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obscura
So I've got this old computer named Igate. It's a really old like 1995 or 1996 old. It's a Pentium running at a blazing 75Mhz! I think it's got 32MB of RAM. It's been running for almost a decade now as a Linux firewall built by my friend Will Wagner. It's awesome.

Well tonight we had a power failure and Igate did not come back up. No lights, no sounds, no nothing.

I figured it burned up another power supply. It's on it's second or third one and well beyond it's half life. I've even got a spare ready for when it dies.

Before tearing into it I wanted verify that it was indeed the power supply. I unplug everything but the power cord and hit the switch. It lights up! Hmmm.. Power supply is good.

I plug the network cables back in and hook up the fifteen year old IBM monitor. I go to plug Model-M keyboard back in and notice that the insulation on the cord is crumbling in my hands.

I dug around looking for another Model-M cable with an AT connector. Nope. Imagine that.

Tried booting without a keyboard. BIOS hung up on a keyboard error. (duh!)

I did have a KVM switch equipped with both AT and PS2 connections. I plug an AT patch cable into igate and a PS2 cable into the seventeen year old Model-M and I'm back in business.

I had better get on eBay and buy a couple of spare Model-M cables. Looks like that's the part that eventually dies.

Edit: Unicomp has new cables for $7.25.

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Current Music: Ulrich Schnauss - Knuddelmaus

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The fine folks over at TexasPhotoForum.com invited me to shoot at the Houston Texas Urban Trash Tthe Dress Megashoot.

Natalie posing near the Wortham Center
(more megashots)

This thing was mega in every way. Over 60 photographers, more than 30 models, and more fun than I've ever had on a photo shoot. If you've got a dress you want to trash or if you want to do an urban shoot get in touch with me and lets make it happen.

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Current Location: Houston, TX
Current Music: Electric Skychurch - Heaven

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(more pix from the shoot)

Every year I do a Christmas Portrait shoot to raise some cash for Lone Star Boxer Rescue.

On behalf of all the boxers, Thank You to everyone who came out and had their photos made.
Special thanks to Kay Hill who helped in many ways to organize the event. :-)

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Current Music: Static - Turn On Switch Off (Starring Valerie Trebeljahr)

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obscura
Be careful driving near those crosswalks.

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Current Music: Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

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Current Music: Banabila - Mono Metro

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New glasses came in today and they're great. Paul drove out and we did a short ten mile bike ride.
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I've worn gas permeable hard contact lenses since the early 1980's and I developed some pretty bad habits with regard to lens wear, care, and replacement. Actually, I've known for over a year that I needed a new set of lenses but I never made time to go and get a set.

As with all things in life there is a penalty for bad behavior. Here is what happens when you stick things in your eyes that have no business being there.

Check it out:


big


more pix and descriptivesCollapse )

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I spent the afternoon over at my brother's place where he throws a fantastic 4th of July BBQ every year. This year it was even better than usual because of his new hobby. He collects working cannons.

Since it's our nation's birthday he brought'em out and we fired salutes.


More: Boom! Boom!

The videos don't do justice to just how loud it was. You know the kind of loud that you feel from head to toe and then feel again when it bounces off the houses at the end of the street. Yeah... that loud.

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upgraded to the Palm 755P smartphone with broadband. Amazing little machine. :-)
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Groove Salad on SomaFM is the soundtrack of my life. It's magical how it melts away stress. :-)
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I sleep in a small room that is converted attic. The walls and ceiling are painted black. I'm a photographer who sleeps in a darkroom.
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I've activated posting via my mobile. Now I can post from all kinds of crazy places. :-)
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We've joked about building a bicycle side car and old video provides motivation to revisit the idea.

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Bikes Beer Blood
I've got no idea what is going on here other than it involves bicycles, beer, and blood.
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Four people in the car, not one saw the guy on the bicycle.



Everyone be careful out there.

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What's better than a 20 mile bike ride around Houston Texas in the middle of the night with a few thousand friends? The same ride with a musical soundtrack.

Obscura FM invites you bring a radio to the ramble and ride with us.

Comment with questions or to request particulars.

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Current Music: Puff Dragon - Chinese Radio

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Show media Loading...

A bicycle powered by 2 Jetcat jet turbine engines.
This is a crude mockup for testing purposes. The finished product will be a jet powered beach cruiser.

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Most bicycles come with cheap tires and that is ok for most people. I'm not in that category. Over the years I've developed an appreciation for quality bicycle tires. It's hard to describe in a journal entry because it's something you've got to feel to understand.

Quality tires provide a smoother ride and less rolling resistance. A friend of mine wanted to try my bike on a ride one night and he commented, "This bike just wants to go fast!" This was probably the first time he had ever ridden on anything other than a factory installed tire. (or something from the aisle of crap at Wal-Mart)

SL designation is for the kevlar bead

For more than a decade now I've used Avocet tires. I ride a beach cruiser on pavement so I prefer a slick or semi-slick tire with inverted treads.

Bottom line is, if you ride a lot you should treat yourself to a good set of tires. Go ahead, you deserve it.

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The Obscura FM project involves a bicycle based FM radio station. After finding information that the C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter is easily moddable to extend the range to 100 feet we decided to give it a try.

Cracking open the case and cranking up the power took all of two minutes. It was more of a challenge to figure how to mount the transmitter on a bicycle or rider in a way that allows for good signal transmission and keeps the audio device within reach so the rider can manipulate the play list and pause when needed

The owners manual suggests that the transmitter should be placed in the highest location possible. On a bicycle that's on top of the rider's helmet and it just so happens that my helmet has a lug on the back for a safety flasher. Add a couple of zip ties and some scrap intertube to dampen vibrations and now my helmet is the Obscura FM transmitter.

Obscura FM bicycle helmet FM transmitter

A test ride was conducted to check performance and range. I headed out to the undiscovered country, the part of Summerwood where there are miles of empty streets with no houses. I had to take a massive detour to avoid the mosquito control department's chemical warfare truck. The new transmitter is a lot louder than the old one. I had to decrease the volume in Pocket Tunes to get clean sound without distortion.

When I made it to the un-discovered country I found a stack of bricks and set the transmitter and phone down and rode away. Range confirmed at around 100 feet un-obstructed. Also interesting to note that on the way back I had to get within 40 feet of the transmitter before my radio was able to lock on to the signal.

The helmet mounted transmitter arrangement is nice. It makes it a lot easier to manipulate the phone when I need to skip a song or pause the stream. My only concern is the coiled cord on the transmitter. It doesn't seem very strong and putting the phone in my pocket means the cord is going to get constant tugging as I pedal. We'll bring the Hong Kong transmitter as a backup unit just in case the cord fails.

On the return to base I crossed paths with the chemical warfare truck. I quickly turned to escape but it was too late. He spotted me and the chase was on. I hit top gear and managed to stay just out of range eventually escaping via the tunnel under West Lake Houston Parkway. Luckily I remembered to duck or I would have sheared the transmission antenna.

Recruiting


Obscura FM is recruiting riders to join us at the 34th annual Houston Moonlight Bicycle Ramble. In addition to your bicycle and required safety gear you will need a battery powered FM radio. Look for the tiki torches in the parking lot before the ride.

Next scheduled test ride is Thursday September 28th, 21:00 hours in Summerwood. (Near BW8 and Kingwood Atoscocita on the NE side of Houston) Barring mechanical delays we usually ride 20 miles and finish some time past 02:00. Email me for directions if you would like to attend. Training rides are a good thing. The Moonlight Ramble is a lot more fun if you're not out of breath and in pain.

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A late night bicycle ride was conducted in Summerwood to test Obscura FM, our bicycle mounted sound systems with Swarm Sound© technology and a new lighting setup on my trailer.

Lights

Before the last training ride we concentrated on the battery pack and wiring harness. Tonight the goal was to tidy up the wiring and mount the cold cathode tubes. After seeing how the trailer looked with lights we dubbed it the R2 unit.

Obscura's R2 unit with cold cathode lights

Lighting system is a blue 12" tube in each wheel well and a 12" UV(black-light) tube on the safety flag mast. The UV tube is far less visible in real life than this photo but it does a nice job of making my t-shirt glow. The 10 D-cell batteries ran the lights for over four hours.

Mechanicals

Paul swapped out the junk yard radio with a donor from a Toyota, a real telescopic antenna. He also installed and a new set of iron cross pedals. Some time after installing the pedals but before departure disaster struck in the form of his home bult recumbent, Mongo, tipping over. Fifteen or twenty minutes into the ride his radio started cutting out. We pulled over to examine the wiring. Unable to spot the problem we returned to base to put a meter on it.

Notice how the handlebar mounted beer holder also holds the work light. Tests were inconclusive so we re-wired his lighting system battery to the radio and headed back out. Another fifteen minutes into the ride his radio freaked out again. We think it might have broken something inside in the fall. Luckily we still have a few weeks before the Houston Moonlight Bicycle Ramble and a donor radio from a Volkswagen.

Other news

I've got lots of goodies on the way and Paul has been recruiting. More test/training rides will be happening. Next scheduled test ride is Thursday September 28th, 21:00 hours in Summerwood. The training rides usually run past 02:00 so plan on staying up late.

Email me if you are interested in joining us. We have a couple of loaner bicycles if you would like to try out without investing in a bicycle.

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Current Music: The Karminsky Experience - Exploration

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