Giant Skull Painting

2014-07-24 18:07 - General

Simple wooden frame. Beginning to stretch the canvas. Canvas now on the frame. Whoops, frame finished for real, with corner reinforcements. Hung on the wall.

A little while back, a guy at work shared a project he was working on: to make and give away a ton of huge paintings. He picked up a cheap laser projector, originally designed for DJs/parties, and figured out how to make it shoot a pattern for an image of his choice. This was bright enough to see, without distorting colors, like a simple projector might be. Then he started making tons of paintings and giving them away! This is one of them. I decided to get enough lumber to make a frame to stretch the canvas onto, and now it's hung on my wall. I had to rearrange things to get it to fit, it's almost six feet square!

It barely worked. The tension of the canvas wants to twist the frame. I added the reinforcements on the corners from the scraps left after cutting the sides to length. That helped, but only a little. Luckily it's just heavy enough to hold itself flat against the wall by its own weight. Perhaps the tension might even out a bit over time as it remains in place.

Hello Deer

2014-07-13 13:37 - General

Visiting my mom for the weekend, and caught this visitor outside.

Voice Controlled Clock Experiment

2014-05-26 23:39 - Programming

As the video says, I spent this evening putting together a simple, successful, experiment in voice-controlled clocks. In the pursuit of the perfect alarm clock, I'm looking for something I don't have to squint at nor fumble with in the night (or lazy morning). I've got a ways to go before it's a usable alarm clock, but I was amazed to start and get this far in just one evening!

Updates to Drax

2014-05-18 21:46 - Programming

Today I dusted off my barely existing Windows programming skills. I've been using Drax for a while to add titles and chapters to MP4 video files. It's a nice little tool, but I wished for a few features it didn't have: the .MP4 extension in the open dialog (rather than just .M4V), drag-and-drop to open files, and remembering the window position across launches.

As expected, it took some doing. It was open source, which makes changing it possible. But it uses features that don't come in the legitimately free Express version of Visual Studio, so I had to go for a demo install of the full version. Then I had to do a fair bit of cobbling things together. They depend on libmp4v2 but don't include it. The mp4v2 tarball is apparently missing critical files, so I had to grab them from source control. And tweak lots of little build settings, as both projects were designed with/for earlier Visual Studio versions.

Once I got it building and running, things were surprisingly easy from there, overall. I got all three of those features mentioned added start to finish today, without much of any experience to go on. Thank you Internet, both for having so much data at my fingertips, plus for answering my one question (which that data wasn't enough for) quite quickly.

The installer was one of the things that doesn't work in newer Visual Studio versions anymore, so I can't give you that. But you can grab a zip file of the drax executable, with my new features added.

Printable Singularity Chess

2014-04-08 23:58 - General

Some short while back, I discovered Singularity Chess. A chess variant where the board has been warped by a singularity (i.e. black hole), thus all of the "squares" are actually rounded, causing moves to be warped around curves where they would normally move in straight lines.

It seemed interesting, but I couldn't try it out for myself effectively. I couldn't find anything to download online to make it easier. So I decided to make one. I grabbed the first image of the board, then rotated and perspective corrected it to be a more perfect shot from directly above. (I assumed the four visible corners were originally rectangular for this step.) Then I started measuring the dimensions of the image I produced.

The result is the SVG image singularity-chess-v1.xml. It looks just like the beautiful wooden board from the original post, but it should be cheap and easy to print out, to try the game with a lower barrier to entry. It is intended to fit onto 11x17" paper, but letter (8.5x11") would work in a pinch, if you have small pieces.

Peanut Butter Brownies

2014-03-07 20:26 - General

Peanut butter brownies. I made some peanut butter brownies. Yum. Place smells great. Now I just have to wait for them to cool down!


Gran Turismo 6: All Stars

2014-02-19 22:53 - Gaming

Gran Turismo 6: All stars!

I got Gran Turismo 6 for Xmas, and have been playing it since, about seven weeks. I just got the last of 573 stars (first place in all of the career mode races). And I've done most (but certainly not all) of the optional mission races. Either way, I think it's time to call this game done. Phew. Some of those stars were tough to get, especially the last two dozen.

I Know 79% Of the English Language

2014-01-30 16:37 - General

I just found a scientific Vocabulary Test online. I scored 79% (detected 86% of actual words, failed on 7% of non-words). Which is "a high level for a native speaker".

UDF For Portable Storage

2014-01-04 12:54 - Tech

I swear I looked into this a few years ago, and decided not to. But I did again recently. Most USB storage devices are used with FAT32, which is unpleasant for a variety of reasons. I found one page with a great summary of why both FAT32 is awful and UDF is better. It's from this year, and new to me. I also found another page with more technical detail and a complicated Perl script to do the formatting, with some tricks to improve interoperability. It's older. I probably saw it before.

I think this boils down to the fact that Windows XP cannot write to UDF. Back the last time I looked into this, I figure I cared about that too much to switch. Nowadays though I interact mostly with Windows 7, plus some Mac and Linux. I've tried it out, and so far it is absolutely the case that it "just works" and very pleasantly. I have a couple 2GB thumb drives and a 1TB external disk both formatted to UDF now, and they're working quite well across all three platforms.