Weekly report

I don’t know what anyone else does with their time, but here’s what I’m on this week.

Homework, Constantly

In Data Warehousing, I’m 3 labs behind. The lab period coincides with another, harder, more interesting class, so I often let it slide a bit. I’m studying the review material like crazy hoping that I can at least make it up on the exam.

In QNX Neutrino, I’m only one lab behind, and utterly fascinated by the material. Did you know that BMW internal computers run on QNX? It’s a little worrying, to be honest, given how frequently my computer crashes. Sometimes it lasts up to 10 minutes without a crash. Dang. For your information, my computer is the only one that acts up so frequently – everyone else is mostly fine.

Later this week I aim to do a tutorial series on what we’ve done in that course so far, for my own benefit and the internet’s.

In Android Development, I’m trying to use a Bluetooth connection to transmit Morse messages. Currently the app does nothing but crash, hurray.

There’s one other course that’s so forgettable I don’t even know what the name of it is. I’m getting an A in that one.

Outside School

Lol, that’s not even a thing.

Ok, well I’m waiting on motorcycle parts so I can become an upstanding citizen with reliable transportation, rather than a bum ecologically friendly person on the bus.

On Monday I want to go to a Saanich City Council meeting to gather some research for my Capstone project, which I’ll write about in the next week or two. May I resist the compulsions to make a stirring speech and alter the course of history. I should make sure I’m better informed first.

Ongoing Projects

  • Find a job next quarter
  • Find a job in Australia
  • Fix my blog layout so it looks good on mobiles
  • Read the QNX textbook cover to cover
  • Make a prototype app for controlling my cochlear implant
  • Improve my current spring rate calculation app so it’s user friendly
  • Get my ass out to bike polo
  • Update this blog a lot more often

Sometimes I get bored. Writing everything out like this reminds me of how much stuff I’m trying to do, and that I have no excuse to be bored at all.

 

 

Elephant

Blank Walls Stare Back At You

Have you ever looked at a blank wall and thought, there needs to be a punk rock elephant there?

The first page of google images gave me exactly what I was after.

Punk_Elephant_by_drchipohpoh

Colour choice was probably the toughest part. Hot pink and lime green were considered, and black with blood red. I settled on the same theme as my bike, Kindergarten Style – blue and yellow.

The exact shade is worth noting. Colours are defined by their hue and saturation. If you’re a web designer, this is something you deal with constantly. If not, think back to middle school art class when you had to make a colour wheel, showing the primary colours, red, blue, yellow, and all the intermediate colours that you get when you mix them up (lots of different types of brown, as I recall). The background of this website, for example, is #424242 – equal parts red, green and blue, fairly saturated, chosen mainly because the number is easy to remember.

colors

 

You can have blue with red overtones or yellow overtones, and it’ll end up looking either a bit purple or a bit green in bright light. Or you can have a yellow with no overtones at all, and no subtlety either.

Saturation is the other thing – intensity of colour. A lightly saturated (20%) pale pink is good for a baby’s bedroom. An unthreatening, cool shade of blue (50%) for a website header, to promote a feeling of trust from your users.

I chose 100% saturated yellow, and 100% saturated blue, cause I feel that you should do it hard or don’t bother.

Costs:

  • Paint, 40 bucks
  • Paint tray, found in a cupboard
  • Rollers, 9 bucks
  • Masking tape, 4 bucks
  • Poster printing, 15 bucks

 

Action!

First step: wash the wall. How many years of bacon grease have baked into this paint?

Then, masking tape and three coats of yellow.


IMG_4418

The next step took a while. How to get the image onto the wall? My first idea was steal an overhead projector from school for a day and use it to make pencil outlines. That was scrapped when my boyfriend sold his car.

The next idea was to print the image, all 5 by 7 feet of it, on many sheets of 8×11 paper. Then… I don’t know… I guess the plan broke down at that point.

Luckily I have a friend at the Camosun print shop. She pointed out that they have a large format printer. That meant I could print 4 big sheets of paper instead of 56 small ones.

So then it was a matter of getting the file to the printer. For some reason I had the idea in my head that I should Photoshop a massive, 5×7 foot .png version of the drawing. Since my laptop has an excessive 16gb of ram, I could do that.But every other computer I tried choked on it, including the printer’s.

Eventually I made it a .pdf and learned to my shock that .pdf file sizes are way, way smaller. So we’re talking about 2 weeks of hum and haw for me to figure this out. Finally I had these 4 huge chunks of paper that I rolled up and left in the corner of my dining room for a couple months.

I was blocked. I had gone as far as I could on my own and was terrified to take the next step, in case I screwed it up. So I called a friend to come over and help me – at least that way I would be forced to actually work on it.

IMG_4425

The friend was more talented than I. We cut the stencils in half an hour. Arranging oddly-shaped ribbons of paper to lie flat on a wall is the sort of task that brings me to tears of frustration. But Suzanne managed it without much trouble – I just passed tape as we placed and replaced the stencils about 4 times.

taped_elephant

Then we traced them in pencil, which also took a surprisingly short time. I didn’t expect to do any painting that day. I thought there were months of work still ahead. But no, we finished tracing and wandered up to Home Depot for sponge brushes (93 cents each), and finished painting in another hour. Shocking.

Here’s the result. Better than I imagined I was capable of. You can see that it’s adjacent to another mural – my brother’s work, from a couple years ago. Now I’ve left my mark in the house as well. When I move out in a few months, some more students will move in and marvel at living in a house where you can paint any silly thing you want on the walls.

this2

I Would Have Sold The Land Years Ago

The landlady will probably sell the place and knock it down pretty soon, but I don’t mind too much.

 

The agonizing process of choosing a new phone

I feel like a complete ass* for even writing this post.

Well, my beloved Blackberry is dying. The charging port is loose and the camera sucks, and these are good enough reasons for a new phone.

blackberry curve with hearts

A bunch of things went into my decision. You should know that the 3 main (only, really) contenders for the new phone were a Blackberry 9360, the new Blackberry Z10 or Q10, and the Google Nexus 4.

Here’s the score:

BB9360:
Familiar clicky keyboard, and I’m a keyboard diehard.
Cheap as chips at $200 or so on eBay.
Already have a BB plan set up on Fido.
Better camera (5mp) than my current phone (3.2mp).
I’ve been really happy with my old phone and this is a slight
upgrade without any real changes.
Total:5

Blackberry Z10 (or maybe Q10):
New shiny
Blackberry loyal
New shiny counts twice
Really good reviews on the virtual keyboard, and I want to
give it a chance.
I would love to develop for the Blackberry platform
My classes+research have me mega-ultra-hyped about the QNX
operating system – I would also love to develop for QNX.

But they want like 600 bucks for it. Oh my god. It’s not like I can afford any of these things. Minus, I don’t  know, 4?

Total:2

Google Nexus 4:
Camera is getting rave reviews – gonna go ahead and award 3 points for this.
New shiny (though only once in this case)
I’m already developing for Android.
Cheap for what you get – $363 shipped.
Factory unlocked.

Total:7

The final factor is that I’m moving to Australia in June. My advance scout reports that it is impossible to do anything in Oz without a smartphone. Ask people for directions on the street, they won’t help you, they just tell you to Google it. Kind of lame, but when in Rome, right? My current BB will not be sufficient in this kind of climate, although it does technically have a web browser. Data is expensive and it won’t let you use wifi without a sim card and a plan.

The Nexus can be used without a plan and is unlocked so I can get onto an Australian network without doing nerd stuff.

Not to mention, AUSTRALIA. I’m going to need pictures. I’m not a good enough photog to justify a nice camera, but I do need pictures.

australia

The price on the Blackberry rules it out – at least for now. I’ll get one when I’m wealthy(er). My Nexus is in the mail.

 

android eating blackberry
Photo found here: http://www.droidforums.net/gallery/droid-wallpapers/p6658-android-eats-blackberry.html

*Is “ass” the right word? I’m thinking of some combination of tech nerd, hipster, tech hipster, first-world-problem-having, latte-sipping metrosexual. Also, girls can be metrosexual, right? I think I’m going to change my gender to “no comment” just in case.

Android Thing for Saving Money on Springs and Avoiding Math

So, my race car is slow, and I cannot afford a new motor because I spend all my money on race cars. Another way to make it faster is to throw in some springs (and shocks) that are a little bit harder than the stock ones.

I flip through the parts catalogue and find some springs that ought to do the trick.Then I look at the price and have a stroke, because they cost like 10 bajillion dollars. Might as well get the new motor – might as well get a new car!

Hmm, maybe there’s a better way. I’m gonna go to the junk yard, where there are tons of perfectly good springs just sitting there in rotten old cars, where I can haul them away for scrap metal money. Dope! Only how do I know which ones are going to be just a little bit harder than my current springs, and also maybe an inch or so lower?

Hey, what. There’s an app for that. Here you go, linky. It is free but feel free to mail me money or whatever, just out of love and sympathy for the fact that I’m broke, and don’t even have a race car.

screencap

Put in some numbers that you can find or measure – the modulus of rigidity has to do with the quality of the steel in your spring – if you don’t know it and can’t find it, 14,947,500 is a reasonable number for Moog springs. Get out your calipers and measure the diameter of the wire. Get out your ruler and measure the diameter of the spring. Count up the number of active coils, you don’t even need a tool for that (just the one in your…head). Whang all the numbers in, and the calculator will tell you the spring return rate. Compare those numbers against the ones for your buddy’s cool blue springs, and find out if the 3 coils in a Ford pickup are equivalent to the 6 coils in your Corolla. And if they are, get those springs, get low, and hold on to your money.

If you want to get super scientific, you can calculate any of the five values, calculating your modulos of rigidity for various springs, averaging them up and so on. I leave it to the nerds to figure that out. I may later add the ability to save spring specs for easier comparing, but this is an MVP. That’s Minimum Viable Product, cause holy cow, I am so new at this game.

Things I learned

First of all, I found an easier way of wiring up an OnClick listener. It turns out you can make one OnClick listener for several buttons that do similar things, rather than creating a new OnClick object for each one. Not that it was relevant in this project anyway, since there’s only the one button.

Another good lesson was How To Avoid Doing Math. I got the formula from a website for shed engineers, as directed by DiscoQuinn (my first customer, lol). I then had a couple of helpful friends (Serge)(Matt) do the basic algebra to convert the formula to solve for the other 4 variables. Then I fed the calculator on the shed engineer’s page 5’s for every value, noted the spring return rate, and used those numbers to write JUnit tests for all the variables. AssertTrue(k == 2.605) and assertTrue(n == 5) for everything else, like so:

I’m really pleased about that.

Overall, I’m happy cause I learned a little bit and made something kind of useful. My code this time around is much more beautiful than what I did in the CFM calculator. One con is that I got so wrapped up in coding this, and enjoyed it so thoroughly, that I let my school work slide a bit. Hopefully by posting this, feature-poor as it is, I can put it to bed and focus on my C homework!

New Post, because it’s been awhile

Some things that have been working for me lately:

  • Taking notes in class. Not exactly a new idea, but at the age of 23, having spent the last 5 years of college, I arrived at a point where I could no longer succeed in class without paying attention to the lectures, and the only way to keep from zoning out is to stay engaged. So I take notes, good ones, obsessively, and it’s helping me stay on top of my work.
  • Drinking water. Better skin, better digestion, better sleep. 8 cups a day is a little excessive, but you need at least 2 or 3 or you’re gonna be gross. If you are already gross, maybe it’s something to look into.
  • Getting in the Zone. When it’s time to work and my brain isn’t co-operating, I hit keybr.com for a while. It’s not exactly making me a better typist – I still hit the wrong keys all the time – but it’s just boring and unrewarding enough to pull me away from Hacker News and into the project I should be working on. When I hit a roadblock in the project, instead of Facebooking to distract myself, I go to keybr to give myself room to think. It helps.

 

Some ideas for posts that I’m getting around to:

  • How to stay warm on a motorcycle when you can’t afford proper gear
  • The ins and outs of bulding a polo bike
  • My adventures in OnClick listener
  • All about my latest Android app

I know there’s a couple of people who check around here even when I haven’t posted on the news aggregators, so those few, those loyal, I’d love to know if any of these ideas grab your attention. Heck, I’d love to hear a couple of really well-crafted insults if you’ve got any handy. It’s looking to be a week of hard, hard work. School is tough! Dang! I want to work on my own stuff!