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Survive the Farm

2012-05-28 , , , Comment

We ran the Survive the Farm 5k obstacle course on Memorial Day— Log bridge, tire obstacle, over-under logs, rope ladder, soldier crawl under barbed wire, log hedgehogs (Czech Hedgehog), water crossings, tough terrain, and mud, mud, and more mud.



2012-04-01 , , , Comment

I assembled an atmospheric injector burner loosely based on Michael Porter’s design using plumbing parts and a .035” MIG tip. When you figure my time, buying miscellaneous hardware like small taps and drill bits, multiple trips to several area hardware stores and ordering the schedule-80 1/8” pipe nipple, I’m not sure it’s more economical than buying a precision-made burner like those from Rex Price or Steve Gensheimer but it works (and I learned a bit). The flame is very stable and it easily brings a 1/2” square bar to a light-red heat. I can’t wait to build the forge.

burner body
burner gas feed
burner operation
burner with hot steel


Beginning Blacksmithing

2012-02-27 , , , Comment

In my copious free time, I like to work with metal so I started setting up a hobby smithy to do some ironwork. I’ve read that about the only thing you can’t make is the anvil and that hammering on a shop vise will quickly ruin it. Last week, I scored a nice 138# Peter Wright anvil and a 5”-jaw leg vise from a local seller on Craigslist. I doused the anvil with Liquid Wrench, let it sit overnight and brushed off the rust:

Sunday afternoon I cobbled together a stand based on Jack Dempsey’s box idea. It’s a frame of 4“x4” posts, 2“x12” lumber on the top and ends, two scrap 19/32” T1-11 panels for the faces, and all held together with 3 1/2” structural screws. It’s sturdy enough:

Next I need to come up with a forge, mount the leg vise, and clear some space. Then I need to practice.


Amtrak Connect WiFi on Empire Service

2011-11-06 , , , Comment

My Empire Service intercity train had a newly applied sticker on the window reading,
“Your seat is now a hot spot.” So I figured I’d give the wireless a try. tl;dr version: free, just ok.

I’ve been using Verizon EVDO regularly for the past five years on the Albany to New York route. It’s barely usable north of Poughkeepsie. There are frequent dead spots, latency is high and throughput between stations is poor. However, my downstream bandwidth requirements are minimal: a steady 1-2KB/s for ssh, bursts of 48-128KB/s for Google news, Slashdot, a few blogs, and reading news and mailing lists in Emacs Gnus and I hit a brief peak of 225KB/s reading an image heavy site. Despite that, it’s sometimes impossible to even keep an interactive SSH session going. I hoped Amtrak’s service would be better.

The service uses the common captured portal scheme, which redirects to the agreement page. After accepting the limitations— 10MB on downloads, “objectionable content” blocked, etc.— you’re able to resolve names and things work normally. I didn’t poke around the limitations and I’m not surprised there’s nanny filtering but SSL, IPSec and SSH all work.

Unfortunately, it’s not obviously better than EVDO except near the stations where it’s remarkably faster. The dead zones, drop-outs and poor interactivity I see with Verizon along the route exist with Amtrak Connect. I suspect this is because Amtrak gets its service from the same wireless vendors and suffers the same weak coverage. Over-subscription of the on train service doesn’t seem to be a problem yet, a mid-trip wifi scan from my seat turned up eight Motorola access points on the train and twenty unique devices using them (half Apple, though only two Mac laptops including my own were visible in this car). I’ve attended conferences with more numerous and more active clients on a single AP so it’s likely the problem is the uplink coverage.


Frozen Synapse Bundle

2011-09-28 , , , Comment

Another Humble Bundle collection of indie games is available. Frozen Synapse is outstanding. Worth buying just for it alone.

I need an addicting turn-based strategy game like I need a hole in my head.


You know you're a geek when...

2011-09-06 , , , Comment

You look at the postcard labeled “Expansion Celebration” and your first thought is, “What an odd pin layout for an expansion board” before realizing it shows an overhead diagram of the newly refurbished local gym.

Quick snapshot it:


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