Welcome to Jenius, where you can get opinions from a certified genius who just doesn’t put the effort into it.
Here you will find a mixture of the heartfelt and mundane. Serious and silly. Topical and esoteric. Pretty much whatever comes to mind.
Welcome to Jenius, where you can get opinions from a certified genius who just doesn’t put the effort into it.
Here you will find a mixture of the heartfelt and mundane. Serious and silly. Topical and esoteric. Pretty much whatever comes to mind.
As a long time Whovian who is into making cool stuff, I’ve always wanted my own TARDIS. For years I’ve planned on making one out of wood much like the many that are already out there. I had no specific design in mind, although I tend toward the Tom Baker one(s). But as often is the case, I find myself with more desire to complete the project than time and money to start it. Luckily for me, I have a creative mind and am always thinking of ways to build things out of new materials. So, with no further ado, I present my TARDIS, which is a PVC pipe frame with a tarp cover.
The frame is built using 1/2″ schedule 40 PVC pipe. It’s all dry fit so I can take it apart and carry it wherever I want to. I had to improvise a little because PVC joints are designed for plumbing and not weird projects. The only corners I could find had one of the three holes threaded, which is why I had to also grab some adapters. Other than that, everything on the frame was easy to find.
The light is a solar walkway light. One of the things I found in the pipe section of my local hardware store was this weird thing that just happen to be perfect for the light. I zip-tied it to my cross piece and wrapped some tape around the bottom of the light so that it slips in easily, but doesn’t wriggle around.
To decorate the light, I just used tarp tape to cover the top, taking care not to cover the solar array.
I originally planned to use ripstop nylon as the fabric, but after pricing out the 13 yards I would need, I happened upon the idea of using blue tarps, which are a pretty spot on color for the TARDIS. This also allowed me to use tarp tape instead of sewing, which lessened my build time.
The zipper for the doors was a lucky find. I didn’t even know they existed before I saw them at the hardware store. My original plan was to leave the flaps open, or perhaps use magnets, but I like this design much better.
The windows are contact paper and black electrician’s tape. The instruction sheet was printed out on a laser printer and attached with clear contact paper and tarp tape.
The Police Box sign was stenciled using a paint marker. I created the stencils from extra contact paper.
It took me about three weeks to complete the project, but two days should be sufficient, especially if you have help. And I strongly suggest you get help. Setting this up on a windy May day by myself was not the most pleasant of experiences.
As for the title, all of the items I used cost about 100 dollars at my local hardware store. I still have some leftover supplies and I plan on making a carrying bag for the parts when it’s broken down. And possibly even a TARDIS box kite. (Really, don’t try to set this up on a windy day.)
I’m including some of my hand written worksheets so that you get a sense of how the process went. To summarize it in one word: haphazardly. I had an idea of what I wanted to, but I planned each step as I went.
I am not a very political person, the whole running for president in my state notwithstanding. I am a centrist independent who has registered Republican on occasion, but never as a Democrat. I believe in fiscally responsible social programs in government and it disheartens me to realize that efficiency is not a priority in politics today, on any scale.
With the recent debate on gun control raging, I finally heard something that made me make a decision on where I stand on firearms in this country. We are a country that was founded on violence. We can’t escape that anymore than we can escape our inherit racism or religiosity (neither of which I subscribe to). We love guns. We can’t help it.
I’ve never owned a firearm of any kind, but I’ve been shooting a few times. The first time was when I was 6. The last time was almost 20 years ago. Every time I’ve done it, I’ve had fun. It’s not about the power over life and death. It’s about the ease of making a hole appear, seemingly instantly, 100 yards downrange with what amounts to the push of a button. Shooting guns is easy and the reward of accomplishment is immediate.
The problem is, of course, that some people don’t have the morals to not go and shoot someone. And that’s all it is. A question of morals. Or rather ethics, to remove the religious implication (it is possible to have morals without religion, but most people don’t use words that way). And it doesn’t matter if the morals don’t exist because of mental disease or a misspent youth. If the love of life is not ingrained in someone’s brain, then guns make it easier for them to hurt other people. That doesn’t mean, however, that guns are inherently bad.
The problem as I see it is not that guns exist. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. None of us would. It would be a completely different world. The problem is also not that there are specialized guns designed to kill quicker. They really are more fun to shoot. The problem is that it is too easy for people with no ethics to get a gun.
I think that bans on assault rifles and high capacity magazines are stupid because those bans miss the point. Yes, ARs have the potential to harm more people in less time. But in reality, it’s handguns that are used in most gun crime. It’s obvious when you think about it. What’s easier to conceal until you commit a crime, a gun as long as your leg or one that fits in your pocket? And that also doesn’t mean that there should be a ban on handguns, or even a limit on how many an individual can own.
No the problem, and it’s one that occasionally media attention, but rarely to the depth it deserves, is our lackadaisical approach to gun sales. We’ve all heard about the “gun show loophole” even if not everyone knows what it is. Basically, it’s legal for dealers at gun shows, or individuals anywhere, to sell a gun without running a background check. That means that I can buy a gun, of any type, from a neighbor at his garage sale without any sort of record keeping or check on my mental well-being or possible criminal past.
And if that weren’t bad enough, the ATF is not allowed to use computers to help with background checks. There is no central repository of information, like criminal records and mental health issues, that is available to everyone; the states keep their own records and phone calls, mail, and faxes are the only things allowed to be used to gather that info for background checks.
Even worse than both of those things, though, is the fact that gun stores are not required to keep an inventory list of their products. That allows unscrupulous owners to sell guns under the table and just report them as stolen. It also makes it easier for people to just steal them.
So to paint the picture, we have millions of guns that can be sold to anyone, regardless of mental state or criminal history. That is if they don’t just steal them. Or have a bad shop owner sell it to them anyway. And if they do try to obtain one legally from a license gun store, the background check will only be cursory because it requires too much legwork to do a thorough one. None of that makes any more sense than trying to do away with the second amendment.
We, as Americans, have the right to bear arms. It is not a right that should be taken lightly. But it is also not a right that should extended to those without the ethics required to enjoy the right without impinging on someone else’s right to live. Unfortunately, our politicians tend to follow ratings much like a TV network does, and therefore the real issues often get lost in the shuffle. But it’s not their fault. It’s yours and it’s mine. Because we, as humans, tend to focus on the immediate rather than bother to think things through. And that’s the real tragedy.
Yesterday RedBubble took down my most popular design because Twentieth Century Fox told them it violates their IP. The design, shown below, probably does qualify as fair use because of the satirical nature of it, but it’s hardly worth the trouble of me fighting the lawyers. Even though it was my most popular design (especially in Australia for some reason), that only amounts to maybe $40 in commissions over the two years, or so, I’ve had it up. This whole situation is just an annoying fact of life.
Recently one of my nerdy crocheted hat was mentioned in an article on Wired.com. And as I expected, a flood of new comments came in. Every single one of them spam. Some of them were really funny, though. Not funny enough to allow them through, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
Where has the first third of the year gone? I certainly haven’t been spending it on writing. And based on the comment spam queue, I haven’t been spending much time clearing out the ridiculous things that people will post for a nickel. I’ll have something more interesting to say next week (assuming I finish my current project). And, who knows, maybe the rest of the year will be marked by weekly posts that are both informative and interesting. It could happen.
Not too long after I finished my AT-HAT, I started on this little number. Actually, I have no idea when I started it. I can’t even remember when I finished it, but since I didn’t wear it to the bar on Friday night, and I know my wife saw it before she left Saturday afternoon, I would have to say that I finished around 5 days ago. The point is it is finished. And unlike my hats so far, this one’s subject is both geeky and popular enough to be recognized.
That’s right, it’s from the old He-Man cartoons…yes, it’s a pig from Angry Birds, but you know someone double-checked it. There are hundreds of AB products out there, but this is the only one that I made, so, you know. It’s special or something.
This is actually a design I came up with a long time ago, but I couldn’t start it until I finished my last project. Well, I guess I could have, but I’m trying to finish projects (crochet projects, that is; I’ve got a t-shirt design that hasn’t been touched in months) before I move on to the next one. I’ve already started my next hat, and I have plans for the one after that. After that one is done, I’m thinking about making a Flash hat for myself.
I was perusing, well, quickly scanning, a friend’s blog over at Blogspot/Blogger, The World of R. R. Shea, when I decided to post a comment to let him know that I read it (as well as get a nice link in the form of a trackback). There is a fairly common “Comment as:” section where you have to choose some sort of identification as part of posting a comment so as to weed out spammers and trolls. Since I use WordPress, I naturally chose that option, only to find out that that option is only valid for those people who host their blog on WordPress.com. Basically I’m being penalized for having my own website.
Now I’m wondering if it’s Google’s fault or R. R. Shea’s fault. Hmm…
I’ve finally finished my latest crocheted hat. It’s taken months of planning, replanning, drawing, thinking about, crocheting, putting it off until later, more planning, more crocheting, and some knot-tying that probably can’t be classified as crocheting.
I’m fairly certain that the AT-AT is more familiar to people than the Android robot is, so I probably won’t get as many weird looks when I wear this around town.
Then again, maybe I should expect more weird looks.
I’m not talking about someone inflating their crochet skills, I’m referring to the best write-up of a crochet topic that I’ve ever seen. The Institute for Figuring has an online exhibit of hyperbolic space, which is essentially a collection of articles discussing why Euclid isn’t the end-all be-all of the universe’s topography. One of the articles is devoted to real models of hyperbolic and how Daina Taimina uses crocheting to create models of hyperbolic space that can be handled, unlike their paper forerunners. I independently discovered the technique when I began crocheting, but figured I made a mistake and therefore unstitched it all. What a shame.
Or, How the print Statement Doesn’t Always Work.
Here’s another tip that shows that while the DXL help is instrumental in writing scripts, it is in no way complete.
I have a rather long and complicated tool that begins with a form with two fields. The first one is a “field” and the second one is a “list”. (The naming convention used for DXL makes little sense sometimes.) I wanted to make sure that if something was not selected in the list, that it would default to the first item. For some reason, I didn’t just set the first item to be a default. After all, there is no way to choose nothing once something is selected (you can from DXL, but that doesn’t apply). Anyway, for whatever reason, I decided that the best thing to do would be to check to see if the selection was null in my callback function. The only problem was that it didn’t work.
When testing to determine the issue, I tried using the print statement to see what the value was, I tried checking if it was blank by concatenating an empty string, I even tried checking for 0, having forgot that that would be the first item on the list. The help doesn’t mention what the list function will return if nothing is selected, it just tells you that you can use the set function to specify a default. Going to the “set (value or selection)” function in the help shows that a list DBE takes an integer for its parameter and mentions that you can use “-1″ to remove any selections. That is a clue to the solution, but one that I found afterward.
I ended up modifying the list function example in the help to test the possibilities, not really expecting to find an answer. Not really thinking about the fact that the print statement had returned nothing, I went ahead and used an ack statement to determine the value of an empty list: ack “–>” i “<–”, where i is the variable of type integer that the callback function assigns the list DBE value to. When I ran it, an acknowledgment box popped up with “–>-1 <–”. I had found the answer. In order to determine if there was no selection made in a list DBE, I just had to check for the value being less than zero in the callback function.
As I said, the help for the set command might have helped someone figure that out, but it didn’t help me. I also can’t figure out why my example printed the space after the value nor why the print statement didn’t give me anything (which is really perplexing).
As far as my code is concerned, I had already added a set command to choose the first item by default when the tool ran before I figured out the issue. But I still went back in and added the check, because users are often able to figure out ways to do the impossible in order to break a useful tool.
Here’s the thing. I like Star Wars. I like it a lot. I’m not a superfan, though some people that know me might disagree, but I’m comfortable in the knowledge that I do like it and know more about it than your average person. And despite all of the novels and comic books from the Star Wars universe that I own, and excusing the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on Star Wars Legos and other toys, and even ignoring the vintage Star Wars sheet and pillow cases I bought while in college, there is one huge thing that proves that I am not a Star Wars fanboy: I’m okay with the changes that Lucas has made to the movies over the years (well, except for the Greedo shooting thing, but that’s pretty much unforgiveable).
Yes, it’s annoying to watch a movie you’ve seen a hundred times and have it suddenly be different from what you remember, but people need to realize that George Lucas is an artist, and all artist hate their work and wish they could constantly improve it. It’s a fact. The only difference between GL and any other artist is that he not only has the money and time to make corrections as he wants, but he still has the original piece to work from. He’s managed to reach a goal that most artists will never even consider a possibility: he can make changes. And while there are certainly arguments against making those changes (most embarrassingly by the man himself as seen on the ironic savestarwars.com), the fact is that it should be the artist who gets the final say, not the audience (which is different from the copyright holder as in the case of Turner).
But rather than ranting on, which nobody wants to read, and I don’t want to type, I will instead share a video by Jennifer Landa, who is making quite a geek name of herself, what with her Death Star dress at Comic-Con 2011, and whatnot. It pretty much sums up the conclusion I’ve come to about the new Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]: quit your complaining and enjoy the show.
I’ve added a couple of new categories (Shirts and Crochet) because I realized that lately I’ve been focusing more on arts and crafts than I have any sort of programming. I’ve already posted a couple of hats that I crocheted, and I have plans for two more in addition to the scarf and skirt I’m working on. Also, I recently started really working on my t-shirt designs. I’ve submitted a couple to TeeFury and OtherTees, but I haven’t heard back. I’ve already had one design rejected on Threadless and I’m in the process of designing another for one of their contests. I have a RedBubble account with several designs on it right now, and I sold my first item (a sticker) within a couple of weeks of being a member. Basically, I need my t-shirt sales to take off since the HD tuner on my TV is dying and taking the rest of the TV down with it.
Recently every house in my neighborhood got one of those notices that someone was going to be painting house numbers on curbs the next day and we could sign up for the service. Now, even though it was only 10 or 15 bucks, I’m not one to pay someone to use a couple of cans of spray paint for a few second, especially given my talent for the medium. (I am not a graffiti artist, but I’ve got skills with the can.)
What’s weird, is that I’ve been meaning to do it for months, but just haven’t got around to it. The notice, and the fact that at least two of my neighbors went for it have been a fairly constant reminder, so I decided it was time. They used to sell little kits in hardware stores, so while I was at my regional one buying lump charcoal, I tried to find one. I couldn’t and just decided that I find what kind of paint to use online.
Do a search for “paint curb numbers” right now and see what you get. Go on, I’ll wait.
Amazing, isn’t it? Half of the results are sites telling you how you can make money doing it and the other half wondering if the service is a scam. It brought to mind that one episode of Our House, that old show with Wilford Brimley, where the kid, David, saw some other kids painting curb numbers and decided to do it to, and it started a neighborhood war between their family and the other kids…man that show sucked. Anyway, amongst the ads and the woes, I did manage to find a couple of people talking about how to paint the numbers, and it turns out that I had all of the materials on hand.
The secret to painting your curb is to have the right paint, and the right paint is pretty much any spray paint you can find. I had some Red Devil I got at Big Lots for about a dollar a can, and I sure wouldn’t suggest spending much more unless you have a need for it for a real project. Now, two of my neighbors who had it done went whole hog and got embellishments on the curb on both sides of the numbers. One neighbor got the symbol for a local college team, and another got the symbol for a major league baseball team. Now, I don’t watch sports because I don’t like gay porn, but I liked the idea of expressing interests through house numbers, so I quickly figured out what I wanted to have.
Our town uses a white background and black numbers, but some location have that reversed, and some other colors all together. The point is, figure out what you should do before you do it. I would also check for restrictions on embellishments, because some towns, and especially some neighborhood associations, are run by assholes.
Once I had the plan, I drew the design up on my computer, printed it on cardstock, and used a blade to cut my stencil. I then gathered the rest of my supplies and headed outside to do my thing.
That’s right, without consulting my wife, I painted the Rebel Alliance symbol on the curb right next to a public street. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.
I have no idea how I came across this Flash hat on etsy, but I really like it. I decided that I could make my own quite easily and save the dough, especially since I already had the red yarn. So I bought the yellow and started to plan it.
While I was trying to figure out how to do the lightening bolts, it occurred to me that something was not quite right about them. It nagged at me for a few days, until I finally just busted out some Flash comics. It’s evident from looking at the pictures (I was looking at the Silver Age ones starting in 1959) that the Flash doesn’t have bolts but rather wings, a la Mercury.
Once I decided to make wings instead of bolts, I realized that I would have to go all the way and make them stand off the hat, much like in the comics. Below is the end result. And there’s no use asking about buying it, I gave it to my cousin for an early Christmas gift.
In the past I have flirted with knitting and crocheting. I’ve been sewing since I can remember and have done cross stitch for nearly as long, and I’ve always liked the idea of creating something out of a string. Like many of the hobbies that I collect, I approached the yarn arts willing to learn, but unwilling to put enough effort into finding someone to teach me. Luckily there are books aplenty that do a real good job of teaching one the basics of each craft. After years of ignoring both, however, I suddenly found a renewed interest. In crocheting.
Knitting is a pain in the rear, and I do not care for it. I could never keep my knits and perls consistent and the inefficiency of having to keep an entire project on a needle, or needle substitute, always annoyed me. In contrast, crocheting is elegant. You can size your crochets as you go, so they’re more consistent. You can make a king size comforter with a hook less than six inches long. And if you miss a stitch, the whole doesn’t unravel, it just looks a little weird, and only to an experienced crocheter. It’s everything that knitting isn’t. And some things that knitting is, of course.
At any rate I’ve found myself immersed in projects after only picking it up a week ago. I have crocheted once before. I got a kit made for pre-teen girls (there are precious little craft kits directed at boys or that are gender-neutral) to make a hat with colorful, variegated yarn. That was so long ago, though, that I don’t even remember when it was. Probably at least ten years. I know it was after I had already stopped knitting (mid-project), and that one project was enough to convince me that crocheting, not knitting, was for me. And over the year, I’ve always meant to get back to it, not least of which so that I have a reason to use up all of the yarn I had purchased so many years ago. So when I took my kids to the local fabric shop to kill some time, I found myself in the crochet books, looking for a good primer. I found a decent one (targeted at pre-teen girls again), and bought it, some hooks, and some yarn.
Being a complete geek, I read through the first half the book without touching the hooks or yarn. And then I jumped right into some basic projects without bothering to do the lessons in order, much like I do when I’m trying to learn a new programming language. There was a project to do a little swirl-type thing that you could hang from a key chain or back pack, or the like, and I decided that would be a good place to start. Unfortunately, I decide to start with a turquoise yarn that my daughter had picked out instead of using the variegated that I had bought. After that minor disaster of a project was complete, I decided to move to a coaster using the other yarn. Let me give newcomers to crocheting a piece of advice: never learn with a solid yarn. Until you have the hang of crocheting, it’s very difficult to pick out which stitch you need to crochet into if all you have to look at is a solid wall of one color. The coaster turned out well, and I had already exhausted my interest in this book’s projects.
The one thing I have now that I didn’t have ten years ago is a fully realized Internet with sources galore for the crafter. I did a quick search on Google (Bing sucks and Yahoo sucked before they switched to Bing), and found a site, Crochet Pattern Central, that has a searchable index of thousands of patterns and projects across the Internet. I poked around and discovered a lot of neat patterns, but couldn’t decide on what to start with. I ended up picking out a skirt for my daughter, a sack to carry produce when I pick up my CSA delivery, and a geeky little project that would be easier to start with than MegaMan.
I have long had an annoyance with Apple. It probably dates back to when they canceled the Lisa line and went with Macs. My //c was far superior to the first gen Macintosh and it just went downhill from there. Without going into the long history of why Apple, not sucks, but is not good, I will say that I prefer the Android system for my portability needs. That is why I searched for an Android pattern on Crochet Pattern Central. I only found one, but it was a good starter project, an Android Hat.
I had to unravel a couple of days work twice when working on this hat. Once when I misread the directions, and once when I disliked the way the instructions had me do the top (as most scientist types, I find it difficult to allow for fudging in my crafts). But once I got around my issues, it was fairly smooth sailing. It fits well, and it will remove all doubt as to my phone allegiance (unless Microsoft gets their act together and makes Windows Phone 7 as good as Windows Mobile 6.5).
Now I guess can start on a project for my daughter. Or maybe just one more hat first.