Absent For A Bit ....

I am away for a little while working on a few or more episodes for The Adventures of My Space Alien Alter Ego story ... will return (to Earth) soon!

Notice: Blogger has screwed up and lost a bunch of photos out of my blog! They are replaced with a gray silhouette of a human head. I will eventually get them replaced with the correct photo, it may take a while to find and fix everything. So some of my stories don't make much sense without their photos, sorry for the inconvenience.



My Arduino on The Net

I got an Ethernet shield (Arduino talk for "eXpansion card") for my Arduino Uno microcontroller yesterday. 

Today I hooked a temperature probe and LED (light) to the Arduino and played with setting it up as a web server. Yes, that's right, setting it up to deliver content on the Internet and to practice having remote access and control of things. I was able to get a web page that shows the inputs from the Arduino analog channels, and it keeps track of how many times the value randomly exceeds or equals 300 since it was turned on or reset. If a value eXceeds or equals 300 then it momentarily turns bold as weLL.

The temperature probe is tied to analog input 0, so that is why A0 is significantly lower than the others A1-A5 that are just floating with nothing attached.  The web page refreshes automaticaLLy every 50 seconds. In the time I have taken to write this blog post the number analog values eXceeding or equaling 300 has been 21, so it happens occasionaLLy. Again, this doesn't reaLLy mean anything significant, I'm just measuring something that happens occasionaLLy in the real world and reporting it and giving slightly different visualizations during events.

It displays the room temperature in F by default, but if you feed it a message of "esbbC" at the end of my regular URL, it wiLL put up a first line that says "hi esby!" - I used fmcgmccllc's nickname for me (she has the blog Detroit Automotive Meltdown) AND then it displays the temperature in Centigrade. My picture below actuaLLy has "esbbF". The temperature choice of F or C determines whether the LED on my circuit board turns ON or OFF. I tied a picture of a spinning Carbon Nanotube from wikipedia next, then there is a form for entering a first and last name. The form doesn't reaLLy do anything with the names just yet, I am just playing around.

Later this afternoon I tied my Arduino to the Internet by using a DDNS service, so people around the world can see what the temperature is in my living room.

This is the link to my Arduino: http://esbboston.is-a-geek.com 

This picture shows the web app running on my iPad from a different network.


Arduino Experiment with Apple TV Remote & IR Receiver

I was 95% successful in getting my Arduino Uno microcontroller to read the keypressing of an Apple TV remote control. I say only 95% instead of 100% because it reads all the buttons, but only works reliably from a distance of a couple inches, so not so much "remote", more like only "mote".

I purchased a Radio Shack item 276-0142, a two piece container with an Infra Red Detector and Emitter. I have only played with the detector so far.

I had read about other people doing Arduino experiments with an infrared receiver, but when I got home from the Radio Shack store I discovered that their IR detector had two leads, and while the one in the online example had three. I couldn't find any Arduino plans online for a two lead IR detector so I had to kinda wander through several web sites to get where I am so far with the wiring and design. I did find plenty of user comments at the Radio Shack website about how this particular product was a piece of junk and didn't work at all. So I wasn't hopeful. But I finally made it function. I am not exactly sure if this is an optimal design, so any comments from other people would be welcome.

I got the basic Arduino code from www.instructables.com web site, particularly this one for the detector, and then modified it for interpreting Apple TV remote patterns of information.


This is my wiring diagram

I noticed the pattern for an Apple TV's buttons had a bunch of values near 500-600 microseconds and another bunch around 1600, or about a 1:3 size ratio. These are for the off and on times in microseconds. I noticed there were 32 cycles of data between what appeared to be a much longer start and stop signals.

"usec" stands for microseconds

For the Middle Button of the remote
0 usec, 6380 usec
8900 usec, 4360 usec
560 usec, 540 usec  
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec 
540 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 540 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1600 usec
580 usec, 1600 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1600 usec
560 usec, 540 usec
560 usec, 540 usec
560 usec, 520 usec
580 usec, 520 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 540 usec
540 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 520 usec
580 usec, 1600 usec
560 usec, 540 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
540 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1620 usec
540 usec, 1620 usec
560 usec, 1640 usec
560 usec, 31000 usec 

I noticed each button had a common start and ending, but then different in the middle of the data (the 3rd of 4 parts)

Menu Button:   32 560Wave: 1316411168
Play Pause:    32 560Wave: 131641141118
Left:          32 560Wave: 1316413148
Middle Button: 32 560Wave: 131642131118
Right Button:  32 560Wave: 13164458
Top Button:    32 560Wave: 1316431148
Bottom:        32 560Wave: 1316421248  

So I recorded the incoming stream as a pattern of 32 bits of high and low ON, and examined the 8 bits starting with the 17th bit

The Play Pause button pattern 131641141118 translates to a signal pattern of:

    0111011111100001 01111010 11111111 

Example "If statement" (The array is zero based, so the 17th bit is in array pointer 16)

          if (sigpattern[16] == 0 && \
              sigpattern[17] == 1 && \
              sigpattern[18] == 1 && \
              sigpattern[19] == 1 && \
              sigpattern[20] == 1 && \
              sigpattern[21] == 0 && \
              sigpattern[22] == 1 && \
              sigpattern[23] == 0)
               Serial.println("Play Pause Button");

Here is a screen shot from the Arduino - PC serial link showing the results as each button is pushed on the Apple TV remote control while pointed at the top of the IR detector on the Arduino breadboard:

So if someone could help me understand why it only works for a distance of a couple inches I would appreciate it. If I am veRy careful and move the remote perpendicular away from the detector I can get about six inches away, but I have to be veRy careful.

Special thanks to Wally_Z at instructables, see his web site: How To Control Your TV with an Arduino!


Lost and Ground

While shopping I found this nearly mint condition Crayola Crayon on the parking lot. If you would like it back please leave a comment with the eXact color name and I wiLL send it to you. You must cover the shipping and "handling" fee, and teLL me the approximate date when it was lost.

The longitude and latitude of the site where it was lost:

35.66027 N 101.41003 W

When I looked at the photograph of the crayon I thought there was a hair underneath it! But it turns out that someone simply ruined a tiny piece of my kitchen counter top with a knife.

(There is also a secret contest.)


Arduino Experiment for Dog Food Choice

I am testing my dog's ability for abstract reasoning, language, and communication skills.

I made a random light generator with my Arduino microcontroller. When I push a button it randomly sets the light to ON or OFF, and then I use that in an eXperiment with my dog Cooper.

I feed him either deli chicken or turkey mixed in with his dry dog food, and I ask him this meat choice question using my hands as the placeholders for chicken or turkey. I momentarily wiggle each hand with fingers spread apart as I say each word 'Turkey' and 'Chicken'. Random light ON determines Turkey = Right, OFF means Chicken = Right. And then whichever hand he points at first is the meat choice he gets.

I wiLL report back later on the test results (Cooper's choices).

The little blue round switch near the bottom of the red breadboard is a potentiometer that adjusts the contrast of the LCD

The yellow light toggles ON/OFF with each push of the Push Button, but the red light is randomly ON or OFF. The randomness is especially good because the random number generator seed value is generated by a floating Analog Pin input with nothing hooked to it.

I highly recommend NOT getting red colored breadboards. They are very difficult to see the wire connections compared to a white breadboard. The red one just came with the kit.

The Arduino is currently hooked to the PC in these pictures but just for downloading programs. It can be disconnected and powered by batteries or an AC adapter. 

I realize it looks like a jumbled up mess of wires, but the LCD Display takes alot of connections. At least I made the 4 data lines a rainbow pattern of red yellow green blue. I used an old hard drive ribbon cable from a PC to connect the display to the Arduino.

I am having fun !

Left-Right Cooper's Hand Chosen Date AM PM
Random Choice by Cooper


Can You Compare Delaware Air?

Here is a conversation between my wife and I veRy early this morning in the darkness:

 T: "Ah ... these clean sheets feel so wonderful!"
 E: "You should remind me more often to wash them ... (Pause)"
 E: "I'm not saying that I wiLL do it, but you should remind me anyway."

I know one person in Delaware and she responds: Fresh bedding is the bomb! Especially if it's been air dryed outside!

My response to my friend from Delaware: I used inside air but sent that air immediately outside, the net effect is that some outside air immediately replaced it, so depending on where it leaks back into my house, mixing etc, I am not eXactly sure what percentage of the air that passes through my dryer has veRy recently been outside. That would probably be an interesting calculus or differential equations story problem. Using science instead of math I think I could measure the situation by doping the inside air with an inert chemical at a low concentration, say helium, and then use a gas chromatograph to sample the air during the process of running the dryer. I would just have to find out the sensitivity of the GC to the right parts per million level in order for it to be statisticaLLy meaningful.

I could also measure the amount of air leaving the vent pipe during the process and measure the static volume of the house. They make that sort of device for HVAC system evaluations of air handling systems.

But there is water in the clothing being dryed that contributes to the volume of air measured plus the air is heated during the process. I suppose you could run the dryer in an empty mode with no heat to determine a "just air" amount, but then there is also the case of the lint build-up during the process which probably restricts dynamicaLLy the amount of air comparing the begin point versus the end point of the process, complicating the math.

In the end, it probably has nothing to do with the outside air and more to do with the effect of sunshine chemicaLLy reacting. You could compare this by doing identical type loads, drying during the nighttime and daytime using the same set of odor judges blindfolded so they don't know whether it is daytime or night. Then repeat the process several times for accuracy.

Miss Delaware Air responds: All I know is that the outdoor smell lasts forever - even if you pack them away in the fall and take them out in the spring. Sleep so good on air dried sheets!

My response: I wish you would bottle up, or even better yet, build a pipeline to send some of your Delaware delightful air here, with the pipeline terminal exiting in my house. They have been making sulfur petrochemicals and carbon black in Borger for not quite a century.

Miss Delaware Air responds about how her air isn't so nice aLL the time, especiaLLy when they fertilize the local fields with naturaLLy produced chicken made chemicals.

My response: I guess that is the similarity between air sickened by petrochemicals and your chicken pet's [odorous] chemicals. 

My friend from Delaware (DE) has a first name that starts with De and a last name that starts with Da and the Spanish word for "of" is "de", so aLL together, my nickname for her is: DeDadeDE 

DeDadeDE is fun to try to speLL reaLLy reaLLy fast repeatably. I think they could use that as a roadside sobriety test.


If Roy Bought A Robot Dog From Robert Who Robbed It From Robin

At a little after one AM my Cooper asks me for a dog biscuit. I teLL that I am completely out and that Ernie is going to go to Wal-Mart tomorrow and, (-here-) you can have a handful of dry dog food. He neVer eats dry dog food by itself. He indicates that he wants to go outside.

Twenty minutes later he comes back inside WITH a dog biscuit from his secret eXternal stash. He is proud of himself (finding it in the dark) as I crack up laughing. He eats it in the bedroom then crunch crunch crunch he is back in the kitchen eating that first handful of dry dog food. First? He asks for more. I give him a second handful. He crunches through that and asks for a third. But I stop after three and let him outside when he asks for the fourth serving of something he neVer eats. I teLL him to go find another biscuit outside. But aLL he does is bark at some-thing-or-one in the darkness.

I know he had supper and this is a little early for breakfast. We wiLL caLL it brupper or supfast, either one sounds Scooby-Doo-ish.


Pi e Day

Several people, mainly numerical geeks, celebrate today March 14th as Pi day because of the first significant digits of the number pi being 3.14, matching the day and month.

But I thought of another number in math called e, the mathematical constant that is the base of the natural logarithm which has an approximate value

2.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995... out to fifty places.

So combining pi & e gives you pie, a most delicious treat. I plan to eat pie today at sometime after 2 PM using the whole number part of e. For the eXact minutes I used the fractional part 0.71828 times 60 minutes per hour, which gives me 43 minutes plus 6 seconds.

So at eXacty 2:43:06 PM is when I plan to take the veRy first bite. Now, for the fruit fiLLing, do I choose appl-e or ch-e-rry? Ch-e-rry is my favorite between the two, but the 'pl-e' of appl-e looks so close to 'pi-e' ..... When I work on memorizing pi I only go out to 200 places, because anything beyond that is ridiculous.



The I-Paw-d

Inventing an Apple device for my dog: i-Paw-d


Candy Caution: I noticed that the tips of Hershey's Kisses break off veRy easily when unwrapping the candy. It appears that the size is approximately 0.01 grams or less, which is a smaLL portion of the 4.6 gram candy, but it may cause tiny chocolate stains on your clothing, skin, or leave unsuspecting treats for rodentia.


I ordered a new toy today. It is an Arduino microcomputer with sensors caLLed the Sparkfun Inventors Kit. It looks like great fun and I might learn a new thing or two about programming, robotics, and electronics.


I am off to a great day in the outdoors: painting


Excess Duckage

I have an excess of ducks.

A semi-long time ago (around Christmas) I watched the first season of Duck Dynasty on a DVD that was my son's Christmas present. I enjoyed it so much that I pre-ordered the second season. But then I forgot about this pre-order. Since that time I upgraded my cable teleBision and the second season has been playing several times. Then yesterday I got an email teLLing me that my second season DVD is coming.

What makes this so terrible is that I think the first season was wonderful, but the second season seems a little more fake and contrived. I have enjoyed Uncle Si, though, he is delightfuLLy insane. I know someone in real life who is almost just like him. I won't mention any names, but I wiLL say he is a goat rancher.


You know it is going to be an interesting day when you mess up counting to five. And the game isn't reaLLy that hard ....

I love it when something that accidentaLLy looks like a plan comes together.


Another Five: I saw a picture where someone had constructed two large human shaped feet out of snow, maybe a couple meters taLL. There was a caption on the photo: "Another Two Feet of Snow"

INVENTION: So we should start measuring in Toes as a unit of length. Look how easily it allows us to convert to the metric system - 10 toes equals two feet. I suggest TZ for the unit abbreviation. 5x5280 = 26,400 TZ per mile. So the distance to the sun would be 2.455 trillion TZ, and if the number of people on earth is 7 billion times 10 toes, that would be 70 billion toes.


Good-Bye Mr. Hugo Chávez. It is probably a quite siLLy thing to blame your death on a secret US government plot to kiLL you with cancer. If the White House would have tried you would have been gone a long time ago. Maybe the people of your country can be free soon.


Soon There Will Be Less Then More Then Less Then More ...

Watching Bolt (Walt Disney 2008) What a movie! Its plot reminds me of The Truman Show, so "The Tru-Dog Show" ? Hahahahaha


Marrying a princess is reaLLy a two part deal. You have to figure out how to marry them, then after that you have to figure out how to merry them.


So ... I haven't been asleep hardly at aLL and I have a stupid dream: my cow is stuck on top of a mesa in the far distance.

There is not much light.

Perhaps it has long horns or big ears, I can't teLL for sure, maybe both, or it has a hat on, or ear muffs, I don't know.

It is a long ways away and it is cold and it is winter-fering with my sleep.

I have no cows in real life.


I am canoeing up life fixing to possibly make a veRy big choice of which tributary to take, that changes 87 percent of everything. Wish me luck.


My child is suddenly 16 times farther away for most likely several years or in my case, forever. Sad. At least there is Skype and Skype equivalencies.


Our microwave oven has been broke for several days, but it is not my duty to replace it because my wife wanted to buy the same model that she has at our store AND ... this is the important part ... she is the one assigned (by her) to get it.

So last night she gets a cinnamon roLL out of the refrigerator and asks me this question: How I am to heat this cinnamon roLL?

My answer: Hold it between your hands

She is tired and responds with 10 percent anger-confusion, "What does that mean?!?!?"

I laughed and said, "You asked me how to heat up a cold object and I gave you a technicaLLy correct method for warming it up to maybe 98.6 degrees."

I paused and thought of an improvement, "OR ... you could put it under your arm, that might work faster." Then I said something about moisture content, I forget the eXact wording.

My close way offering is not quite a microwave oven.

Much later I realized that if she simply eats the cold cinnamon roLL it wiLL heat up to her body temperature while also converting its chemicals as fuel heating up the body ... so in effect, a self warming cinnamon roLL. 

My wife has stolen my iPad most of the time because her new game crashes on her iPad. Her iPad is older and doesn't run the same operating system version. Both operating systems are the latest versions possible for their particular hardware. Strange.

I left out a veRy good story from Saturday evening simply because I wiLL have to see a particular teleBision commercial again before I can teLL you the tale. Sorry. But I have most of it wrote, just waiting on some details.


An Egyptian Cat Walks Into A Bar

So I sit down at the counter of the diner and Jesus told me a half story of the Internet, saying that his girlfriend said something about Egypt, the Internet and cats. He couldn't remember that entire saying, so I used the Internet on my phone to google 'Egypt Internet Cat' - and the veRy first item had the saying that Jesus had tried to teLL me.

Saying: The Internet is just like ancient Egypt with people writing on walls and worshiping cats

Jesus got a kick out of me using the Internet to find a saying about the Internet, within about 15 seconds after he told me half the story.

I even risked my sandwich getting cold in order to find him the info. No, that isn't right, I don't think I had even ordered yet, hmmm, confusion.

I asked Jesus if I could blog this cat-Egypt-internet story and he said I could if I used his fake name of Don Juan Santiago de Sebastian ... I think I got most of that right but now it seems like I am missing one more name and now ever so slightly later it seems like I have the order slightly wrong.

I told him that I would give him a pseudonym of ... (and then I semi-randomly picked names using JESUS as an acronym), so his acropseudonym is

   James    (E name that I forgot)    Samuel    Ulysses    Saul

And then after aLL that creative effort he told me that I could use his real name.


Why am I eXtremely sad today? I went to the McRib location service and there does not appear to be a single McD restaurant in the entire lower 48 that has the sandwich for sale.

Apocalypse Confirmation.

On a brighter note I was able to upgrade the firmware in my TI-89 calculator so that it wiLL properly chat with my PC.

I need coffee.

And Spring.

Spring, where are you?


I just remembered something about math. I know how to do fractions using Egyptian Hieroglyphs. I should put that on my resume ...

UPDATE: I just got back from McD for breakfast. Guess what was on the tray liner paper .... that's right, a flow diagram for McRib. Talk about adding insult to injury!


pope adod ...&... YES!!! - I am old enough

I spent several frustrating hours spread out over a couple days dealing with my Internet provider, even wasting $80 for a new router, and they finaLLy appear to have their system working again. SO ... the very neXt day I get a robotic phone survey asking me (with a kind feminine voice) to rate their quality using a 0-9 scale by the keypad of my phone. BUT ... their system fails to accept the keypad entry ... I am not sure I have ever had this happen before.


My wife picks me up at the entrance of the maLL. I teLL her that I think I got my eXercise in for the whole month. She replies, "A whole month's worth in one day?!?!?" I teLL her, "weLL, February is a short month."

T-"Did you want to go to Wal-Mart before we leave town?"

E-"No, because we would interfere with eXercise scheduled for the month of March"


This Is Cool: Use google search engine to balance chemical equations!


I have a new name for the neXt pope.

pope adod

What is cool about that name is that it is the same when viewed upside down.

This is useful if the pope puts his name tag on upside down.


Waste what little time I have left on earth.

That's what some people do. I stop at a convenience store on the way home to get a six pack for a get together at my house. I am not actuaLLy drinking this but getting it for others.

The C-store clerk asks me for my ID. I crack up laughing because I am not even close to the legal age limit. I am old enough that when I was 18 that was the age limit, and now I am over THREE times that number! But then I notice that she isn't ringing up my purchase and find out she seriously wants to see my ID. She actuaLLy reads my ID.

I am not sure if I have ever been carded in my entire life. She told me that they card everyone.

I can't wait to turn 18 x 4 = 72 to see if I continue to get carded. ... or 90 ... but hopefuLLy I am no longer driving by then.

New Blog for My Abstract Art ... Come Visit

Click HERE for the Art of Ernest S B Boston

These are pieces that I have generated mainly using computer art tools. Enjoy !

Something New:

I am also in the process of linking my poetry blog entries together. This project is only partially finished. A "Poetry LINK" at the bottom of the blog entry points to the next older piece of poetry.

First poem in the series of linked poems ....

Turn Gold Out of the Darkness

Turn Gold Out of the Darkness

Blog Archive

My Art

These are some of my abstract art pieces. They are available as prints, send me a note if you are interested.

Couch Glow

Couch Glow

Gold As Smoke

Gold As Smoke

Flowing Wood

Flowing Wood