Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Homebrew Soda Fountains

Homebrew soda fountain head
An excellent howto on creating your own home soda fountain. No more will you be held captive by the tyrrany of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Instead you can, with a little wheeling and dealing plus elbow grease, dispense your own cold refreshing sugar water to all your friends.

In the old days, you would mix up a bunch of items into a flavoring solution. Then you'd add sugar and a certain amount of your flavoring to soda water to make a nice drink. But ever since the drug store soda fountain, people have combined these processes into one, making use of syrup.

Syrup, for soda, is mostly sugar with the flavoring already added. It is also kept to a specific consistency, so you can always know to mix X amount of syrup with Y amount of water. Typically, this is something like 4 parts water to 1 parts syrup, or 5 parts water to 1 part syrup.

Indeed, this is the ultimate kitchen accessory. My dear wife may not agree, but I'm sure she'll come around. For now it will remain on my 'todo' list. Perhaps as a winter home improvement project.

The Fleet Type Submarine Online

The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association has a wonderful collection of submarine technical manuals posted for your enjoyment. I find it especially interesting the way they try to ease the reader into the topic. It makes sense when you figure that at the time, the submarine was the height of advanced military technology on par with stealth aircraft of today.

There is, in fact, nothing very difficult to grasp about any part of a submarine torpedo tube, if those who study them do not attempt to understand them all at once.

This pamphlet, as has been said, is a torpedo tube primer, and not an engineering treatise; it includes nothing "over the head" of the beginning student of submarine torpedo tubes.

I'm a major fan of old technical books on just about any subject. I recently picked up a pair of books from the late 19th C on the care and operation of steam engines. Very cool for the retro-geek in me.

Also noted on BoingBoing.

Kancho, Fact or Fiction?

This kancho thing has been popping up everywhere, and I'm curious just how real it is.

The English Teacher in Japan blog has the following quote on this concept of Kancho (among another discussion about large penises).

Let me introduce you to a game Japanese kids like to play called "Kancho."

Actually, it's not so much a "game" as it is kids clasping their hands together, sticking out their first fingers, and shoving them up your butt. I'm really not joking.

However, a bit of googling only finds that exact same paragraph in numerous locations and other 'I hear there's this game' type postings. Therefore, I'm left to wonder if Kancho really exists, or if it is just a funny meme. Then again, it does bear a striking resemblance to boonga-boonga which is equally disturbing and so I wouldn't be surprised if it did exist.

Note: a 'spanking' version of boonga-boonga appears to have been made available as evidenced by this flyer, though astute observers will note the holster holding what may be a convenient mechanical finger.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Trying out Ubuntu

For the first time in years I have installed a 'desktop linux' distribution and I must say the results are quite shocking. I have been so used to running with Debian Stable that I really was in for a shock when I switched to Ubuntu.

To give you an idea of what I do, much of my day is spent at the computer programming and as such I have spent the time to customize my physical environment to suit my needs exactly. I have an office I constructed that houses my workstation in just the right arrangement for maximum productivity. To wit, there are four displays, three 21" Sonys and one Apple HD cinema display. All of this is driven by four video boards, the Sonys are attached to PCI based NVidias and the apple is connected via DVI to an AGP ATI board. Previously the machine sans NVidias was my gaming rig while another machine (A PII 400) was my 'work' computer driving all but the Apple Cinema display.

Desk and monitors

I decided that Debian Unstable wasn't what I wanted, especially with such good things being said about Ubuntu, which is heavily based on Debian. The one thing that Debian has had going for it is its package management system, but I'll leave that argument to others. Fact of the matter is that in 10 years of doing software development and consulting using Linux, Debian is the distribution I've clung to after trying all the others.

My first impression was WOW. I'm usually a TWM kinda guy. The first time I ran XINE under E17 and was able to playback WMV files smoother than on my Apple laptop, I was sold. My years of work with Debian made the installation and ongoing management of Ubuntu quite easy, and I don't foresee changing my distribution again in the near future.

The only problem now is that I have to reboot in order to play video games, but that's a good problem when you don't want goofing off to be too easy to achieve. The only problem I have now is fighting the desire to spell Ubuntu as Unbuntu. I soon plan to post some notes on how easy it was to get Xinerama and accelerated OpenGL running.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

USB Lock

It was an interesting experience. On the one hand I had a lot of information from the sites which had some technical discussion about the device, and on the other, I felt completely lost whenever I tried to look up information in the libusb documentation. Either way, the whole thing seems to be easy once you know how. As always, going to primary sources like the USB specification was essential. I had put it off as long as I could but after an hour or so I just had to dig around to find the information I needed to make the thing work.

I put my notes online for others because I saw a large number of 'hey please post some code' on other sites where someone only posted binaries.