• We've been encountering lots of little problems with the Geo Metro (which still hasn't been named; "Shifty" is the current favorite).

    It seems it's been burning off oil one little puff at a time. Here it is, nearly empty, making a huge racket with the lifters.

    Sound and Fury

    Yes it's a Shakespeare quote. Read a book! Or at least go see a play!

    No original this time. You'll have to deal with YouTube sizes.

  • We recently purchased a used 1996 Geo Metro Sedan (in the forum parlance, a "4/5"). It was cheap, and mechanically sound (so far as we could determine), but it had a lot of minor problems: cosmetic, trim, and electrical.

    One of the biggest problems was that the driver's door didn't open from the inside. It doesn't sound huge, but coupled with the frequent Florida rain, and the driver's window not seating properly when rolled up... well, it needed immediate fixing. I had thought the problem was just a slipped actuator rod, but it turned out that the latch mechanism was borked.

    Locks online were $70 and up. Junkyards didn't have much in the way of Metros. I eventually found a '96 Metro Hatchback with a working lock; it looked the same to me. 30 minutes of swearing, 1/8 teaspoon of blood, and $20 later, I was ready to fulfill my wife's fondest wishes.

    Continue reading "Geo Metro Latch Swap"

  • Election day is here! Well, primary election day. I keep a log of politicians and their votes throughout the year, and when any election rolls around, I actually know what they've been up to. But I also keep every item they mail to me. I can compare their claims from year to year, validate them against my notes, and keep track of their desperation -- as measured in negative ads.

    Sometimes their mailing literature is the only thing I have to help make my decision.

    I've read enough of this stuff to see the patterns. There are always vague promises ("I'll represent you!"), nebulous qualifications ("I support family values!"), sweeping goals ("I want to fix the economy!") and ambiguous accusations ("My opponent is a Washington insider who only represents special interests!"). It's as if nobody wants to say anything specific.

    I try to completely ignore the attacks and negativity. I recognize the indeterminate claims for what they are: meaningless. I want to know specifically what you intend to do to fulfill your duties and achieve your goals.

    Here's an example of what I'm up against. Here's the stack of literature I've received this season:

    Everything: 5 deep or more (big)

    And here's the literature that made a specific claim:

    Useful literature: 1 deep (big)


    While the claim itself was verifiable, the justifications he added to this claim were... well, not so much. Still, out of that giant pile, one decent mailer.

    There was one other useful bit:

    Backfire! (big)

    Perhaps I'm asking too much, but I actually want my politicians to be people who can recognize the good in their opposition and their policies. I want somebody who can compromise, somebody who's willing to listen. This little bit of name-calling had the opposite of its intended effect. Thanks, Sandy Adams! I now have a reason to vote for John Mica!

    Good luck in your own voting endeavors. I hope you can find the specific information you need to support a decision based on your goals, your vision, and your convictions.

  • Neatest tower defense game ever. (full size)

    It's been so long since I've updated, I figure I'd better jam everything else in here and move on. Part 7 of my series covering my trip to the SDS will wrap up a parade of awesome that has included a plasma-guided rocket, aerodynamic bicycle farings, a life-size remote control and motion base, an SUV car wash, an autonomous oil-spill cleaning robot, and a couple of unusual EVs.

    This time: multi-touch computer table! Wi-fi blood pressure monitor! Mine clearing robot car!! Frikken' BEER PONG TABLE... with frikken' LASERS!!! And EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

    Sorry, I got carried away. Not so many exclamation points. But all that other stuff? Totes.

    Continue reading "UCF Senior Design Symposium 2012, Part 7"

  • On a BOAT! ... Well, NEAR a boat. (full)

    Wait, part 6? I never thought I'd get that many. On the other hand, breaking the SDS into small parts was inevitable: all that awesome can't be contained in one post.

    How much awesome? Well, so far we've seen a plasma-guided rocket, aerodynamic bicycle farings, a life-size remote control and motion base, an SUV car wash, and an autonomous oil-spill cleaning robot. Is that enough awesome for you?

    Well, maybe for you. BUT NOT FOR ME! Today I'll be showing you the EVs I saw at the SDS.

    Continue reading "UCF Senior Design Symposium 2012, Part 6"