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Human Biology and the Iron Man Suit April 16, 2021

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys, Video.
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Robert Sapolsky is a genius lecturer and neuroendocrinolgist at Stanford whose lectures are part of Stanford’s video lessons. Check him out here (maybe start with Lecture 24, like I did, and then start again from Lecture 1. Trust me).

Alex Burkan is “some mad Russian guy” who is building an Iron Man suit in in a cave from a box of scraps his machine shop with oddly compelling first choices for prototyping muscles (from electrolyzed water for high-pressure hydrogen) for the exoskeleton, using high-pressure hydrogen for a repulser (nearly blowing off his arm) and launching missiles…also, he’s hilarious.

Finally, my handwriting sucks so I thought I would practice journalling to work on it. Then I thought about stuffilike.net and how I never post anymore (see “Bad Things” earlier in time) and it occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one virus, er, stone. So, here’s a first go at making my journalling/handwriting practice relevant to stuffilike.net.

OCR results will vary. All the free ones (not counting Evernote, because I haven’t tried it yet) yield crap:

Onlineocr.com version:

“,04’r it:V= :1



in-F. , }-fr
-PXV 7(4 )
27,777, ), , 7M• .-“y -a -.1P7-
–(—–15-977 , _ r , -0 -1–. –) 7, K7,- 11:?)/’ ,)91 7 ,) +7′ r 1 ) .6,77 – d ,4) jp, :}0 / .4-,,,,,77hr- -,n211 1 i .. 7 ), p_,,ii-rip oto rw:- -1/1,–rY ) 7Y) 1 j / 6 / – v4- ,,,, 1 ,,,..)–r ( ;1.71…/i7 ?1,


This does not surprise me.

Google Docs version:

“& watched both Robert Aapolsky and a hilarious Russian fellow named Alex who is beilding an 

Dron Man suit in lix machine shop using eldrolysed water to generate high prescere bydrogen for cutificial muscles and to 

pouse “repulsors (besically, expelling a budioflydogenlonger mettere al igniting it dont try this at home] He’s nuts and very entertaining in a manic Russian sout of ruaz Also, this gadgets seem to mork, Oddly enough, I can see his stastegy morking hartwith lots and lots of the ratione for the mechanicals, and beige benouits of had baile for stie contrals (can you francese the store Hedding valued)”

It is possible I could use this method (take picture or scan to .pdf, then “open in Google Docs”) if my handwriting improves. We shall see.

Google Lens version:

“an I wat led both Robert Aapolsky and a hilarious Russian fellow Maned Alok whle is building. Is a Man suit is his machine stop using al dialyd water to generate high-prosesse hyclroger for autficial muscles and the “mepulests” (levicallys expuelling a level of and iquiting it don’t by this at home ), He’s nuts, as I very entertaining in a mavic Pussian sout of way. Also, this gadgets seem to work. Oedly enough, I can see his strategy working, just with lots and lots of the ration the nechcemicals, and burge of feedback for the contrale tear you imagine the software beting in valued i”

Well, I did say my handwriting was pretty poor. And it was attempting to read cursive, a style which I understand is no longer taught in USA schools (you poor kids. Are you going to be able to neatly print in time to write enough to pass essay exams?).

3D Printed Topological Map February 27, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Publishing Tools.
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One of the more retentive members of Silicon Valley 3D Printing Meetup has printed a very complex and beautiful rendering of (some of) the Earth’s topological features in glorious PLA. Thirty-two tiles, ranging in print time for four hours to twenty-two(!) hours for the taller elevations, each “pixel” is 10 KM on a side.


Octobrella December 11, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Octopus, Photography, Publishing Tools.
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Post image

Purloined from reddit.

3D Scanning to Print (Photogrammetry) October 8, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Photography, Publishing Tools, Star Trek Technology.
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Due to an unfortunate incident while moving from the very parted lips of Hell (Greenville, CA) I have had to replace a few parts on my Casio CDP-120 piano keyboard. Basically, the highest key (C, for those who need to know) was/is smashed and needs a replacement. Aha! I have this iPrusa printer and can whip up a new key post-haste using Fusion360 to measure and design a new key.  Right?

No. It’s a part with surprisingly complex geometry, so I thought I would try photogrammetry to create a model and see how that works.  I never tried this before, so what could it hurt? Can’t be any harder than Fusion360 to master. Right?

No. There seems to be no (free as in beer) software which can do this which is simple enough for me to install (grumble, grumble) on this company Mac, and I’m not sure company policies built into the security suite on this company Mac would permit it (grumble, grumble) anyway. Since my replacement Windows box isn’t here yet (grumble, grumble) I have to pay for a cloud-based solution…Altizure.com.  So I took 56 pictures of the C key an octave down with my cellphone camera, submitted them to Altizure.com‘s loving embrace and was rewarded with a fairly competent render of my key:

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 11.06.36 AM.png

I say “fairly competent” because it has lots of hole in the sides.  No matter; I can probably fix it in software modify it in Fusion360 to fill in the holes.  I will likely need to use Fusion360 to get the dimensions useably correct in any case.

Now I have to steel myself to pay the subscription rate of something like $70 per project. It would be worth it if I was a company making a prototype with great prospects for the future…but I’m not (grumble, grumble).

The key costs about five bucks from Casio’s parts subcontractor, plus six or so to ship it. I know which I am going to choose.

It’s a shame, really; I was looking forward to monkeying around with it. Maybe next time.

However, I don’t give up easily; I got 3DF Zephyr and used the (limited to) 50 pictures in it at the highest defaults in the wizard to create this render:

c-key-3df zephyr

My army of loyal and discerning readers may notice a bit of degradation here and there…yeah.  I will try again, but this took an hour or so and was NOT automatically rendered, but went through stages. In all fairness it would have been shorter if my graphics card had CUDA…but I don’t have a graphics card, just whatever Lenovo thought was cheap but still enough to get by on. Still, it needs work, and it’s midnight.  Possibly updates to follow, if I get any sleep.


I got a better render with 50 pictures and the most extreme settings I could figure out:

c-3df-zephyr-2-extra tasty

It’s got the holes that Altizure’s render had, but 3DF Zephyr is free to use.  Now I have to figure out how to make the save-able form of this (an .obj file) into an .slt and thence to gcode. With luck, I will have a hideous key to use before my real one arrives.

Package Installers for Windows and MacOS November 6, 2018

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I have been forced at gunpoint to use a Mac for the last six weeks at my newest place of employment, and not without a few tears. I had to learn to install IntelliJ, NetBeans and Eclipse (already had that one) for MacOS. The company which enslaves me uses MacOS’ Self Service app, from which I installed Homebrew. Homebrew does every installation you could possibly desire (well, nearly) and I installed in short order git, gradle, Java and IntelliJ–all correctly and findably by each other, managing the pathname (or whatever they are called in MacOS). I must say, this makes first-day setup for the engineers much quicker, and much simpler. Good thing too, since the poor sods are going to be working with a bewildering variety of the manifold technologies enabling the hydra-headed beast which is my employer.

It turns out that Homebrew is a MacOS-only product; but there are several package installers which can work with Windows, such as Scoop,

Chocolatey and Npackd,  I quite liked Scoop (hence the Youtubery), but you may wish to try the others.  Good luck; for your more complex setups this can be a real timesaver.

Glories March 4, 2018

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I grew up in a devoutly Methodist household, and we had paintings  of Our Lord  which often featured the suggestion of God’s presence through rays of light streaming through clouds.  In fact, I don’t usually see these rays which I call Glories all that often; apparently the particles necessary for such diffraction are rare enough that glories don’t come standard with every sunset.

Then, too, when I see them I don’t have a nice camera with me…just my cell phone.  The current default camera app in Android 6.0.1 does not feature exposure control, making it very difficult to catch the rays (usually sunsets present as a bright band of yellow in my camera).  Thankfully, the Google Play store offers other camera apps, such as CameraZOOM. I have been able to finally capture a good enough sample to share (cropped in The GIMP):


Glories near Lake Havasu

EXCITING UPDATE:  Glories viewed from ISS

Image: A rare optical phenomenon spotted from orbit

The Obsessive Mike Davis March 16, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brain, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Photography, Publishing Tools, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
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Every once in a while you happen upon someone or something so fascinating you just have to stop and see, hear or read more. I found this guy’s webpage, and have to admit I read the whole damn thing.  Like Boy Genius, Mike Davis probably started out with only one hobby in mind: astronomy.  Of course, that sort of hobby is an open-ended sinkhole of time and money.
And genius.
Or, at least obsessive improvements.  He apparently got into grinding lenses and casting mirrors (because that’s how the big kids do it.  A high-quality telescope is an enormous expense), probably got into LINUX for governing the scope, recording the images and putting them on the web.  But wait, there’s more.
I am guessing he bought a property in Arizona far out into the boonies to avoid light pollution.  Since it is utterly remote, it is unsurprising that it’s got no electric service, so he made a windmill and later a sunmill (you know, solar panel system) to power his equipment and such…then put a cabin around it all (he didn’t build it but bought it, presumably because it had to be on-site and he doesn’t have that much vacation time available).
Go kill some time at his website: Mike’s World and you can thank me later.  I am still reading things from his Miscellaneous Projects page, like

  • Cutting Circles out of Glass
  • Home-Built Pen Plotter
  • Quick and Easy Car Laptop Tray
  • Making My Own Soap
  • New and Improved Charge Controller Design
  • improvised DC generator (lawn edger plus permanent magnet DC motor)
  • Home-Built Biomass Gasifier
  • Raspberry Pie based all-in-one computer
  • home-made swamp cooler (see also cabin in Arizona)

I’m not sure, but I think I met him at a star party on Mt. Lassen last year (~August 13).

Break Time March 6, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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On the roof a block away, two guys take a lunch break.  My new camera took this beautifully.

Kindle Paperwhite September 11, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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New Kindle Paperwhites are on sale (kind of permanently, I think) at Amazon for $119. This is the lit-up-easy-to-read-in-bed-or-camping version.

I am not hinting; my old one works quite well. The only thing I would do differently is to make the Kindle easier to browse through the titles, since I have like a thousand books on mine.


EXCITING UPDATE:  Best Buy has ’em for $99 today.  02-10-2014, that is

Photoshop Milestone August 10, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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Well, not so much for Photoshop, but for us poor suckers who believe faked photos.  Dartmouth and UC Berkeley researchers created a software program that can tell if a photo is faked by testing whether the shadows within are consistent with a single light source throughout the photo.

"Our method shifts the dialogue from ‘does the lighting/shadow look correct?,’ which is well known to be highly unreliable, to a discussion of whether an analyst has correctly selected the location of cast and attached shadows in an image, a far more objective task," says senior author Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and head of the Image Science Group at Dartmouth. "In this regard, our method lets humans do what computers are poor at—understanding scene content—and lets the computer do what humans are poor at—assessing the validity of geometric constraints."

The study, titled "Exposing Photo Manipulation with Inconsistent Shadows," was presented last week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGGRAPH conference, to be published in the journal ACM Transactions on Graphics in September.
I wonder how many fakes this technique will catch.

Clever Little Vampires, They Are September 14, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools.
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Stuffilike.net has an RSS feed app for your Android phone…actually, anyone can make one from their RSS feed at appyet.com.  It ‘s a clever way for the appyet.com people to get lots of other folk’s RSS feed to show ads for them and make a bit of money.  Pretty nice business model, if you ask me.  I may try it myself.

The app creation that their website does is actually a painless introduction to how to publish an app on play.google.com, so I recommend you walk through it just to be able to say you did.

I Should Explain This to Normal People April 10, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Video.
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I test (other people’s) code for a living, which often involves boring, repetitive keystrokes, mouseclicks and other user actions before producing a desired result (i.e., showing me where it’s broken).  This can be automated in Visual Studio 2010 easily, but checking that the desired result has been achieved can be somewhat more difficult or at least non-intuitive.  The process of checking a result or condition is nicely described in this video.

Win CE Audible Spanish Flashcards January 20, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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This is an update of previous work on the Win CE Spanish Flashcards program I wrote earlier.  I find that driving while using this I would look away too often from the road, which is stupidly unsafe. The new and improved program here will speak the word displayed in a sexy Spanish lady’s voice while displaying the word.  You can turn it off by pressing the Options button on the bottom left of the screen.  Everything else works as before.

I ran into a nasty little problem while creating the .CAB file which contains the installation, since I have a thousand sound files, which is more than the cabwiz.exe which comes with Visual Studio 2008 can accommodate…and the error code for this defect is completely unhelpful, in the grand Microsoft tradition:

Error: File c:\users\[me]\appdata\local\temp\wizbbe1.inf contains DirIDs, which are not supported

ERROR: The Windows CE CAB Wizard encountered an error.  See the output window for more information.

It turns out that VS2008’s cabwiz.exe chokes on more than 998 included files, and this application has 1057.  The workaround is to download the SDK for Windows Mobile 6 and use the cabwiz.exe (and the cabwiz.ddf) from that version instead (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\SmartDevices\SDK\SDKTools\CabWiz.exe and CabWiz.ddf with the ones under C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 6 SDK\Tools\CabWiz). No problem once I had done this.

Here is the all-new singing and dancing Win CE Spanish Flashcards App.

Monthly Donations To Wikipedia January 4, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Publishing Tools, Uncategorizable.
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Monthly donations to Wikipedia can be done through PayPal, if you don’t want to use your credit card.  I have said this before, but this project probably has benefitted mankind more than any other literacy project other than the web itself and deserves to have full funding. 

Where your donation goes:

Technology: Servers, bandwidth, maintenance, development. Wikipedia is the #5 website in the world, and it runs on a fraction of what other top websites spend.

People: The other top 10 websites have thousands of employees. We have fewer than 100, making your donation a great investment in a highly-efficient not-for-profit organization.

So, you can afford a buck a month.  Best value on the planet.

Win CE 5.0 Dictation Application December 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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I never found an application which would automatically take a note for me when I would just talk to it (without having to push a button first), so I wrote one.  Be happy for me; this is my second useful application for WinCE and I’m actually quite thrilled.  I have a long commute and often think of little notes I should jot down, and have no hands-free way of doing this…until now.

Dictation gives me sixty seconds of WAV-file goodness, with the recording beginning as soon as it opens.  I used the “Voice Speed Dial” in the Settings menu to record my voice saying “Dictation”.  This device opens the application for me, and the app does the rest, leaving the WAV file with a timestamp-based filename in the Dictation directory when the Save button is hit (take your time; it won’t go more than sixty seconds).  I can then restart the recording and get another WAV file with the second button for the next result and so on, but this requires button pressing.  A third button closes the app, which is oddly enough required for this application so Voice Speed Dial can automatically reopen the application later1, when inspiration and/or regret strikes.


1 WinCE applications do not usually close by themselves, which can eat up a lot of memory if you don’t manage that yourself.  Of course, this comes in handy if you want the FlashCards application to keep your place, as I do.

Adventures in C# .NET Programming November 4, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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I promised a while ago to write a review of James Foxall’s Teach Yourself Visual C# 2008 in 24 Hours and I meant it at the time.  Instead I have found that I learned enough from his first book Teach Yourself Visual Basic 2008 in 24 Hours: Complete Starter Kit.  The two languages are much alike and the .NET framework supports them both.  I am probably going to stick with C# since my company uses it in its various scientific applications.  The other reason is that I need to learn a heck of a lot more than how to use the interface, so I started to program a flashcard program for Spanish.

Like all frail, elderly types I have real trouble learning a new language so I looked for a flashcard program with mixed success.  Professional programs for my (also frail, elderly) phone (a WinCE 5.0 job) cost a pile and had really tiny fonts.  I decided to make my own.

I don’t know that I need to tell you how hard this was or how many times I had to ask for help from wiser minds (thanks Ben, Shabnam and Mark!) with the requisite 10000 hours under their belts.  But I muddled through somehow and even figured out what went wrong on the last few things without help from my cow-orkers (hyphenation intentional).

Here’s how it looks on the emulator:

image image

You can see that it’s set for the second set of flashcards (twenty words a set, fifty sets).  The top button flips to a new Spanish word.  The bottom will show you the English equivalent if you press it.  My phone and the emulator have trouble with accented Spanish characters, but that’s a job for the future.

I learned to parse files from WordsGalore, a free flashcard program for PC which I strongly recommend, with support for Spanish, Chinese and Korean.  I haven’t included much of WordsGalore’s marvelous functionality such as the elimination of words in which the student is already confident, but the phone probably can’t handle it (not just that I can’t program it, yet).  I learned the basics of debugging using Visual Studio 2008.  I learned to plagiarize by examining other’s code (“only please to call it ‘research’”).  I learned how to make .CAB files for easy distribution (look here).  I learned that my cow-orkers are very patient with me, for which I am truly grateful.

Exciting update:  I modified it to include a switch button which allows the English words to display first instead:


A Sunset Cruise October 10, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Publishing Tools.
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An excellent excuse for playing with Autostitch.

A Cloudy Day September 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Publishing Tools, Toys, Video.
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Bitcasa is a startup which installs a small utility on your drive, making it possible to have infinite storage in the cloud ($10/month for infinite, that’s infinite, storage). "We will be the last storage device or service you ever buy."  Mac only, but follow the link to sign up for the beta and wait for the PC version (like me).  I am seriously getting this for my daughter and her film classwork.

Cupric Calligraphics May 23, 2011

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This guy makes copper printing plate the same way we make circuit boards (ferric chloride).


The prints come out really nicely.  I didn’t ask him what ink he uses, but I suspect it’s a standard oil-based one.  This can be a nice method: you can print delicate traces using this kind of technology just like circuit boards.

3D Scanning on the Web! April 25, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Brilliant words, Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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A website (http://www.my3dscanner.com) has a nifty little service that allows you to create a pointcloud (and therefore potentially a fully-realized 3D scan) from a series of photographs taken ~60 degrees apart.  You walk around it rather than rotating the object, so this can be used on a statue in a park, or a person holding very, very still.


Still very tricky, but the idea is great.  They have a helpful set of instructions on how to photograph correctly and another on how to make a 3D model out of the resulting point cloud.  Also, it’s all written in a friendly and cheerful tone, which is even better.