Archive for March, 2007

Busy weekend

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Well I had two things to do this weekend. The first was Robofest, and the second was the Austin American Statesman Capitol 10K. See the latter in Watt’s Running blog.

The former was held at the Hill Country Middle School in their gym. The organizer Diana H. did a great job and the team of people she put together (for example, the judges) was hardworking, conscientious, and fun. I was the scorekeeper because I don’t know the first thing about robots. However, after now seeing what everyone did I probably could have been a judge. Maybe there is something there in the future. I arrived about 8AM and helped Wally unload audio, video, and other electronic equipment – I was a “junior roadie”. Then I assisted the judges setting up the two official Robofest courses. Next I got my computer all ready to handle the scoring. Around noon I had lunch with the judges and chatted. They were all very much technical geeks. Then we were “off to the races” with the students presenting their robots, answering judges questions, and running the course. After the first round we had a short break and then completed the second round. It was very interesting watching how the robots worked and seeing how the students talked about their “bots”. At the end all the scores came to me and I entered them on a pre-provided spreadsheet. I wrote the results out for the chief judges, awards were given, pictures taken, and the event was over around 5PM. Altogether a very satisfying day primarily because of Diana, the other volunteers, the students and their bots. I’d do it again in a flash.

Robofest Miner Randomizer Java Applet

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Over the past few days I’ve been working on a Java Applet that randomly places four “miners” for the 2007 Robofest game. I’ve created three different versions so far. Each has a slightly different randomization algorithm based upon input from the Robofest organizers. Here are the three versions.

  • Version 1 – press the Randomize button to randomize the displayed miners
  • Version 2 – press the Change Division button from Jr to Sr and back; press the Change Round button from 1 to 2 and back; press Randomize button to randomize the miners
  • Version 3 – press the Change Division button from Jr to Sr and back; press the Change Round button from 1 to 2 and back; press Randomize button to randomize the miners. Miner 2 in random 20″ width central square
  • Version 4Update: See version 3. Miner 2 in random 20″ diameter central circle
  • Version 5Update: See version 3. I added a visual red circle and a plus at its center to show the area where Miner 2 can be placed. I’ve moved the center of this circle down so that it does not overlay with the tunnel wall. Note: that Miner 2 still must be at least 10″ from Miner 1 and 4. I’ve also increased the offset from 1 inch to 1.5 inches for Miner 3 from the corner and Miner 4 from the wall.

Note: You’ll need to have Java installed for them to work. I should probably consider using JavaScript.

Robofest volunteers meeting

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

The organizer had a meeting of all the Robofest volunteers for the event on March 24th. There was about ten people there. Most of them were judges. I’m the scorekeeper and asked lots of questions. I’m looking forward to it.

On the other side

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Well it’s over with. Here is a before picture.

Picture this sans jeans with a open hospital gown on. No actually don’t. You don’t need to. That was too much information.

The actual event was anti-climatic. Kathy drove me there at 6:30 AM and stayed with me. [Thanks dear that was very sweet of you.] I got into my hospital gown. Then I waited until they rolled me down to the room. I laid on my side. I was given a sedative, but it did not knock me out. Things happened behind my back, and on a camera in front of me was showing my colon. It was like a lumpy-bumpy fleshy tunnel that curved left and right. I found it quite fascinating. I asked if they were recording it, but no they don’t. Bottom line I was OK and nothing was found of significance. So in about 30 minutes I was done, rolled back to Kathy, dressed and headed home. So the actual event was indeed anti-climatic. On the way home I was so dehydrated I couldn’t stop drinking water, and to celebrate we stopped at The Pancake House and had breakfast. Solid food is so yummy.

Here is an after picture.


Beneath this unlikely exterior lies the violated bum of a man with bowels of steel

Heading into the tunnel

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Tomorrow I’m going to have a colonoscopy. For the past day I’ve been preparing. I can’t eat solid food. It’s been a clear liquid diet. But what it means is that I’m clearing myself out. So I’ve had to take Milk of Magnesia yesterday night, Ducolax Laxative (twice the daily dossage) at 5 PM today, and Fleet┬« Phospho-soda┬« Oral Saline Laxative (again twice the daily dosage) at 6 and 9 PM. Sheesh. My best friend right now is the “throne”. I’ve got numerous books and magazines within reach. In the few minutes that I’m not there, I’m blogging about it.

Fresh and Feisty

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

This weekend I was cleaning out the refrigerator and tossing old stuff. When what do I find but a jar of salsa. Now after my recent salsa search I never considered looking in our refrigerator. But there in the back was a bottle of salsa and guess what kind it was. Yup, it was Jardine’s Fresh and Feisty. So Katie and I did get it right after all. I’m relieved.

Just looking at the bottle makes me smile. And you know what. I think that bottle is smiling back.

Cove Panorama

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Recently Justin posted about making panoramic images. I’ve always been interested in these since my computer graphics days. So I downloaded hugin and autopano and attempted my own. I went out into the cove and took a series of pictures 45 degrees apart. Next I converted them into a panoramic image

Then I converted it to a Quicktime VR using pano2qtvr so you can interactively view it as a movie by dragging your mouse about the image to change your viewpoint.
It was fun making it. As you can see spring has sprung in Austin. It was a beautiful day today.

Household chores

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Well its Saturday and I’ve got chores to do. We’re finally undecorating from Christmas. Yup, it’s March, I know, I know. It seems each year we get later and later doing this. Some year in the future we’ll just leave everything decorated year round. For the past few weeks Kathy has been working to pack everything up. Today I carried oodles of boxes upstairs and put them away in various closets. And we’re still not done yet.


One small sample of one end of one closet. The other end and the other closet look similar

Next I have outdoor chores to do. It seems that live-oak trees, those that keep their leaves in the fall and winter, decide in the spring to drop their leaves. So instead of having just one season to clean up the bio-crud, I’ve now got two. Isn’t that just wonderful. Have I told you that I don’t like raking leaves or for that matter I just don’t like leaves at all especially when they’re in my yard. In addition my leaf sucking toy has been a pain – a new tool I bought last fall. The large tube that attaches to the engine keeps falling off if I put too much sideways pressure on it. It’s a bad design and now I’ve got to figure out how to fix that. Oh great another chore. This one I’ll procrastinate on doing and hope to deal with it next fall when the next set of trees begin to drop their bio-crud on me. In any case it took me three hours, yup 3, to suck up the leaves and repeatedly put the sucking tube back on. I filled three refuse bags with about 100 pounds of leaves in them.

A cleaned lawn

Next the crepe myrtle out front needed trimming. This is a yearly chore that should be done in February. I’m just a few days late this year. Basically I hack all the branches until only stubs remain. It’s pretty brutal if I say so myself. In the middle I came in and ate lunch and tried to catch my breathe.

Say hi to “Stubby”
After lunch while continuing the job I wacked my thumb with the hand saw putting jagged cuts in it and then later I pinched my thumb with the power saw getting a blood blister. So I think that the mytle was laughing at me. Or maybe it got even.

Ouch!

By that time I was done for the day. I was exhausted. I did my household chores. All I’m trying to do is to keep up with the black-hole of home ownership, that is, something that absorbs as much and more as you’re willing to give it.