Red Echo

January 31, 2013

“Long Live the Kings” is a short film about motorcycling, a five minute piece of beauty: gorgeous, shot on film, evocative, so full of joy that it brought the tears up a bit. The imagery is a little bit larger than life, but that’s part of what makes motorcycling fun – out on a bike in the wide open world, nothing but you and your machine and the wind and sun, you feel larger than life, and that’s part of what I like about it. Still, you have to stay grounded, because it’s dangerous, too, and you need to keep your wits about you… the trip doesn’t end til you reach home.

I want to quote the whole narration, because it’s all true; but really, just go watch it.

Amazon Profits Fall 45 Percent, Still the Most Amazing Company in the World:

Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers. The shareholders put up the equity, and instead of owning a claim on a steady stream of fat profits, they get a claim on a mighty engine of consumer surplus.

January 30, 2013

Engadget has a list of all (or nearly all?) of the commercially-available 3D printers, with prices and notes on unique features.

I have a hard time mustering as much enthusiasm for 3D printers as the technology seems to deserve; I just don’t use plastic parts in my projects unless there’s no other material that will do the job. Maybe it’s a function of growing up in the early ’80s, but “plastic” suggests “cheap, disposable, trivial, wasteful”, and when I am trying to make something I care about I always prefer to use wood or metal or glass. People are excited about 3D printers, though, and that excitement seems to be drawing a broader world of hobbyist-level CNC tools along in its wake, so I’m glad to see the field developing even if I will likely never buy a 3D printer myself.

January 29, 2013

A big list of single-board computers which can run Linux.

In the long run, X86 is doomed. It will live on as an emulation target, of course, but ARM is the architecture of the future.

January 27, 2013

Shooting at the Twilight Exit

Ballard locks

January 23, 2013

Felis catus

January 22, 2013

Random guy at the bar has a lot of questions about my netbook. How much RAM? What kind of processor? Why Ubuntu? Do I work in software? What am I going to do now that netbooks are dead? He thinks I look like Bill Pullman. He asks leading questions of the woman to his left, trying to get her to back this up, and eventually sort of cajoles her into agreeing with him. It’s clear she’s just trying to be polite.

I pitch some questions back at him, friendly-like, the usual getting-to-know-you thing; it’s hardly a new game, after all. “No no”, he laughs, as though this next bit is funny, “this conversation is a one-way street.” He’s serious about it, too: he won’t even tell me his name. How does he know all the right questions to ask about my computer? Does he work in the industry, too? Where’s he from? He won’t say – he offers nothing. He just keeps on smiling and asking questions.

It’s suddenly creepy. What? Really? How far off the wall do you have to be to say something like “this conversation is a one-way street” and actually mean it? How do you get to be late-forties or early-fifties or however old he is and not understand how making conversation works? Really, random dude, you can just ask whatever you want, and tell me nothing, and that’s okay with you?

I grinned even wider, dawdled around for a few more minutes, fed him a few of what Huck Finn might have called “stretchers”, settled my tab, and left. I don’t know what his game was but I don’t want to play it.

January 20, 2013

Chandelier armatures finished

There are all seven of the wire-frame LED structures for the chandelier project, holding almost 1200 LEDs. The number has dropped a little from my initial plan, since I had to shorten a few of the frames to fit into the glass cylinders, but it is still by far the most individually addressable LEDs I have ever attempted to drive in a single project. In fact, I’d bet that this chandelier has more individually addressable LED channels than all of the other electronics projects I have ever worked on, put together.

Now it’s time to do something else.

January 18, 2013

Yes, really. Software development services advertised on a sandwich board. I guess this is the future that we live in, then?

January 17, 2013


A 2 1/8″ square, quad-core 1.7GHz ARM Cortex-A9 computer including Ethernet, USB, and micro-HDMI, with a micro-SD card for storage. Runs Android or Ubuntu. $89.

January 13, 2013

Isabella helps out with the chandelier project

January 11, 2013


January 10, 2013

Ava’s cat is cute

January 9, 2013

One step closer to Vingean localizers

The MPU-9150 is a single chip, 4mm square, which includes a three-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. Not so very long ago it was hard to find a three-axis gyro at all, much less one that came integrated with other sensors. This has happened in five years’ time, I think? It seems plausible that we might be able to buy a single chip incorporating processor, storage, radio, and sensors within another decade.

January 7, 2013

Night sky color

Riding home from work, west across the I-90 floating bridge, the lights of the houses sloping down toward the lake echoed the yellow-hued glow reflecting off the clouds over the city.

The color, I noticed: remember this yellow, because it’s not going to last. In thirty years’ time, Leschi and Mt. Baker will look pretty much the same, but the hue of their lights will have shifted. All of those incandescent bulbs are going to burn out, all of those sodium vapor streetlights will go – and the lights that replace them will be crisp white LEDs.

The kids of that generation will probably just assume that night skies always look weird in old pictures because the old people who took them had to deal with those hilariously antique cameras back then and they just couldn’t get the color right.