Study break!

Database quiz today (online), database quiz tomorrow (in class).
But for now… ice cream!



I was hoping to have a bit more free time now that I’m on my spring semester, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’m currently taking a Unix class and a Database class, and the database class is consuming all of my free time.  Its a hybrid class, which means its part in-class, part online.  Somehow this translates for my teacher as 6 nights of homework in a row, starting tomorrow (so that includes homework due every night of Memorial Day break).

My current projects (that I’m not going to have time for):

  • Figure out what’s wrong with my Xbox (It can’t see the mod chip, but my spare modded xbox reduces motivation).
  • Figure out what’s wrong with my Carputer’s LCD display. The screen goes to standby half the time, I’m hoping its a software problem (hibernation bug maybe?).
  • Run cat5e (correctly, not through the air return) from the basement to upstairs.
  • Terminate previously mentioned cat5e at a patch panel on one end, and at some wall jacks on the other.
  • Clean, then try to fix an OLD oscilloscope that I got from a friend.
  • Continue my nixie clock pipe dream/vaporware.
  • Convince myself to spend money on a HTPC to replace my Xbox setup.

I’ve probably missed something in the list, but oh well.

I’ve made some progress on the clock front at least:DSC_3097

I bought a ethernet shield and have rigged a rtc chip up to it as well.  My plan is to pull information from a NTP server (the basic code for this is working) and set the timezone offset via a web service (that uses the WAN IP).  The user will then be able to tweak all the settings via a web interface.  I’m thinking about just having one button on the clock itself for snooze/dimming/misc functions.

Just a reminder to register to vote!

Its even easier thanks to google!

It even can direct you to links that will tell you if you’ve previously registered (if you want to check).

Sorry I haven’t updated as frequently as I would have liked, its been pretty crazy between family, work, and school.  Some of you probably know why the last few weeks have been a bit crazier than usual :( , but I’m not going it get into that sort of thing on a blog.

General updates

I haven’t had as much free time as I would like, but the semester is now over, so that’s a good thing. My weekend has been stolen by my parent’s main computer system. It had been acting poorly for quite some time. Now that the semester was over, I decided it was time to do a clean install of windows. It turns out that it was running so poorly in fact, that the backup software wasn’t running–on top of that, the hard drive was dying. Long story short, I was missing only about two weeks of backups, and the files that were placed on the drive during those two weeks, I think I’ve recovered from the main hard drive. Now the computer has a new drive in it (had to go to Best Buy to purchase a SATA drive, as there was only one IDE connector that was taken up by cd drives), and windows is installed (on that note, I hate dealing with SATA chipsets and floppy drives) with all updates. I’m currently copying files off the the external backup drive, and then I have the fun process of figuring out which files are missing from the last two weeks. when dealing with this sort of thing, I recommend DriveImage XML, Acronis True Image*, DiskInternals NTFS Recovery*, and the Ultimate Boot CD. A combination of these tools will generally allow me to get files from point A to point B, and then back to point A. (note * = not free)

When that’s all sorted out, I would like to do a fresh install on my main computer, as it acts a little wonky from time to time. Even further (much further) down the road, a reinstall of windows on my laptop would be nice, as would getting a backup server up and running utilizing some old ide drives, and my 1tb sata drives, configured using LVM or the likes.

As far as nixie goes, I’ve spent some time on the code, and spent a bit more time messing around with Eagle PCB design software, its pretty slick. I’m not nearly as far as I would like to be, but hopefully I’ll have some more time later in the week.

Oh, and some pics from the last month or so of mine:



My nixie tubes came in yesterday, and I finally had a chance to take a few pictures of them. I’m still trying to decided upon the best method for driving them, though. know that either way, I’m going with a direct drive method. My initial plan was to use shift registers and old nixie drivers, but the inability to have more than one pin selected at a time really limits my wiring options. I’m currently thinking about designing a circuit board for mounting the tubes, along with some surface mount transistors, and just driving the digits via a larger number of shift registers. The problem with this design, is it doesn’t allow much in terms of prototyping (and I would have to learn how to use a pcb editor, such as eagle). I probably won’t have too much time to mess with them, as the end of the semester is on its way, but we shall see.


Florida pictures

A bit belated, but as promised:


Slightly more info can be found if you go to the image on flickr.

A fourth undersea cable cut

I have no idea what’s going on, but on Wednesday two undersea cables were cut, and another was cut on Friday.  Today I found out that “A fourth cable linking Qatar to the United Arab Emirates was damaged on Sunday causing yet more disruptions.” On top of that, they are reporting that no ships were near the area of the first two cables, so the idea that boat anchors cut the cables is out of the question.  The end result is that a lot of areas in the middle east have little to no internet access.  Whether its a conspiracy/coincidence/terrorism/government attack/swamp gas I have no idea, but its pretty weird nonetheless.  I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday, when a ship pulls up to fix (and see what happened to) the original two cables.

Finally getting my lens

Well, Ritz called yesterday to let me know that my lens is in, but I didn’t get a chance to pick it up, so I am doing so after I get out of work. I’m hoping for a new lens (brand new is always better than fixed :) ) but we’ll see what happens.

In other news, Nikon released information about their new camera, the D60 and it appears to be a big letdown.  It’s essentially a d40x but with a stop action mode (limited to 100 shots), a dust reduction system (a good feature, but not worth the jump from the d40), some other features, still no built in motor, and a $750 price tag for the kit.  I personally am looking for a cheaper Nikon with live view, and a feature-set similar to the d80.


Help me, help you.

First post!

I’m thinking about switching over from pluggedout blog to the ever popular wordpress. Should be a bit more stable and a bit less susceptible to comment spam, but we shall see.

Edit: now switched over, if you see something below this post, its ported from the old blog.

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