Amazon hurts consumerism in Western New York

I just recently completed my move from Chicago to Brockport, NY.  Happily, all of our belongings survived the move more-or-less undamaged, and we are close to having everything unpacked and in its new location.  One problem we had during the unpacking was the box spring for our bed; there was no way that a queen-size box spring was going to make it through the small space occupied by our stairway.  The box spring is ancient and we had intended to leave it in Chicago, so purchasing a new one was in the plans.  I didn’t realize what a pain it would be.

Continue reading Amazon hurts consumerism in Western New York

New adventures

It was a busy week for me, starting off with a birthday celebration, culminating with Star Wars Day, and it happened to be my last week of teaching at Chicago State.

I have a fake facebook account floating around on the interweb. My original intention was to use it to snoop into other people’s lives and maybe take advantage of a special offer or two. Since the birthday I entered on that account is false, the few real friends of mine who found the account typically wish me a happy birthday some time in the fall. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t do facebook either, so she isn’t fooled by the alternative facts found on-line and knows when to really celebrate my birthday, and she did so this year with a pyramid of lava cakes.

Full disclosure, this picture does not have enough calories in it, so coffee ice cream and freshly made maple-syrup flavored whipped cream were added post production.

Continue reading New adventures

Predicting elemental properties for #RealTimeChem Week

Happy #RealTimeChem week everybody.  What, you don’t know what it is?  Neither did I, untill I happened to read about it over at Compound Interest . (You guessed it, I’ve got lots of grading to do so I’m procrastinating again.) Since the theme this year centers on the four new elements that have been added to the periodic table, and I have an affinity for the table and all its secrets, I thought it might be fun to take advantage of the periodic properties of the table and predict some of the characteristics of the new elements.

Continue reading Predicting elemental properties for #RealTimeChem Week

Bake my Pi and eat it too?

Do you ever wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, so you decide to mess around with your Raspberry Pi, only to find out that the SD card has been baked and the operating system doesn’t load? This seems to happen to me more often than I’d like (both the waking up early and the baked RPi). There must have been something in that instant coffee (didn’t want to wake my wife with the noise of the coffee machine) and Italian Sweet Creme flavored creamer (instant coffee tastes awful without it) because I was able to come up with a reasonably clever solution to my problem this time.

Continue reading Bake my Pi and eat it too?

C2E2 – Working on my Chicago bucket list

One of the things I absolutely had to do before leaving Chicago is to attend C2E2 – the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Every year I’ve been here, I’ve remembered I needed to get tickets a week after the event ended!  This time, with Chicago State cancelling spring break and me having to forfeit my trip to New Mexico, I was determined not to miss the event.

Turns out I don’t know much about popular culture.

Continue reading C2E2 – Working on my Chicago bucket list

Optimizing data acquisition

This is the first of a new series (tag) Dancing with Wolfram.  Occasionally, I need to work through programming strategies in Wolfram, and I need a place to store my ideas.  Perhaps they will be useful to others.

The problem

When collecting data from a sensor, one wants to generate a list of {x, y} pairs where x is typically time and y is the sensor reading.  One way of doing this is to create an empty list and then using Mathematica’s AppendTo function to add elements to the list.  The problem with this approach, however, is that it is not very efficient.  The function call makes a copy of the original list each time, and when the list of data gets very large, the time it takes to store a data point increases.  Below, I’ve plotted the average time needed to store a datapoint as a function of the list size.  For comparison, I’ve collected data (times measured on a Raspberry Pi v2)  using AppendTo with a list (blue dots) and adding key -> value pairs to an association (orange dots).

list-association-gr1

After about 1000 data points, the AppendTo a list approach starts to take increasingly longer times.  I was unable to collect any data beyond 10,000 data points since AppendTo started running into memory issues.  It is not unreasonable to expect a sensor data set to contain in excess of 1000 data points, so the performance of AppendTo is not acceptable.

Continue reading Optimizing data acquisition

And we’re back (again)

If you’re a frequent visitor (and I doubt you are, because you’re not me, and I don’t think anyone really visits here unless they have to) you’ll notice that the website has been revamped again.  I noticed another backdoor was opened in the previous version of the website, and I ended up taking a scorched-earth approach to solving the problem.

I also felt a need to change platforms.  Joomla was too much for me.  It’s not only the multiple (sadly successful) hacks, but Joomla is a bit too heavy for what I want to do here.  So, I’ve decided to try WordPress.  We’ll see how it goes.

Where’s the old content?  I do have backups (which aren’t that easy to access, given the way Joomla does things) and once I confirm that the content is clean, I’ll start curating it and restoring useful bits here.