We purchased a Rigidbot during their Kickstarter campaign last year, and it arrived in the middle of last week. It took 8.5 months longer than projected, but frankly by Kickstarter standards that’s not bad.
Since it was so close to the end of the kids’ school year, I saved it as a project for the weekend. I spent Father’s Day assembling our new 3D printer with the 13 year old. I think we both had quite a bit of fun! We finished basic assembly late last night — so no test print yet. This evening, we plan on tidying up the cabling, performing calibration, and running our first test print. Pictures and comments to follow.
After 13 years, I finally bought a new car. After trying to hold out for Honda to lease me a Fit EV, I finally gave up and bought a new Nissan Leaf.
With an EPA estimated range of 84 miles, it should be a perfect car for my commute to Towson. My first experimental trip was done at a leisurely pace, and I arrived with 49 miles of range remaining. The University’s charging stations made quick work (2.5 hours) of bringing me back to full charge. Switching to all-electric fuel should save me up to $250/month in fuel. Add to that lower maintenance costs, government tax incentives, reduced parking fees, and 72-month 0% financing, and the Leaf was one of the most economical choices we could make for a car.
The car itself feels really space-aged. I have never had integrated Bluetooth and Navigation before, and the electric features can be partially controlled via an app. A couple of obvious features are missing though. Despite all of the features to track the car’s location being present, Nissan sells that capability as a $500 add-on that we didn’t know about until after we took delivery. (I may have to see if we can get a deal installing that later.) Now if only Nissan would update the firmware with the ability to lock/unlock remotely (or at least check the status of the locks), I’d feel completely like George Jetson.
Lately, I have been dabbling with retro-computing (actually as part of co-adivsing a student group). One of the old machines in my collection is an original Macintosh from 1984. For the sake of authenticity, I have been looking for the version of system software that shipped on release day – Jan 24, 1984.
That early in the Macintosh era, there were no official version numbers on the system disks, but the System and Finder files each had their own version number. Various accounts indicate that I’m looking for System 0.97/Finder 1.0. After a lot of searching I’ve turned up several candidate disk images, but each seems to have been modified over time. Here’s one very common version:
There are several problems with this version. Most obviously, the version of the System font (Chicago-12) used here is quite different from the version seen in other system versions. This includes the versions seen in pre-release publicity photos. All of those other versions used a more familiar looking variant. Furthermore, the version of Chicago-10 included does match the more traditional version. Other, more obvious problems exist. The SysVersion program is actually from 1986, and contemporary accounts indicate that Font Mover was included on the second disk, not the main system disk. I believe this disk was created at a later date and does not represent what shipped with the first Macs.
The obvious thing to do it to go to the source. Unfortunately, Apple no longer makes those early versions of the System software available on their website. But various developer CDs have included System Software over the years. One of the earliest was, Phil and Dave’s Excellent CD.
|0.1 System Tools||System 1.1/Finder 1.1g|
|0.3 System Tools||System 2.0/Finder 4.1|
|0.5 System Disk||System 2.0/Finder 4.1|
|0.7 System Tools||System 3.0/Finder 5.1 (800k image)|
|1.0 System Tools 512 & 128||System 3.2/Finder 5.3|
I didn’t bother checking the rest of the disk images, since they were clearly >400K disks. For the record, I’ve also checked the Apple Legacy Software CD and the September 1994 Service Software Restoration CD with similar results.
The hunt for a valid copy of System 0.97 continues…
I hadn’t really thought about the long-term ramifications of teaching a Malware course, but it appears that I will be teaching it annually for the foreseeable future. Since I don’t think it’s the wisest idea to mess with live malware on my day-to-day system, I bought a “new” laptop last week. It’s actually a used laptop from eBay, an Asus Zenbook Prime. While similar laptops are occasionally available from woot.com as refurbs, careful auction hunting netted it for less.
Here’s the exact specs:
Asus Zenbook UX31A-DH51
- 13.3″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD screen
- Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz
- 4 GB DDR3 RAM
- 128 GB Solid-State Disk
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
Since I wanted a computer that could be setup as an example for the students, I didn’t buy another Apple Macintosh. The Asus is pretty comparable to a mid-level Macbook Air, and this used one cost me about 33% as much. The new laptop has a ding or two, and didn’t come with all the accessories, but it works and fits my needs. The speed at which Windows-compatibles lose their market-value is surprising to a long-time Mac owner (and a topic for another post).
I immediately blew away Windows 8, and replaced it with Elementary OS (Luna). All things considered, installation went pretty smoothly.
I’m still debating the best project for this semester’s class project. We’re probably going to have 10-12 people per team, with two competing teams.
Some of my current thoughts:
- Cross-Platform Synchronizing Chore management system
- Software Tool/Environment for teaching children to program
The chore management system is needed around our house, and we have a group of external customers (my family). We have used ChoreMonster in the past, but they started charging subscription fees, and I think that’s completely ridiculous for the functionality.
A tool for teaching programming would be more widely used, but is a much harder, less tractable problem. On the other hand, a campus renown for its teaching program might be just the place for such a project (not that the last semester’s class used those resources).
This semester’s schedule is going to be interesting:
- ITEC 325 – System Administration
- COSC 412 – Software Engineering
- COSC 485/670 – Reverse Engineering / Malware Analysis
The reverse engineering class is a new one, and I’ll be dusting off some old-school skills to pass along to a new generation. This is either going to be lots of fun, or really painful.