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Showing posts from May, 2004

The camera with a mind of its own

There's a really nifty science-education facility under construction here. The folks who're building it thought it'd be neat to have the construction process visible on-line. A science-education buddy of mine talked me into setting up their Toshiba Network Camera . Now, network cameras are really, really nifty toys. They tend to have built-in web servers and are usually able to serve up both video (streaming or through a Java applet) and single-shot still images on demand. This is a good thing if you're either using them internally (for security, as an example) or have a lot of bandwidth. In this case, the goal is to put images from the camera on a web site, so the general public can see them. Right-o, no problem, one would think. Except that the camera thinks otherwise. First, there was the matter of it having somehow picked up an IP address from some DHCP server totally unrelated to the network it was on. I have no idea how this happened, but it requ

Bump Shimmy Bump

For a while, I'd noticed that my Accord had a bit of a shimmy at certain speeds, and while braking. I always figured something was a little unbalanced wheel-wise. Well, the last day or so, it had a pretty serious shimmy, and the wheel that shimmied before felt like it was going bump bump... almost like a flat, except it wasn't. This afternoon, I decided that something must be stuck to the wheel, or something like that, so I put the car in neutral and pushed it along until I found... a point on the wheel where the outside was "flat" and the inside of the wheel was bulging like it might pop at any moment. Uh-oh! Things were so worn down the sidewall had big cracks in it and wires from the radial belt were sticking out of the rubber. Long story short, I manged to limp the car to a few places and wound up going to the local Goodyear place to get a pair of Dunlop SP20FE's put on the front of the car (balanced, of course). It's sooooo much nicer now.

Samson's Strength, or Albatross?

So, there went 17 inches of my hair. Yes, really. From "way down my back" to "barely down my neck," in a matter of seconds. Neatly banded at each end to keep it all together so it can be sent off to a wig shop or whatever. What have I lost? What have I gained? Just what did that hair mean to me? I suppose it was part of an image. An image that had been cultivated over years, an image that had once appealed to someone. A display of sorts, not unlike the peacock's tail. But times changed, goals were reached or passed or altered, and the hair no longer served that purpose. Now there are different goals, different people to impress, and an extra foot and a half of hair isn't worth what it once was. I may let it grow back someday - I don't know. To some extent, it's easier than getting it trimmed all the time. On the other hand, long hair is harder to keep combed. For now, though, a haircut is a rite of passage, a sign of changing and re

Butterfly Blue

My front porch overlooks the final approach to Hilo International Airport, so jets are flying past all the time. A few months back, I caught a glimpse of a red one, but didn't follow up to see what it was. This afternoon, another went by, so I drove over to the airport and took this picture of it. An airport security person did come over to make sure that I wasn't some sort of terrorist, and explained that in the "post-9/11" environment, they're nervous about photography. Fortunately, he was able to explain to me what on earth a Boeing 737 based in Australia (VH-VOT) would be doing all the way over here in East Hawaii. Apparently, Virgin Blue (or its subsidiary, Pacific Blue) does the occasional flight from Australia or New Zealand all the way to California (or the other way around) via Pago Pago and, of course, Hilo! I say "of course" because Hilo is the easternmost airport in Hawaii, and thus a good spot to refuel before the flight to C

My Driveway as Observatory

Hilo's an interesting place to be, as far as the night sky is concerned. On one hand, it's the rainiest city in the country (valid whether you define "country" as Hawaii or the United States), so there are a lot of nights where there's nothing to see but rain, or at the very least, clouds. On the other hand, Hilo's the primary gateway city to Mauna Kea, which many people would argue is  the  best place on the planet, bar none, to look at the night sky. The 4200-meter  summit of Mauna Kea  is home to more than a dozen world-class observatories, including the largest dedicated optical, infrared and submillimeter radio telescopes in the world. Even the  Visitor Information Center  at 3000 meters (where I can be found volunteering most Wednesdays, as well as some Tuesdays, Thursdays and the occasional Friday) has clear skies most nights, and the viewing, be it through one of the various telescopes (ranging from a 14" catadioptric down to a high-qu


While swimming this morning, I found myself in close proximity to these two Lauhau (Fourspot Butterflyfish, Chaetodon quadrimaculatus ), Kikakapu (Raccoon Butterflyfish,  Chaetodon lunula ) and Ma'i'i'i (Brown Surgeonfish,  Acanthurus nigrofuscus )... so I took their picture. Canon PowerShot S20, Ewa-Marine D-MM enclosure, hardly any depth at all since it was low tide over a reef.

User Group Demographics

As a youth, I participated in the Rancocas Valley Commodore Users Group in southern New Jersey. At that point in time, Commodore had a sizeable share of the home computing market, and meetings reflected this, with a broad ranges of ages represented, and a gender imbalance that wasn't too bad for "back then." More recently, I made it to two or three meetings - over the last two years - of the  Big Island Linux Users Group  here in Hilo. The demographics of this group were distinctly different. I don't recall seeing anyone I'd consider a kid - it was pretty much college age and up - and the majority of participants were male. This evening, I attended my first meeting of  Hawaii Mac Nuts , a Macintosh Users Group which also meets in Hilo. (I use both Linux and Macintosh, and know that I'm hardly alone in doing so.) I still didn't see any kids, but one lady who I believe to be a teacher brought in some peripherals for "show and tell" t