Thursday, February 28, 2008


I am on a perpetual quest for a better lab timer. Unfortunately the features I want don't seem to live in a single timer. I've thought about buying parts and programming/soldering something with the features I want, but it's not worth the time it would take. Here's my list of needed features:

1) Enter countdown time using number buttons, none of that up/down crap. In other words, it should have a keyboard like this:

1a) The interface for setting the countdown time shouldn't be stupid. For example, I shouldn't have to hold down a "set" button. If I'm pressing a number button, what else might I want to be doing? Obviously, I want to be setting the time.

2) When the elapsed time is finished, if I don't silence the alarm within a minute, it should stop beeping and start counting up so when I come back I know how long it's been.

3) It should show three different countdowns at once, like this:

4) It should have a "lock" slider button that prevents the buttons from responding when I put it in my pocket.

5) It should have a clip so I can attach it the outside of my pocket when I need to take it with me and use it frequently.

6) It should have a magnet on the back so I can attach it to the eye-level metal rail at my bench.

7) It should not be ginormous.

It's this kind of thing that I find to be a ridiculous need given the technology we have today. I can program. I can get a circuit board printed. I can print to a 3D printer. Why can't I make the timer of my dreams easily?

(Image and inspiration from

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dynamic memory? Not so much

A group of researchers found a way to retrieve memory in RAM from a computer: lower the temperature of the RAM chips. One method they used was compressed air. This isn't a real security threat to the merely mortal among us - I'm interested in it because it sounds like an incredibly fun project. Still they are handicapped by researcher-talk: "data written even momentarily to RAM persists for a non-trivial period of time." Here's all the dirt.

Smoothie yums

smoothie ingredients
Originally uploaded by _buttercup
I've been on a smoothie kick since I got braces. It's very nice to have icy cold in my mouth when my teeth hurt. I'm getting more fruit this way too. Approx amounts:

9 lg frozen strawberries
3/4 c frozen blackberries
enough chocolate rice milk to cover about 3/4 of the fruit
1/2 cup yogurt
~4 Tbs quick oats
~4 Tbs low glycemic protein powder (80 calories)

i'm not usually much of a supplement person, but i like the protein powder because it seems to help with sugar crashes. Ditto the oats. I'm also a fan of the idea of low-glycemic foods, although there's plenty of available sugar in this smoothie.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Large-scale projects

I'm a sucker for large-scale projects. Bridges! How are they possible? It's hard for me to really believe that all those little steps can make things so big and strong. Lately I've come across a few things that get me excited in the same way.

I found this picture on the Eye Level Pasadena blog. It's a half an apartment building being moved.

There is also a very fun time lapse movie of construction on campus here. Why are time lapse movies so pleasing?

And finally, there is the great tree moving of the past few days. Click on the image to see a quick animation. It's annoying to watch after the first few times.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cute golf shoes (?!)

Someone (who shall remain nameless, lest you end up wanting to curse her too) introduced me to these golf shoes. Aren't they lovely? I can't stop thinking about them.