Luke’s Life

Christmas Time

Posted in looong, San Antonio, Uncategorized by lrobison on December 22, 2007

I think I’ve set a new personal record for being quiet on the internet. WordPress and Flickr alike. I’m about to start my last semester as an undergraduate, and am glad for the Christmas break. This last semester I graded for the freshman Turing class to get some extra money on the side. I would have continued proctoring next semester, but I’ve taken up a research project with Alvisi doing distributed computing work. In order to graduate Turing myself, I have to have a research project which I hope to complete in record time this next semester.

Just before I left Austin for the break, my girlfriend of 2 years (not quite continuously) decided she would rather be dating another guy. It was an unexpected blow, and its thrown me off balance for the last week or two now. I’ve been keeping myself distracted so far by doing Christmas shopping for my family, reading Queen of Candesce, and most recently, fixing our water supply. On Friday, our pump blew its breaker and no testing topside have revealed any faulty circuitry, which means we have to pull all 364 feet of pipe and check all the wires and possibly replace the pump itself. Pulling 364 feet of PVC filled with water is quite a feat. We’ve done it in the past using a friend’s tripod and hoist, but decided to build our own structure this time and get our own hoist so we don’t have to rely on him so much. The plan so far is a windmill-like structure made of angle-iron, but all the steel supply places were closed by 5pm (when we decided we would have to build this contraption), so we are biding our time till monday (christmas eve) and hoping the steel supply shop will be open. Until then, we have tied our water system to our neighbors, and are using their water.

One notable update is my 57″ TV has been fixed! Well, kinda. I was able to track the problem down to a single power wire that wasn’t delivering power, and then able to short the relay that provides that power. We now have standard def. TV, although I’m hoping to be able to fix the highDef portion as well.

I’m sorry for the lack of eye candy in this post, but I’ll be updating flickr tonight, so i might have another post for you soon of any interesting or notable pictures.

your internets

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on December 15, 2007




Posted in projects by lrobison on July 29, 2007

Ok, this is half reminder to me what i want to write, and half preview of upcoming posts.

In realizing that summer is almost over, I’ve suddenly become quite productive and actually managed to do a few projects.

I am replacing my speakers in my Pioneer CS-D9900 system… they are on order right now because the surrounds in the old 15″ subs were rotted out.  Just for curiosity, I repaired one of my old ones, and am going to compare it to my new one, and see how feasible a homemade surround is.

I fixed and reinforced the legs from my kitchen chair that chris roark broke.  This really isn’t so much of an impressive feat, but probably my first woodworking job all alone…. Actually, thats not true.  I invented a laptop stand for bed, which ended up looking exactly like this even though I’d never seen it before.  But it is my first furniture repair job.

I wrote a script for the winamp DSP plugin in an attempt to recreate the battlestar-galactica radio voice sound.  It just modulates the track you are listening into AM tunable up to wherever you want.  At 200Hz it sounds like the desired effect, at 20Khz, it becomes almost beyond hearing range.  It would be possible therefore to ‘hide’ a second signal down at baseband and basically broadcast an AM signal up at 18-20KHz.  Now “hide” might be a pretty strong word for it, because looking at your winamp EQ gives away that there is more activity up in the upper frequencies than should normally be there.  Further plans would be to make a setup (winamp or otherwise) where I could hide and retrieve signals in another file

My friends and I have been hanging out on IRC now for better communication.  Its great to have chatlogs all day because i leave irssi open in screen and log in either from work or from home and all my history is still there.  for those that don’t have that option, I would like to write a little chatbot that just spits the log back at you, and maybe even logs to a website.  This project hasn’t even begun to happen – so don’t expect anything soon.

summers already half over!

Posted in San Antonio, work by lrobison on July 17, 2007

how did that happen so fast?

I’m well settled in at SwRI again, working for the same guy as last year and with the same people, but on different stuff. Although just last week a bug from some of my code last year came back to bite me… old code never dies. Interestingly enough, I saw Tarun and Mickey at SwRI today. They were there with the UT Robotics DARPA Urban challenge team. Apparently DARPA is doing some qualification tests for the teams on the Institute campus, so I was able to watch the second half of the qualification tests and hang out with the team for a little while. All went well and there was much celebrating.

With Elissa spending the summer in Austin rather than Houston, we’ve been able to visit a lot more often (and with much shorter drives). I think we see each other something like 2 out of every 3 weekends. She made it down to San Antonio for my birthday/4th of July (kinda the same event) and I’ve been up to Austin several times as well. Next weekend is the official celebration of Mike getting through Marine boot camp without dying… which means I’ll be back up in Austin again :-).

I’m getting kind nervous with summer going by so fast. I had several things I’ve wanted to do:

  • Fix my bike tire so I can get in shape
  • Fix my huge old speakers for next year
  • Fix my kitchen chair so I can sit down next year…

I guess thats it. When you work from 8-5 it’s easy to put off those sorts of things to the weekends, which I spend in Austin most of the time… which means they never happen :-P. Things I have done:

  • Start pressure washing alllll of my house’s concrete surfaces
  • Take care of my registration ticket
  • Decide my ranger ham radio from the 70’s is only eye-candy and will never transmit/receive again, at least not under my supervision.

My family and I have been watching season 1 of 24, and only have two episodes to go. Hopefully after that season is over I won’t waste my time in front of the TV after the workday is over.

All this isn’t to say that the summer has all been work for me and my family.  We went to Houston for a wedding of some old friends, and then they dropped me off in downtown San Antonio at a wedding of one of Elissa’s friends (a very nice Jewish wedding… my first).  Another weekend we got to go water skiing on lake McQueeney with my cousins Tom and Dorothy.

the upper hand

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on July 8, 2007

So far our plans had failed. We had four sticky traps, two mouse traps, and we bought two of those huge snap-off-your-toe rat traps, but still the rat had free reign of the kitchen. One afternoon, when our apartment was at full capacity, our brave rat foe decided to try to go on a little hike through our living room. He made a dash for the tv, on the far side of the living room, and ran over Mike’s toes on the way there. We decided that this was it. We had to stand and fight. We closed up the rat’s hole using a CD and some duct-tape, and then we went hunting. The rat, completely unaware of the closed hole, finally made its way back to the kitchen after we started moving around furniture around in a vain attempt to find it. Finding it’s hole blocked, it decided to take residence in our stove. That was an easy problem to solve… we set the oven up to 450 and waited 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Luckily for us (and our noses), the intrepid rat scoundrel decided to take up residence somewhere else, unlucky for him, that place was our pantry, and we quickly shut the door. Since we had all the time in the world to plan our attack, we finally decided on taping a sticky trap to a bar (sticky side down), and sticking him to the end of it, where we could then take him outside and ‘deal with it’ however we wished.

In the following movie you can see exactly what happens when 4 computer scientists, one engineer, and an economy major put their heads together to catch a rat.

The final outcome of our encounter with the rats is that we found and killed 2 rats, and 2 mice in a period of a 2 or 3 weeks.  Then we moved out.  Good luck to whoever has the fortune of living in River Oaks #132 next year.

“It” returns

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on May 28, 2007

Four long days of waiting and listening. Our enemy, that foul beast, waits and plots. We only hear him at night, scurrying and scratching in the walls. No doubt planning our doom. But we did not waste our time either. Traps were set, plans were made, and all our energy was put into the day we would meet again. We bought four sticky traps, and two small spring traps. Signs that he too was plotting against us were hard to miss: traps would be moved or sprung with no sign of our prey. We took careful steps through our kitchen, ever wary of the constant danger.

Finally he messed up. We knew he would, and we were ready. His screech of surprise brought us running to the kitchen, where both his hind legs were stuck to the trap we laid between the microwave and the stove. We jumped into action, but had nothing to protect us from his two yellow teeth or his sharp claws. We needed to find something to put him in. As we searched the room for a box, the rat whipped the trap around, pulling it by his front paws and stuck it firmly to the microwave that was, seconds earlier, only an inch from his face. Now facing the edge of the counter, he stretched himself out by climbing along the microwave cord, hand over hand, until he could just grasp the edge of the counter with the ends of his claws. With the trap stuck to the microwave behind him and his arms outstretched in front of him, he had the leverage he needed to free himself. By the time we sprinted back to the kitchen with a cardboard box, all we saw was a tail whipping into the hole behind the stove and a few hairs left on a trap still stuck to the microwave.  This wasn’t over yet

Day 1

Posted in apartment by lrobison on April 24, 2007

A new menace has made itself known to our House.  We only have had only one quick glimpse if the foul creature, but you can feel its presence in the air.  Its stench is terrible to be sure, but the noise its deadly claws make is sobering:  a sound like the scratching on the gates of Hell itself.  For now it satisfies itself by solely waiting and watching.  Observing our every move.  Plotting.  I can feel its eyes upon me this very minute, bearing down with a cold stare as black as death, though I know not where it is.  We have seen signs of it in our food, but it only becomes so bold at night when even the good warm sun is afraid to come out for fear of angering the evil animals that claim sovereignty over night.  Mike of the Warrior Clan was able to sight it this evening just after the sun had set, and darkness was closing around us.  It had perched itself high in our food stores, and was making a snack when it found itself cornered by Mike.  Rather than quivering in cowardice like most animals of Earth, this creature fearlessly leapt from its pearch, screeching like some horrible bat and bearing its sharp claws.  I believe it possess some sort of black magic or witch craft, for at that very moment, Mike the Brave was taken over by the spirit of that foul beast, and forced to copy the actions of its now soulless body.  With a look of helplessness, Mike also jumped up in to the air, clumsily baning into objects around him and screeching in loud high voice.  In this moment of confusion, the creature slipped away into the shadows.  Surely we must be more careful when attempting to confront this creature in the future, who knows what other power it may wield.

The End is Near

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on March 29, 2007

Every time I see a giant rain cloud blot out the sun, I think it looks like armageddon or something.  Today after I left physics class I saw an enormous dark cloud descending on campus.  It was just made worse by the “calm before the storm” feeling and the odd quite around campus save for some wavering voice singing in long Arabic syllables and unfamiliar tones.  Weird.

Thats my odd story for today.  Later I go to buy new shoes (mine are falling apart and are completely unsuitable for Ultimate) and to show Mike the house for which we just signed the lease, but that hes never seen.

Morse Code Influences on Ham Radio Lingo

Posted in geeky, school by lrobison on March 26, 2007

I wrote this paper for my linguistics class. Since I did most of my research through the Internet, I thought I should post my paper back to the Internet. I also posted the paper in pdf form here: Morse Code Influences on Ham Radio Lingo

Morse Code Influences on Ham Radio Jargon

The origins of much of today’s ham radio jargon traces back to early codewords and usages of Morse code. Codewords are short sequences that are sent by encoding each character of the word in Morse code, and tapping out that Morse on the radio, just as you would send any other word. To understand the jargon used by amateur radio operators, one must first consider the origins of radio communication. Samuel Morse introduced Morse Code and the telegraph in the 1840’s and 1850’s, and his invention spread rapidly through the states, especially along railroad lines. In 1896 Marconi was the first person to send Morse code by radio waves, and amateur radio was born. By 1912 radiotelegraph had grown enough that Congress begun to regulate the frequencies available to amateur and private stations. These stations all used Morse until voice transmission was made possible in 1920, although Morse was still in common use through the 1950’s…


spring break

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on March 21, 2007

heh, last post was “first day of class” and now its already past spring break. Time does fly. The last half-semester has been mostly un-eventful. Mike, Arvind and I found a duplex to live in next year. The rent per person is about $515 a month, which is much higher than this years $300/mo. future kitchenI’ve been more aware of how i spend my money since i found that out. Oh, speaking of money. I had my check card information stolen. Turns out Bank of America is really quite good at making sure i don’t really loose any money in the long run, and they’ve refunded everything they took. The sucky part was that the guy pulled my account down past a zero balance, and i couldn’t really use my account for a few days until it “posted” and then i could actually make a claim to their “fraudulent losses department” or whatever its called, then that night they refunded my money. i was out of money for about a week, but luckily i could call a few loans from my roommates and get some cash.

My spring break was nice and relaxing. I spent the week playing games and doing a little studying, and hanging out with Elissa a lot. We went to enchanted rock state park on Thursday to get out of the city. I wanted to take elissa camping, since she has never spent the night in a tent or made breakfast on a campfire, but of course the park was all booked up. We had to make do with just a day trip, and by the end of the day we were tired anyways, so it was fine. I couldn’t quite convince elissa to go into the cave, but i did get her to try a little rock climbing. Well, rock jumping really. Unfortunately she can’t quite jump as far as i can, so she took a short fall and I felt terrible X_X (don’t worry, shes fine). prickly pear cactus and elissa

Since my ruby class is gone, (it only lasted half a semester) my most interesting class now is linguistics i think. I mean math and physics are interesting occasionally, but for the most part i don’t care. And the only reason linguistics is fun, is because i chose ham radio lingo as my research topic on my most recent paper (due the day after tomorrow, ack!). Every time i read much about hams, i really want to get a license and become one… but I think its just a passing fancy. I enjoy radio communication, and always have since the day i bought a $20 radio at RadioShack so i could talk to my next door neighbor after our parents had told us to come home for the night, course it really didn’t work well at all, but that didn’t matter. I imagine if I ever decided to use a ham radio, i would want to make one from a kit, and then only operate the CW (morse) modes. Because thats what a Real Man would do. Or maybe write some digital to analog software, or some of my own beam steering stuff. That might be fun.