Lifelong Learning Knowledge should be uncompromisingly sought after and freely given away.


Fitting TED talk for my blog and quite an amazing presentation.

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Respect builds trust and trust builds teams.

I coined an original that was worth documented I felt. I often find that I use quotes from other that I admire when talking with teams or co-workers and the other day this rolled off my tongue. I can honestly say it's the only time in my life that something I said was worth documented as it’s so simplistic and powerful.

For some background, I was talking to co-workers in a meeting about Tuckman's stages of group development and jokingly suggested a shortcut to understanding team building dynamics was "Respect builds trust and trust builds teams." There, I said it, and now let it forever be documented that I had an original that somebody might find good enough to quote me on...(crossing my fingers).

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Find Inspiration…

Fantastic LEGO commercial and as a father of two I can only hope my children learn the love of biggest fear is to raise childern who can't think for themselves and have no love for learning. Thanks for creating a positive, inspiring commercial LEGO.


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Arduino in the workplace

Motorola Advisor II connected to an AdaFruit protoboard shield on an Arduino.

Motorola Advisor II connected to an Adafruit protoboard shield on an Arduino.

Recently I was faced with an interesting challenge at work. How could I monitor our paging infrastructure (pagers, yes pagers, I work in healthcare) to ensure it was up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? I had the ability to monitor certain portions of the system but no way to automate the monitoring of the end-to-end system, all the way out to the pager, keep in mind this technology is a one-way technology. My experience in the electronics hobby and having a developer background gave me an idea, I could attach the pager to an Arduino and write a Microsoft Windows service that would receive heartbeats and page received alerts via serial over USB and log those to a file that our enterprise monitoring system could watch. In fact, our enterprise monitoring system could send an email which gets converted to TAP via some SMTP-to-TAP software we have in use already.

So, the enterprise monitoring tool will send a page to our test pager, once the pager receives the page it'll notify the windows service using serial communications, which will in turn write the event to a log file (I could have used the event log). The Arduino will also send a heartbeat message every minute which also gets written to the log file. This will allow our monitoring tool to raise an event if the Arduino goes offline. We'll add some additional business logic in the monitoring software to page several times before opening up an incident but yes, I think this will indeed work and work quite well. How else is a company that is dependent on 1970 open-loop technology monitor it without something like this? I'm curious if others have solved a problem like this and how?

It didn't take me long to get a simple windows service built that listens on the specified COM port for serial messages from the Arduino. There are lots of examples of this being done, just google it. Hooking the pager up to the Arduino was also super simple, I just used the existing connection to the vibration motor on the pager and tied that to an analog pin on the Arduino. I also didn't want to have to bother with batteries for the pager so I hooked up a LM317 adjustable voltage regulator to supply the 1.5V the pager was expecting from the 5V on the USB line. After hooking everything up, I must say the system works quite nicely, we'll see how well it behaves long term but this project proves how useful a simple Arduino can be in the workplace. As always all the project files are attached to this post for everyone.

Till next time...

Title: PagerMonitorProjectFiles (945 clicks)
Size: 91 KB

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Preparedness 101

With all the natural disasters in the news today, I thought about how so many people are becoming more self-reliant and how that's such a great thing. But then I thought about how many people must go through their day without even giving thought to what would happen if they found themselves in the middle of such disasters. Heck, even the government stepped up its attempts to educate Americans on being prepared when disaster strikes.

Being prepared is being American in my opinion and I have always striven to ensure my family was prepared for the unknown that mother nature (or fellow man) could throw at us. While I'm certain we are nowhere near as prepared as others, I do try every day to do something to help us become more prepared.

If anything good can come from the disastrous hurricane Katrina bestowed upon Louisiana, it's the knowledge that you can't count on the government to take care of you and your family in a crisis situation and you can always count on mother nature putting a whooping on ya when you least expect it. Since Katrina, I must say I stepped up my knowledge on being prepared as well as actually investing in what it takes to be prepared.

One way I've invested is with Shelf Reliance's Thrive Q program. It's a program that lets you build (with the help of their online calculator) a food storage program for your family and then either you can purchase it all right away or set a budget and get it shipped monthly. I opted for the monthly shipments and I'm quite happy with the program. I get a shipment of food (#10 cans) each month delivered to my door, which is as close to my set budget as possible without going over. The food has an incredible shelf life (most foods are ~25 years unopened) but it's really meant to be rotated through your normal pantry items. We open and use cans from time to time, replacing them on the list as we consume them. Of all the options for food preparedness, I honestly think these guys have the best solution. The food is excellent and it's reasonably priced.

If you don't have a food preparedness plan yet, you should really check them out, it's one less thing to worry about when mother nature finally gets fed up with your polluting butt. If you don't have any idea how to even start getting prepared, you should start here.

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My Bhut Jolokia Chilies

First Round of Bhut Jolokia Peppers

First Round of Bhut Jolokia Chilies

I've always been a big fan of hot foods and hot chilies have always been a staple in our garden. This past year, however, I was educated by the inter-webs that I had always assumed incorrectly that Habanero chilies were the hottest on the planet. In fact, the Bhut Jolokia is by leaps and bounds the king of heat. The Habanero chili is about 300k scoville while the Bhut Jolokia is nearly 1 million scoville. Yeah, while I haven't tried one yet, I'm expecting the worst!

I grew these plants from little seedlings and I'm super excited that I've started seeing the first round of chilies already! Apparently I'm either talented as a gardener or super lucky, these guys don't typically do well in my zone and are supposed to take forever to produce the first chilies.

I'm actually gonna try to whip up some homemade sauce with these guys as they are suppose to have a mango-like flavor under all that heat which should make for some great sauce.

Update: Well, heck fire. While I was researching a bit on the Internet for information regarding the Bhut Jolokia, I found out that there is already a new king...guess I"ll have to hunt the world over to find some Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilies for next year..

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