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Toys and things

It has been a while since my last blog. My new job keeps me quite busy, but I really enjoy it. I should write about it sometime. But Its late tonight, and I need to go to bed soon. So I decided to keep this one short.

I have been neglecting my work space at home, and recently decided to put forth the effort to start cleaning it up. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one is that I am in negotiations to potentially write another book. Once it is approved, I will have even LESS time, and need to have a clear work space. Clutter slows me down and I loose focus on the projects that need to get done.

Speaking of projects that need to get done, I think I should get to the point of this post: A little update on projects in my que and a couple of new toys.

So lets start with a project in the que (besides the long term weatherstation project).

Does it go to 11?

A long time ago, at my old job, someone in the neighborhood threw out a guitar amp (Ibanez IBZ3R) in the sodai gomi. Everything looked clean on the outside, and I really loved the purple knobs. The only apparent problem was a lack of power cord. It was cut off. Perhaps it was some child's punishment to cut the cord and throw it in the trash? My mother cut the cord on our TV once. That is how you know an adult is fed up!

So anyway, I picked it up, hauled it into work, and let it sit for a few months near my desk. I had a job totally unrelated to electronics at the time, so repairing an amplifier in the teachers room was likely not a good idea. I later managed to haul it home, where it sat in the corner for many more months. You see, I don't have a guitar. I can't even play, although I would love to learn. I don't have a microphone either. So not much to test it with, other than throwing my function generator at it for some real neighbor annoyance.

The plan is to get a power cord on it soon and give it a test run. If it works out, I know two or three guitar players at the hackerspace who would love to have it. Or I might just buy a guitar and force one of them to teach me some basics. Or keep it at the space for a small PA system. IT has some effects, including a mechanical spring echo. Fun to show kids how that works.


Ok, so this is NOT a drill. It is a router. Proxxon is a very popular brand of electric mini fab machines here in Japan. They make table top band saws, manual mills, lathes, and electric hand tools. They have a line of several sizes of Dremel like tools. I have been wanting one for ages, but just never got around to buying one. Over the last few days, I have been doing a lot of small cuts in plastic and aluminum boxes, which reminded me just how much I wanted one of my own. So, I made the excuse and picked this one up in Akihabara. I also added a 4 piece set of diamond cutting wheels. I will go back later for the full diamond bit kit.

YAC! (Yet Another Computer)

On my PREVIOUS trip to Akihabara (previous to the trip in which I got the router), I found these neat little thin client machines at a shop between Sengoku and Akizuki Denshi. It is a rather old machine. Dell Optiplex 160. It has a dual core Intel Atom processor running at 1.6 Ghz, with 2Gb of RAM. The board could accept an SSD, and or mount a mini SATA disk. I picked up a used drive for it and tried Ubuntu desktop. V14 runs terribly, but 12 and 13 are quite snappy. I will stick with 12. I plan on a dual boot with a stripped down linux server (cli style, possibly a lighter desktop login via VNC).

I have a LOT of Ubuntu jobs at work right now. I picked up two great books to help me learn. One covering desktop and the other covering server. Basically, I am pseudo in charge of geting the company set up with inventory management, project management, task communication, documentation, code repositories, NAS and storage, virtualization, compiler farm, and a just about everythign else a modern IT department does. (calling on contractors!! PLEASE!!) So I have a lot of playing/learning to do. Likely a mobile rapid deply asterisk/PBX server will be in the works as well, which would serve as com hub when we are out testing hexicopters in remote locations. I think these little gems would be perfect for asterisk.

All passive cooling. Quit. Really low heat comming off it. All for 5000 yen. I think I might pick up several more. Possibly set one up at the hackerspace. I want to get our inventory on it, as well as start a more robust membership and accounting system.

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