The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for June, 2005

Silverfir Downtime

Posted by Deliverator on 20th June 2005

Silverfir has been pretty unreliable of late. Ryan has done a real good job keeping on top of the admin tasks for silverfir, but is on a big bike trip down the east coast with my brother Scott at the moment and will be for the next month and a half. The most sophisticated computing device they have along is a cell phone, so the only chance for Ryan to do admin stuff will be at public libraries and internet cafes (which often do not allow users to install software and rarely come with a ssh client preinstalled). I am going to see about getting admin rights on the box and doing my best to keep things ship-shape until they get back.

Posted in General, Tech Stuff | No Comments »


Posted by Deliverator on 18th June 2005

  • Fixed leak in pressure housing and tested to 2.5 feet of depth! The way the housing is designed though, it actually tightens up and becomes less likely to leak as the pressure increases.
  • I have had more than my quota of pesky printers and fax machines for a lifetime, this week. If I never see another, it will be much too soon. That said, network enabled all-in-ones rock!
  • Scott and Ryan are somewhere in the midwest right now on a greyhound bus, having embarked on their epic biking trip. I expect to hear from them in a few days once they reach Maine. They are not going to be blogging during the trip, or at least not much, so I am going to try to keep people posted on their progress – here.
  • Saw Batman Beyond today and actually liked it, which is a first for any Batman film since Tim Burton’s. The essential story was told in a very different way than any of the other films, which is one of the reasons I like it. It was a real reinvention of what a Batman film should be.
  • Been playing around some more in Second Life. There is more depth and potential in it than I gave it credit for, at first.

Posted in Gaming, General, Movies, Rants and Raves, ROV Project | 2 Comments »

Second Life

Posted by Deliverator on 15th June 2005

Went to hacknight this evening and was pleased to see that Casey Halverson was present for the first time in quite a while. Casey is the man behind such cool projects as SnowNet and TrainNode and is always good for an interesting conversation. Casey showed off the hardware for TrainNode and its captive portal system. The captive portal has a really neat feature that displays the im usernames of all users logged onto the system. This is a great way to help users of a system connect up and start interacting. I wish internet cafes would have such systems. As usual, conversation at hacknight covered a wide range of topics and was highly animated.The highlights of the evening for me were: Casey’s OEM cellphone-on-a-chip, a system for storing data using pings and the two Matt W’s demos of Second Life. I have been hearing a lot of good things about Second Life of late, so decided to plunk down $10 to check it out.

The concept of Second Life is probably a bit baffling to most people. It is at its essence a virtual space and a set of tools for interacting with that space, building objects, environments, etc. In short, it is an online virtual world. Massively multiplayer online role playing games have been around for quite a while, so the idea of virtual worlds is nothing new. The thing that confuses most people about Second Life is that it is not a game (well, unless you choose to make one…), but rather an environment created entirely by the users of the system. You can create anything your imagination (and increasingly robust tools) are capable of envisioning. I haven’t tried my hand at creating object yets, but do intend to checkout the modeling and object scripting system in the near future. I spent a few hours checking out various publicly accessible environments and found that they ran the gamut from mundane and mediocre to fanciful masterpieces of both art and code. I particularly liked a soaring aerodrome filled with airplanes, hovercars, balloons and every flying vehicle imagineable. I tried my hand at piloting a publicly accessible hover-taxi and went skydiving. I have created a small gallery of pictures from my adventures in Second Life.

Posted in Gaming, General, SWN Hacknight, Wireless | 1 Comment »

I’m baaaack (sort of)

Posted by Deliverator on 14th June 2005

Just got back from four days in Minnesota and had a rather overwhelming ammount of stuff to do when I got back, so blog entries about the trip and SIFF may have to wait a bit. I do intend to write about both in detail when I get a chance. While attempting to catch up on past entries, I will keep you up to date with the present going ons.

Today, Andrew Ellis and Erik Thulin and I worked on tracking down and fixing the leak in the pressure housing that Kevin and I discovered during testing last week on Elliot Bay. I started by removing the waterproof electrical connector and cleaning off the threads on both the pressure housing and the threaded connector. Some sort of thread lock compound had been used to seal the connector in place originally. The machine shop was forced to unscrew the connector in order to get it out of the way when they were chopping the fins off. This broke the thread lock and the stuff was so old and dried out that most of it was crumbling right off. I used a wire brush to clean it up as much as possible and then generously covered all the contact surfaces with that wonderful thick synthetic grease that I mentioned recently. The seal between the electrical connector and the housing is definitely tight now, at least at surface pressures. If it leaks at deeper depths I will swap out the grease for silicone sealant. After working on the connector, I cleaned the o-rings and covered them in a thin layer of grease and put them back in place and replaced the endcaps. Andrew and Erik set to work filling a big plastic garbage can with water. There was a rather big whole in the bottom of the garbage can, which we proceeded to fill with silly-putty. The putty bulged out a bit under the pressure of all the water, but held. We held the pressure cavity under the water and noticed a bit of water collected at the bottom, but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from at first. We held the pressure housing very still with the porthole face up and after watching for a bit noticed a droplet begin to form, trickle away and then a new droplet. Water was getting in through the old silicone (how old I don’t know) sealant at the back of the housing. I took the housing home and after about an hour of work I was able to strip off all the old sealant and clean off all the left over gunk until there was nothing left but shimmering metal. I applied a fresh layer of sealant and it will be sitting on the workbench for a few days to give it time to cure real good. Hopefully this will be the last of our leak problems, but we won’t really know until it is tested it to a significant depth.

Posted in General | No Comments »

Schools out…for….evah!

Posted by Deliverator on 8th June 2005

I will be taking a break from my fight against entropy to visit my brother Scott in Minnesota as he graduates from Carleton. Scott is graduating with a degree in Economics with very close to a second major in Mathematics. His senior thesis is among the few senior projects being granted honors this year. You can see a silly picture and brief profile of him here. You can send emails congratulating him on this latest of his many accomplisment or just fill his mailbox with spam by using this email link. I will be back late Sunday, but should be available by phone and email if one of you people from internet-land have something pressing.

Here is a picture of Scott on his first ever day of school:

He was soo cute then, what happened? :)

Posted in General | No Comments »

Putting Humpty-Dumpty Together Again

Posted by Deliverator on 8th June 2005

My recent bad luck with entropy has thankfully not hit my pocket book too hard.

  • is going to replace my broken Lilliput display outright under warranty. It took a bit of effort to get it and all the associated cabling out of the car, requiring the removal of the passenger side seat. Removing the seat did allow me to clean up the cable management of the existing wiring and remove some extraneous wiring left over from the previous GPS system (thanks again Matt!) and the recently replaced USB Hub. I am leaving the passenger side seat out until I get the replacement screen back.
  • While working on the car, I motivated myself and took a look at the problem I have been having with my car door jamming. The interior plastic surface of the door is held to the metal frame by what are essentially larger versions of the plastic motherboard standoffs used on older AT/ATX computer systems. Around a half dozen of these standoffs/clips are broken, allowing the interior molding to seperate from the door and catching or the car’s frame when the door is shut. I looked up the procedure for replacing the panel in the Chilton Repair Manual
    , which I purchased with great foresight, recently. It doesn’t appear to be too difficult. I just need to track down a source for the stupid clips/standoffs.
  • I went to East Hill Optometry and had a thorough checkup on my eyes from Art Lum. Art is one of my father’s tennis buddies and I have been going to see him as my eye-doctor for a number of years now. He always does a very thorough examination and is very patient and responsive to his patients concerns. I highly recommend him. After the exam and some chit-chat with Art about anime and cars, I spent a good deal of time trying on frames and finally found a pair that I could live with. Insurance covered all of the exam and part of the lenses and frames, so the bill wasn’t as bad as I though it was going to be. I put the cost difference into a nice pair of sunglasses. Right now they just have brown tinted UV lenses in them, but I will probably have polarized, prescription lenses put into them at some point for driving.

Posted in General, Rants and Raves | No Comments »

Testing of ROV in Elliott Bay

Posted by Deliverator on 5th June 2005

This morning, Kevin, his dad and I went out on Elliott Bay on their 36′ boat to test the ROV frame and pressure vessel. We departed the marina around 10:30 and proceeded to a point off Alkai at a leisurely pace. Despite the weather reports, the sun made an appearance and it ended up being a nice morning to be out on the water. Once we got to Alkai, Kevin got into his wetsuit and used his boyscout super-hero powers to tie all sorts of impressive knots in the ropes. We ended up dangling 18 pounds from the pressure vessel to get it to sink and about 50 pounds for the ROV frame. Salt water is a good deal more bouyant than fresh, so it took a lot more weight to get them to sink. This made them much more difficult to handle in the water. We ended up testing the pressure vessel to about 50 feet and the ROV frame to about 80. The pressure vessel has a small leak somewhere, but I think it will be easy to fix once we track it down. There were maybe 3 tablespoons of water i side after 3 descent/ascent cycles. The bouyancy tanks on the ROV frame, on the other hand, came though bone dry. The last time we tested the frame, a little water got through the threads on the endcap. This time, I coated the threads with some very thick, goopy, synthetic grease. It was a bit messy to apply, but it sure did the trick for us this time!

I have posted some pictures from the excursion on my imob gallery.

Oh, as you can see, unlike Ryan, I have no difficulty typing quickly on a Jornada.

Posted in General, Titan Robotics Club | 1 Comment »

Updated SIFF Schedule

Posted by Deliverator on 4th June 2005

I have updated the SIFF schedule, adding a few movies that I will be seeing with Alex and co. and removing movies already seen. So, without further ado, here is the updated schedule:

Siff Schedule Spreadsheet

Posted in General, Movies | No Comments »


Posted by Deliverator on 2nd June 2005

iMob is an online photo gallery tool that Rob Flickenger and Matt Westervelt have been working on during recent Hacknights. It is a bit like Flickr, but provides some interesting functionality. For example, each gallery has its own email address. Send pictures to the email and they go in the gallery. Simple as that. This makes it super easy for uploading pictures from phone-cams. Rob has also been working on a script that automatically creates Blosxom blog entries based around images sent to it from a phone-cam. If you send a (small) video as an attachment, iMob creates an animated gif preview of the video so you can decide if the video is of interest to you before downloading it. I played around with iMob this evening and created a gallery where I have posted a number of images and videos related to the ROV project.

Posted in General, Tech Stuff, Titan Robotics Club | No Comments »

Entropy and Coincidence….aka why god hates me

Posted by Deliverator on 2nd June 2005

I have been having problems this week with expensive devices all deciding to break at the same time for no apparent reason:

  • My eyeglass frames broke after many years of use. The lens prescription was pretty out of date, so it was about time anyways, but even with insurance it will be a pretty penny
  • The driver side door in my car is sticking. It appears that the plastic molding at the base of the door has pulled loose from the frame. I have to force the door to get it open. I am hoping on taking a close look at it tomorrow.
  • A parabolic shaped section on the right side of my touchscreen for the carputer has gone dead. I have tried recalibrating/resetting it a number of times to no result, so I think it needs replacing. I am not sure whether I will try to do so myself, send it back for repair (depends on cost and difficulty), or just get a new one. I could definitely find use for a 7″ SVGA screen with VGA & RCA even without the touchscreen if I decide to get a new one. For now, I am back to using the glidepoint touchpad. I may just decide to do without a touchscreen a I found it to be more trouble than it was worth, sometimes, and a replacement may be too much for my already stretched budget.

Posted in CarPuter, General | No Comments »