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Trips, Birthdays, and Projects

April 07, 2007 05:19

Tiffany enjoyed a weeklong trip to London, England over her spring break, which she thouroughly enjoyed. She followed this trip up with a trip to San Antonio, TX a couple weeks later. This week she also got to travel to Lubbock, TX for her UIL theatre one act play contest "By the Bog of Cats". Her group performed it first last week locally and they advanced. Gertie decided to tag along at the last minute. She said she definitely wanted to go somewhere for the Easter holiday, although I'm not entirely certain that this is what she had in mind.

In other news, as of March 31, we now have two teenagers living in the house. Marjorie managed to make it to 13, and decided to celebrate by punish...er... rewarding us by having a slumber party with 7 of her friends... who were all perfect angels.... made no noise... didn't rampage around the house until 6 AM.... Well... I do recall hearing stomping around well into the morning... but certainly that was just ghosts.... I can find no other reasonable explaination. :)

The tank managed to develop its first injury and is currently out of commission. Despite what I had previously hoped, tank treads do not make for an efficient means of motion... especially when turning... on carpet. I didn't account for all that surface area against a surface that would encourage friction. It also seems less than useful on climbing over small obstacles than I had hoped for. Ultimately, this comes down to the power of the motors. I'm now planning for a new platform. However, all the work I did with the computer and motor circuity can be easily reused, so that effort will not have gone to waste. I'm actually now looking for a decent set of motors with gearheads and encoders built in, two large wheels, and a caster. It will have the same rotational qualities as the tank, without the surface area issues. As long as it has enough clearance, but is otherwise not topheavy, it should manuver well around the house. I've been working on sensor interfaces to aid with obstacle detection and avoidance, as well as positioning.

The site I'm going to be making a few minor changes and updates to. Most of this will be behind the scenes type of work, but necessary none the less. Like the cams, I'm going to probe ALL interfaces to detect if they're currently active before displaying them on the page. If my music control program is inactive, the option to control the music will not display, even if I say it is. I'm going to move all control options to an object type arrangement. I'll have the main cam, and then each object... be it a music control, lamp, rc controls, pan/tilt/zoom, music control, phone, desktop display, map, etc will have its own database pointing back to the cam. Lamps and other devices will also be able to connect to multiple cams. When viewing a cam, the other cams owned by that owner, and devices visible from that cam will all be prominant. Devices on other cams will not be visible from this page, giving more room for other features. Right now, displaying all the necessary links takes up too much room. In addition, specific howto links will be available along with the control links. If someone wants to know how I control the lamps, the link will be right next to the lamp controls, so their answer will be immediately availble to them, without having to hunt through the link farm in the sidebar. I'm also going to change the priority of the listed cams. Cams that have active motion in them will be elevated in priority over cams have none, so that cams with live people on them will show up first. Cams with no text overlay will be elevated over those that are covered with it. I'll also add more options to have additional notes from the cam owner appear on the page, ajax reloadable, to augment this. I'll be adding picture galleries, smarter capture/comment searching, and tons of other features.

Most of these changes I'm going to implement to help capture more people. Lots of people visit here every day. Most stick around a couple minutes, click a few links.. go... "ok.. that's cool. Next site.." and then leave. It's not that we aren't entertaining or that what we have here isn't interesting enough to keep them around longer, but it's simply too much to take in. We don't draw their attention in the right way. For many people, it's not immediately obvious what is going on, especially if they followed an old link where the site description is no longer entirely accurate. I need to make it obvious, at a single glance, what you can do with this site... and by the time they've spent a couple minutes messing with it, many of the common questions will have already been answered... And better yet... we want to provide them with information that will let them think of a great idea.... and discover a few moments later.. that their great idea is currently available on the site. In any event, I'm working on some design changes to fascilitate some of this. There will probably be multiple changes to the main theme in the coming weeks as I try different things.

Ultimately, I would like to be able to earn enough money working on the site to be able to at least supplement the income I can make from a regular job. I don't need a lot, and I certainly don't plan to become a dotcom millionaire... or a dotbomb millionaire either.. but if I'm able to spend the 60 hours a week I devote to my current job (which includes the actual time I'm paid to work, lunch hours, time I prepare for work, drive back and forth from work, rest after work, and related scheduling issues that end up wasting additional time..) on the site, then that income would be easily maintainable.

More about all this later. Now you have a news update. :)

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