I asked my students what these silly things on the back of their phones were, and why they were needed. Apparently, phones are sufficiently heavy that you’ll drop them on your face while trying to read/text while lying down. They also seem to help with taking selfies. It turns out that they were thought up by a philosophy professor so tell that to your Mom and Dad when they ask why their paying so much money for your liberal-arts education. Heck, I’ll even give you some inspiration, because one of my students bought me my very own popsocket (I feel sooooo millennial) and I just had to customize it.
A few weeks back, my wife (Rozenn) came home with a broken cane chair, which looked something like this, and wanted to try repairing the seat. A few tours through youtube videos, a visit to Amazon and some time with my Dremmel (she’s logged more hours on that thing than I have) and she managed to replace the seat. Even I can sit in it!
Now that it’s completed, I think we both agree that the project was very doable. The hardest part was removing the old spline (don’t believe those Youtube videos where it comes out with one tap of a chisel). Once the spline was removed, however, the rest of the process was a breeze. Yard-sale season may be wrapping up, but I’m sure we’ll find a few more broken chairs at rock-bottom prices that will not only give us a fun project, but also result in a nice-looking chair in the end.
The staff over at the Wolfram Community have recognized Mandy – the bright Periodic Table as one of their Staff Picks. The forum post, which can be viewed here, highlights how Mathematica was used in various parts of the project. In the design phase, Mathematica was used to create the layout of the periodic table, which then could be exported to Inkscape/Adobe Illustrator for final processing of an image that could be recognized by the laser cutter. The curated data provided by the Wolfram platform is used to create the trends, and I used some notebook Manipulate commands to visualize the RGB-LED output for (rapid) rapid prototyping. The actual operation of Mandy uses a Python-based speech recognition script that calls on Mathematica to communicate to the Arduino controlling all of the LEDs. (Yes, this is an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ project.)
Thanks, WC Staff, for the recognition.
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.
We have been busy with our move to Brockport, NY. More importantly, we have just finished getting internet installed so the website can be updated! Trying to conduct a cross-country move over a national holiday has its challenges, but one advantage is that it feels like your new home town is throwing a welcome party!
This past weekend, I successfully tested for my brown belt (Sankyu) in Judo. I had started Judo in college (last century) and for over 15 years couldn’t find the willpower to get back in to the sport. Then Kayla Harrison won gold in the 2012 Olympics. Something about an American finally winning Judo gold gave me the motivation I needed to find Sensai Barnett at the Jiu Jitsu Institute in downtown Chicago. Searching the internet for judo clubs in Chicago, you’ll find the current web page is optimized for the Mosaic browser — (note: a new website is in the works) — but perhaps the club’s web presence is an allegory for the style of training one will receive: traditional.
About six months ago, I started working on a project I like to call my piece de resistance. It combines a number of maker skills that I’ve learned over the past few years. I call her Mandy, and she’s a laser-cut periodic table that has a bunch of three-color LEDS, an Arduino that controls the individually addressable LEDs, and a Raspberry Pi that stores information about the elements. To make it stand out from being “just another bright periodic table”, I added a voice activation component, so Mandy is able to display different periodic trends at your verbal command!
I’m getting ready to move to a different part of the country, so I do not have time to provide more information about Mandy. In the meanwhile, I created a teaser-trailer for your (OK, my) personal enjoyment.
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.
Increasing accessibility to electronics projects is a mission that resonates with me. Personally, I find the autonomy and self-sufficiency that comes with “making” to be very rewarding. With hobbyist sites such as Adafruit and Sparkfun, we have plenty of (inexpensive) resources at our disposal. As the technology advances, these resources become cheaper – which is a good thing – and smaller – which is a mixed bag.