Houston TranStar Cameras

I was looking at photos of dump truck trailer getting stuck on a freeway sign and saw they included an archived Houston TranStar camera shot…

So I was wondering whether I could make a simple webpage with camera shots that are more or less live. So… Here goes the test!

Site of Accident


And now I’m off on another tangent, wondering if I can embed a Bing map with live traffic data into this WordPress post…

With Dual Maps I can half-achieve what I want with the traffic map:

Adding an Aux Audio/iPod Input to a Car Radio (Any Excuse to Buy New Tools!)

This project of adding an auxiliary input jack to my factory car radio took way too long to complete.  I got a bit lazy after I failed the first couple of times, but it finally worked this fourth time!  Break it and learn, huh?

I’m basically piggy-backing the factoy-installed radio/cd player in my 2000 Corolla.  This is not a how-to guide, but rather, it provides supplemental photos to instructions written by others.

The first time I hacked my car stereo, it half worked…  The right channel worked, but the left channel was flaky.  “No prob,” I thought.  “Just a loose connection.”

I took it out a second time, but that only resulted in my losing my radio reception.  I also had no vocals when I plugged in my mp3 player, so I successfully disabled my radio AND I failed to get the aux input jack to work.

I finally got around to taking the radio out a third time 6 months later (so I had poor radio reception for 6 months!).  I thought that there might have been a loose antenna connection, but it turns out that I had completely forgotten to plug the antenna back in!  I then resoldered all of my audio cable connections, but I STILL wasn’t getting any vocals!  There’s a short circuit somewhere….

This fourth and final time, I bought a better stereo audio cable and cleaned up my solder connections, and that FINALLY did the trick!  Now I can hook up my mp3 player to my car stereo system!

Useful guides created by others:


Follow their safety guidelines.

Supplemental photos for your viewing pleasure:

Corolla Front Struts

Warning: Don’t attempt to change your own struts unless you know what you are doing. Supposedly, these springs could kill you. There’s a lot of energy stored in these compressed springs!

My tires are cupped, and I was told I needed new struts… Well, my Corolla has more than 90,000 miles on it. I guess that seems reasonable. And so, I decided to try changing them myself. (Especially since the shop told me it would cost $800 for them to change them with their “buy 3, get one free” special.)

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Old front driver-side MacPherson strut (black)

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Front passenger-side strut removed

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New front passenger-side KYB strut installed (silver)


When you push in the piston rod, it is supposed to come back out, like the new silver strut on the bottom. The old black one on the top is obviously worn out, as it doesn’t come back out at all.

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Keep people and pets away from the strut springs and away from your jacked up car! Lucky should have been inside the house.

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Collateral damage. I don’t think I torqued those bolts to the right specs… I broke and/or deformed some of my tools in the process of tightening them. This whole process gave me much more of a workout than I had anticipated!!! I’ll need to remember to ask the tire guys to double-check those knuckle bolts for me when I get new tires…

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And here, I decided that my rear strut mounting bolts were too difficult to access… And I would pay to let someone else have fun with the rears… Plus, I was too lazy to buy replacements for the tools I broke and/or figure out what kind of tools I needed to access these bolts. (Though this would have been a great excuse to upgrade from Dad’s motley socket wrench set.)

So, I took my Corolla into a shop, and they told me it would cost $383 for labor to do the rears… And a second opinion is in order. In the meantime… Looking at this picture, maybe the rears wouldn’t be that hard to do, either… Just need the right tools… Or need to figure out a way to take that whole plastic panel off….