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Almost a Tradition

Posted 2011.07.03 10.04 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

This has happened often enough now that it is almost a tradition…

On Canada Day, I host a BBQ for family and friends. Then within a few days, a significantly large branch comes down on the area where we had been partying.

This happened during a storm last night – and for the first time I actually got to witness it. The limb originated about 30 feet up a walnut tree. These branches themselves are about 15 to 20 feet long. Fortunately there was no damage done at ground level as the branches landed up-side-down, and their foliage absorbed most of the impact. Then they toppled over to settle on the table next to the BBQ.

Previous years have seen a BBQ nailed & destroyed, the picnic bench took a direct hit, a large potted plant was crushed, even the outdoor fireplace was pierced one year.

This angle isn’t much better – the base is over by the outdoor fireplace, the top is in the green bush towards the left, behind the green arch.

And Now For Something Blinky

Posted 2011.01.06 9.59 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Hobbies by Stephanie

It’s (pocket-sized) blinkin’ flashin’ heaven.

The LoL Shield (Lots of LEDs) is an add-on board for the Arduino microcontroller prototyping device.

One hundred and twenty-six LEDs, all on a space of about 3″ by 2″, all a-blinkin and a-flashin.

Of course the first thing I wanted to do was run Conway’s Game of Life on there. Turns out there was a GoL program already made, in the associated library / examples. Still, I had to tweak it a bit to get it to work ‘just so’.

Now all I gotta do is replace the Arduino with something smaller, maybe just the Atmega uC, add some batteries and put it in a little portable case.

Real electronics should glow in the dark.

Edited to add: Click here to download my updated / tweaked version.

Mai Foam Fore

Posted 2010.08.21 9.38 in Computers/Internet/Technology, iPhone by Stephanie

Yay! It finally arrived!

The Fedex man came to the office yesterday with my shiney new iPhone 4, direct from the Apple factory in China.

Believe it or not, I’ve never even seen one before in person – I’d ordered it completely sight-unseen and in the 3 weeks since then, I haven’t seen anyone else with one yet.

Immediate first impressions – it feels solid. The iPhone 3 and 3Gs both feel ok, but the curvy sides and plastic back does make it feel… well curvy and plastic. The iPhone 4 however, feels positively solid. Steel alloy all around, and some kind of magic glass on the front and back, make it feel heavy without feeling, well, heavy.

Like in a pinch you could slip it into a sock and make it into a weapon… though I wouldn’t really recommend that.

Some people have said they don’t like the squarish sides, prefering the form factor of the previous models. I’m in the opposite camp – having held this in my hand, I find it much more aesthetically pleasing than the earlier iPhones.

The screen is pretty, the ‘Retina display’ that they were hyping… It is bright and sharp and vibrant.

And of course, the blinky light! The blinky light is impressively bright. I tried using it as a flashlight last night and I was like woah, is there a way to dim it a bit? It’d probably ruin the whole function as a camera flash, but I’d like to slip a wee bit of blue gel in there so it was a blue blinky light. I’ll resist, for now.

Anyhow, to summarize: It’s cool, I like the form factor better than the earlier models, it feels solid and well-built, but pictures cannot do it justice – you really have to see and feel it in person.

Cool Laser Pic

Posted 2006.09.08 0.00 in Lasers by Stephanie

I was playing around with lasers and my digital camera last night and got this pic.

It’s a 7mW Red (635nm) and a 60mW Green (532nm). The lasers were side-by-side, only about 1.5 inches apart, and aiming just under the camera. The camera was about 10 feet away from the lasers, and the pic was taken in the dark with a long exposure.

I love all the light patterns going on, and the way the two beams seem to converge into a brilliant yellow flare.

Red and Green Lasers

Still More Fun With Lasers!

Posted 2006.07.29 0.00 in Lasers by Stephanie

I went down to the basement and dug up an old Helium Neon laser I bough several years ago at a surplus store. It’s low powered, definately <5mW and perhaps even <2mW.

I took a bunch of pictures of it, and some comparison shots of it and my Pulsar and Greenie. With the HeNe dot and the Pulsar dot next to each other, you can see the difference in wavelength. The HeNe is 632.8 nm and the Pulsar is 650 nm – the difference between Orange/Red and a deeper Red.

Obviously, the word of the month is Lasers!

Helium Neon Laser
HeNe Laser Tube Exposed

HeNe Laser vs Pulsar
HeNe Laser vs Pulsar

HeNe Laser vs Greenie
HeNe Laser vs Greenie