Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Recent reading -- Feed and Shadowunit

After tracking down a friend's pseudonym, I purchased a copy of Feed by "Mira Grant". It's a novel where the zombies are a fact of life (the initial plague happened before the main characters were born), and professional bloggers are a more trusted news source than traditional media. It's a good read for those willing to suspend a little disbelief and want something more than zombies shuffling along trying to eat you.

Shadow Unit is a series of stories on the web done as if it were a TV series -- closer to Criminal Minds than the X-Files, but it has elements of both as well as going off in its own direction. The series is in its third season, with about 8 episodes and many short pieces per season.

Posted Wednesday 02 March 2011 10:21 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 02 March 2011 10:21 UTC
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Victor Valley Gem and Mineral Tailgate

The Victor Valley Gem and Mineral Club holds a Tailgate every year (this was the 35th) on BLM land where neither vendors or attendees are charged a fee. They do ask for donations to cover the cost of the porta-potties they bring in, and ask that you don't compete with their food booth. Other than that, there is no restrictions on what you can sell, but almost everything there is rocks or equipment to work with rocks. Rocks went from $.50/pound to $50/gram or higher, and while I think some stuff was cheap most was higher than in Quartzsite. There was also an outing to collect Tri-Color Marble about 3 miles away on 4wd road. There are also deposits of other kinds of marble and minerals in the area that have been mined in the past.

It's about 100 miles from Los Angeles, and I got a late start Thursday so I didn't arrive until it was getting dark. I took the first reasonable place I could find, then moved in the morning so I could be by "Mountain Tramp" and his friend Perry. Mountain Tramp was the one that let me know this existed by posting it on the Cheap RV Living Forum.

While I eventually sold quite a bit of the stuff I brought for sale, I would have needed to bring a lot more to make gas money, and I don't have a lot more of the kinds of things that sold well there. The pretty rocks and other trinkets are what sold best, and I only got a fraction of what they had cost me over the years to collect. The little bit of computer stuff I brought didn't sell at all, but some of the books, DVDs, and videos did. The only thing I purchased was a long #10 extension cord that I can change the ends on to 30A RV connectors.

While still desert, this had a lot more wildlife than the area around Quartzsite. There was dew in the mornings, small wildflowers on the ground, insects, birds, and we had a kangaroo rat come up to our firepit one night, within a few inches of my feet. The Verizon signal was somewhat intermittent (one morning I couldn't get online) and other carriers were reportedly worse. A ways down the road where you could see towers between the hills the signal was better. There were motorcycle and ATVers who rode around during the afternoon and evening, some of whom were quite inconsiderate and made a lot of noise and kicked up a lot of dust. (With plenty of desert available, there was no need to do it within 100 feet of other people camping.) This section of Stoddard Wells Road is fairly well maintained two-lane dirt road, with some washboarding and dips.

Posted Wednesday 16 March 2011 01:55 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC
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IkiWiki Maps

I've been working on a plugin for IkiWiki to display locations I've mentioned in my blog on an OpenStreetMap map. While this still needs some tuning, you can see the first version here. This is using OpenLayers to show a set of icons on top of the OpenStreetMap map tiles. Besides the arrows and +/- on the upper left to move around and zoom in or out, you can drag the map to pan around or shift-drag to zoom in on a selected area. The trailers are places I've camped in my RV, and the building with columns are museums, and the tree is a picnic area. If you click on one, it will give the name in a popup and a link to my blog article. If my site becomes wildly popular, I may need to switch to an alternate source of map tiles.

Posted Thursday 24 March 2011 01:28 UTC
Last edited Thursday 31 March 2011 03:42 UTC
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Null Space Labs visit

After finding a link on HackADay and doing some research online, I decided to go to the regular Tuesday night meeting at a local hackerspace Null Space Labs. HackerSpaces are clubs that are set up to do various constructive (build things), destructive (blow things up), and artistic (make it pretty or interesting) projects. Most have or hope to get a permanent location. Being a loose movement, they vary quite a bit on what they specialize in, membership, access policies, and what they have available, but frequently they have equipment that individual members could not justify acquiring such as 3d printers, welders, osiliscopes, and industrial sewing machines. Go to hackerspaces.org for a list of hackerspaces.

Null Space labs is in the garment district of downtown Los Angeles, in what may have been one of the sweat shops. The entry is on the back side of a building, with the [NSL] name on the door buzzer as the only label. They apparently specialize in electronics and computers, and have an open door policy where anyone can come in and use the facilities when one of the key-holding members is present. They have electronics test and assembly equipment, a variety of components (mostly surface mount) available (with a donation jar to pay for them), various beverages in the fridge (another donation jar), a computer network, and electronic games.

There were about half a dozen people present, and no talk was presented. Besides general talking on various subjects, there was some electronics assembly going on and use of laptops for whatever. Later on Thai food was ordered and "The Green Hornet" was played on the projection screen. The only thing I accomplished besides seeing the space and meeting some of the people was measuring some inductors I brought on their LCR meter. Next time I come I'll bring a project to work on.

Another hackerspace I'd like to visit that has an opendoor policy is 23b shop in Fullerton. Besides electronics, 23b has metalworking tools and a shop equipped to work on vehicles, and a place for leaving or taking various treasured bits.

Posted Thursday 31 March 2011 03:42 UTC
Last edited Thursday 31 March 2011 03:42 UTC
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