A replacement finger that a guy made for himself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URBQV1O9XFI



While it doesn't have tactile feedback it functions pretty much like a regular finger. Awesome.
October 10, 2008 12:07 PM 10/10/08

For some reason I’d feel much happier if this world were surrealism based. I think I might be able to handle that much better than what we have. Of course currently following that path means ignoring the signpost labeled “This way lies madness!”...

And surrealism would certainly be better than our current economic situation... B-(

Anyway I only have my mother’s wireless to get finished so I can get it back to her tomorrow. Nice to get at least one project finished anyway.

Next up? My mother-in-law’s new computer which I just got E-Bay notification of the start of the shipping process from NJ. So that should be here sometime the middle of next week.

Once I get my mother’s wireless finished tonight maybe I’ll re-load the Qube 2700 again and see if I can’t make it stick this time once I re-compile the kernel. It’s _almost_ worth it to take it apart again and plug it into a Linux box and just re-copy the old kernel into place but that damn case has 12 screws to be removed including the drive screws before the hard drive comes loose. Cool looking - yes. Hard to get into - also yes.

Pie today? Maybe...maybe not... Still deciding.

I found a site a couple days ago advertising solar grid-tie systems for about $5k for a lightweight supplemental system to take the edge off the electric bill. That cheap is really a bargain and could likely be upgraded later. I’m seriously considering it for next year but we’ll have to see how finances work out.

That cost seemed a little light to me but the system is about 1kw so that’s about right for an installed grid-tie system because of the permits and paperwork and flotsam involved.

(...)

You know those days? The ones where you really don’t want to be much of anywhere? I’m having one of those days...

(...)

So anyway I still haven’t picked up the air filters for the garage gable vents. Maybe I’ll try and pick those up on the way home. I might even borrow an extension ladder from the neighbor so I can finally mount my weather center in the right place. It’ll be nice to permanently run that finally...
October 9, 2008 10:46 AM 10/9/08

It’s me.

Was up all night last night futzing with different computers trying to get them all configured properly. Almost finished with my mother’s system. I managed to recover the password for my mother’s Gmail so that was pretty cool. I’ll transfer her data tonight then re-do her router tomorrow so that it all will work properly when she plugs it all back in.

For the record - the recover/show passwords extension for Thunderbird can be used on 1.0 versions of the app as long as you edit the install.rdf file so that the minimum version is 1.0 instead of 1.5. You might want to remove the extension afterwards though just in case there’s a security or stability issue with it.

Thanks to some prodding by the guys on the NetBSD port-cobalt list I finally figured out that the RAM in my Qube 2700 was bad. Swapped that out, got the thing loaded, and started compiling a new kernel on it last night.

Which of course didn’t help me this morning when I replaced the kernel and rebooted the machine only to have it not complete the boot. And since that system doesn’t have a serial console it’s likely I’m reloading it from scratch again. That is unless the NetBSD boot loader can be manipulated through the panel buttons on that box.

No biggie as that box is going to be the main storage for the home network so once support for USB is done and Samba is installed all it needs is drives.

I like the Cobalt products. Low power, small form factor, and now inexpensive for the older units. I think I’m down to one left that isn’t up and running doing something and I’ve got a use for that one as well.

I still have some boxes that are pretty hefty horsepower wise like my older Netra/150 (the old green/gray box) and my E450 but frankly I can’t afford the power to run them right at the moment.

This all reminds me that I have to get the Vaxstation 4000-60 back on the network. I really do want to learn VMS but it’s a time consuming process and I couldn’t get the freeware to transfer to the machine properly the last time so I was stuck with some buggy networking stuff.

In other news the AIG executives are insane. “Hey! Let’s get the bailout money and throw a $500k bash at a resort to celebrate! What? We need more money? Well okay then we’ll just ask the government for more!“ Assholes...

*falls asleep at the keyboard*
*is poked with a fork by the waitress*

*ZZzznerk!* *Snort!* Antiestablishmentarianism!

Wha? Huh? Oh...right...the journal...

Haven’t decorated for Samhain/Halloween yet. I’m not sure if I want to try this year. Maybe some spider webs or something but nothing big. Next year though...next year... ;-)

*Dreams of computer controlled electric copters disguised as fairies and a giant talking tiki*

Since it’s not raining today I should really get a tarp over the wood pile so it stays dry. It will still be a little damp by the time I get home but it should dry out without too much trouble. I can’t wait for a sunny day because we’re heading into winter and those will be less and less. Regardless I’m going to see if I can put some of it into the shed. The shelves in there are currently unused and it’s the perfect place to store that wood.

I really really need to get my act together. Organizing things helps but until I get everything on an even keel I’m definitely going to be more tired in the future not less. Not a good thing but not avoidable in this case because there’s so much to do...
September 29, 2008 2:00 PM 9/29/08

After crawling through spider-infested, damp, dusty, icky, and gloomy spaces under the house I’ve got wires run for both the DSL and a network wire into the third bedroom. (I _hate_ spider webs.)

Accomplishing that I managed to move all my currently running servers downstairs into the partial basement and they thankfully all came back up and running okay....for now...*knocks on wood*.

So that leaves only two real task for day one of my vacation:

1) Move the surplus computer/electronics stuff in the garage into the basement. (Oof!)

2) Organize the rest of the garage. (Not so oof.)


I’ll likely start working on number one here in a little bit then number two I can do most of the night as long as I’m quiet after 9 p.m.

I need to plug the existing laser printer into the hub at the other end of the third bedroom so it can be used until I can get the 8100n set up in there. (It’ll be nice to be able to print “B” sized again.)


I submitted my first idea to Google’s project for ideas to help people. ( http://www.project10tothe100.com/ ) I don’t want to post it here just to keep things clean but since the idea is fairly cheap to run with, easy to test, and could benefit everybody I have high hopes for it.

Once the garage is all organized I should have more space to test some of these projects myself. And that really is something I want to do for a good portion of the next few years. I want to work on ideas of helpful or fun and hopefully easy to understand and build.

I think that unless there’s a good reason I’d like to release any of the helpful ideas to the public domain. That doesn’t sound very good for making money but frankly I want people to benefit from anything I come up with. And if it’s a choice of being buried by a corporate entity and making millions or being poor and millions benefit I’ll take the latter almost every time.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t think about taking the money. I mean the money would put me in a position to help a lot more people and come up with a lot more ideas. But could you bury one gem so others could have a million of them? I’m not sure I could...

It’s been lightly raining all morning so it feels a little blah here right now. I’d light a fire in the fireplace but we haven’t had it checked out yet.

Turns out that’s not too expensive after all - $140 or so to clean it and check it out for us. I was expecting some sort of insane $400+ “inspection fee” but this is actually reasonable. Likely I’ll call them and get them out here later this week hopefully.

*pauses to get the mail from the mailbox*

Oh cool! My dvd of The Specials arrived. Supposedly this a sleeper campy superhero movie. It cost me almost nothing from Amazon so I picked it up. Maybe I’ll watch it tonight.

Oddly my daughter got a letter from someone in her class. I think that was a class exercise - to send mail to other classmates. My wife’s dvd on biomedical interventions for autistic kids also arrived. And the best part of today’s mail? NO BILLS! Woot!


On a side note I seem to have gone almost vegetarian in some ways. I now eat nothing but vegetables for breakfast. Weirder yet I’ve given up coffee pretty much. Tea though seems to be a good staple drink for me - either unsweetened iced tea or hot tea with a bit of honey in it.

That sounds good....I think I’ll go make some tea now...
September 23, 2008 11:15 AM 9/23/08

So while I have next week off this week is shaping up to be annoying. I’m still working on getting the Cobalt Qube2 to accept the SoundBlaster Live! card under NetBSD 3.0 and my friend in Florida is helping me out there but it’s still being annoying. (Oh and whoever put the sbl* reference in the GENERIC kernel config file but didn’t make sure it worked - bite me.)

Other technical projects include the lighting stuff using the Freeduino, finding a replacement computer for my in-laws that doesn’t cost a fortune, and starting on the black-locust root-ball staff for my friend from Western Illinois.

I will likely take pictures of all the tube amps to put up on E-Bay tonight. I’m going to have to “smoke test” them to make sure they work because older equipment like that goes for more if it works. I can’t decide to insist on local pickup only for these or not. They’re pretty sturdy but I’m still concerned about shipping them.

I need to pick up some of the clean water containers this week to empty the rain barrel into. Thankfully those don’t cost too much and I won’t need to pick them up until the end of the week. I might get a Brita filter and filter all the water before storing it. That won’t solve bacteria stuff but it should get rid of any roof gunk that might have gotten into the barrel. The barrel itself is heavy-duty food grade plastic and was used for food before so the water should be clean enough. It still will need to be boiled if we want to use it for cooking or drinking.

Looked at the idea of putting up some sort of wind turbine at home and the best I could come up with would be two “oreo” style Savonius units on the garage or the anemometer style installed in the roof vent. Regardless if I want to use wind I’m going to need more than that.

I also priced solar panels and it looks like the good ones will cost anywhere from $300 - $600 each. I estimate that if I want to generate a kilowatt of power it will cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of about $4500. I guess I’ll have to start saving my pennies for that one...

The wasps show no sign of returning. Point in fact _all_ the wasps in the area are strangely absent. Makes me nervous. I’ll clean the one vent out today or tomorrow then worry about them if they come back. Though I will likely take someone’s suggestion and spray ammonia in the old nest locations as it supposedly keeps them from coming back to those spots.

Still no luck on getting the second Color LaserJet 2550n to print properly. I might consider swapping parts into the parts printer again and see if I can cobble it all together into one working unit but that’s a last resort as this one is close to working.

I’ll be highly pleased next week if I can get my workshop outside organized enough to start circuit design stuff from scratch and also editing anime music videos. Secondly I will definitely be happy if I can get all the servers into the basement and all the stuff out of the third bedroom. My wife really needs an office space and I’ve owed her one for quite some time now. So really those two actions are going to be my focus for next week. If I get to cleaning out the garden then that’s good too but frankly that can be done on a weekend without too much trouble.

I do have one thing I _should_ do before this week is out and that’s price getting someone to come out and check the fireplace and chimney. I could leave that to wait until next “fat week” but if it’s not too expensive then I’d like to get it done sooner rather than later.

Not much else going on at the moment. I’m basically biding my time until next week where I’ll do a great deal of stuff to get things into shape.

Back on the bike and back to work...
September 22, 2008 11:06 AM 9/22/08

So the wasps are officially dead. At least that nest of them anyway but I have yet to see any new nests. This is a good thing...

In case I didn’t mention it Pitboy came over and helped me fix one of the three Color LaserJet 2550n printers so now we have a color laser in the house. (Thanks Pitboy!) I’m on my way to fixing the other one so I can either sell it or use it in the garage. Have to put all these printers one by one on the kill-o-watt and see what they draw. I’ll still likely put them on X10 modules so they get turned off during the day but I still want the numbers.

I’m probably taking next week off so I can get things done at home. I’ve got the vacation time and really want to get all the misc shuffling of things done before winter. I’ve decided that if my wife wants a day-bed in the third bedroom then I’ll put the “ugly” couch out in the garage and forego the pool table. I’ll just go with the whole seating area thing for entertaining friends that come over. (And it gives me a place to sack out if I’m tired or in trouble with da wife.)

There’s still a lot to do. The garden is done so I need to cut it all down and pull up the nasty carpeting that was out there. That and clean out the small wasp nests in the garage vent. (That reminds me - I need to get a couple of furnace filters to put over the garage vents. Keep the heat in but let the air circulate.)

I’d like to get my weather station mounted properly before winter as well. I also need to swap the grill for the lawn tractor so that the tractor is in the garage with the plow on it. But that’s still a few weeks away. Still mowing and grilling time left on the clock. (As soon as all the other stuff is downstairs though I will move the second bike into the garage so I can do work on it during winter. When I’m finished organizing things there will be enough space to push both bikes off to the side and work on a vehicle if need be.)

There’s also still riding time left on the clock as well. I need to get out there and ride while I still can.

We’re making progress but slowly. I’m hoping I can push a bunch of that along next week and then all that will be left will be things we need to pay for - like the fireplace/chimmney inspection - or minor things like book shuffling and picture hanging.

I still need to get the network wiring done for downstairs so that I can move everything down there. I don’t like it but I’ll have to get into the crawl space big-time. Such is the life of a home-owning geek. :-/

Just like I’m not looking forward to tackling the carpet in the garden but at least that’s out in the open away from the spider webs. *shudder*

In a couple weeks I’ll likely buy the square steel pipe I need to make a ladder rack for the truck and weld that together. It shouldn’t take long. A friend reminded me to remember to gusset the assembly so it doesn’t twist. Good advice that.

Definitely concerned about the financial stuff. The lady at the credit union said that all their stuff is protected and not stock invested or anything so I’m okay there. I’m more concerned that our loan is through Countrywide and they aren’t doing too good. They haven’t tanked so far but it’s early yet in the crash of our economy. And no matter what anybody says this bail-out is NOT going to help. We should be bailing out the people not the businesses.

Things are going to get really bad folks but if you’ve got the capacity to read these words then you already know that. It’s time to take a complete stock of what we have and what else we need to obtain to help us survive. I want to definitely get a decent gas or propane generator before the middle of next year. Definitely at least basic solar by the end of next year if not sooner. I think I’m going to stock some MREs as well. Just in case. That and empty the rain barrel into containers. It’s not immediately potable since it came off the roof but it’ll do for washing things and can be boiled to make it potable.

I do know that some of my things I’ve had for a while are going to go up on E-Bay now. The two Heathkit W-5 tube amps - matched serial numbers. The tube base PA system. The Sylvania Polymeter. Maybe a couple of other things. I need to test the tube amps before they get put up there. Needless to say that will get me some cash, big or small, to use to buy other things.

Hopefully I’ll be able to start the box-by-box de-kluge next week after I shuffle things around...
September 19, 2008 11:16 AM 9/19/08

In case ye not be aware it be International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

There be many tasks still to be done aboard ship this seven-day. Chests still to be stored in the hold to improve the amount of drinking space on deck. (Thanks be that the bilge pump works!) Several other things are after being stored in the crows nest now that the local witchdocter has removed the daemons from it.

There also be a great many things to remove from the guest cabin to be stored elsewhere. The wench has been on about me getting her a cabin of her own so I be after takin care of that problem.

I be needin to change the bilge filter on me red dingy as well. She be a bit cranky if I forgets.

I also be needin to chop up all the seaweed on deck and bag it for discard when next we reach port. A pity the seaweed grew no melons in the water worth mention. Mayhaps next year be better.


Fer fun last night I stuck me nose into my Arrrduino microcontroller. Managed to whip up a set of fading light banks that look like golden stars. One of the banks even be random! The sight be mighty fetching to the old peepers. I be keenly of a mind to use the pattern of said stars to monitor events on the computer like a certain Instructable called the Orb Build Warden.


In other portents me hopes I be able to get all me booty handled before the winter squalls hit. There be much to do and some needs be sold at market to the highest bidder. I needs to set about makin fanciful artworks to catch the eye so some lubber be payin me gold for the trinkets in question.

Arrrr!
September 18, 2008 1:41 PM 9/18/08

You can thank my wife for the title.

That and the wasps that are invading our home. I’m meeting the exterminator here this afternoon so he can spray the nest in the outside wall and then hopefully inspect the house to make sure there aren’t any more nests to be dealt with.

II killed three of the damn things this morning in the kitchen. I really really hate bees and wasps since having one fly up into my pants when I was a kid. Not. Fun. Ever since then I’m okay with one or maybe two of them and can kill them but any more than that and I actually start to panic.

Fears like this bother me because they are serious weaknesses. I don’t have more than a couple but they can seriously leave me tangled up so to speak if they overwhelm me.

And besides - I used to _like_ petting the fuzzy bumble bees. :-(

Still need to move more stuff down into the basement. I’ve been distracted by the wasps among other things.

Started playing with the Freeduino unit yesterday just to see how well it would drive a power transistor and it turns out to do okay at that. I still can’t program it from the linux box but that doesn’t bother me as it’s easy enough to add a serial dongle to the G4 out there and plug the Freeduino into that.

Pie today. Definitely pie.

*sigh* Hopefully there won’t be another nest and this will end the terror of the wasps in the house. I’ve got spray-foam to seal up the hole when he’s done.

I’ll probably give the garden the final ka-bosh here this weekend or next. It’s done well for a starter garden but I need to do better next year.

Very likely I’ll start some plants in the garage before spring so they are nice and hardy when they get planted. Of course I’ll have to ask the police to stop by and see them just so I don’t get them called on me. “Oh my god! He’s got green growing things in his garage! He must be growing pot!” *ahem* Nope...never seen that happen to people...nope...

Unless things go very very well I likely won’t get a greenhouse constructed this year. I just don’t have the resources yet. As long as I keep the garage tidy though I should be able to accumulate wood that I can use next spring to make the greenhouse and many other things.

*checks clock on MacBook*

Time to go deal with annoying flying things...
September 17, 2008 6:11 AM 9/17/08

Brought to you by the early-morning-no-coffee department...

So last night I was thinking odd thoughts about sustainability and came up with a simple one. Europium paint based fiber-optic lighting.

What you do is take a clear Lucite rod, polish the ends of it, and mate fiber-optic lighting cable to it.

Then place the rod into a v-shaped holder (like a piece of angle-iron) that extends the length of the rod so that the “v” is pointing down and is open to the sky at the top.

Paint the inside of the “v” with blue Europium based paint. This paint is designed to glow for 12 hours or more after charged by UV radiation.

Mount said object on roof of house/vehicle/whatever and plumb the fiber-optics cable to a place close by where you want light.

During the day any sunlight is transmitted directly through the Lucite rod into the cable as well as “charging” the paint in the v-channel.

At night the paint glows and that light is transmitted down the fiber-optics cable in place of sunlight.

Ambient lighting from 12 hour paint that will likely last a fairly long time. And the only maintenance is sealing the cable as it enters the house/van/etc., cleaning the Lucite rod, or re-painting the v-channel.

Alternatively if you’re doing this with something like a thin metal roof (like a shed or car or something) you could put the rod into a square box with the top open and a slit in the bottom. Paint the inside of the walls of the box with Europium paint. Then rest the Lucite rod on the slit at the bottom and seal it there. During the day the light shines directly through and during the night the paint glows and shines through.

Once again this stuff is simple and easy to maintain. Heck it’s even fairly cheap. Europium powder that can be mixed with a non-uv clear-coat can be found here: http://www.unitednuclear.com/glow.htm I suggest blue for lighting. (There are other sources and other colors and glow times will vary. Green is the brightest but who wants to live in a Kryptonite cave?)

The Lucite rods are available almost everywhere - replacement clear towel rods come to mind.

The v-channel or box can be made from local materials.

Fiber-optic cable you might have to order online but it shouldn’t be too expensive either as you’re not carrying data only light in general in this case.

Back to my morning breakfast ...
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