Recent blog entries for The Swirling Brain

Last year for the Swirling Brain (2011):

I constructed a Raspberry Pi case on Shapeways. I keep thinking I'm finished but it seems like I keep having to adjust things or it gets rejected so I have to revise something. I hope to have it for sale soon. I decided to make this case after writing the Raspberry PI article for robots.net. It sounds like it will be a very popular board and I hope to use it for a robot perhaps.

My daughter Bethany went into the hospital a couple of times because of her CF. We got to spend Christmas in the hospital. We planned to have a vacation the week after Christmas, maybe even go to Disney World (that's more of a dream than reality) but I'm glad we hadn't committed since all of the plans were out the door when we got the news. Her CF hospital visits are increasing the older she gets. Her PFTs (pulmonary function test) were down to 32% which is super low. She got them to 52% and they let her out of the hospital. That's still pretty low and it's hard for her to breath anymore. They put her on 3 IV home antibiotics that she had to administer through her two picc lines. Now she's back on aerosol tobramycin (tobi). She doing better and she went back to work but she's still not doing that great. Pray for her.

I'm on the media team at First Baptist Garland. I've been running the sound board for the teens on Wednesday nights and helping with setup on Sunday Mornings. I've actually got to run the big board in the Sanctuary but just for band practice and not for a real live Sunday yet. It's sort of a big deal at a big church but perhaps someday.

My white car the Buick Rivera finally bit the dust. I was without a car for a while and my wife had to take me to work. We couldn't afford another car so I kept hounding my wife for a motorcycle or a scooter. She finally caved and let me buy a scooter. I got one off of craigslist. It's a chinese scooter so the odometer is apparently in kilometers so I have to convert to miles. I seem to get about 72 to 80 mpg! At the current gas price of about $3.50 a gallon that's about 5 cents a mile. It's about 7 miles to work so the cost to drive to work is about 70 cents a day. My dad let me borrow his truck for cold or bad weather days and it gets about 18 mpg which is about 19 cents a mile or about $2.72 a day. So I save about $2 a day or I save about $10 to $15 a week driving the scooter to work and church and other misc places. Just in gas that's a savings of about $500 to $700 a year. Everything else such as fees, insurance and taxes also seems to be cheaper for a scooter. Insurance was like $70 a year. I'm driving lesser driven streets to try to be safe.

I played with jpct (www.jpct.net) and wrote a 3d speedometer android app. It is pretty cool. I wrote some other cool things with jpct too. So then someone broke into our house, stole my laptop, stole my xbox 360 and kinect and stole a dvd player and some money we had at the house. They stole a few other items also. My biggest loss I still feel was the various software I had written on that laptop that I didn't have backed up anywhere else. I think I found an old backup of some of it but still it's a loss. So I've been down about that. Since then I've bought some IP cameras and installed them around the outside of my house. I feel like a theif may get away with it again but at least I might get a picture of them that I could give to the police.

I made some more rolling ball sculptures and sold them on ebay. Besides that I video recorded the building of some of them and listed them on youtube. Google invited me to be a part of their adsense and I agreed and wow I'm getting about $50 a month from that! That's like free money for doing practically nothing. I can now see why there are so many stupid videos of people making a complete fool of themselves because they are laughing all the way to the bank! Click on my videos and help me make some money! ;-)

I'm sure I did more in 2011 but that's all I can think of right now.

Made a new Rolling Ball Sculpture. You can see it on ebay or on my youtube channel (the newest one in the upper right).

Potato chip grabbing hand = useless cybernetics!

It's time again for the Great Strides Walk to Cure CF. Please help out if you can.

Last week I worked on upgrading the Missionary Baptist Association of Texas website. It's now on Drupal and I'm pretty happy with how it came out. My hope is that it's now easy enough to update content that Bro. Reed, who doesn't know html or web coding should now be able to update the site. If not, it'll at least be easier on me on his newphew Justin. I think the site looks much better and less dated now.

I worked on playing with Open GL 3d code engine for my Android Phone. I love my android phone. The 3d code still has a problem with image textures. I can't figure it out. Most everything else I want is working, though. When I have time I'll try to figure it out. My phone has Cyanogenmod 5.0.7-Test5 loaded on it. It's a version of Android 2.1 for the MyTouch 3G phone. It's sweet! I really like having version 2.1 over 1.6 of the Android OS. It's much better. Cyanogenmod for 2.1 is just about as fast if not faster than the 1.6 also.

Roger gave me a payment for the yGED program. Thanks Roger. It was very unexpected because he already paid me for that. It was a pleasant surprise!

I've been churning out a Rolling Ball Sculpture about 1 or 2 a month. This last month a sculpture went really cheap. I was disappointed about that. After that though, so far I've had four different people email me asking if I had anything for sale. I don't do commissioned work anymore and and I don't have anything for sale but I'm working on it. Anyway, I'm not sure if they emailed me because they hope to get a sculpture for cheap too or that they really just want a sculpture? Anyway, I'm working on a 19" wall hanging sculpture with at least two tracks. I won't start the bidding at 99 cents, I'll start it for about $150 or so. I guess we'll find out if these would-be bidders are serious or not. ;-)

I'm becoming the Regex King. Wow, my brain hurts. Regexes are probably ok for one liners but when you have to make a regex that's about a paragraph long. It's very painful and I don't think it should be used anymore. Now imagine a regex that's about one or two pages. Yeah. ugg. It's torture. I've learned a lot, though.

I've learned that once you work somewhere at least 3 years that people rely on you probably more than they should. To the point where even on weekends, the middle of the night and on vacations you get the weirdest calls about something that's extremely important and has to be handled right now along with other tasks that also have to be handled right now. Like these calls couldn't wait until 8am? These are tasks they couldn't warn you about a month previous when it wasn't an urgency. Now that it's five minutes from being due and they need something done that will take at least a week to do. And, guess who's the only one they want to do it? Yep, it looks a lot like me? Guess who gets the credit for it not getting done on time? Yep, that person looks a lot like me too. Yep, I've been trying to push back and ask ahead of time if something needs to be done soon and remind them how many days something takes and how much work it is and how I had working late and on evenings like they get to go home on time but I don't. Guess what still happens? I guess I have that "Kick me" type note permanently tattooed to my forehead or something. Yesterday, I was back sitting at my desk trying to figure out how I can get something done right away, after being grilled and handed my tail on a plate for not having something done right away and in the special way they need or want it done, in which another guy and myself are just helping out on this other project because the original guy didn't do his job on time in the first place. So while I'm sitting there trying to figure out how to be more efficient, another team plops down a bunch of work and says that they need it done right away. Now this is already after I have a couple of other tasks on on the backburner and on hold already. So to recap, I have a couple of other tasks on hold that need to be done right away, I'm getting yelled at for not getting something done right away that another guy should have done but didn't and being told I need to step it up, and then while I'm trying to engineer how to handle that and step it up I get interrupted with more work handed to me. OK, so after that I go to talk to the guy about the project that I get stopped in the hallway and asked to be thinking about yet another new project that needs a bunch of work done right away. Like no foolin? Really? I mean, really? No wait, freakin really? Yes, really! So, that's also besides what I'm already doing that in all of my multitude of "spare cycles" I'm supposed to be also now doing a bunch of other stuff? No, like really? Anyway, I got to go because I think I'm due for another meeting to be told that I'm not getting enough done. I wonder why?

14 Apr 2010 (updated 14 Apr 2010 at 17:08 UTC) »

I had my 45th birthday! Sounds old, doesn't it? But I still think I'm mentally young. Probably immature is more the right word. My body is another story, but oh well.

Before my birthday, I got a free Droid phone and a free Sprint 3G/4G USB device from Google! Woohoo! It was because I created an Android app, had enough downloads, and enough stars that they considered me a worthy Android developer! Little do they know, right! My app is a speedometer that uses the GPS and time difference between samples to calculate the current speed. It displays in analog and digital. No big deal, right? But it got me a phone! Woohoo!

I played with the Droid phone and wanted to keep it but it doesn't work with my T-Mobile. Droid is CDMA and meant for Verizon and T-Mobile is GSM. So the simcard don't fit. :-( Boo! I got the wifi going and surfed the net a little. Wow that phone is fast. The screen is bigger. Oh, how I wanted to keep it. Well, since I can't really use it for phone, I feel it's not really enough to keep it just to try developing on it since I already have the other phone for that.

The 4G dongle I got was for Sprint only. That seemed weird that the phone was for Verizon and the dongle for Sprint, but oh well. So I can't really use the phone or the dongle. They were nice gifts though and worth a lot! Thanks Google! Really!

So anyway, I sold the Droid phone and the 4G dongle on ebay. The phone went for $350 and the dongle went for $142. After the hefty ebay and paypal fees I probably ended up with $390 or so.

For my birthday I spent that money on a laptop! That should be coming soon. I figure I can do my android development on it so the gift might still be a nice developer type thing. I got some additional money for my birthday from my family. So I also bought a refurbished Xbox 360 off ebay. So those were my two big birthday presents, a laptop and an xbox 360!

My daughter and I play the old xbox and we love halo 2. We played through the campaign again recently and did it in less than a week. So we really wanted the xbox 360 so we could get halo 3. Oh, we can't wait until we get it!

The refurbished xbox came with halo3 and gears of war. I also bought guitar hero world tour that comes with guitar, drums, and mic. Bethany already said that wasn't the one to get because of the drum layout. Oh well.

At ROSS (discount store) they had a Halo Warthog RC car. Since we like halo so much, Natalie just had to have it. I helped her buy it. We've been wearing it out around the living room the last few days. Now she has it like a trophie displayed on her shelf right next to the my little ponies and littlest petshop pets. How messed up is that? ;-)

For my birthday we went to Denney's and got a free breakfast. Then we went and saw "How to train your dragon" in IMAX experience 3D. It wasn't the huge wraparound IMAX, just the downgraded cheaper imax. The movie was great! We really enjoyed it. I recommend it. We then went to Mr. Gattis which was the first place I ever had a job when I was 15 years old. Then we went to a Video store and bought two xbox 360 games: Bioshock, and Halo Wars. We went to ROSS and bought the Warthog RC for Natalie. Then we went to Chilis and ate with my Parents. It was a really good day!

I can't wait to get all my stuff I have on order. Perhaps we will check out xbox live at some point.

I've been working some more on another android app. I've been trying to figure out the opengl stuff and writing my own graphics engine which is quite a challenge. I Started out writing my own. I got pretty far. I could draw faces, and shapes, and the world, and I was able to get textures on faces, and music going. But there was so much left to do. Then I found someone else had already written a nice graphics engine. I took it and tried to update it to how I wanted it. There's all sorts of quirkly stuff with android's opengl. I think it's mostly because of the limited amount of memory allocated to it really makes it limited. Complex models seem to be right out. Large textures seem to be out, and any asset filename with underscores seems to make it go wacky, so no underscores. You can't load too big an mp3 for music or it'll freak out. Etc, etc. So it looks like I'm limited to really little games. I figure I'll put data up on my website and have the game download assets periodically. That will add to lag but at least it'll give me a little room here and there. Anyway, I've blown a lot of time on that. It's a love/hate to be learning new stuff sometimes. OpenGL is quite a steep challenge too. Anyway, I got the graphics engine doing some stuff now and it's starting to look acceptable so probably now I can try make something. I'm looking forward to it.

It's snowing here in Texas! I'm stuck here at work and I wish I could go outside and make a snow dalek!

I made some more rolling ball sculptures and things on shapeways. Click here to check them out.

I got an android mytouch phone. (Mine is black not white). Of course this is the first day I've had it, but so far I love it! This all started because I lost my other phone and so my employer told me to get another phone. Nice thing is they reimburse it so it's free to me. It came with a 4gb sd card too! It looks like Android phones are programmed with Java. I know java and I'm happy about that but of course they'll have their own weirdness so i'll have to figure that out. I really like the idea of being able to write apps for my phone! I'm not sure what I want to make but it just seems cool that I can. I've spent most of the day downloading free apps. Wow, I'm impressed what's free for this phone. So I guess for the next few days or weeks I have a big time waster figuring out the phone. Wee!

I've been playing even more with Shapeways.com. I made a Christmas Ornament Rolling Ball Sculpture. I want to 3D print so much more but I just don't have the money to do so. I found an open source 3D printer that looks a little promising and I want one of these: Maker Bot. Watch the video of it in action on their website. I can't really afford one but I think it would be cool if some robot groups like DPRG bought one for their group and then let me greedily use it now and then. :-)

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikVwr1E6hoo

15 Sep 2009 (updated 15 Sep 2009 at 02:09 UTC) »

Lately I've been trying to make robot parts and have them 3D printed in plastic at Shapeways.com. I have made a few rolling ball sculptures with them.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGdUFg_X8mE

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfqH_60ZgFY

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfXCBFxDx6w

I want to make some robot parts. I tried making part of a robot servo leg using a pixel method with a program I wrote.

However, because of the pixels (voxels?) there's too many polygons for shapeways to accept. There's only 4300 faces but I think they turn them into multiple triangles and then it gets nasty like a million of them. As you can see from the image, my program has some strange problem or Turbocad 14 has a weird problem where it removes a small face on the left hand side. I'm not sure if it's real or just a bug with Turbocad 14. I tried downloading MeshLab and Blender but they both have their troubles. MeshLab crashes all the time. When I could get it to work. I could get it to close holes and reduce or decimate the number of polygons but Shapeways would never accept MeshLab's output. Similarly, Blender could reduce polygons but there again I had trouble loading the file into Shapeways. I'm sure it's something I'm doing. Shapeways has to have a totally watertight model for it to be accepted and when I reduce polygons somewhere something gets messed up. I also made a few Christian rings and a few other RBSs but I haven't tried to print anything else except for the three RBSs shown so far.

(Testing putting a line on a curved faced ring)

(Testing putting text on a model & curved face)

(This rbs has a start bucket and an end bucket)

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