• I did a little work for a friend who sells art online. I've only recently learned that the language used is a variant of Ruby; I'm interested in learning more.

    For some odd reason, she thought it necessary to compensate me. She checked out my wish list on Amazon and remembered that my favorite actor is Danny Kaye. So she did some legwork and bought me an out-of-print laserdisc: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

    I'm so excited! The rear cover was a little munged up, but the disc looks just fine. A different friend recommended it to me as her favorite Danny Kaye movie.

    Copyright law allows one archival copy, so I've hooked the LD player to the Tivo. With luck, the Tivo will allow me to record the movie, then burn it to a DVD.

    All I need now is two free hours to watch it!

  • Many of you know I damaged my batteries by allowing them to discharge to 6V. The question at this point is: how much capacity do they have, and how much can I get back?

    Well, they seem to rest around 128V after a full charge. They're supposed to rest at 132V. And with a bottom of 105V, that's... 85% of their original capacity. Assuming you can use voltage to determine capacity in AGM batteries, which you really can't. (You need to check voltage under load, which is hard to do with just your eyes.)

    I'm using every technique I can think of to restore the batteries. Some of those techniques require a lot of monitoring.

    You can imagine my surprise when I went to check the charge yesterday and discovered that I was draining 18 amps! I cut off the charger and my E-meter claimed I was actually draining 28 amps!

    Continue reading "Judebert's EV Conversion Diary: Ghost Drain"

  • My work computer is pretty restricted. I don't get any admin privileges at all. This is occasionally a real problem, like when I need something for development. But usually it's only a pain; although my browser's Java plugin only supports 1.4, I can't imagine a business case when I need a better one; after all, we're developing a real application, not an applet.

    One such pain is the text in XScreenSaver. It's using uptime to provide text for the Star Wars screensaver and similar text-based modules, which is just boring. I'm allowed to specify a command that will produce text output, like fortune, but I'd like to get an RSS feed. And since xscreensaver-text isn't installed, all I can use is elinks, which puts raw HTML in the output.

    So, being the Alpha Geek, I learned enough Python to read a feed. It's installed by default, but the Universal Feed Parser isn't. I had to figure out how to manipulate the module search path, read the arguments, and traverse and combine lists and dictionaries. No biggie. The source to my python "screenfeed" script is available if you read more.

    Continue reading "Alpha Geek Learns Python for Star Wars XScreenSaver"


  • FindJar is an online search engine that tries to tell Java programmers which jar file holds the class they need. It's always done a mediocre job for me.

    The FindJar Python script does a fantastic job; it searches your local directories. That way you don't have to worry about results from libraries you've never heard of, or from jars so outdated they blight the rest of your code.

    I'd probably like regular expression parsing, and maybe a printout of all the classes in all the jar files. After all, I've got a few thousand, and it can take a while to search. But hey -- it's Free, I can see the source.

    Time to learn Python!

  • Eri's sister usually watches after Omi and Opi (since she lives next door), but she's going down to Miami to help her daughter with the oncoming string of hurricanes. They need some supervision, so Omi and Opi are staying at our house, even though their home is in no direct danger.

    That means Eri and I are sleeping in the kids' rooms. Sleeping apart isn't so difficult; it's a little disheartening, but not so bad. But last night Eri woke up our youngest daughter, Kayla, on the way to bed.

    Kayla has been suffering from anxiety over mummies.

    No, seriously. And somehow I don't think the "Oh, no, mummies! I'd better walk slightly faster!" argument is a good tack to take with her.

    Continue reading "Rough Night"