Buying Votes

March 15, 2012, Keynote at Hammer Forum. The plan: (1) Lays out the corruption there is, (2) describes more fully the kind of citizen funding of elections that we need, (3) tries to bring Obama back into this at the end.

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Shot on the Panasonic Lumix GH2 with the 20mm Lumix lens.

Music by 2 Live Crew & Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (AKA Brite Futures).

Starring Claudia Restrepo (@ClaudoRestrepo on Twitter)

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The Walking Dead season 2

The Walking Dead on AMC

I’m pretty disappointed with season 2 of The Walking Dead. Some important, “difficult” characters have lost their personalities… weren’t there rednecks you loved to hate in season 1? Very resourceful rednecks you hated but had to respect for their abilities?

And some very, very important details have slipped past the characters–for example, if a church has bells you can hear at great distances, and then you’re disappointed to discover it’s not real bells (that the person you’re looking for might have been ringing), but rather an electronic PA system playing a recording… someone in the group ought to be excited about how it’s powered! Maybe some redneck who thinks it’s dumb to waste all this time looking for a dumb kid who ran off on their own.

That’s the kind of thing that happens on the show I want to watch. It just doesn’t happen on The Walking Dead, no matter how much I yell at my TV.

The Walking Dead on AMC

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Upstairs Bookcases Finished

N & I needed more space for books, and though the upstairs hall was wide enough to allow a row of bookcases. Are there ever enough bookshelves?

We brainstormed for ideas at IKEA, but the height was a problem. The wall was too short for most half-height media shelves (which are shallow enough) and the hall was too narrow for most half-height bookshelves (which are short enough). Because our rental walls are so dark, we also wanted white to brighten the hall a bit. N scoured the internet for solutions. We found $1200 units, $20 units, and no middle ground. We weren’t happy about it, but settled on four $20 units from Walmart. I wanted to save the $26 shipping cost, so arranged for (free) in-store pickup. I hope I never have to choose to use Walmart again, but if I do, I’m not sure whether the free in-store pickup is worth having to deal with a Walmart store.

Picture of hallway bookcases facing bedroom

Hallway bookcases facing bedroom

Picture of hallway bookcases facing office

Hallway bookcases facing office

To get around the baseboard trim, make it easier to clean, and for easier browsing of the bottom shelf, we built bases to lift the units up about 3.5 inches. These cost around $15 in wood, nails, and paint. Another $20 went into hardware to secure the shelves to the bases, wall, and each other. The total project cost was around $120 and took about 9 hours over 3 days (excluding the delay from ordering 1 bookcase to check it out before committing to the other 3). This would be a Saturday project except for waiting for paint to dry between coats on the custom bases.

Close-up picture of custom base

Close-up of custom base

Close-up picture of bookcases over trim

Close-up of bookcases over trim

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G-code tools

Links for further investigation:

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ShopBot CNC at the TechShop

I took the ShopBot CAD/CAM and SBU at the TechShop on Sunday. Here are too few pictures of the fun.

I really wanted to build a box with tabs and slots, but was rightly convinced to scale back my expectations by the instructor, Matt Santelli, president of Exhibiments. (Incidentally, his company makes the tap handles for Fullsteam. He was great!) So, I just cut out some names.

Obviously, it’s incredibly cool to cut through stuff using computers and servos to move a 1/4″ piece of sharpened metal spinning at 12000 RPM. If this is not cool to you, please step away from the blog.

But for me, beyond the obvious coolness of CNC tools and equipment, the really interesting thing is called the toolchain, or “how do I get from concept to automating stuff?” At one end of the chain is you/your idea and at the other is the CNC mill/router.

Many CNC tools use a programming language called G-code for automation. The TechShop’s ShopBot PRS Alpha 96 does, too. But raw G-code reads like assembly.

G21 G00 Z1
G04 P2500
N50 G00 G90 G53 X14.326 Y22.226
N60 G43
N70 G01 Z.1 F.3
N80 X14.67 Z.082
N90 X13.083 Z-.001
N100 X14.67 Z-.084

So, we use some other tool(s) to create the G-code that runs the machines. This is the toolchain. There are a bunch of options, and almost none of them are free.

We used ShopBot’s PartWorks ($795 bundled with others) for class, which is a rebranded version of Vectric’s VCarve ($599).

Either program will import a variety of vector graphics formats. So, without any additional research, money, or effort, I can create ShopBot/G-code designs by using something like Inkscape to create drawings at home (though it lacks many CAD features). Then, import those drawings to PartWorks and generate toolpaths at the TechShop. And finally, cut on the ShopBot.

Need I say that I want to find alternatives for generating G-code?

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Spotted my Music in the Wild

I stumbled across someone people using music by me on Youtube. Thanks for the attribution/credit.

What’s really far out is somehow Google knows “mghicks” is associated with these even though it’s not visible in the pages (unless I missed it). Nor do they seem to be linked from the ccmixter page for the song. Now I’m curious how that’s done, and I need to put the YouTube APIs and Tools Developer’s Guide in the read later pile.
Aha! I found the linkage!

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