Tag: fail

Geekness & Howduino

So today (Tuesday 13th) is Embrace Your Geekness Day. A day to be proud (As usual I hope) of your geekness, and maybe even a day to be proud of fellow geeks. Personally, I’m proud to be a geek and I’m happy to say I’m proud of my fellow geeks, such as the wonderful Kitty, the corntastic Josie and of course the guys like Collin Mel and everyone else (Lets not go into the list of those we are not proud of, we all know who they are).

So my question is, what did you do to embrace your geekness and that of others?

In other news, HowduinoNCL is coming up, anyone going? Have anything special planned? My plan is still somewhat…vague, but I’m open to other ideas if someone wants help!

(continue reading…)

Physical Science and Mechanics?

In case you wern’t aware, over at Make, it is Physical Sciences and Mechanics Month. To quote Gareth Branwyn;

“Physical science is a broadly used term that can be applied to the study of any non-living systems and how they interact, from the foundational physical laws of energy, matter, and force to the basic principles of simple machines (lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw, gear). The term is also applied to chemistry and Earth sciences, and from there, it becomes leaky with the living, the biological. For our coverage, we’ll stick to it as it applies to simple machines, basic laws of physics, and how they become the complex mechanical systems that surrounds us.”

Gareth goes onto say that such skills may seem a little rudimentary for Make: Online readers, but the skills seems to have been lost (Whether it be because they have been forgotten or what have you), and I have to agree. I do not believe that the entire problem is one of the skills simply being pushed out of your mind by other things, but that some of the skills never made it there in the first place. Lets face it, back in school everyone was distracted by something, whether it was sleep to recover from the night before (and the late night game sessions on your playstation etc before you say it…) or that girl/boy a few desks away or whatever. Come on, even you hard core students were distracted by something at some point and you know it! Thanks to this distraction not everything the teacher said was heard, in some cases not such a great loss. Er…I mean such a great loss! A tragedy even!

As I said, I find it hard to believe that being distracted is the only reason, looking back on my experiences of physics lessons and a “Systems and Control” (S&C) class, some concepts seem to have been lacking or not there at all. In S&C efforts were made by the teacher to explain the principals of cams, gears, screws etc and their uses, essentially the concepts that were required for our final project. Little effort was made however to look at other concepts such as pulleys. To show just how limited this was, I refer to the following list of occasions when pulleys were mentioned:

  1. Mock Exam Paper – Several weeks before the actual exam (Only got that A because of a random find months earlier while looking for something else unrelated)

Yes, that list does indeed go to 1. This isn’t the only thing missing however, there are plenty of examples of things that were missing from these classes yet were apparently on the syllabus. Now don’t get me wrong, the teachers were good at what they did, but I still feel something was lacking. Another example of this was the not in the slightest known “rocket car” project. In the final year of school, three of us convinced a teacher to help us build a rocket motor powered vehicle with the aim of entering a competition ran by the BBC. While it was fair enough that the teachers would have a good chance of being a little out of their depth with such a project, the support we were provided with was, in retrospect, worrying. While you would not necessarily expect much expertise in the area of aerodynamics, some advice on the areas most likely to be under strain in a vehicle would be something, but none such advice appeared. By the end of the project (never did get to the competition after it was cancelled), we had learned more from the workshop technician than from the teachers paid to explain such things.

I’m sure if we all think about it we will be able to think of experiences were potentially important things have not been explained properly. Now I don’t want to necessarily get into the discussion of who could be to blame for such short comings in education, instead I’ll just stick with the “everyone and their goat” response (should cover it I think). What I would want to see more discussion of is what can be done to improve the situation and to some extent why we are here. Naturally the reasons are going to vary from place to place but there are going to be common factors like funding, health and safety, but what are we doing to still educate the young and old without hitting these barriers? While the main focus, in keeping with the mechanical theme, is physical sciences etc, what about electronics? General Science? What kind of ideas do you have to get more people interested?

Yes, I admit that the chances of this article making any difference to the educational systems, but theres nothing wrong with encouraging safe exploration at home right?

As a result of these educational woes, there is now a lack of knowledge for some people. I for one would love to fill in this gap, as such I urge you, if you know of any good resources, happen to be an expert or otherwise have something to contribute, please get in touch with Gareth (Link in his article), if you’re not sure about that, mention it here, I don’t bite, not so sure about anyone else though…

On a completely unrelated note, how did I miss Dropkick Murphys? Really. How?!


Ok, so you may have noticed the style of the blog just changed. Well theres a good reason for that…sort of…
It seems that at some point in the past day, an update occurred which manage to tear apart the poor defenceless theme (Which consequently died). As a result, the blog was left looking like it was skinned for a mobile device atleast 5 years old. Efforts are being made to go back to what we had, but it may not happen. More later.


It is with some minute hint of sadness that the old theme was just declared dead. After a brief coma and other such inappropriate things, it was scrapped. Why? Despite several attempts to reinstall the theme, it just failed to load properly.

mflow Review

So I just got an invite to try mflow. I have to say, don’t bother.

Aside from the shiny interface (Which looks a bit too familiar…like Spotify familiar…) it really isn’t worth it. If you strip away the user interface you get a mash up. That is all it is. You can replicate the entire service yourself with a little bit of time, a bit of programming knowledge and the APIs for a few well known services.

Once you get an invite, download the application, install it, register for an account, input your invite code for a second time, slay a goat in honour of Sigmund (Todays God of choice), hit register again and finally open the program, you are in. The user interface is well design, all be it with a couple of interesting features that are not necessarily explained. The basis of the program is to share and/or buy music. It is all a little similar to Last.fm, just in a stand alone application. As such what you can do is this;

  • Follow users
  • Be followed by users
  • Search for music
  • Buy music
  • Recommend music
  • Preview music

So what exactly makes this different to using individual sites to do this? Well nothing really, one of the main selling points is the backing from several record labels. To get a similar experience, sign up for last.fm, youtube and a decent download site such as 7digital. This way you get full tracks, cheap downloads, videos and a better community. Sure both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but honestly? I don’t see any point in wasting time with an application (Thats going to eat up your drive space where you could put your music…) when you can do everything it offers else where and without the need for an invite code.

Verdict: Could be good, but doesn’t look like it is happening any time soon.


I am in no way supported or otherwise affiliated with the companies mentioned. This review is independent and not biased.

In the event of breakage…

Don’t panic.

You can always throw some parts from Sparkfun at the problem. True fact!

While designing and building a project I have been working with I2C, a lovely protocol, works wonders. If only I can say the same about the LCD. While the other components on this months favourite bus are working wonders, the LCD is not. Even after several  months the cause of the issue is still not known. The current guess is magic  mixed with a bad address and a broken part. This in itself is not such an issue until the manufacturer is mentioned.

Normally I won’t mention manufacturers for anything other than to praise them, but on this case I’ll make a minor exception. After having enough of trying to solve the problem, Data-Modul were contacted and the response was honestly shocking. The first email was just plain ignored, not even so much as an automated response. The second email did get a response, although it did not help. Sure a relevant PDF was attached, but nothing else was despite what they claimed. Thinking it was a simple mistake, a reply was sent. This was around 2 weeks ago and there is still no reply. I can understand a lack of a response if say the emails were highly offensive, but no. This was a nice product support query that could lead to further sales (Thats if the product ever goes any where, but that is a story for another time) yet there is nothing. Highly disappointing.

Mean while back in to the main point. After the failure of the LCD, guess who should come to the rescue? Thats right a part from the lovely Sparkfun which I had handy. Just goes to show that once in a while small companies with custom built adapters are better than large corporations.

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