12 Hours of Goodness

So, last night I finally won an oscilloscope. I got a Tektronix TDS210 for $660.
Good news #1!

Then a few hours later my new backup software that I am writing successfully ran it’s first remote backup!
Good news #2!

Then this morning I got up and there was an email from Pollstar telling me The Pixies announced a Kansas City show (finally!) on the day before I leave for Florida, so I’ll be able to go! It was looking like I was going to completely miss out on this tour!
Good news #3!

That’s a hell of a 12 hours!

I had some other good news but it was gastrointestinal in nature, and you don’t really want to hear about that.

What’s New?

So, what’s new?

Well, the Orb is temporarily on hold while I wait to be able to find, or afford parts. I need a certain type of LED, which is generally called a SuperFlux LED and they are proving hard to find. The reason I want these LEDs specifically is because unlike normal LEDs they are square, so they fit together in arrays very nicely. Additionally you can get huge viewing angles and they will sink a lot more current (and therefore be more bright) than normal LEDs. So far I have only been able to find a supplier that will sell me tubes of 60 each. So, with three colors and at just over a dollar per part… well, I don’t really have the money to spend $400 on LEDs right now.

If you know of a place to buy SuperFlux LEDs in quantities less than 20, let me know!

In that same vein, I’m finally looking to buy an oscilloscope. I’ve been working on electronics most of my life and I’ve always wanted one, but they were always so damn expensive. Well, they are still damn expensive but I think it’s probably time to get one. I’m looking at a Tektronix Digital Storage Oscilloscope. Either a TDS 220 or TDS 210. Both are ultra cool, and can be had for around $800 on eBay. The only problem is I keep getting outbid 🙂 Soon, soon.

I almost had a TDS 210 yesterday, but at the last minute I discovered that the description of the item was false and the scope was kinda broken. I let that one go.

In the software realm, I’m currently writing what will be a free, open source network/remote backup suite. It will let you have a central (or distributed) backup storage area and will be able to back up from most platforms out there. Initial targets include Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD and OS X. It supports the idea of community backups, so if you want to make a deal with a friend to back each other’s stuff up you can do that very easily. It has incremental, full and differential backups and all the communications and storage is encrypted. That way you can have your friend back up your sensitive or private files and he can’t read them.

I’m looking at probably a month or so before I do an initial realease for it. So check back here now and then for news. I’d also love to know if something like this already exists so I can stop wasting my time if so 🙂

In personal news, I started to study Japanese (nihongo) a few days ago, which has been really interesting. I’ve always wanted to learn another language, and the romance languages always seemed so boring, and similar. Japanese is a pretty strong departure from what I am used to, so it’s going to be a pretty tough experience, but I think it will be fun. I picked up “Pimsluer’s Japanese for English Speakers” on Audible, the Random House Japanese-English Dictionary and Living Language’s “Japanese Course Book” which I’ve been studying like crazy. So, if you’d like me to tell you that I understand Japanese a little (Nihongo ga sukoshi wakarimas) or tell you that the weather is nice (Ii otenki desu ne) I’m your man. For anything else, better give me a few years 🙂

And that’s it for now.

Java Sucks

Every time I try to do something cool in Java I am reminded again how much it sucks. For instance, you can now query for root paths on the filesystem which is operating system independant. On Windows you will get a list of drive letters. On UNIX you’ll just get /. On MacOS you’ll get a list of volumes and so on.

That works great. What doesn’t work great is if you want to see if you can read the drive letters returned by Windows. On my machine I get A:, C:, D:, and E:. I think, “Hey, it would be useful to be able to tell if there is a disk in drive A:” Unfortunatly there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that. If you do any kind of IO query on that drive and there is no disk in the drive you get a big system modal error box that there is no way to programmatically close. Your program freezes never to return. If you are writing a client program that’s not too bad, the user can just dismiss the dialog but if you are trying to write a daemon type program such as the one I am trying to write you are totally screwed.

So, if anyone knows how to query the A: drive (a floppy drive in my case) without locking the program if there’s no disk in the drive, please let me know.


Man, that was some good sleeping. I took a Claritin D last night cause I was feeling the allergy burn and as usual it knocked me out. I had a long, slow dream all night (or at least seemed like all night, probably took 10 seconds) that ended just as some Air (the band) slowly woke me up before the alarm. I feel great!