Summer trip 2015 is going strong! // Live tracking is up and running so you can follow us!


It’s been a week since I went back to work. It’s been a long week.

The amazing thing is that it’s so quick to fall into the “not work” camp. Yes, even though travel is work in many ways. Hell, the well worn definition:

late 14c., “to journey,” from travailen (1300) “to make a journey,” originally “to toil, labor” (see travail). The semantic development may have been via the notion of “go on a difficult journey,” but it also may reflect the difficulty of any journey in the Middle Ages. Replaced Old English faran. Related: TraveledtravelingTraveled (adj.) “having made journeys, experienced in travel” is from early 15c. Traveling salesman is attested from 1885.


To toil, labor.

It’s different work.

If things work well no one but you benefits. If things break, likewise.

I’m remembering fixing the suspension before we left. It was all us. It was all me. All the work. All the reward.

All the blame.

All the victory.

Sometimes it’s the easy things

My neighbor across the street had some electrical issues a month or two back. What happened was a line (I’m guessing a 480V line) got snagged somehow and shorted itself to one of the inputs to their house.

Well, the stuff that normally runs at 120V was none too pleased.

Some TVs, a printer, their oven, and a bunch of things stopped working.

They also had a treadmill that “was fried.” They hauled it into their garage (geez, I would like a garage!) and it sat there until today when they asked me to take a look at it.

My guess going in was that something like a resistor or a capacitor was fried, or perhaps one of the DC-DC converted control chips. I took things apart (which, by the way, is the hard part) and managed to get to the AC input board. I saw a fuse, so I slapped on the multimeter.


Ok, well, the first thing I touched was broken.

Radio Shack and back, I had another set of 500mA delay-blow fuses.

Reassemble. Hope that things are alive.


it works.

I was all getting ready to try to do some real debugging, diagnosis, and repair.

I swapped a fuse.


At least it’s all working. Now they have to start working out!  :-P

Android — Oops

Well, it’s been commonly reported that Android has a massive and I mean absolutely massive security hole.

This is absolutely horrific.

A simple text message (with some video) can root a phone.

Today, where I work at Amazon, we turned off Android devices from talking to our systems.

Holy crap.

For Android, Google has to make a fix, pass that to the phone and tablets makers, then have them pass it to the carriers. Finally they have to do an OTA (over the air) update

With Apple, well it’s Apple.

This, this, is why I’m happy that I’m on iOS.


Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC - is something I don’t play at work. If something is working, I’m not going to be the one to fault it. If something’s all f’ed up, I’ll be the first in line to say the emperor has no clothes.

That’s the thing in the world of software. It’s not like politics in Washington, but rather — in the long term at least — a very egalitarian environment. The ideas that are good tend to rise to the top. The smokescreens around the bad ideas will eventually get blown away to show reality for what it is.

I just happen to create that breeze from now and then. (No, no fart jokes… too easy)

Standing desk!

Our manager was out of town for a few days.

We decided to make him a standing desk.

Like, really, standing.


Now it’s just strange talking. I know what short people feel like… getting a crick in my neck just looking up.

Tire Troubles

Before the trip I mounted up some new rubber onto Matilda. I spooned on the new set of TKC-70 tires and things were good.

Until they weren’t.

On the trip I started to notice a bit of high-speed wobble coming from the front. Looking online I noticed that other folks were complaining about the same problem.

The general consensus is that the design of the front tires tread blocks is such that some of them tend to grab the road and give a lateral kick. This sets up a sideways force that will eventually lead to that oscillation. I’m happy I have a steering damper on the bike to help tame this!

It even has a physical manifestation — very strange wear.

I’m measuring two adjacent tread blocks at the same point. One has 5.81mm of life left and the other has 3.40mm remaining.

If you look a further down you can see the pattern clearly: the bigger central blocks are obviously overhanging the smaller side blocks.

Thankfully Continental, the manufacturer of these tires, is stepping up and [hopefully] buying them back. In the email exchange they stated:

Hello George,
Thanks for contacting us about your tires. You should return to the dealer you purchased the tires from so your tires can be inspected and be returned to their distributor for credit and enter our system where they can be logged in and available for our engineers to inspect.


I ordered a new set of different branded tires to mount up next weekend. Metzelers this time.

If and when I hear back I’ll update you guys on the progress.

Futzing with circuits

Quick one today… I didn’t even bother taking pictures of the end result since it wasn’t much to look at.

I was looking around the Cypress (semiconductors, not the plant or the country Cyprus) web site and saw a little circuit:

The cool thing is I’m starting to understand this!  :-D

First off you have a level-shifter in the form of a capacitor C1. The right side of the capacitor is being held at half-rail by the high-impedance connection (I used a 1MΩ resistor since that’s what I had in stock) to a voltage divider formed by R2 and R3. (I used 150Ω again… stock)

Here’s where I was proud of myself: I looked at the first op amp (top blue triangle) and thought “voltage buffer.” I looked it up and I was right! Then I looked at the bottom op amp and thought “hmmm… op amp as comparator with a bit of hysteresis.” The + side is connected to a voltage divider (R4, R5) and there’s minimal feedback from R6. (I used 1KΩ for R4 and R5 and 10KΩ for R6)

Again, it worked out.

I built up the circuit (skipping the first stage op amp hypothesizing that it’s not needed since the op amp already presents a high-impedance load on it’s input) and… Whoa! It worked! At first I used a quad op-amp that was rated to 1MHz and sure enough, I was able to push perhaps 50KHz though it before it was slew-rate limited in making something that looked like a square wave. I replaced it with another 160MHz rated one and I was able to get around 10MHz before my shoddy breadboarding’s poor impedance matching was starting to wreak havoc with the signal integrity.

This isn’t rocket science to me any more. Not just that but I was able to just whip it together with parts I had in stock and measure it and drive it with instruments I had on my bench already.

So freaking neat!  :-D

It’s one thing to read about this, but it really does seem a lot more tangible when you’re looking at it and, quite literally, poking at it.

GoPro Hero4 Black // Sigh

One of the GoPros I took on the Canada trip decided to die early on in the trip… I reported to GoPro since this is clearly a warrantee claim, so I’m wondering how they’re going to handle the situation.

I’ll keep you posted. I’m happy that at least one of these cameras worked for the trip.

I’m guessing I just got a dud.


Yaay Amazon!

And we had The Head and the Heart and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play our party!


Oh, and our stock price went up too.

All good, all around.  :-D

Home. Trip 2015 in the books.

Long story short, we’re home.  :-)  (well, got home last night anyway)

Why early?

Well, skipping Whitehorse cut out two days of trekking all over the Yukon. We were sitting at Liard Hotsprings and thought “why are we going to Whitehorse anyway?” Looking between us led to no real breakthroughs, so we just skipped it.

The other couple of days came from the trip back from Stewart. Stewart to Prince George was supposed to be two days. It started off wet and when we got a break in the weather we didn’t want to risk it and just pushed on. Similarly, Prince George back home was supposed to be two days, but we were making good time and when we got to the half-way point at around 2PM we were both bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and decided that stopping four hours from home just seemed silly.

So, four days short from that.

I’ll be pulling pictures and video soon so those should start to trickle in soon too.  :-D

Tired… but rested.

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