Category Archives: Productivity

NovaBooth – Improving the Open Source Photobooth

NoVa SnapAs you may have read here previously, we (the Wyolum Gang) created a photobooth for the Open Hardware Summit, for the purpose of customizing the e-paper badges we made for the conference attendees. This processed the pictures into a small black and white image for the e-paper badge, and saved it onto the badge’s micro-sd card.

I was headed to help out at the Northern Virginia Maker Faire, and thought it would be fun to update the photobooth to take full color pictures, upload them to the Internet and offer to email them to friends and relatives.

The email message and logo files are easy to add and customize.

For basic construction, visit the original post, but download the new software here:


The fabricate directory has the laser cut files, arduino for the AlaMode Program, and scripts for the python photobooth code.

Edit to customize the email subject and message. contains the authentication information for the google email and posting accounts. You’ll need to set up application specific passwords for this on your google account. You can use the same account, or separate.

Wireless keyboard, had to add a powered hub.


  • External powered hub was a pain.
  • Proto-screw shield was too heavy and lifted off
  • Some of the nuts came loose in travel.

Photobooth 1.5

To solve the first problem, I determined to replace the non-powered hub in the photobooth with a powered one.  I tried to add power to the unpowered hub, and this worked at first, but then took out the power supply and made the raspberry pi flakey too.

Scratch that, I ended up using a small belkin powered hub. I y-connected the power to it.
I noticed that  a convenient orientation put  4 ports right next to the edge,  so I cut a hole in the box to expose them.

Luckily AlaModes ship without shield headers installed, so I replaced the AlaMode and protoshield with an AlaMode that was directly soldered to the button, led-strip, power and ground.

I updated the AlaMode’s photobooth program directly from the photobooth. Apparently the new AlaMode’s pullups weren’t as strong, so I added a 5.7k pullup to the Button Pin.


Getting 64 bit flash to work in Google Chrome on Linux

I was having trouble with the chromium browser working with gmail.
A friend was having no problems, but he was using chrome direct from google. I installed that, but it said the flashplayer was out of date.
The upgrade isn’t automatic, and I struggled a bit to get it going. I’m sharing this to save folks some time.

Maybe it’s documented easily somewhere, but it wasn’t obvious to me, and after trying several googled answers, this is what worked for me:

  1. Download the 64 bit (experimental) plugin from adobe labs
  2. Extract from the tgz archive
  3. sudo mv /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins

Restart chrome and it should be picked up. Test with youtube, and enter about:plugins in the location bar and it should show up there. It wasn’t obvious to me that chrome would be looking in a mozilla directory, but there you go!

I don’t know if it’s necessary, but I also removed (renamed actually)
(which I found by putting about:plugins in the location bar of chrome.)

Bringing Linux Home

I’ve worked on various flavors of Unix for years, including Linux quite recently in a work production environment. Every year or so, I try the latest “desktop” distribution, and have until this last time, concluded, that it’s just not ready, even for a geek like me.

Just before our vacation, my Dell Windows XP machine almost literally caught on fire. It was hanging regularly, and finally wouldn’t start at all. The CPU power connector was toasted, burned and broke off when I pulled on it.
Panicked, because I had way to much to do to get ready for our trip, I grabbed a machine my neighbor had given me because he could never get it to work, and I installed the latest Fedora distribution.

The install was fast, and neat, and out of the box, did almost everything I needed. I’ve since installed a bunch of other software to fill in the blanks, and I’ve been quite happy with it. An added bonus is that I don’t have to add cygwin, and other crappy unix emulation libraries in order to do development work!

The only things I really miss are Itunes and Photoshop. Managing my iPhone with gtkpod is painful (though it does work, just slow and very finicky), and Gimp simply isn’t as easy to use as Photoshop (I am learning, but there are still lots of things missing.)

My wife has been sharing the same computer, and has had absolutely no problems using it. I believe I can confidently say that Desktop Linux has finally arrived!