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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wohbits 2007.12

some neat tidbits from the past 24h:

mah chumby is teh kyoot

Earlier this week I finally received my Chumby, a small soft hardware device with a color touch-screen, speakers, an accelerometer sensor and squeeze switch (amongst other features). It took until this weekend for me to unwrap it and hook it up.

There are plenty of other blogs describing the out-of-the-box experience, so I’ll just briefly mention my first impressions:

  1. The device’s build quality is good, but I had been hoping for more out of the squeeze sensor than what’s built in.
  2. Just in case you didn’t pick it up from other posts, this is a tethered device – requires a “wall-wart” power adapter. I may look into short-life-span battery power for the thing, primarily because I see this developing into an audience-interactive MIDI controller (assuming I ever perform live again).
  3. It was very, very simple to get up and running.
  4. If you have a full-length WPA2 password on your wireless, be prepared to “type blind”. The entry box isn’t large enough to display every character. On the confirmation screen it will display the entire password for you.
  5. Yay Linux.
  6. Yay SSHD built right into the control panel (through a hidden screen).
  7. I need to re-study ActionScript. At least there is an open-source flash development alternative. The last place I used this stuff would have been for former employer DentsuFUSE and the Dentsu Ad Museum (anyone in Tokyo know if the exhibit is still running?)

The following picture should say it all (yes, that’s ICHC on the chumby) :

ecchi and chumby

If Ecchi approves, it’s a guaranteed hit.

rohs sucks

And EDN agrees. I don’t build equipment to last 2-3 years, I build it to last 200-300 years, at least.  I rely on lead to make that happen reliably and cost-effectively. And, I ensure that any electronics I stop using is recycled appropriately. It just makes sense. EDN further proves that RoHS legislation is actually going to have a worse environmental impact than the way we have been doing things.

Join the fight @ RoHSUSA to free us from ridiculous lead-free requirements in electronics.

linux-raid and sata hotplug support?

Anyone out there know anything about linux-raid (md) and support for sata (libata) hotplug? I’ve got access to this machine that has an external 4-bay SATA enclosure that has smart trays. Pull the lever, the drive spins down, you swap it out. (This avoids having to implement what the libata guys are talking about, though I’d like to see this support added as well.)

I’d like to, in the event of drive failure, just pull the drive and replace it, without monkeying around at the CLI. But even though libata supports hotplug, and the tray takes care of the details (no emergency head dumps, no drive wear, etc.) I don’t think md is happy about it. At the moment I think I’d have to remove the drive from the array, then pull it, then add a new one, then add the drive to the array.

The latest linux-raid post on it I could find is about a year old and shows no progress on a solution.


tone it down, apple fans

The original 1984 MacintoshPeople seem to have gone nuts over this new phone thing from Apple. I am not really getting it – it’s a convergence device, sure, but I don’t see anything revolutionary, except perhaps the multifinger touchscreen, and the fact that it’s an ultraportable running OSX. I’ll avoid listing the positives and negatives in detail, because everyone else already has done….

I wanted to remind people of what innovation from Steve Jobs & his crew used to look like…and also a poignant reminder of the fact that these keynote addresses are about 20% technology, 80% showmanship.

Jump to Trunk Monkey’s copy of the Lost 1984 Mac Video. (And while you’re there, watch the trunk monkey videos!)

Oh, and Woz, if you’re out there reading this, Apple ][ Forever! ;)

biker chiq

I am now a fully-licensed motorcyclist, with a fully-licensed bike, a 1978 Honda CB750 Supersport (more pictures).  I’ve fixed up the bike a bunch since these photos were taken; expect new pictures by the end of today.
Big, big thanks to Cat, who taught me everything I know about wrenching bikes, and Chris, who helped us fix it and built the shed around it (and even made us cocoa at 2AM on a late Saturday night while we replaced the chain!)

Now, where should I ride to?  Any suggestions for good day-trips within reach of Toronto?

Also, seems Atlassian picked up my previous post about their awesome tools, JIRA and Confluence.  I’m just tickled pink about the functionality, as is everyone at my former employer.  Though they have their own free license, I’m pondering shelling out a bit for a 50-user license to run my own project sites, such as the ircd-hybrid stuff, and the Voyetra 8 and Andromeda A6 synthesizer sites.  It’d pay for itself in no time…maintaining HTML lists by hand is so early-1990s.  ;)

joanbits for 2005.12

  1. The new Doctor Who box set (Season 27) rules. “Are you my mummy?”
  2. Our house LAN party was fun, mostly for the company. I didn’t get to play a single game, because the bastards insisted on playing games I don’t like, like C&C Generals and BF2. Blah. At least we got a couple of games of in!
  3. The poncho is almost done. Really. (It’ll be done just in time for it to be way too cold for me to wear out of the house.)
  4. The Voyetra 8‘s mixer board is almost done being rebuilt. I’ve put on new electrolytics, all new 1% resistors (love them blue bodies), and machined sockets for all the ICs (even ones that weren’t socketed before). I’m in the middle of cleaning up the BOM/parts list, entering the schematic and the new WollyView™ system will leave you begging for more.
  5. I’m learning to work just a little bit less hard, and on a few less things at once. That’s not easy for me.
  6. The house has acquired a really beat-up arcade cabinet. The marquee says “Q*Burt” (yes, with a u) and has a Jamma board for SNK’s Prehistoric Isle in 1930 horizontal scrolling shooter game. Even if we can get the JAMMA board working again, we’re likely to convert it to a MAME box anyway. I’ll try and get some photos up soon, but don’t expect much — the cabinet has seen far better days.