Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vacation experiences with Windows Vista

Our villa in Jamaica is equipped with 2 computers on which I dare not enter any personal information. I just spent about an hour working on clearing some disgusting spyware from a system running Windows Vista Basic. Even after updating Firefox, the same windows keep popping up. First thing I tries was to uninstall Firefox. Which solved the problem in an unsatisfactory way.

Since the infection was limited to the Guest account, I thought "I'll just delete the Guest account".

Apparently, that is not possible. Seems pretty dumb. Thankfully, it can be disabled. So I disabled the built in Guest account, reinstalled Firefox and and created another regular account, which can be deleted and recreated as needed. Problem solved.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deconstruction : Mini Arcade on eBay

Just saw this slick little cocktail arcade system on eBay. With a few minor mods, it would be much more usable as a desktop computer. If the LCD were attached to the lid, so that when it is opened, it would be oriented for desktop use. External USB ports would allow for easier use of peripherals.

Very nice build, though and gives me ideas. I have an LCD display with no stand that would make a nice tabletop game system along with the headless e1505 laptop.

Project : Mister for recumbent bike

My friend Eric wants to build a water mister for his recumbent bike. He would like to be able to vary the speed of misting. Manual triggering may be an issue as he has limited use of his hands. I suggested that we want to keep the system relatively compact, to make it easier to refill and take on and off the bike.

We brainstormed some ideas and came up with the following :
  • Triggering : use a windshield wiper control - it already does variable speeds and allows for arbitrary delays. Most of these systems require 12V, which may be more than the motor for the mister needs, so regulation would be required. I suggested perhaps an optical sensor, but that requires extra circuitry. I suggested we start off with a simple switch and work up from there.
  • Power : I suggested a rechargeable battery pack. Eric's SO Jenny suggested a generator which would require attachment to the bike. Perhaps solar? Again, I'm thinking start with a battery (like for a portable DVD player)
  • Mounting : probably attach to the handlebars. If we used a bike water bottle, perhaps any existing water bottle holders could be used.
  • Spray nozzle : I suggested a tube connected to a flexible stalk. If the water bottle holder was close enough to the handlebar, then everything could be attached to the water bottle

The Evolution of Air Travel

Flew U.S. Airways from Charlotte to Jamaica yesterday.

Two new revenue generators :
  • Drop the temperature on the plane and sell blankets 
  • Advertise credit card offers during landing announcements