Friday, December 31, 2010

Project: Carapace - Days 2 and 3

Day 2: Chainmaille and Lamellar

I didn't manage to get much done with the mail today, working on expanding the piece I have was frustrating, as it didn't look like I was doing anything after an hour of work, but I actually ended up doubling the size of the piece.
I put the mail aside and went over to Brent's place to work on the other armor project, Leather Lamellar in a style found during archaeological excavations in Visby, Sweden.

My main holiday gift from my parents, other than the 9-button boots they bought me at TRF, was a gift card to Tandy Leather Factory, which I used to purchase a whole saddle skirting hide, which for those not super-knowledgeable about leather, is approximately 20 square feet of cow hide, at between 12 to 16 ounces thickness.
The weight of leather assumes that a square foot of 1/64" thick leather weighs 1 ounce, so the saddle skirting I purchased is between 3/16" and 1/4" thick.
In the picture above my hide has had about 1/3 of its square footage cut into the pieces for the lamellar using a strip cutter set to 1 1/4" width. After each strip is cut off the hide, it is measured into about twelve 3" pieces and cut, creating the individual plates with only about 1" of waste per strip.

Day 3: Things begin to take shape

Back to work on the chainmaille, I started to form the shoulder straps, a pair of 16 ring x 16 ring squares on either side of one of the long edges of my main rectangle.
The plan is to duplicate above piece, then attach the duplicate to the original at the 16x16s to form a neck hole, shoulders and the beginnings of the chest and back. Next the edge that is on top in the photo will be extended, then widened in a T shape. The arms of the T on the front side will be attached to the T on the back, forming armholes and creating basically a very short vest. From that point, sleeves can be created, and the "hem" of the vest can continually be extended downward until it reaches the desired length, or I run out of rings.
My 5am math says that I've used 1492 links so far, which is scary, because that represents a little over 1/5 of my total rings, and also represents about 6.8 pounds. I can tell you that hefting it one-handed certainly doesn't feel like almost 7 pounds, so maybe I'm just exhausted and adding poorly. The real concern is that if this is 1500 rings, then the duplicate will bring it up to 3000 rings...wait a minute, I am completely wrong here. I've only used 746 rings. That means weight for this is only 3.4 pounds, which feels a lot more correct, and is only an expenditure of about 1/8 of my rings.
So, ~750 rings for the front, means ~1500 for the whole yoke, another ~1200 for the T extension, bringing the total to ~2700 for the mini-vest, a little over 1/2 of my total rings. If each sleeve is about the size of my 1/2-yoke, thats another ~1000 rings for each sleeve, bringing the total to ~4700 rings or about 93% of my rings, with a shirt that only hangs to just under my sternum.
Looks like I'm going to need to buy more rings in any case, even with my most frugal estimates of ring usage, which brings up my other concern: Ring Lord has stated that they will be discontinuing the 12ga rings when their stock is gone, which means I need to buy up their remaining 15 pounds before someone else does, but I'm not sure where the money for it is going to come from, because I certainly don't have the tools or means to coil and cut 12ga steel here at the apartment.

Back to leather this evening at Brent's, we had already cut 25 strips from the hide, creating about 300 individual plates, which were then marked with the "Visby" hole pattern, as shown below.
Of the the pieces, from left to right three different hole methods were used: Drilling with a 9/64" from the rough side (back) to the smooth side (front), drilling from front to back, and using a 9/64" hammer punch from back to front.
None of the methods produced satisfactory results, as drilling from front to back causes the ugly shredding of the leather seen in piece #2, and hammer punching from back to front causes the unfortunate puckering seen in piece #3. The old tried-and-true method of front-to-back hammer punching will produce the best results, and will not be significantly slower than drilling.
Using the test-punched pieces as templates, we marked all 300 pieces with the Visby pattern, and will begin to punch them in the next step.
That's all 300 pieces marked and ready for punching. To speed up the punching process, I will go to Tandy tomorrow and pick up my own punch set.
A quick test-threading of the pieces we punched/drilled brought up an interesting issue we hadn't considered with the rectangular pieces. Of the lamellar found in Visby, the pieces were lozenge-shaped, not pure rectangles.
When we threaded the three leather pieces together using the middle holes, the top and bottom holes of pieces 2 and 3 were obscured by the edges of pieces 1 and 2, respectively, explaining why the Visby pieces have the curved edges. While I'm not about to go back and trim 300 plates to give them rounded edges like the "Standard Piece" above, Brent commented that we could either use a hammer chisel for making belt ends to make them look like the "Centre Piece", or just punch the middle 4 holes closer to the edge of each piece than currently marked. I think I might try to do a bit of both, and look for a tool at Tandy that would do the job (a hammer chisel with a 4" gradual curve would be perfect), or borrow some fucking shears from Blue and just cut the pieces manually. *winces* Either way, it's going to be a shit job, and we're not even to the dying yet...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Project: Carapace - Day 1

I never update this as I should, but with a major project underway now, I'm making a commitment to update this every day I do any significant amount of work on it.

Day 1: Chainmaille
One of my holiday presents from my in-laws was surprisingly heavy as it was laid in my lap. I had my eyes closed as instructed, so when the 23 pounds of steel was deposited there, it was a pleasant shock.
The rings were fabricated and cut by the good folks at The Ring Lord, and are 12-gauge mild steel wire, wound to 1/2" inner diameter, for an aspect ratio of about 5, perfect for making sturdy, but not stiff, European 4-in-1 mail.
By the measurements of The Ring Lord, there are ~720 rings per square foot of finished material using the 4-in-1 pattern, but I believe that was measured with the material in it's most compact form, as I am about 300 rings in at this point, and have a piece that is 20"x3.5" when fully expanded, which is how it will be when worn, so I'm estimating more like 600 rings per square foot.
Nevertheless, some rough measurements on my own body with a tape measure says I'll need a 3'x2' panel for chest and another for back, and then a pair of 1'x2' panels for sleeves, for a total of about 16 square feet of material for the finished piece, minus the links missing for a head hole, so about 9600 rings.
My gift of 23 pounds gets me an estimated 5000 rings, so I'll probably be purchasing another 10 pounds at least, but only after I finish using these that I have and see where I am.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

iOS 4.2 has already pissed me off...

...not so much the software itself, but Apple/iTunes' lack of a real backup process.

Below is a copy of the letter sent to Apple about my most recent issue, where I lost approximately 10GB of user-created (i.e. ME) music and video due to their "backup process" not actually backing anything up...

Now that the new iOS 4.2 has been released, I decided to upgrade my 3gs from 4.0.
When I first connected my iPhone and attempted to start the upgrade, a dialog box appeared: "This update will overwrite all information on your iPhone. Make sure you have created a backup before applying this update." or something to that effect.
Not wanting to lose the 10+gb of music and video that I had recorded, I right-clicked on my iPhone in the iTunes sidebar and selected backup.
iTunes churned away for a bit, then informed me that the backup had been completed successfully, so I proceeded with the iOS 4.2 upgrade.
A couple of phone reboots, and an "unknown error" that crashed iTunes later, the update was complete.
To my dismay, my ~12gb of data on my iPhone now only showed as ~1.5gb, with all of my music and video missing.
I immediately attempted to restore from my backup, which returned 90% of my photos (but not all), my downloaded apps and about 50% of my contacts to the phone, but still no music or videos.
Called support. Spoke with a Tier1 agent, who was very willing to help, but unable to actually do anything. Then she mentions that "oh yeah, you can't back up music or videos from the iPhone." Miffed and confused, I asked to speak to her Senior for clarification on this seemingly-illogical claim. When "Steve" got on the phone, he confirmed that yes, despite the dialog stating that if a user wanted to save their data, they should create a backup, the "backup" really only contained contacts, text messages and the like, and that Apple had never included media in the backup process. He then made the contradictory comment that Apple had made this specific decision to NO LONGER back up media from the user's device due to "complaints from users that their iPod and iPhone backups were using 20-30gb of additional space on their hard drive." Which is exactly what a REAL back up will do, as it is BACKING UP an exact copy of the data from one device to another.
So not only was "Steve's" comment in direct contradiction to his earlier statement that Apple had never offered a media backup from iPod/iPhone, it also flies in the face of smart computing practices AND good business sense.

Basically, what this bug report boils down to is that as a musician, videographer and computer professional, the complete lack of your software's ability to perform a real backup, combined with the either poorly-worded or purposefully-misleading dialog boxes in iTunes that lead the user to believe their information is being stored, is completely unacceptable.

At the very least, the dialog windows should be rewritten to inform the user that no media information will be backed up.
The correct solution, on the other hand, would be to offer users the option of doing a "quick backup," containing only the basic information currently saved by your poorly-designed "backup" process, or a "full backup," containing a 1-1 copy of the user's device.

I would sincerely appreciate a detailed response to this issue, as this is an extremely distressing lack of coverage for anyone who uses their iPod or iPhone to create new media.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Texas Classic Car Show

6:00am - Woke up, showered, shaved, etc. No breakfast

6:45am - Attempted to start RoXanne while still in the garage, no dice. Just cranked and cranked and cranked. Tried leaning her out, richening her up, nothing. Let her sit for 20 minutes (extra "getting-ready-to-go" time previously budgeted now used up).

7:10am - Start attempt number 139687321. Nothing. Still just cranking. Frustration level now at maximum. Angry cigarette break. Another attempt, nothing.

7:30am (we're supposed to be meeting the rest of the club at Krispy Kreme on 183 at this time) - Still in the driveway south of Slaughter and MoPac. Give up on car, post to FB letting people know I'm not going to make it. Call my mechanic buddy for advice, leave message.

8:00am - Buddy calls me back, suggests checking injector harness connections and plug condition (to ascertain lack or abundance of fuel, respectively). Remove plugs, see about 105 gallons of wet fuel pour off them. Realize I'm an idiot and had shit set WAY too rich. Clean and scrub plugs off, crank engine without plugs to clear fuel from housings. Dial down fuel delivery in computer. Reattempt start.

8:30am - RoXanne fires up like a dream. Hit the road to get to Rudy's on 183 hopefully before pre-registration confirmation closes at 9am.

8:55am - Get to pre-registration booth, get confirmed, roll over to show area. Car running rough, worry about fouled plugs again.

9:00am - Car dies in intersection of Jollyville and Braker. Get push into Wells Fargo parking lot from badass dude in a blue and white Camaro. Check plugs, yup their fouled because car is still too rich. At least this time they're only soot-covered instead of soaking wet. Clean with shirt tail and replace. Car starts now. Get to show.

9:10am - Stop in line to enter show area, almost slam into lime green and black Camaro in front of me because driver is an idiot. Flood engine and foul plugs again. Texas RXs club members are on hand to push me into show. A little embarrassing, but I fucking made it, so that's a lot better than 2 hours earlier.

9:15am - RoXanne's on display, lookin' sexy. I'm the 10th RX member to join the group, so now we're tied with the AC Cobra club for membership participation.

10:00am - Show opens. Already, everyone who walks by at least glances into the car, most stop for several seconds to several minutes around her. Stories are swapped, information disseminated, she's the talk of the section.

10:00am-3:00pm - Wander the show, see some other really cool cars, always looping back to check on RoXanne. Drink some beer, talk shit with the other RX drivers, poke some good-natured fun at the AC Cobra club guys for not having real cars (100% of the Cobras at the show were kits). Watch people ogle RoXanne, turn down purchase offers for RoXanne. Drink some more beer.

3:00pm - Awards are handed out, Texas RXs win club participation, which comes with a $150 gift certificate to Rudy's BBQ. Be absolutely surprised when RoXanne wins a 1000W, 4-channel sounds system amplifier, courtesy AudioFX for Best Import Car.

4:00pm - Break camp, clean and replace plugs, then refuel RoXanne. Caravan back to Liberty Hill with Danny's RX-2 to start stage 2 of the restoration: speed preparations.

5:00pm-9:00pm - Tune idle and non-boost fuel levels. Get rid of sputtering due to over-rich settings, idle is actually smooth instead of loping for the first time since I've owned the car (well, I could smooth out the idle previously, the car would just die 10-15 seconds later). All RPMs and speeds of acceleration under no load now track appropriately. RoXanne growls like she's supposed to instead of the drowning sputter she had this morning. Stomping on the accelerator brings the appropriate rising wail to the 9000RPM scream I love with no leaning out or choking.


So yeah, a frustratingly slow start to the morning, but by 10am, everything was great and it just got better throughout the day.

Got invited to a couple other shows before the end of the year, one at the end of October and one in mid-November. I'll see if I can make it to them, but going to TRF and getting my Mjolnir Armor completed by Halo-ween are more important at this point.

Stage 2 on RoXanne's restoration is installation of Eibach springs in the front and rear, replacement of the rear tires with 225/50R-16 or larger tires in the rear and some strenuous load-testing to ensure that the fuel values under boost are correct.

Danny will be taking care of the first item, Discount Tires the second and hopefully Scott/Bob/Joe over at Driveway Austin will consent to let me do some tuning from the passenger seat while RoXanne is driven around in track conditions.


So I got home and wrote this, then let Lilith out of her cage to take her out, walked around with her for like 30 minutes because she wouldn't do her business and then came back in to take a shower. She pushed the door open with her nose and came in, so I looked down at her and freaked out when I saw a 1 1/2" gash on her head all puckered open.

It wasn't bleeding, she wasn't whimpering or showing any signs of pain or discomfort and was just being her normal, bubbly self. I jumped over to start first aiding her, soaking a bit of towel in some hydrogen peroxide and cleaning the wound, and checking it out, and apparently she didn't even know she was cut. It's a straight slice across the top of her head, probably received when she shoulder-checked the fish tank sitting on the floor while she was running around excited after I let her out of her kennel.

She didn't fight against me while I was cleaning the wound, and it still didn't bleed any, just a couple spots of blood on the towel where the peroxide picked it up. Still needs stitches though, so Jill is about to drive to Round Rock Emergency Hospital to get her sewed up.

This whole time, she just wants to chew her bone or wrestle around with Connor or The Doctor. It's the wierdest thing, she's got this massive wound, but she doesn't seem to even know it's there. I'd be cussing, bitching and whining up a storm if I had a cut that relative size on my head. Oh well, guess she's a trooper.

Finally got my shower, updated this with the latest information and about to go to bed. Then Jill points something out offhandedly while I'm putting on jammies:

Apparently, I'm sunburned as all fuck.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

XBox Live Support...I am disappoint.

Woke up this morning to the cat shitting in the hedgehog's cage while he cowered in terror inside his castle, the dogs wrestling around in the cabinet under the sink and the bedroom door wide open, even though I was butt-ass naked. Oh, did I mention it was 7:30am?

Yeah, so that was fucking fantastic. Roll with the punches though, right? So I get up, dress, get my morning tobacco breakfast on and then decide to start getting some stuff done around the house.

Step 1, cut a hole in the box... wait, wait, wait... wrong "To Do" list...'

So I cancelled my XBox Live account a while back, never really played online all that much and it seemed like a waste of $8/month. Then I realized (or it changed) that Netflix doesn't work through XBL unless you have an active subscription...That means no streaming goodness on the widescreen unless I re-up my XBL. Well, the CC on my account expired since then, so I'll just enter my new information and be good to go...
Wait a minute, says card information already exists on the account. Well, it IS the same card number, so I'll just update the existing information...
Nope, can't edit security code information...
Well, I'll just remove the old card and reenter everything...
Nope, say balance due... wait WHAT?
Apparently even though I "cancelled" my XBL service they still tried to charge me every day for a little over a month even though the card information was expired, so my bank flagged it as a fraudulent charge.
*Call Bank*
"Hey there, XBox Live has been charging me using expired information, so the charges were listed as fraud, can you fix that?"
"Sure thing, you should be fine now, just make sure the security code gets changed, because that's what got the charges flagged."
[Total time on phone call: ~5 minutes, Eloquence and understandability of agent(located in San Antonio): Excellent]
*Call XBL Support*
*5 minutes of automated directory maze*
*10 minutes of hold music*
"I'm sorry, I entered it during the automated system, did you not receive it?"
"Um, sure. N-U-L-L-3-X-3"
"Excuse me?" (I thought she didn't have any information, and that IS my gamertag...)
"Yeah, sure. That's what I meant"
"Thankyouforyourpatience,howcanIhelpyou?" (keep track of how many times she says that first part)
"I can't renew my XBL subscription because-"
"Yes I have. If you'll just listen to my issue, I'm sure it will make more sense."
"Thankyouforyourpatience. Soyou'retryingtocreateanEeeksbawksLiveaccount. Icanhelpyouwiththatsir."
"No, no I'm not. I cancelled my XBL account several months ago..."
*5 minutes of explaining the situation, correcting her when she misunderstood completely and waiting on hold while she attempted to run my incorrect card information*
"Thankyouforyourpatience. I'msorrysir,yourpurchasecannotbemadewiththiscard. Itisbeingdeclinedforhavingincorrectinformation."
"I know. That's why I called in the first place. I don't need you to find out the problem, I know what the problem is. My card was expired and so the wrong information is on the account, and I cannot update my information because the billing system will not allow it. I need you to either remove the existing card information from the account so I can re-enter it, or I need you to update the security code."
"Thankyouforyourpatience. Sirwecannotchangeyoursecuritycode."
"That is what I have been attempting to tell you for the past 5 minutes. I cannot update my security code on the website. Are you able to remove all of the card information so I can re-enter it manually?"
"Nosir. YouhaveanexistingbalancewithEeeksbawksLiveaccount. YouwillhavetopaythatbeforeIcanremovecardinformation."
"Why do I have a balance? I cancelled my service before the end of the month."
"So I have an outstanding balance because you couldn't charge me for service I wasn't receiving?"
"So why was I billed for service?"
"So I have no outstanding balance."
"Thankyouforyourpatience. Thatiscorrect."
"So you can remove my card information now?"
"Nosir. Anoutstandingchargeof$8.65isontheaccount."
*Silent screaming* (This is the point where I started writing this blog entry)
"What service period was this charge for?"
"Wait, I have not been able to change my card information for approximately 2 months for a charge I attempted to make 2 days ago?"
"Correctsir. Thankyouforyourpatience."
"Ok this is stupid. I want that charge removed so I can renew my service. Please remove it yourself or transfer me to a supervisor who will."
*5 minutes of holding, 2 minutes of re-explaining the situation to her. 5 more minutes of holding*
"Thankyouforyourpatience. Ihaveremovedthefruadulentchargefromyouraccount."
"Thank you. And the expired credit card?"
"So you cannot remove that information from my account?"
"Yessir. Iamcapableofdoingthat."
"Okay, fine"
*2 minutes of websurfing and logging in, only to find out that to remove card information you have to go to or some shit*
*another 5 minutes of surfing and logging in, changing information and entering a new card.*
"It says that the transaction cannot be processed at this time."
"Yessir. Thankyouforyourpatience. PleaseenterthecardinformationonyourEeeksbawksLive."
"You mean I have to turn on my console and enter all this information again there?"
"Okay, this is really getting tedious."
*5 minutes of entering information in the XBox and attempting the purchase again.*
"I'm still getting the same error."
"Thatiscorrectsir. Youcanwait24hoursandtrythepurchaseagain,oryoucangotoamazon.comandpurchaseatimecard."
"Wait, what? You're telling me I have to wait a whole day OR go to a third-party retailer?"
"That's not even an answer to my question. Is there anything more you can do to help me?"
"Ifyourequirefurtherassistance. PleasefeelfreetocallusbackorgotoEeeksbawks.cawm/support. Goodbye."

OMG I have never had such trouble TRYING to give someone money.
I could start a whole other rant about the fallacies of outsourced customer service, how using people from a barely-more-than-third-world country (yes I've been over there and trained people, so don't think I'm just making assumptions) who speak English as a third or fourth language is a bad idea, but that's for another time.

The moral of this story is that 2 and a half hours after calling this travesty of an organization, I still don't have XBL and I still can't watch movies in HD on my TV...

I'm out.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh my! What could this be? Stay tuned!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Disregard females, acquire currency.

Despite a total lack of finances, I am continuing with my efforts to get product created for Egyptian Dragon's shelves (racks? hangars? lines?). Of course my initial foray was to create Jill's "uniform" to wear while she is working in the shop, but unfortunately, I decided to purchase her fabric from Mall-Wart, on the grounds that it was 50% off.
Inevitably, the zombie manning the fabric counter cut an incorrect amount of EVERY fabric I selected, leaving me with barely enough black fabric for the overskirt (and therefore none for the matching panels on the bodice), and not even enough blue to complete the underskirt, much less the bodice. The mild consolation is that the cream fabric I purchased was either 120" wide or cut improperly, so I got double the amount I paid for. That being said, I have no idea what I'm going to do with this much cream fabric (maybe make a shirt for myself and some for the shop?).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

[ This space intentionally left Blank ]

See the world in a haze of smoke and filth.
(The killer washes his hands of the life of one victim in the blood of the next un-

Oh fuck this.

I was going to rewrite a poem I did many years ago, lyricise it to use for a new Orchids in January song, but then I realized that it's shit.

I don't write enough anymore. Too many things on my plate distracting my attention. Since it's my calling, my One True Skill if you will, it's irresponsible of me to not write.

I know I'm three months late, but I'll make it my new-years resolution to write something in here every day, even if it's just a blurb about my day, a laundry list of activities. Even though no one reads this I'll try to make it a bit interesting for posterity's sake at least.

So, what to post?...

We've all been sick, both at home and the office. It's like a damn plague factory around me. Missed work, pressurized skulls and blocked ears are the norm in my vicinity. Despite these tribble-ations, I've been soldiering through, working through VPN when I'm too sick to make it into work.

I don't think I've talked about Orchids in January on here yet. OiJ is my new band formed with an old friend and now-roomate, Mikael. I personally hate labeling music genres, but if I must, I'd call it Indie Rock. We've played a few shows now at the Red Eyed Fly, and every one is more and more kick-ass. Taking a little break for now, as we're trying to get a DIY recording done in time for our shows during SXSW. No, we're not actually playing at SXSW, but we're going to have shows in downtown during the festival, so we're hoping for a good turnout. For those rare ones who might stumble across this blog and are interested in merch, it's available on my CafePress page, but if there is enough advance interest, we can make them available for purchase at the shows for cheaper (also, we have Stickers! Go vandalize the town in support of the band!). CDs will be available as well, as soon as we get the mp3s uploaded.

On the visceral side of life, I've also started an airsoft team, The Murder of Crows. So far we've only got one fireteam established, but hopefully we can gain more members or meet up with other teams and get something really fun going. We're looking for opponents as well, so if you're interested, let us know. We're not going super-hardcore right now, mainly because high-end rifles are expensive. Entry-level weapons are good enough for what we're looking to do right now anyway, and a lot more in our collective price range. It's all about the fun right now, and if we got enough people in our own group (8-10), and found somewhere to play (park, undeveloped lot, etc) then we'd be set.

On the costuming and recreation front, I got to hang out with Adam (405th admin) other day, who showed me a new take on the weathering method, so I should finally get my CQB and Jill's Recon buckets done. I was attempting to make them look all nice and new, like in the game, but they look too fake like that, so I'm going with the battleworn style. Also, I was invited to help make some suits with Adam, and the implication was that I'd get at least part of a suit in exchange for my work, so that's pretty badass and I might have a wearable suit sooner than I thought. We'll see what happens though. Pics will be posted (at least of the helmet) once the weathering is done. I still need to get gold visors for both helmets, nice padding and trim, and electronics (fans, lights, switches, etc), but that's a bit down the road.

Anywho, I'm kinda outta steam at this point, this blog post has taken hours here at work (i've been typing on and off between working). So I'm gonna stop for now. I'll try to post some fiction later tonight or as my post tomorrow.