Posts Tagged 'technology'

Buying from China: Lost in translation

I’ve been buying stuff from China for a long time, and for a long time it was a pleasant experience. Sure, the items purchased might take a while to arrive, but they always arrived. I was never disappointed or surprised. But lately things seem to have changed.

(post updated 5 Feb 2017)

Continue reading ‘Buying from China: Lost in translation’

The ESR electronics Tricorder: Update

In case anyone is wondering, the ESR project isn’t dead, I’m just waiting for some small OLED displays to show up. I ordered these a while back (in December), and they have yet to arrive. The plan is to use some of the empty space on the front panel next to the display already slated to go there. Here’s what it looks like:


It has a 128 x 32 display space with an I2C interface. You can find this OLED display on eBay, and they go for around $4 each.

It was originally slated to arrive by the 3rd of January, and the tracking info says it’s supposed to show up today, so we’ll see.


Dropbox Drops the Ball

I like use a secure file sharing service to move things around between myself, publishers, co-workers, and so  on. For years I’ve been using Dropbox and its directory syncing feature under Linux without any major hassles. I finally decided to pay them some money and get more storage space, and it was fine at first. But lately that all changed. Continue reading ‘Dropbox Drops the Ball’

Fear of the Unknown

Humans are strange creatures. In general we like things to be nice and predictable; the same tomorrow as today, and the same as yesterday. I don’t have any hard data to reference, but I suspect that, overall, the human race is rather conservative. We don’t like new things that challenge our current beliefs and knowledge. This is ironic, considering that we now live in a time where change is about the only reliable constant, and new things are appearing at an astounding pace. Continue reading ‘Fear of the Unknown’

From the frying pan into the fire

Update: The book is now called “Arduino: A Technical Reference”. See post above for details on the name change.

My latest book, “Arduino In a Nutshell” has finally gone into production. Whew, it took almost a year to write, and it’s probably a tie with “Practical Electronics” for the amount of artwork and photos. I sometimes wonder if I’m actually writing graphic stories for nerds like myself.

It won’t be on the shelves in the bookstores for about another month or so, depending on how much production wrestling is required. But in the meantime you can get the “Early Release”, which is O’Reilly’s way of drumming up interest before they actually light up the printing presses.

The title, by the way, was O’Reilly’s idea, not mine. I wanted to call it “The Arduino Technical Reference” because that is what it really is. But, O’Reilly has been publishing the nutshell series of books for over 20 years, and I guess they want to stick with it.


Why Building Stuff is Hard

If you work in a technology related field you may have encountered the situation where someone, be it a well-meaning relative or a new acquaintance at a party, will hear about what you do for a living and then say “Hey, I have this great idea! Why don’t I tell you about it and you can make it, then we can get rich!”.  Or, they might say (as my father was want to do) “You’re smart, why aren’t you working for yourself building clever things instead of working for someone else?”

The person saying this may even be well-educated and not someone who seemed to escape from a mental hospital (my father was a medical doctor). They might even have a really good idea. Sadly, however, what they don’t have is a clue. This is one of the main reasons I go out of my way to avoid telling people what I do for a living and the things I’ve worked on. I get weary of the typical stereotypes, so I just mumble something about working with computers and then try to wander off before they can press the issue.

But it isn’t just the clueless folks who think that building stuff is easy. People who should know better (in my opinion, anyway) also fall into the trap of thinking that things should be easy. The problem is that there is a very, very big step between putting some sketches and notes on a piece of paper, and actually making something that works. The notes and sketches are the easy part, and BS costs nothing.

Continue reading ‘Why Building Stuff is Hard’

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Little Buddy

An awesome little friend

Jordi the Sheltie passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 14. He was the most awesome dog I've ever known.