obligatory obscure reference

self-deprecating yet still self-promotional witty comment


made a thing: rotating “Lazy Susan” tool rack

(Susan wasn’t lazy, she was efficient. There’s a difference.)

After seeing Adam Savage’s take on mobile tool racks I started designing some for my Big Things studio.

Then I realized, no, I need one like ten years ago for my Small Things studio. Cue the cycle of “design, test, improve” and finally I had a version for me. I like it so much I decided to put copies up for sale at Etsy. If you want a custom version for your own special set of You No Touch These Tools we can work something out.

Having a Lasersaur in the Big Things studio is more useful than I expected.

(p.s. Boxing up S/N #1 for Adam tomorrow afternoon.)


100 years ago today

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 10:14

I’ve been reading history trying to find more on a composer (Joseph Joachim) and got distracted by what was happening 100 years ago.

By the end of June, 1915, the Germans had started using chemical weapons (chlorine gas) in WWI trench warfare and the Turks had started what became the genocide of more than a million Armenians. By the end of the year, Cornell professor Muenter set off a bomb in the Senate and shot JP Morgan, the KKK was recognized by the state of Georgia, “In Flanders Fields” was published, the British killed thousands of their own soldiers when weather blew chemical weapons back in to their own trenches, and Germany said they’ll try to stop sinking so many civilian ships with their u-boats.

My biggest problem in 2015: planning my weekend around the endless rain and thunderstorms. I need to weld for a client which means opening the windows for fresh air but I can’t do that in the rain, attend a beekeeping pest management class if it’s not cancelled due to rain, and sort out 2nd position alto scales before giving “Hebrew Melody” another try.

No chemical weapons, no endless trench warfare, no genocides, no countries attacking mass transit systems interfering with my life.


Look, I was almost famous, once

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 21:00

My security/game review from 1990 is somewhat oddly quoted in boing boing.

But one can find my original in RISKS and the obligatory chatter.


Short stories limited to four lines, 80 columns, and SVR0 commands

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 20:37

A million years ago, when 4-line sigs were the rule in the 80-column world, I decided to write short stories using only SVR0 commands.

Most of them are on 3B1 floppies I need to read and transfer to the 21st century via serial line, but here’s one I found on a USENET archive:

Grep sed “awk! man cut grep, edit banner false! get help!” Man disable
grep, split banner, join prof admin. Grep mount eqn, find path. Grep
echo spell. False cat kill admin, man. Grep find banner, make true


Facebook, contests, and privacy, oh my!

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 22:25

Moogfest is a conference/concert where analog synth loving people like me can go to talks, build synths, and attend concerts by new, obscure, and legendary musicians who use Moog products. It’s a long, drawn-out conference worth a sentence too long by half!

Today I got email from moogfest about a contest for an iPad modified by TOKiMONSTA. Sure, a contest for a free iPad customized by an artist, who wouldn’t buy one of those tickets? (Honestly, I’d rather win a few hours in the studio with her teaching me her magic analog skills.)

So I go to enter the contest and learn I have to use a Facebook account to enter the contest. Ok, uh, sure? Wait. Who is this user “Recess” running the contest? Before entering the company I get an accept/decline that informs me:

Recess will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, email address, News Feed, relationships, relationship interests, birthday, chat status, notes, work history, status updates, checkins, education history, events, groups, hometown, interests, current city, photos, religious and political views, videos, website, personal description and likes and your friends’ relationships, relationship interests, birthdays, chat statuses, notes, work histories, status updates, checkins, education histories, events, groups, hometowns, interests, current cities, photos, religious and political views, videos, websites, personal descriptions and likes.

Yeah, so, uh, NO. Imagine someone asking you to buy a raffle ticket for a $500 prize, but only selling you the ticket after you give them all that information.


Disabling Finger / Touch Input on Windows 8, Lenovo X220 Tablet

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 19:17

After upgrading to Windows 8 I discovered I could no longer disable touch input and keep pen/stylus input. The control panel option in many early versions of Windows 8 is missing in the release version, so there’s no obvious way to disable hand/touch input but keep the stylus input.

If you use the screen for drawing with a stylus, having your hand “help” you is not a feature, it’s a “I’m ready to sell this junk” annoyance.

Every guide I’ve found online contained instructions that didn’t work or instructions that would also remove the trackpad input.

A little hammering with brute force and I think I have a solution. I’m not sure how portable it is to systems other than Lenovo X220 Tablets running Windows 8, but it can’t hurt to try it and find out.

  1. Go into Settings, Control Panel, Device Manager
  2. In Device Manager, open the Human Interface Devices folder
  3. Look for “USB Input Device”. There are only two on my laptop, at the end of the list.
  4. Using the stylus, open one USB Input Device
  5. Open the Driver tab
  6. Click the “Disable” button, and answer the “are you sure?” questions
  7. Test touch the screen with your finger to see if you can move the device window. If you can’t move the window with your finger, next try with the stylus and then with the keyboard controls.
  8. If you disabled the correct one, close all the menus and move on. If you didn’t disable finger touch, re-enable the device, close the window, and try this with the other USB Input Device.


When you learn a language too late

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 14:28

When I was a kid, I liked writing BASIC on the TRS-80 at school so much that we eventually got a C64 in the house. After that I took CS classes in colleges for fun (that is, “a minor”) and instead of going into the writing business as planned I went into the computer biz.

Twenty years in consumer electronics and a Master in Design later, I still like learning languages and new ways of thinking about computing. Last month I read the Erlang book out of curiosity and last year I started playing with machine learning using Mallet.

Through all manner of trickery I managed to avoid Python. Fixed column formatting like COBOL and Fortran? A mixture of English and symbols for logic? Typeless unless it’s not? An object-oriented scripting language that doesn’t have a two pass compiler so there’s no way to do forward references? Screw you, buddy, I’ll stick to PERL!

Then along comes Rhino 5.0 (an excellent package even in alpha) and their decision to replace Visual Basic (hack, spit) with Python so your scripts will run on both OSX and Windows installations.

Crap. I have to learn Python.

I made the mistake of starting with the Rhino tutorial, which is more of a tutorial on Rhino than a tutorial on Python. I asked my “pythoneer” friends what to read and pointed out some of my goals and favorite ways to learn. I also I had a few planes to ride, so I tried the electronic version of “Learn Python the Hard Way“. It’s an excellent book for someone who has never written a program but can be a bit of a tedious read if you’re fluent in C++ or Java and try to do all the exercises. (I did none of them. :-)

So by “too late”, I mean long after everyone else has learned it, and long after they’ve worked through all the dev problems related to moving a language up to 3.x over the space of 20 years. I’m making notes as I learn and asking some of the obligatory “why is this so stupid?” questions that come from people who either expect better or are just used to the ANSI problems in C++. (Trigraphs. Fucking trigraphs.)

I’ve written a few scripts in the past week and it feels very much like when I learned Lisp after learning C, “Interesting language, but what would I do with it?” Looking at tasks I’ll do in Rhino I think Python makes a lot of sense as the scripting language.

One place where I think it leads other languages is the class-based operations on lists and hashtables of objects. In the 3D world, your model is often nothing more than a list of (probably complex) objects, being able to write scripts that process these lists is a basic requirement.

One of my next 3D projects is to generate a model using code, and instead of OpenSCAD I can just rack a Python script and have it generate the model for me. Rather than send you the model, I can just send you the script and you can tweak it as needed then generate your model. If I decide it needs to be %5 larger to account for shrinkage, just tweak a variable in the script and run it again.

I guess reading about Erlang really was just for fun, I don’t think I’ll use it to write any model generators or filters any time soon.


fixing the blog

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 15:28

Something got trashed in my WordPress configs, so I’m re-installing it from scratch. No malware/hackers/whatever, a simple case of my web editing software deciding to delete any file it didn’t think I actually needed.


“intro to el wire” class, this Saturday, 14 July

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 09:16

We’ll cover:

— How EL-wire works
— How to solder the wire and assemble controllers
— Using EL-wire in clothing, signage and other projects
— Safety and design considerations

Each student will receive a starter kit with 2 meters of wire, an EL-wire controller, batteries and additional components. Additional lengths of EL-wire in a variety of colors will be available for purchase at the class.

More details, pictures, and video are on Hack Pittsburgh’s web site.


Back in the Game!

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 12:02

The past few months have been an unexpected “learning event”. In early December I had a nasty fall and got a concussion, a couple of weeks in the hospital, and almost 2 months off work recovering at home. Lots of physical and speech therapy, lots of rebuilding muscles, and a lot of “you know, I think I’m pretty damn lucky”.

My thinking is doing fine, I’m passing all my medical tests, and I can write code and talk on the phone and drive around town. I was wanting to go back to work a month before they let me, but I think I needed the time off for the physical work.

Physical stuff is a little slower — concussion recovery is nothing to joke about. I’m not allowed to do all sorts of “dangerous” exercises like riding my bicycle, running, or even running on a treadmill or standing on a chair to change a lightbulb. I’m actually proud that I can go for a mile or two walk, do a dozen situps, lift weights, and go back to music lessons.

More importantly for you, I suspect, I am back to soldering-and-coding. I’m finishing up some existing projects like finishing the Cupcake Upgrade docs, working on Lasersaur #4, and starting some new software for digifab. I’ll update things about hacking here and talk design stuff on allartburns.

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress