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Garage Door Joke

One of the fun/ridiculous projects I did at Milwaukee Makerspace was this Garage Door Status Updater. It was part of the reMMinderbot project, which would send reminder emails to the mailing list. Typically useful things like reminding members about upcoming meetings, which side of the street to park on, etc.

This bit was based on the imaginary (or maybe “not yet realized”?) Milwaukee Makerspace Sensor Array Network, which, again, did not exist. See, we had this rule/guideline that the garage door should be closed at night so as not to disturb the neighbors. So I set up some cron jobs to send an email showing a “live camera image” of the garage door open after 10pm, then it would send another email shortly after than with the door closed and a “Thank You!” from reMMinderbot.

I’m pretty sure at least one person noticed after the second time that my car was always in the parking lot in the same spot…

Anyway, I just found these files and they were a reminder of the fun I used to have before the pandemic. Good Times… <sigh>

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Pizza Dough

This is a recipe for pizza dough. Sorry, no story.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water, warmed to 110° F
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Every seasoning you have

Directions

  1. Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl… Let sit for 5 minutes
  2. In a large bowl put the flour, salt, and every seasoning you have in the cabinet that makes sense to add to a pizza
  3. Stir in the water/year/sugar mix… I use a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook, though you can knead by hand if that’s your style
  4. Mix that shit for a while, like maybe 10 minutes? When done, knead by hand a bit in the bowl… add a little bit of flour if it’s too sticky
  5. Take dough out of bowl, put olive oil in bowl, coat the sides, drop your dough in the bowl, coat the dough with olive oil
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then with a wet kitchen towel
  7. Put in the proving drawer for about 75 minutes (No proving drawer? Put it in a warm place I guess, you can prove in the oven if needed)
  8. Dough should double in size after 75 minutes or so… you can then shape it by hand on a pan and make a pizza, or you can parbake it for around 5 minutes at 475 F and freeze it for later

Oh yeah, this makes two crusts, or one giant crust. You can obviously make the crust as thick or thin as you want… but I make two medium thickness crusts with this recipe.

Enjoy, Champions!

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Remap F14 & F15 on macOS

Here’s a fun one. On some Macs the screen brightness keys are actually recognized as the F14 and F15 function keys. Which means when you build your own keyboard with those keys they change the screen brightness. Yuk. I found a post that explained how to change that, which involved going into System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Display, except… it’s not there. (See the image above? Not there.)

But wait, it is there after you plug in a device you built that has F14 and F15 keys. (See below.) So once you plug in a device you built that has F14 and F15 keys, the Display option will appear and you can disable the brightness thing by deselecting things. And yes, you can still totally adjust the screen brightness by using the keys on your normal keyboard.

This post is about 95% for future me, and 5% for someone who needs to figure it out and finds this post. You’re Welcome!

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SoundProp – Sound Effects with Processing & MIDI

Sometimes you forget to document things, and sometimes you try to get ahead of the game. Back around 2009 I was one of the organizers of Web414, Milwaukee’s Web Community Meetup, and at some point Gabe and I turned it into a live talk show. Yeah, I don’t know how we managed to do that, but… it happened. We had guests and we interviewed them, and even had a musical guest once! Anyway, one of the things I did was add sound effects to things because… well, I love that kind of shit. So yeah, my first “Sound Effect Board” was a web page on my web site I called ShowProp which used Flash to play some sound effects at the push of a button. (Still there, still mostly works. Here’s another silly web/sound thing from 2010, Evil-O-Mator.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, sound effects! Typically I was the co-host while Gabe was the primary host, so I would work the sound effects board at the appropriate (or inappropriate time.) It was fun.

And then I started messing around with Processing in 2010 and eventually started a re-write of ShowProp that would run locally on my computer rather than a Flash-enabled web page. (Flash is Dead! Sort of…) Processing is still very much alive, and I use it fairly often for creative coding, and hey, I figured since it’s 2020 it was time to update things.

I should mention that in 2019 I got my first “real” MIDI device, an Arturia Beat Step. A local synth guy was selling it for… wow, less than half the price of a new one. (I guess I got a deal!) I say my first “real” MIDI device because I’ve built them before, for myself, for museum exhibits, etc. but I had never bought a commercial unit before. Since I had this around, and I enjoy screwing around with MIDI, I dug into MIDI support in Processing, and…

I ended up redoing my old ShowProp sketch to be SoundProp, which is a Processing sketch that accepts MIDI input and plays sounds. It’s the second fanciest sound board style device I’ve used this year. (Yeah, I use others.) I also discovered the sound playing capabilities of Processing have greatly improved over the years, so that was an added bonus.

So basically, my sketch has a bunch of audio files, and each is mapped to a MIDI pitch which is sent by one of the 16 pads. Now, because it’s MIDI and not key commands it always works, no matter what application is in the front. No fumbling around to pull up the right window before you press a key or click a mouse. All the Sounds! All the Time!

The UI is quite minimal. It’s just a window that is 250 pixels by 130 pixels. I typically just launch the application and minimize it. (And hey, this will run as a native—well, Java—application on macOS, Windows, and Linux… in theory.)

If I get around to it I’ll clean it up and upload the code, and maybe create a video showing it work, though it’s not really that exciting, but hey… 2020, whaddaya want!?

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3D Printed Skull

I printed this skull back in 2019. The original file is this skull from Thingiverse. Now, it’s October 2020, so yeah, this took a while. I mean, I had it all printed long ago, and then I did an experiment where I covered one half of it with wood glue, and the other half with Smooth-On XTC-3D High Performance 3D Print Coating. I did this because I hate sanding prints (or wood, for that matter) and I wanted to test both methods of coating. For this application, I don’t know that it made much of a difference, but that might be due to the organic shape, and the fact that I primed and painted it afterwards…

Somewhere I’ve got photos of the coating process, but since they are nearly a year old now, I forgot to locate them. I do remember that the glue method took many more coats than the Smooth-On method, though of course glue is a much cheaper material…

You’ll notice the skull also looks a bit “weathered” and yeah, that was another test. I am not an “authentic movie prop maker” so I don’t know all those methods, and what I did was actually rub mud/moist dirt all over this thing and then let is sit for a long time. I eventually washed off a lot of the dirt because, well it was really dirty looking.

There are a few delicate parts of the print, and I’m pretty sure I broke off at least one piece and glued it back together. Again, since this is a pretty organic shape, no worries. And yes, it is pretty much life size.

I printed it in two pieces after slicing it in half, which means the surfaces touching the print bed are not visible as they are in the center of the skull, glue together. There’s a pretty bad seam that I never managed to get that sanded down quite right. I probably should have just taken a Dremel to it.

Overall I’m fairly pleased with how the skull turned out for a 3D printed object. It’s rare that I print “decorative” or “sculptural” prints since most of my prints are internal to some sort of enclosure with electronics inside.

Remember, the great thing about skulls is that we’ve all got one! (At least I hope.)