What I did on my holiday by Tats (now with video!) - Tactical Ninja
Apr. 2nd, 2013
10:15 am - What I did on my holiday by Tats (now with video!)
This weekend was just what the doctor ordered. That would be if your doctor were a sadistic bastard who likes to see their patients facepalming, sweating and groaning. But ultimately, it was also pretty productive, and what else would I be doing with four days off, right?
It started with the discovery that the YoT now has size 14 feet. This means that the lines carried in mainstream shoe outlets often don't carry his size. Fun times for a teenager who is fussy about shoes. Luckily he managed to find some, and I reckon that if I put an outrigger on them I could use one for waka ama.
The other foot in that photo is mine. I have no idea how this happened, but as old Ma Biddle* used to say, he's got a good grip on New Zealand, that lad.
On Friday I worked on making the Brainfart project behave itself. The task for the day was to get it doing the Kitt thing - you know the thing with the LEDs? Oh god you lot are so young.. here:
That thing. I got the strip to do it, although it takes way longer to run through 60 pixels than the 6 that seem to be on Kitt, so it's a bit boring to watch. Also, that video is way cooler than my one, and everyone loves The Hoff, right? Right?
So I worked out how to do it and was playing with it and having all sorts of problems, then Dr Wheel came along and went "How about making it scaleable, so you can make the bar as long as you like by changing one number?" To which I went "Yay! Let's do that!" And he waved his brain at it and suddenly, in half as many lines of code, it was way better, scaleable, and like all neat and tidy and shit. To which I went *facepalm*. But, progress, right?
Then on Saturday I went and dug a hole. The hole in question is part of the repairs for a retaining wall. Wellington's a) hilly, and b) on a fault line, and retaining walls are a fact of life here. This one had moved a bit and needed fixing. Only it turned out it basically needed replacing, ie pulling all the posts out and resetting them further back into the hill. So we did that then. We being Happy, me and Dr Splodey, otherwise known as Patrick-who-doesn't-have-an-LJ-and-likes-b
The old posts had been set in concrete, and getting this off required the use of a jackhammer, which looked for all the world like one of those ridiculously large space-age guns you get in FPS games. Here is a picture of me wielding said hammer:
Well, ok, I'm not wielding it there, I'm just holding it aloft in victory after finishing this hole. Check out the size of mah hole, man. And the size of mah weapon. That is an impressive hole, I have to say. Also, that hammer weighs 18kg so after swinging off the end of it all morning, I was kind of done, and opted for a standard digging bar for the rest of the hole. I've no idea how heavy that was, and my noodly arms after the jackhammer couldn't tell, but I'd put it somewhere between 10 and 15kg, so somewhat lighter but still a mission to heave around. The soil is clay with rotten rock and gravel interspersed, and the wall is backed by a giant (like, 8 foot across giant) macrocarpa stump, so loads of person-size roots to cut through as well (you can see one to the left of my head in that pic), making it slow going. By the end of the day we had three full (empty) holes dug, one half-a-hole, and one "Oh shit we have to dig another" hole. And then we all laid around groaning.
So, um, Sunday was an exercise in not doing any exercise. At least, not physical exercise. For me, it was back to the Brainfart. This time I thought I'd be clever and ask Dr Wheel before I started. Thus ensued more facepalming, interspersed with declarations of "I feel stupid!" and eventually a brief glimmer of understanding, which led to this:
I know, riveting, isn't it? What's exciting about that? Well, it's one strip of LEDs behaving as if it's 5 strips. And because the code behind this mostly fell out of Dr Wheel's brain, it's scaleable - which means that when I've bought the rest of the strip and cut it up, I can make it behave like 24 strips, or 15, or however many I want. I can change the length of them and it'll work all that stuff out for itself, and produce evenly spaced dots according to the changes. Neato.
It might also work as a closet light. *ahem*
Anyway, after that I sat down by myself and tried to apply everything I'd learned on Friday on top of what I'd learned to get those 5 yellow dots. And, success! Five little Kitts doing five little bars going backwards and forwards, changing in colour and length according to what I told them to do:
This isn't as pretty as the first Brainfart video, but the difference here is that it's not just something someone else made that I got off the internet - I wrote this code myself, to do very specific things according to what I wanted, and thus I'm far more pleased about this progress (if that's even possible - I was pretty pleased with the last one as well). Given how new I am to coding, this feels very much like I'm trying to write haiku in Japanese, without really understanding the rules of haiku or the rules of Japanese. Consequently when it works, I'm equal parts amazed and proud of myself.
And I'm learning. Every time I do this I can do a bit more, and that makes me feel good. Also, this means I'm now at the point where I can separate the strips physically, and chain them together with wires for power and data, and this means I can start the physical construction part of the project. That means that pretty soon it's going to start to resemble the idea that this started with, back when I had that brainfart at Rainbow Serpent and went "I want to make this thing! Who cares if I know nothing about coding or electronics! Why should that stop me?"
I'll be over here, feeling pleased with myself in the full understanding that I could buy something at Dick Smith that does exactly what I've made, probably for half the cost and no effort. But one day, one.. day.... *rubs hands together with evil glee*
Next steps: learning how to get multiple colours in one loop, playing around with brightness, and trying to get my newly-acquired multiple strips to behave differently from each other.
Anyway, yesterday we filled our holes in again. This involved lining up the posts into position, bracing them there with stays, then mixing up loads of concrete in a wheelbarrow and filling the holes with it:
The nearest new post is the hole I was standing in in the previous photo. It now contains four wheelbarrows full of concrete, and about the same of dirt on top of that. In that pic you can also see part of the Giant Stump of Rooty Doom, and some of the Giant Roots of Holey Doom. There may have been flights of fancy about dynamite part way through digging those holes. Yup.
So, um, yes. Equal parts physically hard and mentally hard, but ultimately I reckon gratification comes from being able to see where you've been and what you've done, and so this weekend was pretty damn gratifying. Big holes and shiny lights! And I got some satisfaction also from discovering that it wasn't just me that was totally knackered from swinging off a jackhammer all day on Saturday. It's been a long time since I put in a day's real work (shearing doesn't count cos I'm used to that), and it shows that all this training has some application outside of trying to do handstands. Nice.
So what did y'all do with your long weekends? Whatever it was, I hope it was fun and satisfying.
* Somewhat matriarchal figure from my childhood who taught me to ride a horse, milk a cow, take a hiding, and pull my head in. She was awesome.