• When last we saw my electric car, I was showing it off to nearby elementary and high school students. The vacuum pump wasn't working (although I failed to mention that), and I had developed some sort of short from the pack to the ground -- but it was only detectable when charging, in the rain.

    My charger broke not too long before Hannukah. I mailed the broken piece (the control board) via US Postal Service Express Mail, but the holiday packages held it up. They fixed the board and sent it back, saying something I had done to my regulators had caused the problem. Since I can't find anything wrong with the regs, naturally I'm charging without hooking them up to the charger, eliminating one of my safeguards against battericide.

    So as 2010 rolls in, I'm running without power brakes, no tachometer, and a flaky charging regimen. Today it was below freezing outside, which reduces lead-acid batteries' range. Of course, my car didn't make it to work.

    Continue reading "Judebert's EV Conversion Diary: Bad Start to 2010"


  • I'm glad I've painted the car; otherwise I wouldn't have had much to show off the past couple of days!

    Last Thursday I went to Hagerty High School and gave a presentation about EVs in general -- and mine in particular -- to their National Honor Society club. (Here's my EV presentation slides with notes in OpenOffice format (CreepyGirl font required for title page), and my EV presentation in PDF format, which doesn't support notes, but gets the cover right.) I estimate 100 or more students in attendance. The A/V club filmed it.

    Yesterday I presented the car to the 3rd grade classes at Carillon Elementary. I didn't have a computer to present with, so I brought lots of EV parts, including my two dead batteries.

    Continue reading "Judebert's EV Conversion Diary: Showoff"


  • I serve on a School Advisory Committee, although my children no longer attend that school. That's how I learned about two upcoming issues for Seminole County Schools: the adoption of a standardized dress code throughout the county, and the new rules for the Pledge of Allegiance, which allow children to sit respectfully if their parents have authorized it.

    I've already had trouble with the Pledge, and now this rears its ugly face. Judging by the visitor comments after the news story I quoted above, I'm in the minority. Of course, neither those grammatically incorrect ravings nor the quotes reprinted in the story reflect well on the majority's education. If these are the best arguments to be found, I'm ashamed of my neighbors. Not to mention the school system.

    What is our goal here? I'm trying to raise healthy, happy adults who can contribute to civilization. I hope that's what everyone is working on, because that's what civilization needs. Forcing kids to say the Pledge doesn't help us achieve that goal. Or any goal, for that matter.

    Take a moment to consider what the Pledge of Allegiance is. It's an oath to be devoted to the flag and the United States itself. These kids aren't old enough to make an oath. They don't know what 'allegiance' is. Forcing them to recite any oath is nothing more than indoctrination -- brainwashing, if you want to get incendiary. Any such dogma should be left solely to the parents, not the government.

    Which leads me to the event that literally had me banging my head on the table. One of the other committee members at the meeting actually said, "If that's the way the parents want their children to be raised, we're going to enforce that."

    Now we've come to the crux of the matter. That tacitly admits that saying the Pledge is a matter of upbringing, and must therefore be decided by the parents. But it also asserts that raising the children is the school's job.

    Soffe shorts

    I vehemently disagree. Education is the school's one and only job. I raise my kids.

    This segues directly into the dress code. Some of the committee members were a little upset at some of the restrictions, like the prohibitions against flip-flops and sleeveless, collarless shirts. There was even dismay over the exclusion of Soffe shorts. According to the principal, although these things don't necessarily cause problems in the elementary schools, there are problems in the middle and high schools. The flip-flops are dangerous, because they make kids trip up the stairs; the Soffe shorts are just plain distracting. (Yes, I can see how I would've been distracted when I was that age.)

    I contend that the school's job is education, and that education requires a productive learning environment. Anything that disrupts the learning environment disrupts the education, and therefore must be corrected.

    The schools already had their own dress codes, but by standardizing across all the county schools we achieve more consistent enforcement. As a side benefit, the transition between grade levels is easier, and might not require a complete wardrobe change. (My kids grow like weeds, so we change wardrobes every four months anyway.)

    One might argue that mode of dress is also a matter of upbringing. As it happens, I'd agree. But I'd also insist that the school must provide an environment where all the students can learn; otherwise it's not fulfilling its purpose. If one of the students was screaming obscenities during the Pledge (or any other time, really), I'd say that student needs to be removed until he ceases disrupting the learning environment. Same for distracting clothing: remove the student causing the disturbance and allow him to return when the disruption is corrected.

    So, I support the standardized dress code for the same reason I oppose the Pledge. I want the school to teach my kids, not raise them, and anything that prevents education needs to be corrected.

  • Since we're already getting up at 5:15 AM to get Tatiana to school, I figured we may as well watch the Orionid meteor shower.

    Although I woke her up a little late, Tatiana was ready in record time. I explained that the Orionids are the remains of Halley's Comet's last visit in 1986; even now there's still enough debris to make a meteor shower. I tried to keep expectations realistic, pointing out that the frequency was only expected to be twelve an hour (or one every five minutes), and that our terrible light pollution would probably keep us from seeing even that many. But Tatiana was still excited, since she's never seen a shooting star before.

    We saw 5 meteors in 15 minutes! Two of them we shared, and one of them was really spectacular. We also saw three satellites (we think).

    Melissa woke up early (for her) at 6:30 AM, so I told her, too. We only saw one meteor, which isn't surprising since it was getting so close to dawn and things weren't really dark at all. But her first shooting star was also a great one!

    Not a bad morning for fatherhood. I shared their first shooting star with two of my daughters!

  • I haven't added my app to the Facebook directory or even told anyone about it yet; nevertheless, I somehow wound up with more than 1000 users in my database! (And oddly, Facebook only mentioned 299 "monthly active users"; I wonder how they got that number?)

    The app is nowhere near ready, and I don't anyone seeing my plans, since stealing Facebook app ideas is rampant (just look at anything by Zynga)! So I shut it down.

    But I still need to develop. And I'd like to let my friends visit, since they'll give me good feedback without causing me trouble. What to do?

    Program them in, of course. Read on for my three-step approach.

    Continue reading "Facebook Development: Too Soon!"