Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today the government explained today how they plan to finance their '09-10 budget and as everybody suspected it's taxes all around for everybody. One of the big ticket items was an increase of approximately $8 per litre in gas taxes. The last time they tried this there was an all island riot. There was a bit of hysteria on the floor at my office and they let us off at 3pm. Nothing happened, things seem pretty calm so far but it is still early. I guess things won't be so bad this time around as they will be taxing less of our income which should work out to $50k more in our pockets, it should break even for me.

Over the past few months I have noticed the price of things have generally trended up and I have had to adjust accordingly. This week baby mama pointed out that I was one of the two people she knew that could survive. lol recognition. It is in hard times I often remember a friend, lets call her Gia, I met 4 years ago when I started working downtown. She and I became good friends quickly and she had a little crush on me but I kept my distance out of sheer respect for this girl.

To bring y'all up to speed here is a few excerpts of her life story that flattened me. She was rejected by her parents and was forced to live with extended family that didn't care for her much at a tender age. They treated her badly, they locked her outside, who does this to a 7 year old? Luckily for her a couple who knew the family saw what was happening and saved her. They took care of her and she went to live with them, this was to be her new family. They didn't have much but they made sure she finished high school.

Fast forwarding to 2005 when I met her and she is twenty one. She had a job and was putting herself through school. At this time she was still living with the people that took her in, only thing the lady migrated so it was just her and the man. He was old, had lost his job so she was taking care of him and things at home by herself, she was so responsible. For those of you who remember 2005 Jamaica saw a few hurricanes or tropical storms and of course she was up on her roof with a hammer trying to secure it before the storms passed.

I was humbled, I have yet to meet anybody with her work or life ethic. She changed my view of people and she set the bar so high that most people just seem ungrateful when I hear them complain about their hardships that often pale in comparison to what Gia has gone through but yet still presses on. What to do when life gives you lemons?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

scrabble time

As per requests in my last post here is a video made with my home made timer and my trusty canon 400d. Sorry I couldn't embed the video I'm new to this and I thought Vimeo allowed it. I also must apologize for not adding a sound track to the movie as I haven't figured out on how to get my open source tools to do it yet. On that note I should mention how I did it in the first place in case any other adventurous individual searches and finds this post.

$ cat .mplayer/mencoder.conf
profile-desc="h264 high res"
$ mencoder -nosound mf://data/scrabble/*.jpg -mf type=jpg:fps=3 -profile x264-vimeo -o final-edit.mkv
This just assumes the reader knows their way around linux. I compiled mplayer/mencoder with x264 support enabled, then ran the mencoder to compile the individual photos into a vimeo/youtube acceptable HD video format. If anyone knows of a GTK front end or a how I can encode an audio track into the mix let me know how.

On a less mentally taxing, I got my Arduino based micro controller today. This has an amtel atmega168 chip at it's core running at a whole 16MHz, has 16KB flash, 1KB RAM, 0.5KB EEPROM and a whole slew of digital and analog I/O pins. It isn't anything to gawk at but it was relatively cheap and easy to program. I haven't done much with it yet but as soon as I got home I scrambled to build a power supply[6AA batteries] for it as you can see in the background and coded my first program for it to display that message for all three of my blog readers.

I hope y'all enjoyed the time lapse video at least if the rest of this post confused you.

-- EDIT -- 16/04/09

Several days later and I just figured out how to embed videos now. you won't get the full HD video unless you click the link and go to the actual Vimeo page though so still do that :).

Scrabble time lapse from Adrian W.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The bane of my existence

For the past week I have been messing around with electronics with hope to build a timer based remote shutter trigger for my camera to make time lapse movies. I did my research, I had most of the requisite parts I only needed to find a 555 timer chip which I found locally at systems and innovations for what would work out to 0.50 USD. Normally these local people rip you off if you can even find a store that has items in stock.

So everything was a go and I plugged up my breadboard based on some schematics I found online that was supposed to achieve my stated goal.. fail. Nothing happened, well the green led did come on but the timer wasn't oscillating, so it was back to the drawing board. I read the 555 tutorial with a new goal of understanding the timer and made a new circuit of my own design that got it putting out a pulse, a step in the right direction.

I had given up from the start on doing this in the few hours I spend at home before I fall asleep at night so I carried my bits and bobs to the corporate office and was working in my cubicle *sigh*. Most of the people who noticed I was doing something other than hacking away at my keyboard made some comment of me making a device to blow them up. lol really? is this the first thing that comes to peoples mind when they see tiny wires and batteries?

After several days of failure I eventually settled on a design that gave me an adjustable pulse train with the right duty cycle I hooked it up to my camera, it works! With sparse subjects for time lapse photography I selected myself to star my first recording. I have long had interest in seeing what I did in my sleep so I left my camera snapping away as I apparently to tossed and turned but never slept on my stomach but I'm sure these details will bore you along with the rest of this post so I'll spare my readers any more and also spare y'all the HD[1080p] video of me sleeping too lol.

Also in news last week, my car battery gave up the ghost and decided to leave me stranded at home one morning. I went over to my neighbour and knocked on his window to ask him for a jump start. He was so fast asleep which I knew he would be and I felt bad but I needed to leave and wasn't about to fork out what ever taxis charge these days to get on my way. Of course he didn't have any jumper cables but us being resourceful men I fashioned two cables capable of carrying 30-45A that should be sufficient to turn over my small engine. It worked and all was well but this was the first time in 5 years of me owning my car that I turned the key and it didn't start. It was different, made me want to be more prepared, time to get a new[less old] car.. too bad I can't afford it now.