FIRST robotics competition 2008

Last weekend was the Colorado Regional for the FIRST robotics competition. This year I had volunteered to be Scorekeeper/Field Power Controller. Little did I realize that no one had volunteered to be lead for that job. So guess who gets asked to do the job. I’d never done the job before. That said, the competition went remarkably well. A few ID-ten-T errors on the practice day due to the fact that the length of the match constantly changed to provide extra practice time to the teams. After lunch, we changed to just having a double match with regulation times for each.

The teams had a fairly wide variety of designs in use. The most effective was team winnovation, which was capable of launching a ball all the way across the field. It also had a omni drive setup, which allowed it to go around without ever turning.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be at the CO regional again. Moving to Maryland this year. Ah well, thus is life.


Super Smash Bros Brawl

Two weeks ago, SSBB came out for the Wii. Having played (but not owned) the previous two iterations, I had a good clue this one would be just as fun. So, for the past two weeks, I’ve been steadily unlocking all the different characters and stages. Today I finished that. The last one I had to unlock was Wolf O’Donnell. Fought him twice, and lost. Decided to try a different tactic on my third try. Used Kirby to suck him up, then walked off the edge of the stage. Worked perfectly. Kirbycide is a quite viable option for unlocking characters, so long as you’re on a platform stage.

It’s a fun game, especially in a party situation. Recommended.

Far too many wallpaper images

I have accumulated a very large number of wallpaper images. It’s currently hovering around the 2k mark. This poses the small problem of me never seeing them. So, I’m going to create an automated wallpaper changer. But first, I need to organize them into folders based on aspect ratio. This is because I have dual monitors, which aren’t the same aspect ratio. Thus, I wrote a Powershell script that determines the ratio, and then moves the image into the appropriate subfolder.

   1:  #sorts the files inside $loc based on aspect ratio
   2:  $loc = "G:\my pics\wallpaper\"
   4:  #set the location, and grab the files inside
   5:  Set-Location $loc
   6:  $folder = (New-Object -com ("Shell.Application")).NameSpace($loc)
   8:  Get-ChildItem | foreach {
   9:      $item = $folder.ParseName($_)
  10:      #check that it's an image
  11:      if($item.Type -like "*image")
  12:      {
  13:          # get the width and height
  14:          $dim = $folder.GetDetailsOf($item, 31)
  15:          if($dim -match "(?<width>\d*)\sx\s(?<height>\d*)")
  16:          {
  17:              $aspect = [int]$matches.width / [int]$matches.height
  18:              #move based on aspect ratio bands
  19:              if(($aspect -le 1.4) -and ($aspect -ge 1.2))
  20:              {
  21:                  Move-Item -Path .\$_ -Destination .\Full\
  22:              }
  23:              elseif(($aspect -le 1.8) -and ($aspect -ge 1.5))
  24:              {
  25:                  Move-Item -Path .\$_ -Destination .\Wide\
  26:              }
  27:              else
  28:              {
  29:                  Move-Item -Path .\$_ -Destination .\Other\
  30:              }
  31:          }
  32:      }
  33:  }

It’s pretty simple code. It would be a lot harder to write if I had to write it in C#, however. Fear the power! 😛

Wireless Networking and multiple SSIDs

So I got my WRT54G v3 router back from the friend that I lent it to. J’s been bugging me to get her DS Lite on the Internet, so she can trade Pokemon (*sigh*). Anyway, having done some research prior to this, I had determined that it’s possible to do multiple SSIDs when using a third party firmware called DD-WRT when using at least v24 (which is still in RC status).

First step: install the newest Linksys firmware. Then I install the mini generic DD-WRT firmware. From there, it’s on to the the standard firmware. So, I create a virtual wireless interface, which seems to have done so fine. Then I add the following commands:


fconfig br0:0 down
brctl addbr br1
ifconfig br1 netmask promisc up
brctl delif br0 wl0.1
brctl addif br1 wl0.1
killall dnsmasq
dnsmasq --conf-file=/tmp/dnsmasq.conf




iptables -I INPUT 9 -i br1 -m state --state NEW -j logaccept
iptables -I FORWARD -i br1 -o vlan1 -j ACCEPT

And the net effect of all this? Nada. Can’t reach the second SSID. Nothing works. Try the RC7 pre-release. Still fail. Trying to get an answer from the forums, but I this isn’t solved by Saturday, I’m sticking Tomato on the box, and just using two routers to get the DS Lite on.

Laptop HDDs

The other upgrade J’s laptop received was a new 250GB hard drive. So with it, comes an OS reinstall. I’m planning on getting everything she wants installed on there, then imaging the drive so wiping the cruft off won’t be a heartache, but rather just a couple minutes work. With that, I decided to get the SLP 2.0 pieces, and see if I could get that to work.

First, I made sure she had the most recent BIOS from Dell installed. Without it, it almost certainly wouldn’t work, thus negating the entire SLP exercise. That done, I just installed it from the DVD (any Retail/OEM DVD works for installing any version). From there, I opened up an elevated command prompt (important that it’s elevated), then ran two commands:

slmgr.vbs -ipk ProductKeyHere

slmgr.vbs -ilc E:OEM.xrm-ms

Obviously, neither of those commands will work as is. After that, the system was activated. So I installed SP1, and just need to have J finish setting up her laptop. Which will likely be a couple weeks from now. Until then, she’ll keep on using her old HDD.

Bluetooth, laptops, and cellphones

So, J wanted a new cellphone. Ended up getting a Nokia 6126. Amongst other features, it was free. Big selling point. It also has Bluetooth and some media capability. She wanted to have a custom ringtone (Mario Bros). I didn’t really feel like paying for a ringtone (rip-offs, all of them). So my solution was to just transfer a MP3 on from her computer. Problem is, the only ways to connect are with a USB cable (which I also didn’t want to pay for), or Bluetooth (which she doesn’t have on her computer).

Off to EBay. Found a Dell 360 module, which was listed as compatible with the e1705 laptop she has. Couple days later, it arrives. Unscrew a cover, plug it in, and we’re in business. Well, except for the fact that I needed to download the drivers, and the Nokia software.

Long story short, she has her Mario Bros Ring tone.