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   Our house has a good deal of networked computers.  A trick I picked up from my good friend Pluvius was running Ethernet cable through heating ducts.  Zach had changed rooms in the house and had not had a wired connection since.  The problem with getting one is that the duct works that goes to this part of the house converges in the one finished part of the basement.  That is, we don't have duct access.  However, I found in the corner of my area part of an exposed duct that does go to this part of the house.  In fact, there were two holes in it already from when someone else ran coaxial and phone cable.  So Zach dropped some Ethernet cable and I was able to fish it out.  Pictured is Zach checking his crimped connection.  Gigabit Ethernet is good.

My 200mW red laser arrived today, and I wanted to try it out. At this power the laser qualifies as a Class 3B device and hazardous if the eye is exposed directly. Because of this I ordered some laser eye protection. However the eye protection has not yet arrived. Class 3B diffuse reflected light isn't hazardous, so it will be safe to shoot the laser at a wall and observe the spot. My wall are black fabric so that should be safe. So I plugged the setup in and had a bright red spot on the wall.

The reason I wanted this laser was because it has a TTL input that can be switched up to 20 kHz. That means I can control it with an external source such as an Arduino. I wanted to test this, so I started with the program I wrote for my bicycle generator. It makes a PWM signal from a potentiometer input. It didn't take long before I had the laser dimming with the PWM input.

While I have parts that would make it so I could play more, I need to wait until my eye protection arrives before doing anything else. But so far, so good.

   A very common laptop repair today.  The screen hinge on the left side broke.  My laptop Pluvius is more than 6 years old and has been lugged around quite a bit in its many years.  So when the hinge broke it wasn't unexpected.  I found two replacement hinges for $8, and quickly had them ordered.  I had expected installation to take longer, but it ended up taking about 10 minutes.  I didn't need to remove much from the CPU portion of the laptop--just the screen.  When I was done, it was good as new.  Can't ask for better than that.
   A quick project this evening.  The staircase to the second floor has a light switch that controls illumination to the second floor hallway and includes the stairs.  It isn't very good because the light doesn't cover the base of the stairs well.  In addition, having to light the entire hall just to traverse the stairs isn't desirable.  The basement stairs uses some LED ropelight hung from the ceiling above the stairs.  These LEDs are always on so the stairs are always lite.  That works in the basement where the ceiling is actually the wood underside of the second floor staircase.  Tacking in a couple of support nail wasn't a problem.  For the second floor this would be much more problematic.  For awhile we had a ropelight wrapped around the railing.  While this worked, LED ropelight is notoriously unreliable.  Over time sections of the rope simply go out, presumably to internal soldering problems.  Due to the fact these lights are made of LEDs covered in flexible plastic, there isn't a way to repair them.  The second floor ropelight had been slowing dying for a couple years.  Sometimes you could get parts to come back by wiggling the rope, but it was getting annoying.
   I had some leftover LED reel lights and tonight decided to see if they would work better.  The results are exactly what I had hoped for.  They sit neatly under the railing and easily provide enough illumination to the stairs for navigation.  They are so bright I also added a PWM dimmer to decrease the brightness to an amount acquitted for navigation.  This will save power and lengthen the LED lifespan (LEDs dim over time). 
   A rending from what I call my Pluvius Set.  My previous set had a fairly low resolution dragon texture and I still wasn't sure what to do about the glazing.  For this set, I started by tracing a line art dragon using vectors.  I then scaled the drawing way up.  Since the image was now made of vectors I was able to not loss any quality.  I then draw a new vase.  I wanted to try a new technique I thought up for doing handles, and while they are a bit thin I think the technique worked well.  For the glaze I started with some experimental work I tried a few days ago, but went blue rather than red.  The results were a set of 4 images rendered at 6000x8000.  Because of the vector dragon the rendering quality was significantly better than my last vase.  Almost makes me want to learn how to do actual pottery--wouldn't mind having this vase.
Courtney

Courtney

   My game rewrite has made a lot of progress, but while it is almost finished I have run into about the same problem as I had when I started the rewrite.  I was trying to design a system to more quickly evaluate and execute moves.  Improved efficiency in these areas allows the AI to run faster.  However, I ended up with a complex loop in the AI I'm not happy about despite having improve both these areas.  More thought on the topic is needed.
   Large gatherings often have furniture casualties.   We've minimized this over the years and have made a lot of progress from the days when loveseats were destroyed due to regular party-induced fire damage.  However, damage does still happen from time to time.  Pictured is a massage table that succumbed to the ravages of an intoxicated party percipient.  After examining the tattered remains I wonder how the thing ever stood in the first place.  It has to be one of the most poorly under-built pieces of furniture I've ever seen.  So I'm attempting a rehabilitation program, starting with a healthy amount of wood glue.