Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Paying Respects To Family

This morning we took the opportunity to visit the graves of my maternal grandparents.  This was a special trip for us because they both passed before I met Barbie.  So, in a way this was the first chance I had to introduce Barbie to them.

For the last couple of weeks the weather has been unseasonably warm (despite what Punxsutawney Phil was telling us).  However, the day that we made the drive to the cemetery, the weather turned quite cold and we found ourselves walking through several inches of snow.  Although, we weren’t expecting the cold to be comforting, it actually made it quite easy to find their headstone so it was a bit of a blessing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whoa! Winter Finally Showed Up.

Last week we had a couple days where the high temperature climbed above 60 degrees.  Then Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and winter descended upon us.  Take a look at the temperatures (and the wind-chill) that we are experiencing this weekend. Brrrrr.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Automation via Cubestormer II

I love automation.  Some people see automation as an excuse for being lazy, and I conceded that it can be.  But not always.  Below is a video that is a beautiful example of intelligent automation.



CubeStormer II solves the Rubik's Cube puzzle faster than the human world record.  This ARM Powered robot was designed, built and programmed by Mike Dobson and David Gilday, creators respectively of CubeStormer.

The mechanics are constructed entirely from LEGO, including four MINDSTORMS NXT kits, with the addition of a Samsung Galaxy S II smart phone running a custom Android app as the robot's brain. Both the MINDSTORMS NXT kits and the Samsung Galaxy SII use a variety of ARM --based processors.

The app uses the phone's camera to capture images of each face of the Rubik's Cube which it processes to determine the scrambled colors. The solution is found using an advanced two-phase algorithm, originally developed for Speedcuber, enhanced to be multi-threaded to make effective use of the smartphone's dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.2GHz processor. The software finds an efficient solution to the puzzle which is optimized specifically for the capabilities of the four-grip mechanism. The app communicates via Bluetooth with software running on the ARM microprocessors in the LEGO NXT Intelligent Bricks which controls the motors driving the robot. During the physical solve, the app uses OpenGL ES on the phone's ARM Mali-400 MP GPU to display a graphical version of the cube being solved in real time.

Human speedcubers' solve times only include the physical manipulation of the cube and don't include some time which is allowed to "inspect" the cube beforehand. Times recorded by CubeStormer II are for the total solve including: image capture, software solution calculation and physical solve.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Which Social Network Is For What?

Over the last several years various social networking applications have proliferated throughout the internet.  Some have had more success than others, with many of them collapsing and folding before now.

However, with the current “fleet” of social networks that are available it’s not always clear which ones are best suited for exactly which activities and interactions.  In fact most people, myself included use multiple networks simultaneously depending on what announcement, event or interaction I am communicating.

So, the best method to differentiate these products is to apply the "pizza" use case.  These are the specific messages that are delivered based on each social network:

I’m eating a slice of #pizza
I like pizza
This is where I eat pizza
This is a vintage photo of my pizza
Here I am eating pizza
My skills include eating pizza
Here is a pizza recipe
Now listening to “pizza'”
I’m a Google employee who eats pizza