The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for February, 2005

My American Day

Posted by Deliverator on 26th February 2005

  • Watched the Huskies beat #1 ranked Arizona today on my Grandma’s big-screen while eating fare from McD’s. My dad and I have been lucky enough to see a few games in person and the dawgs do not disappoint. In fact, with this win they finish the home season with a perfect record. They still have a chance at the PAC 10 championship and I can hardly wait to see them in the NCAA play-offs.
  • Washed and waxed my car and did some general cleaning.

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Other Peoples…

Posted by Deliverator on 23rd February 2005

Seattle Wireless’ weekly hacknight ran uncommonly late last night. Michael Lenczner who works on/with the “ile sans fil” CWN group up in Montreal stopped by on his way to an informatics conference. He charmed the baristas at CHIC into plugging in/resetting various boxes so that he could demo the custom WRT54G firmware that they use to run their nodes. Who knows, maybe the girls go for those Canadian accents? Their use of inexpensive commodity hardware coupled with customizable firmware seems to be working quite well. I think he said they have somewhere on the order of 30 nodes, mainly in shops pandering to caffeine addicts. Their distro uses a captive portal system that they have cooked up called WifiDog (a play on NoCat, no doubt) . One of the really cool features about this system is that it is very easy for Node managers to customize the splash page to incorporate both network wide and node specific news, thanks to the integration of RSS. Each node can be easily “branded” with pictures/logos and news appropriate to a particular cafe, while simultaneously making people aware of the network.

Matt Westervelt spoke at length about Other People’s Network, a scheme for using the widely available layer 2 transit features of The Linksys Community Network to link true CWN node operators (who could not otherwise directly establish a connection with each other) together, all without adding noise to what is rapidly becoming a saturated band of spectrum. This is a really cool idea, once you wrap you mind about it, but will require a hack/rewrite of the Atheros drivers in order to make it work.

Matt Wilson is still in post-traumatic shock after The Great LiveJournal Power-failure of 2005. He had a lot of bitter, yet interesting things to say about SCSI hard-drive manufacturers that sell their product largely for its reliability, yet use internal write caching to inflate benchmark scores at the expense of data integrity during power failures.

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Shipped

Posted by Deliverator on 22nd February 2005

Everyone cross your fingers and pray that Tyr makes it to Portland intact! Another TRC robot narrowly missed being impaled by the blade of a forklift several years ago. There is a big hole in Tyr’s shipping crate to prove it, too.

Tyr is on its way to Portland!

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Mr. Postman, how many stamps do you put on a robot?

Posted by Deliverator on 20th February 2005

Spent most of the day over at Bellevue HS working on the robot. Bellevue’s robotics club, has been sharing some of their space with us and we have been sharing some of our equipment (particularly the parts of the playfield that we have constructed). It has been a mutually beneficial arrangement. We spent the bulk of the day working on autonomous modes. If we had another week, I am confident we could get our desired autonomous mode working. Namely, visually acquiring the location of field elements and using that information to run one of 16 driving programs in order to place a tetra on the center goal. All the pieces of code are there, we just don’t have enough time to plot out and test all the routes. Instead, we have fallen back on our “Plan B.” Plan B is to use dead reckoning to grab a tetra off one of the autonomous loading stations and place it on the near, inside goal and then return to near the loading station for the beginning of user-controlled mode. By the end of the day, we were doing this with pretty fair regularity. We will have to tweak our code a bit to accomodate for slight differences betweeen our practice field and the field at the Pacific Northwest Regional (like carpet type, slight differences in measured distances, etc.), but I am pretty confident we will be able to do this about 75% of the time. Based on what I have heard on the boards and what I saw from other teams at our practice meet that we held yesterday, probably less than 10% of all teams will have a viable autonomous mode. I really wish that FIRST would give teams a little more time. 6 weeks is just too little time to be reinventing the wheel every year. Anyways, bitter recrimintion aside, it has been a WILD ride these last six weeks and I am pleased to say that Tyr is now safely ensconsed in a very large shipping crate awaiting pickup. Portland here we come!

After getting back from robotics, I had just enough time to wash my car before the sunset. I didn’t feel like using a shammy to dry it, so raced up 405 to air-dry it. Along the way, I stopped at a Dairy Queen that I saw the other day while going to a client’s house. They had a “Free Wifi with purchase” posted on their big letterboard, so I couldn’t resist checking it out. I ordered a sundae and received a card with an access number on it when I asked about the Wifi. Their access point, provided by Netopia, uses a captive portal system that redirects all traffic to a login page until you agree to their terms and input the code. It seems pretty effective for what it does and DQ isn’t stingy with the time. Each card grants the user a day’s access. I only had my Jornada to put the Wifi through its paces, but it seemed quite quick and didn’t seem to be limiting to many ports. If you lived near the DQ, you could skip DSL/Cable and just buy yourself a Dilly Bar every day! At 60 cents or so, this would be a rather cheap way to get broadband :)

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Titan Robotics Club, Windows CE | No Comments »

One step forward…oh well, you know what comes next

Posted by Deliverator on 14th February 2005

Ended up replacing all four tires on my 96 Cirrus today and got the oil changed as well. The right front tire was pretty bald and I have been less than punctual in terms of getting them rotated on a regular basis, so it was definitely time, but the hit to my pocketbook couldn’t have come at much worse a time. Business has been pretty good the last few weeks, but had in a slump post-new years. All this maintenance is in preparation for hauling kids down to the Pacific Northwest Regional in early March. I figured it would NOT be a good idea to kill a carload of kids because of a blown tire.

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Flotsam – and some Jotsam thrown in for good measure

Posted by Deliverator on 12th February 2005

I am finding the evening news more and more comical of late. In particular, I have really started to notice the appaling number of “stories” culled directly from Blogs. I remember during the first Iraqi war, The White House was mocked for getting a good deal of its “intelligence” from watching CNN. Now, when I watch CNN and recognize where a lot of the source material is coming from, I am forced to wonder whether George Bush is making world altering decisions based on what an Anonymous Coward posted on Slashdot or BoingBoing! For CNN and whoever else might be reading, here is some news from my life:

  • I have been quite busy of late. Between my day-job doing consulting as Base 10 Computers, editing video for my Video 210 class at BCC and working with kids from my high school Alma-Mater on Tyr, the Titan Robotics Club‘s entry into this year’s First Robotics competition. Specifically, we are entering the Pacific Northwest Regional, a competition we have done very well in, in the past. We would have liked to go to the national competition as well, but didn’t have the money. If you would like to help sponsor the TRC and help expose kids to science and engineering, you can learn about making a tax-deductable donation at this page. Prospective donors, both corporate and individual are welcome to come see the TRC kids in action, not to mention Tyr at one of our thrice weekly build sessions!

    Tyr!

  • Ryan and I went and bummed around on Capitol Hill for a few hours last night. We got a bite to eat at Dick’s and then walked along Broadway and Pine. I wanted to stop in at Confounded Books to see if they had any of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels, but they were closed. Luckily, I was able to find a few on eBay, cheap. Afterwards, we went to Gasworks Park. Some fraternity from the UW was there sliding down the hill on blocks of ice. Ryan took some long exposure night shots on his Canon Digicam while I checked out the new Seattle Wireless provided Wifi on my Jornada 720. Node Aeries was too weak to be useable, but I was able to get online via what I presume was Node Dexter. Anyways, we both had a lot of fun and the whole evening only cost us about $3.50 each.

Posted in General, Tech Stuff, Titan Robotics Club, Wireless | 1 Comment »

Jornada Update.

Posted by Deliverator on 9th February 2005

I have been having a great deal of fun with my Jornada. Here are some highlights:

  • The 512 MB CF card arrived, so I now have a ton of software installed. I also got the adapter needed to use my 2.2 GB CF Microdrive in the Jornada’s PCMCIA slot, so I have lots of space at my disposal
  • Played network Quake with me on my Athlon 64 gaming rig and Ryan on my Jornada. Managed to kill him while he was picking his jaw off the floor!
  • refurbished the included battery pack using cells scavenged from Vetco. Also ordered two battery packs online. I should be all set for extended trips.
  • Set the Jornada up to sync over the network, so cradle is not longer needed. Despite having received a very nice, capacious desk for Christmas, I am trying to keep its many surfaces and crevices free gadgets wherever possible.
  • Purchased null-modem adapter from Vetco. This should enable me to hook up the Jornada’s proprietary funky connector->serial cable (that is used if you want to sync with a PC and are a total masochist) to hook my Jornada up to a GPS.
  • After many hours of research, was able to get Sun’s Personal Java installed and modified a number of cool Java applications to run on the Jornada. First off was Mindterm, a full-featured SSH/SFTP client written in Java. I am working on getting Sun’s “Hot Java” web browser to run, as well.
  • Tried out a number of audio and video playback applications and test encoded a number of videos at various settings to figure out what sort of codecs/resolutions/bitrates I could get away with, without dropping frames.
  • Received 10 screen protectors in the mail from a company by the name of Expansys. They do a good job of protecting against scratches and dust, are pleasant enough to write upon and don’t impact the screen quality too badly. I can trade off a minor reduction in clarity for extended screen life.
  • Still waiting on the keyboard protector from Image911. It was the first accessory I ordered and is the last to arrive…

Posted in General, Tech Stuff, Windows CE | 2 Comments »

Up and running

Posted by Deliverator on 1st February 2005

Spent most of the evening playing around with the Jornada and for the most part, I am very pleased. I have almost all the applications I want installed. There are a few that will have to wait until the larger 512 MB CF card that I won on Ebay arrives. For now, I have almost everything (including the web browser I am using to author this post) installed on a 64 MB CF card.

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff | 1 Comment »