Something is not right with the boards

They came in a while ago.  I figured out the double-sided surface mounting.  Just flip them over and the parts don’t seem to fall off :).

One board, I cut the traces to enable it to act as the MCU in (source of the signal from the Arduino).  This bypasses the local LEDs and just provides a signal to the serial chip.  The idea here is that the Arduino and the first board can be remote to the first set of LEDs.  That seems to work as expected.

The second board works – to a degree.  The first LED comes on and works just as desired.  Meaning the serial communication from the first board is also working as designed.

For the life of me, the second LED on the second board – not really working.

Could be connections – might be the layout – have hit a bit of a roadblock.

More updates when I’ve had some time to review the situation.

The autonomous road

Let’s begin with today and see how full autonomy in vehicles might progress.  Today there are some auto-driving cars, but we know they are still just safety features that help you avoid collision more than anything else.  Soon, however, these features will be able to take full control of the car and you can sit back and be just a passenger.   Once this point is reached there will be rapid changes in where and how driving is done.

Freeways will be split – not like HOV lanes are today, no.  Imagine all the Northbound lanes closed to all cars where a driver is in control.  The southbound lanes will be split down the middle and drivers will be using this as their new north-south lanes.  Those northbound lanes will be only for fully autonomous cars.

But there won’t be any lanes.  Traffic will run swiftly in both directions on any side of the road that works for the flow of traffic.  You may be heading South at a full clip when the car needs to move over to the left (into oncoming traffic) and the cars will make a path – the car will float over to the left and exit as needed.  A bit like the video here but the water is northbound and the car is the swing.

Traffic signs will no longer be needed and perhaps digital markers will replace them.  Easier for the car to know what’s up ahead if there are sudden changes beyond its ability.

Once the freeway is 100% autonomous then all old lanes in both directions will be used (again in any direction) and the median will be removed.  There probably won’t be any lines painted (waste of paint by now).

Autonomy also brings a freedom from congestion.  Your car could pick you up – drop your kids off at school, drop you off at work, go backhoe and be available for your spouse all day until it needs to grab you or the kids or both.  Schedule conflict? Uber-like services or your friend’s car will fill in the gap.  With cars always doing work or being there for the person that needs it – you have fewer cars, less need for parking in a city.  If these cars are gas or electric they can go fill themselves up without wasting your time or more importantly encouraging the (now mythical) range anxiety.

Sure there’s trucks and buses and other large vehicles that will need to be developed too.

Old cars will still have a life – where you can use it on country roads and enjoy the top down or whatever.  Not forever, but don’t worry most of us will outlive our nonautonomous car and the nostalgia we have for them.

This is not tomorrow – this is the final destination. Well until these things can fly of course.

Enjoy the future.


— Range anxiety:  I don’t have it.  When all-electric cars have a 200+ mile range and (a big and) people charge their car @ home when they sleep, the anxiety effect will be gone.  Even better the fully autonomous car will always know its limits and will be sure to charge when necessary and keep that in mind for longer trips.  Also lastly; battery swap we know is possible and fully automatic and autonomous battery swap is clearly within reach.

Stop with all the unnecessary lights!

Constellations Everything is turned off but… My fridge glows, my Stove glows, my TV glows, my hard drive glows, my bathroom outlet glows.  Everything glows.  This bombardment of light, from all the different things in my house, I’ve started to call it a constellation – my personal constellation.  It is light pollution people!  These products suck.  When they are OFF they should be invisible and silent in every way.  Sony thank you but a red led light on my TV or PS3 does nothing for me when your devices are supposed to be OFF.  The only godsend I’ve encountered is Tivo’s ability to select how annoying or not you want the LEDs to be (and very much OFF is an option).  All off THANK YOU!  The basic hard drive green flashing light is ill-conceived when you can’t turn it OFF!  Who cares if the hard drive on a computer is doing stuff.  Really.  YOU don’t.

Yes I have a significant investment in BLACK tape to cover these things up.  I question this however from the simple perspective of perfection.  WWSJD!  What Would Steve Jobs Do!

Do you GET IT NOW!  We are subjected to these ever-increasing constellations of light and they are all 100% unnecessary in our lives.  Unless I install a night light in a room – when the lights are off and the Sun is down – it should be DARK.

Do something like post this on FaceBook and ask all your friends to re-post it.  Personal constellations are not the where we need to be headed.

ConstallationsMr. McYork.

I’ll tell you the future – it’s a no brainer

Today I thought of EvRA; “Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety”.  I made this up (maybe someone else has already). Honestly, I had this on day one.  The very first day.  It did continue to linger for a while but it never seems to really enter my thoughts now.  What was it like way back in the day when there was no such thing as a Gas station.  I guess you could always get a tow from a horse right?  Those crazy horseless carriages! Well, it’s not so crazy anymore.  We have electricity in more places than we have cell phone service.  Think about it.  We have electricity in many more places than we have gas stations.

Ok, allright – you still need to plan your day or your trip if you will be exceeding your range. Charging an EV takes time [but maybe not – keep reading].  Some are not yet suitable for long trips at all.  We know this, it’s not a surprise to anyone.  If you only drive on a road trip once in a while you can borrow or rent a vehicle with a greater range – someday a larger electric and for now probably a gas or hybrid vehicle.  I don’t see the big deal.  If your driving habits don’t fit within the range or time parameters that an electric vehicle can offer then you are not in a position to find them very practical at this time.  That’s a no-brainer choice today.

What about a two-car family  Here the second car could easily be a gas, hybrid or some longer range variation.  I am not a huge fan of this suggestion but it will help increase the EV population and there was probably two cars in the driveway already anyhow (in such situations).  [full disclosure – no I did not sell my other car when I bought the EV and we don’t have a hybrid either.  Three cars, with the two gas ones mostly unused – I can sleep at night.]

Charge iT!

Tesla is building a future.  The one where the time to charge is very much a practical rest stop on a long trip.  They’ve produced a car that does not really need a charge up during the day (for most people’s habits).  The supercharger stations take care of the long haul trips.  If they execute on plan the entire populated region of the US will probably be available to you without EvRA.  Others are trying to take EvRA completely out of the equation too.  I just can’t get enough of this company and how it is executing on an amazing promise – unlimited range:  My only wish is that an American car company would step up to the plate here (Ford are you listening?).  It looks in the pictures like the battery _may_ be or I hope becomes swappable.  These are nonconflicting ideas – fast charging and battery swapping.

Someday, in the future, you will find it more and more difficult to find a gas station.  At some point, long distance trips in a gas car will require a significant amount of planning.

Someday, in the future, the same EV I have today will get a new battery with 4x the range it has today.

Someday in the future, you will find this blog posting and sigh “those were the days of gas cars kids”.

Engineering Roundtable – Audio Spectrum Analysis and Fire!

In today’s edition of “Engineering Roundtable,” SparkFun Engineer Chris Taylor guides you through the use of a microcontroller to perform audio spectrum analysis. He explains the basics of working with the audio spectrum and ultimately links up his project with a propane torch. Why? Well…why not? Check it out:

You can find the Vimeo version here

Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them! Thanks for watching and we’ll see you again soon with another edition of “Engineering Roundtable!”

via [SparkFun Electronics – Recent News Posts](

Now learn that fun math

Not much to say here.  Just DO IT! is a wonderful site. If you have a passion for learning or re-learning you will want to bookmark the site. I reconfirmed my ability to add and subtract 🙂 I am going to do every math lesson until I top out (maybe at division).

Free learning – if you have kids – create accounts now. This will help every kid and you’ll be sorry if you don’t also sign up like I have and sharpen your skills.

Math is fun, yes indeed.

I love to listen to these guys chat, Leo and Steve.  Recently I needed to get a friend up to speed on a secure key exchange. Not the simplest topic on the roster.  Just how do we share a secret over the Internet?  While we know others are watching and intercepting our communications.  We do it with math.  Math, when used like this, forces you to want to learn even more math.  Really, math is fun and you will be smart if you learn math.

The first 15 minutes of this podcast prove to me that the more math you can take in the better off you will be in life. 100% relevant regardless of when it was recorded.

Who did not see thing one comming? Verified by…

Visa and others.  The first time the page came up “verified by Visa” you said “cool this is a very good thing Visa is making the web safer”.  If you thought that you can now go to the back of the class.  You should have been thinking what sort of phishing scam is this?  Where is the URL bar for this popup and why would I sign up for this service from this little dialog on some site?  Does Visa even have a website?  Does my bank know about this?

Now for those of you at the back of the class, the zbot botnet has been augmented to shoot phish in a barrel.  You are the phish, unfortunately.  Thank you, Visa for the swimming lessons (NOT).

Click to read more news on the zbot botnet and how it is mimicking the Verified by screens.

Rogers Pooched my 3G iPad and weekend – auto renew FAIL

Seems when Rogers did the magic auto renew stuff with Apple iTunes or however it is glued together, it all fell apart.  I give my experience of auto-renew an epic FAIL.  July 1st long weekend started Thursday and my iPad 3G stopped working the day before.  I am going on a 4 day weekend with 8 geeks that do not yet have iPads.  Who each influence 10 to 100+ geeks.  They all still don’t have iPads (and none will likely have Rogers 3G iPads).  Of all things I am posting this from a computer with a keyboard – how painfully near real-time / out of touch is that!  I could not bring myself to “show it off” when it had no network access.  It was camping in the woods – wifi was distant.  3G would have worked (iPhone had no issues).  Several *611 calls have enabled me to talk to many friendly people – none of which have resolved the fact that I have no 3G wireless access via my iPad yet.  I seem to have paid for 3G access.  Just have not seen any on my iPad yet.  It is July 5th today FYI, Rogers.

Rogers – where is the front page link to the solution I need?  This did not affect anyone else?

Rogers – where is the email with the link to the fix I need? I have made phone calls…

Rogers where is the phone call and or voicemail telling me what to click to fix this? you said someone would get back to me.

Apple where is my Bell or Telus SIM (Telus plan looks like it sucks, I’ll take Bell please). Consider sending one out to all iPad owners proactively and thus encourage a competitive mobile data market in Canada.

Rogers, please refund me all the missed days – still missing… and credit me a good chunk if I am going to stick around.

Bell, I am probably asking Rogers to get out of my iPad and I’d like to invite you in.  Call me.

UPDATE: July 8th – no 3G data yet.  Was given a ticket number for the affected users.  I assumed they’d put me on a list of iPads to fix when I called them on June 30th… but calling again on July 6th(?) got me on the list (again?).  They are keeping a list – are you on the list?

UPDATE: July 12th – no 3G data yet.  The main ticket number provided to me was PT00016046 if anyone has any ideas on how to move this along – that’d be nice.

UPDATE: July 17th – OK I woke up today and 3G is now working on my iPad.  How’d that magic happen?  Not sure.  A re-boot helped it sync time properly (was a few minutes off).  Now – I have 13 days remaining on my 30 days with zero ability to use data for those days gone by – there has to be something that will just magically fix that too?  Ready and waiting for the clock to be reset.  It is not my idea of fun to hang out on a support line.  Nor is it my idea of fun to be called and told to call support (and maybe later in the day to avoid the wait time).  As much as I use Rogers (three accounts) I am not wishing this experience on others.  Currently, the display on the “cellular data” link says it expires on 07/30/10.  I hope this date moves – I dread calling yet again, but perhaps I may, just to voice the concept that our agreement has not been met (me data, you money).