I have made quite a few notebook covers for others, but this one is mine, to replace the SSG cover I made a few years ago. That one was refinished, buffed, and passed on to a good NCO to carry until he gets promoted out of it; he can pass it on to someone else then.
This has been something of a neglected space, though if you actually visit the site (vice use an RSS feed like civilized people), you’ll note that I’m fairly Twitter-active even when ignoring my primary blog.
I’m going to try to write a little more frequently—not necessarily here, but just in general. My day job has me doing a lot of soul-sucking editing of really dry, boring things and that tends to sap my creative energies, but the only way to really build those back is to actually write, so I’m going to try to do that more often. You may or may not see the fruits here.
Of note is that I’m trying to shame myself into writing more by actually sharing some of the other stuff I’ve written. Back in 2006, during an unpleasant part of an unpleasant war, I wrote three quick short science fiction stories. I won’t claim they are good, but they scratched an itch that I had. Maybe they’ll scratch yours. (That sounds vaguely dirty but isn’t.) I am serializing them at another blog I created just for that purpose, Venya Writes, with the hope that feedback and guilt will compel me to write more, starting with a better ending for story #3. I intend to put more writing-focused thoughts (including editing) there, so if that’s your bag, feel free to wander that way. (There’s also an associated Twitter account, @venyawrites.) The first part of the first story kicks off tomorrow morning; it’s not very long, so prepare to be underwhelmed.
It seems hardly fair to have a separate blog devoted to just writing when this one has to cover leather work, weapons, radio, warfare, and whatever else floats my boat, but that suits my purpose for now.
As tends to happen whenever I’m trying to simplify my life, I have acquired another hobby. I just today finished the 13-hour Codecademy.com introductory Python series. As part of my resuscitated new job search (more on that another time), I have refocused on acquiring useful skills, and I decided Python would be a nice, easy start. It should be noted that the last time I programmed was in 1994; it didn’t go well, and I concluded that programming was just Not Something I Could Do.
Either programming has gotten easier, I have gotten smarter, or perhaps (and most likely) the tools for learning have gotten much better, but I have been having a lot of fun with this and am not absolutely horrible at it. I’ve gotten farther in Python in the last three weeks than I did in a year of programming (as a high school class) in Turbo Pascal in ’94.
If you are contemplating getting your feet wet in this area, I recommend the Codecademy approach. The lessons are a little inconsistent and sometimes you are fighting the grade- and error-checking algorithms as much as the lessons, but it’s a good introduction and the forums are very helpful.
Some other resources that I am exploring:
- http://www.DiveIntoPython3.net [and associated free e-book]
- http://LearnPythonTheHardWay.org/book [web-based e-book or dead tree]
- Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist [free e-book or dead tree]
- Non-Programmer’s Tutorial for Python 2.6 (on Wikibooks.org)
I’m also looking at Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science 2nd Edition in dead tree format, because sometimes that’s nice to have.
Python doesn’t quite scratch the writer itch, but it’s remarkably close. I would caution you, however, that it’s a little harder to do while drinking.
So right toward the end of the first day of the conference, TAPR reps promised a special visitor and announcement. I didn’t even have enough context to guess who that could have been. Who would be prestigious enough, bright enough,
nerdy impressive enough to be considered special in this crowd?
Dennis, K7BV, as it turns out. Or as he is known elsewhere, Dennis Motschenbacher, Executive VP for Yaesu North America. That’s a fairly august personage, and the applause was (I thought) genuinely welcoming. The announcement, alas, was not quite so well received.
I can’t even hope to explain the complexities of the situation, but it seemed to be raising Bruce Perens’ blood pressure a bit, so it’s worth a shot.
John Hansen (W2FS) provided us with a great paper and a pretty entertaining presentation on a special version of his TNC-X he created for use with the Raspberry Pi, called (of course) TNC-Pi.
A Terminal Node Controller (TNC) is… Hell, I think of it as a computer interface to the radio to let you do digital things. I’m sure there’s a more complicated explanation for it. Actual standalone TNCs are relatively rare now, I gather, since much of the work can be done by any soundcard-equipped PC with a halfway decent processor. But that assumes you want to cart around a PC, and even then, you have to set the volume levels carefully, since you’re doing actual real audio-to-digital conversion and back again. A serial port (or, more commonly now, USB) TNC handles that stuff automatically.
Anyway, the TNC-Pi handles the cool interfacing between the Raspberry Pi and the radio. The Pi can then run something exciting and useful, such as the Xastir (“ex”-astir, we learned) APRS client. (APRS is a real-time messaging and tracking protocol over amateur radio and, increasingly, the Internet.) John walked us through the project and how he put it together for remarkably little money; I think it ended up running under $200 for the Pi, TNC-Pi, a small monitor, keyboard/trackpad, and accessories and widgets. At some point I stopped taking notes, but hopefully his presentation will make its way to the TAPR DCC site.
I saw a lot of cool stuff that I didn’t really understand this weekend, but I could easily see the potential of this. First, Raspberry Pi is inherently cool and I’d love to have an application for one. Second, depending on the display (and his example was a 7″ screen for use as a car backup camera), I could probably fit this into my backpack HF kit as well or better than my netbook; certainly it would be easier to power for long periods of time.
The kit is $40 on his site. I hope he sells a ton of them. I wouldn’t mind picking one up myself, but my budget is still recovering from the unplanned FT-817ND purchase last month. And will be for quite a while.
I submitted a short story to an anthology contest yesterday.
I wrote it in 2006, during a particularly rough period of our deployment to Afghanistan–the first piece of fiction I had written since the third grade. It was followed by two more banged out in rapid succession, tying up a story arc. No one but my wife has seen these.
In addition to a few books that I thought his library needed, I decided to make my father-in-law a little card carrier to help spread the word about his business, Custom Wooden Workspaces. I somehow managed to forget to take any pictures of the finished product, but you can see it in progress here.