What's New...

November 19 2017: During the first week of October, the TOW International Data Exchange - TIDE - is held, usually in Orlando. I go to Orlando, but because I take Jerri and Faith, it turns into a family vacation at Disney World and Universal Studios, and I miss out on the TIDE almost entirely. See the details on our adventures on the family page.

Also, the AZ page got tweaked some, in part because we've now been to the new-ish MiAN restaurant in the TEP building downtown. Pretty good, especially the ambiance of the patio dining on Broadway.


November 6 2017: Last Saturday was the 10th annual Tucson Comic-Con. We went for one day, just to get a taste, and because Bily Dee Williams ("Lando Calrissian" of "Star Wars") and Gates McFadden ("Beverly Crusher" of "Star Trek Next Generation") were presenting. Williams was a bit disappointing; he's getting pretty old and he's not really there. McFadden was a bit more interesting, and has relatable experience well beyond her Star Trek role - she is also very, well, bold or assertive. Reminded me a bit of the elderly Julie Newmar ("Catwoman" in the classic '60s "Batman" serial), who we saw a Phoenix a few years back. R2D2 at TCC There were lots of local fan club setups, such as the Tucson Steampunk Society, and several Star Wars-related clubs, including the one that produced this great radio-controlled R2D2 model. We took in a somewhat dumb Star Wars panel (hearing bloggers speculate for an hour on the "Last Jedi" trailers is a bit tiresome) and had lunch off a food truck in the patio (after standing in line for a half-hour; there was definitely room for more trucks). The best part for me, as it was in Phoenix, was the exhibition hall.

Tucson Comic-Con

Pretty decent for Tucson. Similar to Phoenix, just a bit smaller, and not nearly as choked with cosplayers. All in all, the Tucson Comic-Con was a pretty good show for our "village" (as McFadden designates Tucson), and I believe that, after ten years, it is well-enough established that it will probably continue to grow.

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Some years ago, I got an excellent X10 line analyzer from JVDE. He has other X10 gadgets, such as a more capable replacement for the unobtainable PCS05 two-way powerline interface. I've added this resource to the X10 section of the tech page.


November 1 2017: After 33 years with Hughes Aircraft Company and Raytheon, I am now retired.

Which means I will have more time for exploring my electronics and software interests, at least, if I settle into a part-time job. Because I will need a job - retiring to not having to work at all is something the previous generation enjoyed.

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Arizona page updated with some restaurant changes. Pizzeria Bianco is no longer in Tucson (although there are rumours they may set up somewhere else, just not on expensive Congress), we've been to MiAN at the patio underneath the new-ish TEP building, and there are some newcomers to the Originals. Also a new event: Tucson Comic-Con! We will be attending some on Saturday!

Tucson Comic-Con Decal


September 3 2017: Toward the end of July, Faith and I both had Friday off, so the family took a long weekend in Phoenix. See what we did.


August 26 2017: Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Huntsville, and I had a late flight out and nothing to do earlier. The previous evening I had been watching the little Huntsville tourism channel on the television in my hotel room and saw an advertisement for the Veteran's Memorial Museum. I hadn't ever been there, so Friday morning I went down Memorial Blvd to Airport and turned west to where Huntsville's airport used to be. It was rainy that day, so I couldn't see the stuff the museum had outside, but the collection inside was very well presented for such a little place. And, very extensive; I didn't have time to do it justice in the two hours I had. Some things I saw were very interesting for an old TOW guy. I had never seen an Improved TOW Vehicle other than photographs and remarks in documents and software source code. Here I saw an ITV for reals! Front view with the business end of the "hammerhead", and side view with the aft hatch open and the tracks.

ITV Front ViewITV Side View

AH-1S Port ViewHere also is the AH-1S version of the Cobra attack helicopter, the variant upon which TOW was first mounted. This is the port-side view, and the TOW launcher on that side is visible.

AH-1S Starboard ViewThis is the starboard view head-on. The Telescopic Sight Unit is visible on the nose of the aircraft.

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Also last month, with effectively a full week off for the Fourth, Jerri and Faith and I went up to Fort Collins, Colorado, to see Charity and celebrate Independence Day. Of course, we did more than that, and the full account is on the Family page.

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And more recently, we did a weekend trip up to sweltering Phoenix. Story forthcoming. Found another Centennial sign on the 202 loop near Van Buren.


May 19 2017: I've been collecting single-board computers to play with, originally with an eye to controlling a string of individually-addressable Christmas lights. It started with a Raspberry Pi, and then progressed to four more via Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects. Since I've been playing with SBCs more than microcontrollers lately, I figured it was high time to make a Single Board Computer page.


May 13 2017: Some cleanup on the Arizona page:

  • Sad, sad news. Thanks (in part) to misguided leftist Tucson's minimum wage law, the family Mexican restaurant, Midway Molina's, is closing.
  • Downtown Proper restaurant is gone. But an exciting new Oriental/Sushi place has sprung up in the TEP building. Likewise, Simplicit has opened in the restaurant space at the Temple of Music and Art. Carriage House started off with a Sunday dim-sum buffet, but they seem to have dropped that now and are strictly a cooking school and event venue.
  • There used to be webcams downtown, on campus, and along the freeway. They don't seem to be working anymore.
  • Don't know how I've overlooked the fascinating Hydra clothing shop for so long, with their interesting window displays and their passionate commitment to downtown.

AND

  • I'm adopting a new hobby - visiting the County Fairs in this Great State. In another state, this might be problematic, but Arizona has 15. Already been to three. A map of the counties and info on their fairs has been added to the end of the page.

April 26 2017: Not new: A training course for hacking in the Linux Kernel. At one point it was a contest; the contest part is just about over, but the challengers say "it will live on, it will just look a bit different". The Eudyptula Challenge (via LWN News).

Also, The Zephyr Project, a "modular, scalable platform designed for connected, resource-strained devices", which is code for "microcontrollers". Probably not 8-bitters, though, although it lists Arduino. Not based on Linux, but rather a Wind River product that got open-sourced. Via LWN News, again.


March 04 2017: Nice writeup on the TI-99/4A in The Register. Includes a video of a "Megademo" written for the 4A... this year!


February 22 2017: Facebook is pretty much a useless waste of time. It is not a total waste of time, however; sometimes you pick terrific hints off it, like a Tucson photographer who uses drones for aerial photos and videos.

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This is the first post I've made since we moved off of dial-up to DSL. Yes, I've finally left the Dark Ages and moved up to the Trailing Edge. 1Mb/s isn't High Speed Internet, but it is certainly Higher Speed than 56Kbaud!

Heyu control pageAND, the DSL modem has built-in Wireless. Beyond the simple "I can use my tablet to look at webcomics from the living room", I can also run an Apache server, put up a PHP script to call heyu, so now, "I can use my tablet to turn on the X10-controlled lights from the living room".


February 11 2017: I'm seeing P-51 Mustangs and F-86 Sabres flying formation with A-10s and F-35s lately. They train for air shows here. We always go to the Davis-Monthan Air Show, but that happens on even-numbered years, such as last year. I've added the link to the AZ page.


February 8 2017: The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is finishing up this week. What started as a single show by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society has now grown to fill tents and hotel showrooms all over the west side of Tucson and as far up as Marana and Oro Valley. Labradorite heartWe visited the conglomeration of vendors at Kino Sportspark, and Jerri bought some onyx animal figures and a fossil sand-dollar, and I threw in a labradorite heart. Maybe in previous shows there was labradorite, but I saw a lot of it this time. Labradorite cabIt's not as nice as a well-cut cab or slab, but it shows some color.

The thing, though, is I was seeing quite a number of displays of minerals that I had never heard of before. I would have thought that people had already discovered all the minerals, which are merely combinations of elements in the Earth's crust, but not so - new ones are being discovered all the time, such as three previously unknown uranium minerals found in a mine in Utah just last year (from Product Development news):

LeesiteLeesite

LeoszilarditeLeoszilardite (after Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard - hey, you discover a new mineral, you can name it whatever you want!)

RedcanyoniteRedcanyonite

However, there is a bit of annoyance to me, in that there is so much non-lapidary or non-mineralogical stuff involved with the gem and mineral show. Quite a lot of stuff being sold at the Kino site had nothing whatever to do with gems or minerals, such as yard art (Jerri bought a sheet-metal quail) and wind spinners (Jerri bought a stainless-steel heart spinner) and women's clothing (Jerri looked but didn't buy). It takes on a bit of a "county fair" ambiance that detracts from the main focus of the show. But the New Age nonsense really gets me. Of the hefty 200-plus page glossy color guidebook to this year's fair, fully half of it was occupied by articles about the various minerals and their "healing" or "spiritual" properties. For example, "... helps open up your chakras and meridians, creating a harmonious and happy positive energy". I can't really object to the vendors supplying crystal wands and massage stones and the like to a segment of the market that buys into that sort of stuff - it's still money, of course - but to see this pseudo-religious quackery presented in a serious tone in the greater part of the official guidebook... it's annoying. More than just advertisements, which I could just laugh off. I get the spiritual darkness of the "millions of years" necessarily attached to all the fossil displays, but at least I know where that's coming from, and how to respond, so I'm not dismayed or annoyed to see that in an "official" context. There's nothing defensible about New Age spiritual darkness.

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The global warming alarmist have been caught at it again: NOAA cooks the books. Good article, best I've seen, describes the complexities of the matter; too bad it's on the Daily Mail site and you have to put up with the soft porn on the sidebar.

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Updated the Arizona Page: Magpies and Snow Peas are no longer Originals restaurants, and I had forgotten to add a MAJOR Tucson event that we attend pretty much every year that is coming up next month: The Tucson Festival of Books.