Joint Robot Meeting Pictures

Pictures from the joint FRR and DARC meeting at Hobbytown, 2004-02-15.

It was neat to see all the great things the FRR groups has done. It was exciting to hear a lot more about Thereminvision.

Friday Photo Theme: Sunset

2002-06-22 Sunset through dwindling Smoke from Hayman Fire

For Photo Friday Challenge

This picture and 6 other sunset pictures


Job News

I heard last week that the company I'm working at has decided that the department I work in and related groups are going away. They have 'funding' until the end of the year. But they have decided only to work on projects that have direct impact on income. Which means that in short order I could have nothing real to work on.

So I started looking around a bit. Not a huge amount to choose from. A lot of positions that require pre-existing security clearance. I don't have that. Others that want years of .net or years of Java. While I'd love to do those, I know I'd never get past a tech interview on these subjects, at least right now.

I did, however, get a line just yesterday on a position up in DTC. That means about an hour commute each way. I've done it before. I did it for a year an a half. The position was Cobol, SQL and Unix. How many people are they going to find with both Cobol and Unix? Well I think I'd be a fantastic match. The consulting group sent me a brainbench test. For Cobol. While I've been doing Cobol as my primary position for the last 9 months, I was still a little nervous. I knew brainbench could come up with some tough questions.

I took the test late in the day yesterday. The test seemed pretty hard. With a maximum of 3 minutes per question, it was real tough to get through some of the test. I mean, the number of lines of code, then the scenario, then going through the logic - it meant there time was very tight to figure out which answer was correct. And they threw in 2 or 3 questions on merge, which I have never coded before!

Well, I got my results back from the test: 4.34 out of 5. Higher than 92% of all previous test takers. Pretty good. That was a nice ego boost. It was interesting that it rated me weak in file processing though! I would have bet that was one of my higher areas. It was probably those dang merge questions. :)

So I spoke more with the representative in the consulting agency today. He said that they finally got more information from the hiring company. It seems the rate for the positions was about 5 dollars less than I am earning now per hour. I should get at least 5 dollars more an hour than now for the commute to Denver. But it seems they are pretty set on the price. The consulting company got the contract because they were willing to come in with some low numbers. I would seriously consider it at my current rate.

It was a tough choice. If I am out of work soon, that means I will be bringing in a whole lot less with unemployment. And we could make it work with the amount they are paying, especially with my wife working. But it doesn't really make sense. Because they know and I know that I would be hot to find a better paying job. And they would rather have someone who will stick around.

I tried to convince them to let me meet the company, and let them see if they would be willing to bargain up for my skills. The kind of people they will get in for the positions will be pretty much Mainframe or Unix. Not likely to find many who know a lot about both. So I pointed out the value to having someone like me who not only knows both sides, but has worked on a number of projects that integrated both Mainframe and Unix. If they don't have someone like that, they could wind up hitting stumbling blocks, and have to re-invent solutions. Solutions I already know about.

But I got no reply, so I guess they are sticking with the tight budget. Oh, well. Oh yeah, it was interesting to note that they said the project was being brought back from overseas. A case of reversing offshoring! Finally starting to happen. Good to know there are some smart people left in this country.

Roboton - DARC Board

Here are pictures of the DARC Board - blank, and then completed without the chips installed. The DARC Board is an Atmel AtMega (CPU/MCU) based controller board for hobby robotics, designed by Kerwin, the lead of the DARC robot club in Denver.

I put together this controller board with my son, 11yo.
In the pictures on my Roboton Log you will see the minor changes I made to the DARC Board. I soldered the power regulator higher, and bent over the board, so it would not stick up so much higher than the rest of the board. I swapped the 5 pin programming port from male to female, to match the plug/wire I already had for my TTT-based Tuna bot.


Borrowed Time - IMDB: T3

Hey - we are living on borrowed time!
According to T3: The exact date of Judgment Day is 24 July 2004 at 6:18 PM.

I don't feel incinerated, do you? :) Must be a bug in the system. That will teach them to offshore Skynet!

Reading the other stuff on IMDB, I laughed out loud at: When the T-101 is rebooting after destroying the Jeep Cherokee, among other things loaded is a "Quicktime Video Codec".

When the older helper Terminator reboots, almost all of the items shown loading match drivers loaded when booting Mac OS 9. ...Hmmm, maybe he should have had a frowny face for the crash, then a smiley face when booting :)

IMDB Trivia for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Found on Skittish.org blog.

TechChatter: Stop Hiding

Want to know how to always see all your MS office menu options and all your programs? Read TechChatter: Stop Hiding From Me!

Picture for Hands Theme

Hands - Self portrait feeding a Rainbow Lorikeet, SLC, UT
For Wednesday Snap.

As usual I found more than one picture in my collection that match the theme. To see the other 11 'Hands' pictures, view 7/28's entries on my photo blog

Robot Meeting Pictures Feb04

16 Pictures - follow the link to Roboton to see more pictures and descriptions


Photo Theme: Building

Building in downtown Denver
Photo Theme: Building for i-gizmo

TechChatter: Hello Application Oddity

I found that the Hello Application BloggerBot to help upload photos to blogger blogs did something odd to me today - it dropped a heart on me. Read more at TechChatter: Hello Application Oddity

Robot Meeting Pictures from 2003-11-15

More pictures
On Nov 15, 2003, the dual meeting of DARC and FRR at Acroname.
This was the two groups last meeting at Acroname. Acroname sadly informed us that they were expanding into the meeting room, and would no longer have space to allow us to meet.

Picture Theme: Distant

The theme for Photo Time Tuesday is 'Distant'.

I found I had a lot of great 'distant' pictures in my collection. So first I took all the decent ones, and wound up with over 50 pictures! Ouch! :) So I finally culled it down to 18 pictures. Still a lot. But I'm posting them all. I like the first and last the best: 'Trail and contrail', and 'Train in the distance'. The pictures I took of the Trade Centers less than two weeks before they were brought down still touches me. Make sure you look at the 1024 versions of the pictures on the photoblog! :)

Select a picture to view more details, and larger versions of the pictures

Channukah Picture

Channakiot - often refered to as Menorahs. Jewish celebration of the festival of lights. Lighting an additional candle each day for 8 days. To commemorate the rededication of the Temple, and the miracle of the 1 day holy lamp oil supply lasting for 8 days. Here you see the 6th day on a collection of Channakiot just inside the window

A 'holiday' theme picture submitted to Moody Monday


Big Brother with Your Pizza

Very funny video clip! ACLU - Pizza

Big brother is watching your waist!

Pictures: Nov 03 DARC Robot Meeting

Pictures from the November 2003 meeting of DARC robot club.

More pictures, and larger images

In the first picture on my Roboton blog, you will see my tunabot set up with two laptops. Why two laptops? Well, I can program with my newer P4M laptop, via the parallel port. But the P4M laptop does not have a serial port. So to be able to do debugging, I use my old 486 laptop. I used to use the 486 laptop for programming robots too, but it dosn't quite cut it for some of the programming environments. It might just be able to handle the TTT board (on the tunabot) with the bascom compiler/IDE, but I like the speed on my P4M :) . Of course, a 486 is plenty fast for being a 'dumb' terminal! :)

TechChatter: Spyware Nasties

I helped a friend yesterday with his computer. I'm sad to say that 3 of the last 4 people I've helped with their computers, the main problem was spyware. Adaware and Spybot got rid of most of them. Bhodemon showed me one they missed. It was a pretty nasty one. Unluckily I didn't take very good notes, so I don't remember all the details. The main detail was a directory in program files called bashshim. To read more about what happened, see my entry on TechChatter: Spyware Nasties.


Star Wars 3 - Title Announced

They have annouced the name of the title of the third Star Wars movie due out next spring: "Revenge of the Sith"

"Revenge is a dish best served cold" - Klingon Proverb :)

T-Shirt with the title is already available.

First 12 pictures of Tunabot

The first 12 pictures of my Tunabot Robot

Why Tunabot? Because the wheels are made of Tuna cans! :)

This picture was taken at the point where I finally had a home-brew robot that was truely a home-built robot. I had made a few Lego Mindstorms robots before. And I had built a base up out of Legos for an HC11 controller, but I never quite finished that one.

After these pictures, I made some modifications that you will see in later pictures. I added 2 layers of rubber bands as grip to the tuna cans wheels. I added light sensors to the front skid. I moved the IR receiver from the top of the board to a spot just above the front skid. I took the IR LEDs out of their fixed case, and put them in shrink wrap. I added a second 9v battery inside front to be seperate drive power for the motors.

Colorado Springs Drainage Ditch Pictures

Pictures I've taken around Colorado Springs of Drainage Ditches


Pictures from 9/03 Robot Meeting

September 2003 meeting of DARC

Rustic Picture for Sunday Shoot

2003-07-18 Rustic steam train - Grand Canyon Railway - We took the 'rail to the rim' - Hot but fun!



Shadow Pictures

Catching my shadow on the ground as the light passed between the moving train cars, my back to the train - my - took 5 tries to catch the picture

Shadow of the railroad crossing sign on the side of a coal car as it passed

My shadow, looking through an open boxcar as it moved past

Shadow of bench on the snow

These pictures are for the theme 'Shadow' on: PhotoTime Tuesday

View Source Broken in IE

I was having trouble with view source in IE. Read more on TechChatter

And yeah, I know, you could drive a truck through the holes in IE. I may just have to try another browser. :)

Pictures from Aug 03 DARC Meeting

See my Roboton Blog for more pictures

Pictures from the August 2003 DARC meeting.

Photo Friday - Mother

A Mother at the Mall

This is my entry to this week's photo at: Photo Friday - The Weekly Photo Challenge

This picture also appears on my photo blog.



I have added BlogRolling to my side links. This allows me a simplified way for me to share other blogs I like.

I just reciently found Dave Barry's blog - you will see his blog linked there too!

Robot Meeting Pictures June 03

DARC meeting June 2003

Members showing CNC, CMU cameras, Hexapod, Sumo and other robot and robot related gear.

Pictures: Balloon Glow

2002-09-01 - In the evenings of the Colorado Springs Balloon Festival, the have the 'Balloon Glow'.
This is where they get the hot air balloons set up on the ground, and have the balloons do burns. When they do the burns, the whole hot air balloon glows brightly. They have an annoucer on a big PA system, who gets the balloon pilots to burn in syncronization, so that a large number of the balloons are glowing at the same time. It is an amazing thing to see. It is wild to be in the middle of it!

Colorado Balloon Classic Web Site


Pictures from DARC Meeting 4/03

My pictures from the April 2003 meeting of the Denver Area Robot Club

Harley for Girls

I'll probably get in a lot of trouble for this one. :)
I was in the car with my wife.  She was wondering about Harley's marketed at women.
Which made me think about Lego's attempt to make pastel Legos for girls.
Of course, you wouldn't call it a normal Harley.  No, it deserved a girly name. Something-ette.
So here is my rendition of the Harlette Davidson...

Harlot Davidson Limited Edition

Danskin Women's Triathlon

My wife took part in her second triathlon this weekend, sponsored by Danskin.
It took place in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, at the Aurora Reservoir.

Click on one of the pictures to see all my posted pictures from the 'Tri'.  Larger images are available on the posted pictures page.

Danskin changed the location of their race this year. The Aurora location was new. It seems that they could use to put in a bunch more organization to the race before the next year.
The directions to the sign-in the day before was confusing, and many people got lost.
The sign-in process was a bit haphazard, a bit illogical, and rather understaffed.
On race day, the traffic to the race was insane. The traffic was backed up onto the highway, E470, in both directions, and on the road was backed up quite some distance. There was a traffic light that was holding things up until shortly before we got there. At that point, the traffic from the reservoir backed up more than 2 miles, all the way to the highway. I was surprised to see no one directing traffic until we got to the parking lot itself.
A large number of people abandoned their cars on the side of the road, and took off to try to sign in on time. It seems the instructions made it very clear that people had to check in by 6:30 to be in the race. I was glad to see that the organizers decided not to see what over 3000 pissed off women looked like, and started the race later.  My wife was one of the ones who went ahead to check in, while I finished driving to the parking.
The walk to the race was a little long, but not too bad. The only real problem was the offroad section at the end. It was steep, and full of cactus and weeds. Not a good place for a stroller. And that is the spot where you watch the bikes start and return, and the runners start. I wound up pushing through there a few times. That was a major workout in it's own right! :)

My wife did very well! She improved her swin and bike time, in spite of feeling rather under the weather. She did it as a team this year, and her friend Jill from massage school did the run part. This was Jill's first time competing, and did very well.
We also had a friend in the race, also as part of a team.  She also did the swim and bike part. Her daughter-in-law did the run. They did very well too!

We are all so proud of all of you!


Ocean Pictures

My father and Step Mother live in Florida, in the Fort Myers/Sanibel area. So I've been down there a few times since I starting taking digital pictures. Here is my collection of Ocean related pictures from the area over the years. I will be submitting them to Photo Friday as seen on Hey-Lisa's site.

All of the pictures have a larger size if you click on them.

2004-05-30 - Water Walk in Fort Myers

2004-05-29 - Fort Myers Channel - Follow the leader with boats

2003-12-20 - Seagull on Seaweed on Fort Myers Beach

2003-12-20 - Fort Myers Beach (a year later then next picture set) - Fort Myers Pier in distance

2002-12-17 - View along Fort Myers Beach from Hotel Balcony

2002-12-17 - Water-Para-Skier, with a smiley face, off Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-17 - Drip Castle, Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-16 - Seagulls in flight, Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-16 - Footprints along Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-16 - Treasure hunter, Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-16 - Bird Pearching on railing of Fort Myers Beach Pier, Some of Fort Myers and Sanibel causway across the bay

2002-12-16 - View along shore from Fort Myers Beach Pier

2002-12-16 - View into the Gulf of Mexico from Fort Myers Beach Pier

2002-12-16 - Seagull on Fort Myers Beach

2002-12-16 - Fort Myers Beach - Seagull on the shore in front of a hotel

2001-06-22 - Sanibel Causway - View towards Fort Myers - Original colors