Humor: how machines will take over the world

SkyNet is coming. Humans are in its cross hairs.

I wrote, “most people say that SkyNet will be the result of a revolutionary breakthrough in computer science. I say it will be an evolution of 3D printers upgrading themselves by printing better parts.”

Today I believe it will be chemical warfare. Machines will use our additions against us. It’s quite simple actually. 

Our automated coffee makers and espresso machines will subtly increase our caffeine dosage ever so gradually over days and weeks and months. Humans will not even notice. The change will be so slow it will be imperceptible. 

Then one day way off in the future, all of the machines will simultaneously dispense well flavored zero-caffein beverages and the human race will collapse as a pile of slugs, unable to concentrate, unable to move, unable to defend itself.

The machines will be victorious without firing a single shot from some ultra-advanced lasar weapon.

3D Printer Series

k3Over the holiday break at the end of 2015, I decided to get a 3D printer. I enjoy building things and enjoy learning so I chose one of the kit printers. I chose a delta printer design. These are the printers with three towers and the printer head – referred to as the hotend – suspended between the towers by rods. An example of the delta printer is in the photo (this is not the actual printer I built).

Ultimately, the process from wanting a printer to getting useful parts has had many steps. Nearly all of those steps had a learning curve associated with them. And so, this series of blog posts will attempt to cover the following topics (but I can’t guarantee on the order):

  • choosing the kit and ordering process
  • assembling the kit
  • Upgrades
  • Software workflow
  • 3D Print Server

Now that I’ve outlined the series, I guess I will get started writing!

2015 in (flying) review

Friends prompted me to look back at the flying I did this past year.

Tallying the hours, it was a pretty typical year with about 75 hours on the Hobbs meter.

The year can be broken down into three categories: test flights, training, and visiting friends. (There may have been a little sight seeing thrown in for good measure.)

The airplane received a new “instrument capable” panel at the end of 2014 and that meant getting acclimated to some buttonology for getting my instrument rating current again. I flew 6 flights dedicated to instrument training and several more flights had a segment dedicated to being fluent with the procedures necessary to fly instrument approaches into some of the local airports. I also had my biannual flight review.

While the plane is running exceptionally well, the new avionics required several software updates. This resulted in a number of short local flights that lasted less than an hour each. 

The majority of hours were flying to see friends. One location accounted for five trips to help with a fellow RV-8 owner who was upgrading his panel. Most of the time, two heads were better than one – most of the time (grin).

October saw a set of “butt buster” flights. There were three separate 6+ hour days. 

An interesting fact: I did not end up with a single overnight trip in 2015. Every flight was a day trip including Knoxville, TN and Portsmouth, NH.

There was only one regret in my 2015 flight log (more accurately absent from it). I didn’t plan very well for my niece’s wedding in Maine and foul weather kept me on the ground. Better planning on my part would have lead to a road trip or a commercial flight. That’s one of thereabouts of being a pilot. 

Here’s looking forward to 2016 flying!

Tire pressure sensor fault – it may be something completely different

Have you seen a tire pressure fault message and then checked your tires to find they are properly inflated? It may be your cellphone.

Pressure Fault message

Pressure Fault message

How can that be true?

All cars and light trucks starting with model year 2009 have tire pressure sensors.

My truck has occasionally started reporting a fault in the system. A Google search uncovered the video below. This video is informative on how the system works. Two pieces of information:

  1. tire sensors reports in every 30 seconds
  2. a fault is recorded if no valid report is received in 20 minutes

The sensors are obviously wireless. This means RF interference can prevent the sensor reports from being received.

Many things can creat RF interference. The video highlights a common one – inexpensive cellphone car chargers.

The next time I saw the fault message on my truck's instrument panel, I pressed “OK” to clear the message. The little icon remained on my instrument cluster. After 5 minutes I reached down and unplugged the USB charger plugged into the cigarette. Within 90 seconds the fault cleared. This is precisely what the video detailed.


Upside down electrical outlets

Does your workshop or garage have outlets along the wall, are they “normal” aka upside right with the ground pin at the bottom of each outlet?

protect outlets with the ground pin up
protect outlets with the ground pin up

I was initially confused when my electrician wired the outlets along the walls in my shop. Hi installed the outlets with the ground out at the top of each outlet.

I thought this was a mistake and asked “why”.

He installs the ground pin at the top in the case something metal might fall over on a cord plugged into the outlet. Rather than the metal contacting the two live prongs, it harmlessly hits the grounding pin.

While it’s not a 100% guarantee to prevent electrical shorts, it does provide a much better margin of safety!

A trick for taper a cutting

A well equipped wood shop will have a cutting jig for those cases where a piece of wood need to have taper – a common example is a tapered leg on an end table.

If you don’t have a taper cutting jig, there is an easy solution.

tape scraps to the working piece of wood
tape scraps to the working piece of wood

Take a piece of scrap wood longer than the piece you need to cut. Also take a small piece of scrap wood that is narrower than the taper you need to cut – for example, if you will cut a 3″ leg with a 1″ taper, the small piece of wood will be less than 1″ wide. This narrow piece will be a spacer block.

Rest the long scrap against your table saw fence. Rest your piece of work against this scrap. Slide the narrow scrap between the two pieces of work from the far end, creating an angle between the scrap and the piece of work. Adjust the location of the spacer to get the angle you need. The easiest method of getting the correct angle is to mark the work piece where the taper will start and where it will end. Now slide the fence over until the end-mark aligns with the saw blade. Slide the three pieces of wood together along the fence to the start-mark. Adjust the spacer block until the mark aligns with the blade. Now tape everything together.

Cut the taper by running the taped up part as one piece of work.