Saturday, July 12, 2008

Desk at Work


My desk came with a Dell (tower, monitor, keyboard, mouse.) I added the Logitech Marble Mouse, Adesso mini-key board and separate number-pad (moslty for Portuguese and Spanish accent character input) and the awesome ACI Memory Foam mouse-pad (great wrist-rest for the regular mouse) from Fry's and Microcenter - the Dell keyboard with number-pad and the trackball wouldn't both fit the keyboard tray, so now I have multiple input options to maximize ergonomics, as well as left and right-hand pointer control.

I've got a nice big return which is a great staging area, and as it is a laser-printer parts company, my own HP 1200. The large monitor is great and while I have my system font set for large, the in-house database doesn't support scaling and Internet Explorer is so-so about zooming sites, so sometimes I have to stow the keyboard tray and sit right up next to the desk to reduce eye-strain.

It's the best work-station I've had at a job, so I have to show it off!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Catching Up II



Robocup was great, and then, to top it off, my awesome friend Heather Nordstrom was in from NYC for a conference.

Heather and I met learning and training Capoeira in the Twin Cities in 1995 and took Portuguese classes together at the University of Minnesota. She's one-of-a-kind, taught English in Germany, M.A. in Education from Columbia's world-renowned teacher's college, amateur steeple-chase rider, outdoors-woman and now teaching for the past several years in Manhattan.

It was fantastic that she was in town. I even had a chance to get my first tank-full of biodiesel from Rob del Bueno's new station on Arizona Ave. while Heather and I were out for dinner and a tour of Decatur.

She's an inspiration and I'm looking forward to trying to talk her into transferring to Ron Clark's school here in Atlanta!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Catching Up


First off, Robocup!

It's been a while, but it was great fun. I took my week's vacation from Barnes and Noble College to be the volunteer coordinator for the Georgia Tech Student Center venue for Robocup 2007.

Not only did I get to meet tons of great Tech community volunteers, and work side-by-side with my lovely and brilliant better-half, Margarete Mote, (seen above with an Aibo "robodog"), we also, to our total surprise, met the Robocup Jr. team from Margarete's home town of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil: the Clube de InvestigaƧƵes Cientificas (CIC) Robotics (Scientific Investigation Club Robotics), created and led by Fabio Ferriera, who lives in the next neighborhood over from my wife's family.

We had no idea there would even be a team from Salvador, but that they turned out to be almost family, was, well, more than I could have ever hoped for. And then I was able to do them a favor: they originally planned to have enough time before the competition to make it to Fry's Electronics (they had done their research!) to buy new laptops (because equal quality machines in Brazil would be 3-4 times as much), but, they assumed they would be able to take public transportation (or a not too expensive taxi) to get there. Also, the laptop they brought with them and one of the adapters they received as part of the competition weren't compatible so they needed new laptops to be able to program their bots.

I had the chance to get them to Fry's and back and get to know the team better. So I got to practice my Portuguese and find out about the state of robotics in Brazil all week, as well as help out guys from "back home".

Great way to spend the week of the 4th of July. Hopefully I will get to see them all in Salvador sometime in the not too distant future.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

One more for the net

So a friend I haven't seen in over 10 years decided to google me yesterday and lo, he lives not 30 minutes away. Let's hear it for web presence!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sabrosita 590 AM!

Internet radio from Mexico, D.F. Of all the stations I have regularly been able to receive, Sabrosito is my favorite. It's a real station in Mexico which people actually listen too (although the ads for a dentist with the sound of a drill and someone whining are a little disconcerting) with DJ's who are entertaining, don't talk too much, who take callers (but not too many) and play great salsa/mambo.

When I want just salsa music, RealNetworks own free "latin" station is great as well. It mixes a little more latino-pop/rap etc., but it seems like the programmer knows the music pretty well. Also, RadioTVE from Porto Alegre, Brazil, is the best all-around Brazilian station I'v found - it's public radio too, but as it is Brazil, that means lots of popular music; I can more-or-less count on hearing Clara Nunes, Elis Regina and any of the other "big" samba/MPB names in 30 minutes of listening. They have news on the half-hour too.

I haven't had time for more research since RealPlayer has been working so well. There are probably more stations available each through WinMedia and Shoutcast, but I've always had problems streaming both of those.

It's great having streaming music for background when I have to be in front of the computer for long stretches.

If you like Mexican culture and "latin" dance music, check out Sabrositio!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thomas Hansmeyer, vaya con Dios



When a Leo Kotkke song came on the radio tonight on our commute home through a torential downpour, I thought of Thomas Hansmeyer (above in front of the house he watched over for friends as a resident while they followed their careers to Washington, D.C.) from my days in sustainable agriculture in Minnesota. He was always happy to see you, and I was glad to have his confidence and friendship.

It was with a heavy heart that I read the first result that came back from googling his name (I had expected to find a tellephone listing or perhaps his work contact in a press release):

Obituaries - 8:40pm
Hansmeyer Thomas
Leo, age 39, of St. Paul unexpectedly on Sept. 3, 2005. Preceded in death by his father, Leo. Beloved son of Bernice; Loving brother of six ...
www.legacy.com/StarTribune/Guestbook.asp?Page=Guestbook&PersonID=15024346 - 19k

Ironically, Thomas had been working with Biodiesel as well with some of the same people I have since met:

from: http://www.localb100.com/StPaul.html

"St Paul, Minnesota biodiesel workshop, October 24:
thanks to Darryl Thayer and Thomas Hansmeyer for organizing this one!

Learn to Make Your Own Biodiesel Renewable Fuel

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004; 10am-5pm
At the Green Institute
2801 21 Ave south Minneapolis
Near Hiawatha and Lake street

Sponsored by the Green Institute

Instructor Maria "Mark" Alovert of www.LocalB100.com .

The cost of the workshop is on a sliding scale, $25 to $50 depending upon economic need.
a textbook is available at the class: www.localb100.com/book.html

This class is part of the Biodiesel Appleseed Tour
www.localB100.com/tour.html

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel for diesel engines which can be made locally from waste restaurant fryer grease or any kind of plant oil or animal fats. Biodiesel emissions are extremely clean, and biodiesel can be used in a diesel engine with no modifications. It can be used 100% or blended with petroleum diesel, and has greater lubricity for fuel systems without sulfur or other additives.

Biodiesel can be purchased commercially, but it is also very easy to make this fuel at home with minimal equipment. Most people who 'homebrew' do so as a hobby, and there is a growing community of us who are both home brewing and trying to bring greater commercial availability of biodiesel to our communities.

An Iowa local group that sponsored another one of these workshops makes biodiesel for about 45 cents per gallon.

This class will be hands-on and you will learn how to make biodiesel.

No pre-registration necessary, directions to the class are below.

The Homebrew Comprehensive workshop is a quick-moving, hands-on class, where you will make several small batches of biodiesel, learn safety and basic lab processes, test oil and biodiesel for quality, and work with ethanol and discuss acid-base biodiesel
processes.

Directions
The Green institute is located one block west of Hiawatha avenue on 21 avenue. Two blocks north of Lake street. It is a large green building with large solar collector array on the roof.

More details about the Biodiesel Appleseed Tour, and photos of some past workshops:
www.localb100.com/tour.htm
www.localb100.com/truck.html
"

Of course, now I can't remember if Thomas and I ever talked about it or not (it has been six+ years.) Maybe he was one of the folks who planted the seed in me.

There is a memorial site for Thomas, http://www.schons.net/dragonfly/ that really helped me remember what a great guy he was.

Thanks for all the good times Thomas.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Net Radio (Finally!)

It's been a promise and interest for a long time, and I am now figuring it out.

First, the hardware. I've got a C.C. Crane FM radio transmitter (which I swapped the antenna it came with out for one which is about 9" longer) connected to the audio out of my PowerBook G4.

I had to disconnect the built-in FM antennas on all my house stereos (which limits their local FM reception) to improve the reception in our tri-level, and the reception is still spotty at times (read: less than CD quality), but, it's cheap.

Internet radio: I can't stand "annoyware" and Live365 is the worst. I had tried RealNetworks in the past, and for some reason, didn't find it useable. The only station I had found that I liked was RadioIOworld, which is internet only. It has a great selection of world music and it's messages, while repetitive, are not so much as to be annoying. The main problem was iTunes, which has latency problems (and just like Apple, it appears to be from lazyness - the error message window that gets thrown has to be clicked manually - there's not even a default selection for 'OK' (so it's not possible to access it through AppleScript) which is almost clearly against the Appple UI!) So RadioIOWorld was really just useful to test the hardware and reception set-up.

This week, I remembered Real for some reason and gave it another try: Now I've got 9 solid Brazilian stations (including a talk station from my wife's hometown, Salvador), another 5 Spanish stations, and one from Portugal. I haven't tried Mexico or the Caribean yet. Fortunately, RadioIOWorld has a Real feed too, so if I want just solid "world" music, I can get that too.

My primary interest is getting veiws and music from other parts of the world. I don't care about hearing more music in English, I get enough of that from my daily environment. But, I also want talk and culture I can understand, so the Lusofono and Spanish speaking worlds are my focus.

But, I imagine I will eventually try to pick up Indian, Japanese, Korean and other countries, (just for fun.)

Other unrelated news, Wired magazine is reporting about underwater mining (which makes me that much more interested in underwater robotics) and implant treatment of Parkinson's.