10Q #6: Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

I’m still working toward the goal of being self-sufficient from last year, and I am getting closer to that goal. I’m building more work outside of the day job, and getting closer to it replacing my income. With Barbie and me getting married in a few weeks, I won’t need to rely on the day job for insurance or benefits, and I can throw more income at the pile of debt that keeps us from being truly free and independent from the outside world. I want to enjoy true freedom, and I want my children–should I have them–to experience and appreciate that freedom as well.

Previously

10Q #5: Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

For the first time in my life, I have experienced the emptiness that is the open sea. The vast, inky blue-black of night on the open ocean stretching into infinity is an entirely different experience, even if it is made through the confines of a modern cruise ship. There’s something different about being in situ on the water versus being on the beach looking out across the water. There is no land in sight, there is no refuge except this moving island of steel and fiberglass. It’s humbling, and it’s relaxing, and it changes the way you see the world.

Previously

10Q #4: Describe an event in the world that has affected you this year. How? Why?

Describe an event in the world that has affected you this year. How? Why?

I try to not let so many world events affect my daily life–especially since they tend to be overblown by every keyboard pundit on the internet. That being said, the Hong Kong protests have caused me to reevaluate my online presence and my digital footprint by reminding me how much of our activity online is surveilled without our consent. Additionally, I’m trying to keep my carbon footprint as small as I can make it (within reason) because I understand that the current scientific consensus is that a runaway greenhouse effect is imminent and that–contrary to what the doomsayers may prefer–even little, personal changes here and there can lead to big changes down the line.

Previously

10Q #3: Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

This has been a weird year or so for changes. My dad sold the house I grew up in this passed spring. The Yellow House, as everyone called it, is no longer in my family’s possession. Actually, the entire homestead at the corner of Villa Rica and West Sandtown has been sold off–first the majority of the land some years ago, then Granny’s craftsman-style bungalow since she has since been moved into a retirement home upstate to be closer to my aunts. With the sale of the Yellow House, the physical manifestation of my childhood–apart from the handful of artifacts that I still have with me–is gone. It’s hard, and there’s a part of me that really wants to go back and either reclaim or reinvent some of the icons of my childhood and adolescence, but the question remains: to what end?

Do I just start collecting things for the sole purpose of having them? I feel like there’s a control angle there that I need to come to terms with. Like I want to somehow re-obtain these artifacts just so that I can have the ability to dispose of them how I please. I want to just go and buy a house so that I can have one that’s mine (a difficult matter here in southern California), but I know that would only compound superficial problems right now. Instead, I’m working on my future with Barbie. I’m building the life I want to live, and I’ll just start my own homestead.

The worst part, though: I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye, and I resent that.

Previously

10Q #2: Is there something you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

Is there something you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?

If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time with my family back east. It was amazing to get to see everyone at the engagement party, but I still feel bad for not being able to invite everyone. I know that some people got left out and some were not able to come, and had I more time initially for planning (my work-life balance is kind of a mess right now), I think it would have been a different story.

Regardless, I’m extremely grateful for the time I got to spend with everyone–even if it was only a minute or so each :/

Previously

How To DIY Commodore 64 AV Cable

I was having a little trouble working on my Commodore SX-64, trying to diagnose a blank screen, so I needed to attach the Commodore 64 to a TV. Unfortunately, with these retro computers, the cables seem to vanish into the dustbin of history. So, to fix my borked Commodore SX-64, I needed to hack together a DIY Commodore AV cable. This 5-pin DIN AV cable is compatible with all Commodore models as well as the Atari 800 series and TI-99/4 among others! This video will show you how to DIY a Commodore 64 AV cable with just a few commonly-available components!

Check out more Commodore SX-64 videos here

Watch the complete Commodore SX-64 restoration here

Music by EOX Studios

“Pausesignal NRK” by Anders Enger Jensen Used with permission, available from http://eox.no or on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/eox-studios/

10Q #1: Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

Holy schnikes! I got engaged! After nearly 10 years together, Barbie and I are finally going to tie that idiomatic knot!

I’m simultaneously excited and terrified at this prospect. Even though I kinda sorta already got at least to this point (well, no, I never actually got this far…just over 30 days to go), this is something wholly different than my previous experiences. This is just…right.

I know that’s what they always say, but it’s pretty true. When you know, you know. It’s kinda crazy, but here we are. I’m certainly looking forward to this new adventure!

At the same time, it’s a lot of coordination and work–especially since we’re on a bit of a compressed timeline. We figured to go ahead and “knock it out” this year so we could both start to transition our professional and personal lives into this new union. In light of us being together for the better part of a decade, there’s not much sense in a prolonged engagement. Additionally, we’re at a point in our lives where we’re moving forward with our financial lives, and a flashy (read: “expensive”) wedding is just not a priority. That being the case, it’s even more work to coordinate all of the individual things that so-called wedding planners get paid to do.

It’s going to be a simple affair, but it’s going to be nice, and it’s going to be us, and–at the end of the day–that’s what really matters.

Previously

Jon’s Crazy Commodore SX-64 (Retro Tech Rogue Trip 01)

My friend Jon Esparza (@jonscrazytweets) discovered a rare Commodore SX-64 while going through his late father’s storage unit. Knowing that I was a retro computer enthusiast, he gave me a call to see if I was interested in doing something with it. So of course I took a road trip to south San Diego to see this “Commodore laptop” in person (and get some bomb tacos)! Jon was kind enough to let me take this Commodore SX-64 off his hands and see if I could get it in any better shape than it’s currently in. This is going to be a rough Commodore restoration, so be sure to stay tuned for the next installment!

Check out more Commodore SX-64 videos here

Watch the complete Commodore SX-64 restoration here

Check out Jon’s Crazy Stuff: http://jonscrazystuff.blogspot.com/

Music by EOX Studios “You On The Dance Floor” by Silverimage “Space Traveler” by Anders Enger Jensen Used with permission, available from http://eox.no or on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/eox-studios/

Arduino Basics Lesson 1-4: “These Peoples Try To Fade Me!”

For the “Arduino For Kooks” course, I recommend you get the Arduino Starter Kit available here.

So far, in this series, we have learned to read and write digital information with an Arduino. We have also learned to read analog information with the Arduino and a potentiometer. In this video, we will learn how to send pseudo-analog signals from the Arduino to a device by fading the light on an LED.

The Circuit:

Connect a jumper wire from pin 9 on the Arduino (9 is an analog out pin as denoted by the tilde [~] sign) to a 220R resistor. Connect the other end of the resistor to the anode of an LED. Connect the cathode of the LED to the ground pin of the Arduino using another jumper wire.

The Sketch:

/*
  Fade

  This example shows how to fade an LED on pin 9 using the analogWrite()
  function.

  The analogWrite() function uses PWM, so if you want to change the pin you're
  using, be sure to use another PWM capable pin. On most Arduino, the PWM pins
  are identified with a "~" sign, like ~3, ~5, ~6, ~9, ~10 and ~11.

  This example code is in the public domain.
*/

int led = 9;           // the PWM pin the LED is attached to
int brightness = 0;    // how bright the LED is
int fadeAmount = 5;    // how many points to fade the LED by

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
  // declare pin 9 to be an output:
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
  // set the brightness of pin 9:
  analogWrite(led, brightness);

  // change the brightness for next time through the loop:
  brightness = brightness + fadeAmount;

  // reverse the direction of the fading at the ends of the fade:
  if (brightness <= 0 || brightness >= 255) {
    fadeAmount = -fadeAmount;
  }
  // wait for 30 milliseconds to see the dimming effect
  delay(30);
}

What happens if we change the delay attribute?

What happens if we change the value of the fadeAmountvariable?

As a challenge, see if you can figure out how to use a potentiometer to control the fade effect–either through the rate of the fade or the brightness.

Arduino Basics Lesson 1-3: “Analog Input!”

For the “Arduino For Kooks” course, I recommend you get the Arduino Starter Kit available here.

In the previous lesson, we learned how to use a button to create a simple digital input on the Arduino. We also learned how to use the serial monitor to display the button state. In this lesson, we’re going to use a potentiometer to create an analog input and read it on the serial monitor.

The Circuit:

Connect a jumper wire from the +5V pin to pin 1 (the left pin, input, if you’re looking down the shaft) of a 10k potentiometer. Connect a second jumper wire from pin 2 (the right pin, ground) to the ground pin on the Arduino. Connect a third jumper from pin 3 (center pin, signal) to A0 on the Arduino.

The Sketch:

/*
  AnalogReadSerial

  Reads an analog input on pin 0, prints the result to the Serial Monitor.
  Graphical representation is available using Serial Plotter (Tools > Serial Plotter menu).
  Attach the center pin of a potentiometer to pin A0, and the outside pins to +5V and ground.

  This example code is in the public domain.

*/

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
  // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second:
  Serial.begin(9600);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
  // read the input on analog pin 0:
  int sensorValue = analogRead(A0);
  // print out the value you read:
  Serial.println(sensorValue);
  delay(1);        // delay in between reads for stability
}

Now, with just a few more lines of code, you can determine the actual voltage going through the potentiometer and into the Arduino:

/*
  ReadAnalogVoltage

  Reads an analog input on pin 0, converts it to voltage, and prints the result to the Serial Monitor.
  Graphical representation is available using Serial Plotter (Tools > Serial Plotter menu).
  Attach the center pin of a potentiometer to pin A0, and the outside pins to +5V and ground.

  This example code is in the public domain.

*/

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
  // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second:
  Serial.begin(9600);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
  // read the input on analog pin 0:
  int sensorValue = analogRead(A0);
  // Convert the analog reading (which goes from 0 - 1023) to a voltage (0 - 5V):
  float voltage = sensorValue * (5.0 / 1023.0);
  // print out the value you read:
  Serial.println(voltage);
}

Adventitious Geekery and other distractions created or curated by Matthew "Atari" Eargle