Final exams start in about two weeks. I have three essays and one project due before then. And a little programming task I offered to do for someone, that has turned out not be quite as quick as I thought it would be. Plus some sudden life stuff that came up. I’ve got a lot on my mind and my plate at the moment, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to update. I’ll try to get a chapter or two done at some point, but I can’t make any guarantees. Hopefully things will return to normal in a few weeks once exams are over.
Gonna be a few hours late with the update. Sorry. I went to my first ever networking event tonight, and it left me feeling totally drained. I’m an introvert, so standing around for two hours, straining to hear a conversation over the noise of the three other conversations, waiting for a chance to say something myself, is really not pleasant. I never want to do that again. Internet Relay Chat, that’s how I want to my networking, and all my socialization. It’s so much easier, and more efficient.
Anyway, I didn’t anticipate the event to be so draining, so I thought I’d have plenty of time to finish the chapter afterwards. But I need some time to unwind first.
Assuming I don’t fall asleep, it’ll be here in a few hours. Otherwise, I’ll finish it when I wake up.
First of all, I’ve decided to move updates to Saturday instead of Friday, so that I can split my writing between Thursday and Friday. I’m usually too busy (with classes, homework, club activities, et cetera) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to do any writing, but Thursdays and Fridays are both one-class days, so they work better.
Second, I’m working on creating 3D models of the dragons, angels, and ‘cubi. I’m not much of an artist, and I want these species to be properly avian, and capable of flight (no, they do not use magic to fly), so it’s going to take a while. I’m starting with the dragons, since the angels and ‘cubi evolved from them. After I have a dragon model I’m comfortable with, I’ll make it look more human and turn it into the angel model, and then some further modifications to make the ‘cubus model. There are three reasons I’m doing this: one, to give people some help visualizing the characters, two, so that I can make ads and such to draw more attention to the series, and three, to help me figure out what the hell the characters look like. Can’t design their physical appearance properly unless I can actually see it. There’s also the fact that I keep forgetting what I already said about their appearance, and coming up with new stuff that contridicts it. After I get it nailed down somewhat, I’ll probably need to go through and redact all the inconsistencies.
Didn’t quite finish this weeks chapter yesterday, so I figured I’d do it today when I got home for spring break. And then my computer booted into emergency mode because it couldn’t mount my home partition (due to filesystem errors). So I’ve spent the last four hours fixing that, basically. All systems are functional now, though, and I’ll get back to work on the chapter right after a nice hot bath and a glass of wine. I will finish it before I go to sleep.
And I have a better plan for where things are going now, so hopefully I’ll be able to update more reliably from now on.
I’m probably going to be late with this week’s chapter. Sorry.
The main problem is that I just don’t know what happens next. I’ve been figuring it out chapter-by-chapter (for the most part), which turns out to be a horrible to do this. So I need to sit down and try to plan out the rest of the arc a little better, so I at least know where I’m trying to lead the story. That’s the main thing that makes it hard to write a chapter every week: knowing what to write. Actually writing it only takes a few hours, but deciding what to write… that takes a lot longer, and tends to rely on inspiration hitting me when I’m in the shower. So hopefully, once I have a better plan, I’ll be able to do this a bit more reliably.
(Also, I had a meeting about a summer job today, I have a required guest lecture tonight and a response to it due tomorrow for one of my classes, and the site crashed today and I had to figure out how to fix it.)
Sorry, no update this week. Or at least not on time.
I’ve spent pretty much all my time this week working on an essay about how banking has come to integrate computers and what that says about the broader progress of computers witnessed in society. It’s giving me a lot more trouble than I expected it to. Very hard to force myself to write something that I’m not really interested in, especially when I know it’s going to turn out horrible. Plus there was a bit of a setback when I realized my original topic (programming languages) didn’t actually fit the prompt, despite the fact the professor had already okayed it in class. (He made it sound like we were supposed to write about an area of computing that’s changed, when we’re actually supposed to talk about an area changed by computers)
Anyway, first draft is due tommorrow, and I’m still working on it, so I don’t think I’ll have time to write a chapter today. Sorry.
I was going to spend today writing the next chapter. I swear. Three consecutive weeks of not updating is not how I wanted this to go. But…
December 8th was my 21st birthday, and my present this year was a kit to make my own 3D printer. I’ve wanted a 3D printer basically since I first hear about them, but the cost has always seemed too high and it’s never made the top of my list. Until now. My life’s gone digital and open source, so whatever I want, I install with “sudo zypper install thing-I-want”. And prices have come down; you can now find decent kits for just over $500. So I decided to finally give it a shot.
After a lot of research, I went with this RepRap Prusa i3 kit, for $590, plus $60 in filament, $40 shipping, and a $45 power supply (and $2.50 piece of glass). I ordered it on November 29th, and have been eagerly waiting for the end of finals so I could come home and assemble it. This monday, when I finished my last final and came home, I started building it. Most of Monday, all of Tuesday, and most of Wednesday, I did nothing but eat, sleep, and build my printer (it was nice to focus fully on one thing after the hecticness of life in college). Wednesday night, I finished the wiring, and experienced the joy of seeing it spring to life when I plugged it in. I made a video of the initial power-on, for sentimental purposes (and because I figured if it caught on fire, at least I’d have a cool video of $700 going up in flames). When I saw things working okay, I literally jumped for joy. Plan was to calibrate it, and start the first print. Then maybe let it print something else the next day (Thursday, a.k.a. today, or it was when I started this post) as I worked on the week’s chapter.
There was an audible sparking noise when I connected it to my computer via USB to run the calibration.
Aborted the attempt to connect with USB, looked over at the printer in fear… and saw it continuing as if nothing happened.
Unplugged the printer, spent an hour talking to people on the RepRap IRC channel trying to find out what happened. One of them told me it was probably just the grounds of the power supply and USB port connecting to each other, and that if I connected the USB cable before plugging the power supply into the wall, it would be fine. So I tried that.
That’s when I got smoke.
Too late. Ground connectors on the USB ports (computer side and printer side) and cable are now black (Computer USB port is still functional, at least. Will plug potentially-unsafe electronics into old laptop instead of expensive desktop from now on), a component on the Arduino controlling the printer has blown up (picture here), and the Arduino no longer reacts to USB connections in any way.
So basically, I have $200 of electronics (Arduino, shield, stepper drivers, and LCD display), and somewhere in there is a faulty component that caused this whole mess (Theoretically, I might have wired it wrong, but I checked against the wiring diagram numerous times because I knew there was a steep price to carelessness there, so I very much doubt it was bad wiring). If I replace the now-broken Arduino and it turns out that wasn’t the faulty component, I’ll fry the replacement Arduino.
After staying up late last night trying to figure out what the hell happened, I contacted the company that sold me the kit, asking for advice. Couldn’t determine what the faulty component was, so I have to send all the electronics back so they can test it all, find out which part is faulty, and replace that. And the Arduino, since that’s partly fried (turns on, but USB is completely dead). Then they send it back to me, and I hope I don’t run into any more problems.
So instead of writing the next chapter today, I had to deal with this mess.
It’s probably going to take at least a week for me to get the electronics back. And then I’ll need to hope that there are no other issues (e.g. stepper motor, thermistor, hot end heater, or heat bed defective), so I can finally use my printer. Meanwhile, I have $500 of wires, wood, and motors sitting on my desk, taunting me. I know it’ll all get sorted out eventually, and I’ll end up with a working 3D printer, but I only have a month before I’ll need to go back to college and leave the printer behind, so I need to get my prints in now while I have time.
Anyway, I know this is a very long post (longer than most of my chapters), but considering that this is going to be constantly on my mind until things get resolved, I thought I should let you know. As for update plans, I’ll try to put an update out there soon (tomorrow if possible), but if there’s more crap to deal with, or I just can’t focus on writing, then it may take longer.
Bad news: next week is finals week for me, and I have 3 finals to study for and two papers to write. The first paper is due this Sunday, and it’s looking like it may take longer than I had expected. So I need to get that done. So I’m just going to do one chapter to cover this week and next week. It will probably be posted sometime early next week.
The good news: After finals week, I’ll have about five weeks off from college, so presumably I’ll have time/energy to update on time then. I’ll try to work up a buffer, though I don’t know if it’ll actually last.