Showing posts from 2018

Work, Travel, Work: A busy month

I've been busy.  Work got pretty exciting, and then I went on vacation.

The vacation was built around friends' wedding.  Since it was in Pennsylvania, I really made the most of my trip.

First, I spent two days in Pittsburgh, during which time I hung out with family: my mom, my grandmother, and my niece, as well as my aunt and sister, as much as the short time allowed.  We went to the zoo, and I watched the first episode of this amazing Turkish drama on Netflix that my grandmother is into (it's called Kurt Seyit ve Şura, you're welcome).  I also met up with two high school friend's for dinner, and in one case tennis.  It was like what a child imagines grown-up life is like.

Then, after about 48 hours of compressed bonding in Pittsburgh, I drove up to Erie with Jack, my mom, and my sister.  We biked along the beach, and hung out on the beach, and saw the new Mr. Rogers documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor".  I'd give it a B: it was surprisingly mi…

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#Table10 at the Schillo/Virant #wedding: represent! Link to Instagram

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I wish all my projects were this colorful #diy #craftday Link to Instagram

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Geez, I feel like I'm taking photos from this tree every month now #familiesbelongtogether #returnthechildren #icantbelieveimhashtaggingthis #abolishice

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Poor Seamus does NOT like the run-up to Fourth of July. #dog πŸŽ‰πŸŽ†πŸŽ‡πŸŒ‹πŸ”₯🌎πŸ”₯☣

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Building an Underwater Photo Booth: Pt 1

My current project is a collaboration with Jack to build an underwater photo booth.  It lets users take four photos with the push of a button, then uploads them to a cloud drive so folks can post pics of themselves at the pool as soon as they dry their hands off.

There are numerous great online instruction manuals for building a photo booth using a Raspberry Pi, so that part was the first which we completed, and it went pretty quickly.

The hardware consists of five key parts:
A Raspberry Pi mini computer, which runs the camera.A Raspberry Pi camera module, which is similar to the kind of camera in most cell phoneA display screen.  This is a small LCD screen that cost about $40.A display control board.  I don't fully understand that magic that makes this work, but it takes the images that the Raspberry Pi sends over an HDMI cable, and it translates them so the LCD screen can make images.A battery to power it.And a button that works through the waterproof housing. The current step h…

Designing the kennel club of tomorrow

If you aren't aware, the process of dog breeding is controversial.  On one hand, most of us love the products of breeding: the lovable Golden Retriever, the fearsome German Shepard, the whimsical Dachshund.  Unfortunately, these breeds can only exist so long as we continue to mate two dogs of the same breed to make a litter of new breed members, and the unpleasant truth is that we know that in doing so we're promoting birth defects.  It's long past time we thought about how to improve this practice.

Dog breeds are defined by kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC).  These clubs hold shows where judges assess which dog looks most like the kind of dog it is supposed to be, and these winners go on to sire puppies who will carry forward the noble blood line of the breed.  The concept makes simple sense.  In order to continue having Saint Bernards, gather a bunch together, find the male and female that look the most like a classic…

Building an ROV is hard

If you've read this blog for a while -- a long while -- you might know that I have been working on an underwater ROV on and off for more than a year.  This is another update.

The good is that last year, I had a crude body for the Remotely Operated Vehicle.  It had propellers that were hooked up to a battery and spun.  It had a microcontroller that told them when to spin.  It had a Raspberry Pi single board computer to receive instructions over a USB tether and send them to the microcontroller.  And I had a program that would read data from a joystick over a long USB cord.  I finally thought that I just about had some kind of system I could put in water and drive around with a controller.
Not so fast.
The defining feature of an underwater ROV is that it goes underwater.  Which means that the electronics need to be inside of a waterproof enclosure.  And since radio waves don't travel underwater*, there needs to be a cable that passes from the user outside of the water, into the …

My DIY How-To Guide for My Infinity War Jacket

I finished my How-To guide describing how I made my Captain America Jacket.  I'm thrilled with the result, because my goal was to make a jacket that I could wear outside of traditional costume-appropriate situations, and it worked.  I wore the jacket to several social events last weekend, and got numerous compliments.  To my surprise, quite a few people recognized that it was a Captain America-themed jacket.  I don't know if that was inference or recognition of the costume it's based on, but I love it.

Instructables Guides:
Captain America / U.S. Agent Artificial Leather Jacket
Captain America Shield Harness & Belt

One Possible Outcome of the Korea Talks

I have a new prediction.

I think that Kim will agree to fully denuclearize in exchange for America's complete military withdrawal from South Korea. He'll agree to periodic inspections by the UN Atomic Energy Comission in exchange for a complete end to sanctions. He'll add in programs to allow families increased ability to visit one another across borders and favorable trade opportunities between North Korea, South Korea, and China.

Trump and Bolton and company will refuse to accept any deal in which the US leaves South Korea.  South Korea, however, will see a deal too good to pass up.  South Korea will tell the US that if the US doesn't agree to the deal, South Korea is going to be forced to publicly break from the US and eject them.

The US will come to some compromise, perhaps withdraw all but 5,000 troops over 10 months, while insisting that it was their complete decision to do so.  Even so, Trump and co. will refuse to relax sanctions on North Korea and possibly …

Tony wrote a novel (and it's great!)

Tony wrote a novel.  It's an Iron Man novel, naturally, but it's really a stellar product that stands up whether you like the comic book character or not.  It's not confined to the typical superhero genre, either.  It's a psychological thriller with science fiction elements.

Check it out.  It's GOOD.

Cosplaying an Infinity War Premier in Hollywood

Tony, Jack, myself and a bunch of other friends dressed up to see Avengers: Infinity War at the Arclight Hollywood, and it was a blast.

I started my costume six weeks ago, because I wanted to do something pretty ambitious.  I'd made a Captain America costume for Civil War in 2016, and based on the lessons I'd learned, I wanted to make this costume as a leather jacket that I could use as an actual day-to-day jacket.  I also decided that I didn't like the costume Cap wears in this new film, and so I'd ignore it completely and make something like what I thought his costume should've been.

The outcome
The final result was this jacket, a harness, and a belt.  It's made of some kind of artificial leather.

The outfit is based off the uniform a disaffected Steve Rogers adopted when he renounced his identity as Captain America in 1988.  In the movie (left, below), Captain America is wearing the costume from his previous movie, but it's distressed and darkened.  On t…

The Top 5 VR Products at a health conference

Last week, the hospital I work at hosted a conference on the role of Virtual Reality in medicine. After strolling through demo booths, here are the top five companies and products that blew me away.

Number Five: AppliedVR
AppliedVR is a startup that provides VR equipment and support for hospitals to use to manage pain. It’s a simple business, but it makes sense. Virtual Reality is incredibly immersive, which studies have shown can effectively calm patients and distract them from anxiety and even physical pain during procedures like blood draws. Setting up and maintaining equipment and software is something most hospitals are unlikely to be prepared to manage, so AppliedVR encourages them to outsource it. Regardless of AppliedVR’s future, the future of VR to transport patients away from their bodies during medical procedures and to provide mental stimulation to patients confined to a hospital is all but certain to assume a place in hospitals in the future.

Number Four: Th…

Black Panther Review

I ... I can't even.

Going in, Tony and I discussed the hype.  I said that although I loved Thor: Ragnorak, I still felt its hype was overblown.  I told him that although I expected Black Panther to be great, I didn't think it could live up to its hype unless it matched Captain America: Winter Soldier, which I contend is the high watermark for standalone superhero adventures (The first Iron Man is comparable, although I think it's an apples-and-oranges comparison).

Well... it did it.  Superlatives like "best" are subjective, and I'd still give give Captain America: Winter Soldier the edge in hand-to-hand combat choreography, but there's no denying that this movie is the first and only film I can think of that matches Winter Soldier, and surpasses it boldly in world building.  That world building, man... shit.  Wakanda Forever.

One reason I've always revered Winter Soldier in a way that even first Iron Man can't match is that I think that today, as…

The Falcon Heavy Launch : A big day for Humans

Last week, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy, a rocket capable of lifting cargo beyond Earth's orbit, to the Moon or Mars.  Along with presumably thousands of other people, I watched the live feed with baited breath.  So I was surprised when I encountered friends online who respectfully questioned why this was really of any consequence.  Sure it's thrilling.  So was the Eagles' Superbowl victory.  But does a billionaire sending a sports car into interplanetary space really have any more significance than a sports victory?

I think it does.

Although the stated goal is distant, I think that the technologies developed to explore space are usually of the most benefit here on Earth.  Life support equipment in particular is always designed with the goal of making humans healthier and more comfortable while using the least resources.  There isn't anything of that is designed to provide humans with clean water and food on Mars that isn't of use in the under-served parts of …

Saw the Backstreet Boys (?)

I went to Vegas for a little weekend trip and we ended up seeing the Backstreet Boys.  I never listened to them, but Tony was a big fan back in his youth, so I went along.  It was good!  They put on a solid show.

Documenting the 2018 Women's March in LA

Last weekend, I went to the Women's March in Downtown LA.  While I was there, I had a specific goal.  For a while I'd thought that it was often frustrating how dependent protests were on media outlets to publicize them.  But after the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017, I realized how critically damaging this reliance is.  It's not just about the visibility of activism: it's about publicizing the facts on the ground.  In the case of  the pipeline protests, stories came out about a woman suffering grave bodily harm when anti-riot ordinance malfunctioned and nearly took off her arm.  The police insisted that any injury had been the result of improvised explosives prepared by protesters.  This kind of uncertainty was shocking to me.  What the hell was going on in rural North Dakota?  Were protesters wildly exaggerating?  Was a peaceful protest being met with state violence and covered up?  I just wanted to know what it felt like on the ground.