All posts by sparkyard

Sun Paper: why do abandoned bikes get their rims all bent? is it snow plows?

tl;dr “it’s like bird spotting but for bike tacos”

It has come to my attention recently (on facebook) that with respect to the question

why do abandoned bikes get their rims all bent?

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/30/wreckage-bikes-racks-emerges-from-melting-snow/TW21NuCmtCrNbSSM4o0q0I/story.html
Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/30/wreckage-bikes-racks-emerges-from-melting-snow/TW21NuCmtCrNbSSM4o0q0I/story.html

there is a lot of pseudoscience, rumors, speculation, passionate eyewitness accounts, and vague theories. take this forum thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=606670

I notice the same thing a lot on College Campuses and assume its drunk college students limping home after the bars close and deciding to indulge in some low-grade vandalism. Presumably they don’t really need a vice to get it to bend like that though, I think they just brace the wheel against whatever the bikes chained to and then kick/jump on the edges

wild speculation

Unlikely Scenario D: People carry a bent wheel with them and mount that on the bike when chained, and carry the good wheel with them to prevent bike theft.

even some mechanical engineering insight

Bicycle wheels are very strong vertically, and fairly weak horizontally.

here’s a friend of a friend’s thoughts on the matter

Reason I think it’s the snow is the bikes are usually parked a little away from the road. The weight of snow falling plus the weight of snow being pushed into them with plows== all bent up… 

okay, so it _is_ plows, but not that plows are directly touching bikes, they’re pushing ice rocks into the bike? that’s the winner?

but then someone chimes in from Florida

Right, I imagine there’s lots of people kicking bikes or hitting them with cars in florida (people can’t drive in Miami. I’m serious. They’re insanely bad drivers. And this is coming from someone who considers himself a fairly bad driver). This is about why virtually _all_ of the bikes are suddenly completely destroyed after the snow melts. Semi-abandoned bikes that are just left at a pole for a month or so during the summer in Boston may have their wheels stolen (or just be totally stolen), but they don’t get destroyed like this.

As you can see, despite all these rumors go around, there is no actual science on the matter.

We must address this issue with scientific rigor if we want to prove that everyone in the world can be a citizen scientist. I suspect the state of the universal “bike taco” phenomenon may be similar to the “same symptom but vastly different underlying causes” scenario.

The solution is to create a crowdsourced science application. Just like you can participate in science  by reporting sighting of banded birds, or by putting a feeder up and counting birds,

Source: http://feederwatch.org/about/how-to-participate/
Source: http://feederwatch.org/about/how-to-participate/

You should be able to report on how, exactly, bikes are getting “taco’d”.

Everyday scientists can

  • submit pictures of an abandoned bike over time
  • reports of what state the bike was in
  • see a timeline of related weather phenomena in that state
  • and submit eyewitness videos of bikes getting taco’d

We must get to the heart of this matter. Our bikes are at stake.

I’m too lazy so just use reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/32ta2a/why_do_abandoned_bikes_get_their_rims_all_bent_is/

Tues Startup: It’s like Yelp, but for Toilets

my new website will collect user reports and reviews of toilets around the world

this will help many travelers prepare for how to judge an entire society by their toilets

to get academics interested, we will flag people who post reviews as either natives or tourist, and have automatic translation capabilities

you can read about the inspiration behind this startup here

Alright, prior art check:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/union-square-public-toilet-san-francisco

yelp-toilets

okay this is promising… people are trying to use yelp to review toilets… let’s keep going

http://blogs.wsj.com/personal-technology/2014/03/07/flushd/

Yelp may be great for reviews about restaurants, hair stylists or the nearest gas station. But if you find yourself in need of a public restroom, Flushd, a slickly designed app for iPhone and iPad, promises relief.

Flushd displays a list of public restrooms based on a user’s current location. The app uses data from Foursquare to identify the bathrooms.

It’s by no means the first of its kind, but Flushd has some promising features. People can offer up their own toilets for sharing by adding them to the list in the app. Features such as sorting—whether the bathroom has a changing table, for instance—are expected in the next version of the app, due in about three months.

“We want to make the bathroom experience better,” says James Edwards, creator of Flushd and CEO of Ahhh Media, the maker of the app. “Our goal is to offer an easy button for relief.”

What they don’t tell you in the press release: Flushd is a free app but if it gets popular, Ahhh Media plans to start charging and will donate a portion of the revenue to organizations working on sanitation issues.

 

NOOOOO I have been sniped. But now the market is open to the idea… I need merely make a better website than they did and reap their users… 😛

 

Tues Startup: Social Media Network of Pigeons, Avian.io

Recently I asked someone who shared a link with me where he found it. He told me “from the internet”.

Well, yes, almost all hyperlinks are found and shared on the internet as a matter of fact.

BUT IMAGINE IF

You extended the pigeon protocol to the concept of social media.

Say you want to share an article, youtube video, or other link with a friend.

  1. you install the Avian.io app and hit “ave it!”
    tues1-1
  2. a robot prints the link out and attaches it to a Certified Pigeon. that pigeon finds you, poops on your head to get your attention, and gives you the link
    tues1-2
  3. if you “like” the link,
    tues1-3
  4. you feed the pigeon some crackers so that when it returns to the sender
    tues1-4
  5. the sender then knows how much you appreciate the link based on how much the pigeon poops on him/her 30 minutes later
    tues1-5

This Tuesday Terrible Startup Idea post brought to you by “it’s still Tuesday in Hawaii”.

Oh, check this out, someone was paid to write this article, and it wasn’t even April Fools: http://www.globalresearch.ca/circumventing-invasive-internet-surveillance-with-carrier-pigeons/5341180?print=1 They came up with a “coo-ing” Twitter-like startup name called Coo-ee , haha.

Rarsday Robot: Laundry notification, part 0

I keep going down to the basement to pick up my laundry too early and chilling around in the freezing cold hoping if I just wait another 30 seconds it will finish.

Our laundry machine is free (whoo! no hunt for quarters!) but has no indication of how long it takes. I just hit “start” and come back in about an hour. This seems like a great fast project for Rarsday Robots. Sadly, I did not finish, but here is my rough concept.

1) photodiode masked so it only detects the “cycle complete” LED turning on/off (such a convenient setup!)

2) arduino plugged into the wall in the basement (yay no batteries)

3) either run wires up two flights to an LED (sketchy, even at 5v, also a lot of wire for people to trip on / for me to find at 1 am in the morning) or

4) some wireless communications. Bluetooth? Then it could ping smartphones. Is the BLE4.0 nrf8001 breakout we were using strong enough to go up two flights? Not sure. Also would need to develop smartphone app. Other possibility, use IOIO with regular bluetooth dongle (fast, only need to develop in one language). Or, use the cheap nrf24l01+ chips I have dozens lying around of!

20150226_003315

Well, it took me 30 minutes just to find two working arduino nanos that I hadn’t desoldered the atmega328 from or otherwise destroyed, as well as remember that my `sudo apt-get install arduino` is sad (gives stk500 errors) and use a .tar.gz downloaded version of arduino instead. Oh well. Next Rarsday!

Next step: test whether Cappie’s nrf24l01+ code still works

Then test whether I get reception in the basement (set one to constantly emit something, see what I get out the other end on the 2nd floor. Ideally do this with someone else on the phone so I’m not constantly running up and down stairs).

The other part is to tweak around the photodiode / resistor (first, find one) until it works consistently, regardless of if the light is on or off in the basement or it is daylight or not (should be easy — just shield it well with tape). And put up a sign explaining what it does.

Finally, combine the two parts of the project. Voila, crappy laundry notification device. The second (receiving) arduino upstairs can do whatever, talk to your phone, the internet, or just blink an LED or LCD panel.

Further work: how to detect the dryer is done. Something that detects rumbling and runs it through a filter of some sort?x

Todo: buy more $3 arduino nanos

For your enjoyment: www.ruggedcircuits.com/10-ways-to-destroy-an-arduino/

Wed: Visual Poetry, or “What’s in a Word?”

Wednesday Writing: Final Result

File: sheep-visualpoetry.svg (Inkscape SVG)

Simplified Chinese Text: 波士顿很冷, 可是朋友多, 可以包饺子,讨论有意识的想法。今年是羊年,感觉有一点老。最近心情好,每天有新的项目想踏上。希望你们可以给奶奶看这首诗,让她知道我想着她。主大家新年快乐,年年有鱼。爱,南西。

English Translation: Boston’s very cold, but there are many friends, we can make dumplings, discuss interesting ideas. It’s the year of the sheep, I feel a little old. Lately I’ve been in good spirits, every day I have new activities I want to embark on. I hope you can show grandma this poem, let her know that I am thinking of her. Wish everyone happy new years, every year with fish. * Love, Nancy.

* (err, it’s a play on “good fortune” and is a traditional new years saying)

Google Translate:

Boston was cold, but many friends, you can make dumplings, discuss conscious thoughts. This year is the Year of the Ram, I feel a little old. Recently a good mood every day want to embark on new projects. I hope you can see this poem to her grandmother, let her know that I think of her. Main everyone a Happy New Year, every year there is fish. Love, Nancy.

Yep, that’s a typo in my Chinese -___- I’m bad at this. Should be 祝, not 主, for 祝大家新年快乐. I’m not sure whether other issues are my bad Chinese or the bad translation by google 😛 Anyway, I did a quick fix.

OH NOT another typo, it should be想念她, not想着她. OH WELL. Chinglish it is.

Read up about it

Today I decided to investigate poetry which plays on our visual recognition of shapes.

George Herbert’s “Easter Wings”, printed in 1633. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

I’ve seen some humorous Chinese ones passed around on the chat platform “wechat”, but can’t find them at the moment. Here’s the Traditional Chinese wikipedia page. Here’s the page on 宝塔诗 “Pagoda Poetry”, which seems restricted to triangles.

pagodapoetry-baidu
Source

There is a similar poetry which plays on our auditory skills:

http://ascii.co.uk/art/poem

The following poem appeared recently in INFOCUS magazine. The original authors were Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese of Calvin College & Seminary of Grand Rapids, MI.

The text of the poem follows:

<> !*”#
^”`$$-
!*=@$_
%*<> ~#4
&[]../
|{,,SYSTEM HALTED
The poem can only be appreciated by reading it aloud, to wit:

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Try it out

Oh, I spent too much time looking around the internet to do a lengthy composition. Well, with thanks to velera3, here’s how to convert an text (poem) into the shape of an image in inkscape

My parents always complain I don’t keep in touch enough, so this will double as my diary.

1) find sweet sheep lineart: https://openclipart.org/detail/10543/chevre-by-yves_guillou-10543

yves-guillou-chevre

 

2) put into inkscape

3) F1 -> select the goat -> Ctrl-Shift-F -> Fill = None, Stroke = Flat Color. Now it should be an outline.

4) Using the text tool (“t”), insert your poem into a text box

5) Hit F1, the select tool. Select both the text and the image. Text -> Put on Path.

(Note: Put on path –> the text curves along the lines of the image. vs Flow into frame –> the text remains in horizontal lines, but fits inside the shape of the image.

New document 1 - Inkscape_011
Hmm… not quite…

6) Do some manual editing. In this case, I chose only the main sheep body to flow my text onto, by duplicating (Ctrl-D) and deleting the other nodes. Then I made the stroke None and the fill White, used grouping (ctrl-G) so that the darn text and image would stop disassociating from each other, and voila.

Sources