Practical Example of Technology Advances of the Last Ten Years

Ten years ago, I walked into high school with a brand new Toshiba Satellite 2210 CDT. It wasn’t state-of-the-art, but it was pretty decent for its time. It had a 500 MHz Intel Celeron processor, 64 MB of RAM, and a 6 GB hard drive (which took up about 62.9 cm3, or 0.1 GB/cm3). The laptop had a 12.1″ 800×600 display and outside measured dimensions of 31.5 cm x 26.2 cm x 4.8 cm for a volume of 3960 cm3. It cost around $2000 at retail.

Today, I walk around with my Motorola Droid. It has a 550 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 256 MB of RAM, and a 16 GB solid state memory chip (only 0.165 cm3, or 96.97 GB/cm3; which is almost 1000 times more dense than the hard drive in my laptop!) The display is 3.7″ 854 x 480 resolution. The phone measures 6.00cm x 11.58cm x 1.370 cm for a volume of 95.2 cm3, and cost around $600 at retail1. And it fits in my pocket, and can make phone calls to anyone in the world, and can check email, and can watch videos, and determine my location anywhere in the world down to 4m or so, and I can speak to it and it will do things!

That’s amazing.

  1. assuming you just brought the phone outright with no contract requirements 

Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2

Everyone was shocked; I hadn’t even once considered that the epicenter could be Port-au-Prince.

My first reaction was untempered, “Let’s go! People need our help!” However, Bruce kindly and patiently explained our position: a group of white people, with no experience in disaster recovery, who can’t speak French or Creole, and don’t have place to stay, food to eat, or water to drink. Of course, Bruce was right; we would have been more of burden than anything. I guess that’s the kind of insight one gets after working in Haiti for twenty-five years.

Life continued, more or less, as normal. Bruce was working overtime trying to coordinate relief efforts with his organization, CrossWorld, and we did what we could for the people of Port-au-Prince from where we were by praying. The only real impact to us was that our days were a bit shorter since Bruce had so much going on.

18.0 mm || 1/250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti

70.0 mm || 1/320 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti

38.0 mm || 1/400 || f/4.2 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest Department, Haiti

Continue reading “Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2”

Senior Project: Day ??

I’ve given up hope of tying to keep track of how many days I have been working at my senior project. Honestly, there really is no good reasons, except to differentiate one day from the next.

In any event, work still continues on the robot. On Monday and Tuesday I worked on converting an old serial port ISA card into a new serial port ISA card. One might ask what I did to make such an astonishing converstion…other than add the word “new.” All computers need 12 volts to run the serial ports. Older computers accomplished this by actually having a 12 volt feed from the PSU (power supply unit) to the MB (motherboard). New computers don’t have the 12 volt feed on the motherboard. Instead, 10 volts is generated by a MAX232 chip. This prevents the board from having both 12 volts and 5 volts on the board at the same time, a potentially fatal issue. So anyways, instead of dragging 12 volts onto the board, I just removed half the chips (1489’s and 1488’s), resistors, and capacitors on the old serial port ISA card and replace them all with a handful of caps on a MAX232 chip dead-bugged on top of the 8250.

Today we finally got the GPS system working. It required a bit of working because the GPS system wants to accept 9 volts to 36 volts, but we only want to give it 5 volts. Since the electronics inside run at 3.3 volts, we knew there had to be a way to directly input power else where on the board. After some figeting, we finally got it to spew some data. And thus, the GPS worked. I’m currently working on integrating the GPS system into Robocart (that’s the new name I’ve given what used to be called R2 or robot two).

Senior Project: Day 9 & 10 / Lights, Curtain, Action!

I went into the UW on Saturday after rehersals to work on R2 for a few hours. When I got there, Andy and David were outside playing it. Unfortunatly, just before I had arrived, one of the power relays fried and had to be replaced. I replaced the relay and then called it a day.

Today I’ve been working on finishing up the final safety relays. The next task will be to supply 12volts to the GPS unit. And then hopefully I can start writting code tomorrow.

We start our short four day run of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying today. The show runs the next four days @ 7pm. Tickets for today and tomorrow are not quite sold out yet, so there is still time to come!!

Canyonlands: The Hike

Zone: 12
Aprox. 4094700 Northing
Aprox. 509500 Easting

<– Begin encrypted section –> Passcode: Alpha-Charlie

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8
<-- End encrypted section -->

The primary reason I haven’t written the last few days was simply because I could not get a GPS signal. However, when I got to the well this morning, I was able to get a signal and thus far, maintain that signal. In any event, we are now doing "solo time." I figure this would be as good a time to recount the events of the last few days as any other time.

As I stated previously, I was rejected to Caltech. It still is not a big deal as I was pretty settled on CSM for some time now. However, all my planning now will be specifically based on the fact that I will be at CSM next year. We drove from Tuba City to Navajo Mountain. The drive was about 2 hours long. We arrived at the base (12, 4092845N, 510556E) and packed our bags. It took some time, but we got everything packed up and the guys left at approximately 1:24pm MST. I assume the girls took off shortly after that, but I really have no idea. We arrived at base camp (12, ????????N, ??????E) about 2 hours later. We set up our tents and then headed west along side the mountain for about 1.5km. We discovered a very cool set of caves and spent some time climbing in them before heading back to base camp. That night we had mac and cheese for dinner. It was good. I took a short nap then woke for camp fire. The specific details of camp fire stay with the group, but I can relate the basic jest of things. Everyone sits in a circle. Rob asks a question and passes the object around. In this case, it was part of an ancient pot that we found. The first time around, nobody speaks, just listens. The next time around people talk. Rob asked 3 questions. At the end of the last question, the object goes around one more time so that the leaders can comment on anything. After that, Rob throws some tobacco on the fire. Then we went to sleep.

On Tuesday, I woke up kinda late. I didn’t have my water bottles in the right place so they didn’t get filled up during the morning run. I ended up borrowing a liter from Saul. We had oatmeal for breakfast and then prepared for a six hour day hike. The hike was actually quite wonderful at times. We climbed from about 6505 to 8004 and about 7 or 8km to the east. The view from the top was absolutely amazing. We could see for at least 500km. Off to the west we saw 3 smoke stacks, probably from a coal burning electrical plant. The hike down was almost as hard as the hike up. People quickly ran out of water as the hike neared the 7 hour mark. Upon arrival at base camp, several brave souls offered to go get more water from the well 5km down. When they got back we cooked rice and chicken that had about 120% of the daily recommended value of sodium chloride (salt). I could defiantly taste it in the food, but it was necessary to replace all the salt my body lost during the hike. I made some no bake cheese cake for the group that Rob supplied. Then we sat around and did the fire thing again, sans tobacco, for whatever reason. We ate the cheese cake then went to bed. I remembered to put my water bottles in the correct place.