10/30/10

Greetings from a nice fall day in West Allis, WI – or as the locals call it “Stallis”…

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Pumpkin tent setup by the RV park selling Halloween Express stuff.

It’s a bit cool out, but nice and sunny with just a light breeze.  The big wind storm has passed through the area.  I did not see much of the nice weather because I had to go into work today (Saturday).  Was there from 9:30 am until 4:40 pm to perform another copy of data from production onto test server, and then run conversion.  The conversion only takes 15 minutes to run, but the manual process of copying data takes 5 hours to complete….  This time I had two computers so I could have each of them copying different records, so it helped speed things up a little bit…

Last weekend I received an electronics kit for a primitive computer called “COSMAC 1802 Membership Card” that fits inside of an Altoids Tin.  It receives input via toggle switches and gives output via led lights – at least when it is successfully put together.

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Pile of parts shortly after I started working on it....

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Parts that need to be soldered into place

Did not have much time to finish it this week because of needing to work late nights, but finally finished it last night.  After a trip to Radio Shack to pick up a battery holder for three AA batteries I was able to power it up.

It is not very difficult to mess up soldering, or put a part in wrong so I was prepared for the worst.  Once powered up it started working right away, but the led lights kept dimming and out out now and then.  Traced it down to a wire that was not soldered into place.  Fixed that and now it works like it should.

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All together and working.

I was able to input a short program into it last night and was able to get a light to blink on and off.  John is not impressed at all and keeps asking me “Why?  You have an iPhone with more computing power then the first Space Shuttle, Why do you need  THAT?”  I think it is cool working with a computer that has limited resources and see what you can get it to do.

I’m now working on a program that will blink my name in Morse Code on the front display.  It is programmed in assembly language that you convert from Hexadecimal to Binary.  You then input each line of binary into memory with the toggle switches and hope it works.

Here’s a short video that shows a guy programming his “COSMAC 1802 Membership Card” computer:

Our current satellite service expired last night – so today we have no service.  Yesterday John was all like “we can just watch tv shows over the internet and save a bunch of money”.  Today with no satellite service he’s like “I’m going to call and order a new satellite tv package today.  Internet tv is there not there yet.”.  Not sure if he did, or not.

I think we should take 1 month and just get our tv from the internet and see how well it works out.  I’ve stopped watching Judge Judy and the latest season of Project Runway is over – so I’m good.  Now I just need to see if I can watch “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace” online – it’s my new naughty show.  It’s more high tech then Judge Judy with lie detector machines, web cams and etc.  I’m still on the fence about liking Nancy Grace….  she reminds me of someone in South Carolina…..

This upcoming week will be busy with another major push to move another project into production.  I’m hoping to know if I’m being extended past 11/19 on Monday.  We can then make plans to break camp and get out of Wisconsin before the winter weather arrives.

If we end up staying here much longer, I’m thinking about purchasing some electric socks to keep my feet warm while sitting at the kitchen table with the tile floor.  Something like these:

Not much else going on.  Going to play with mini-computer, watch movie, read book and spend a relaxing evening at home.

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