Sunday, Counter Riot, Wings and Microcontrollers

It’s already Sunday night, and the Sunday sadness is currently being mitigated by Pepper preening on my left hand, a jug of Carlo, a bellyfull of home-made Mulligatawny soup, some nice dub and the prospect of a three day week ahead.
Apologies for yet more bullets but it saves a bunch of neurons from exhaustion:

  • Friday night was a rare excursion from the sofa. Duttybwoi and I got the train from work to Manayunk and then performed the old magic trick of turning into a pub. Michele wandered down and after a few pints, some hush puppies and some seriously ring-threatening wings we headed over to The Grape Room where our friend’s band was performing in celebration of the release of their new album. Hearing them in the flesh was unnerving; there’s only three of them, and they all play conventional instruments, but it sounded like it did on the album… they had the crowd properly rocking too.
  • Yesterday I topped up on testosterone by visiting our local hardware store. It is one of those magical places that sell everything and are staffed exclusively by psychotically helpful and knowledgable people who seem driven solely by their desire to make you leave the shop confident and contented. One of the items purchased was an “awl” as they call it over here. It has now replaced the hoe as my favourite tool; even though it’s essentially a pointed stick, and bigger than I’d hoped for, it helped me put up another blind in record time with no drill required. Damn I love my awl.
  • Mr Fritz just pointed me to a particularly excellent interview of Jon Stewart by Rachel Maddow, together with a recipe for Spruce Beer which I now crave.
  • Microcontrollers have moved on since I last worked with them (8 years ago, almost to the day). Today I plugged in a toy I bought almost a year ago and was blown away by it: a CUI-32 development board. It’s tiny, cheap and comes installed with its own Operating System called StickOS. No extra hardware beyond a USB cable is required to start programming this little beauty. Perhaps it was a fear of the unknown that prevented me from trying it out until today, but it does what it says in the blurb! You plug it into to your USB port and you can program the little guy with nothing more than a terminal! On the mac I used screen. BTW – I also had to install FTDI drivers under OS-X – even snow leopard. I thought these were pretty standard now, evidently not.
    From the terminal you can write fully functional programs in BASIC, or send your assembler directly to the device and it’ll work as well as you wrote it. The really amazing thing to me was that it did exactly what it was supposed to do with no aggro. Growing up with PAD’s and Terminal Servers has made me utterly respectful of terminal interfaces – so this is just too cool.
  • I still managed to have a chat with the family which was lovely except for the news that Uncle Bert has died. This type of news never makes me happy. Even though I only really ever saw him at funerals (for the last 20 years anyway)he was still my mum’s brother. Not good.
  • Thanksgiving is next week – that means we workers get a day or two off work. That is good thing.

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