Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why I haven't been posting

Last night (or this morning, rather; it was around 2am) I was sitting at my computer working on the MySpace marketing software we'll be using to promote our tour when my mind drifted to thoughts of homework. "Hmm, I have a presentation due on the 13th," I thought. "Isn't that in a couple days? I should probably get started on that sometime."

Ha. Yeah, read the timestamp on this post and you'll get it.

After about 2 hours of frantically pulling together a presentation, I managed to slip into bed at around 4am. This has been more or less my life recently. It does not help that I have started working weekends out in McMinnville.

Today I got a free day, which is why I'm posting. I owe this free day to a chemical spill on my university's campus. They had to shut everything down for about 8 hours while cleanup crews mopped up the (apparently) explosive substance.

I spent today working on the software. (Which might be open-sourced after I'm done; stay tuned kiddies!)

Days before that I was working on getting that drum machine to work. Here's what it looks like as of now:

The newly shiny innards

The difference a 42 watt CFL makes

Yeah, remember that faint, faint glow in the first photos? Wasn't nearly bright enough to illuminate the fiducial marker (the weird blobby thing in the top photo) for the webcam. So I stripped out all my LEDs, went down to the hardware store (wow, I feel manly saying that), grabbed a plug, a heater/lamp cord, and a light socket, soldered the suckers together, plopped a 150 watt equivalent (42 watt actual) CFL into the socket, and put the whole thing in the box.

Unfortunately this created some massive glare on the glass of the picture frame. The webcam couldn't see the fiducial marker behind the giant bright spot. Figuring that if I spread the light more evenly in the box it would help, I lined the inside with aluminum foil, shiny side up. It did help a little, but it still wasn't enough. Then I made an aluminum foil roof for the light bulb, which made it work quite a bit better. Strangely enough it seems that putting the roof on almost reduced the light hitting the fiducial to the point where the webcam can't see it again. There's like this magic angle for the roof where there's enough light escaping and where there's not enough glare to make a huge difference. Most of the surface works fine now, but there's still this one section where the camera tends to lose the marker...

I'm gonna' make it work guys. Really, I am. It's just going to take some time. Once it's happily pumping out beats I'll be sure to get a video up here! Same goes for that software. I'm writing it in PHP and Javascript, a very unorthodox choice for what I'm doing since it's designed to run for only one user at a time per install. However, JQuery and "simple_html_dom" seduced me with their simple, simple syntax and I'm finding the going a lot faster than I thought. I also needed to have something I could operate from the browser on Lauren's iPhone. This way I can keep marketing the tour even as we're rolling down the road out in the middle of nowhere.

Okay, that's enough of an update for now, eh?

Happy April 13th.


  1. Wow, good luck with that. Looks pretty challenging, but I'm sure you've probably already got it figured out by now.

  2. Actually, all the stuff that happened leading to the death of the tour kinda' sucked all the wind out of that project. I also realized that my design was all wrong and that there was no way I was going to be able to eliminate that glare. I have the beginnings of a second one, but right now there's really no pressing need to finish it. Maybe once I'm done with my novels (if you count the one I'll be writing this November) and I find myself in need of projects again...