Solutions looking for problems

I hate when someone comes up with a new feature or technology and only after that start looking for a problem.

Worse still is when someone looks at it with the same attitude of “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

I ran into this today with the cover that I got with my Kindle Voyage. The Kindle is spectacular like I had expected it — that’s a review for another day. The cover is bad though.

It started with the idea of the Origami cover Amazon used for the Fire tablets. It’s a cool idea that lets you prop up those tablets in a variety of orientations. Coolness. There you get a hammer.

The Kindle Voyage is the nail.

186g. Nice.

130g? Not so nice. All the magnets in the cover weight a ton. (well, 130g)

Who props open a book like that anyway?

Not only that, but the cover is now floppy. Oh, and the cover opens like a notepad not a book. This is only half the problem though. The bigger problem is that the schmick capacitive page turn “buttons” you work with your thumb. The way you hold the Kindle+Cover combination forces you to cantilever the weight of the combo onto your thumb. Congrats, you just turned a page accidentally.

Sometimes you need to take a step back before swinging that hammer at what you perceive to be a nail.

Meat Concentrate

En posted to Facebook yesterday about our new dehydrator.

Yep… we got a pretty good one. Like a Mercedes of dehydrators — not a Bentley, nor a Toyota. A good Excalibur one.

The shipping was rather trying though. For the most part Amazon does a fine job with packaging things for shipment. This time, however, the ball was dropped rather spectacularly.

Yep. That’s more-or-less how it showed up. It was actually worse (if you can believe it) because the paper packing was even more compressed in transit. To top it off the knobs were no longer affixed to the unit! They fit right back on, but it was still rather annoying. Frankly I’m amazed it didn’t break in transit.

But, that being said, it works like a champ.

Yesterday we made our first batch of jerky. We transformed 2.7 pounds of beef into 1 pound of tasty jerky.

This is also where I get a new appreciation of jerky. That ziplock has the result of around two of those pounds in it. I could eat it in one sitting.

That would me be eating two pounds of beef crammed into 3/4 pound of jerky. (I took some to work which is why the maths don’t add up)

!

And yes, it really is rather tasty.  :-)

We used this online recipe for jerky to make it. Next time I’ll make some modifications though and use less soy sauce and even more spice. (and less marinade overall)

Randomness, Parties, Humor

Last night I went to a Halloween party with a friend of mine.

This was a friend-of-a-friend type affair. I wound up knowing a couple of folks by the end of the night.

One new connection simply reinforced the notion that everyone in Cleveland wants to move out here (source: me, Key Bank). She grew up in Cleveland Heights right by Coventry. Even though it was a while back she knew exactly where I was talking about when I told her “Mayfield and Green.”

It’s a small world… now where it seems there’s a portal between Cleveland and Seattle.

But that’s not the point at all.

The chair was broken and this was how the party-goers were persuaded to not sit there. It was already occupied by these happy skeletons..

:-P

How can you not LOL?

Vote No on WA-594

We had a campaign worker try to get us to vote yes on WA-594. We had to advise him about how he was misleading voters before he left us alone.

WA-594 in a ballot initiative to limit gun transfers in Washington. It basically makes just about any transfer of a firearm between two people — sale or not — illegal without an FFL handling the transfer and doing a background check.

This seems innocuous enough, right?

We pressed to see what the purpose of this would be? Obviously to cut down on criminal activity, right?

He agreed. “It can’t hurt” he added.

Then I pointed out that criminals are criminals because they don’t follow the laws.

But let’s take a look at it closer. While it has some exemptions for training of kids (under 18), for the most part all transfers, even between members of your family, are transfers under the law. Doing so will get you labeled a felon if you are caught doing it. Basically it’s putting up a huge barrier to you legally owning and using a firearm for both self defense and sporting purposes.

If, for instance, I’m at the trap range with my friend from work and he wants me to try out his new gun (sweet shooting gun I have to say) the act of him handing me the gun at the range would make us both felons. How is that a good thing?

All that’s going on is a ruse to make people think they’re doing something useful. It’s not.

A good read documenting the myths of 594 can be found here.

It’s easy to think that you’re doing something worthwhile and voting against your own interests if you just listen to the simple-minded rhetoric of the folks campaigning for 594. All you wind up with is laws that make honest people into criminals and the criminals won’t have any difference anyway.

Yes, it can hurt.

Like I told the campaign worker as he walked away: “I urge you to vote No on 594.”

Apple, you’re such a tease

Last night I tried to order a new iPad but their web site wasn’t ready to exchange my monies for their goods and services. This morning at 8:00 AM their store went back up and I was able to order up a new iPad Air 2.

I presently carry around an iPad 4. I got it a couple of years ago and I skipped the iPad Air because I perceived it to be not a big enough upgrade. Honestly the tipping point is that the Air 2 is the Touch ID sensor.

Anyway…  I just got a ship notification for my order.

I’m getting the case for the iPad on Thursday. The day before I get the iPad.

Gaaahhh!!

#firstworldproblems

More blast from the past

I have an invite to a Halloween party and I started thinking back to the old days at Insurance.com.

Starting in the second year I always dressed up. Dressed up as a girl.

It started off more-or-less as a dare after I mentioned that I did Rocky Horror. I cleared dressing up as Rocky Horror (in floor-show get-up!!) with HR first. I’m sure she regretted that decision.

After that I had a reputation to live up to.

Ten years ago in 2004 this was my costume:

Yep. Slutty school girl.

The whole day.

This was in a skirt I borrowed from a co-worker. And she was a tiny girl. (I can say that because this really was her school girl skirt from when she was really in school.)

Good times.  :-)

Early adopter

A while back I wrote about ordering up a Saleae logic analyzer.

It arrived today and I eagerly opened up the box and plugged it into my computer.

Here’s where I learned that the software to run it is still in beta. It certainly felt that way since I was only able to do one or two captures before I had to reboot the analyzer by unplugging it and plugging it back in.

I’m sure they’ll sort out the problems, but it’s still somewhat disappointing to get something that only works kind of. Perhaps most of the dev work has been done on Windows and not on Mac… but that’s a lot of the reason why I decided to get this one — because it works (or at least is supposed to work on a Mac.

I’ll keep it for a bit to see how it shakes out. If it doesn’t it has a six month return policy. I hope I don’t have to use it.

Dangerous road?

There’s a road that I drive on often enough that seems to cause a bunch of motorcycle accidents.

The viaduct connects north and south Seattle. It’s one of the two north-south main arteries in Seattle, the other one being I-5.

The viaduct is a double-decker bridge that runs next to the Sound. It was damaged in the last earthquake and there’s long and eventful process we’re digging a tunnel to replace it. In the interim there are a few curves as you get to the end of the bridge portion and where the ground part begins.

The speed limit on the stretch is 40 mph. On the curves there’s an advisory limit of 25 mph.

Here’s the thing: the curve is nice and gentle and I really don’t know how someone can lose a bike without doing something very stupid. Even in the wet 40 mph isn’t near the edge. (yes, I know what the edge feels like)

Honestly, I have no idea how someone can have a solitary crash here.

I know I don’t want to sound overconfident with my own skills, but at the same time I can’t see what’s going on with this stretch of road.

I <3 dirty bikes

Leaving work today I got a compliment on my bike. The cleanliness of it — or rather the lack of it.

“I keep wanting to see an ad for a bike like that,” the other Amazonian said, “that says ‘never been off road.'”

That would truly be sad in my opinion.

A bike like mine comes from the factory ready to take a bit of a beating. You have the crash bars to protect the engine. Head guards to protect the valve covers… I’ve tested both in the past. Even the panniers, while not being designed to be bashed around too much can take more of a pounding than you you expect.

I like the nice patina of dirt.

When would I wash the bike?

When it rains. ;-)

You can argue that cleaning the bike lets you take a good close look at the bike to make sure that things are still OK… don’t get me wrong — I still do that. I just rather spend time riding the bike and getting it dirty rather than spend all my time cleaning it.

(Note: If I was riding in a salty setting like Cleveland, yes, I would clean the bike. I don’t want rust. Muck is one thing, rust is quite another.)

Napkin Sketches

Above you see the building block for the USB charger thingy that I’m planning that I sketched out over drinks while waiting for dinner tonight.

Up on top is the USB port with the +5 and GND. The D+ and D- pins are connected to a pair of voltage dividers to pull the voltage to +2.0V and +2.8V to indicate the charger is capable of high-current operation.

To the right is the current sense resistor (figure around 0.02Ω) which over a 2.1A current would give a 0.042V voltage drop. That pipes into a 100x sense amp.

Finally you have a MOSFET to turn the whole beast on and off.

I’m figuring that each of these beasties would be on the back side of the board from the USB connector to get the highest packing density.

Finally each bank of eight ports will need three bigger (relatively) chips to support. One for the current sense multiplexing. One for the FET control multiplexing and the final one to control the switch to short out D+ and D-. I think I can back this pretty densely so from the top it looks like two 16-port USB plug arrays.

Alternately I can shorten the board to be two banks of eight ports.

No matter what I think I’d need to run this on a 4-layer process to get the most copper between the voltage source and the USB ports. This has a 68A load going over it so even a small resistance will have an appreciable voltage drop that I’m trying to avoid.

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