Miscellaneous

2013-07-07

Several notes in one post this time. I thought each of them would be short, but in total it's gotten pretty long anyway. Well, you can skip the parts that don't interest you, of course.

Work

Last week I got a 3-D printed linear actuator working. We mounted a syringe on it, so it can be used as a syringe pump. With a different carriage, it can be a microscope stage. The motor we chose was perhaps slightly too weak for properly pushing or pulling a syringe; we'll probably try with a bigger one.

Anyway, I made a movie of the pump in action, so have a look (This probably won't work in Internet Explorer):

For those interested in the technical details (hi Kasper!), I'm using a Raspberry Pi to control a stepper motor driver directly. It seems to work ok, although I would be more comfortable with the extra controller chip like the ones I made just before leaving.

Privatechat

As you could read in my previous post, I started a social data interchange program that would allow people to be in control of their data. No more "you are not allowed to publish this", or worse "you are not allowed to send this private message". As an added bonus, no spying on your data by unknown entities (quite an actual topic, after Snowden's revelations).

I now have it sort of working (as some of you have seen), except for one major part and some minor parts. The major part is friend connections: it currently only supports one owner, and guests can connect to it. It will remain that way, but if a friend is running the program as well, they will be able to exchange information. Each owner then has full control over his/her side of the connection, but obviously not the other side. Anyway, it's designed for allowing this, but it isn't implemented yet.

I would like to request from whoever wants to, to test two things. The first is the simplest: log into my system as a guest, and use it to talk to me or to other guests. Because I'm the owner of the system, I can see everything, so if you want to discuss things that you don't want me to see, don't do it on my computer (sounds reasonable if I say it that way, right? It works the same if you replace "me/my" with "Google" or "Facebook").

The address of my host is https://141.219.197.52:8080. When my computer is switched off, it will not respond.

There are several "rooms" there; when you enter, a new private room for you, that nobody else (except me) can see is automatically created. Please use that for private messages.

The second thing I want people to test, is to run it as an owner. If you're interested, let me know and I'll send you the code and instructions for setting it up. It might work on Windows, but I don't know how and I'm not going to research that, so if you want to run it, either don't use Windows or be prepared to do the research yourself.

Lake Superior

Seeing that I am now living practically on the shore of Lake Superior, the largest fresh water surface of the planet, I thought I really had to visit it. Thursday was a holiday (juli 4th is when the Americans celebrate that they are not British), and friday was too isolated so that was a holiday too. Which meant I had 4 days off. I planned to go to the lake on thursday, but eventually went only today. It's about 20 km one way, so 40 in total; a nice bike trip. It was mostly flat for what's normal here, because the road there mostly follows the "river" (which doesn't have a source; it just cuts off a piece of land and connects to the lake on both ends).

I thought it was just a simple road, so I didn't pay too much attention to the map before I went. When I wasn't entirely sure where to go, I was told that I did indeed only need to follow the road. So I did, and it almost worked. I got to where I could see the lake, but not quite to the lake itself. So I walked a part over the beach to get to the lake. It looks just like a sea; it's bigger than the Netherlands; but it's not salt. I'm not sure if it's big enough for significant tides. I was told there can be big waves due to the wind, but today it was quite calm. I made a movie to give you an impression. I forgot to include myself on it, sorry about that.

The way back was slightly longer than was comfortable, but it could have been worse. My main problem in the end was that I wanted some pure water, but I had only taken water with sugar with me. Another lesson learned. Although I do remember I learned it before, but aparently it didn't stick...

When I came home, I took a quick shower and slept the rest of the day. I don't know why I needed so much sleep, but I did.

Planning to come home

Finally, I'm thinking of what to do when I come home. I will be in the Netherlands from the 21st of august, probably until the 31st or so (I still have to get the return flight). I'd like to meet some of you (if you're reading this, you're probably one of them), but I'm not sure if I have time to meet everyone I would like to. It may just not work this time, but to try to optimize, I would like to hear your limitations (including "I don't care when, but I need to know in advance"). If you would send them to me over email or privatechat, that would be great.

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