Don’t piss off an Engineer

0.002+e= 535.4936555 and the limit of the sum of ½n as n goes to infinity is 1 so the check is made out for approximately $536.49.

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Only a few weeks left!!!

I really can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by this go around. Just today I was looking at a calendar and it really started to sink in just how little time is left. I’m both excited and a little nervous at the same time. I guess that’s always true with change but I really don’t know what to expect this time around. I think the Astro’s lineup looks strong but with the soft pitching rotation I’m not sure. Either way March 31st is just around the corner. I love opening day…what did you think I was talking about? Seriously, I can’t wait for Julianna to arrive on March 12th. I know Monique is ready to have her insides back to normal and I’m ready for all the late nights taking care of the baby (with the Astros on the office Tivo of course).

Back to the Astros…Everyone has reported to spring training but our young superstar, Hunter Pence, is home recovering from lacerations on his right hand and knee. Guess how he got these injuries…He ran through a sliding glass door that he thought was open! I love it…at least the injuries aren’t serious. My favorite part of the story –

Pence jumped into the shower to wash the broken glass off of him, but when he noticed he was excessively bleeding, he called his parents. They told him to call 911, and soon after, according to Pence, “firemen, emergency people and medics came to the house.”

He called home first…what a guy.

Babies and Baseball – March is going to be AWESOME!!!

The Reason We Lost Our Deposit…

A lot of people ask when I started collecting tools…truth is I’ve always been into tools but the real collecting started after Monique and I moved into our first apartment. I just found these pictures in our box of non-digital goodies and thought you might like them. I only wish I had a picture of the welding machine that lived on the coffee table…

I don’t think the landlord appreciated the table saw and band saw in the office

office.jpg

A typical evening sitting in the living room, watching some TV and building a stainless steel pressure vessel for one of Monique’s experiments…

couch.jpg

Over the next few days I’ll do some entries on some of the things I built in our apartment living room…let’s just say they needed new carpet when we moved out.

Blues Name Generator

My friend Ryan recently posted a hilarious list of rules for writing the blues. Rule number 19 says

Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:

  1. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.);
  2. First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.);
  3. Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.);

Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not “Kiwi.”)

So I took it at face value and built my own Blues name generator. So far my favorite that it’s come up with is “SARS Mango McKinley or Albino Pineapple Polk”. Let me know what it comes up with for you

Click here for my Blues Name Generator

Blogging made easy with Word 2007

I really love blogging but one of the biggest headaches is dealing with the online text editors. I’ve found that the editor built into WordPress is one of the best out there but even it is a bit quirky. Spell Check works in Firefox but not Internet Explorer. Keyboard shortcuts for formatting are hit and miss. Adding a picture is a major hassle…First you have to compress the image, and then you have to upload the picture and add it to the text of the blog. Resizing the image and laying it out in line with the text is next to impossible without switching to the raw code and editing the HTML by hand. I love coding web sites but when I want to blog I just want to blog. I want a true what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor.

Enter Microsoft Word 2007. Imagine using all the document creation tools you’re familiar with in Word as the editor for your blog. Word 2007 can directly upload to most blog servers. I don’t mean typing in Word and then cutting and pasting into a new blog post on your server. I mean typing in Word, formatting in Word, adding pictures in Word and then clicking Publish in Word and having it show up on your server. Word 2007 can upload directly to the following blogs; Windows Live Spaces, Blogger (blogspot), SharePoint blog, Community Server, TypePad, WordPress, and most others if you have an API for your blog. You can even define an alternate location for images if you don’t want them hosted on the same server as your blog.

To begin, open Word 2007 and click on the new “Office Button” located in the top left corner of Word and choose publish>blog and bang out a post. Insert any images and format everything the way you want it (there are lots of online tutorials for using Word). You could type your post and then click publish>blog but switching to blog mode first will eliminate the page breaks and margins. It will also limit your image and page formatting to things that can be recreated in HTML.

The first time you enter blogging mode you will be prompted for your account information. If you have more than one blog don’t worry, Word can handle this.

Simply select your blog provider and click next

Enter the URL for your blog in the space provided (mine is eventhorizons.wordpress.com), enter your username and password, check “Remember Password” if you want to be able to publish without entering this information next time. Click “Picture Options” if you want to define another web server to host you images on.

As soon as you switch to blog mode you can access to the blog toolbar.

This has some great features.

Publish

Clicking this button will post your entry to your blog and upload all your images. You can choose to Publish or Publish as Draft. I always select draft so that I can check it one last time online before I make it public.


Home Page

This simply opens your default browser to your blogs home page

Insert Category

Clicking this button adds a category dropdown to your post. You can select from any of the categories that you’ve previously defined on your server or enter a new one. Click it again to add a second or third category to the posting.

Open Existing

This is really cool. Clicking here will give you a list of all of your posts. Even post that you did not create with Word show up. Using this tool you can open previous post in Word and edit them.

Manage Accounts

This menu lets you edit your account settings or setup additional blogs to manage. If multiple blogs are configured you can select one to be the default.

When you create a post there is a dropdown to select your account (if it is different from the default).

You can also title your post

Double clicking a picture pulls up the picture toolbar which has a number of great features including cropping, borders, edge effects (soft edges, glow, drop shadows, bevels, reflections, and 3-D rotations), brightness, contrast and compression. Compression is one of the most useful…By default Word will upload compressed JPEGS of all your images…no more need to edit your pictures before blogging and no more 3MB pictures on your blog!

Picture with shadow and reflection

Picture with 3-D rotation, soft edges, and bevel.

There are about 40 presents as well as full control over all the options for an almost infinite amount of combinations.

Hope this saves you some time on future blog posts (course now you need to buy Office 2007!)

 

Make your own 360 degree panoramic picture

I often get asked for advice on setting up a home shop so I started writing a series of posts on selecting tools and arranging your work space when I realized I wanted to include one of those cool interactive 360º scrollable & zoomable panoramic pictures you often see on web sites advertising vacation spots. These images offer users a virtual tour of the environment and just look really cool. I begin the process of learning how to create these images with one goal in mind. It had to be free! I wasn’t going to buy some panoramic lens for my camera, I wasn’t going to pay some company to produce it, and I wasn’t going to shell out any money for software. After 2 weeks of research and failed experiments I finally put all the pieces together. Below you can see the results of the experiment and a step by step how-to guide if you would like to make your own virtual tour (for free).

Click here to take a virtual tour of my shop
(4 Mb file)

launch.jpg

To begin, you simply need a camera and a tripod. Take a series of pictures (15-20) rotating the camera a few degrees each time. When finished, you should have a set of pictures covering the entire 360º view. Try to make sure your pictures have some overlap as this helps the software when it stitches together the final panorama. I also found it usefull to put the camera in manual mode. In auto mode the camera adjusts the picture based on lighting. As the lighting may change for different angles, your pictures may not all look the same. This will make your final panorama have obvious seams. Manual mode fixes that. Here are the images I took of the shop. As you can see, each picture shows a slightly different area of the shop (and you can see the jatoba table waiting to be completed on the floor…).

thumbnails.jpg

Now you need to download the software that will create the single panoramic image from your photos. The best free tool I found was AutoStitch. After downloading and launching AutoStitch you can play with a few settings (although I used most of the defaults). I did change the scale value (edit>options) to 50% to increase the detail of the final product.

auto1.jpg

Now click file>open and select all the images from earlier. As soon as you click OK, AutoStitch will begin to create your panoramic image and save it as pano.jpg in the same directory as the original files. Be sure to move or rename the file if you want to try again as AutoStitch will overwrite without warning. Mine looked like this when it was complete.

panoramasmall.jpg

The next tool you need is some software to take your panoramic image and turn it into an interactive movie. I found that the free version of Pano2QVTR worked great. It can even add clickable hotspots to your movie but I choose not to use that feature. After installing and launching Pano2QVTR you’ll need to change one setting. The default setting for image type is equirectangular but you need to choose cylindrical.

2q1.jpg

Next you need to tell it where to find your panoramic image (pano.jpg) from AutoStitch. Click the … button next to the “Cylindrical image” field and locate your panoramic image file

2q2.jpg

Under the “QuickTime Output filename” you can choose the location for your completed movie. Under the settings tab you can also change the size and quality of the final movie. When you are ready click “Create” and Pano2QVTR will take care of the rest. It’s surprisingly fast (about 30 seconds) and upon completion it will show you a preview of your movie. After that you can email or post it to the web if you choose. If you are posting to a web site, here is the minimum code for embeding a quicktime movie.

<object CLASSID=”clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B” width=”600″ height=”420″>
<param name=”src” value=”garage.mov”>
<param name=”controller” value=”true”>
</object>

 

There are other options you can choose to include such as an auto download of the QuickTime plugin. A excellent explanation for all the embedding options can be found here.

Have fun making your own panoramic movies!

PS the shop setup posts are coming soon…