camera dead

You might have noticed that my last few posts have been image-less. This isn’t because I’m protesting visual communication. I love it – in fact, I’m downright jealous of what most other bloggers pull off with the visual design of their sites!

My camera died. Yeah, the “new old” Olympus C-5050 I bought broke. I only have myself to blame. The camera was on my kitchen counter. I reached for it, but scooted it off the counter, dashing it on the floor. The damage could have been worse – only the mode dial came off. I can’t just reattach it using the screw hack someone posted, because the impact on the floor cut through traces on the flexible PCB. And they’re too fine to bridge easily. Besides, disassembling to the point where I could even consider repairing that damage ended up cracking a couple of very delicate plastic tabs, ones designed to hold the whole thing together. I could try and glue all of it together, but…

Someone on eBay has the entire mode dial assembly for $39, plus $8 for shipping to Canada. Soon I’ll have a working camera again, and by then the studio should be warmer, so lots more pictures and music for everyone.

Oh, and I’ll have my first actual honest to goodness conference submission done by then too (deadline: Dec. 18th). It’s been a long time coming but it’s good to have actual research data and prepare it for publication again. YES!

joanbits 2008.03

As the snow finally melts away, I start to get busier and busier. Here’s what I’ve been up to the past week:

  • Work: supporting new projects as usual, writing position papers, working on newsletters, technical enablement, beta testing.
  • House: cooking every night (pasta from scratch, ramen from scratch, gourmet hamburgers…will try and post some pics soon), planning garden, staring at wall that needs repairing and trying to motivate to fix it, regular cleaning, indoor gardening…
  • School: Developing axiology, epistemology, methodology for design research approach. Gave guest lecture on internal Wikipedia politics.
  • Other: Dealing with horrendous migraine. Developing novel database application. Attended One Of A Kind show with friends and got fabulous clothing, jewelry, housewares. Reverse engineering synth. Looking at motorcycle today. Petting cat to deal with stress from everything else i listed.

thing-a-day 2008 over

Here’s a photo collage of the most photogenic things I made for this year’s thing-a-day. Edit: If you can’t view the video below, the original is here.

I’d recommend thing-a-day to anyone who is looking to push their comfort zone and prove to themselves that they can be creative, and can produce something a day. It was eye-opening for me.

steampunk workspace

There’s been a lot of blog linkage recently to steampunk computing modifications – steampunk keyboard one-offs, commercial keyboard offerings, laptops, R2-D2s, etc. I love the aesthetic, but I don’t really have the time (or cash) to fully modify my computing setup. Instead, when it came time to soundproof my 2nd story home office, and I had to remount my Ergotron laptop/monitor/keyboard arms, I decided to add some “steampunk” appointments.

Behold the steampunk Ergotron pole mounts:

More pre-construction, fabrication and glamour shots are available. Details after the jump.
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i has a singer

Craigslist, for free: “Singer. NO. 95K40 machine. Manufactured July 1949. For light and medium weight fabrics. Maximum stitch 7 to the inch. Drop feed. Knee lifter. Maximum 4,000 stitches per minute.”

95K40 - with its table

Close-up of the 95K40

bessie has new red lipstick

In my copious spare time, I finally got around to repainting my bike. Well, let me rephrase that. I had no choice but to paint my bike.



(Click for huge versions.)

Also, people seem to like this photo of me in mah paintin’ gear:

The rest of the story:
See, last year, where I lived, there were 2 steps down from the house to the street. I couldn’t keep the bike parked on the street, so it had to go behind the house. That meant navigating down those two steps every time I wanted to take the bike for a ride. Unfortunately, one day I got stuck on the step, and very slowly dropped the bike. The tank dented, and I was broken-hearted.

So this year I drained the tank and took it to the local body shop around the corner. They agreed to fix it up for $100, including priming. When I went to pick it up, they told me that it actually had been dented a long time prior, and that rather than fixing the dent, someone had just puttied it up. No wonder it dented so easily! They did a great job. I was left with a bike with a shapely tank, but a finish that made ya think of old Maaco TV commercials.

Then it turns out that Honda didn’t start providing codes to manufacture reproduction colours of bikes until the mid-80s. So I’d have to eye-match the colour. As I researched, it turned my bike’s year (1977/1978) only had two colours available: Candy Presto Red and Excel Black, and not the blue it was painted! I’m too much of a stickler for details to feel OK leaving it blue, so I had to make a choice. I didn’t really want to make the bike black (do not get me started on Harleys…) so the natural choice was the red.

My only source for the colour being a couple of grainy photos, I needed a bit of luck. Fortunately I found a great paint shop in town (Roberts Auto Supply) who hooked me up with not only the right colours (base silver coat from the International [Harvester] colour book, a perfect red match from the Kenworth colour book, and clearcoat) but also with a great deal on an HVLP spray gun. (I already had a compressor to drive it.)

The big tip from the paint shop was to over-reduce (dilute) the red coat (1:1 instead of 2:1, paint:reducer). I then applied this from a farther distance than you’d apply a regular spray coat, but not quite as far as a “drop coat.” This let the silver base coat shine through the red, making it extra reflective and keeping the red looking translucent.

If folks are interested, I can post the exact codes (Sherwin-Williams) and more details on the process. Just leave me a comment and I’ll get around to it.

an atypical manifesto

il manifesto, by

I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t been giving back to “the community,” nor have I even found time to read what “the community” is writing. engtech says:

“…blogging is a 10 to 50 hour a week commitment when you include reading and commenting on other blogs. Blogging takes away from other aspects of your life. Are you prepared to make that kind of commitment? Is anyone?

I’ve realized I don’t blog here. I journal. I’m leaving a trace. It’s time to explain my motivation:

An Atypical Manifesto
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a week of accomplishments

This week I have:

  • passed my Gearing Up course, certifying me for an M2 motorcycle license (and a substantial insurance discount!)
  • with a substantial dose of doozer’s help, finished constructing the bike shed (photos to follow)
  • completed the remaining fixup required to my 1977 Honda CB750 (photos also to follow)
  • finished off a bunch of interviews
  • got promoted to Officer in Training with my crew in Puzzle Pirates, and received my officer training
  • got out of the house more than last week
  • cooked a lovely meal
  • helped a lovely woman and her 1 year old move into waynemanor
  • spoke with my advisor at OISE/U of T and feel hopeful about advancing into the Ph.D. program there

I feel…..fantastic!