Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Project #1 - CWeST

I suppose this is an announcement of my intention to construct a "Continuous Wave Serial Terminal". WTF, you ask? Well, I just got an arduino for Christmas, so I'd like for this to be my first real project besides making LEDs flash or a serial line level converter. I've been pondering applications for http://hsmm-mesh.org/, and mentioned in passing this idea as a bit of a joke. [will find reference]

The background: A good portion of the amateur radio community believes that the morse code requirements for obtaining a ham radio license should not have been dropped. Anything Internet-related is held in disdain, as it isn't usually 100% RF, so things like Echolink and the recently hamsexy D-Star aren't really amateur radio.

To this, I say "Fnord!" and announce the intention to develop CWeST: a CW Serial Terminal, an arduino-based serial terminal for use with your straight or iambic key. It will feature audio output as well as a small LCD text display and several function/macro keys.

"Great," you may ask, "but what use is a serial terminal that uses a CW key for input?" Well, combined with a HSMM-Mesh node, connected through it's onboard serial port, you'll get access to a linux console for maintenance purposes as well as the ability to run applications.

The lack of communication applications for HSMM-Mesh not requiring another PC to do the heavy lifting (and power consumption) limits the practicality of the mesh by not providing applications native to and provided by the mesh hardware. Having a way to communicate through the mesh without needing much more than the mesh node itself.

In addition, the CWeST hardware itself could be used to operate other digital modes via CW, such as RTTY, PSK, tradional amateur packet, and even D-Star! Thumb your nose at teenagers on cell phones and try instant messaging or even sending SMS messages to cell phones via your paddle!

Since deciding to take this project on within the past couple days, I have found a good chunk of the arduino-based infrastructure at http://silveiraneto.net/2009/02/28/morse-code-translator-with-arduino/. That thread mentions "the other way around", so hopefully this project will be little more than gluing everything together and modifying some arduino sketches. 

UPDATE: http://code.google.com/p/morse-endecoder/ seems to be a robust 2-way solution, so I'll probably be using that, a display solution like http://liudr.wordpress.com/gadget/phi-panel/, and maybe build a ps/2 keyboard adapter or use http://dangerousprototypes.com/2011/11/24/gkos-keyboard-for-arduino/ for version 2 (cuz I'm not a fist, so building version 1 will require me to relearn CW) to make it a more generic serial terminal.

Anyone interested in this project should contact me, whether to help development of the hardware or software, or just interested in using such a beast. IRC provides a great back-channel, is already "CW-friendly", and has been supported on mesh nodes already, so #hamradio on irc.freenode.net may be a good place to spam ;)

Happy New Year and 73 de KC2SDS

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hooked on Cymatics

A link provided via twitter by @openworld, Evan Grant's TED talk "Making sound visible through cymatics" as seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsjV1gjBMbQ really inspired me today. It was like finding one of the pieces of the puzzle that is my personal Unified Field Theory, v0.04, http://www.openideaproject.org/Projects/OIPeople/WaveBook

Visualize, if you will, 3 dimensional representations of the 2d techniques shown in the video. In other words, there exists extra dimensionality (at least 3d) to everything shown in the video, it's just that we can't see it displayed very well on a vibrating sheet of metal displayed onto a 2d lcd display. I propose that such harmonic interactions occur on all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, so the display you are visualizing needs to have something of a spectrometry dimension about it. Multi-pass/band tuner? Some amateur radios (usually only HF rigs) have "bandscope" displays to see where activity is in a given band. A classic spectrometer is used with light, and spectrum analyzers are used in the audio world. When the trippy high-order harmonics are created, interesting things start happening, like a Tuvan singer turning a growl into a high-pitched whistle.

Except for a ripple on a pond, wake behind a boat, rumble strip in a road, weather feature/pattern, or some other mechanical process, most of us don't seem to recognize (be aware of?) the harmonics and rhythms happening they are a part of and are reacting to, again, whether we know it or not. Affects exist as harmonic creations/aspects of others.

A Mythbusters episode, the one mentioned at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla%27s_oscillator, as well as the biblical Jericho perhaps, reminded me that a little resonance can go a long way. Imagine, what does the electromagnetic result of everyone's hearts beating... sing? Alien civilizations (or a deity, perhaps) listening to our broadcasts may be more interested in our biological vital signs than the original radio broadcast of "The Lone Ranger".

Perhaps humans are such a holographic display, as well as what is being displayed, for themselves and others (ie. performance). An affect of our existence?

Could we affect an earthquake by all of us humming one tone, peace with Bb major? Are Wall St. Bankers singing songs in D# minor? Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Anathem Hangover

I've been on a Neil Stephenson kick, and just finished his _Anathem_. I started with _Snow Crash_ then read _Cryptonomicon_, and found that I just couldn't get enough. Anathem was the most thought provoking, and prompted me to get some of it down here.

The idea of guilds have always interested me. John Michael Greer very recently blogged about the past and future of guilds at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-relocalization-worked.html. In Anathem, Maths combine guilds with religious orders, and are segregated groups of scientists, mathematics, philosophers, and thinkers. Secular society goes on it's own business, isolated for the most part for generations, from the Maths. The maths have ways of sharing their knowledge, and an order of Fraas and Surrs (male and female Avout) exists to know what is already known so others don't waste their time thinking they have stumbled upon a new thought.

The internet is full of knowledge that just doesn't get much attention, at least not in relationship to youtube, facebook, and blogs like this. Neal Stephenson mentions in one of the videos at his site, http://www.nealstephenson.com/anathem/videos.htm, that the world now has access to esoteric knowledge that just wasn't available in the past. Most folks just aren't interested, and others are simply distracted, so the knowledge contained in such works just haven't made it into the mindscape of today's society.

The internet is also full of groups of people working on esoteric projects, but are strangely disconnected from each other enough to make duplicated efforts the norm, if not fostering competition where cooperation would be much more productive. Virtual, decentralized "maths" are within the capabilities of the internet, and are threatening to be developed (http://www.espians.com/plexnet.html). One can only hope, as such an organized group could accomplish great things and help create a more sustainable, cooperative, civil world society from the bottom up.

Anathem brought other things to my mind.

Quantum mechanics and metaphysics play a large role in the novel (see http://www.nealstephenson.com/anathem/acknow.htm) as does music. Those themes brought my own research notes at http://www.openideaproject.org/Projects/OIPeople/WaveBook to mind, and was honestly the thing that prompted me to make this blog entry.

At one point in the novel, the main character was awakened by another Fraa's singing, and I immediately knew that the sound was comparable to Tibetan/Tuvan overtone singing. This was confirmed by listening to "Thousander Chant" at http://www.nealstephenson.com/anathem/music.htm, a testament to the fact that music played an important role in the novel.

Such music, and sound, in relationship to my "Wave Book" notes and the novel's Hemn Space (see Stephenson's Acknowledgments page, link above) brought to my mind the possibility that events in one "configuration space" could effect another through Gödel's “I conjecture that some physical organ is necessary to make the handling of abstract impressions (as opposed to sense impressions) possible...Such a sensory organ must be closely related to the neural center for language.”

It is my thought that such impressions come to us through the mind/body as a whole, acting as a complex matrix of multiphase "antennas" able to detect resonant components of various causal activities. Not so much as a "shot heard around the world" but the resonant components of thoughts, emotions, synaptic firings in reaction to the audible "shot", philosophical reactions to the initial act of monumental events like the start of the American Revolution. I propose that such an impression wouldn't be a thought, feeling, picture, or smell but a wave (quantum effect, impulse, packet, ripple in "The Force") that resonates something with us that triggers such things in a sympathetic, harmonic way. I would make sense that such resonance would need to, as Gödel phrased it, "be closely related to the neural center for language" and that there would need to be some universal commonalities between such resonants and their cognitive manifestations.

Of course we only have those resources available to us on Earth to experiment with, but baseline measurements could be made of the various sensory inputs I mention in my "Wave Book" notes. It would seem to me that such commonalities found would only be harmonically related to whatever it is that could influence different configuration spaces, but sound findings would be an interesting start.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not the Change We had in Mind, Pass the Ammo

Disclosure: I'm an Air Force Veteran, gun owner, and amateur radio operator.

I've overheard conversations on the local 2 meter repeater the past few days that disturb me a bit. Several folks were complaining about the lack of ammunition available at such places as Walmart, and rack it up to the government undermining the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. That is, own all the guns you want, but good luck getting ammo for them.

Gun owners usually hold a disdain for the Democratic party, accusing them of being anti-gun and anti- Second Amendment. It seems to me that the skin color, political affiliation, and liberal agenda of our current President is a little more than the majority of the NRA crowd can handle rationally. Oh, New York State is known for its less-than-kind view toward firearm ownership, but I'd rack that up to the influence NYC has on State politics.

I'll bet the ammunition shortage is mostly due to the gun owners themselves. The paranoid right-wingers stocking up for the Revelation festivities are partially to blame themselves. Okay, I'll be nice and say the true patriots are tired of the recent government intrusion in and controls on the lives of law-abiding citizens. Their own greed and paranoia is helping to create the runs on ammo. The OTHER gun owners are probably the biggest issue, for several reasons.

Who are these mysterious gun owners? Paramilitary police forces are becoming quite the thing, with increases in federal funding for the past decade or so for police forces in the name of Homeland Security. These police groups need to keep their proficiency with rifles using ammo popular with both the military and patriotic firearm owners, the AR-15 using 5.56 ammo. Imagine the ammo usage by both the police and their paramilitary brethren, having to maintain their proficiency on a regular basis.

So the patriotic gun owners believe that the Second Amendment is civil society's protection from an overzealous government. With paramilitary police forces having tools once reserved for the military, the common ammo usage can be nothing less than staggering. I feel for the folks wanting to buy 5.56 for their rifles and 9mm for their handguns. Why shotgun and .22 long rifle ammunition prices have gone up is probably part inflation, part hunting season, part redirected popularity, and part hoarding.

All of that leads me to bigger issues. This “pick-your-poison” attitude that results in a need for personal firearms is very shortsighted and results in a kind of tragic social destabilization. Those depending on using their firearms for hunting after a collapse of food distribution and the general economy may make it the first month before wildlife is decimated due to over-hunting and hoarding. Those depending on the use of their firearms to protest and potentially take over radical governments will face disproportionate lethal force. Those looking to have some protection while looting their suburban neighbors will be met with equal force -- or no force at all. All result in Americans killing Americans and "terrorists" taking pride in a job well done.

Many folks believe that their only option in dealing with an objectionable government that objectionable voters elected using objectionable polling methods is physical force. That is the power they have seen used on TV, have experienced as a veteran of a foreign war, or as a victim of urban violence. Most Americans have never experienced the terror of living in a society so dysfunctional that personal firearms are the only real, if tenuous , insurance policy. It is the power that our forefathers historically used when it was "necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another". It's in our blood, even if said forefathers looked at standing armies with disdain.

President Obama advertised "Change", and has even stated that everyone needs to do their part, but really hasn't offered any tangible suggestions on what sort of things would be useful for us to do. He really can't, not because he's not intelligent enough to know, but because he is intelligent enough to know that advising such options would infuriate, to put it lightly, those REALLY in control. At least George W. Bush advised people to "go buy stuff" on September 12th.

As we wait for the future to be decided for us by legislative decree, we forget the true power we hold. That power is inconvenient to living "The American Way of Life", incompatible with "The American Dream". Why would we want to live like Europeans, or Africans, or Latin Americans, for God's sake? It's our God given right to live like we do. And our God given responsibility to deal with the consequences.

Pardon me while I digress for a moment. Many Americans feel that a public-option in health care reform is a must. Others are afraid of "socialized medicine". Those that play the socialism card barely mention Social Security and Medicaid, but would they send their aging parents off to or invest in "Sam's House", "Enron (or AIG) Acres", retirement villages? They never seem to mention other "socialized" bits of American life, such as the Interstate Highway System, or the number one taxpayer supported institution, after Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare, The Department of Defense.

While in basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, one of the first things we were told by our Drill Instructors was that "The military is not a democracy." In fact, military personnel sign away many of their Constitutional rights for the duration (if not more) of their service to the democracy they are serving to defend. Of course, young impressionable recruits usually need the direction of their superiors to successfully comply with their duties as assigned, and it would be unwise to promote debate.

Those who want to cut social programs should be careful what they wish for.

But back to the matter at hand.

What is this mysterious, forgotten power that we still possess? How can Americans put themselves back to work? How can they end their dependence on foreign energy? Well, it won't be easy, but using deadly force will only make the situation worse. If you profess to being a Christian, start living like it.

Americans need to stop looking for top-down solutions and use, if you will excuse the term for Americans living north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Yankee Ingenuity. Home-grown, grass-roots, community-based solutions are needed.

  1. Purchase Power
    • Break the Chain - buy local products from local merchants
    • Eat Local - in-season produce, farmer's markets, local restaurateurs, be aware of "food miles"
    • Keep DOWN with the Jones' - share what you have, respect your neighbors and their stuff, create a (non-storage) business out of your garage
    • Renew/Reuse/Recycle - there is no "away" to throw things, give unwanted items to charity, find local "fixers", create new business finding new uses for old stuff, maintain durable goods
    • Barter - learn how to fix things, provide useful services, and meet people in your community
    • Burn your credit report - get out of the debt mentality, cut your credit (cards) in half
    • Refrain from buying plastic - built to break, made from and shipped by foreign oil
    • Quality, not quantity - buy good quality the first time and avoid the need to replace things due to shoddy materials and manufacturing processes, insist on durable & repairable goods, have broken items repaired by local businesses
    • Live (and spend) within your means - are you defined by your "stuff"?
  2. Invest in Communities
    • micro-finance - help local entrepreneurs provide the goods and services you need
    • support local businesses - put local people to work for local people
    • support local craftspeople - you can afford custom-made everything!
    • support local services - doctors used to make house calls, shoes were repaired
    • create transportation options - carpool, deliveries, bicycle-friendly roads
    • community currencies - recession-proof your community, bail-out your community
Remember the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Quit trying to take advantage of and screwing each other over. What goes around comes around. Common sense isn't so common these days. Make lemonade. Fear breeds insecurity. Grow a pair, for America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vets, Health Care, Socialism, and Community

It figures that my last post was over 4 months ago. It's not that I've had nothing to write about, but I've just been doing stuff and not blogging about it. I'm just not cut out to be a blogger, it seems. Some may read the following blog post and wish I would stay at my current posting volume, yet others may wish to see more from me.

But just last night I had a good long talk with some relatives I haven't touched bases with for a while. It was great to hear they are doing well. I mentioned some of the things I was doing, including community service, mostly amateur radio related through ARES & RACES, and likened it to serving in the US Air Force.

Well, that lead to a discussion of health care, and my uncle (also a vet), mentioned that as vets, we can get health care at VA medical facilities, an option available to me, someone without any other form of health care. There are plenty of examples of the experiences Gulf War vets have received from the underfunded VA medical system to see that it is not what it can and should be. Although a vet, my uncle is retired from the airline industry and gets health care that way.

I mentioned the potential of "universal health care" helping to solve many of the health care (including Medicaid & Medicare) issues in the US, but my uncle was afraid that it sounded like socialism. He mentioned the typical right-wing stories of Canadians coming to the US for health care, presumably because they just can't wait (can afford to travel tho? just can't wait to get that hang nail fixed?) Those politicians that tell tales of waiting to see a doctor haven't sat in an emergency room in the US.

Whatever the "new and improved US health care system" is called, whether "single payer" , "universal", or something else, as I explained to my uncle, the "yankee ingenuity" of the US should be able to create a suitable alternative while providing acceptable, if not envious, health care for all. I mentioned the AMA-created artificial doctor shortage no longer able to support a doctor in every small town or doctors making house calls. We both agreed that professionals wanting to make 6-7 figure incomes should become lawyers, those wishing to provide quality health care to the country's citizens should become doctors (or other healthcare professionals). Whatever the system, it should be neither a government bureaucracy nor capitalist multinational pharmaceutical or insurance corporate welfare system.

Socialism, and other isms, in my opinion, are becoming rapidly obsolete. I mentioned that the (Eisenhower) Interstate Highway System is a socialist creation - everyone pitching in to provide for the greater good. Could military service be considered participation a socialist or even communist entity supporting "democracy"? I was certainly reminded on several occations that the military was not a democracy.

As a vet of the "Cold War", from Dec 1984 to Jan 1989, (yes, I mentioned Hillary's proposal to give such vets real "war vet" satus), I am a believer that one's service to one's community should not stop there, nor should it give one some kind of exemption to continue supporting one's community. Such service, in fact, should have instilled enough of a sense of duty to recognize that community service should be part of a healthy civil society. Many times I've heard statements along the lines of "I've served my country, so I have the right to... (sit on my ass in front of the TV?)" to which an apt reply and paraphrased song lyric would be "What have you done for us lately?"

If we are waiting for answers to life's problems to come from "above", whether from government or corporations, we're asking for 20th century -isms some of us just love to hate. Communities, cooperating within societies, on "grass roots" levels, can provide in the 21st century, although it will probably mean an end to our current corporate oligarchy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Linux for Casual Computer Users

Folks have told me that I should start making money fixing computers. I have done such things for years, but am unwilling to do such a thing under normal circumstances. These folks I mention don't understand my caveats, but I'm unwilling to waver from them. Am I being totally unreasonable to want to convert casual computer users to Linux?

Frustrated casual computer users often upgrade their hardware, and in the process, their version of Windows, in an attempt to ease their frustration. After the initial joy and credit card bill, they find the same frustrations, or gain new ones (ala Vista). I would be willing to help users save their otherwise usable hardware from ending up in the landfill and ease some of the stress of viruses, malware, and such that cause frustration. Would a dual-core machine enable users to watch youtube videos that much faster than a P3 or P4 with a reasonable amount of RAM? I'm thinking that in most cases, a customer's internet connection is more of a bottleneck than their hardware.

Such a conversion would not be for those that need to use commercial Windows software. Those that just need to use the internet and play card games would be the targeted audience. Yes, WINE is robust enough for those that use certain commercial apps, and I would consider helping them, too. My goal would be to make the price attractive enough to make people think twice before they said "No thanks".

I'd make it really cheap to hose off their machines and install Ubuntu or the like, restore their internet connectivity, figure out the hardware drivers, and include an hour or so showing them the features, since it is similar enough to what they are used to. For twice the basic fee, I'd move their music and pictures over. I'd add an extra tier for users that needed apps setup on WINE, or for figuring out linux alternatives.

I'd do the basic service for $40, and $20 for additional service calls or training. I'm in a rural location, so I wouldn't need to worry about too many customers, and I wouldn't be doing this to get rich. Helping users asking "How do I use my computer to do 'this'?" would be more fulfilling than them asking "Can you remove this virus?" Letting customers use a demo machine prior to "the act" would probably be a good idea, and depending on the customer's hardware, could be a turnkey solution.

I'm to the point where I want to make a flyer/poster to hang up in a few local shops. If I get a few bites, great. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm just not much of a graphic artist ;) Time to hit the royalty-free clipart collections, I guess.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Second Life Market Index

I'm not a big SL user, my capped satellite broadband just won't allow for more than a few hours a week. With that said, one thought that crossed my mind is the possibility of a market index for SL's economy.

Chatting with Olasofia last night about the subject brought out some initial thoughts regarding such a market index of goods and services. Since there is already an economy in SL, an index may have some economic and trust effects. There is already an index of Linden $ exchange rates, mapping $/L$/goods/services may be interesting.

The mention of L$6000 stiletto boots vs. L$1 for a complete outfit came up, getting the later to "fit" to one's avatar vs. possible custom fitting for the former. Automating the process of finding the price for every thing/service on SL may be the show-stopper for this whole idea.

Adding a vote component for each and every content creator and service provider would add a measurement of "trust" to the SL economy, although separating content creators and resellers would probably be another sticking point. Advertising and word-of-mouth currently builds legitimacy within SL, an index of trust or value could add extra value. I have seen voting mechanisms at various venues in SL, but I'm not sure what they are about. It would seem necessary to track visitors vs actual customers, but recording a vote for the satisfaction of the product/service purchased vs. the shopping experience could be another show-stopping difficulty.

In summary, the index I have in mind would contain all products and services on SL, who creates/provides each, their retail price, and a vote of satisfaction with each product/service. Unsure of many things, I wonder if Linden Labs provides facilities for obtaining such data. Mono may be able to deal with the data, if it is, but I'm fairly certain that this whole chain of thought will need to be reconciled by someone who is more clueful than I.