Hardware Reuse

Disc CoastersOnce upon a time I was a NeXT developer. For quite a few years actually. It was one of the more educating periods of my career (NeXT developers, as a group, are some of the more disciplined programmers you’ll run across.) But that’s beside the point.

Long after I stopped working on NeXTs, I kept an old hard drive from a NeXT cube that had all my work from that era on it. I eventually burned the contents to CD, but it occured to me that it would be nice to have a memento of some sort. And being inclined to tear stuff apart, I did just that. ‘Turns out that a) hard drives have all sorts of cool stuff in them, like super-strong magnets and b) a lot of the bits are really pretty and shiny; most notable among these are the data platters themselves – in this case, nice 5″ diameter glass platters coated with some mysterious reflective compound with a slightly brown tint to it.

A little judicious woodworking (using a scrap piece of cherry wood found on the sidewalk by 17th & Capp in SF’s Mission district of all places!) and I had a lovely holder for these platters. And, voila, instant drink coasters!

The only downside is that I haven’t determined if the chemical coating on the platters is toxic. My best guess is that it’s a cobalt alloy of some flavor. The health effects of Cobalt appear to be mostly benign unless exposed to large quantities… but, as an alloy, there are other trace elements which may be of interest. I’ve got an email into the folks at Maxtor (the drive manufacturer). We’ll see if they’re willing to cough up the information.

Broofa’s Toolbar

Speaking of little projects (see prev. post), I humbly present Broofa’s Toolbar, a nifty little utility that gathers various scripts I’ve found useful in years past into one tidy little bookmark. If you’re running IE or a Mozilla-like browser, you can open it right this very instant.

This is still a work in progress, but it’s certainly useable. And DHTML geeks out there may get a kick out of how it’s implemented. I’ll just be giving myself a little pat on the back for packing that much information into one tiny little link. Enjoy.

Flashy Bugs

I suspect we all occasionally get an urge to pursue some little project that people might find fun or interesting and make it available to the masses. Heck, this is what a lot of the WWW is about. But I don’t often actually follow up on these urges, so it’s fun to discover people who do.

For example, here’s a nifty little find. Adrian Laford put together some Flash code to do bug animations. He’s got a bunch of variations he’s experimented with, and you can even build you’re own and put them on your website, like so:

Shelves, Part I

Shelf diagramIt’s only taken me 5 months, but I’m finally getting around to building some bookshelves for our “library” (read “spare room”). Designing these things is always interesting since there are multiple considerations. For us it was…

  • Maximize space for shelves
  • Look nice
  • Work as a display case for a few items
  • Be relatively easy to build
  • Not cost too much

Here’s the design I came up with. It’ll actually be two pieces (the green / yellow parts) in the hopes that it will be more versatile that way, and easier to move.

Central Oregon Sunrise

Wow, 34° out this morning and another beautiful day is in the works. Unfortunately our office is on the West side of the house so I frequently miss out on the spectacular sunrises that we get here. Maybe it’s for the better as I seem to be turning into somewhat of a sunrise slut. I run around the house clumping my feet and banging doors as I try to find the camera and the window with the best view for a picture. Which Christine just loves, of course, since she’s still trying to sleep.

But I think it’s worth it. Check it out, this is the view from our house…

That hill is Pilot Butte, a ~1,000′ high cinder cone on the other side of town …