obligatory obscure reference

self-deprecating yet still self-promotional witty comment


Mac OSX + VMware + VX-7R Commander

Filed under: Amateur Radio — jet @ 20:29

If you’re into Amateur Radio and a *nix nerd, you probably know firsthand how little support there is *nix/*bsd/OSX. There’s a really great freeware program for managing a VX-7R, but it’s only on wintel.

Turns out that isn’t a problem if you have VMware and XP Pro. I wouldn’t have bought those just to support a radio, but the only PC app I “need” is SolidWorks. Everything else I do in darwin/bsd or linux. I really can’t justify carrying around two laptops all the time, and I’d have bought XP and SolidWorks if I did have a PC…

Here’s what I did to get VX-7R Commander working on my MacBook:

1) Use an IOGear QUC-232A cable as a USB<->serial adapter to the VX-7R adapter cable.

3) In XPPro under VMWare, download the drivers from IOGear’s site and install them. They installed as COM3 on my system by default.

4) Launch Commander, set it to use COM3, and I was able to download/upload with no problems.

[tags]OSX, VX-7R[/tags]


Sanguino: First Impressions

Filed under: Arduino,Hacking — jet @ 18:59

The reprap people have a new arduino-like out, the Sanguino. It uses the Atmel atmega644p, so it has 4x the memory, 14 more i/o pins, and JTAG support.

I ordered a couple of kits and soldered them up. Instructions are easy to follow, both for soldering up the board and for modifying Arduino to support the new chip. However, I ran into two problems right off the start, one of which would have probably stymied someone without any arduino/microcontroller experience.

1) No bootloader was installed on the Atmel. This is not the end of the world if you have a bootloader lying around. We had one in studio, but I can’t find it and everyone else is out of country/town. I took this as a sign that I should have my own, so I ordered a couple of USBtinyISP‘s from Limor (always buy two of anything you rely upon), soldered them up, and bootloaded the Sanguino. I wrote a simple sketch that blinks the debug LED, pushed it to the Sanguino and yea, everything works now!

Now, to try replacing the Arduino nano or mini on one of my project boards.   

2) Oh. How cute. It won’t work on a breadboard. The spacing on the Sanguino pins is so wide that when it’s plugged into the center of ye olde standard breadboard, you can’t access one side of the Sanguino’s pins. That is, if you put one side of the Sanguino in column b so that you can use column a, the other side is in column j, not in column i. Looking at the board layout, I think this could have been completely avoided by moving the pins in a “row” on each side, and putting the labels for the pins inbetween the pins ala the Nano.

Yuck. I guess I’ll have to get clever if I want to use this with my existing projects.

[tags]arduino, sanguino[/tags]


Come Visit Us at Frostburn 2009

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 02:06

Frostburn is a “regional burn”, where local Burning Man types get together for a Burning Man style event. Frostburn is one of the few, if only, regional burns where survival is as much of an issue as it is in Black Rock City. Last year, temperatures were in the teens to the 20s and keeping warm was as important as keeping hydrated is on the playa.

We’ll be there again this year, with another Iced Tea event featuring the newly resurrected Colordome.

Join us, won’t you? I promise it will be more fun than being stuck in a lift line in some random crappy sky resort.

[tags]burning man, frostburn, geodesic domes[/tags]


Exactly what I was wondering…

Filed under: , The Future Of,Pittsburgh — jet @ 11:29

Surplus? What Surplus?

And I never thought about it this way, but yeah:

“Brain-drain no brainer: Where do young graduates go when they leave Pittsburgh? To cities with viable public transportation systems, so they can work and play without having to buy a car on entry-level salaries or coffee shop wages”

[tags]future, pittsburgh, PAT[/tags]


Manhattan, Murray Hill, and Japanese Cuisine

Filed under: Restaurants,Reviews — jet @ 21:10

[caution: this post contains kanji and hiragana, I’ll put in the romaji names as well when possible.]

Three nights in Midtown East and three excellent dinners:

1) Hane Sushi, 3rd Ave at 38th location. This is probably going to become our default restaurant for “we just got in, we’re tired, we want food near the hotel, and we want it to be good.” There’s a good selection of fresh sushi and the sake selection is also nice. Most of the waitstaff know enough about sake to help you pick the right sake and order the right food, including at least one self-described “sake fiend”. Note that we’ve only had sushi there, so no idea how their plates/dinners are. If this were my neighborhood sushi joint I would not complain one bit. (I’d compare the sushi quality to Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto, CA.)

2) Sakagura. I’ve never been to any restaurant like Sakagura, the closest I can think of is Nihon Whisky Lounge in SF. Imagine a huge sake list of the best sakes that Japan will export and a menu color coded to help neophytes pick the right food to match their sake choice. Given that they’re in a basement, they’ve done wonders with the decor. Take a look at their specials and dinner menus and tell me you’re not considering an “emergency junket” to Midtown. There was nothing whatsoever to complain about except for the loud jackasses at the bar chugging down Sapporo and trying to outdo Scarface in the profanity department. (I say this as a person who drops the f-bomb on a routine basis in regular conversation.) The food selection was amazing, including things like 黒枝豆 (kuru edamame, or black soybeans) as an appetizer and their own, homemade, sea-salt chocolate sorbet.

3) Aburiya Kinnosuke. I know it’s cliche’, but I almost don’t want people to know about this place. It clearly has enough business to keep it going, the last thing it needs is a bajillion tourists getting in the way when I want to eat there. Aburiya is not just an izakaya, it’s an old-school izakaya that uses a charcoal stack in a sand pit for 炉端 (robata, or “hearth-side”) cooking. I think we only ordered one or two things from the regular menu, everything else came from the daily special menu. The sauteed tuna was a bit overcooked, but everything else was so much better than expected that I barely remember the deficiency. One of the best dishes was the fried, homemade soft tofu — crispy outside, creamy inside. Such a simple dish yet so completely amazing. (No, we didn’t have the purportedly world-class tsukune, we filled up on specials first.)

Sakagura and Aburiya Kinnosuke were cheaper than Nobu, probably a better value overall, and we were able to make same-day reservations. I really liked dinner at Nobu, but their sake list is minimal and it’s so hard to get in that I’m not sure it’s worth the effort and advance planning. (Cue Morimoto’s ninja death squads hunting me down…. Hey, but I totally love Morimoto in Philly, so it’s a push!)

[tags]izakaya, manhattan, robata, sake, sushi[/tags]

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