green thumb Tuesday
Tuesday, May 3 2011
This morning I decided the weather had turned nice enough to plant some of the seedlings I'd started back in late March. The weather might still be potentially dicey for tomatoes, but members of the genus Brassica (in my case, kale and broccoli), are tough enough to survive an entire Ulster County winter (indeed, we've started harvesting delicious tender kale sprouting from last year's stalks). This meant I had to prepare a good fraction of our small (120 square foot) garden plot, whose soil is something of a landmine of partially-composted kitchen waste, dog turds removed from the yard, and whatever contributions the cats have made. (I haven't added any humanure yet this year, though there is plenty of human-urine-soaked buried deep underneath.) When one plants small seedlings, it's always best to demarcate their positions by putting mulch around them. For that I used sawdust from Ray and Nancy's Silver Maple, much of which I had to saw up in our driveway.
Later I mowed the lawn for the first time this year using the electric-powered weed whacker. Grass is tender at this time of year and tends to go without much resistance, though it tends to throw a lot of green spatter everywhere. As I did so, I was listening to the latest Sound Opinions podcast, the one doing a retrospective of Bob Dylan's post-electrification career. (My opinion of Bob Dylan is that his songs are only appreciable when performed by the Byrds.)
On and off I've continued work on the infrastructure to support an infrared-based menuing system for my Arduino-based solar controller. This isn't really an essential feature for the controller, but it's become a puzzle that I want to solve, with wide-ranging applications if I can pull it off. Basically, I want to be able to navigate a series of hierarchical menus displayed on an LCD allowing me to change various configurations (including the date and time settings of the controller's real time clock). Since the controller needs to be down in the basement controlling things, I've been testing the nascent menuing system on my homebrewed Arduino testing board, to which I've attached an infrared receiver module. By day's end today, I'd managed to produce a reasonably-generic hierarchical system that could wade through two levels of hierarchy (lacking an extra LCD, I displayed these menus via the serial terminal). Such a system wouldn't be too difficult to complete if all its questions were multiple choice. But to set things like time, date, and various temperature thresholds, some questions must be fill-in-the-blank. I need a way to render the defaults and develop an intuitive way to change them from the infrared remote. The IR remote has a numeric keyboard, so numbers can easily be typed. But I have to figure out how best to provide interactivity with complex delimited data (such as a time or a date).
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