Archive for Busywork


I’m off to the Olympics tomorrow for a 3-day (2 night) trip, my first solo. My goal is for an ultralight pack (<10lbs per certain rules), but I guess I missed it by 3 lbs. Here’s my comprehensive gear list (with weights), and here’s some thoughts about equipment choices that cohered for me.


Talking to your Arduino, from Python, on Cygwin

It took me an hour or so of googling & trying stuff to figure this out (especially “/dev/ttyS2″), so I’ll put this here in hopes of helping future generations.

Install pyserial. Not the windows installer — download the source and then do this in cygwin:
$ python build
$ python install

Now you can connect to your Arduino from Python, inside Cygwin thus:
$ python
>>> import serial
>>> s = serial.Serial('/dev/ttyS2', baudrate=9600) # assuming COM3
>>> # use /dev/ttySn where n = COM port - 1
>>> s.writeln('hello\n')
>>> print

Here’s some Processing code to test with:

void setup() {
void loop() {
  if (Serial.available())
    Serial.print(, BYTE);


Baby Key

My son is like most baby boys (of all ages). His favorite things in the world are (in order):
1. Boobs
2. My cell phone
3. My computer keyboard
4. The cat food dish
5. Trying to fall down the stairs
To deal with #3, anyway, I wrote a program to capture all keyboard activity (which you are invited to download) so I can still read what’s on the screen while he pounds away, without him deleting anything, replying to all with some nonsense, etc. (Caveat: It doesn’t grab the (useless) Windows key.) It also pops up an entertaining display with each keypress, but is otherwise invisible.

Through this program, I’ve confirmed that the only reason he wanted the keyboard was because I wouldn’t let him have it. Now that he’s used it a couple times, he’s not nearly as keyboard-obsessed, which makes the program like a nuclear weapon – having the program makes it unnecessary to run the program (after you fire a couple nukes first).

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Spying on people with cameras

If you’re going to spy on your baby, this is great for audio, but this is crap for video.

I converted a webcam to see infrared light, and wrote how.

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Spying on Ultima VI

Here’s the world map from Ultima 6. (Firefox only! It’s a XUL app.) Click either the minimap or the map itself to center on that point.

The python script I wrote to parse the U6 data files and turn them into JS code is about 75% clean, 25% messy. The file formats were gleaned throughout the interweb, pointers to which are in the script. Also therein is a recipe to generate the map as a single huge graphic (which you can download elsewhere anyway).

Why? I sort of got sidetracked onto this off of whatever I’d been sidetracked onto already. It’s pretty cool though – it’s a big map for a cool game (which is too awkward to play these days).

Incidentally, the eggs seen scattered around the map are spawn points for monsters.



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Barionia Udrone

Generate maps of somewhere like Barionia Udrone from Atlas Maior V/22. Hit refresh for a new one.


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