Thursday, December 18, 2008

104 miles

I made a charlie(brown)plexing tree!

If you don't know what charlieplexing is, it is basically making each wire at the end of the matrix map to one and only one LED. This is assuming that all of the other wires are disconnected. The cool thing is, because and LED is a light emitting diode, we can use the same two wires twice and just revise the voltage applied assuming that the LED you have is able to stand that reverse bias voltage level... So this is a cool way to address a bunch of LEDs in a very low voltage way, like shown here.

Here is a graph showing how awesome charlieplexing is:

OK, the graph shows how many pins you would use vs how many LEDs you can control.

I am tired, maybe more later, if not see you next year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

102 miles

I did some lathing this weekend, check it out:

that's all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

100 miles

I made it! It took me a little over 7 months to run 100 miles on a track, with a few miles counted on a local hike. I am not sure I am really very proud of the amount of time this goal took, to put it in perspective I have been also taking a walk at lunch time for the past 4 months, each day walking 2.4 miles. 2.4 miles * 4 months * 4 weeks/month * average of 4 days walking = about 154 miles, which is why I slacked for the past 4 months on my running.

In total, 254 miles in the past 7 months counted... pretty damn good I think.

I want to thank my wife for understanding why I wanted to start running, and also for letting dinner be at weird times on running days. I will also give a shoutout to meg and mladen, thanks for reading! And my main man vld, as far as I know, my only reader that I don't know personally, you rock dude.

Now for the sad news... recent financial circumstances are preventing me from buying a chumby with a clean conscience, so I am going to hold off for awhile and maybe wait until mile 156 unless something else happens, better or worse.

What is next? I am planning on business as usual here at 100miles, I will keep posting about my projects as I keep racking those miles on the track! So keep coming back!

Here is the chart:

Monday, December 1, 2008

97 miles

huge news! my boards came back from the fab! so I got to work on soldering the tiny tiny parts, I got 8 on there and plunged it in and let some magic blue smoke out. crap. It was not that bad, turns out the 8th part was bad and shorted gnd and power together internally. So I took that bad boy off and tried again, this time no problems and even more it works with some test signals! WOOT.

So that was Wednesday.

Thursday I bbq-ed a turkey. It was good enough that my two "vegetarian" friends went back twice for more, haha.

This weekend I cleaned my office while skyping to my friends back in oregon and found my prototype LED message board with only 1 LED cell. It has a resolution of 5x7 dots and is red. I have been wanting to give grey scale a try. So I soldered up a connector cable to interface with my arduino board and in a couple hours had a very basic version of grey scale working. It seems I am getting about 2 or maybe 3 bits of resolution before the LED just looks off, and some of the steps in between are not that noticeable. If I get something worth looking at I will take a picture of it and post for all to see...

I then started installing apache with the idea that I could write a php program to talk to my LED board over the serial line and update the display based on some POSTs or something... mainly because I am trying to get better at PHP and more familiar with web servers.. did not get very far on this last one... Maybe next weekend ;-)

One more post to the original 100 miles! tomorrow is drinkup with the l33t hackers of santa monta, so hope to be posting again on Thursday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

95 miles

This weekend I was playing with :
  • dynamic image generation with GDlib with php.
  • Adding, editing and removing objects in the DOM using JavaScript.
  • Starting to look into using ajax but don't have a goal yet.
So now the question is, what should I make...? Most of this is learning for new job requirements, but also it is not horrible to learn. Back in the day I was working mostly in php and a little bit of JavaScript; but I was working with JS when it did not have threads and gmail was not around, so a lot as changed ;-)

I have a few things I would like:
  • A recipe database for my favorite food (also a way to search or randomize a meal plan?)
  • A way to list upcoming events. More than list, maybe pull data from another place?
  • A way to graph things, like my running progress, traffic times or weight?
man... so many things to work on... this web stuff is not my first choice, but I need it to learn how to do my new job. The plus side is that it does not cost anything to make this stuff.

I still have high hopes for crazy hardware, it is still in the queue.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

93 miles

lack of running is due to the wild fires... nothing like sucking ash... it was better today so bam, here is a post.

Tuesday I went to a weekly event organized by Eliot Phillips (and maybe others?) they are calling the drinkup. Pretty much it was getting a bunch of nerdy hackers together to enjoy some beers and bs about whatever, it was pretty awesome. I will try to work it in next week too.

I am still waiting for my pcb to come back, it should be another 2 weeks from now. Other than that, I have not really been doing anything exciting; I am learning some new middle ware skills for my new job at work so that is taking most of the free time.

As you might know, I am a woodworker when I get the chance. I keep thinking about new projects to make and I have this idea right now about trying to integrate electronics into a lathed bowl some how. At the same time I have been thinking about laminating some acrylic sheets into the glued up block of wood and then turning that. So I was thinking I could combine ideas and use the acrylics as a light transportation method and do something with some internal LEDs or something, maybe have a ring at the bottom with an internal ring of LEDs that would make a pattern or something. I want to try the LED-acrylic interface to see what kind of light mixing happens and if it just looks lame or worth my time to try it... more on that later.

I almost forgot: I was given a Palm Vx. I am looking into hacks for it, if anyone knows of something really cool to do with it, let me know! I found this thing that loads uLinux but it is pretty lame and it is not usable.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

91 miles



Sorry... 3 days late, but here is tonights news:

I totally saw Neil Patrick Harris today!! I was outside and saw him park his car, and then get out of his car, and go into the gallery for this art opening i was attending... I followed him inside to make sure it was really him and it was!!

I did not shake his hand or anything, but i was about 1 foot from him for a few seconds. That guy is one sexy bitch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

89 miles

I tried to time my mile this time, but I pressed the wrong freaking button on my watch!! I saw the time when I started and ended and I think it was about 8 minutes flat, but I can't say for sure, so lets call this one 8:00 +- 20 seconds... NEXT TIME FOLKS ;-)

In other news, I have ordered the board I build last time. I made a few changes like adding a voltage regular to the back of the board and added a bunch of vias to connect the ground line from the bottom of the board instead of snaking them between the side connectors... I ordered 2 boards and in all it was $27 bucks...

It will take a couple weeks for it to be made and then be shipped to me...

So I also lost half my sandwich gambling at the korean go club. It was awesome except then I was hungry later, haha oh well...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

87 miles

no update on the 5 volt to 3.3 volt board yet, I am planning on working on it some more this weekend.

I think I am running a sub-8 minute mile now. I am curious and will be taking my stop watch next run to see what my time is.

A side note, if we fall into the second great depression: I employ you to buy a pressure cooker, rice, dal, and some spices. You will never go hungry. I made some Monday and have had it 3 times so far... AWESOME

or you could go the route of my friend Mladen and buy absurd amounts of rice and beans. Beans are sort of like dal I guess...

Monday, October 27, 2008

84 miles

I made a first version of my 5vTo3.3v board. I also found a great pcb site. It is 2.50 dollars per square inch of design for 2 layers. This makes my first version cost about 7.50 as is but before I finalize it I am going to try to make it smaller and cheaper.

Here is the schematic:

And here is the PCB:

This was the plan when I thought I was going to use the acid and make it at home, but after attempting to transfer the toner via a paper and hot iron... I decided to use a PCB house. ;-)

So after thinking about this for a night, I decided that would use the back of the board for a voltage regulator. Also I might need to add some caps to the 5v input... Also going to move those mounting holes to the middle of the sides so I can reduce the size by 2 bucks or so.

Friday, October 24, 2008

82 miles

so... I answered a craigslist ad today for a running mate...

It looks like monday or tuesday will be the first running meet-up, so I will tell you how it goes then. Both my wife and my friend think I am a little crazy for it, but I am going to prove them wrong ;-)

OK, this weekend my goal is to finish the schematic for the 5v to 3.3v board and post it on monday. see you then!

MWF runs! Lets hear it for next week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

80 miles


top post foul...

ok, so I have been waiting for inspiration for my ardunio project, basically I want to make something that I want and maybe learn something new... I think I have it. here it is. are you ready?

The concept is simple, I have a horrible memory about simple things to do around the house. I can't seem to clean the liter box before it smells like death, water the plants before they cry, or any other routine thing that you should do every few days. Wouldn't it be the bees knees if you could set an egg timer to let you know when to do something?! The egg timer has to be small, has to be located physically close to the reminderie.

I would like this device to maybe blink an led only when it is time to do the task? Maybe something that also lets you see the remaining time? It has to be set able without a computer. It should be battery powered (but that can be a second project...)

LED... OH!!!

I still have that OLED display, I still need to finish the 3.3v to 5v converter board. BUT, if I got the OLED to work, it can blink or display the remainder time or what have you.

I have used those phase shifting knobs before, you can get them with buttons too. I have also made an interface using the knobs and button, button as a way to navigate the menu, and the turning for adjusting...

ardunio does not know the time... So I also have to make a RTC board, which I have been planning. I have 4 RTC chips, but I need to find a 3 volt battery holder, and 32kHz crystal...


- make 3v to 5v converter board.
- make RTC board
- write OLED control software
- write menu software
- write timer software
- make a box to house all this stuff.
- add battery (just a thing to buy online... not important)
- when all this is working, think about making a board that is an arduino with RTC and OLED hardware build in... Maybe we get some fans and they want a remindme ?

So, I need to finish up that 3v to 5v board tute sweet. then I can start working on the cool OLED board... NOW I have a goal in mind and it should be easier to find the motivation to do it.


Monday, October 20, 2008

77 miles

this is going to be legen... wait for it...

Monday, October 13, 2008

74 miles

I went back to the Korean go club. Turns out that it costs money to hang out... there is a sign that says so but it is in Korean... So I had a very awkward talk with the host where here tells me I need to pay $8, so I look in my wallet and had exactly 3 dollars. awesome.

turns out I had 5 bucks in my car so it worked out...

ok sorry boring, but... thats all I have, been working late at work and doing a lot of driving...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

72 miles

My visit to the Korean Go Club (not a normal 100miles post):

My wife just got a job working as an art assistant near downtown LA so I am taking the opportunity to drive her there and then do my own thing while she works. I looked up the 7-day a week go clubs in the LA area and found a few. I decided to try out the LA Go Club, it is Korean in the Korean side of town. So Sunday I dropped my wife off and headed to the club!

I found the club with a medium amount of difficulty, the building is U shaped with a parking lot in the middle facing a busy road. There was a sign for the club but it was faded, rusty, and small; Lost within the absurd amounts of posters, bill boards, and Korean lettering on the walls.

When it was time to go in, I headed up a small staircase to a small landing with two signs, one of which pointed to the right for the LA go club room (the other pointing to the baduk university !!! badass!!!). I stepped into the room to find 5 or so Korean guys leaning over a game of go, my kind of place!

As a side note, I had been warned that these kinds of clubs might not openly welcome new people, and might not offer to play a game strait away. So I was prepared to watch a few games and maybe if I was lucky, someone would play with me.

But as soon as I walked in, they noticed me, asked if I played go, asked my rank and I was whisked away to a table in the middle of the room. It became clear that my opponent did not speak much English, but we worked though it. I took 9 stones and he proceeded to trounced me in this game and the new 3 games after. Later I found out he was about a 4 dan. He comes to the club every day! Wow that would be amazing to be able to do.

The club was apparently one of the original go clubs in LA. The room was filled with about 20 boards on folding tables. Each table had 3 go boards, 6 go bowls and 2 ash trays. The club appeared to be configured like this for so long, the tables had lost all their painted wood patterns on the surface someone would lean on to watch a game. The area where each go bowl sat was warn down past the wood pattern and into the substrate of the table. Under the go board was pristine table, pattern and all.

More people trickled and after I had been there for an hour or so, there where about 15-20 people all involved in watching a game or playing in their own, all chain smoking, most speaking Korean. The club members had this way of slamming the stones down onto the board for each move. They made it look graceful and aggressive at the same time. The clack sound filled the room just under the smoke layer. Amazing.

I played a few more games, about 7 in all in my 3 hour stay with 3 different people. I never won, but I got really close on one game. The person that runs the lessons (a 7 dan pro!) said that he has seen people start coming to the club as beginners and in 2 years they are shodan! So here is to that!

I am not sure if I conveyed the awesomeness of the place, or the energy that you could feel in the room. I will go again next week and see how I do then!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

70 miles

One way to get better at go is to record the games you play and review them later without the heat of battle. On the computer this is easy to do, you just have to save your game as a special file and then you can review it no problem... But playing on a real board requires something more. Kifu means game library or game collection, you can find blank kifu at all sorts of places but for me all of the game record books have one huge problem: they are all either 8.5" x 11" or the smaller one i saw was 5" x 7", both too big to put in my pocket, both too large to not get in the way while playing. So I made my own.

I bought a sketch pad that is 3.5" x 5", it had a wire spine, a hard back, and the paper was 60 lbs weight. Oh! it was $2.50, score!

Then at home using inkscape, a vector graphic drawing program, I drew out the kind of graph I wanted which took a little while but the cool thing about inkscape is that you can edit the svg file by hand (it is just xml) and in no time I had regular-expressioned my way into a final grid:

(This image will print a 3.5"x4.5" sheet if the printer is set to 300 dpi.)

Then it was just a matter of taking the binder apart and printing the pages (about 100). One problem was the pages are very small so they did not just go into my printer, I had to tape each page to a larger page and then print. It was only a little painful but well worth it!! I can't wait to try it out.

If there is interest, I can post the svg file as well... Let me know.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

68 miles

I have joined my friend Mladen's (and company) book club! WOOT. (Wow! Loot! (D&D))

I am doing my reading in the car, and by my reading I mean I am listening to "books on tape". Though I would love to read the books, I also love having something more entertaining in the car than the failing economy and dirty politics; not to mention the 30 or so songs the local radio stations choose to play over and over and over. The books are welcome, and the book club provides a source for book ideas.

This months book is "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. If you want to feel like a perv while in the middle of 10,000 people all driving 10 miles per hour... listen to this book (and drive on the 210 at 7:30am). But really, it is a very interesting story. It seems to be one of those books that has made it's way into pop-culture but you are not quite sure where it all came from if you had not read the book.

Unrelated to the choice of "Lolita", the week before I began I herd an npr story about the new movie "Hounddog", and one of the main complaints about the movie is that it indulges persons prone to pedophilia. The person interviewed was trying to say that this kind of entertainment is new to the modern age of movies, but "Lolita" was released in 1955...

The clubs last book was "All The Kings Men" by Robert Penn Warren. Seeing that "Lolita" took me about a week to listen to in the car, I will have to fill the gaps with past books... If you have a MUST listen book for me, please let me know! comment or email me and I will call you awesome.

Monday, September 22, 2008

66 miles

The Cotsen was both a great and horrible. Horrible because I lost 3 games (and drove about 250 miles). Great because I won 2, and 2 of my loosing games were very close affirming my rank to be about 11kyu and rising!

Very fun. Meet some pretty cool peeps at the torment too! If you guys are reading this, shout-out to you!

In hardware hacking news: My interest in getting the OLED screen has been waxing and waning over the past few months. But now the go tournament is done and another is not insight for another couple months, I am starting to get pumped again to get the OLED screen to do something. I spent a long time looking over the ardunio schematic to see if I could convert it to a 3.3 volt board but it seems the blasted USB to serial chip is really mucking that up. I think thought about getting a skinny board from spark fun, but programming it is a problem for me right now. So back to the original plan of making a shield that converts 10 or so pins from 5 volt to 3.3. If anyone else is wishing they had 3.3volt converter shield, let me know? I saw a little interest on the ardunio forums but not really any response...

This weekend I am going to try to go to this old Japanese go club, I am told that if you sum the ages of the 8 guys that are the regulars, they easily add to over 700 years old. I also hear they take a little time to warm up to you, so wish me luck!

Well that's all, tell your friends that only losers drive on the freeway in the morning. (Maybe that will clear the road up a little so I can get to work in under an hour and a half.)

OH! And Colin's crazy roadtrip is fin, go check it out on the right side links.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

64 miles.

I have a theory: Coffee sucks the life out of you.
I have a revised theory: Caffeine sucks the life out of you.
I have a more specific revised theory: Drinking caffeinated coffee all day* will suck the life out of you. *More than 8 cups.

I have a problem.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

62 miles

I always have a guilty feeling when I am thinking about an electronics project but for it to be useful it would need to be left turned on all the time. Maybe useful is too strong of a word ;) more like entertaining or interesting, but never the less a power waster. So I had an idea for a robot: I would like to make a little robot that is rover style (shout-out to mars) that would map a rooms light intensity at different places in the room correlated to the time of day. So it would overtime find how the sun tracks accost the sky by mapping the edges of direct sunlight through a window! After it has this map, when it gets hungry it would think about what time it is and where it was and would roll on over to the closest direct sunlight and have lunch!

OK I don't think I will be making him any time soon, but it is a fun idea. I wanted to find out more about solar powered robots and found David Cook's project site. He has a nice writeup of a little experiment robot that is a simple version of what I was thinking of. His site is pretty cool too, I got sucked into looking at all his robots for a couple hours, goodtimes. I was not sure what BEAM robots were, so I had to look it up.

In other news, I ran 2 of my 3 miles today in one go! awesome! I have not done that distance of running in 5 years I bet.

Also, I went to the Santa Monica go club yesterday! I played about 4-5 games with some really nice people while some very strange things were being said during the open mic comedy night at the Unurban coffee house, they have a myspace for the event. The Unurban was the site of the coffee cup go tournament that happened a few months ago (hosted by the Santa Monica go club! duh).

Up next, Cotsen 2008!!! omgomgomg. The really cool thing about this tournament is that it is free if you play all your games AND you get 2 free lunches. It is in less than 3 weeks!

Monday, September 1, 2008

59 miles

September will be the month of experiment. I just finished reading the book In Defense of Food, and though it did not really tell me anything I did not know in general terms, the specific facts in the book were amazing. If even half of what they author lays down is true, it could be a life changing book. The basic idea proposed in the book is that we as Americans are not eating food anymore, we are eating foodlike substances that are making us sick. Foodlike substances are things like chips and soda, fast food and tv dinners, gogurt and yes even bread. Pollan proposes that food processing is the main culprit in this foodlike struggle and so as a result of the book, I am going to attempt to refrain from eating corn syrup this month. This will be hard... but it will hopefully be an eyeopener.

I have nothing else so leave me alone!

Monday, August 25, 2008

57 miles

Cue the rocky song.

I have started a month long effort to learn go better. I will be reading my books, playing lots of game online, and for the first time: trying to play pro games out on my board. The goal is to do well at the Cotsen Tournament 2008!!! I hope I don't get sick this year.

I will ease it back after the tournament, but until then, I am going for it. OK sorry.

I am rated as a 12kyu AGA, and I am entering the tournament as an 11kyu. We will see how I do, last year I entered as a 14kyu and one 2 of 5 games, but it was also my first LA go turny and I got sick the second day. (2-1 the first, 0-2 the second day) I am rated as a 10kyu or so on KGS...

3 stones in 9 months, that sucks. But I am super busy running for my chumby, working on electronics, programming rad ant-simulations, and other life things; so i think it is pretty good.

peace out.

the trumpets in your head can stop now too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

55 miles

I have given up on EaglePCB. I have moved to kicad, my college goto schematic maker. They both seem to be good, but my problem with eagle was it was too flexible and hard to get images for printing which is the goal of all this mess. kicad is great at making images. AND kicad has this cute 3d image viewing thing... So I redrew my 5volt to 3.3volt board and am now working on creating the pcb object so i can lay it out and create my mask.

As I was thinking about it, I have decided to make use of these i2c temperature probes. I am thinking a i2c temp shield for my arduino. I will try to get that made this week!! it will be my first real circuit etched.

I also finally found some tiny drill bits for the leg holes, so I am set on that front.

That's all... doviđenja.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

53 miles

Today I saw a tarantula! It was my second one on this hike near my house within 1 year. There is something to be said about a spider the side of your face walking around in the wild. hhaha.

So my friend Brandon told me about this cool device called Beagle Board and I was thinking it could be my VGA device with little work... It is just another $125 buckaroos and I am in business... I might just wait another 47 miles and use the chumby though, when I get the chumby... oooohh the chumby.... (don't tell my wife about the beagle board...)

I found out that my 1.5 mile walk is really a 2.3 mile walk using this cool site called Gmap-Pedometer. You just click and make a trail, and it will tell you exactly how far the trail is.

So I am on the lookout for an old maybe broken motherboard. I need to scavenge the 32kHz crystal and the 3volt batter holder. With these things, I plan on making a RTC (real time clock) shield for the arduino. So that's the plan, and when I find one I will move forward.

Oh one more thing, Twitter has reached a new high! Tweets and twittering was mentioned on NPR! haha

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

48 miles

Almost half way! next time will be/past the midpoint!! So that means 3-4 more months until a chumby? oh dear... I have to run more.

I just had my freshman year R.A. and long time friend stay at my apartment on his road trip to OSU (Ohio). He is making a really large L shape on his way, making it a 40 day long adventure of catching up with all his old friends along the way. We ate $h%t at the beach trying to body surf which was super fun, and then we watched the new batman movie in an IMAX theater. IMAX is HUGE, and i am not sure it was worth a $5 difference that watching on a normal screen...

My other good friend is on a crazy road trip at the same time, with a goal as far east as Maine! He is making it a 60 day trip and already he has had his car get stuck on a parking stump and a tick in his leg. Good god man, don't die! Check out the link on the side! (Colin's crazy roadtrip)

Nerd alert:

OK I have a dream, I would like to know of a device that talks either serial or parallel on one side, and sends either VGA or component video on the other. It needs to have a framebuffer internally, and a double buffer would be better.

So does this device exists? here is a logic chart:

digital IO --> internal buffer --> VGA Out (RGB H and V sync) or the Yellow component cable.

I really hope I don't have to make this... the NES can output component video... it can't be that hard right? I am going to do some more research...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

46 miles


Ok sorry, no I was not scared, in fact I did not even know an earthquake occurred until I heard about it in the car on the way back from the park. My view on today's earthquake was a freak gust of wind in the trees as I was walking down a hill. And then there was that downed tree awhile later on the trail that was a bit odd...

My apartment and all of my things are fine, only 2 things fell off a shelf. Good times.

A little running status: I am feeling really good with the new shoes! Shin splints are still there but they are now the kind that go away during the run and come back awhile longer or the next day. I am not going to worry about them, they are not preventing me from running now unlike before. So today I was able to run a full mile without walgging!

wtf is walgging: As my friend Winona told it: "Walgging is when you go for a jog along the road and run only when a car drives by, and walk the rest of the time." (might be a miss-quote... she said that like 8 years ago...)

ok that's all i have. I hope to have some news of my nerd-adventures soon but nothing yet...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

44 miles

next week or so marks the one year anniversary of moving to California, in honor of this event, I thought i would reflect on an Oregonians' view of socal...

My opinion might have been jaded because we moved down here in august in the middle of fire season, with no less than 4 fires burning within 20 miles of my new apartment. Also, I came from a town that got it's first traffic light my junior year of high school, and now I live NEXT to a traffic light (I can see it from my bedroom) on a road larger than my home town.

I have learned a few things,

-I can merge into a 6 line highway with rapid deceleration and car/semi-truck avoidance.

-I now understand that it is not as hot down here as I thought (ask again in 4 weeks) and I am able to walk around in the burning sun at lunch time on my little lunchy walk without whimpering or crying.

-Woodworking can happen in the dinning room.

-There is a limit to the number of hours you can listen to npr in one day (it is about 1.5 hours... which i do just about every day in my 2 hour commute, that last half hour has to be 6 of the 10 top hits the radio is looping right now).

-Running in the dark is doable if it is 70-80 degrees in the dark. Beer does not exist in socal, the locals have heard of it, but they do not understand what it is and why you would want it; they continue to drink yellow fizzy water.

-Do not eat at a restaurant that replaces the letter "c" for the letter "k". (kalifornia kitchen)

-If you want to watch a movie on it's opening day, be there exactly 8 hours before the show starts and bring many in-n-out burgers with you to eat in your seat. When you leave you should leave any and all trash where it lays. Oh, and pay $10+tax.

-If you plan on biking, forget about it. The DMV test requires you to merge into bike lanes to make a right hand turn. The rule really does not apply because there are no bike lanes...

- Water is abundant in the desert. (ok, no it is not, people just water like it is...)

- The apartment swimming pool is for the kids.

- Don't grow a tomato plant on your small porch. I am growing one and it is larger than me now.

- Expect to pay 7-10 bucks for lunch no mater what kind of food it is.

- Don't grow your hair long, no one understands it.

- If you wear a fedora to Low's hardware, every sales floor person will remember you. that is both good and bad...

- Wash your car or it might be towed because if it is dirty, it must be broken.

- Butter costs $5 per box.

- Go tournaments are awesome. !!! I am missing the largest go tournament of the year because it is in portland... check out the go congress 2008!!

- If you can think of something you want to buy, chances are there is a specialty store that sells only that thing within 20 miles of you (there is a plastics store!! they only sell raw plastics and plastic things).

-The mail man will try his best to try to break your netflix dvds. I have never before had to pull/rip my news papers and precious bills out of the little box as one solid object.

- Fedex/UPS will try to break your package and/or potted plants by throwing it over the fence.

- Turn off the air conditioning at an art reception. The sweat is an ice breaker.

- If you want to fight with your girlfriend/wife, make sure to do it on the sidewalk as loud as possible.

- Don't expect to find any items on the shelf at a 99 cent store, they are on the ground in little piles sorted by color.

- The beach is awesome, just watch out for the dead seal.

- I still don't understand California.

Oh, and I finished that shelf I have been talking about, lap joins and all... here it is:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

42 miles

I think I am back on track!! What have I been up to? Well, I vacationed for a week at the beginning of this month to visit my family and friends in Oregon, which was great! At the same time I thought I would take the time to allow my shins to heal from my shinsplints, which they did. So mile 40 was me post vacation running, turns out that my shins are still bad or so I thought! I went out and got some new shoes, low and behold I can run with near zero pain in my shins!! WOOT WOOT!

My wife brought me a box of free stuff from her school she found on the floor. She was not sure what it was but knew it looked like something I would like. She brought home 7 LCD display modules!! They are pretty small, about the size of a chumby screen but not as much resolution I am betting. I have not spent the time to find out a lot more about them then that. But I do know that their input is the Red, Blue, Green, Sync (like a VGA cable). I have been looking around for a chip that will convert a digital image buffer to those sorts of signals. It looks pretty cool, but before I work on that, I think I will first get the OLED display up and running.

I have been having fun playing the challenge game at Go check it out... It is a lot like the google challenge.

I am also working on some pretty cool wood projects, more on that later when I get it done... It is going to be really cool. I hope I don't mess it up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

38 miles

Shin splints have nothing on me! Ok they have me pretty good, I am back from my healing break. Put in a good 2 miles and the shins only made a little noise. I am going to keep at it with careful watch on my shins.

I have been up to a lot. Along with my 3.3 volt to 5 volt project (which I found out is even easier than i thought because the ardunio board has both sources on board!!), I have been working on gathering the parts for a real time clock that runs off a 3 volt battery so it will keep the time even when the unit is powered off. The data sheet claims 10 years off one battery!! So I got an I2C RTC from maxium and now I am working on getting a battery clip. I am going to look for a toasted motherboard and scavenge.

Camphor wood makes your house smell funny. I made this with a chunk of it:

It sort of smells like vics vapor rub. It also added a fine layer of this smell to all of the things that live in my apartment (sorry cats). It seems to be cleaned up now. Look at that bowl!! It is about 6 inches in diameter and about 8 inches tall.

Just back from my trip to Oregon, home sweet home. It was a good visit, but I wish I was still on vacation ;0)

See you next time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

36 miles

The Santa Monica Coffee Cup 2008 is this weekend!! I will be there will bells on. It is 3 rounds of double tree elimination, which means if you lose you play on the loser tree, but you still play all the rounds. I really hope I win 1 game, I really don't I have a chance of winning...

Aside from that, I have been busy making my wood working shelf. It is made of pine and has lap-joints to make the sides, it is a lot of routing, but it will be a good shelf when I am done. I think i will finish it next week, if I am productive it could be this weekend.

If you have not done so, work on the Google treasure hunt!! I have 4 right answers all saved up there, I am not sure if I will win anything but maybe, just maybe they will send out google stickers or something!! My prime number program took about 45 hours to run, most of that time was generating the primes... The other questions were easy, I did them during lunch time at work.

Monday, June 9, 2008

33 miles

Welcome back!

I don't have much new going on yet... So I will just point to some new blogs I have found and liked:

Here is Keith's Electronics Blog. Keith is working with the arduino board too, he has even made his own shield with a breadboard attached!! He is also working on something he calls the LED puck. I can't stop reading it as LED puke. I wonder what LED's puke... Miller light? . He also has some cool tips on salvaging parts from random boards... Keith, if you have an opening for a new friend, where do I apply?!

Peteris Krumins’ has a pretty sweet coding/hacking blog I spent a few hours on this weekend. His picture on the side really creeps me out, but it is just a young picture of the guy... If you can get past that, he has some neat stuff. I am not going to make links to all of it because it is easy enough to get to everything from his site. The highlights are the few sites Peteris has come up with like and But my fav thing on his site has to be the perl and python learning guides.

Last but not least... Alex Polvi has a little side project that I thought was pretty fun, go check out favicoop and install the firefox addon, all the cool kids are doing it (do it do it!!).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

31 miles

In the Orange County Go Tournament 2008, I took first place with a 5-0 score in the 30kyu to 12kyu section!! I am pretty happy. I am going to buy a couple new go books, and maybe next time I will be in the 11kyu to 1kyu section ;-)

That's pretty much all I did this weekend. So... see ya later.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

30 miles

Wish me luck at the 2008 OC Go Tournament!! 5 rounds of go this weekend, it is going to be awesome!

(me at the Cotsen 2008)

Then in 2 weeks I will also be at the Santa Monica Coffee Cup, which is a 3 round tournament in a coffee shop. It should be fun as well unless I drink too much coffee and can't hold the stones anymore.

Don't know anything about go? Let me show you. If you don't want to click those links, it is a game from Asia; first from China, made popular by Japan to the "west" and now has a world wide base. If you like manga, take a look at Hikaru no go. It also has a few of the mangas turned into animations, if you have netflix you can get it here.

If you want to know, here is my KGS rank:

If you want to play me, I am deoryp on kgs. I am about a 9k on kgs, and I am about 12k or so in tournaments.

wtf does 12k mean? If you learn the rules of go, you are about a 30 kyu (k = kyu). Which means to play even the handy cap to play me even would be you get to play 18 times in a row before I play on a full sized board. To be fair, if I were to play someone who plays go for a living (professionals) they would let me play about 25-30 times before they play to be even.

Monday, May 26, 2008

27 miles

So my gluteus maximus has a huge cramp.

( I am going to let you think about that for a minute... )

I spent my Saturday using my new router table for the first time, but I had to use it bent over or on my knees; hence the butt cramp. I am working on making a semi-sweet, multifunctional shelf that I am going to use to keep all my lathe wood and tools. Ok, so the shelf's use is boring, but the work to make it is pretty fun. I am making a 4 shelf bookshelf, and the ends are lap-jointed which means I need to remove about .3" x 6" x 36*6" of wood riddled with knots. I am about 70% done...

yeah, I built the router table too.

Other things I have been up to... I set up my desktop as a ubuntu 8.04 desktop with ssh server enabled so if everything goes well I will be able to connect from anywhere. Also I might be able to do remote development on my arduino board.

I am still working on my 5 volt to 3.3 volt board. I had to add/draw the part that I am using myself for the library for eagle. I did a test print of the pads to see if I got it right but it was about 100 times too big, so I am wondering if I had mixed up inches with millimeters when i was making the drawing. More to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

22 miles

OK so I have been thinking about this concept of salaried employees working far too much and how this seems to be expected from the uppers. Either I am not getting paid enough to work into the wee hours or I don't really enjoy what I am doing.

So I would like to ask to anyone who does work crazy-go-nuts hours why exactly they do it. I can only assume that there are 3 possibilities:

1 - Their job kicks ass and they never want to be doing anything else.

My response: bastards. How did you get that job? Did it take awhile to find it?

2 - They have nothing better to do and they are getting pressure to work those long hours.

My response: suckers. (maybe that is my problem... )

3 - They are getting blackmailed. (OK... or they are payed too much and feel guilty.)

My response: figures.

So am I a lazy good-for-nothing if I only put in my 40 hours a week? When it comes time to go home, I can't wait to get home and make some dinner and maybe watch some tv, go on a run, work on the lathe, plan my project in eagle, or get schooled by my wife at gin rummy. It would take a lot to get me to give those things up.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

20 miles

Well it took a week to get back out on the track and forge through the heat and run my laps of doom. I am getting better though, I seem to be running a sub-9 minute mile now apposed to my 12 minute mile I started with a month ago! woot woot.

So at work my hard drive crashed last Monday... bad times. That combined with new friend making and end of school year celebrations I have done jack on my little project. But never fear! soon there will be something to show, maybe next weekend... Here is to then!

Chumby made it to CNBC! So any of you who don't understand wtf a chumby is, take a look here.

Here is a parrot:

Parrot taken from ianmichaelthomas

Sunday, May 11, 2008

17 miles

This weekend, I did acid.

Well ok, i just made/used some of that Copper Chloride in Aqueous Hydrochloric Acid Solution, and it was awesome.

It was just a test etch as seen in the picture (along with the Diecimila board), the cool part is that now my acid is primed for the big-time! Now I need to sit down and lay something out... One change I made was the pool acid the article calls for was 30% and I could only find 15%, and the mix was to be 2:1, so I made it 1:1 and it worked out fine... I will try to get my PCB design up soon, see you then!

14 miles

I went swimming yesterday! It was pretty fun, and I am going to count it as a mile of running.

Acid. Fun stuff right? I want to talk more about my upcoming plan of making a prototype board at home. (A prototype board is a circuit board that is the first version of your design and you know it may not work very well. Because of this fact, you can get away with making just one or two yourself by using acid to dissolve the copper off your board, or some people have fancy drilling/routing tables that they can remove copper by cutting it off.)

The Real Elliot wrote this cool writeup on how to make Copper Chloride in Aqueous Hydrochloric Acid Solution! (Exclamation point!) on I am going to try to do it, correct me if I am wrong but this kind of acid seems to be a little more house hold safe than Ferric Chloride, the common way to etch copper off a copper clad board. (Don't get me wrong, it still seems to be able to melt your face off like "Aliens" blood):

So my plan for today is to find a glass bottle that will be strong enough for the acid and some ruff handling (just in case), a glass pan for doing the etching, and get the three parts to the recipe. Then I am off to my laptop to get my design down in eagle so I can print it off and stick it to a piece of copper... So exciting! I also need to find a single sided copper clad board...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

13 miles

My wife showed me an email that meg sent her:

Rachel what the hell does this mean?

So my plan for the Arduino board is to connect it to the OLED display and get that working well, maybe transfer images over USB. I got the programming envi
ronment working on my ubuntu system (I tried to get debian installed and working but after battling with X11 and then apt update, it bricked... so back to ubuntu) . So I rewrote the Makefile for Arduino to remove the Arduino part as a built in default. I don't really need the abstraction that Arduino gives, but I do really like the bootloader that lets you program over USB...


To which my wife replied:
Well, Meg, I'm glad you asked.

I counted eight words I did not know the definition for in the paragraph below, so I did a little research for both of us. What follows should help you to better comprehend my husband.

Arduino- the gland in which the neurotransmitter Arduinoline is located. Arduinoline is released into the brain during "fight-or-flight" situations, allowing the person to giggle nervously, forget critical parts of their carefully planned speech, and even pee a little.

OLED- Old Lazer Emitting Diodes. These are really bad.

Ubuntu- A close relative of the Antelope, the Ubuntu is an African Serengeti native, known for its distinct, S-shaped horns, and its ability to run up to 15 miles per hour. Pronounced U-boon-too

debian- a single member of the Latter Debbie cult in northern Idaho, which believes the consumption of artificial preservatives is Godly.

X11-its either a Terminator or a calculator, i couldn't tell for sure.

apt update- im really not sure

bricked- who talks like this?!!

bootloader- and olde tyme-y name for the shoe horn.

Meg, I hope this cleared up some of your questions. Please don't hesitate to email me further if you would like to know more about any of these terms.



Ok meg... let me explain what all of those things are one by one, don't fall asleep.

Arduino: The Arduino Diecimila is a board for hobby micro controller programmers that want to work on a home project but might not have the time or skills to build the physical board. It looks like this:
(photo taken from

OLED: This stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Really what I have is an OLED display, the cool thing about OLEDs is that they can be really thin, and even flexible!! I saw a company working on an OLED watch that is like a sticker that you just stick to your wrist and that is your watch! (it will unstick in a few days or something...)
An OLED Display is a bunch of LEDs in a grid just like your computer monitor, except the difference is your laptop display is an LCD (liquid crystal display), and it works by having a backlight shin through little cells that can change the amount of light they let through. So for a LCD, a black screen takes just as much power as a white screen because the backlight never turns off, it just gets snuffed out. The really cool thing about OLED displays is that they don't have a backlight because each pixel makes it's own light. So the amount of power it takes to make a black screen is near nothing, and for a white screen it is the max (but it is still less than a LCD backlight).
An OLED Display looks like this:
(image take from

Ubuntu: It is a version of linux, based on Debian. You can request a free DVD of the operating system from their website.

Debian: It is a version of linux that is pretty popular (hence why ubuntu borrowed it...) you can download the operating system for free at their website.

X11: In linux, it is basically everything that is graphical is handled by X11. If X11 and I got in a fight it woudl be like:
X11 : "all your base are belong to us"
Me : "yep."

apt update: Or "application update", it is the way you install and update things installed in debian and ubuntu. You can install almost anything you can think of auto-magically with apt-get.

bricked: OK my laptop was not bricked... Bricked means that you have done something so bad to your that there is no way to recover it and it is now as good as a brick --> it has been bricked.

bootloader: A bootloader is a small piece of software that is loaded by micro controllers (and even computers but it is called BIOS) that loads the thing you want to boot to. Like, your cell phone has a bootloader that boots to whatever OS it has... It is a better way of loaded things because you can do simple things like program a new program into the device (in the case of Arduino) so that next time when it resets, it will load the new program without the need for expensive and or hard to find specialized cables.

OK, new stuff: Should I try to etch my own PCB? I am really thinking about it... It will cost some money to get started but would save in the long run. Or should I look at medium cost proto-board shops?

For Meg, here is a etched PCB:
(photo taken from

I need to make a logic family bridge between the Arduino board and my OLED display before I can use it. The Arduino is all 5 volts, and the OLED is 3.3 volts; the OLED driver chip is also not 5 volt tolerant. So I got some of these cool level converter buffer chips and want to use them but they are really gd small smt parts and I need to either make a PCB or get some of those smt to dip converter boards... This is what keeps me up at night.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

10 miles

Well, so I got sick this week. I started to get something last Friday and then it went away for the weekend, and then came back Tuesday but today I am better now. BUT I AM BACK! Woo hoo!!

So here is what I am up to:

- running (duh)
- programming Arduino Diecimila board
- looking ahead at chumby plans
- wood turning

News on the running front is that I have found that I can't really run like I did in high school... But I am slowly getting it back, a few more months...

So my plan for the Arduino board is to connect it to the OLED display and get that working well, maybe transfer images over USB. I got the programming environment working on my ubuntu system (I tried to get debian installed and working but after battling with X11 and then apt update, it bricked... so back to ubuntu) .
So I rewrote the Makefile for Arduino to remove the Arduino part as a built in default. I don't really need the abstraction that Arduino gives, but I do really like the bootloader that lets you program over USB...

So my plans for chumby are still in the works... But the super high level plan is:

Internet --> Chumby --> Arduino --> XBee --> Other Arduino boards.

With the end goal of a XBee mesh network of home sensors (house plant hydration, cat food feeder, open door detector, power outlet monitor, etc...).

I bought a wood lathe at the start of the year. I have been learning how to make different kinds of cuts with the tools, getting a little help from this wood turning turning club I found down here. I have not gotten around to it, but some time I will post some pictures of the little bowls I have made so far.

I am also making an inchworm pull-toy for my friend's baby. I am about half way done or maybe less, I hope to have it done in a few weeks. It is pretty sweet so far.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

7 miles

I got an OLED display and carrier board a couple weeks ago. I wanted to play with it and see how nice it looks. So I went to dig up my good old tekbot mega128.2 board but low and behold, I left it in Oregon.

So this week my brand new Arduino Diecimila board came. I debated whether I should design my own board, wait for my next trip to Oregon which would be in July, or buy the Diecimila board. I went with the Diecimila board, so the deal with these Diecimila boards is that Arduino is a open source api and IDE for ATmega family chips (ATmega8, 16, 168) and it seems they are working on supporting more (1280, 2560). The IDE does not really interest me, nor does the api. What made me buy it was their bootloader and USB to serial circuit, it emulates the isp programmers in the bootloader so you can program your board via USB (USB serial driver) which is convenient because my laptop does not have many ports other than USB. And an added bonus is that the chumby has 2 USB host ports which would allow me to connect the two!

I have done a lot of programming for these chips in college and at work. I think they are very fun and it makes me happy to see a larger user base being exposed to micro controllers with Arduino. After these new programmers get used to the board and the features of the chips, I bet they will look for a way to get at the hardware without the Arduino abstraction layer.

My wife has joined me in my runs, it has been really fun with her there with me running along and another source of motivation. She understands that I really want a chumby, but does not understand why... I will change her mind when I get it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

4 miles

yeah yeah yeah, I only ran a mile today... I have a good excuse, I have some shin-splints that are ruining my life. I ran close to 2 miles, i could have rounded up, but I am no cheater!

To business... So today at work I salvaged an ancient flat bed scanner, the kind that are about 4 feet long (ok more like 2 1/2) with a big beefy stepper motor, then I heard about this awesome project: Online Whiteboard. Which uses two motors very similar to the one I just found! I tried to get my message posted to the board but it was very slow and/or broken. This guy has some really cool projects posted that he has made, I really like the Knock to Open project... oh man so many possiblities for my little stepper motor...

Monday, April 28, 2008

3 miles

Introduction: What is a chumby? well take a look here: Cool eh?

Ok now that the excitement has died down and you have thought for a moment about exactly what it is, you say "big deal". Well my friend, a chumby is unique in the fact that it is 100% open source! You want to take a look at it's software? It's hardware? You can. It has built in 802.11g, a QVGA screen, runs linux at 266 Mhz, 32 MB SDRAM, 64 MB flash, and two usb ports.

Why don't I buy one right now? Well, if i did it would be a spiral of out of control buying of the things I want. So for self motivation, I have setup this challenge to myself: If i run 100 miles I can buy one. Not at one time, but as an evening exercise to try to get myself back into shape as a result of the past few years of neglect.

More on what I plan to do with the chumby later...

So come back and check on my progress, I also hope to have project updates as I go.