Thursday, October 18, 2012


With a little bit of time on my hands I'm finding myself getting into all sorts of hobbies.

When I left school I wanted to go into electronics. Funny story - I didn't have the marks when I left school to get into electronics. I hadn't taken physics and my last year in school was... well I guess I was a little indifferent. All of my inspiring teachers had gone. Some of my subjects had switched to unit standards - a change that I just wasn't having ANY success with. And as a reaction, I was then spending my Saturday mornings being tutored (though truth be told, for the most part, I was having to write lines).

Long story short, I wanted to learn about electronics. I didn't really have the skills to do it. It didn't help that I just couldn't, for the life of me, produce a decent solder joint.

But it's all become horribly exciting. The Arduino combined with the Raspberry Pi makes for some really exciting possibilities. The arduino is capable of doing all sorts of interesting real world stuff - control led's, sense motion, measure distance etc. So I've spent a little money on a few arduinos and am now trying to learn how to use transistors (I get the basic idea but a datasheet looks like a completely foreign language to me - anyone know of a good explanation?).

The Raspberry Pi on it's own is incredibly interesting. It's a underpowered machine.... or is it? It seems it's got a hell of a lot of potential. Making use of OpenGL ES could yield a pretty capable system. But, for my piece, I'm kind of dissatisfied with the current out of the box media player options for Raspberry Pi.

Firstly, given that there's a good chance that you've got more than one TV in the house, and Raspberry Pi's are quite cheap, then they should work together - if I put a USB stick in one, it should be available to every other such media system in a logical way i.e. Instead of organising it based on source, it should be able to combine things. So a drive in one Raspberry Pi has a "Filmz" folder, and another has a drive with a "cinema" folder, then it should just sort it into "Movies". And it should be customizable. So you decide which folders get combined and how.

Secondly, why are we still using remote controls? Currently on my coffee table there are 5 remote controls. Think about it. The highest end remotes are lcd touch devices. Sound familiar? Why aren't we using our cellphones/tablets to control just about everything? And why the hell aren't manufacturers offering this sort of functionality? And given that we can then show controls on a phone/tablet, there shouldn't be a need to show any controls on the screen. 10 foot user interfaces are right out the window. We don't need them. This would remove all sorts of overheads. The current systems feel a little unresponsive.

And then there's photography. You may remember my tourist activities. I was considering buying myself a camera for my birthday. There's a lot more to it than point and click. For example, I came across this. I found the youtube video and decided to have a look at the site. The page is... interesting. The examples are brilliant but the last photo leaves me scratching my head. It's not what it sounds like is it? Could this woman be teaching people photography using "adult entertainment"? Very educational.

At home we're going through some home renovations. A new kitchen (desperately needed), bathroom, a couple of walls knocked out etc. The phone stopped working so I got up in the roof, cut out the bits that are going to have to be removed anyway and reconnected it (twisted together - despite having a junction box I didn't have a punch tool). So then I got to thinking. Why not do away with the old wiring and hook up some ethernet ports around the house? Sure, loads of crawling around under the house and a bit to spend on faceplates (I think I've got everything else) but worthwhile.

Oh that reminds me. I was going to write something of a review here:

The kitchen people - KitchenMania - have left something to be desired. The salesman actually said that his bit was now done. So the person you have formed a sort of relationship with suddenly ups and leaves well before the job is done. The installation left a few things to be desired. The guy who did it was a little surly and left without doing those finishing touches - like adjusting doors - so we've got a door that scrapes (and has already left some damage) with a door. He also cut a hole in one of the cabinets which was just silly - making way for a power point (which I've since had moved - it was the Oven's power point. I can't for the life of me imagine why someone would think it a good idea to put that powerpoint in a cabinet).

The electrician has been brilliant! Nice guy. Very capable. That's MDC Electrical - a guy by the name of Matt Carroll. I'd like to leave his details here, but it's probably best to just contact me offblog if you want his details.

I rang a friend tonight and he mentioned a piece of classical music which had me thinking about the piano I've had sitting in my room since I was 12. The piano's cool (but out of tune - anyone know of someone who can tune a piano?) but it kind of lacks something... an effective way to learn it. So I got thinking about the idea of using a midi keyboard with the computer to show me the notes to play.

Except of course, this is stretching all of those things I don't have a bit far - time and money. I desperately need to start development on Tartare Source soon in order to hopefully be ready to sell my services early next year. And even that's not likely to earn me enough to live off - so there has to be other development.

Edit 19/10/2012:
The guy who did the installation for KitchenMania was back and did a great job. He was in much better spirits. This doesn't make up for the fact that KitchenMania seem to have VERY segmented contact. i.e. Once the salesman, your first point of contact, has earnt their commission, they're no longer in the picture. A project manager is assigned but you only ever meet him once. The installation is done by a contractor so if you have any problems, YOU end up going back to KitchenMania, and eventually get the contractor back out again. This may be business practise but it's absolutely crappy treatment for the customer.

1 comment:

  1. Does this answer your question about transistors?

    For starters in electronics, try this: (free MIT 101 course)

    While it's fine to just jump in and experiment you might as well start with the basics too. The level of math is fairly simple (first year uni stuff) but you can still get a lot out of the lectures even without the theoretical background.