Reading week is mostly over, unfortunately. As always, it feels as
though much less was accomplished than should have been. I've done a
fair deal of school work, and I've made some progress on the car
project, but it seems rather insignificant with all that is left. Most
of the week was actually spent moving 8mm tapes to DVD, with proper
editing and chapter setting. I have to say, the picture quality of the
old Sony 8mm is quite superior to the new JVC DV, though the DV-cam does
allow for very good live transcoding to a computer. Using the 8mm via
S-Video to DV-cam to PC via FireWire, the results are far superior to
all the capture cards I've seen.
I normally don't post Windows screenshots, but this one is pretty
good. I normally consider it quite crucial that the operating system
knows how much of a basic resource it has access to.
Today's Air Farce had a good quote: "An Amsterdam university has
discovered that yawning can be considered an invitation to having
sex. Now, that's pretty good. But it's even easier to wait until they're
I'm starting to get a little worried about where the car project is
going, whether I have enough material to write a report about, whether
what I consider project material actually is, etcetera. What worries me
more is that it doesn't feel like the usual procrastination.
] | posted @ 23:54 | link
Project Progress and Setbacks
This reading week was to be used for completing several key phases in the
An initial goal of the project was to produce a plugin or some sort of
application that could communicate over OBD-II to the vehicle's CPU and
extract meaningful statistics about its usage. While this is an attainable
goal, my vehicle is a year too old and only contains a non-standardized
OBD-I interface. This means that custom hardware would have to be built to
communicate over the interface, and it would be useless to others.
Therefore, this component of the project report will be more of a research
area. In searching for relevant information, I came across a professor at
NMSU.edu who is currently doing a project with his students whereby a USB
OBD-II interface communicated via a kernel module. Also, freediag.sf.net has
OBD-II tools, without a GUI. These tools would be a good candidate for
existing serial port hardware.
Progress has been made on another component of the project, the
relay-mouse status sensor. This plan has been modified to use a USB mouse,
as it makes more sense then using a serial-USB dongle. The daemon is nearing
completion, with the ability to execute and terminate programs based on
button status. There is no fancy IPC, though such a facility could be
implemented to communicate with the DashUI element. I cannot see any use for
this, however. The software and hardware should be completed shortly.
Two software elements that should be examined over the next week or so
are the high-contrast/visibility GTK theme, and the project web page. As
more and more content is added, it would be good to house it somewhere. A
web page could also focus the work in these final stages. There is little
over a month left to complete the whole project!
Week of Hell
Last week is the week known as Week of Hell, in that everything
is due and all midterms pile up upon one-another. This week is break
time, and next week is essentially more of the same, since there is
nothing due and midterms are over for the time being. I am slowly
recovering after last week's barbaric schedule.
Battlestar Galactica continues to impress. However, this
week's episode showed a scene from Cylon Occupied Caprica, where
a Scotiabank logo stood out at me, even though the clip was only
a few seconds long. Further digging indicated it was just a completely
unmodified photo of Vancouver. I'm surprised they didn't take the logo out.
Plans for this week include major catching-up on 4th year project
goals. The draft of the final report is due in a matter of weeks, so I
really should be nearing completion. There is also a large pile of
groupwork to do. I just hope everything goes well during the remaining
five-or-so weeks of university classes. There are many loose ends to tie up.
] | posted @ 14:16 | link
Yey For Physics!
Today, completely out of the blue, I decided to hook up the old record
player to play The Sting album. After setting the thing up, I lied
down on the floor in front of it, and was completely absorbed by patterns
that flew by on the rim of turntable itself. I remember being completely
mesmerized by the effect of orange light on this pattern since my first
This time, I noticed some reference to 50 and 60Hz frequencies on the
source of the light. It took a good five minutes to figure it out, but,
based on a simple demo from Grade 12 Physics where a strobe was used to
"stop" spinning things, I figured this was the same thing. Sure enough,
closer inspection revealed that the light is not from an incadescent source,
but rather a Neon tube flashing at that annoying 60Hz that hurts my eyes. It
took a few minutes to figure out what actually controls the strobing so that
it can be slowed to a stop: the fine pitch control. So, with a 60Hz
electrical system and a 33 RPM record, the third band has to remain
motionless when at the correct speed for the correct pitch.
I suppose I could have just asked my father about this and would surely
have gotten a satisfactory answer. As a kid, I always figured this was just
a decoration, much like the digital spectrum displays on modern amplifiers.
It was fun to solve this twenty year mystery all by myself.
] | posted @ 00:30 | link
Fog in February?
In continuation of crazy winter weather, the drive back from the yearly
R/C boat meet at the pool in Perth involved navigating some very thick
fog. Most of the way was as pictured, though about 2 kilometres from
home I had to slow down very suddenly because I couldn't see more than 3
metres past my hood, nor either side of the road, or even the salt-dried
median line. Fog in February! That's a first!
Today, I did decals on the Polar Lights Enterprise kit.
Unfortunately, they did not turn out as well as expected. Apparently,
more glosscoat was needed, to make the surface smoother. As it is, the
decal film silvered quite a bit. I've never done a model with so many
decals, so this is definitely a learning experience. It still looks decent.
I also watched last night's Battlestar Galactica episode. That
show is truly amazing. Their well-written scripts along with exceptional
acting, and intentionally Steadicam-less shots with computer graphics to
match are fresh. I would expect no less from the developer of the
series, Ronald Moore, the same man who made Deep Space Nine a
Speaking of Star Trek, it is finally official that
Enterprise is being canceled. If this had been late September
2001, I would have dismissed the show as a complete fluke. While
genuinely drawn in by the initial first-season teaser, featuring
Superman by Five for Fighting, I thought the prequel idea
was terrible. The show didn't even have "Star Trek" in its title. After
three-and-a-half years, the show is starting to get good. All modern
Treks have gotten good somewhere between seasons 3 and 4,
Enterprise being no exception. But, at 1.6 MUSD per episode, no
one wants to foot the bill. Now, assuming standard production schedules
are followed, the sets should be torn down in March. Sound stages that
have been exclusively Trek since 1978/79 will be cleared, and that will
probably be the end of Star Trek.
] | posted @ 23:59 | link
A Mild February
After a very cold January that created erratic weather across the entire
continent, February has come in unusually warmly. Normally the coldest
month of the year, the weather over the past few days has been hovering
around the freezing point. If not for the giant snowpile (where all City
of Ottawa snow ends up), this photo could just as well have been taken
in July. There is even a hint of haze in the air, which is very
unusual for winter.
This school week has felt very productive. In Monday's DSP class I
had to create the tune Country Gardens using nothing but
sinusoids in Matlab. The requirements were that the sound be attenuated
so that there is some flavour to the melody. So, things like attack and
echo were implemented. It is good to understand how these things work.
Next week marks the start of midterm season.
Quite possibly the funniest thing I saw this week was at the
Unicentre convenience store, where shelves were stocked such that
tampons were right next to Fisherman's Friend mints. I wonder if that
was on purpose.
] | posted @ 23:55 | link
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