Red Echo

May 31, 2012

I had breakfast with Martin M. yesterday, and told him a bit about my struggles with the async generator/task system. Radian’s generators, like many aspects of the language, are directly inspired by Python equivalents, and it so happens that Martin was the one who implemented generators in IronPython. His design went on to inform the implementation of async blocks in VB and C#, and watching asynchronous generators work in multiple languages is part of what convinced me it is a robust enough model to support the entire Radian I/O API.

We didn’t get deep into detail, but the conversation confirmed a growing suspicion that I’ve been doing it wrong and need to start over. Oh, well – sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you really just don’t. The parallelization scheme came together almost perfectly, almost right away, and works exactly the way I’d thought it would – but with the asynchronous generators project it appears I’ve burned almost half a year getting mostly nowhere. At least it should go more quickly this time, since the problem grows increasingly familiar with each attempt.

May 30, 2012

The original site linked by yesterday’s container cabin article is down, but I found its new home, with an explanation of the cabin’s history and information about building techniques. The builder has gone on to found HiveModular, which I don’t quite understand but seems to be a collection of architecture firms, one of which is Intermodal Design, who offers a page full of sample floorplans for container houses.

Trying again with the electric bike

Turns out that retrieving a lost title for a motorcycle is a really big nuisance, especially when you have no idea who the last registered owner was, and the motorcycle – currently nothing more than a frame, an idea, and some parts – clearly will not pass State Patrol inspection.

I’ve therefore decided to scrap the current frame and start over with a newer one which has its paperwork in order. The frame I’m looking at is a 2001 KZ1000P, a former cop bike which someone disassembled after taking it home from a government auction. It’s missing the engine and transmission, which I didn’t want anyway, but the seller still has the wheels, brakes, and all the steering and suspension parts, so that’s almost everything I need. I was probably going to end up making my own custom leather seat and LED lights anyway (seeing as it will likely end up looking more like this than this.)

We’ll see if the sale actually goes off – craigslist people are notoriously flaky – but with any luck I’ll have all the bits home and ready to bolt together some time tomorrow evening.

May 29, 2012

Looking at the cabin John is building on the plot of land he and Holly have up in Okanogan got me thinking about shipping-container architecture again. It’d work well for a remote cabin, since the containers would give you a sturdy, weatherproof frame and reduce the amount of on-site construction required.

This is a great example of such a project: two 20′ containers on concrete posts, with some wooden framing between and a slanted roof overhead. It doesn’t look like they even cut any windows into the containers: the light all comes in from windows in the wooden section.

May 26, 2012

Mul-acres, Memorial Day weekend

May 25, 2012

When working with the arcane mess that is git, you can either jump in, grow a neck-beard, and learn to think the way git thinks, or you can just memorize a handful of arcane recipes that do what you generally need. In this article another git victim takes a step closer to wizardliness by figuring out just what the “reset” command actually does. (Hint: reading the man page will not help you.)

May 22, 2012

Scrambler trike concept sketches

A simple, lightweight, electric-motor-driven “tadpole”-style tricycle to be constructed from ordinary bike frame components, suitable for uneven, moderately rough terrain.

May 21, 2012

Zero Motorcycles has introduced a new police version to their electric motorcycle line. No information about pricing, and it doesn’t appear to offer anything their other bikes don’t (beyond the police-specific lights), but it’s good to see them going after a practical fleet market.

In a very different corner of the electric motorcycle universe, an Austrian company called Biiista has revealed a fanciful new line of electric bikes which look like nothing so much as giant, friendly beetles. Hub-center steering up front eliminates the traditional forks, and a smooth, curvy skin whose shape is reminiscent of art deco covers the battery pack, but it’s the mirrors mounted on stalks so long they look like antennae that really seal the effect. No price or other practical information available yet, of course.

Why do programmer’s text editors use one-based line counting? This is obviously wrong and I don’t understand why it persists. Programmers will argue over any convention, so why is this one so sticky? I may have to “fix” Radian to use an awkward one-based scheme for its error messages, just because all of the text editors are broken.

May 18, 2012

HuSL is a library which implements a new colorspace based on CIE LChuv, aiming for perceptual uniformity while offering the same basic controls as HSL. Most of my algorithmic color & light code uses HSL internally, so perhaps I’ll try this HuSL system next time and see if the results work more smoothly.

May 16, 2012

Current project status

  • Radian: grinding away very slowly on asynchronous blocks. It’s discouraging work; I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can wrangle.
  • Electric motorcycle: it’s not clear whether it will actually be possible to get this frame registered, so I may have to scrap it and start over. This is less of a problem than it sounds; old non-running motorcycles are plentiful and cheap, and I’m sure I can find another frame that will fit the motor I’ve chosen.
  • La petit piège (aka the spiderweb): fundraiser party last weekend went well, and the teaser lights did what they needed to. I’ve ordered the accelerometers for the full-blown modules and we have a work party scheduled for the 29th. This one is going smoothly.
  • Floodland: conversation with DNR ongoing. First organizational meeting will be next Wednesday. Time to start recruiting help!
  • Google: I still wouldn’t say I’m doing well, exactly, but I’m muddling along as best I can. Still possible that I’ll be fired if I can’t get all this spaghetti untangled, but all I can do is carry on and see what happens.

I don’t have any sewing projects under way right now. ALTSpace is running smoothly and sustaining itself. My gas-burning motorcycle needs some work (valve cover gasket is leaking oil) but I’m going to leave that work to a professional. The meshnet project is ongoing but I’m just showing up to meetings and not really doing any work right now.

May 14, 2012

Electric bike motor on the way

I just ordered a Mars Electric ME1003 from EV Drives, a distributor in Port Townsend. This is the most expensive single component in the project, and one which will influence all future design decisions. Now it starts to become real!

A guy with a desk job and a family goes looking for his cooler alternate self:

As a writer, I’d always been fascinated by the trope of the doppelgänger and its long literary life, from Dostoyevsky to Nabokov to Spider-Man. Often, in books, these physical doubles represent the worst a character is capable of. Lately, though, perhaps because at age 41 I’d begun feeling less like the captain of my life and more like its deckhand, I’d started wondering if there was someone out there who embodies not your worst self, but your freest one—a person who encapsulates everything you’ve ever dreamed of becoming. Let’s call him your Cooler Self. All those dreams that got lost along the way, the ones that were casualties of chance or duty or cowardice: There’s a “you” out there—a mountain climber or war photographer or race-car driver—who brought them to fruition. So I vowed to hunt down my Cooler Self.

A map: Bioregions of North America.

May 13, 2012

Test-fitting a cardboard mockup of the Mars Electric ME1003 motor: it’s going to be a tight squeeze but it ought to fit. The ME0709 would fit in a little more easily, but the ME1003 is substantially more powerful so I’m going to see if I can make it work.

May 11, 2012

It’s about time to buy the motor for my electric bike project. I have been thinking about the ME0709, since it has the right size and weight, with decent performance characteristics, and has shown up in a number of successful electric bike projects. But as I was shopping around for a place to purchase it, I noticed that the ME1003 is a bolt-in replacement with substantially higher current capacity – it cruises at 200 amps instead of 125 and peaks at 400 amps instead of 300. Same dimensions, it just weighs three more pounds and costs $625 instead of $485. Hmmm. So many decisions to make…