rat's nest of wires hidden
Sunday, December 6 2015
Since the daylit part of the day was scheduled for other things beginning at noon, this morning I set out with my firewood salvaging gear even before Gretchen had gotten out of bed. Eleanor normally doesn't join me on such forays, but this morning she apparently thought I was the one providing the dog walking, so she came along. Since all my closer places are more or less depleted of quality, immediately-burnable firewood, I headed down the Stick Trail about a quarter mile to a slope above the trail where I had been salvaging wood earlier in the season. There I cut four pieces from fallen Chestnut Oak before my chainsaw decided it had overheated (something that is more likely to happen when I neglect its oiling). There were a couple previously-cut pieces in a nearby staging area, so I still managed to assemble a 101 pound load for immediate indoor use.
The thing for which my afternoon had been previously scheduled was a mentoring session with my software development mentee. Today I showed him a few Adobe Photoshop techniques and then quickly built a tool for adding and editing items in one of the SQL tables we'd put together in our last session. He seemed a little distracted by his laptop at the time, but I decided not to say anything since he knows as well as I do what he's here for. I then had him modify the PHP-based tool I'd just written so that it could edit another table. It helped that I'd written the code as generically as possible (the form generator actually performs an "EXPLAIN table_name" query so that it knows what fields to present for editing), but I was encouraged by how quickly he refashioned the code to edit another table. His homework assignment, though, will be a bit more daunting: he'll have to create an editor that adds items to a mapping table.
A cropped version of a meme I made today in front of my student, showcasing opacity in the erase tool, font stroke, the clone tool, and other important Photoshop concepts. ("Thanks Monsanto" is a common form of GMO-hysteria-mocking meme among the 4chanesque trolls with whom my Suzy troll frequents on Facebook.)
This evening, I continued a project I'd begun last night: adding a standard DVI connector to an old Apple Cinema Display HD that had been given to me (with a box of other electronic errata) by my greenhouse-loving friend Mark. As most people who care about such things know, Apple is fond of non-standard and otherwise proprietary connectors for the devices they sell, even when it makes almost no sense. The Apple Cinema Display HD is a good case in point. Instead of having a set of connectors on the back for power, video, and, if necessary, USB, it has a single unremovable cable terminated in a connector that superficially resembles a DVI connector. But it is not a DVI connector (it's an "Apple Display Connector") and will not physically attach to any standard video card. Instead, it only attaches to certain brands of Macintosh, none of which continue to be manufactured. This has effectively made the Apple Cinema Display HD obsolete. But if one is willing to cut open cables and sacrifice a standard DVI cable (available on eBay for $4, free shipping), it turns out that it is fairly easy to hack a proper DVI plug onto the rat's nest of wires hidden in that fat cable. There's even a webpage with tables of colors and pin numbers to help out, though I had to use a multimeter to figure out which wires were which in the particular DVI cable I sacrificed. At first my hacked-on connector didn't seem to work (aside from providing power, which I got from a little 24 volt power brick that had come in that box of electronic errata from Mark). But on my third test computer (which happened to be a Hackintosh), the screen leapt to life, and every color was perfect. The monitor has a clunky stand mechanism that has been broken and fixed, and the frame is too thick for use in a multi-monitor setup, but it has a resolution of 1920 by 1200 pixels, which matches the most pixel-rich monitor I have.
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