Something old…

I dug through my stock of Optimo goodies and took photos.
See the parts page.

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Toying around…

I’ve been working on several aspects of the Toy – engine compartment, rear cover, and instruments are the main ones.
Also evaluating rear suspension for upgrade. More soon.

See my personal site for more about The Toy.

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techno-social media?

tough choices for nuclear power

Good article
I’d say there are different kinds of risks, with differing likelihoods and differing consequences.

The difficulty of discussing such complex sets of choices- (ok, that’s excessively fancy)
– we need better ways to share information via graphics, text,
ways to display and compare alternatives

techno-social media?

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Callings

John Fox (the Golden Rule Guy) recently blogged about callings. http://bit.ly/g5UU28

What I started to post as a comment wasn’t going to fit, so it can go here instead.

I’ve never been sure what my “calling” was/is. If there was a voice in my heart or in my ear, I’ve been too deaf or fearful to hear it.  In such a case, how do you find your calling?

In short, do what you can, as well as you can. Then look for better things to do, and do them as well as you can. Repeat. And observe to see what you enjoyed and what was productive.

I like learning things, and I like doing things. I’ve  often been a compulsive explainer.  Don’t know if this is a calling, or just  a neurosis resulting from feelings of inferiority. Anyway, much of my work at Amada and since has involved learning things and explaining them to others. Technical writing follows that pattern.

I also enjoy helping and guiding others. Perhaps that’s another side of explaining? Perhaps that’s the more important side of the ‘itch’ that writing and teaching scratches.

At times, I’ve done work to be proud of. Sometimes, it took a while to gain perspective and BE proud of what I accomplished. Remember- we’re often too close to see the whole picture.

Perhaps a pattern is emerging.

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Video card ignores config preferences

The video card in one of my computers kept ignoring the primary monitor settings. I have two computers and two monitors. Each computer has dual video outputs, and they feed through a pair of KVM switches. This means that either computer can use both monitors, or one machine can have the primary monitor with mouse and keyboard while the other still displays on the secondary monitor.

Not a common setup, but it works for me. Except, one computer started forgetting its monitor settings. At power-up, it would display only on the secondary monitor, which is an old CRT unit. Most annoying.

After playing with drivers, software, and settings, the ‘light’ finally dawned:

If the video card doesn’t ‘see’ a monitor on the digital port both ports when it powers up, it reverts to default settings. This provides ‘least common denominator’ functionality for the system.

Son the problem was self-inflicted: As long as I switch the monitors to that computer before starting it, everything’s fine. As soon as the boot screens show on both monitors, I can switch back and continue using the other computer.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

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Vintage Computing Resource

Manuals and more for Commodore.
http://www.bombjack.org/commodore/

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Smart electric meters

An interesting story about these “smart meters” that SoCalEd has been forcing on us.
http://billmullins.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/smart-meters-how-dumb-are-they/

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Re-using Content and Ideas

Over at Copyblogger, there’s an article about content re-use. It uses Avatar as an example: Lots of 3-D movies have been done, both recently and long ago. Lots of similar stories have been done, ditto. And yes, It was Fern Gully. And no, Fern Gully wasn’t a pioneer either. But, Avatar was a well-told story with about every cool trick in the book. It had the hero getting a new body in place of his broken one, and riding horses. He got to tame a dragon, and ride it. It had a love interest, nasty bad guys, lots of nifty and nasty technology. Cameron threw everything into the pot, and did it well. Maybe there was a kitchen sink too?
So, the total story was good, and the presentation was great.
So? Our presentations don’t have to be 100% new or novel. They have to possess some combination of presentation and content to make them worthwhile for the reader. Cheat the reader, and they will go elsewhere.

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Toyota Runaway: How it Might Happen

Here’s a link to the actual document:
http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20100223/Gilbert.Testimony.pdf
Some from Toyota claimed that Dr. Gilbert’s test doesn’t match the real world. Looks to me that his analysis and simulation match the real world very well.

The scenario is very plausible. Basically, there are two signal wires from the pedal to the computer, and at least one power wire to the pedal.
Dr Gilbert found that if the two signal wires short together, the computer doesn’t notice. The car may not behave quite right, but the driver likely wouldn’t notice.
The wires don’t have to be perfectly shorted: some resistance in between them gives the same result.
Now, while those wires are partially connected together, if somehow the power lead to the pedal briefly touches one of them, the computer snaps the throttle wide open. That means, a problem with the wiring harness could cause the motor to run at full throttle.
The computer does not set any error codes when this happens.
Shazam: A wiring harness problem can send the car into runaway with no trouble code set. And, since wiring problems are often intermittent, it can “fix itself” for some unknown period of time.

Dr. Gilbert seems to have very good technical credentials. They are summarized in the PDF linked above.

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Cars and Adventures

This post moved to my Automotive pages.

In 2003 I re-started the Toy project. I write about that on another page.

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