The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for May, 2006

Finalized SIFF Schedule

Posted by Deliverator on 28th May 2006

My dad and I went down to SIFF’s main box office at Pacific Place the other day and purchased our tickets. I had to do some substitutions/different times, due to sold out shows or time conflicts. I have updated my SIFF schedule on google calendar mentioned previously here to reflect the changes and am uploading a screenshot for quick reference. I would have posted this earlier, but Silverfir was down due to hard drive related problems. I apologize to any of my friends who were inconvenienced or had to purchase their tickets later than expected, as a result.

Due to a scheduling problem, I have three free, spare tickets to the showing of A Prairie Home Companion being held at Lincoln Square Cinemas on Friday, June 02 at 7pm. Please let me know ASAP if you are interested in these tickets.

Final SIFF Schedule

Posted in General, Media, Movies | No Comments »

Silverfir Downtime

Posted by Deliverator on 28th May 2006

Silverfir, Ryan’s server which provides hosting for this and several other blogs, has had a number of hardware issues the last few weeks. We are looking to migrate silverfir to redundant server hardware and colo(cate) it in the near future. Currently, Silverfir is hosted on ordinary desktop hardware on a residential cable modem. As such, hard drive failures and other hardware issues (that server hardware can handle without blinking) can result in serious downtime. Nobody is hosting anything too important on Silverfir, but it would still be nice to get Silverfir onto more reliable hardware (and hardware that can be remotely administered easily).

Posted in General | No Comments »

The schedule has been hammered…

Posted by Deliverator on 23rd May 2006

I’ve spent my idle time over the last few days twiddling with my SIFF schedule in a futile attempt to make everyone happy. It ain’t happening. I spent some time trying to invent a time machine, probably the only invention capable of making everyone happy, aside from the TASP, but that didn’t work too well either. After a lot of long hard starring, my schedule is as close to finished as I can get it without further outside input. There are a few movies that I have listed twice, as I am able to see them on either showing. Please tell me which one you would prefer, so I can buy my tickets accordingly. Rather than the more traditional Spreadsheet of Doom, I have posted the schedule on a Google Calendar. If you send me your gmail address, I can send you an invite to view it in all its googletastic glory. Or, if you prefer to use a client side calendaring application such as iCal or Sunbird, an iCal compatible WebDAV feed is available here. Raw, boring XML is available here, should you wish to perform my schedule as an interpretive dance or something. For those Americans who haven’t yet gazed at the vast horizon of possibilities open to us… in the 321st century here is the schedule as a pictograph. Click on it for a full size view.

Schedule

Posted in General, Media, Movies | No Comments »

Comment Spam

Posted by Deliverator on 22nd May 2006

The amount of comment spam that I have to moderate has gone up substantially in the last few weeks. On average, I am now receiving over 100 comment spams a day, a threefold increase over last year’s average. The techniques used by these spammers has also markedly changed, with many producing pseudo-relevant commentary on a particular post’s content. This variety of comment spam takes a little more consideration by myself to properly categorize as spam, which has raised my burden in spam filtering substantially. As such, I am going to resort to more draconian measures. Starting today, I am running all comments through Akismet, a black box spam filtering service, which is reputed to remove the vast majority of comment and trackback spam, while having a very low false positive rate. Please alert me via a backchannel if your legitimate comments aren’t showing up at all. I only moderate comments about once a day, so please wait at least that long before contacting me. If you have thoughts about Akismet or other spam filtering/prevention mechanisms, I would love to hear about them.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Curbside Computers

Posted by Deliverator on 19th May 2006

This past Wednesday, I attended SWN Hacknight for the first time since the changeover from Redline to Caffe Vita. Along for the ride was Theo, who has spent the last few years in Iraq and Korea, where Uncle Sam has put his intellect to work pumping gas and pounding fenceposts into the ground. He is kinda/sorta out of the military for the moment (unless they Shanghai him back in using “Stop Loss,” a despicable policy that flys in the face of our all “volunteer” military). He is considering going back to school for a CS degree, or trying to find employement in the IT industry. For the moment, he has a few months to consider his options, and is taking a much deserved breather.

We met up at Cafe Vita, but didn’t stay there long. The weather was beautiful and Matt suggested we move to the park. On the way out the door, someone spotted a pile of odd looking, cracked open computer cases sitting on the sidewalk. Most had been stripped of hard drives, ram and other useful parts, but there were a fair number that were more or less complete. Several of us rummaged through the pile for a few minutes to discover what they might be. The case said “AXIS Digital Media Manager” on the front and Matt recognized that they had stickers from a company called DMX, whose offices are a few blocks from the cafe. DMX is a Muzak type company. The devices we found seemed to have originally been used to stream elevator music over the internet to retail establishments. The device seemed to be more or less a normal pc, with 2 eide ports, a floppy port, sodimm slot, low profile NIC, modem, and a Cyrix 5×86 class processor all crammed inside a black “shelf” case with some front mounted control buttons and a 4-5 line LCD. I figured if nothing else, I would find use for the low profile NIC, tiny power supply and LCD at some point. About half of us headed to the park carrying our found treasures. While on the way to the park, we passed the DMX offices and discovered that their dumsters were half full of similar devices.

Once home, I plugged in a keyboard, mouse and monitor, added some ram, floppy, hard drive, etc. and fired it up. The devices use a bios from General Software, a company which specializes in custom bios software for embedded computers. I was able to get it to recognize the hard drive and floppy disk, but not the cd-rom. I didn’t try to hard. I tried getting Debian and FreeBSD running using network boot floppies, but both experienced some sort of kernel error relating to bios rom caching. I tried turning off caching of the referenced memory segments in the bios, but to no positive effect. Anyone have any clues? I haven’t been able to dig much up about these devices online, and if I am not able to figure it out in a short ammount of time I am going to canabalize mine for parts and throw the rest to the curb…

Click the image below (taken by Matt) to be taken to a small gallery of images related to this funky little device.

Axis Digital Media Manager

Posted in General, Linux, SWN Hacknight, Tech Stuff, Wireless | 4 Comments »

SIFF Prospects

Posted by Deliverator on 17th May 2006

Took an initial look at the SIFF schedule today and came up with a list of prospects. Here is my list of movies that I am interested in seeing (will only see a small fraction, of course):

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General, Media, Movies | No Comments »

Countdown to SIFF 2006!

Posted by Deliverator on 14th May 2006

Seattle International Film Festival is just around the corner (starts the 25th)! I have been going to SIFF for a number of years now, and my involvement seems to increase every year. Last year I went to well over a dozen films. I started going to SIFF with just Alex, but other friends have grown interested in it over the years. Due to people’s work/school schedules, taste in movies, etc., coming up with a schedule has grown progressively more difficult. Alex and I originally would just consult the program, circle films that we liked and a rough ranking and then hash things out over dinner. These days, it is a little more complex. For the last few years, I have breaking out what I have come to refer as “Dan’s Spreadsheet of Doom!” Alex came up with a similar sheet that used Macros, but I prefer mine, still. Somehow, I can’t help feeling like conjuring this year’s schedule will be akin to the scene in Cryptonomicon where all the relatives are trying to settle their grandparent’s inheritance by using cartesian graphs. So far, no less than half a dozen people have indicated their desire to go to SIFF movies, which will likely make this year’s schedule the most complex yet. Thankfully, SIFF has released the schedule ontime for a change. You can consult the list of movies that will be shown here. Print copies courtesy of The Stranger should be available soon, as well. Please try to get your movies lists to me ASAP, along with some sense of how badly you want to see each film.

Posted in General, Media, Movies | No Comments »

More Robocam Videos

Posted by Deliverator on 14th May 2006

While in Atlanta for the International FIRST Championship Event, we managed to get some more on-robot video footage. The video was taken by a CVS video camera strapped sideways to the front of the robot using a whole lot of velcro. I rotated the resulting footage so that up is up. Because the cameras were strapped sideways, the video is in a bit of an odd aspect ratio, but it is fun to watch, none the less. You will need the XVID codec to view these.

FIRST ATLANTA Robocam Match 1
Match 1
FIRST ATLANTA Robocam Match 2
Match 2

If you haven’t had your fill of robocam, checkout these older robocam videos taken at the PNW regional competition.

EDIT – Links should be fixed now. If you had trouble completing your downloads earlier, try again. Please post a comment if you are still having trouble.

Posted in General, Titan Robotics Club | No Comments »

1st Evaah PNW MATE Competition!

Posted by Deliverator on 13th May 2006

Spent the day at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way attending the MATE underwater robotics competition. This is the first time a MATE regional has been held in the northwest, so almost all the teams there were rookies. I was very impressed with the quality and functionality of the robots, especially given that most teams had no experience with underwater robotics and some had no experience with robotics at all, prior to the competition. In all, about a dozen teams from Oregon, Washington and B.C. participated. I hope that next year, the TRC will be among them.

My father is still using the nice camera up at Lake Chelan, so unfortunately I only have pictures from my Nokia 6620’s rather poor phone-cam.

ROV

Posted in General, ROV Project, Titan Robotics Club | 2 Comments »

Back from a little R&R

Posted by Deliverator on 12th May 2006

I’ve been taking a little R&R up at Lake Chelan this past week along with my dad and grandmother. My grandmother has a time-share at Wapato Point for 3 weeks every year. The weather was very nice, but because it is the off season, there were few people there to enjoy it. We spent a lot of time outdoors, walking around Manson and the beach.

The highlight for me was a side-trip we took to Dry Falls, a waterfall that at one point stretched 3 and half miles long and had more water flowing over it than all the rivers in the world combined. The periodic floods that rushed over Dry Falls during the last ice age were of truely biblical proportions, and are responsible for much of the landscape of Eastern Washington. It is thought that at least one such flood sent 300′ deep water spilling over the falls at 65 miles per hour for at least several days. This and other floods (one researcher named David Alt sees evidence for up to 100 floods) was enough to scour channels hundreds of feet deep (right down to bedrock). All throughout the otherwise flat areas in the flood’s path are house sized boulders of Basalt that were tossed for many miles by the floods.

Dry Falls

Posted in General | No Comments »