For the week of 2009-11-29 in Tweets

  • RT @wilw: Q: What is Wheaton's Law? A: "Don't be a dick!" #
  • getting ready to leave colorado 🙁 #fb #
  • upgraded from Office 2010 Technical Preview to Office 2010 Beta #
  • heading back to seattle. F9 843 #fb #
  • @k_hack "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" by Billy Joel in reply to k_hack #
  • back in the 206, again #fb #
  • Hip new thing #
  • signed up for National Lab Day and so should you! #fb #
  • @kel_m where are you writing? in reply to kel_m #
  • @kel_m I assumed somewhere online (e.g. a blog). Let me rephrase: are you going to share your story at some point? in reply to kel_m #
  • American Airlines will let you stand-by on an earlier (or later) flight on the same day for free ( #
  • email kung fu is what it's all about #fb #
  • Had an excellent Happy Thanksgiving #fb #
  • YES! I'm finally getting a new computer at work! I hope I get new monitors as well (yes, that's a plural). #fb #
  • Gone paintballing #fb #
  • is now a member of AOPA: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association #fb #

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On a Mission For God in Haiti

I will be sending out letters later this week, but I wanted to provide an update on my plans now!


Dear Friends,

It is with great excitement that I write to you about this next step in life. As you know, I graduated this past May from the Colorado School of Mines with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering. After traveling in Europe for nine weeks, I started my job at Boeing as an entry level Design and Analysis Engineer for Integrated Defense Systems. For a while, I have known that God has blessed me with special talents, especially those involving technology; and over the last several years, I have felt called to use my talents for His glory.

Last spring, I was looking for a summer mission trip that would be able to use to my skills as an engineer. Although I pursued several different avenues, I didn’t find anything that struck a chord with me. Excuses will always be prevalent, especially in today’s society.

This fall, I’ve been attending Convergence, the young adult ministry at UPC. Through an interesting set of short conversations with a variety of people over the last few month, I’ve decided that it’s high time I let my “religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” (G. K. Chesterton)

I have been given the opportunity to spend ten days serving the Lord in Haiti. I will travel with 11 others as we come along side UPC ministry partners Bruce and Deb Robinson. We will be engaged in a variety of work ranging from irrigation projects to rebuilding structures damaged during hurricane season, and more. I have no doubt that God will be able to use me and my skills for His work.

I am writing to ask if you would be my partner in this service through prayer and/or financial support. I am looking for a group of people to commit to praying for me and my team during this winter’s experience. As for finances, we are asked to raise $1500.

I know that in this economy that is a lot to ask, so any contribution you could make to this trip would be greatly appreciated; and I promise none of it will go to pay off my school loans. Your gift will be fully tax deductible (your cancelled check serves as a receipt), and any contributions I receive above my individual cost will be applied to team expenses as a whole. Please make any checks payable to UPC and send the enclosed response card with your donation by December 31 if possible.

This is a pretty exciting trip and I’m looking forward to seeing what God is up to. If you would like to stay appraised of my goings-on, I will be writing about my process and trip to Haiti on my web site, which you can visit at

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV))

Your Brother in Christ,


Download a copy of this letter and fundraising response form: Haiti Letter (PDF: 595KB)

Cost of Christmas Lights

A friend of my had a concern as to the cost to keep the Christmas lights on during this holiday season. As it so happens, I have a specialty in electrical systems. So, how much does it cost?

Let’s assume 5 strands of 150 lights each, for a total of 750 lights. We’re going to be old school and use the regular “white” Christmas lights, not LED’s. Christmas lights use “about 25 watts per 50-bulb strand”12. 750 lights is electrically equivalent to 15 50-bulb strands, or  15 \: \text{50-bulb strands} \times 25 \: \text{watts} = 375 \: \text{watts}. The base rate for electricity in Seattle3 is 3.86¢4 per kWh5.

Thus,  375 \: \text{watts} \times \frac{1 \: \text{kW}}{1000 \: \text{watts}} \times \frac{24 \: \text{hours}}{\text{day}} \times 60 \: \text{days} \times \frac{\$0.036  }{\text{kW} \times \text{hour}} = \$19.40

Remember, that’s if you left the lights on all the time for two straight months. If you left them on for 8 hours a day instead of 24 hours, that would be $6.48.

Similarly, if you only used 2 strands of 150-bulbs each for 8 hours a day, that would be $2.59.

Or, if you used 2 strands of 50-bulbs each for 8 hours a days, that would also be grand total of 86.4 cents.

Point being, it doesn’t cost all that much to run your Christmas lights. It costs an order of magnitude less if you use LEDs, which use about 0.05 to 0.07 watts per a bulb. Move the decimal one place to the left on the above costs and you have a pretty good idea of what it costs to run an equivalent6 LED string of lights.

And that’s how engineering works, folks.

NB: I’m experimenting with using \LaTeX to display equations. It’s really quite spiffy.

  1. HowStuffWorks 

  2. GreenOptions reports consumption for each mini-light at about 0.5 to 1 watt 


  4. assuming you’re a residential user and use less than 16kWh/month 

  5. kWh is a funny measurement and is actually not time based. For example, a 100 watt bulb that is on for one hour uses 100 watt-hours of energy. Similarly, a 100 watt bulb that is on for 30 minutes uses 50 watt-hours of energy. 

  6. by number of lights, not output of light 

For the week of 2009-11-22 in Tweets

  • remedied a mistake I made five years ago and got my #U2 tickets. #fb #
  • is testifying in a mock trial. I'm a 36 year old car salesman. #fb #
  • @jessegamble Dick's in reply to jessegamble #
  • just realized that I really don't have any bonafide peers at work. #
  • Closed out my #WaMu, er, #Chase accounts. It was my first savings and later my first checking account. I almost shed a tear. Almost. #fb #
  • is gonna be in Colorado in < 24 hours! #
  • @jackie1776 Stand By Me with @wilw in reply to jackie1776 #
  • probably has the best friends in the world #fb #
  • At the airport. UA 742 #fb #
  • Vacation commencing in 3…2…1…Yeaaaa #fb #
  • @lastmidnight WHAT??!?!? You hadn't been yet?? Crime against humanity! in reply to lastmidnight #
  • @TrinitronX for sure. what are your plans for tomorrow daytime? and where is this "blue ice" place…and what is it? in reply to TrinitronX #
  • My computer still works on the Mines network! #
  • watching Glee makes me want to take voice lessons. #fb #
  • RT @samuelgoodwin: @AndrewFerguson is wearing pants! Omg! #
  • @jackie1776 it is the breakfast…and lunch…and dinner of college students in reply to jackie1776 #

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Getting Touchpad to Work with Windows 7

I’ve been using Windows 7 on my Toshiba M700 Tablet since the RTM was available on MSDN a couple of months ago. And it’s been great! No kidding. There were a handful of drivers I needed to download from Toshiba, but everything just works, except for the mouse.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The mouse works just fine. It’s all the special features that don’t work. And that’s not the fault of Microsoft, it’s the fault of Toshiba for not having the needed drivers.

Today though, I got sick of it. One of my biggest issues is that while I’m typing, my hands are very near the touchpad, practically on top. And more often than not, I’ll ever so gently catch the touchpad with my palm, and reposition the cursor. It drives me nuts. Fortunately it hasn’t been an issue because most of the time my tablet is docked at home. However, now that I’m on vacation and using it on the go, it’s been a huge issue.

The solution was easy though. After searching through some forums, several people noted that version 7.2.303.107 of the Alps Pointing Device Driver was working for people using all sorts of laptops with Windows 7 (including Dells).

The best place I found to get it was from the Toshiba Drivers Download Site for the Portege A600. Select “Touchpad” from the categories and click “Alps Pointing Device Driver (32/64bit) (v7.2.303.107; 10-06-2008; 7M)” from the results. It’s designed for Vista 32-/64-bit, however I’m using it on Windows 7 64-bit just fine.

Problem solved!

Vacation Time in Colorado

Sweet merciful days of awesome! Vacation is here! This is my first official vacation since starting work (I’ve had a couple of sick days, but no fun days off as of yet). I can’t help but chuckle that as my first vacation destination, I’ve chosen to return to the scene of the crime my alma mater. I worked so hard to get away and now I can’t help but return, must be some form of Stockholm Syndrome.

I touched down tonight in Denver at 8pm. I don’t really have plans for Thursday, so who wants to hang out?

Friday is an awesome episode of The Feed, but I’m free in morning and early afternoon.

Saturday is pretty open, except for around dinner time.

Sunday is open except for after 7pm when I’m hoping to head over to Merge.

I’ll be around Monday, but I’m hoping to hang out with Brother if he’ll let me.

For the week of 2009-11-15 in Tweets

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In BOSS Magazine

I think I would categorize this under “Creative Commons Success Stories.”

I was contacted a few months ago by publication company, Alter Communications, inquiring if they could use some of my photos in an upcoming issue of BOSS magazine, a quarterly publication for Dixon Valve & Coupling Company. This was during my Europe trip and I happened to be in Turkey at the time; but I was able to work everything out over email with Kim, the senior graphic designer, in just a few hours – which I think is quite amazing. All I really wanted was a byline credit and some copies of the magazine when it came out, and Kim was happy to provide both.

Fast forward to about a week ago, a flat package arrived for me at home. Inside were a couple copies of BOSS magazine, with a personal note (hand written, none the less) thanking me for the use of my pictures. I was pretty stoked. You can see the online version here: BOSS Magazine Fall 2009, or swing by my place if you want to see the hard copy.

Boss Magazine/Fall 2009 – Pages 12-13:
Boss Magazine - Fall 2009 - Pages 12 and 13

Boss Magazine/Fall 2009 – Page 14:
Boss Magazine - Fall 2009 - Page 14

As a side note, these were the still in the days1 I was shooting JPG2. To be honest, the photos weren’t that good, at least in my opinion. Had they been RAW, I would have been able to do quite a bit to pretty them up. But hey, if it works: it works!

Here are the original pictures: Fireworks moments before colapse and The Stardust collapsing.

  1. Jeez, I make that sound like it was 20 years ago or was about 3 

  2. instead of RAW, which I do now 

Designing The Brunton: 2009-2010

Earlier this year, I was asked if I would like to work on designing the front cover of The Brunton. Despite everything I was trying to get accomplished, I took this task on a way get some creative exercise. Working with the Student Activities Office (the department responsible for publishing The Brunton), I was able to come up with a pretty spiffy design:

Brunton: 2009-2010

I was also able to draw on my extensive collection of photos to pick 12 photos for display on the inside:

Inside Pictures_0001_BackgroundInside Pictures_0004_BackgroundInside Pictures_0007_BackgroundInside Pictures_0008_BackgroundInside Pictures_0009_BackgroundInside Pictures_0011_BackgroundInside Pictures_0012_BackgroundInside Pictures_0013_BackgroundInside Pictures_0014_BackgroundInside Pictures_0015_BackgroundInside Pictures_0016_BackgroundInside Pictures_0017_Background

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Andrew Ferguson ’08 as an Enginerd, Mines Women’s Rugby, an Engineer participates in Engineering Days activies, Eileen Sullivan ’09 bores a hole in a rock during Engineering Days, Audrey Nelson ’07 enjoys a powder day, Lance Atkins ’09 and Nicole Zambon hiking Mt. Democrat, the Mines Marching Band during Homecoming, Ben Keiser ’07 stands in the Orecart during the march to the state capital, Blue Key member Corinne Johnson ’09 gets doused in whitewash while supervising the M-Climb, new LED lights on the M, Paul Johnson ’08 is Marvin the Miner along with Blaster.

It was a pretty fun project and didn’t take too much time. The Student Activities Office was kind enough to give me a lot of creative control, with only a few requirements. I also got a credit and a short biography on the first page of the The Brunton, which I thought was pretty spiffy:

Front cover and calendar photos taken by Andrew Ferguson, 2009 CSM graduate with a Degree in Engineering, Electrical Specialty. Front cover designed using a USGS topographic map of the Golden Quadrangle (7.5 minute series).

Over the course of his five years at Mines, Andrew amassed a wide variety of photos through his work with The Oredigger and personal projects.

After graduating, Andrew returned to the Seattle area to work in the aerospace industry. You can follow him on his blog and see more of his photos, from Mines and around the world, at

All of the photos used in this year’s Brunton are of Mines students or places related to Mines

Update: I found some of the original designs I was working with. This was after the stage where I picked the initial photo to use on the front:

Version 1

Version 2

Version 3

Version 4

Version 5

Version 5b