On an unplowed highway. At 417 in the morning. With just enough traffic that you can't go slowly, but not enough so you can deduce road conditions from the car ahead of you. Do not like.

I took J and C an B to the airport to catch a 6AM flight to see their grandmothers. Can't rightly say it was a white-knuckle trip because I've learned that gripping the steering wheel too hard pretty quickly loses the feeling in the last two fingers of my right hand (sequelae of an old dance injury). But the rest of me was not relaxed. Boys were chatting/arguing in the back seat about everything from which stuffed toy B would lend C to whether winter weather in Louisiana was warmer than summer weather in Vermont, I was in continual "So is this dark strip I'm aligning my tires with pavement or black ice?" mode. (Mostly pavement, except by the stoplight  at the intersection of Industrial Drive and Rt 2.)

A few miles from our exit we came upon what turned out to be a couple of plow trucks in loose formation, driving very slowly.  They sported very bright yellow blinkers, not synchronized, which was seriously disorienting , because my eyes kept trying to reconstruct the positions and outlines of the trucks from the blinkers, and assigning any given blink to a particular truck did not work. (Pro tip: that slightly smaller blinker that looks like it might be an escort vehicle behind the truck is attached to the upper right wing of the plow.)

On the way back I went by state road. The gas/coffee station I'd been counting on just past the south burlington box-store district wasn't open at 5 on a sunday morning, alas. And the only other vehicles on the road were plows. I say "road" advisedly, because new drifts and old plow berms had consumed the shoulders, but not in even bites from both sides. So I'd be steering a course on the right half of the cleared area and suddenly see a double yellow line emerge from the snow on my passenger side. Or hear a rumble from really old frozen slush. A few times on the wide flat areas I'd have to slow down and ask myself seriously "Where the $#% is the %$@#%ing road anyway." Not helping: the fact that the state road sometimes meanders next to the (also meandering) highway, so that headlights appearing to your left may be several hundred yards offset from you, or may suddenly switch to your right.

Eh. About 45 minutes going, hour and a half coming back. Came home to a text from J that they'd been bumped to a flight through boston for several hundred dollars each, crawled back into bed with the cat, slept till the time we normally wake up on weekends.
No, really. I don't spend enough on i-devices, I use them in unprofitable ways, I'm getting too old. Which is fine if they want to focus their efforts elsewhere, but now I really need to think about what's going to be on my desktop soon (in the basement, it's already linux boxes all the way down.)

I upgraded to Yo%#%@#% because yet another piece of open-source software I use stopped supporting 10.6.8, and I think I would be able to stand it if it just made every possible user-interface decision in a way opposite to how I use my desktop computer. And unfixable. Or if it let me arrange my desktop and programs the way I like at the cost of being unreliable. But crashing several times a day and every bleeping time undoing what tiny fixes I was able to make. Not really worth it.

Also: crashing. What is this crap. The whole point of building a modern operating system is that the OS is supposed to be stable and keep functioning when individual programs or services crash. If the apps and services work fine but the OS takes everything down and loses all your open work, then we might as well be back at Switcher, which is where I came in.

Or maybe the machine restarting every few hours is just their way of telling me to save often and take a break from the keyboard.

Happy New Year, all.
Years and years and years ago, I got a shuttle xpc, and it didn't work worth a damn. Wouldn't install anything till I just took a working disk out of some other machine and booted with it. Wouldn't recognize one of the two RAM sticks it shipped with. About half the time it wouldn't boot at all unless I turned the power-supply switch off, waited about 10 minutes, then came back and booted it back up.

But. It was rock-solid once it did boot, as opposed to so many of the other machines I have in the basement. So a few weeks ago, while I was ordering some other stuff from Newegg, I figured I'd order enough RAM to upgrade it to the full 8GB it's supposedly capable of taking.

Nuh-uh. In oh so many ways, including not even working when restored to its original configuration. The best I could get it to do was hang on the BIOS splash screen with 8 GB installed. So I read around, and saw a lot of people pointing out that the supposed 400-watt power supply is actually crap, and that they had similar hang-on-boot until they disconnected everything nonessential that might possibly draw power. I ripped out the old power supply, balanced a conventional one on top of the frame, and darned if the thing didn't start booting reliably in its previously-working configuration. Even the LEDs on the motherboard looked brighter.

But boot with 8GB of RAM, like the documentation says it should? Not a chance. BIOS splash screen and then nothing. So I still have an underpowered, annoying box, but at least I can turn it on and off without worrying if it will ever come up again...

I'm almost beginning to think I should get something reasonably fast next time.
As I write this the tent parts are drying in the sun, and I'm drinking iced coffee with extra milk. The other night was C's school's fall campout. I'm not complaining that much about how bleeping cold it was (30s and windy) but about just how much stuff we packed and unpacked for 12 hours of being a few miles away from home.

Four sleeping bags, all of which had to be unrolled for use, rerolled for sotwage. Four mats ditto. C's tent/fly/groundcloth/pegs. The tent/fly/pegs for the rest of us. Flashlights for all. Extra clothes. pillows. folding chairs. C's stuffed dog. B's stuffed monkey. Toothbrushes and like paraphernalia. The car was pretty much full to the gills. And that's before the potluck stuff.

So should I just get used to the notion that there's so much stuff for even the shortest camping trip? I'm not sure offhand what I would cut out. How do other people do this kind of thing?
Took B to see the local musical theatre camp's production of Peter Pan (C is en route to visit his grandmother -- first flight as an unaccompanied minor, wow) and it was pretty good. It was billed as an abridged version (about 90 minutes, no flying, very much mashed up) and to my mind very well thought out. B really liked the crocodile and Captain Hook and seeing his brother's schoolmates (the girl playing Tinkerbelle did a star turn as Beaker in a recent school production). I watched the completely manic kid playing Peter and considered that Barrie's audience would have been much more attuned to the classical reference in his name. Noticed the ways that the dramaturges had done their best to play with the underlying racism/sexism/social darwinism/everything else of the original. (If you read Peter Pan and Mary Poppins at all carefully, it's easy to see the essentially dickensian underpinnings, only without nearly as much hope.) Enjoyed seeing the ongoing evolution of some of the kids who I've seen around since they were aging out of toddler playgroup.

Couldn't help thinking about a mainstage production of Peter Pan I worked on during one of my junior years, a dark version in which Peter was much more the child-stealing fairy of older folklore, tormented as much as enlivened by his eternal present. I remember inflating the gazillion balloons that floated down through the spotlights, and having words with the technical director about his bodged-together flying harnesses. It ended (book-accurate) with the adult Wendy weeping in her own empty nursery. (Yeah, I started tearing up in this latest production when the kids came flying back. Go figure.)

And couldn't help thinking of Eddy, the schlubby old guy who rented dimmers and lights and equipment to all of us, whose blowzy, bespectacled wife handled the business side of the enterprise. His term of endearment for her was always "Tink", and none of us young ones could believe it. She went from smoking behind a desk to an oxygen cannula to a tent during my time as a lighting designer, and then my senior year Eddy took a couple months off when she died.

OK, so I'm obvious, even if that wasn't really where I intended to end up. But I noticed the other day taking the kids to IHOP that there's a whole big section of the menu devoted to meals for the 55-plus crowd.

Oh, and I also remember at strike how much fun and how loud it was wading thigh-deep in balloon across the stage and popping every damn one of them.
Unless you want to confirm listeners in a particular opinion of you.

To your 12ish son whom you suspect of cheating in the volleyball game you have organized between him and his much younger brothers: "I'll come right out on that court and whup your ass! You are embarrassing me [in front of the other guests]!"

To your 7ish sons, who have not yet internalized the principles of zone defense and have lost a point in the volleyball game by both going after the ball: "If you do that again I'm going to stop the game and you're going to spend the next two hours practicing math."

To your 6ish daughter, who has just asked if she can sleep in the big room with two beds: "No. That's the room where I'm storing my bicycle."

Glad I went on vacation, glad I'm back.

Really, it started yesterday afternoon when no one delivered C back from day camp. All the carpooling had pretty much been arranged by email before I was added to the cc list, so I thought, from some vague discussions I'd overhead, that he might be at the municipal pool with some friends, as he had been on Tuesday. Cue me driving over to the pool. Nope. So maybe he just got delivered late. Drive home. Nope. I suddenly thought, maybe the email I sent confirming that I was driving all the kids to camp thursday morning had really said I was picking them up thursday afternoon. Nope, they weren't still at camp, although one of the teachers commented that they'd been picked up late. Home again, to see the light flashing on the answering machine (did I mention there's apparently no cell service at the camp, even though it's the regional high school?)

Two messages from C, neither of them saying where he was or what number he was at (although that was OK, because he was with somebody, at least.) Caller ID gave me the number, which I called, and exchanged profuse mutual apologies with the parent who had indeed interpreted my message to mean she was off the hook for pickup. Oh, and she mentioned that she had dropped C off at an empty house, was he OK? At which point I did actually hear a small voice calling "Hello? Dad?" from the other end of the house.

So for decompression we decide to go into town and have sushi. Parking in front of the library there's a crunching noise and the tire pressure light goes on. Yep, left rear seems to be soft. But that's the one that had a leak before, so I think little of it. We eat yummy sushi, talk about Scratch and Doctor Who and suchlike, then walk back to the car. Then we walk the mile back home uphill.

This morning I get C off in the carpool and trot back downtown with a bike pump in tow (did I mention that while I was looking for C a friend came by to borrow my compressor) on the off chance I could pump the flat up enough to drive it to the tire place. A big old bearded local in farm clothes watches me from across the street, shaking his head. "Yeah, I know," I say, "but if it works it's faster than putting on the spare." It doesn't. So I put on the spare, chatting with acquaintances walking to work in between jumps on the tire iron.

Walk back downtown from the tire place. Runaround from the people who sold us tire damage coverage. Meeting with marketing person who works in the next office about rebranding myself. Text from J saying she's stuck in traffic near Baton Rouge and might miss her flight back. Call to tire place confirms that the hole in the tire (piece of slate) is too big to repair. Sudden realization that not only don't I have a car to get to C's last-day-of-camp presentation stuff, I don't have a car to get him home. Send out email to carpoolers.

Eat lunch, get ride, watch C showing off his e-waste video game, look at similar games by a lot of other kids, including a couple who were in one of the Scratch courses J and I took (a small tear of pride). Get ride home. Relax for a while, then realize there's almost no unfrozen food in the house. Too bad.

While we're eating dinner, text from J who is boarding her second leg in Atlanta. C and I finish up, then settle down to watch Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen do battle with robot mummies.

And I wonder that I don't get anything done.
This week, for reasons that may not make sense in retrospect, I'm running a lego robotics camp at the local library. We borrowed a bunch of NXT bricks from the university extension service, and I've got 9 kids in the 8-12 range more or less learning how to build robots and make them do things. They range from ubergeek to a couple of kids I've known since they were this high whose mother signed them up without telling them to a shock-haired little something-or-other whose parents really wanted him out of the house for three hours every morning.

So I've learned a lot.  One thing is that Lego Technic kinda sucks. Its appearance promises way more than it delivers, and to make things hold together you have to throw on all kinds of cross-bracing and perpendicular locking bits. The NXT bricks have holes to fit Technic couplers, but when you actually try to attach stuff like motors or sensors, all the clearances are wrong, so you have to put in bunches of spacer bricks, which makes things less rigid and more likely to fall apart when you turn the motors on and start moving. Sure, you can work around all of that, but it's another layer between the kids and just building stuff.

Another is that worse can be better for learning. There's an option for letting sensors fire while the motors are moving, but kids who are just learning to program stuff need to know that execution proceeds from left to right (it's a graphical language where you plunk down parameterized blocks to do things) and that in general one operation has to finish before the next one starts.

But the biggest thing for me has been remembering that this is a camp. It's not a course or a workshop or a warmup for one of the fiercely competitive lego robotics leagues. So when the shock-headed kid comes up to me and proudly shows how he's put a coupler in every hole of six long Technic beams, I congratulate him and let him build ten more. When the ubergeek and his friend waste time they could be spending on learning switch statement and parallel execution driving their bot slowly across the length of the entire room, that's OK too. If all that some of them get out of this is five mornings of fun and not having busted anyone else's bot, then I've succeeded.

So far, they're all telling their parents and the librarians that they're having a good time. They're even sorting all the fiddly little parts back into bins like they meant it. And a couple of adults have asked me if I teach any workshops where they can learn to keep up with their kids.
Just wasted two days with a stupid upgrade problem (because apparently "Long Term Support" doesn't mean "We will keep libraries up to date so that newly-built software will run on your machine while you get to keep your configuration). Exacerbated by a combination of Canonical's "we know way better than you" policies and the Autopilot Failure Problem.

The latter is something that flight-safety people have been trying to fix for decades to no avail: when an autopilot decides it's stuck and decides to return manual control to the pilot, that usually means there's some kind of emergency in progress. An emergency the pilot is not fully informed about because, well, the autopilot was flying the plane and the pilot wasn't paying full attention. Oh, and doesn't have a full set of tools to address.

In this case, borked windowing system because of course that video driver that's the only #@%@# one on the planet that works with this old hardware should be discarded in favor of the minimal free one, which doesn't support 3D effects, which are no longer optional, so let's just start up the 3D subsystem anyway and see what happens when crucial parts of it hang.

There are tools to fix this (maybe) but I can't have them because part of the 14.04 installation process involves turning off all software sources not absolutely needed for the upgrade (because you're supposed to use Ubuntu Software Center. Except it won't work if anything goes wrong). Including proprietary drivers (natch) and also community-supported software like, say, synaptic or the configuration manager for the windowing system. Which I could turn back on from a text terminal if I knew where Canonical had decided to stash the info this week, which I can't easily find out because it's hard to run a browser without a windowing system.

It turns out that if I middle-click on the nonworking desktop I can open up a borked wallpaper chooser, which can in turn be converted to a borked preference pane from which I can get to the pref for software sources and turn damn-all everything back on. At which point I can download the stuff I want, switch to a working driver, reconfigure compiz and unity to have the crap I need and not load the plugin that always hangs. And now I can download the new copies of the software I need to use.

Oh, and someone please remind me to reset the baud rates on all the USB connections to integer multiples of 9600, because apparently there's a component that crashes if you use numbers like 250000. (I found that out on my office machine, where the upgrade otherwise went swimmingly but the control software for my 3D printer kept turning itself off.)

If your toilet is clogged (as for example by a 5-year-old using way, way too much toilet paper) and the plunger and the snake have already failed, you might want to consider enclosing the head of a toilet brush in a sturdy plastic bag (say, a 1-quart freezer ziplock, filling the bag partially with water, and then sealing the end of the bag tightly around the handle with a rubber band.  The resulting balloonlike thingy makes a much better seal against the interior of the waste channel than does a plunger, and a few dozen back-and-forth pressure/suction cycles might just loosen the obstruction.

If I had come up with this idea first thing on being awakened this morning, the day would have been much more pleasant.
that if you ask the debian installer to keep the data you have on a partition that you then want mounted, it will helpfully protect every gigabyte of it from the installation process by placing the files in the trash.

Oh, and that you can't use sudo to cd into a directory owned by root.

But I think the kid's box mostly works now. And he gets to sort the saved files.



Jan. 21st, 2014 11:44 am
Finally got one %#%# project to work, only a few months after it nominally went like. Replaced the solenoid in the remote-control door buzzer thingy with a servo, and now it all works. I am less and less patient with the analog world.
I have been doing so much stupid hardware hacking lately that I am starting to want to get back to writing. Too bad stupid hardware hacking is most of what I get paid to write about. But today was pretty maximally annoying.

It started out pretty well, finally hooking up the radio-controlled solenoid that lets people sit on their asses an press a keyfob instead of getting up to buss people in at the local co-working space. Then printing up the part that I plan to use for my light-switch servo thingy (after having coded up a single-use ATTiny85 servo controller last night and discovered that delayMicroseconds is off by a factor of 8). Then the guy who founded the space came by to play with the borked electronic lock, and we took apart the dead custom battery pack to find out that instead of something fancy it housed --

5 dead AAs.

If I had known this before the batteries died last month, I could have replaced them, saving the door from having to be jimmied. If I had known this even after the batteries died, I could have applied 7.5V to the external emergency power plug, ditto. Instead, I spent the rest of the morning taking apart much of the rest of the lock and determining that something is broken/jammed/whatever in the gear train where the little motor resides that retracts the bolt when you put in the right code. That's a part I couldn't promise to put back together again if I take it apart. So end of quest and probably major expense for nonprofit co-working space, all because of that one missing piece of information.

Then home, where it took way too long to reprogram the servo controller and solder it up. Then stupid stuff that is going to force me to code an SVG extractor because I don't run windows at home. Then disappointing snacks.

Tomorrow, one hopes, less of the same.

My cupcake CNC is getting to be like George Washington's hatchet. I replaced the old DC extruder motor with a stepper motor, then replaced the whole extruder with home built. Assembled the automated build platform, replaced the plastic assembly surface with steel, then cannibalised its parts for a plain heated platform with a copper surface. Installed a couple fans to cool the stepper and the driver boards. Threw in some LED lighting.

I still want to install end stops, maybe a geared extruder, maybe countersink the bolts on the build platform. Oh, and I've been upgrading the firmware. It runs much better under sailfish, what with smooth acceleration and not shaking the whole thing to bits. Or at least it did until I went from Build 973 to Build 1029 -- which also comes with a huge warning screen about not printing with a USB connection, unfortunately the only way I print.

Everything sucked. The extruder went completely wonky, the filament wouldn't stick to the build surface, prints that had been coming out fine were suddenly complete failures. So I downgraded the firmware, build by build back to what I had been using. Nothing. I downgraded the host software, replicator-g. Still crap. And all through this I knew the extruder was working, because I could spit out filament manually and it was fine. We're talking days here. Or nights rather, because I've got stuff to do during the day.


Then it struck me: what was that random jumper wire hanging out of a connector? It wasn't the led lighting, because that was OK. It wasn't the fan for the extruder stepper, because that went around back. Or the fan for cooling PLA because I took that off. It was the fan that cools the stepper driver for the extruder, which is cranked all the way up because it really doesn't have enough oomph to push the filament at full speed.

I touched the heat sink on top of the driver chip and burned the hell out of my finger. Aha. The driver chip has a thermal cutout to keep it from blowing up under excess load, and it was working just right . So when it got into a print, the chip would overheat and stop working, cool down a few hundred milliseconds later and start up again, overheat and stop, cool down and so forth. Resulting in some fraction of the intended filament coming out at unpredictable times. Or not.

I plugged the jumper back in, the fan stated whirring, then the jumper fell back out. So tonight I made a heavier gauge jumper. Printed something and it mostly worked. Hurrah.

But. The result of all this upgrading and downgrading and testing is that I really don't trust all the software any more. So I may upgrade very very slowly, or just leave things as they are, and walk very quietly when I'm anywhere near the cupcake. Whee.
Let me unpack that. We sometimes sedate B in the afternoon by letting
him watch cartoons. Usually on our bed, where the TV on the wall is
connected to a Roku but not any broadcast source. So there is netflix.

And when B got tired of Pingu and Harold and Curious George there was
Spiderman. But not the original that we all watched, instead some
horribly animated 80s remix. B still looks at us funny when we hum the
old theme song.

And when he tired of Spiderman, there was Batman. The Brave and the
Bold, that is. It's 80s or 90s or something, and it's a crossover-fest
where all the played-out marvel/dc characters went to to retire, and I
hope that the writers were taking a lot of good drugs, because
otherwise they were really troubled people. The episodes are all aimed
at adults who are thoroughly familiar with Aquaman and the Flash and
that arrow guy and so forth but really don't like them much. (There's
even a cameo by grownup Robin, who wonders why Batman is poaching on
his turf.)

So that brings us to the musical episode. With the gorilla singing
bass. Duets. Dance numbers and a kick line. Villain backstory montage
and costume changes including pretty much every music genre from
classical through power pop by way of marching band. Scenery lifting
out of the way.

It is thoroughly freaky. And B has no idea. It's his favowite episode,
he says, but then he always says that. He has no cultural context to
understand just what a weird thing he is watching. And so I just watch
with him and wonder.
courtesy of [personal profile] firecat :

Have read
Have started but not finished
Want to read or re-read
!!!!! Loved!
????? Should I read this?

plus a few more comments, like "loved it then, embarrassed now"

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien !!!!
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams !!!!
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card really mostly for angsty smart teens
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert, read the first few as a kid, got bored.
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin barely cracked the covers
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov !!!! as a kid
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman !!!!
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman !!!!
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan ????
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore????
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov !!!! as a kid. Now I wonder what Grace Hopper thought of it.
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss???
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury !!!! as a kid
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut in school about sixth or seventh grade
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein didn't care for the politics even then, loved the writing
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey if I read this, I don't remember it.
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein !!!! as a kid. Still miss the invisible friend. Oh, and Steel Beach.
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller !!!!
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys !!!! as a kid. Made me cry.
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny After a while the writing just pissed me off.
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley???? -- so much else, but not this
43. The Mistborn Series,by Brandon Sanderson ????
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin !!!!
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien a letdown.
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson ????
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman !!!! as a kid. The impact of reading it serialized was way strong.
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson forced myself through one book.
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold !!!!
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett !!!! and all the others. Perhaps I liked Hogfather best. Or Mort.
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind????
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy????
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi intend to finish it some day when I can attend to it
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde liked the later ones better
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher????
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge!!!!
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle bleh
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis liked to say nothing of the dog much better.
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville loved the writing, but was in an altered state at the time
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony not so secret vice
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

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This gives me so much confidence in their presentations.
Or is that data are code? I'm grumpy about this simple image-processing project I've been doing for so long because there are so many ^&#^%#$^ points in it. There are the corners for warping the image, a dozen different display blocks -- each a different size -- to have their numbers and letters recognized.

I've got to either measure those points by hand and type the results into my program, or else write yet more single-use ancillary bits to recognize those points and then dump them into a table. Either way is annoying. Part of me wants to write the ancillary bits because so much of the program is effectively embedded in those numbers, but part of me wants to be done with the damn thing already.
You know those projects that end up taking much more work than they should, and really ought never have needed doing in the first place?

Today I finally finished fixing the wind sensor on my cheapjack weather station. Winter before last the mounting pole fell down (note to self: wood shrinks, band clamps don't) and broke the sensor mounting plate, the tail of the wind-direction vane and all three arms of the anemometer. A few weeks ago, when the snow melted from where I wanted to put the thing, I went down to the basement with the bits and learned:

1. Parts not made of soluble plastic, so the plastic-welding cement had no effect whatsoever.
2. The solvent in my big bottle of superglue had evaporated, leaving a congealed mess that might hold if only it would set.
3. It wouldn't hold well enough to withstand brushing against my drill while I was trying to put it up.

4. The other big bottle of superglue, the "gap-filling" one, hadn't evaporated.
5. But that glue didn't stand up to vibration, say, a drill turning a mounting screw.
6. You can drill a tiny hole with the point of a file and insert a piece of wire to reinforce this stuff.

7. The sensor didn't work anyway, because
8. The internal batteries were dead and corroded (which I found out by disassembling the sealed part and finding them loose inside).
9. Just replacing them didn't help because
10a. You can't pull the circuit board out to replace the batteries without breaking a crucial part of the wind-direction sensor.
10b. Resetting the display to sync with the transmitter in the wind sensor is no help because (thanks, intertube forums) the wind sensor sends its data to the temperature/humidity sensor, which then passes the information (along with rain-gauge data) to the display.

Finally sorted all of that, and now I apparently have working sensors, although I'm not quite sure because the way you force the display to sync with the transmitter in the temperature/humidity sensor is by pushing one of the mode buttons until it beeps, and doing this also puts the display in some kind of weird cumulative-data mode that's too complicated to read.

Next step (because there is a PC dongle, but it doesn't talk to a Mac): OpenCV.


Apr. 6th, 2013 09:00 pm
To see if tablet app works



February 2015



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