Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Want orders? Then bake cake!

Yesterday, 17. May, was Norway's National Day. Where I was we were blessed with nice weather, and then it is not uncommon to have some cake. This time I tried an alternative to the traditional sponge cake.

Based on a almond sponge, coffee cream, vanilla cream, berries and some other good stuff I "mashed up" this special 17. May cake.

The overall idea was to make something to remind us of our flag. Red raspberries, white cream and blueberries covering the almond sponge with coffee cream ++.

But then there are the risks. Someone might like it so well that they want their own. So also this time - I got an order. Maybe not so surprising really - it was a returning customer.

But it makes me feel like I am pretty good at making cakes when my mother-in-law places yet another order.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vipukirves, the magic axe

For my birthday I got a Vipukirves axe, which is specially designed for chopping firewood. In my role as gentleman farmer I try to keep my household with firewood. Sometimes chopping is required, and an axe is an obvious tool.

However, the Vipukirves changes the process of chopping wood entirely, especially for wide segments of logs.

Consider the first picture - it shows the unique profile of this axe, and a promising firewod candidate. Also shown is a "belt" around the candidate. I used the inner tube from a bicycle tire, but I suspect that a car tire would have been better. At least, that is what is often used in instructional films on Youtube.
Anyway, the purpose of the "belt" is to keep pieces from escaping and keep the workpiece on the base during chopping. Even with a regular axe, the chopping process has a tendency to eject the log pieces in different directions so that they fall off the base. With the Vipukirves the smaller piece can be thrown away quite violently. Therefore the belt, so that the workpiece remains on the base and you do not have to traverse the entire yard to gather the chopped firewood.

So what about the result? Well, this next picture shows the same log segment after being chopped. As you can see the pieces are more rectangular than the usual circle segments an ordinary axe would produce. The belt has kept the pieces in place so that they can easily be moved to a stack for drying.

This was my first experience with the Vipukirves, and I am not fully trained yet. I still had to use my hydraulic splitter for log segments with many branches. But the new axe is definitely a useful tool. I must be on the lookout for a used car tire though. The "belt" I used did not work as well as a wider tire would.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Google selects Arduino for Android Open Accessory

Stop press! Google's initiative for using the Android platform for controlling your environment, Android Open Accessory, has selected Arduino as its platform.

Think of the possibilities - the Arduino is so simple to play with that we can expect "everybody" to play with this. I even have one myself.
My Arduino Duemilanove
With this I can play with simple instrumentation projects and easily interface the real world with applications written in Processing. And now I can also start controlling Arduinos and whatever is connected from my Android devices. Hurray!

But will I find the time? Back in the early eighties I did instrumentation projects with Z80 and similar processors. It was such fun! If my employer practiced the Google concept for employees time to own projects, then I definitely know what I would be doing!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BASF rattleback pen

Do you know what a rattleback is?
Well, once I bought a piece of plastic made to have that type of behaviour. Nowadays I can't find it, but yesterday I discovered a everyday device that has the same behaviour.
I happen to have a ballpoint pen made by Schneider in Germany for BASF. And this pen has the behaviour of a rattleback. That means that if it is spun in the "wrong" direction, it will stop and reverse its spin to the preferred direction.
Just look at my short footage of the phenomenon:

I will not try to explaing what happens, but the Internet is full of material if you look for it. On the other hand some questions appear, like;
  • Is Schneider aware of this ?
  • Was this behaviour specified by BASF?
  • Or am I the first to observe this?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Present in the pixels

The eTrace project is over. Just before Easter the project had its final meeting in Gothenburg. The plan was that I should be there presenting How can EPCIS provide faster and more efficient traceability operations and increase the ability to perform precise and reliable recalls in case of food scares. But alas, I had to attend a meeting in the US instead.

But to my surprise I was present in the pixels, as one of the presentations included a picture from a meal we had during that particular pilot in Simrishamn in May last year. And it is me in the picture, using my phone. And the meal was excellent!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Firewood secured!

Last winter was cold, and our consumption of firewood was greater than usual. So we made repeated trips to our forest to get more firewood. Collecting firewood is a kind of slave work for a office worker like myself. It is nice for a change, but I am happy I don't have to do it all year round. On the other hand, if I did it on a more reguar basis I probably wouldn't be so totally exhausted afterwards.

Anyway, last Saturday I was off again to convert logs to suitable sized firewood. To contain the firewood while it dries I made a cylinder from a mesh for concrete reinforcement - "armeringsnett" as it is called in Norwegian. I fear that this is not enough to keep us through the next winter. Luckily, we haven't exhausted our older supplies yet, and we have large resources of live trees.

To split the wood I wanted to get me a new block ("huggestabbe" as it is called in Norwegian), and a big pine that was felled just before Christmas had already been split into suitable pieces.

So when I went down to get it I found this timberman. The antennas were at least 7cm long! Being where a pine was lying on the ground it probably was busy seeking out the females!

To add to my hard labour I had to move the hoggestabbe back to our cabin. The wheelbarrow proved to be too unstable with me at the handles. So I had to roll the thing around 100 meters uphill. For the first time I have a hoggestabbe that matches my height - lucky me!