I've been doing some fun reading. It sounds like Boeing is finally ready with their latest plane, a small, economic airliner. It's a stark contrast to the gigantic Airbus A380, a concept I never liked. I've always preferred smaller airports to giant hubs and hope that Boeing wins out with a regional jet instead of a hub-to-hub behemoth from Airbus.
Another fun thing I ran across: nuclear reactor drawings (here are hi-res versions).
I finally had time to play with Skype and the Logitech Quickcam E3500 we bought several months ago. The two didn't work together and, reading on Google, I saw lots of complaints that the two companies blame each other for the problems. In particular, the webcam microphone wouldn't work, or sometimes worked inconsistently. I installed the latest drivers and software on the laptop and desktop to try again. The laptop worked fine; the desktop didn't. More Googling finally yielded the answer: if the mic volume is too high (>90% or so), then the webcam mic doesn't output anything. Unchecking the "Automatically adjust microphone settings" checkbox then manually bring the volume down fixed it. Amazing. Vika had a nice conversation with her family. There's lots of snow on the ground in Almaty -- they showed us a webcam shot of it!
I made some exciting progress on the professional fronts: I finally figured out how to deal with a troublesome term in the limiting-case analysis I'm doing with Durga. I'd thought about looking at a Taylor expansions, but didn't see any nice simplifications from that. However, playing with Maple, expanding just the first three terms produces a very small error. Wow -- I'd been puzzled by that for a long time!
I'm still excited about ARM stuff; I think I'll probably buy the proto board and see if I can find time to play with it during the semester. Speaking of the semester, some thoughts and plans:
For Micro, I hope to improve the course in three areas:
- Make tests before I begin covering the material. That's just planning, preparation, and discipline.
- Revise the labs and homework to require students in later labs to get an I2C, SPI, and A/D peripheral up and running. My plan is to develop that in the Spring then implement it in the Fall.
- Create an in-class demo robot / revised Intro to Robotics robot / recruiting platform / summer camp robot. I think the same robot can serve all these goals, or at least the same basic robot with various minor modifications. Again, I'm planning on developing this in the Spring.