bad hardware black hole
Friday, January 14 2011
Gretchen was gone for much of the day, leaving me alone in my nest of possibilities. The problem with possibilities is that if you have too many of them, it's impossible to do anything without distraction. Sometimes I wish I only had one thing I did well. Poverty might also help; back when I was a teenager, I only had enough cash flow to entertain a single interest: digital customization of stock consumer computers.
Then there are other things that can prove to be unwanted time sinks. Today, for example, I took delivery of an Arduino EtherShield from Hong Kong. It was much cheaper than the official Arduino ethernet board, which I'd considered too expensive for my self-enforced budget. It turns out there is a lot of cheap knock-off Arduino equipment available from Hong Kong, a side effect of the specification being free and open. So immediately after getting the Ethershield, I hooked it up to one of my Arduino boards (I have several) to see if I could make a quick and dirty web server. With Arduino's six analog inputs, such a web server could act as a remote weather station or other monitoring device. But I couldn't make the damn thing work, even after downloading all the proper libraries and customizing them as necessary. It seemed the EtherShield was somehow defective, or else much more difficult to use than the literature on it suggested. Assuming the former, I took it up with the eBay seller to see if he could send me some broken English satisfaction. Still, I'll never get those hours of my life back. Never.
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