Monday, August 25, 2008

My family had some crabs for my little sister's birthday. We clean the crabs before we cook them and most people cook them before they clean them. Here are some pics from the event.

After we finished cleaning them, we boiled them and made some spaghetti. Here's a shot of the dinner table. We also had some bigger crab legs, much easier to get the meat from them.
and what's a birthday party without cake!?and the video...

Kudos to Sara, who watched the cleaning and became a master crab eater. I believe I saw a thought bubble over her head saying "Savages! Those Smiths! Savages! the lot of them! Breaking open live crabs, gulping down bowls of spaghetti, and eating 8 inch tall cake"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Scooter update

I think I fixed one of the problems with the scooter. The front brake disk was rubbing against the front brake caliper.

I took off the wheel and put it back on (correctly, it seems). It didn't rub as much (as in, not at all). I maybe have to take it off again and file the caliper a bit. I think the right answer is to get a different sized spacer between the wheel and caliper (so anyone that wants to buy me a lathe, now is a good time). I might be able to file the current spacer.

Its not really past the wear in period, but having the brake disk abrade the brake caliper just seems wrong.

The scooter is faster with the fix, supposedly I was at 40 mph. I want to calibrate the speedometer, I am not sure that it is accurate.

Does anyone have a INS/GPS system that might help me out?

New Fruit

First flower to new fruit. The flower became a bean pod, its growing extremely quickly. I saw it yesterday, and today its about twice the size.

Breakfast thought

I was assembling a bowl of Rice Krispies this morning and had a thought.

The ceral makes a 'snap, crackel, pop' when you add milk. Because you can hear it, there was a release of energy. Can we use this as an energy transport medium? (a similar mechanism)?

from Kellog:

When Kellogg's* Rice Krispies are toasted the cooked and dried rice "berries" expand their size (puff) to many times their normal size. Since the weight of the rice berry and its material mass remains nearly the same, the rice material is stretched to form very thin walls of the Rice Krispies structure. This is much like a very thin glass crystal. When subjected to a change in heat, a severe "stress" is set up and the thin wall fractures - creating a Snap, Crackle and Pop! This happens in the cereal bowl when cold milk (i.e. heat stress) is poured in the Rice Krispies and presto SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! The sounds are made by the uneven absorption of milk by the cereal bubbles.

and Live Science's Explaination:
Shattered glass
A Rice Krispie behaves like a piece of glass. If you hit it hard, it’ll break into a puzzle of a million pieces that, if you had the patience, you could put back together again.
The high temperature at which the cereal’s cooked creates extremely strong bonds that hold the rice’s starch molecules together. The strong bonds make the rice act like glass.
During the cooking process, each piece of rice expands and a network of air-filled caves and tunnels form inside.
Under pressure
When you pour milk into your breakfast bowl, the cereal absorbs the milk. As milk flows into the crispy kernel, the liquid puts pressure on the air inside and pushes it around.
The air shoves against each pocket’s walls until they shatter, forcing out a snap, or a crackle, or, as you, know, sometimes a pop.
You can also see tiny air bubbles escaping to the surface.

Pre-stressed crystals?
So, how can we extract the release of energy? Seems it takes a lot to set it up though, high heat and etc.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


In class one of the researchers talked about vulnerability in cyberspace, and how we were all vulnerable.

I had an interesting thought.

Aren't we all vulnerable in real life? Like, I don't walk around in body armor from inside of a tank, with a Doctor at my side. Different people have different levels of security, but in the end, a determined person could get what they wanted.

Isn't it the same with cybersecurity? Maybe we are trying to treat the symptom, and not the cause.

Having freedom on the internet made it into what it is today. Adding security that is not really security may make us less safe.

Side note, xkcd talked about this recently, excellent point!

So, an interesting research question:
1) What level of vulnerability is acceptable for cyberspace?
Bonus points:
2) What level of vulnerability is acceptable for real life?
3) Should cyberspace be made to be less vulnerable than real life at great expense?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Falcons Game

I went to the Falcons-Colts game last week. I ended up helping with putting flyers into the cup holders. Just look at that perfect row... (yep, we did 72,000ish seats.. blah!)

The game was fun, but heavy on advertising.

911 Report

I am reading the 9/11 report for one of my classes.

The first chapter is really hard to read. There were so many things that had to go in their favor for the attacks to work. The report really brought out the human nature in how we reacted to the events. It was amazing to me that the last plane went down because of information about the previous flights.

The people in the back of the plane deliberated and held it to a vote. Then they collectively acted on their decision. One woman had to hang up with his family because they were going. "Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye." Can you imagine having to do that?

There were a few instances of last word's from different people. They were very courageous.

Make it through it without a tear, if you can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Flower

One of the sugar snap pea plants has made it's first flower.

The radishes can also be seen, they don't seem to be storing any energy, I don't think they get enough sunlight. I hope it bears fruit.

Swiss Army Knife Maintenance

I did some maintenance on my swiss army knife today.

I bought new tweezers (large) and a new spring for the scissors (large).

Sure am glad I own that set of transfer punches, installing that spring would have been really difficult without them.

The new spring helped the scissors, but it still binds. I am going to try and polish the mating surfaces with some sort of gritty material.

Random Definitions, also from Utility of Force

confrontation - aim to influence opponent, aim to win a clash of wills
conflict - purpose is to destroy, take, hold, forcibly obtain by application of violence

Confrontation is sometimes won by conflict, but not always.

The Joker kept trying to push Batman into conflict. I'm not completely sure as to the utility of Batman, but I need to ponder that more.

Just in here for keeping.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quote - General Rupert Smith

I was reading along in 'The Utility of Force' and came across this quote about the legitimacy of using force.
I reflected deeply on the matter and finally decided that it was legitimate simply on the moral grounds that if I, a strong, fit man, was walking down a road and saw and heard in a house evidence that a violent crime was in progress it would be my duty to break in and stop it, using sufficient force to do so.
He was talking about bombing Serbia/Serbian Forces to get a withdrawal from Kosovo.

Not really sure where I was going with that. Just wanted to remember it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Moped

I bought a new moped.

I hope it doesn't get stolen.

It is a four stroke, so I will have to change the oil every once in a while. It is a lot quieter, as the exhaust seems to be properly attached to the engine this time...

I think I have to fix the front brake, could just be that it is not broken in. I'll try and keep a log of the mpg.

Big Brother Pictures

I got a new cell phone recently. It has a camera, so I can take pictures of people and the world around me. You can associate a picture with a contact in your address book and the picture comes up when they call you.

My family all switched providers, so we all had new phones and were gathered. I was taking pictures of everyone to put in my phone.

Later on, the part of my brain that works for 'the man' was active.

Soon, we should be able to get fairly accurate photos of almost everyone in the United States. A program could download all of the pictures/contact pairings and make a huge database of every phone number/name/photo combination. Hacking the phones can't be too hard, people get naked photos of celebrities all the time that way. It could be written like a spider, using the numbers in the contact list as ideas for the next phone to download from.

I'm not for the creation of such a beast, just noting that it is possible.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bush on NBC last night

Bush amazed me last night (8/10/08) on NBC during the Olympics coverage.

The NBC dude kept trying to get him to say something that would piss off the Chinese, but he answered everything in a very political manner. He was mature and realized that we have to engage the Chinese. Smart sounding answers, very human. Didn't seem rehearsed, he was relaxed, and actually a bit annoyed at being stuck in the NBC studio instead of watching the games.

Why couldn't he have performed like that on TV before?

Programmer success?

I hooked up the programmer and the power supply to my ATmega168.

Fired up the programmer software, avrdude.

No dice.

Recheck wiring, check power.

No dice.

lean back in chair with hand over forehead. where can I get a new chip? Did I fry the chip?

Decide to check again. D'OH! I had installed everything "upside down". Pin 1 was on the opposite corner from where I thought it was.

Fixed wiring, and got this:

avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e9406
Next, to make the 'hello world' app. A blinking LED.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Washington Pics 2008 with clowns

A clown in front of a Mig

Same clown in front of the Enterprise

I had to take a bunch of pictures twice, he would always dart in front just as I hit the shutter button. :-p

Washington Photos 2008

View of the Capital from the Washington Monument

White House from Washington Washington Monument

Looking West from the Wahington Monument

WWII Memorial from the Washington Monument

Jefferson Memorial

The man himself!

The Capital building

Random statue who's name eludes me right now

An epic man at the Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

From the Jefferson Memorial looking toward Washington Monument

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Tuna

Stupid China

Just as we shouldn't use the Olympics as a protest venue, China should not use political reasons to stop an athlete from traveling to China.

Creek, the dude that was banned:

"I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.
The Olympics is supposed to be about coming together, in spite of all of our differences, to let our champions compete without all of the silly little games.

By doing stupid things like denying athletes visas, China is opening itself up to protests. I was originally against protests during the Games, and still will probably be against it, but I would also feel like they got their come-up-ins. I don't feel that China really has the ability to deny a country's choice in an event. Especially if he is a gold medalist.

I found out from a commenter that he isn't actually in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Shame on you yahoo and other news outlets. I would now have to argue that they had the right to deny him entry. He was not an athlete in the Olympics. He is associated with a political cause, which should not be using the Olympics to air its grievances. I don't like ethnic cleansing anywhere, but bringing it up at the Olympics is the wrong venue. Let's keep this clean people!

Its about bringing people *together*

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Power supply for Alarm Clock

I made a power supply for the chip last night. I used a wall wart (transformer) from an extra hub that I had lying around. It was 5V which was what I was looking for. I initially de-soldered the connector from the hub, and soldered wires to the pins. This way I wouldn't have to modify the actual plug from the wall wart.

Fate decided that I was being foolish. I spent about an hour trying to figure out how I could have continuity between two points, but those two points would not carry a voltage. It turns out that it works when they were not inserted into each other, but once you plug it in, the connection would be broken on the "sleeve" part, not the pin part.

So, plan B. Just stick a wire in the hole on the connector and another wrapped around the outside, held with duct tape and hope.

I also soldered little jumper wires to the wires at the end of the programmer that I made last time. This way I can stick it into the breadboard without breaking the wire or crying.

Next post will be about sending my first program to the ATMega168, which now has power, and a programmer. I don't think I need anything else just yet, I choose that chip because it didn't need any support circuitry.

Sorry if the descriptions are confusing, a picture or diagram would help, but I didn't get my memory card for my phone yet.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Best picture about Fossil Fuels vs Electricity

And that is why we need to find a good way to "make" gasoline. Right now, the specific energy just rocks. We need a way for solar/tidal/wind/etc -> gasoline, and that way has to be the most efficient possible.