Queens of the Dim

Sometimes people are dim. That's ok we can accept that, we can explain everything slowly and encourage them to learn more. Others act dim in a bid to obtain an easy life and get everyone else to do everything for them.

These people should be shot.

What started me off thinking about this was The Weakest Link last night, one of the contestants was like candy floss in human form "I like being called a dizzy blonde, he he he" she giggled. She made it to the final by batting her eyelids at the male contestants (and despite the fact she didn't know what a caps lock keys was!) and because under her thinly veiled guise of dim, she actually had some knowledge.

Robot Arm II - phase 2

Phase two of the construction of the robot arm will follow on from the initial research stage, phase 1. Here are the results of the testing and investigation I have undertaken.

There were a few key areas that I wanted to investigate:-
Host controller
Software for host controller
Hardware Interface methods
Hardware driver electronics
Calculations of servo torques and motor suitability

Host Controller
I was investigating the use of a Gumstix board for controlling the hardware, and acting as both an independant controlller, and a slave controller. I also investigated using a cypress FX2 chip as a bridge interface, but this did not work out too well. After discounting the FX2 for it's speed constraints, I was left with the Gumstix. I believe the gumstix is the best tool for the job, as I noted in phase 1 it has a lot of IO capabilities.

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10 things

A follow on from Lucy's blog.

These rules apply just as well to idiot road users. You know who you are.

I have come up with the 10 rules for motoring based on you template.

1) Know where you are going
For gods sake people, it's not too difficult to get a map from the internet, or use a little common sense. We do have these things called road signs! Don't just point your vehicle in the general direction you think your destination is, and then drive. Don't dither on junctions and slip roads. Didn't they teach you hesitation kills. Even if you think where you are going is wrong, it's safer to drive normally, and turn round at a safe location. There is no need for the last minute "shit, it's that turnoff" without indicating or thinking about people around you. If it looks like you are committing to turning, people will act. If you change your mind, at worst you cause an accident, best you piss people off.

10 Rules for Behavioural Conduct on Public Transport

After a hideous journey on the tube yesterday, I arrived for my coach with minutes to spare. Because I was late there where hardly any free seats I politely asked a woman if she would move her bag so I could sit down. You should have seen the look on the face, like I'd asked her if I could piss in her mouth and when I asked her to close the curtain a little bit so I wasn't blinded by the Sun, she looked like I'd asked her to gargle!

After this horrid journey and a crappy bus journey this morning I have decide to write rules of conduct for travel on public transport. Yes, travelling on public transport on not a pleasant experience but follow these rules and at least it will be bearable for you and your fellow travellers

Traffic Cone Theory

Whilst travelling back from the middle of nowhere to the hub of humanity that is Manchester last night, I found myself as usual, for the motorways of this country, being diverted into a contraflow on the other side of the carriageway. There appeared to be nothing wrong with the side of the road I should have been on apart from the weird and wonderful formations of cone circles there in. I'm sure it would have looked marvellous from space but I could see no reason why the road was closed and this got me thinking about traffic cone storage (it was late and I was bored!)

Imagine with all the millions of traffic cones in this country if the road work people didn't have enough storage space it keep them when they weren't being used? Imagine if they had to store a certain number on the roads and motorways at all times? Think of all the times you've seen pointless cone formations blocking of perfectly useable roadway. A-ha! you're all seeing my point now ain't ya? I bet half these contraflows and diversion aren't needed, they are simply somewhere to put the cones. As it turned out my little diversion was due to resurfacing but I reckon its still a valid point.

HOWTO: Coral Cache failover

Have you ever been slashdotted, Dugg, or attacked by the web 2.0 clones? Have you had the bill from your hosting supplier asking for £10/Gigabyte overbandwidth?

Well, it can be very annoying. Here is the best idea ever for a cheapass way of getting around using any bandwidth... the Coral Cache failover.

The basic premise of this HOWTO is to set up your website to use someone elses bandwidth instead of your own. You do this on the sly, and generally without too many people noticing.

So... what to do:

Detecting bandwidth
You will need to know when you have been web2.0-ko'd. Bandwidth detection depends on what platform and technology you are using on your website. I am not going to go into any code examples of how to detect bandwidth, as this is a fairly non trivial task for every platform.

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Compaq laptop corrosion

Well... I got a new laptop, for for the most part it's pretty good.

What i'm not happy about is the corrosion of the front grille of the laptop.

It seems that when I use my trackpad, the sweat from my hands goes into the speaker grille. The grille is made of cheapo metal that I cannot easily identify. The sweat has, over the period of 3 months has caused it to corrode into a nasty black mass.

Combover Compulsives

Yesterday I once again found myself staring uncontrollably at a man. I could not take my eyes off of him. I was transfixed, I was like a moth to a flame. Was he gorgeous? stunning? did he have a certain 'je ne sais quoi? No, he had a combover. Yes that crime against hair, the reason for many a stifled giggle. Why do they do it? It's so obvious! If they think that the Mr Whippy creation atop their heads looks like a full head of hair they are more deluded than the idiots we laugh at during the first rounds of the X-factor.

There's nothing wrong with being bald. There's lots of bald men out there who are considered sexy such as Bruce Willis and #Shaft! (insert own funk move) . I am bewildered why anyone would put themselves through the humiliation of going out in a strong breeze with a few whispy strand of thinning hair covering an acreage of skull. I say it's time to ban these barnet disasters and celebrate the baldness of men.

Further Reading

Well, that's the end of this installment. I hope to add more features soon, such as control buttons and maybe a modulation wheel. I'll try to figure out how to get the driver to hotplug too. I'm also going to fit the circuit inside the case at some point. If you have any comments or suggestions, hit the "comment" button or drop an email to a (dot) j (dot) buxton (at) gmail (dot) com.


My thanks go out to the following people/groups:

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    Writing the Firmware

    For a firmware, I started with the open source MIDI SPort driver. This is a replacement firmware for the SPort USB to MIDI adapter series, available as an example from the linux-hotplug project.

    This thing is already supported in Linux of course and I assume that the Open Source firmware will remain compatible with the Windows drivers.

    MIDI is a serial protocol and this USB MIDI adapter works in a very similar way to a USB to Serial convertor. I took this firmware and removed the MIDI input parts, replacing them with a key matrix scanner. The keys are scanned, and any changes in the key state are converted to the appropriate MIDI signals before being sent over USB to the PC. To the PC it behaves no differently than the original hardware so no new drivers are needed.

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    Inside a Toy Keyboard

    First, unless you plan to fabricate your own key mechanism, you'll have to obtain the cheapest toy keyboard you can find. Here's a picture of the one I used (actually it's a picture of the box since I've already gutted it at the time of writing):

    Looks good eh? It cost £5. Unfortunately none of those buttons does anything useful. Never mind. Let's look at the guts:

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    Recovering old radio broadcasts

    There are many millions of radio broadcasts that go unrecorded every year. Some of these are insignificant, and not worthy of recording, but there are some that are more worthy.

    What about all of the old broadcasts from the first foray into the radio world. Wouldn't it be great to be able to hear every radio broadcast that was ever made?

    I have a solution. As we are led to believe, radio broadcasts from earth leak from our planet into space. Space is a vast area, in which radio waves can travel away from earth at the speed of light.

    All that would be required to recover these old broadcasts would be to travel to the point in space where the radio broadcast is just entering. You would be able to record the broadcast as if it were on your home radio set.

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