Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More Photographic Genius

Henry asked to come along to Kent's weekly open shop night a couple of weeks ago, and took some pictures, captions, as always, by Henry:

"Kent, he has a shop."

"George, I like him."

"It's a big thing."



"A big machine. Kent is hiding."

"It's wood."

"Kent, his cup."

We're fully in Holiday Market mode now, Felice will be out working from early in the morning until around 7:30 every night over this long weekend and I'll be going nuts with the boys. Saturday there is the local train club's open house, so I can get a hernia lifting Max up to see the trains. It is a great layout though.

I am organizing all of the Legos now, because we have so many that it gets frustrating for all of us trying to find pieces to build anything. I'm not sure how I'll sort them out, but if I can at least separate out all the non-brick parts (windows, wheels, people) it will be a lot easier. I'm hoping it will pay off over the weekend and get Henry involved in some fun building.

I bought the The Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide and have pretty much read it cover to cover. It's a great primer in Lego technique and planning your buildings (in the sense of things one builds, not buildings per se) I'm hoping to force Felice into reaidng it as she has to spend as much time as I do with the Legos, and she suffers from not having played with them as a child.

As I sort the bricks out, I am constantly using the Brick Separator, a little known tool that will protect your fingernails, teeth and sanity when disassembling Legos. You really need a pair of them (I think I have 6, but because of the huge amount of unsorted Lego, I don't know for certain).

Here is a novel use for an Ipod, from the local paper

Medieval Technology and American History has some fun projects.

Korean Folk Tales read in Korean or English

Midwest Snips, I rarely see their tools in tool catalogs, but they have a number of unique and well made tools (ok, mostly snips).

"The South Bend Lathe Story, What Can We Learn from an ESOP Failure", the new lathe I bought was built during the period described and has a tag on it that says "An Employee Owned Company"

The Nietzsche Family Circus (via Siris) If you like Philosophy Humour...

My cousin Caleb's blog on Kumamoto Buddhist activity during Japan's Pacific War

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Belated Blogging

Well several weeks have passed since my last post. I can't believe that a lazy guy (me) can be so busy. We're working on getting ready for the Holiday Market, I've been stamping out earrings in the hydraulic press for the last few weeks, now I need to punch little holes for the ear wires, and do the finishing. My business keeps on going and I seem to spend a lot of time answering emailed questions in the morning. My 3D modelling work is on a short hiatus, the last few weeks I spent modelling the mechanism to a clicker type ballpoint pen (why? I can't tell you). Do you know how that mechanism works? I do, now.

Henry at the Davis Family Farm pumpkin patch, trying to pick a good pumpkin.

Henry jumping off of the hay castle.

Max amazes himself in front of the corn maze.

Felice, Henry, Max, Nebiy, Yodit and Adam all had a good time.

Max before bedtime.

Henry emphatically drills some holes

Henry shepherds the Alpha Rex robot.

Henry mocks the Alpha Rex.

The Lego NXT robot system is a lot of fun. It's not really intended for (almost) 4 year olds but that's not to say we don't have fun building them together. It's a good way to learn numbers ("I need a beam with 7 holes, Henry") and it might teach patience. Programming will have to wait for Henry to learn to read and write.

If you are thinking of buying it for Christmas, I would say to go for it, but it definitely requires adult input. We've built two of the 4 robots that have instructions, and I have learned how to use the Labview derived software.

The Good:
Pretty good instructions, programming is fairly easy, great group of users and lots of online sources. Technics lego construction is hybrid of regular Lego and Erector set-like construction. Lots of parts come with the kit (but having more Technic parts makes it more fun). You can build fairly complex robots that do cool things. Using the software will guarantee your child can get a job doing electro-mechanical engineering.

The Bad:
Cables are too stiff and too long (there are now aftermarket cables), leading to a messy robot. All but the first robot only have instructions in the software interface, so you have to build it near your (WinXP) computer. The "coolest" robot, the "Alpha Rex", really just shuffles along like the victim of a stroke, and isn't nearly as useful as the basic "Tribot" that you build first.

Overall it is probably one of the coolest toys ever.

In other news, my homepage got hacked on Monday, or rather the earthlink server did. I had it back up immediately (no word from Earthlink though...a customer clued me in) but I did disappear from Google for a few days which gave me several ulcers. I'm back to the same position in searches again, so I guess everything is fine. Darn kids.

Finally, our old friends Stefano and Kathleen now have a webpage up for their espresso machine repair business. If I had an espresso machine (I don't, I use a french press) I'd definitely trust them to take care of it.

More pictures taken by Henry to appear soon...and some more pictures of my new lathe, which is fully in place and able to make chips.