Nexus 7 Dashboard Install

Nexus 7 Dash InstallShortly after the Nexus 7 was first released, I saw reports of people replacing the head unit in their car with the tablet. Apparently the Nexus 7 is almost exactly the correct size to fit in a double-din space. I’ve been thinking about doing something like that ever since and this past weekend, I finally did.

I specifically purchased a 2012 model Nexus 7 for two reasons:

  1. It is less expensive. I picked up a 32 GB refurbished model for $150. Since this is going to live in my car, I don’t need the fantastic display of the newer model and the extra space will be extremely useful for storing music and things.
  2. It works with USB Rom. This basically does all the hard work of making sure usb works correctly and sending the tablet into a deep sleep when the car is off. It isn’t being updated anymore, but is based on CyanogenMod 10.1. I haven’t found any missing features yet.


  • The Nexus 7 is almost exactly the correct size. My particular double din adapter thing had screw holes that would have been perfect if the device was about 5mm smaller. So it’s a jury rigged attachment using screws, plexiglass, coat hanger wire, and duct tape. Also a bit of Sugru and strong glue. It should hold pretty well, but we’ll find out.
  • The plug for a car antenna is very different from the one for the usb dongle. I ended up splicing the cables together. Someone might make an adapter, but I wasn’t patient enough to figure that out. Splicing antenna cable is a pain. It’s basically a coax cable but tiny.
  • The usb otg y cable I bought didn’t quite fit in the car. It has a straight micro usb connector. I had actually ordered another one with a right angle connector from ebay, but wanted one sooner that I could play with. That worked out well since the ebay one wasn’t quite what I needed (my fault, not theirs). I ended up cutting of the straight connector and using the right angle connector from the ebay adapter. Soldering usb cables is also a pain. Again due the general tinyness of the inner cables. On the plus side, I’m better at soldering now than I was three days ago.
  • The amp I bought was huge. Way bigger than I expected. Big enough that it doesn’t fit behind the dash. It lives in the glovebox now. Fortunately, I don’t really use the glovebox so that isn’t a problem.
  • When connecting wires, make sure things are off. I definitely blew a fuse (and then spent about an hour figuring out which one) because I left things on while wiring up the amp.
  • The radio doesn’t work as well as I would like. I’m not sure why. I’m going to experiment with a different app to see if that makes any difference. I also might not have done a good enough job splicing the antenna cable.


Useful Links

Political Rant

To Begin

If I had to pick one of the two major parties to identify with then you can call me a Democrat. I don’t agree with all their major talking points, but in general they scare me less than the Republicans. Generally I define myself as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. I put a greater emphasis on the socially liberal side of my views.

This election season has been doomed to disappoint from the beginning. As best as I can tell, there is absolutely no outcome that would leave me hopeful for the future of both the United States and Iowa.

On the National Stage

Democrats lost control of the house and I think that is probably a good thing for them. I’m hoping (though not even remotely optimistic) that the two parties will actually manage to work together to keep this country moving forward. I think it is much more likely the government will be engaged in even more ridiculous political crap and will grind to a halt. I suspect the Republicans will try to repeal healthcare and I’m actually pretty confident that will fall flat on its face. There is no way they could overturn a veto with the political layout being what it is.

I am incredibly annoyed with the Democrats for screwing up as impressively as they have for the past two years. Yes, they passed the healthcare bill and a financial reform and they had to deal with a major recession but they controlled the entire government and couldn’t get anything else done. While it is remarkable the Republicans managed to stand together on so many issues, it isn’t the good kind of remarkable.

Here in Iowa

I’m sad to see Culver ousted because his opponent scares me. But part of that is because I’ve seen Iowa take many excellent steps over the past few years and I dearly hope to see them kept. The biggest of those (in my opinion) is the legalization of same sex marriage. While the Democrats had little to do with legalizing that, they were able to keep it from becoming a ballot initiative. Why shouldn’t I want people to be able to vote on this? Because I don’t think that questions of social equality should need to be voted on. Because I don’t want to see this state go backwards and I’m afraid that people don’t remember that separate but equal isn’t equal.

We kicked out the three supreme court justices who were up for retention this year. This one result is the one that truly makes me angry and ashamed. From what I understand, most of the money for the campaign against them came from out of state and people apparently don’t mind just doing what they hear or see on TV. I’m hoping the remaining justices and future justices will continue to be unbiased in their decisions regardless of the possible political backlash. I hope most fervently that our justice system can continue to be a fair one, but I’m afraid we may have just politicized our courts and that is something for which Iowa should be ashamed.

OpenDNS kills Google

Yesterday I was having problems getting to Google. The rest of the internet worked fine, but I couldn’t connect to Google. It struck me as unlikely that Google would be down and check with Down for Everyone confirmed that it was just me.

After much digging and a bit of thinking, I discovered was not actually resolving to It was resolving to an OpenDNS service. Apparently they do some proxying of Google to make sure some of their advanced features keep working. To fix the problem, I just had to turn of the proxy and everything was golden.

To turn of the proxy:

  1. Login to OpenDNS
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to Advanced Settings (the link is on the left)
  4. Turn of the proxy
  5. Enjoy


I have finally upgraded to my own VPS. Dreamhost was a great host, but I prefer being able to setup and break everything all by myself. Also, having dedicated resources makes things like photo galleries work much better. As such, and all of its related sites are now running on a 256 slice from Slicehost. I’m running Ubuntu Hardy with Lighttpd as the web server.

When I was setting up the server I initially used Apache as it is what I am most familiar with and it is pretty easy to get up and running. But when I was trying to use my site, I realized that Apache is far too heavy with its memory usage. Even caching various things there was still not enough memory available for any kind of load. I had used Lighttpd once at work for a Rails app and had heard that it was significantly lighter than Apache. As such, I decided to try getting it up and working. That was easier said than done…

Problem: PHP wouldn’t work
Solution: Install php5-cgi and then activate the fcgi module (not the other way around)

Problem: Multiple virtual hosts by hostname?

Problem: No .htaccess support (for mod_rewrite, mod_deflate)
Solution: No ideal solution for this one really, but you can setup mod_rewrite/mod_deflate rules in the config for each vhost. I prefer the .htaccess method, but this works for now. For most popular apps you should be able to find lighttpd rules to replace the .htaccess rewrite rules.

On the off-chance, you want to signup for Slicehost and wouldn’t mind using me as a referral, here is my affiliate link: