• Tatiana has been participating in mathematics competitions since she got into middle school. Last night was her third and final middle school math honor banquet.

    Omi came with us. Since we can't leave Opi and Kayla at home alone, we left them with our good friends Jim and Melissa. (Thanks loads, guys!)

    Mr. White, the math teacher, handed out door prizes to all the kids. He told us all about the team accomplishments -- Jackson Heights always does amazingly well -- and each individual kid's accomplishments. These three years, one particular girl (not Tatiana) has demonstrated that she's one of the best students he's seen in his 36 years of teaching. So Tatiana had plenty of competition.

    Tatiana was on a few first-place teams, placed in many competitions, and even took first place in a logic test. (Maybe she'll be a programmer after all!) We're quite proud of her, and especially proud of all the effort she's put into her academics: she's been a straight-A student for as long as she's gotten grades.

    Congratulations, Tatiana!

  • I recently took Monday off and attended the UCF - Progress Energy Senior Design Symposium in Renewable & Sustainable Energy. Don Harper generously arranged charging for my EV behind one of the UCF engineering buildings.

    The seniors presented finished projects in a variety of alternative energy fields. They featured real-life building improvements, biodiesel extraction and automation, wind turbine control and design, ocean wave energy, mass transit monitoring, and even a electric generating bicycle and a solar cooker.

    I enjoyed talking with all the teams. They were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I was especially impressed by the wireless auto-dimming LED light bulb, the DynaLight (I want to re-illuminate my entire house with them!). But of course my favorites were the two hybrid golf cart teams.

    One team made a series hybrid golf cart, while the other made a parallel hybrid. In a series hybrid, the gas engine only generates electricity and the electric motor only pushes the wheels. They Chevy Volt will be a series hybrid. In a parallel hybrid, both the gas engine and the electric motor push the wheels. The Toyota Prius is a parallel hybrid.

    Both projects were rudimentary, and neither were applicable to a production automobile. But it was interesting to see how each team had solved the control problem.

    Continue reading "Hybrids at UCF"

  • Quantum is a really neat RTS game that I found while perusing The Linux Game Tome. Don't be put off by the name of the repository: the game runs equally well on Linux, Mac, and Windows, because it's programmed in Java. Don't be put off by the programming language, either: it starts and runs quite quickly.

    I recommend using the Quantum webstart link, since you'll not only get the up-to-date version, but libraries that are appropriate for your system, too. (This is practically necessary if you run on a 64-bit Linux machine.)

    There's no documentation, so I'm writing my own. Read on for my Quantum strategy guide.

    Continue reading "Neat RTS: Quantum"


  • This is neat: 8bitboy is a Flash program that plays Amiga mods. I owned an Amiga 3000, and there was one mod I loved and haven't heard for years. Lately a Serendipity user had problems embedding 8bitboy in his sidebar, so I decided to take a shot at it and share my favorite mods.

    The player is embedded below, and (for now) in my sidebar.

    Update: Stinkin' thing only loads its config file from the current directory. Therefore it doesn't appear in detailed entry view, archive listings, author listings, category listings... only on the front page.

    Update part 2: N00b mistake. Adding base="/progress/media/8bitboy" to my embed code fixed that problem.

    Update 2009-04-21: Used <object> tag instead of <embed> so the website would validate.


  • Since Eri took Melissa to Disney for her birthday, I needed to pick up the kids from school. And today was a busy day, too: Tatiana had forgotten her homework, so I needed to pick up Kayla, drop off Tatiana's homework, pick up Tatiana less than an hour later, drive Tatiana to her pottery class an hour after that, and pick Tatiana up again an hour after that.

    Estimating 15 minutes from all these locations in downtown Oviedo to my house, that left only 30 minutes of charging for each 6-mile round trip. I can't put 2kWh in those batteries in only 30 minutes! I needed a new plan.

    The plan was to drop off Tatiana's homework and hang around the school if they let me charge. Get some new books at the library, and see if they'd let me charge. Drop Tatiana off at pottery, eat at a restaurant that would let me charge, pick Tatiana up, and go home.

    Things didn't work out that way, though.

    Continue reading "Disappointed in Downtown Oviedo"