Monday, April 1, 2013

Not a Prank

New Job!

I've started work as a contract Mechanical Engineer at Anvil Corporation in Bellingham, Washington. Looks like I'll be working on auditing pressure safety valves to meet code for the next couple months.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wireless Lifestyle

I got my kickstarter-edition Pebble smartwatch about a month ago, and I've been loving it. It's definitely a product for early adopters, and has a big problem with third-party app notifications on iPhone - which can be fixed if you're jailbroken. Because I don't have to pull out my phone to check if the buzz in my pocket is important or can wait (and lets be honest - most of my notifications could be ignored), my phone does stay put away in my pocket more often, which my wife appreciates.

With my bluetooth radio now on all the time, I've started using bluetooth headphones more often, and I really appreciate not having a headphone cord that can get knotted up on itself or caught on door knobs and hooks or curious cats. In fact, I've enjoyed it so much, I upgraded to a new set of bluetooth headphones.

Now I'm living a wireless lifestyle - and I'm loving it.

Of course, I still need wires to charge :-/

Looking towards the future, I think the idea of a Personal Area Network is extremely powerful. Right now I just have a notification screen on my wrist and can listen to music and podcasts without a fragile, tangle-prone cord and without annoying those around me. But the applications go much further. There are already a host of fitness tracking wristbands out there, and implantable blood-glucose monitoring devices are coming. You can even buy heart-rate monitors that communicate directly over bluetooth.

The future's exciting! I'm looking forward to see where these devices stand a year from now.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Home Theater PC upgrades

Over the past couple of years, the cheap Gateway PC I've been using as an HTPC / home server has grown a rats nest of external USB hard drives. Partially to consolidate and partially for the hell of it, I decided to take advantage of Microsoft's low early-bird pricing on Windows 8 and upgrade to an SSD at the same time. I had a 60GB SSD in another computer that wasn't being used for anything intensive, so I planned to steal that and transplant it into the HTPC for the OS and applications, and store documents and media on an external drive.

I also decided, in the hopes that it would make my life easier, to upgrade the OS from Win7 to Win8 on the original 1TB hard drive, than restore an image of that drive on to the SSD.

This was a horrible, horrible idea. Just do a fresh install.

Regardless, after searching a lot of forums (thanks, Google!) I managed to shrink the 1TB system image into something that would fit on the puny 60GB SSD, backup to an external drive, swap out the HDD for the SSD, and restore from the backup to the SSD. At which point I had to get rid of the 15GB hidden restore partition, move and expand the boot partition and then convince windows it was ok to boot without the hidden restore partition.

I swear, just to a clean install. Finding old program licenses would have been way faster.

Once the SSD was in place, I realized there was actually plenty of room inside the mini-tower for both the 2.5" SSD and the 3.5" HDD. I could have my media disk safely inside the case and connected over SATA rather than outside and connected over USB 2.0. Hurrah! I left the original disk outside on the counter, shucked the plastic casing from an external 2TB 3.5" drive - which conveniently had a two-week old copy of my documents and media already in place - and connected it via SATA data and power cables stolen from the DVD drive.

This, of course, left me without a DVD drive, which is not ideal in a Home Theater PC. After inspecting the motherboard, I was forced to conclude that I had no additional SATA headers. I did, however, have an unused USB 2.0 header. A trip to Fry's Electronics yielded a SATA power splitter (which would drive the SSD and DVD drive) and a SATA data to USB 2.0 converter. It took some hacking to make all the cables fit correctly, but I now have an HTPC running Windows 8 on an SSD with 2TB of internal storage and a functional DVD drive!

In the future, it should be pretty easy to swap out the DVD drive for an internal Blu-ray drive. The 2TB internal HDD should last me for a good long while, and the only external drive now attached is a 3TB backup drive.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Living in Bellingham

Well, it's been a long week and a half, but we have successfully moved to Bellingham, Washington. Special thanks to those who helped us carry all our stuff up here!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Raspberry Pi Media Center

I got a Raspberry Pi for my birthday!

I've been wanting to make a portable media server for awhile, and this seems like the ideal platform to build it on. Ideally, this portable media center would work attached to my home network and while on the road, accessible (and controllable) from any TV in the house, and any phone, tablet or computer we might be using on the road. This means I need:
  • A raspberry pi
  • a portable hard drive
  • a wifi adapter
  • a rechargeable battery pack
Originally I wanted to install an ARM version of Plex Media Server, as I've gotten pretty accustomed to it on my HTPC. Unfortunately, after digging into the forums, it seems that while progress is being made, it's just not there yet for someone with my novice level of coding skill.

So, I've been experimenting with various flavors of Raspbian and XBMC. The only screen I have that works with the RasPi is the living room TV, which is on a different floor from my cable modem and router. Which means the OS I chose had to work with my wifi adapter out of the box. I finally got Xbian working this evening.

Right now it's set up with an external (powered) hard drive, and while the menus are none-too-fast, and I noticed one instance of stutter at the very beginning playing a 720p mp4 file, playback has (otherwise) been as smooth as butter. And thanks to a checkbox in the settings, it even works as an Airplay receiver! 

Haven't dug too far into it yet - I have it working on my wifi network, though it doesn't seem to like WPA2 encryption. I'll have to do some more trouble shooting to work that out. It's currently running on the unsecured guest network.

Next step will be getting it running on a 2.5 inch USB-powered hard drive and powered by a lithium-ion battery pack I had lying around. Based on some Googling, I might have to do some soldering to make it work. Looking forward to it :-)

After that, it'll be time to dig into the settings to make it automatically join the home network when it's at the house, but set up it's own access point while traveling - maybe even throw a LTE dongle in there...

Looks like this will be a fun project for the foreseeable future, and hopefully a useful device once I finish.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3D scan of Brian

3D scan done with a Xbox Kinect. Printed in ABS plastic.

The scan took about 30 seconds; the print took five and a half hours.

Sadly, I didn't fit the top of my head in the scan. It turned out to be an "empty-headed" mistake.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lithium atom

Atom, printed in hydroperm, coated in Shellac. I don't know who originally designed this file. I just found it on the university computer and thought it would be an interesting test for a shellac coating.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sun and Moon Mask

Printed this scan of a metal mask in hydroperm, and infused in paraffin wax. Original design by richgain on thiniverse.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nautilus Gears

Printed these yesterday in ABS plastic. Original design by J_Hodgie on Thingiverse.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Metal Casting

During the Summer Quarter at the University of Washington, I took a class on metal casting. Here are a couple of pieces I made:

In copper:

And in aluminum: intersecting stars.

Hopefully, more to come!