Archive for March 2010

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-29

  • At music fest. Trapped in room with jazz. Send help. #

The World Needs a Smart Toaster

With a sensor and some processing power, it shouldn’t be hard to make a toaster that can actually make perfect toast every time. I’m astounded that such a product doesn’t exist. It wouldn’t be expensive in large quantities.

Possible sensors include

  • visual camera
  • infrared camera
  • gas sensor – Sparkfun has $5 alcohol and carbon monoxide sensors. I wonder what burnt toast “smells” like.
  • standard “darkness” knob
  • ambient thermometer

Possible controls include

  • shutting off at the right time
  • a bell to alert the consumer of soon-to-be-done toast and done-it’s-getting-cold toast
  • delivering different power levels to different parts of the bread (eh, sounds expensive and not useful)
  • changing the wattage, allowing “keep warm”, “warm throughout” (no more lava pop tarts!), and “crisp” settings


  • Easy to use interface
  • Technical challenge: it’s never been done!
  • Really, it’s never been done?

I should make this.

PS. Ha, this fancy $130 toaster sucks. I can do better.

A Really Good Serpent Mother Video

local version:

Switchboard Music Festival

I’ll be at the Switchboard Music Festival in San Francisco this weekend. Join me!


Worked a day last week at the Crucible for a corporate training event building part of a large crazy control panel. We didn’t finish it at the event so I’m being paid to finish building it. Cool.

I hooked up with an acquaintance on Monday night to modify a mechanism to work for an online video ad for a big client. The acquaintance was happy with my work. Cool.

I just took on a third tutoring student. 3rd grade reading. Pretty cool.

I was just asked to teach 2 sessions of  a week-long intensive classes at the Crucible starting next week, “Youth Radical Robots”. Cool.

The SWARM robots are still in India after a month of wrangling with locals. For the last 2 weeks I have made it a ritual to call every night and ask “Ok, who is now blaming who for sitting on who’s hands today? And how can we get things moving?” Uncool.

SWARM was just asked by Velocity Circus to do a gig in San Diego on April 21st. That’s good because it’s a gig. That’s bad because I have to guarantee the orbs will be back. It took 9 days to get the orbs from San Francisco to Kanpur. So far it’s taken 32 days and they are still sitting in the same spot we left them. Serious potential for Cool AND Uncool.

In more pleasant news, I’ve been wrangling with the computer system of a local machine shop for the last 10 days, getting paid to remove viruses, diagnose DSL problems, install software and the like. Just yesterday, I believe we had a major victory, defeating the slow DSL service. An AT&T tech was here for 3 hours and he found that our line from the telephone box to the office was poorly balanced so he switched to a different line. Only time will tell if this sporadic problem was really fixed. It’s totally cool hanging out with the machine shop guys and hearing about the totally exciting projects they’re working on… like a motorcycle that doesn’t… darn it, I’m not sure if I can talk about it!

In tutoring news, yesterday I taught a 9 year old how to pay for pizza. You wouldn’t think this would be rough but oh my this was a horror. I’m tutoring this 4th grader and for the second session in a row he was really bad. He grumbled, mumbled, fought, threw papers, swore, drummed on the desk, ran around the room, bitched AND moaned.  So Delphino, the completely awesome staffer at the YMCA helped me convince him to do a little math. In 1.5 hours we successfully did 1 math problem. “You and 3 friends agree to split a pizza. The pizza man is at the door and he wants his $12 dollars. How much should each person chip in?” We had to work in earnest on the answer for 10 minutes, but he got it! Cool.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-22

Erik’s tweet was: in texas, you get three enchiladas