I moved the weblog!

June 9th, 2011 by John

Alright, folks checking me out in RSS readers and bookmarks. I’ve moved my weblog and now will be weblogging over at my new site. Update your bookmarks and RSS feeds.

I have not yet decided if I’m going to continue posting anything over here. Probably not. I also disabled all of my co-author accounts. Here’s the final count:

John: 783 posts
Keir: 89 posts
Heather: 79 posts
Corey: 10 posts
Matt: 2 posts
Paul: 1 post

On the death of Osama Bin Laden

May 1st, 2011 by John

As I was listening to the speech and to some of the reaction online to the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, the penultimate paragraph of Miroslav Volf’s book Exclusion and Embrace kept coming to mind. (I appended the appropriate reference from the bibliography to the end of the quote.)


It may be that consistent nonretaliation and nonviolence will be impossible in the world of violence. Tyrants may need to be taken down from their thrones and the madmen stopped from sowing desolation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s decision to take part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler is a well known and persuasive example of such thinking. It may also be that measures which involve preparation for the use of violent means will have to be taken to prevent tyrants and madmen from ascending to power in the first place or to keep the plethora of ordinary kinds of perpetrators that walk our streets from doing their violent work. It may be that in a world suffused with violence the issue is not simply “violence versus peace” but rather “what forms of violence could be tolerated to overcome a social ‘peace’ that coercively maintained itself through the condoned violence of injustice” (Suchocki 1995, 117). But if one decides to put on soldier’s gear instead of carrying one’s cross, one should not seek legitimation in the religion that worships the crucified Messiah. For there, the blessing is not given to the violent but to the meek. (Matthew 5:5)

Suchocki, Marjorie Hewitt. The Fall to Violence: Original Sin in Relational Theology. New York: Continuum, 1995.

No longer having a few technical difficulties

April 1st, 2011 by John

I’ve been trying to update my blog by moving it to a new server, but alas, I’m getting nothing but grief. You can see this main page but if you try to view a blog page then you get 404 errors.

I know why you get 404 errors, its because I removed the .htaccess file. If I add the .htaccess file back you can’t even access the main page of the blog and hoo boy is this a big mess.

Update: Technical difficulties resolved, mostly thanks to Gareth. Thanks Gareth!

How to turn a 555 into a voltage follower

February 24th, 2011 by John

Update: For my non-engineer friends, a 555 is a “timer” chip that turns on and off. You can program how fast it turns on and off with a few resistors and a capacitor. I figured out how to make it turn… half on and half off at the same time. I did this by putting a really fast chip in front of it that turns the 555 on and off so fast that it stays half on. And actually I can turn it 1/3rd on or 3/5ths on or any fractional voltage.

This has no usefulness or practical functionality whatsoever.

Brain seeing

December 19th, 2010 by John

The child is jumping on the couch, with her eyes closed.

“What are you doing?”
“I broke my eyes so I’m seeing with my brain instead of my eyes.”
“Yes! I’m jumping on the couch and not falling off because I can see with my brain and not my eyes.”

What the Smokey amp sounds like

November 22nd, 2010 by John

Sherlock Trollmes and the Case of the Missing Part Number

November 11th, 2010 by John

Steve: oh, but there was one thing I was going to ask: what’s the part number for U$1?
me: ah
me: found the schematic
me: U$1
me: the part number is printed right above it ;)
Steve: huh. not on the PNG you sent me
me: really?
Steve: really!
me: send me the png I sent you
Steve: on its way
me: yes it is
me: TBA820M
Steve: ok, when I open it from gmail in Firefox, I don’t see a part number
Steve: and when I download it and view it in Paint or the MS picture viewer, same thing
me: check your inbox

Read the rest of this entry »

The Smokey amp!

November 10th, 2010 by John

Tonight, egged on by the folks at Cigar Box Nation I made a little LM386 amp, the “Smokey” amp, as detailed here: http://www.dirtbox.net/diy/projects/1235/smokey-amp/


Smokey amp closeup

Smokey amp top view

Smokey amp with speaker for reference

It sounded horrible until I disconnected pins 1 and 8, dropping the gain down from 200 to about 20. It had an interesting sound but it wasn’t really my vibe. Plus the only way to adjust the volume was on the guitar itself, so it didn’t lend itself to playing quietly. Fun though, just a lm386 and two 220uf caps.

Making progress

November 10th, 2010 by John

Me, holding up a relay board

This is a relay board I’m building for a friend of a friend; I’m going to control it with an Arduino eventually. It’s for controlling a model train.

I’m happy because I got all 12 relays in and working. Next step is wiring up the sockets for the custom data cables I’m building to go to the ‘duino, and a rebuilt power supply. Read the rest of this entry »

Why don’t people look exhausted when they are done running a marathon?

November 8th, 2010 by John

The New York Times recently posted a slideshow of portraits of marathon runners who had just finished the New York City Marathon.

Jason Kottke asked why none of them looked exhausted. I can think of a few possible reasons:

1. The photographer and the photo editor decided not to print photos of people who look exhausted out of sympathy or for aesthetic reasons.

2. They didn’t stick around long enough to take photos of people towards the back of the pack, who would tend to be in worse shape.

3. The subjects had to consent beforehand. People who know or suspect they look terrible wouldn’t agree to have their photo taken.

4. These aren’t faces of people crossing the finish line, they are faces of people who had the energy to deal with a photo shoot immediately after crossing the finish line. It’s a small, self-selected sample; out of the 40,000+ people who ran, I’ll bet you can find 100 people who can run a marathon and look (relatively) fresh as a daisy.

5. You’re being fooled by the smiles. Take a closer look at the eyes.

My guess is that 5 is the most likely, followed by 4, 1, 3, 2.

Update: When randomly clicking through the list the first time, I found a lot of evidence for #5 above. When randomly clicking through the list a second time, I didn’t see much evidence for #5. I’ll have to reorder my choices as 4, 1, 3, 5, 2.