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MATE ROVs

I sure haven’t slept much as-of-late. Wednesday to Thursday, I stayed up working on Computer Architecture homework. Thursday to Friday, I stayed up to work on a ridiculous “Capstone Design” assignment. Friday to Saturday night I was awoken several times by phone calls and was waking up at 6:00 (actually didn’t wake until 7) to go to the Second Annual Pacific Northwest MATE ROV competition with Dan.

It was quite interesting seeing some real-life underwater robots, but what I found most compelling about the competition was that the drivers were not allowed to watch their robot while maneuvering it. They had to rely entirely on on-board cameras relayed through long winding tethers to small TVs located at their driver station. As Dan Marsh said, this twist gives the whole competition a much more “robotic” feel, rather than the supercharged “R/C Car” feeling that FIRST Robotics Competitions often degenerate to. MATE is much more robotics in the real world. Being able to watch the drivers attempt to operate their machines almost blindly also created a lot of real-world dramatic irony. “If only they knew,” I found myself groaning, “that they are still three feet away!”

Due to a Software Engineering meeting I had at 2:00, a late competition start, and the competition’s relative remoteness out at Evergreen State College, we had to leave before any official matches were played. However, I still had a good time.

Ryan Needs a New Laptop

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. My laptop, I am sad to report, has officially given up the ghost. Those of you familiar with Kleinoscope probably know that I have already performed surgery on it several times to replace a broken power plug:

Open-laptop surgery

Also, the keyboard’s enter key got stuck down, and in my attempts to fix that I broke it, so it kinda flops around and occasionally falls off these days. One battery is dead and the second is close. Most recently, a little bit of dripped water took out the touchpad and started causing instant lockups when moderate pressure was applied to the touchpad area. To add to the excitement, the front panel lights were all cross-wired, so the power light was always on, the hard drive light acted a lot like the power light, and the power light sometimes turned a hue I had never seen before.

So, I decided it was time for surgery again. To the tune of Sportcenter, I pulled out my tools and got to work. I had never opened up the touchpad area of the laptop before, and it was quite interesting. I found an area on the touchpad controller board where some water damage had occurred and attempted to fix it several times. Each time, the problem was not fixed until, finally, the laptop stopped turning on at all. At that point, with laptop disassembled, touchpad gone, enter key dead, batteries low, and wits at end, I decided that it was time for a new laptop.

So now I will ask all of you who dare read this far, for advice on what laptop I should get. My main criteria are:

– Portability. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ultraportable, but I am not going down the 8-pound behemoth desktop replacement pathway again. I guess I would aim for around 4 pounds ideally.
– Battery life. Kleinoscope was a P4. Without the M designation. That means it put out more heat than a toaster oven and drained batteries about as fast as a short circuit. I was not appreciative.
– Ruggedness. I treat my stuff fairly hard sometimes, and I appreciate it when it can keep up.
– Bug-free-ness. My last laptop often had trouble waking up from sleep when plugged in to power. Stuff like that is crap.

Ideally, the laptop would lose the optical drive for more battery space. I don’t mind an external optical drive. I realize this is unlikely to find in anything that’s not imported from Japan. I think I would still prefer XP over Vista at this point. I don’t need gizmos like a camera, but built-in wifi is almost a requirement. I guess that’s all. Thanks in advance for your input.

Dreams

I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when I woke up today, I remembered a dream, so I thought I’d write it down here…

One part of the dream, I was in some sort of community — a complex of condos, perhaps, and I had either a friend or a family member there (either as a guest or he also lived there). We were in the living room, which was on the ground floor, and some kids from the community had come by to talk. There were three or four of them, and they were pretty nice, and we were enjoying talking to them. Then some bigger, edgier kids came by — like teenagers or something, and starting interrupting and getting in the way of the conversation and all sorts of things. Then I remember one of us saying, next time the cool kids come by, we invite them in so that the big kids don’t interrupt us.

Then after all the kids left, I noticed that I had a new message on my phone. It was a log of the phone seeing a Bluetooth device earlier in the day. The weird thing was that the phone included a small video clip of what I was doing (try on a wool hat) at the time that the Bluetooth device was discovered. I couldn’t figure out where the video was coming from, because it was clearly from outside my body and the phone (which was in my pocket). Someone, perhaps my friend/family member, or perhaps myself, then said that the video was probably coming from a tumor in my brain. We both agreed that that was just freaky.

Also odd is that I think I’ve had that Bluetooth-out-of-body-video dream before. None of the other elements were in there though last time, at least not that I remember. Also, I’ve never turned the Bluetooth in my phone on, so the dream is probably impossible. Well, I guess its impossible for a number of reasons, but there is another.

Registration today

In a little less than 6 hours, I begin registration for what is officially my last year of undergraduate courses.

Probables: Biochemistry 405 (Intro Biochem), Bioengineering 482 (Capstone), CSE 444 (Databases), and one more CSE class…

2007 NBA Semi’s

I would like to see the Cavs versus the Suns in the finals. The Cavs delivered today, but the Suns, not so much. The game wasn’t as much fun to watch as a normal Suns game either. Curses on the Spurs! I just hope that Phoenix gets its act together and starts having fun out there again.

Shai’s Birthday & Spiderman 3

Yesterday Shai finally got to be as old as me again, and after an interesting dinner, he treated us to Spiderman 3 at Lincoln Square. I actually thought the movie was quite good — maybe a bit formulaic, but it was a formula that worked well. It shared a lot of the character subtleties that made Pirates II compelling, but fortunately lacked the overabundance of darkness of the Pirates offering. And Spiderman offered some legitimate humor, unlike Pirates which played so heavily to the legitimate humor that had been in the first movie, but lacked much if any of its own. I’ll go ahead and give the third Spidey a 4/5.

Hitting a Road Block

Something is a little off wrong. I’m not being productive. I’m not caring quite enough about classes or work. I’m missing commitments and I don’t care as much as I should.