And... Let's try again

Saturday, October 31, 2015 by darco


I've been neglecting this blog for years. My previous post was from way back in May 2013. While that post was interesting in its own right, my life has changed since then in even more ways I could never have imagined.

For example, I'm now divorced, polyamorous*, and working at Nest Labs/Google. I've been doing lots of stuff, but for the most part I've only been writing about it on Google Plus, with an occasional Youtube video.

I'm at a point in my life where I want to start blogging again. I have quite a few personal projects that are ongoing which I think many people might find interesting.

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Startling Revelations

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by darco

My father, Dr. Robert Bugg Quattlebaum, was born on November 23rd, 1923. To put things into prospective, he was an army medic in World War II. By the time he got around to having me he was 57 years old. There was clearly a bit of a generation gap between us.

In early 2001, my father was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He passed away that summer. It was a bad year. I miss him greatly.

Fast forward a decade or so and the world is now a totally different place. Star-trek-like computing gadgets are common. Video phones actually work and work well. You can even spit in a tube and get your DNA analyzed, giving you important information on your disease risk, for less than two-hundred dollars.

Which brings me to If you've never heard of, it is a relatively inexpensive chip-based genetic profiling service. You start by ordering a kit, spitting in a tube, and mailing it off to them for analysis. There is a strong social aspect to the website which allows you to find both distant and close relatives. My wife and I got a great deal a while back and signed up.

During the sign up process, I found some of the warnings to be curious. Stuff to the effect of, 'you can't unlearn what you find out from this, so if you can't handle the truth then you may not want to consider this service'.

This got me to thinking: I bet a few people learn some rather startling information. Imagine signing up and then finding that you have a 25% genetic match with... A childhood friend who lived down the street. Oops. Someone just got busted.

There are many variations but they all cause a bit of an identity crisis—and potentially a strong sense of betrayal. Clearly, the experience has the potential to be profoundly shocking and life changing. But, hey, I'm not one of those people, right? No worries here.

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Comment Fail

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by darco

It very much saddens me to discover that the comments table from the MySQL database has for some reason disappeared during the migration process. Poof. Gone. I have no idea what happened to it, but it is gone without a trace. As a result, all of the comments on this website have been lost. This is quite distressing, especially considering the immense value the comment threads on various posts added.

If I somehow manage to recover the comments I will do so, but at the moment it looks like a total loss.

Hosting Fail

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 by darco

Late last week, my web and email hosting provider decided to switch servers. It was a total cluster-fudge. My server-side email sorting script (via procmail) totally broke. SSH logins were no longer allowed. And let's not even go over the website itself—I couldn't even figure out where it was serving files from.

With my patience running low and my annoyance high, I decided that this was a good opportunity to switch to a VPS at a different company. It has been a slow process, but things are now starting to slowly come back online. Comments are still busted, but I'll get those back online soon.

Anyway, In light of this mess, I hope to totally revamp the website at some point over the next few weeks so that it will be easier to maintain and nicer to look at.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013 by darco

Over a year and a half ago, I put some money into the Hexbright Kickstarter and promptly forgot about it. Earlier this week a box appeared on my doorstep with a brand-new Hexbright Flex, "the world's first open-source LED light".

Notable features:

  • Light output over 500 Lumens. CREE XM-L U2 LED.
  • TIR (Total internal refraction) lens.
  • Waterproof solid aluminum housing.
  • Comes with a 3.7v 2400mAh 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
  • USB rechargeable, comes with micro-usb cable.
  • USB programmable. It works just like an Arduino...!
  • Built-in three-axis accelerometer. (!?)

This flashlight is probably one of the most over-engineered devices I own, and I love it, but I'm sure you are wondering, "It's a f'ing flashlight. Why bother programming for it? There is only so many things you can do with one button and 500 lumen LED..."

Well, I thought that, too. But after trying the factory firmware and a few of the samples, I realized that this is actually a very interesting human interface problem. Just how should a flashlight behave? What behavior makes it feel right? What is the bare minimum that a flashlight needs to be able to do to be considered seriously?

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Introducing SMCP

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 by darco

As some of you know, I've been working on a CoAP stack for embedded devices for some time now. Things have gotten to the point now where I'd like see if other people are interested in using it and/or contributing. So today I am announcing that I am making my first release: SMCP-0.6.

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Google Plus

Monday, July 9, 2012 by darco

I seem to be one of those rare people who don't actually work for Google, but love Google Plus anyway. (We do exist!) In case you've been wondering what I've been up to, your best bet is to follow me there. Unlike my Facebook account, my Google Plus profile is public: so everyone should be able to follow me.

I'll make longer, more detailed, more formal posts here when I have time, but for the vast majority of my posts, comments, and pictures will be available only via Google Plus.

Again: If you want to see the cool stuff that I'm up to, follow me on Google Plus.

Radio Frequency URI Scheme Parser

Sunday, November 6, 2011 by darco

A while back I informally proposed the radio-frequency URI scheme, x-freq. I've since written a simple parser for this scheme so that if anyone wants to adopt it that they can do so as easily and correctly as possible. I've released this code into the public domain1. You can find it here on Github.

The incentive for using this code instead of rolling your own x-freq URI parser is that implementing a correct URI parser is a deceivingly difficult task. I wrote this because I didn't want everyone who wanted to use the x-freq URI in their programs to end up writing their own slightly broken parsers. People invariably tend to not read specs for this sort of thing and just go on their gut. I'd like to avoid that by providing this canonical implementation to the public domain. You are free to use and abuse this source code to your heart's content, with or without attribution.

To put it bluntly, this code is far more likely to be correct than what you would likely write in a short period of time. If you want to use x-freq in your C program, at least use this code as a starting point.

If you happen to find problems, bugs, or want to suggest improvements, check out the project page on Github.

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