Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skateboard bone

Kate is not a happy person. On Tuesday she was running for the bus and took a nosedive. A trip to the A&E and resulting X-ray showed that she has broken her wrist. The bone she has broken is the scaphoid which is commonly known of as the skateboarder bone. Within 24 hours I had heard two different reasons why it has that nickname; the nurse says its because scaphoid sounds like skateboard and several other sources say it is called that as it is the most commonly broken bone by skateboarders (its the bone you usually break when you put your hand out to catch yourself).
She has a plaster cast and has to go back and have another X ray after a fortnight. The also has abrasions on her knee, hip and wrist. All in all she is not a happy bunny.

I've been talking to a lot of people recently about doing web sites. The sort of website we specialise in are ones that do something rather than just sit there and ones that need to interface with other systems. This has become easier these days with tools like Drupal and Joomla which do much of the work for you.

Yesterday after taking Kate to have her dressings changed, we spotted (rather appropriately) a nice dresser in the window of the Salvation Army store which we promptly bought. It looks like most Welsh dressers except instead of having clear glass, the glass is frosted and brown. Very 70s which is perfect for us and will go with the rest of our 70s furniture. Its being delivered Thursday next week. What I really need now is a nice 70s dining table. Our current is a decade newer and is a basic melamime covered chipboard thingly. I like the 70s stuff which is still mostly wood (although chipboard is sneaking in by then).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Driving

On Friday we were woken up by a phone call from my brother telling me that Mum had fallen and she had a suspected broken hip. The diagnosis was confirmed later that day and she was supposed to go into surgery on Friday to have a hip replacement.

On Saturday we were told that she hadn't had the surgery yet and could go into surgery at any time so we stayed at home but when we got the same message on Sunday morning, we hopped into the car and headed out to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton.

Peter had given me clear instructions and I had no trouble finding her. She was on a drip giving her fluids and pain relief. The latter must have been effective as she couldn't remember which hip was broken. She really wasn't that interested in company; I suspect it was morphine she was on as she was also on oxygen (morphine decreases breathing) and she was pretty sleepy.

We also have noticed that the right side of her face is loose and she is slurring her words as a result. The hospital didn't know she had a TIA a couple of months ago and didn't look into whether a stroke was the cause of the fall.

Peter has medical power of attorney for Mum and has on her request signed a DNR. Ever since we were children she has made it clear she didn't want to linger on in old age if she couldn't get around or had dementia. She is still pretty clear of mind but the Parkinson's is seriously damaging her quality of life and we haven't tried to talk her out of it.

So we are all worried bunnies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Very Tired

I've had a very busy last couple of days with both my main customers having a lot of work to do including another DR test that lasted from 11:30pm to 5am. I managed about 1 hour sleep in the middle but Vik decided around 9am that I would suffer dehydration if not given tea and woke me up (I can't say I was fully appreciative). I will have another late night tonight as it is curry night.

Tamara has been worrying for the last few days as she heard on the grapevine that AUT will be stopping the major that she is doing (Human Anatomy and Physiology). She eventually went to see the people in charge who confirmed that while they will not be taking any more students in for the course, they will allow all existing students to complete it.

All four of us have a cold. Its one of those colds that makes you feel grotty but doesn't actually stop you from doing anything.

I was startled today by a loud crash from the laundry/workshop. The RepRap had got greedy for filament and pulled the roll off the ceiling. No damage done but if you look at the image of the bed corner bracket (right), you will see a line about 1/3 down where it shows.

Since Vik has modified the RepRap to single step rather than half step the Z axis when we had the issue with tall objects it no longer graunches and is now much quieter. He has been able to print at night with no complaints.

We have been printing the parts for the new child RepRap much denser than the previous child which hopefully will make it much more resilient but this doesn't appear to have made the builds take noticeably longer to complete.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Storage solutions

We've spent much of the weekend looking into dealing with storage. Firstly we looked into improving the spare room cupboard which is has no shelving. We use it as a linen cupboard so this has resulted in us splitting stuff into separate bags which are labeled and sorting things into those bags. It hasn't worked very well as it can be hard to find the bag you want and they can get heavy. We decided to make new shelves out of some of the Quadro that we still have since the kids grew up. This has involved taking down the Quadro desk in the spare room and constructing the new shelving inside the cupboard.
Secondly we've stuck shelving up in the laundry/Vik's office. This was tricky as there were a lot of pipes and wires behind the wall and the stud finder was getting all confused. we got there in the end and now have somewhere to put washing powder, tools, spare RepRap bits etc.

Talking of the RepRap, things have been busy there too. Vik's spent the last three days working on a laser cut design (based on one by Ian Adkins for the custom parts. This has now gone off to Ponoko to print.

We've finally got a printed Y motor bracket. The third attempt also nearly finished and then there was a flash of lightening and a huge clap of thunder that rattled the floors and the build died. Vik says this has nothing to do with divine opinion and more to do with a lack on memory so he increased the virtual memory and the 4th attempt worked. He's also printed a rather snazzy card holder that I think is going to become the RepRap thing to have.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Must have been designed by a man

On Thursday it was time for the second most dreaded check up by women, the mammogram. Its recommended that all women over 45 have a bi-annual mammogram which the government pays for and I'll be eligible for those come November, but as I've had a lump removed (benign), Its recommended that I have one annually.
As I have medical insurance I get to to the pleasant surrounding of St Marks breast clinic rather than the back of a mobile clinic (i.e. modified container) but the experience of placing one's delicate bits in a vice to be xrayed is never pleasant.

The good news was that everything was OK, expect that I have lymph nodes the size of golfballs in my armpits. They look normal and this is probably the result of a virus I have, but they may want me to come back and have a needle biopsy just to be sure.

Thursday was a long day as I did a DR test for one of my clients. It was what they call a confidence test which means that we switched over to using the backup system, ran it for an hour and switched it back. As we were proving the system still worked (it hasn't been tested since the last upgrade), we did it in the wee hours when they weren't busy so I'm have plenty of time to iron out any bugs. There were a few things to look into, but over all the test was successful and I got to bed around 2am. Next Wednesday, we will do the real thing, where they actually ship the staff off during the day to spend a whole shift working at the DR call centre just to check its all going.

For those readers wondering what DR is, it stands for Disaster Recovery and it basically translates in this case where the company is question has a whole spare call centre that they can use should something happen to stop the main call centre working. Its very important to ensure that the spare call centre works and most importantly can pick up exactly where the main centre left off as they have staff out at various locations doing work and they don't want to lost track of where they are, or lose any jobs that have been called in but not done yet.

In my years I've known 7 cases where we've needed to go to DR. One was due to a murder on the doorstep of the call centre so the next shift couldn't get in, one due to air conditioning failure (you still can't run large rooms of comouters without air conditioning to keep them cool), one due to an important computer dying and the other 4 were all cases where the phone system has gone down as a result of a man with a digger.

On Thursday Vik printed and fitted a belt tensioner to the RepRap which has improved the quality further and printed a couple of spare opto flags which look really good.
The RepRap is now having another go at a new Y motor bracket. this is third. The first was trashed by the bug that resulted in the head trying to go through the build (I've added a photo of that to Wednesday's blog); the second was printing last night when the RepRap just stopped for no reason. Below is a photo of it printing with the stalled build next to it, followed by an image of the belt tensioner in place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blue Skies and Rain

We may have blue skies today but it also is raining at the same time. We've had a couple of good rainbows but generally its dreary and cold. Azra is cuddled up with Sai and Chad and is trying to keep warm.

I took Tamara to see the gastrologist today. This was at the insistence of the locum GP who wouldn't continue to give her Losec for her gastric reflux without an expert having a look to see what was going on. We saw Dr Alan Fraser at the parking nightmare that is Mercy hospital and having seen a lot of specialists over the years for many things, he is good value. We have a very educational and informative hour consultation where we learned an awful lot about the effects of diet on digestive issues. It looks like Tamara probably has both a hiatus hernia causing the gastric reflux and IBS causing the issues lower down and she is having a gastrocopy next week to confirm the hiatus hernia. Of real interest is that our recent suspicions that Tamara's bowel issues where considerably made worse by lactose are probably correct, they recommend trying an exclusion diet with no dairy and wheat (and other things) to see if it improves things. Tamara's been trying a lactose free diet for a couple of months now and the bloating and pain have reduced considerably. Dr Fraser says it possible that the resulting exclusion of bread from the diet (it is impossible to find mainstream bread without milk powder in NZ) may also have benefited her. There is a website that details this.

Vik found a RepRap bug yesterday the hard way. The Y motor bracket was nearly done when it hit a bug where if a build was too high the software went into negative, resulting it the RepRap trying to force the extrusion head down through the recently built item. The new Y motor bracket had the corner burnt off by the process, the noise was terrible but the extruder head survived the experience with only a light unbending needed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New toy

With Vik having been away over winter for 5 weeks, one thing that became clear was that none of the female members of the family were prepared to attempt to try to start a 2 stroke chainsaw and cut up firewood.

Since we were students still living in the UK we have scavenged firewood. This became a necessity for us at student times as the miners were on strike and we couldn't buy coal and we didn't have room to store more that a day or two of wood so getting it delivered wasn't an option. We lived in central London at the time so scrap from building sites kept us warm.

These days we still get a fair bit that's been left out as "free firewood" plus the bins outside furniture makers and broken pallets. Added to this is felled and fallen trees from the local area (quite a lot of it currently due to the stormy winter).

Without a Vik to cut our firewood, we used electric heating instead but realised that we girls really needed to become able to cut our own firewood (Vik has also been recovering from a broken pelvis) and we were considering getting an electric chainsaw.

So when the petrol chainsaw gave up after over a decade of service, we decided that rather that get it repaired we would replace it so we have a new 2000 Watt 16" blade Homelite CWE2016.

Its rather good. I've had a go and it was light enough for a WAFF to handle easily, didn't kick back at me (its got these funny teeth things that go wedge up against the wood to hold it in place) and if it did kick back its also got a cut out.

The fire has been lit again and the cats are happy.

The RepRap is running again printing out a new Y motor bracket (slightly reinforced) for Child but only small ones that can complete during the day as Vik hasn't yet upgraded the software to the version with a pause facility.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Blue Skies

Yak Shaving of the day.
Go to do dishwasher, find a tin can among washing pile. Rinse and go to put in recycling bin. Find bin full. Take bin outside to empty into bigger bin. Comfort Vik because RepRap has barfed. Empty recycling into bigger bin and notice that sun is shining. Good time to finally wash the cars which have 6 weeks and 9 weeks respectively of accumulated dust and debris from the time that we have been overseas. Start washing my car. End comes off hose and drenches me with water. Track down Vik for comfort and to fix hose. Start washing car again. Hose breaks again. Find husband again and this time he places a different end on the hose. Finish washing car, wash Vik's car. Collapse exhausted with cup of tea. Kate and Tamara do dishwasher.

The RepRap parent isn't behaving. It was running pretty consistently when Vik went overseas but 2.5 months of cats jumping on it and not being used means that its sticking. Some of the parts that were broken on child are large ones so we get 8 hours into a print and it barfs. Its taken 3 days to get a new motor housing built.

The kids are rebelling. Our bedroom is about as far away from the RepRap as it gets but Kate and Tamara are pretty much right over it and they are not getting much sleep. I don't think the its the tuba sound of the printing so much as the graunch of the motors moving the head out of the way for a layer to set.

The temporary cure is to install the new software that allows pausing on a build and to turn it off overnight. The long term cure is to move house to somewhere that has a separate outhouse for Vik to place his workshop. This wont happen until the kids leave university (and Tamara is only on semester 2 of 6 so another 2 and a bit years to go) and we have enough money to get the place in sellable form. We don't get any financial assistance with the RepRap and it costs about 10k per year with travel and parts so this could be some time away.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yak Shaving

So what is Yak Shaving?

Its when you say, decide to wash some clothes. You sort out the clothes you want to wash and head to the washing machine and find its full of wet clean teenagers clothes. You need to put them in the dryer, but the same teenager has also left it full of clean dry clothes. So you empty the dryer, fold up the clothes and take them to the teenager's room which is full of dirty crockery. So you grab the crockery and take it to the dishwasher which is full of clean dishes. So you empty the dishwasher, fill it with crockery and set it running.

Now where was I? That's right I wanted to wash some clothes.

Note this isn't a rant at my teenagers as they also wash and fold my clothes and empty and fill the dishwasher. Yak shaving is how before you can do a task you often end up doing a dozen other tasks first. This is a simple example - especially for the Olliver household.

The Olliver family isn't normal and wouldn't want to be. We have a RepRap for example sitting on top of the dryer. In pieces as we are repairing it as somewhere between us saying goodbye to it in LA and collecting it in Auckland, the lid for the case was removed by someone who couldn't read well enough to see the instructions how to open the crate correctly. As the lid was never meant to be removed it wouldn't go back on again so they sent it on open. Baggage handling did the rest.

The child RepRap (on right) before being trashed.

And now in pieces in the laundry, sorry Vik's workshop.

We have a second RepRap sitting in the same room which is currently running making replacement parts for the broken one. Once complete I get to take RepRap assembly 101.

I've had to get pretty involved in the RepRap project as its got to big for one person to manage. I'm also getting involved in the electric racing car project and with the clippings.

Yesterday I created a blog for the clippings as they haven't really moved on since Vik started doing them in 2001. I've set up a RSS feed and stuck a Google Ads thingy on it. If you read the small print for the Ads you will see that you are totally forbidden to promote your ad in any manner at all. You just kinda have to stick it there and pretend it doesn't exist. I'm not even sure that I'm not breaking the rule by mentioing this (If I am, Google, let me know and I'll edit this post).

We will keep on with the email distribution list for the existing users for the indefinite but we get a lot of people who keep saying "I mean to join the list" and I'm sure there are other's who don't like joining distribution lists so sticking them in a blog makes sense.

Today we took for family time and went to see the new Batman movie. We heard all the reviews about how terrific Heath Ledger was in it and we all thought "yeah they are all being nice to him because he died" but the truth is that his performance was truly stunning and he gave life, death and total horror to the character and saying this with total respect, I can see why he might well have had trouble sleeping afterwards.