • Us
    • I wiped down the dressers and changed the sheets.
    • I rolled out a pizza crust, but it turned out too flat.
    • I stayed up to watch Ant Man and the Wasp.
    • We were lucky to get groceries before the supermarket lost power. I went back for more groceries after dinner since W- recommended getting another pizza crust, and A- chose to come along with me even though she could have stayed nice and warm at home.
    • We hosted lunch for Karen, Richard, Gabriel, and Linda. Look, I now have Canadian friends I’ve known for more than a decade! :) It was easy to prepare lots of broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, and celery for crudites. That also helped with the prep for pizza (prosciutto, pepper, and mushroom) and butternut squash soup. I bought pre-cubed butternut squash because I didn’t feel like peeling a couple of squashes, and combining that with my frozen sauteed onions and frozen minced garlic meant that soup was easy to make. We enjoyed talking about life, kindness, social isolation, transit and community planning, work, and other interests. A- wandered in and out, occasionally jamming with Karen on ukuleles or telling us about her own interests. W- hung out with A- too.
  • Gross motor
    • A- walked most of the way to Shoppers Drug Mart.
    • I played a game with A- to encourage her to walk home. I carried her to the next tree, and then she walked to the next tree, and then I carried her to the next tree, and so on. That worked!
    • A- liked throwing and catching the small basketball. We also kicked it around.
  • Fine motor
    • A- had fun imitating W- and J- as they played video games, and she liked imitating the hand gestures W- showed her for letters and shapes.
  • Sensory
    • A- loved playing with the bubble wrap from W-‘s packages.
  • Language
    • A- was interested in plurals. She asked what the S was for.
    • A- looked at the toaster oven and read out the countdown all by herself.
    • “You have another cell phone. I can play with this one. I need a cell phone.”
    • A- sounded out the letters she saw on the cover of The Foolish Tortoise. “Eh eh eh kuh kuh…” “Ah, Eric Carle!”
  • Self-care and independence
    • A- told me that her teeth hurt. She patiently waited for me to scrape her teeth with the pointy end of the dental flosser.
  • Eating
    • A- liked pesto on her pasta.
    • A- ate lots of broccoli and fish skin.
    • A- liked dipping rolled cookies in chocolate.
    • A- was excited about making tree pancakes. She seems to respond to funny shapes.
    • A- ate a drumstick and a half of tomato basil chicken with rice.
  • Sleep
    • A- quietly fell asleep while snuggling up with me. 8:45 pm, no afternoon nap.
    • A- fell asleep on the couch. We didn’t want to wake her up by moving her, so W- played video games and I reviewed photos. It turned out to be just a nap instead of a long sleep, though.
  • Social
    • We’ve been thinking about preschool mostly to find a large group of other kids whom we could potentially hang out with when A- gets more interested in doing so. We’re familiar with the regulars at the drop-in centres, which tend to skew younger. Maybe play groups? Independence can come naturally. Kindergarten teachers are used to it, and kids grow into it too.
    • A- wanted W- to take pictures of her and show them to her, so she struck a funny pose behind the kitchen table.
    • I set my lunch on the table. A- pulled the bowl towards her and fenced it in with her hands, saying, “My moira.”
  • Pretend
    • A- pretended that a fish bit her finger, and told me the story from the song when I asked about the bandage on her hand.
    • A- liked pretending to be her stuffed lamb’s big sister. She tucked the lamb into bed.
    • A- got excited about chatting with Lola and the rest of the family in the Philippines. She got her luggage and said, “I’m going to the Philippines.” She zoomed an airplane around.
  • World
    • We dug in the garden and found out that the soil near the fence was soft while the soil in the box was hard.
    • We blew bubbles outside and saw how the wind patterns were different from what they were in summer.
    • “I wonder what would happen if…” A- experimented with floating her pine cone in bowls and glasses of water.
    • A- and I spent some time in the backyard. There was a light dusting of snow, so we made footprints, talked about snow melting on our hands, looked at pine needles, and compared pine cones.
  • Other
    • A- pulled out the Make and Do volume of Childcraft, flipped it open, and asked to do the activity of dipping paper towels into food colouring.

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary – Social 0.0 3.7 3.7 6.1 6.1
Personal 3.0 5.1 2.1 8.6 3.5
Discretionary – Play 3.4 4.8 1.4 8.1 2.3
Unpaid work 2.9 3.8 0.9 6.4 1.5
Discretionary – Family 0.6 0.6 0.0 1.0 0.0
Discretionary – Productive 6.8 6.8 0.0 11.4 0.0
Business 0.2 0.0 -0.2 0.0 -0.3
Sleep 35.2 34.3 -0.9 57.6 -1.5
A- 47.8 40.9 -6.9 68.8 -11.6

2018-12-24 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Weekly review: Week ending December 21, 2018

We continue to be sick with coughs and colds, with a bonus ear infection for A-. Since she complained of ear pain even after a week of watchful waiting, we started her on the course of antibiotics that the doctor prescribed. We’re still tired and occasionally grumpy, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

A-‘s tantrums seem to be a little lower in intensity and duration now, and she usually accepts comfort from me instead of repeatedly moving away.

I experimented with a play-based curriculum for homeschool preschool this week. I liked the way a little bit of structure helped me have activity ideas all ready to go whenever A- was interested in exploring. She liked reading books about apples doing some of the activities. I modified the other activities to incorporate the concepts into whatever A- actually wanted to do at the moment. It was fun doing this with A-. Maybe I’ll try Blossom and Root‘s demo week next time. I’d love to be able to come up with little units based on her interests and the world around us. Someday!

  • Kaizen
    • I found a kindergarten readiness guide, so I printed out the checklist and observation chart.
    • I made a multi-click tool in Tasker that could read its configuration from a file, although I couldn’t figure out how to persistently split by newline.
    • I switched my data partition to ext4 and moved my Dropbox directory to out.
  • Us
    • We all had fun throwing magnetic letters and trying to get them to stick to the cookie tray.
    • I spent some time reflecting on amor fati.
    • I needed to tweak my laptop setup a little after that major upgrade.
    • I helped proofread some text for my dad’s National Museum exhibit.
    • I lost my preferences after the Krita upgrade, so I recreated enough to make simple sketches again.
    • I designed and ordered a custom headband that might also be usable as a neck scarf. I wanted something that had numbers, letters, months, and days of the week.
  • Gross motor
    • A- had lots of fun climbing up on me and sliding down the other way.
  • Fine motor
    • I got A- to show me how tall a tower she could build by playing a “silly tower” game. I built up a few blocks and called it a silly tower when it tumbled down, so she got into it too. She built a tower of 13 blocks by herself.
    • A- tied a bow knot around her stuffed toy all by herself. She showed it to us proudly.
  • Language
    • We started doing a picture tour of books before reading the text. I still do most of the talking, but sometimes she answers questions or comments on what she sees.
    • “Can you bring a water bottle for me, please? I am a little bit sick and I don’t drink that one.”
    • “I’m a little clingy monkey. I want to cling.”
  • Music
    • A- made up her own counting song. “Five little apples hanging in the tree. One came down. Four little apples hanging in the tree.” She sings so much more, and often makes up her own songs based on other ones she knows.
  • Self-care and independence
    • We signed up with a new family doctor, who also diagnosed an ear infection in A-. A- patiently followed all the instructions during the examination, including stepping up on the scale by herself so that we could measure her weight (10.9 kg) and height (90cm).
    • It turns out that both W- and J- avoid penicillin-type medicine due to reactions. We’ll try giving A- the amoxicillin prescribed for her ear infection, though, just in case she turns out to be okay with it. So far so good.
  • Sleep
    • A- sang herself to sleep. It was awesome.
  • Emotion
    • A- felt a little anxious about the “Meltdown” book, maybe because the protagonist had a big tantrum and no one coped with it well. She seems to prefer books that model positive strategies.
  • Household
    • A- painted in the living room while I washed dishes in the kitchen. When she finished, she brought her paint jars and brushes to the kitchen for cleaning and said, “Bring it to an adult all by myself!”
    • She lined a container with a paper towel, then gave it to us while saying, “Compost bin!”
  • Social
    • A- let out a loud fart. Then she said, “Silly Mama.” I laughed and said, “Silly baby.” She said, “You’re silly.”
    • “Can you wake up please? Can you drink coconut water? Can you share with me?”
    • A- really likes drinking coconut water. She asks me to drink some so that she can have a sip afterwards. She experimented with calling my attention to the coconut water can by tapping on it, which made us laugh. I told her I prefer to be asked with words instead of with tapping, and she obliged by saying, “Can you drink coconut water, please?”
  • Cognition
    • I researched kindergarten readiness options.
    • A- has been very interested in being two years old and being almost three years old. I made her a number line out of playdough so that she could get a sense of how old she is and how old her friends are.
    • A- arranged our chairs in a line and we pretended to be on a bus. She was interested in the concepts of front, back, in front, and behind.
    • She used apples to represent all the numbers in a 5-frame, including “none.”
    • A- took the apples out of the bowl and counted them out (1 apple, 2 apple, 3 apple…) on her own. I’m not sure if she was doing plural forms too. I’ll listen more closely next time she does it.
    • A- had fun feeding a pretend bird a few pipecleaner worms. We counted them as she put them in, and she followed my suggestions to focus on red worms, orange worms, and then short worms.
    • Me: “Imagine you have one apple. If I give you another apple, how many apples do you have?” A-: “Two!” Me: “And if I give you another apple?” A-: “Three!” Me: “And if I take away one apple?” A-: “Two!” Me: “And if I give you two more apples?” A-: “Four!”
  • World
    • We worked on the apple unit from “Playing Preschool.” A- was interested in the book, sorting, counting, the parts of an apple, and printing with an apple half.
    • A- brought me a yellow sheet of origami paper and asked me to make a sun. She also brought me a blue sheet and asked me to make a sky.

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary – Productive 0.6 6.8 6.2 11.4 10.4
A- 44.2 47.8 3.6 80.3 6.1
Unpaid work 2.7 2.9 0.2 4.9 0.4
Business 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Sleep 35.5 35.2 -0.2 59.2 -0.4
Discretionary – Play 3.7 3.4 -0.3 5.7 -0.5
Discretionary – Family 5.1 0.6 -4.5 1.0 -7.6
Personal 8.2 3.0 -5.2 5.1 -8.7

Weekly review: Week ending December 14, 2018

A big week for us, so we kept things pretty simple.

  • Us
    • Feeling way under the weather. W- to the rescue!
    • J- had friends over. It was nice seeing her cook ratatouille and host her friends.
    • I checked my Philippine account for dividends.
    • We looked into Amazon Prime video streaming, and we set up our PS3.
    • I posted my weekly reviews while A- napped in the stroller.
    • I was pretty distracted all day.
    • Another day at home. I decided to spend some time mopping the kitchen floor and cleaning the bathtub drain while A- observed. She even helped a little, although she was scared of the mop.
    • Uh oh, now I have a bad cold too.
    • I took a much appreciated nap while A- joined W- on errands.
  • Gross motor
    • I made the effort to take A- to the drop-in centre even though I was feeling under the weather. She agreed to either ride in the stroller or walk, and that actually worked out. She even insisted on going to the organic grocery store and the supermarket, and she walked all the way home from the organic grocery store!
  • Language
    • “I don’t want Babybels. I’m not a baby any more. I want big kid cheese. Woohoo.”
    • “We also call it a ceiling.” (Referring to the seal on a new container.) A- has started contributing “facts” to conversations – and so confidently, too!
  • Music
    • W- got A- singing the Spongebob Squarepants chorus.
  • Self-care and independence
    • A- developed a fever and a cough.
    • A- woke up asking for water many times throughout the night. Fever continues. She’ll accept medicine if it’s followed by ice cream.
    • A- was feeling cold due to her fever. Her teeth also hurt, so she kept tugging her ear.
    • A- is still sick and grumpy, and now I have a cold too.
  • Social
    • “K- is J-‘s friend.” “Mine too!”
    • When reminded to ask nicely, A- switched to a different voice.
  • Wake up
    • “Mama. I want to cuddle with Mama.”

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 31.0 35.5 4.4 59.6 7.4
Discretionary – Family 1.3 5.1 3.9 8.6 6.5
Personal 4.7 8.2 3.5 13.8 5.9
Discretionary – Play 2.9 3.7 0.8 6.2 1.4
Business 0.6 0.0 -0.6 0.0 -0.9
Discretionary – Social 2.4 0.0 -2.4 0.0 -4.0
Discretionary – Productive 3.3 0.6 -2.7 1.0 -4.5
A- 47.2 44.2 -3.0 74.3 -5.0
Unpaid work 6.7 2.7 -4.0 4.5 -6.7