Author Archive

August 31st
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

The next phase of our European adventure is a road trip through southern France.  We started today by taking a train from Barcelona to Perpignan, France.  We had concocted a scheme to save €35 by renting our car on the outskirts of Perpignan instead of at the train station.  This resulted in a spectactular misadventure not unlike you might see on The Amazing Race – we took a bus with no idea of where to get off, we walked around an industrial district loaded down with our overstuffed backpacks and attempted to converse with people using our limited French (consisting mostly of “Parle vous Engles?” – the answer is always no – and words like “rendezvous”, “reconnaissance”, and “raconteur”), and eventually (more…)

August 25th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

One of the less endearing aspects of Bruges was the tourist carriage rides.  They come flying down the narrow roads and alleys, CLIPPITY-CLOPPETY-CLIPPITY-CLOPPETY, and you have to dive out of the way — onto sidewalks that are already crowded — to avoid being run over by a big, sweaty, smelly beast.  My advice: if you want the quaint experience of getting around the way people used to hundreds of years ago, try walking.

Eventually, we started to wonder, all these horses – and there are a LOT of these horses and carriages running around Bruges – but no horse crap.  How’s that work?  We figured they must use horse diapers.

What will they think of next?

What will they think of next?

But it turns out the answer is a clever device, a sort of crap-catcher.  They attach it to the rear of the animal and it collects the payload in a little pouch at the bottom.  Must be fun to empty that at the end of the day.

Still, a clever invention.  Unlike a horse diaper, it’s hard to spot.

February 28th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Alonna and I made an interesting discovery recently: there is no longer any need at all for cable TV.

The chief reason we were paying $45 a month in the first place is not so we could watch TNT or the History Channel, but because TV antennas suck.  Most of the TV we watch is the main channels – NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox – so we were basically paying to receive a crystal clear reception of these channels.  But here’s the thing: for 2 years we’ve been watching standard def television on our HD TV, and the experience is really grating.  Every time I check what it would cost to get these channels in HD, it’s in the $50 range.  That’s $50 on top of the $45 we were already paying.  But you can get most of those same HDTV channels with a digital antenna.

(more…)

February 3rd
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

About a year ago, I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t beat the song Jordan on Expert difficulty in the video game Guitar Hero II.  One thing led to another and I ultimately hacked my Guitar Hero controller to “record” songs (what it records is the button presses and strums) in practice mode – at half speed – and then play them back at full speed.  Alonna made a youtube video showing it in action.

So that’s the kind of thing I do in my free time…  I have a slightly more detailed description of it here.

Comments Off on Ben’s Guitar Hero Hack
January 26th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Alonna and I just had LASIK Done.  She on January 22, me on January 23.  Basic Points:

  • LASIK consists of having a flap cut in your cornea, a laser reshaping the part of your cornea under the flap, and the flap replaced.  Watch this FDA Animation.
  • It costs roughly $3000.  Our insurance covered $500.  You can pay a lot more or a lot less.
  • We had “Wavefront” LASIK – where your prescription is determined by computer and lasers or something.  Whereas prescriptions are generally measured to 0.25 of a diopter, this measures down to .01.  This effectively means that you’ll probably have better vision than you did with glasses or contacts.
  • LASIK can also correct astigmatism.

(more…)

Comments Off on LASIK – Initial Observations
October 26th
2008
written by Bullet-Point Ben

My friend Randy Feist has a pumpkin farm in Kuna, ID.

  • Quite an operation: pumpkins, corn maze, petting zoo, mini-pumpkin slingshot, hay bale maze, hay rides, etc.
  • I didn’t quite get the pictures I wanted – a view of the whole 35 acre party and a few pictures of just the corn maze.  I’m starting to think that real-time video of what the camera is seeing might be handy.
  • I added a servo to the setup, which should have caused the rig to automatically pan left and right, for a total range of 180 degrees.  Not sure it worked though, mostly because I couldn’t get the screw connecting the servo to the rest of the rig tight enough – so the servo was rotating, but not really taking the rig with it.
  • In spite of these difficulties, we got some pretty good pictures…

(more…)

Comments Off on Linder Farms Kite Photography
October 24th
2008
written by Bullet-Point Ben

So I’ve been toying around with ASCII art for about 10 years now.  My last ASCII project was multi-layered ASCII art, which looked pretty awesome I think, here’s my ASCII take on Da Vinci’s masterpiece.  I also wrote a program that converts videos into ASCII videos, here’s me mountain biking, and here’s me mountain biking some more.  I have ideas for taking ASCII art to a whole level way beyond all that.  But the world isn’t ready for that yet, first I wanted to try an idea I’d been kicking around: phrase based ASCII art.  The idea is to just throw in a bunch of phrases related to the subject, hidden like in a word search, but in places where they contribute the picture, or at least don’t ruin it.

(more…)

September 28th
2008
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Apparently so…

Here’s the location

Found it in the valley between Squaw Creek trail and Cobb trail.  I didn’t roll around in it though, maybe it’s just poinsettia.

I brought my kite/camera gear along too, mostly just to see how hard it is to bring the whole setup on a challenging bike ride, in preparation for trying the same thing in more interesting out-of-the way places.  The kite stayed up just long enough for me to attach the camera and then floated back to earth.  It was too hazy for good pictures anyway.

September 7th
2008
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Last weekend we spent an hour or two playing around with the kite and camera at Barber Park

September 1st
2008
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Somehow these must have been accidentally left out of the Ruttgers post.
(more…)

Comments Off on Better Water Skiing Pictures
Previous
Next