Fun Projects and Slight Disillusionment

This last week has been Thanksgiving holiday for me. Naturally, that meant it was time to dig into some projects. I've had a few ideas rolling around in my head, primarily, Android, Gnome, and Robots.

My robotics project has been going along nicely. I've got a Teensy board connected to some LEDs, and a vibrator motor. The Teensy is connected to the computer via USB. I've programmed some routines on the Teensy to fade back and forth between colors, display certain colors, run the motor, turn the 7-segment LED into a smiley face or a frown. All this stuff will eventually be the core of a robot. I'd like to hook it up to talk to the computer wirelessly, but I'm taking it one step at a time for now.

On the computer, I've got a python program running that talks to NOAA and asks about the weather conditions, and then tells the robot what sort of thing to do. It's been a fun project, and I hope someday to be able to turn the robot into something I can actually productize to geek chic.

For Gnome, I had hoped to dig in a bit to gnome-shell so that I could create some shell extensions to make it function a bit more like I expect. Unfortunately, I ran into numerous problems while trying to get as far as compiling the shell. It turns out the documentation on Gnome's site is rather out of date, and no one working on gnome-shell is particularly interested in updating it. Even getting the information necessary to get it compiling via IRC was like pulling teeth. Apparently most of the Gnome Shell devs work at RedHat, and thus work on it primarily during work hours, precluding conversation with them after hours, when people who have day jobs could work. There were definitely some nice folks there, but I got the overall feeling from chatting with them that they aren't really interested in enabling external contributors.

My android project is ongoing, but I must admit that I have a significant fear that I will brick my device, and end up with no options for repairing it. Thus, I haven't really experimented with any of the tasks that I need to to start working on an honest to god recovery partition. Clearly, I need to just get over that. After all, I can read books on my iPhone just fine, so I shouldn't really be afraid of bricking my Edge.

Non-programming projects have also been fun this week. I completed my first full-fledged Thanksgiving with a turkey and everything. Everyone said our turkey was amazing, so I feel it was a complete success. Also made pumpkin pies, and they were, as always, delicious. My roommate and I also made banana bread, and it was awesome. The great thing about all the cooking experiments this holiday is that they really didn't take that long, contrary to my memory of them. There's so much downtime while waiting for things to cook that I managed to finish Neal Stephenson's length tome "Reamde". I highly recommend giving a turkey a try some time, after all, at $.39 a pound, it's hard to better for the price of meat. As to Reamde, I'm split. It feels more like an action adventure novel than a typical Stephenson hard sci-fi. But if you're down with that, go for it. Once you get past the ridiculous premise (which is really only import for about 30 pages), the rest of the book is a fun yarn.

I hope all my readers have had a wonderful holiday, or if they are not in the US, a great week.

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