A great ski season, and Tuckerman’s

Overall we had an amazing ski season.  The lodge is getting tons of use, with the kids racking up almost 50 days of skiing this year!

To top it off, Eli (9) and I skied tuckerman’s ravine last week.  There is a full trip report over on the lodge blog at:

http://weatherwaxlodge.com/tuckermans-ravine-2018/

Overall it was an awesome trip that I am sure we will both remember for a long time.

Transitions

After 2.5 years at my current company, ClearMotion, I have decided to move on.  I will be starting a new job as Director of Software at Endeavor Robotics on Nov 27, 2017.

Endeavor Robotics is a spin off of the iRobot defense business unit.  They have a large portfolio of existing products on the market as well as some pretty impressive developments in the pipeline.

Overall, it’s always a tough decision when making career moves.  These companies are where you spend most of my waking hours.  After carefully weighing the pro’s+con’s, Endeavor seems like the right move to make.  I’m very excited about this new chapter in my career and looking forward to joining the team!

 

Pittsburgh, and first ride in a self driving car!

This week I visited Pittsburgh, PA to attend the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) career fair.  This was my 3rd or 4th time to this career fair.  These fairs are a great way to find amazing interns and fresh grads.  I’ve had great luck w/ CMU students, which is why I keep coming back!

I went with a few coworkers and we stayed in an Airbnb that had a pretty awesome view overlooking the city.

The buildings in Pittsburgh are very strange.  Everything looks rundown from the outside, and the siding on many houses is a strange mishmash of clapboard, brick, tile, and other materials.  Also, the houses are extremely close together:

We attended the fair all day Monday and Tuesday, which was pretty exhausting.  There was a line of students behind everyone in the booth, all day long.  The basic system is to meet as many students as possible at the fair and then pick the top ones to interview on campus on Wednesday.

We met w/ probably hundreds of kids and ended up interviewing around 20-30 on Wednesday.  From there we are planning on making offers to about 5-10 of the top ones.

We met some great candidates and I’d say overall the trip was a success!

At the end of the day on Wednesday we were heading out and grabbed an Uber.  Uber has been testing self driving cars in Pittsburgh for about a year now, and recently they have opened them up to anyone.  In the app you can’t select a self driving one, you just have to get lucky.

The trip started by our vehicle flying past us, so far not so good.  We grabbed a pic before the trip:

Inside the vehicle there are two displays, one in the front and one in the back.  There were two drivers in front, there to help out if the car got into a jam and couldn’t drive on its own.

In the back seat there was a display that showed a live shot of the lidar data and object recognition.

Currently the pickup and drop off process is done by the human driver.  Once they get going they put it into autonomous mode.

Overall the self driving mode was very cautious, probably too cautious, which resulted in a jerky ride.  If there was any pedestrian or bicycle traffic nearby it was hit the brakes pretty hard.

There were several intersections where the car went out of self driving mode.  I’d say less than half of our 20 min drive was autonomous.  My guess is they are several years away from being completely driverless, but it is inevitable that the tech challenges will be overcome.

Definitely a highlight and great way to end the trip.  Can’t wait to see these things all over.

 

 

Cape Canaveral, Florida Trip 2017

This week the whole family went down to Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch Michele’s rocket launch up into space.  Lots more info on the satellite that she worked on can be found here.

Michele headed down on Tuesday with all 3 boys.  I headed down on Thursday night so I could get some more days of work in.  Everyone headed back on Monday.  In addition, Michele’s dad and wife spent the weekend with us.  Less than a year ago they moved down to Florida, so it was good for everyone to catch up!

We spent Friday hanging out at the hotel pool.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Cape Canaveral.  The hotel had awesome amenities (arcade, indoor playground, pools, lazy river, water slide, etc.), but the room kinda sucked.  All five of us aren’t used to being crammed into a couple hundred square feet for a week!

Here’s some pics of the hotel pools:

After dinner, we then went to a gathering of people that worked on the mission.  They had presentations from various military personnel.  Eli was fascinated by these presentations.  The event was held in this very cool building that looked like a wave and was overlooking the launchpad.

The original launch time was scheduled for 11pm.  After the 9pm presentations we found out that the weather wasn’t cooperating and the launch was delayed until 2am!  This was definitely a concern w/ the 3 boys.  We ended up going back to the hotel room and hanging out until about 1:30am.

We then headed out to the beach and watched the rocket launch off from a pier.  It was so cool!  Overall I was super impressed by how well behaved the kids were!

On Saturday we slept in late.  We then spent more time at the pool.  In the evening Michele and I got to spend some alone time and go hang out with some of her coworkers, then went out to dinner.

On Sunday, we pretty much spent the entire day at Kennedy Space Center.  This place is like Disney for geeks.  We got to see an entire Saturn V rocket, visit launch pads, touch moon rocks, see the space shuttle Atlantis, meet an Astronaut, and a bunch of other cool stuff.

Some pics from the space museum:

On Monday we all headed back home!  Overall it was a great family trip.

 

3D Printer

For Eli’s birthday (he turned 9!) we got him a 3D Printer.  We settled on the MonoPrice (MP) Mini 3D Printer V2.  It seemed to be the lowest cost entrant into the 3D printing world that also had good reviews.

Overall setup has been kinda a pain.  I had to download Cura and figure out the correct settings for the printer.  There’s no documentation, so I had to google it.  There’s actually a nice Reddit page for the printer that has been super helpful.  It took me several days to get things set up.

Printing time is a lot slower than I was expecting.  It’s typically 3-4 hours for a small figure.  Also, I’ve had the printer stop half way through for no apparent reason.  In general the firmware on the unit is a little buggy.

On the positive side, the quality of the printed items is awesome for the price.  This is going to be a great way for Eli to explore his engineering side.  Also, the Thingiverse site is great.

Overall this printer is definitely not ‘kid ready’.  Even once it’s setup, you have to download CAD from Thingiverse (or a similar site).  Import the CAD model into Cura, adjust it as necessary, apply the printer settings, save it to a file, put it on an SD card, start up the printer, preheat it, then start printing.

If someone came out with a fully integrated ‘itunes store’ where you could just click a print button it would be a huge step forward.  Maybe the printer can be integrated as a printer in chrome and you can print directly from the thingiverse site?

For now I’m having Eli just pick items out on Thingiverse and I’m taking care of the rest of it.

BBS Nostalgia

I just recently re-watched the documentary on BBS era computing called “BBS: The Documentary”.

You can watch the series on youtube here:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgE-9Sxs2IBVgJkY-1ZMj0tIFxsJ-vOkv

I found this movie to be a great summary of what it was like when I was growing up using a computer, before the Internet became popular.

It turns out there are still a great number of BBS’s running to this day.  You can connect to them via the telnet protocol.  An excellent telnet client for visiting BBS’s in “SyncTERM”, which is available here.

Once you have a client, you just need to get an address of a BBS.  There are various websites that have BBS listings, a good one is BBSlink, which is here.

It’s great to be able to log into these systems and play many of the games from the 80’s+90’s that I wasted countless hours on as a kid!  I have started to create some project pages (linked to from the top) which have some ANSI images from various BBS’s and programs I wrote back in the day.

I’m sure i’ll be posting a lot more about BBS’s in the future.

 

-40 degrees, no skiing this weekend

Wow, we thought last weekend was cold with a wind chill of -30.  Well, this weekend was even worse!  With wind chills of -40, it was a struggle just to get from the car to the cabin!  Some of the ski mountains were closed because of the cold, but Bretton Woods was open.

It was definitely impossible to bring the kids skiing.  Instead we took them into Littleton on Saturday, went to the candy and toy stores.  It was so cold out the water in my eyes froze solid walking from the car to the store.

Michele took the boys rock climbing at Bretton Woods while I hung back during Tommy’s nap time.  At night we made tacos, had a nerf gun battle, and celebrated Michele’s birthday.

It was so cold the cabin was having a hard time staying warm, we couldn’t get the temp above 60!  It’s looking like we’re going to get a good snow storm this week, so looking forward to some good skiing next weekend!

Car Breakdown and -30 degrees!

So Michele’s Highlander had been acting up the past couple weeks.  It was making this loud clanking noise (sounded like a bad bearing).  We booked an appointment for this Monday to have it looked at.  Besides the noise the car was running fine, so we’ve been continuing to use it on our weekend trips up to the whites.

On Friday we took a half day of work to get spend some time with Michele’s family who were all up at Bretton Woods for our annual ski weekend.  We loaded the kids and gear in the car and headed out around 2pm.  About 20 mins into the trip, all of a sudden the temp guage skyrocketed.  I pulled over as quickly as I could and smoke was leaked out from under the hood.  When I opened the hood there was pink liquid (antifreeze) sprayed all over the engine.  There was no way we could drive this thing.

We called AAA and had the car towed to the nearest dealership (luckily only 3 miles away!)  Then we had to call an Uber to transport the kids (car seats and all) to the dealer.  We got a rental car and continued on with the trip!  Unfortunately we didn’t make it up to our place until after 8pm, so didn’t get a chance to hang out with the family.

On Saturday the temps were by far the coldest they’ve been all season.  The high of the day hovered around 0 and the winds were roaring, with a wind chill of -30.  Skiing was almost impossible.  We’d do 1 run and by the end were all totally frozen.  Lots of crying ensued, frozen body parts, etc. so we called it early.

On Saturday night we hung out with Michele’s family, and the kids were happy to see Grampy, who came up from Florida, and Uncle Chris who came from California.

On Sunday the temps were about the same in the morning, but slowly warmed up throughout the day.  Luckily the dealership fixed Michele’s car, so we were able to return the rental on the way home.

Just another weekend in the whites!