Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Christmas in August

Doing the lighting for my friends' wedding next week... used to having a whole grip truck's worth of rigging hardware at my disposal, but unfortunately that's not in the budget for this one. So back to basics... good ol' Boy Scout knots:
I was inspired primarily by the Big BambĂș exhibit at the Met, and my primal yearning to build something using only rope...
The lashing was also inspired by my innate distrust of the structural integrity of zip-ties... they're great for re-attaching body panels to your car (which I've done many a time), but you have to keep in mind that they periodically snap & need to be replaced... which is not really an acceptable solution for rigging lights over 80+ peoples' heads. Even if they're just China lanterns–

This is the end of Day #2, with roughly 25% of the lights are hung. That means 75% more awesomeness next week. And a real camera to actually do it justice...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hey ConEd, wanna make some money?

Here's an idea- drop some power outlets for street vendors. You know, the food carts and ice cream trucks that sit there, idling their gas- or diesel-powered putt-putts and stinking up the whole block. Who wants to eat street meat smoked in diesel fumes?

Do something that's actually green for once. It would make your claims of environmental friendliness just a little bit more credible. Taking advantage of existing infrastructure to eliminate hundreds of engines (with unregulated emissions!) is pretty damn green, no?

Once you get that all set up, make it illegal for them to run gas powered generators on the street. It's already illegal to idle your car in a school zone (though it should be illegal to idle your car everywhere)... Why should we let them run their generators all day in public places?

And I'm sure you guys can figure a way to bill them for the power. If there's one thing you guys are good at, it's billing. Be creative! And they'd be instant customers, since you guys already monopolize the power grid here.

And the vendors would probably benefit from this too. They'd have healthier working conditions and quieter carts. They'd probably even save money on power and fuel, so long as ConEd doesn't decide to gouge them too hard. And they'd have some extra space in their carts, once they dump the putt-putts.

So, ConEd, you have the power, now put it to good use!

[Pun intended, grudgingly.]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hiding Things in Plain Sight

Spent several hours last night searching through the Android Source Code for their method of calculating GPS distances, to use in a Processing sketch I'm working on... very frustrating. If I knew what I was doing, I might have known intuitively where to look, but searching through an entire operating system worth of code is a very imposing task for an amateur. The Android javadocs are great, but a direct link to the source code would be very helpful.

Finally I came across this seemingly obscure forum, and without further adieu, the Android Java Core source code: platform/frameworks/base.git

And for those interested in the GPS capabilities, the Location class source:

The distanceTo() and distanceBetween() functions are part of the Location.java class, and both make use of the private computeDistanceAndBearing() function, which is certainly complex enough to justify having spent so long looking for it...

Anyway, the whole purpose of this is to make pretty pictures-

This is one of the early tests, just riding my bike, using GPSLogger for Android. I love this one, and the beauty is that it's completely unintentional. I just went for a bike ride around the park and through the neighborhood, and this is what came out.

The high point on the far left is a random GPS anomaly (read: error), but it really makes the picture. I think it looks like a fairy about to whack someone on the head...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Damn I really wish I had a headphone splitter lying around somewhere...

Good thing I ordered a bunch of extra 3.5mm stereo jacks :)

A few more parts and I'll have my own mini-DI box!

FYI: If you turn up the gain (volume) all the way while recording to QuickTime, your computer CAN create feedback. Though this was not your normal high-pitched-glass-shattering feedback, it's more like runaway white noise (static) steadily increasing in volume. I did manage to kill it before it got out of hand, but I am curious as to where it was heading...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this weekend...

Coffee aficionados (addicts) know how important it is to squeeze all the air out of the bag (using the convenient one way valve vacuum valve built into all coffee bags worth your time)... and environmentalists know how important it is to buy Fair Trade Organic coffee in biodegradable bags.

This particular coffee bag happened to be of the biodegradable plastic variety and ostensibly environmentally sound. However, it turned out not to quite as structurally sound, as the seam failed catastrophically as I was attempting to evacuate the air inside.

Upon forensic investigation, it appears that the one-way pressure relief valve (aka blowout preventer) failed to perform its eponymous task. Consequently, as the external pressure increased rapidly, the internal pressure increased proportionally, exceeding the maximum pressure rating of the adhesive used to seal the seam of the bag.

This internal pressure built up so rapidly that the seam ruptured, and the particulate contents of the bag were forcefully ejected in projectile motion.

I intend to take full responsibility for this accident and will be setting aside an escrow account to compensate all legitimate claims of damage from this unfortunate event, including iced-coffee shortages and related caffeine headaches. But I must stress that local tourism and beaches will not be affected by the spill and I encourage anyone who has booked vacations in the area to continue with their plans and come support this great kitchen.

The only saving grace of this unfortunate accident is a potentially new breakfast condiment:

That is not black pepper. That, my friends, is an omelette impregnated with high-velocity aerosolized coffee grounds. And it was wonderful.