tempted by pizza
Thursday, September 12 2019
We don't often have all-hands meetings at my workplace, but we did today. It came at noon and there was even pizza. (I actually considered eating some despite being a vegan just to be sociable, but when Morning Dave (who seems like a health nut) didn't have any, it gave me the cover not to have any either.) Had I still been working at Mercy For Animals, I would've had more dread going into the meeting that perhaps some of us were about to be laid off or some crazy New Age management style was being introduced, but the news at this meeting was nothing but good. Our small company often seems borderline-dysfunctional just because of the cranky (and often absurd) nature of the technology and the aspergery nature of most of the employees (myself very much included), but we're maintaining customers while adding new ones while having better customer service than the competitors. Best of all, for me, the work I've done is evidently playing an important role in all of this. The head honcho specifically singled out my department as having for the first time done a massive series of data imports (mostly using my tool) without any customer complaints escalated up to him. People eating all that pizza in front of me aggravated my hunger (though I'm not addicted to real cheese anymore, I don't find it repulsive). But after the meeting, when I'd left all those pizza fumes behind, my hunger shrank back down to nothing, and I was able to put off my lunch (of leftover taco casserole) for about a half hour or so.
At the end of the workday, I returned home and immediately set off to do some more work on my stone wall project. There's an endless supply of loose bluestone (as well as occasional pieces of shale and even the odd chunk of Adirondack granite pushed down during the ice ages), but I've depleted most of the good stone near the wall and now have to gather it from further afield, mostly west of the Stick Trail. There's a steep slope up to a high plateau that begins about fifty feet to the west, and that slope is a good source of large rectangular blocks.
Back at the house, I was disappointed to find that the Max3232 RS-232 adapter on the solar hydronic controller had died yet again. Unable to think of any other source of the problem, I tried replacing the USB RS-232 adapter on the Raspberry Pi end of that line (up in the laboratory). I also went back to the Max232 chip that had been producing lots of noise before I'd replaced it with the since-dead Max3232. Interestingly, with the new USB adapter, its data was noise-free. I'll have to see how this combination works over time.
Meanwhile, my new rover robot had become distressingly unreliable. But today I figured out that the problem was just a bad connection between a screw terminal and the lead to a big electrolytic capacitor I was using to stabilize the Raspberry Pi's power supply. The main problem with the rover now is responsiveness (that is, there is an unpleasant delay between when I click a UI element on the controlling web page and the rover decides to act on it). I'm not sure what I can do about that, since it might be an inevitable consequence of trying to control a moving device with a computer running a full-blown operating system. This is less of a problem with a fixed robot controlling a pan/tilt mechanism or the Disturbatron (where it hardly matters if the audio is produced after a two-second delay). But a steerable robot can quickly run into problems if it doesn't respond quickly to obvious dangers (such as cliffs, walls, clumps of vegetation, or unhappy spouses).
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