Gas station without pumps

2019 December 13

Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2020 season

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Santa Cruz Shakespeare announced their 2020 season to the “Producer’s Circle”—people who donate $1000 or more—last night. They have chosen the 3 main plays and their directors, but have not yet chosen the Fringe play for the interns, nor the staged readings.

Their non-Shakespeare play will be “A Flea in Her Ear” by  Georges Feydeau adapted by David Ives.  SCS has had good success with David Ives’s plays lately including “The Liar” and “Venus in Fur”.  Having a sex farce as the main non-Shakespeare play should be a box-office success.  I don’t remember who will be director for this play—someone who will be new to SCS, if I remember correctly.

The Shakespeare plays have a shipwreck theme: “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest”.

“Twelfth Night” will be directed by Paul Mullins, who has directed for SCS several times before.  The instances that stand out for me were “Hamlet” in 2016 (the best production of “Hamlet” that I’ve seen), “The 39 Steps” in 2017, and “Pride and Prejudice” 2019.  I look forward to his interpretation of “Twelfth Night” and I hope he includes a lot of the music that is referred to in the text.  (One of the best performances I’ve seen of “Twelfth Night” was by Berkeley Rep about 40 years ago, with Oak, Ash, and Thorn singing all the songs.)

“The Tempest” will be directed by Mike Ryan, who will be directing for the first time.  I hope he does a good job—I’m always a little nervous when an Artistic Director assigns himself a major task (a plum role, selecting his own play, or selecting himself as director).  I have a lot of respect for Mike and I think that it is likely he’ll do a good job, but I worry a little about the wisdom of choosing himself as director.

The event last night shared some information about the successful 2019 season (record attendance, very successful matinee program for students in the county, lots of first-time attendees—particularly at the pay-what-you-want previews) and kicked off a new capital campaign to raise money for a multi-purpose building at the theater (offices, stage shop, and dressing rooms) and for permanent restrooms to replace the rented trailers.

There should be a more public announcement of the 2020 season and the new capital campaign sometime in January.

2019 December 5

First cellphone

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:08
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My wife finally talked me into buying a cellphone (she’s been using one for a few years, and upgraded to a smartphone last summer).

I bought a Moto G7 to use on Google Fi, because the phone was on sale through Google Fi for only $100.  My wife had already been using Google Fi with a Moto X4 (Android One edition), though the phone was in my name, because I had a Google account and she did not.

The idea was to set up a Google Fi group account, transfer the Moto X4 with its phone number to her, and add the new phone to my account.  That turned out to be impossible, or nearly so.  Google does not easily support transferring phones, and if the phone number had been moved to her account, I would have lost the promotional price on the Moto G7.

After a long time on Google support chat with “Andy”, we finally came up with a plan that seemed like it would work.  I would keep her phone associated with my account, open a new email account, invite the new account to join the Google Fi group, accept the invitation, and then activate the phone and get a new number for the new phone.

Even that turned out to be harder than expected, as my first attempt to open a new gmail account associated the account with my existing Google account, so I could not invite it to join the Google Fi group—it had just replaced the email I had associated with the account with the new email.  After making sure that I was logged out of all Google accounts, I set up yet another gmail account, logged back in under my original account, invited the new account, and accepted the invitation.

So after, about 4 hours of struggling with Google’s limited view that person=phone number and all email accounts should be associated with the same person, I finally activated the phone.  Since then, it has gone through about 3 system updates—I understand that doing many serial system updates is standard whenever a new Android phone is activated.

I’ve installed 2 apps on my phone: Lyft (which I’ve not tried yet) and CS Customizer, which can be used to adjust the profile for my hearing aids (“personal hearing amplifiers”, since they weren’t sold by an audiologist).  I have tried CS Customizer, and it seems to work ok, which is good, because it had stopped working on my Mac after one of the macos upgrades. Incidentally, over the summer I created an instruction sheet (hearing-aid-instructions) for recharging the hearing aids, since my dad has the same model and the assisted living center he is at was not doing a good job of keeping them charged.  I understand that the instructions have been printed and posted in his room, but I don’t know whether they are doing any better at keeping his hearing aids charged.

I’ve also rearranged the app buttons on the home screen, as Motorola and Google seem to put the most useless ones as the favorites.  I now have Contacts, Phone, Chrome, Maps, and Lyft on one row, and Duo, Messages, Settings, Photos, and Camera as the second row.  I also made the top row of Quick Settings be Wifi, Do Not Disturb, Mobile data, Flashlight, Location, and Airplane mode.

I’ll try the phone for a week, then move my landline number to it.  I’m losing the landline because I’m upgrading my internet service from DSL (which includes the landline service) to a higher-speed microwave link (both from CruzIO, a local ISP).  The DSL line gets about 11Mb/s download and 0.8Mb/s upload, and I’m expecting about 70Mb/s each way with the microwave link.  It will come into the house in a different location than the phone lines, and the rebar in the concrete walls of my house blocks wifi signals, so there may be some trouble in placing a router so that both the book room and the breakfast room (where my wife and I work) are covered.

The Google Fi group account increases our cell phone bill from $20/month to $35/month, but the microwave link will cost the same per month ($75) as the DSL would, because the DSL is going up in price.

2019 November 18

Trump is particularly easy for AI to imitate

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:54
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I mentioned in Fun with AI, the fun to be had using https://talktotransformer.com/ to generate text from the transformer-based GPT-2 AI.  Today I decided to see how well it could imitate Trump:

Trump said “there’s something going on,” with respect to “a group of very fine people on both sides” of the violence. “It’s very sad to see,” he said, when asked if there was a moral equivalency between the white supremacists and those who oppose them. “I thought it was very unfair that I had to go through this,” Trump said. “I thought it was very, very unfair. And then you had a group on both sides, and you had some very bad people in the middle, and you had a lot of really fine people on both sides. But you had a lot of people in the middle who were very bad. You saw that, right? You had a lot of bad people in the middle. And you saw that very strongly.”

On CNN, Chris Cuomo asked whether Trump had said that both sides were to blame. “That’s a statement that he made at a news conference today, not as the President,”

It is scary how accurately it captures Trump’s incoherent speech patterns.  Here’s another example:

Trump said “it’s the toughest jobs program there is,” adding that it was not a program for “people that want to take the Fifth Amendment, want to take the Fifth, or want to be very, very nice, it’s a jobs program,” he added, a nod to his criticism of the IRS for targeting tea party groups.

“The people who are getting the best deal, the people that are getting the most generous deal are the people who pay no income tax,” Trump said. “It is, in my opinion, one of the great programs.”

Trump’s tax proposal would reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three, eliminating the highest one rate (the 39.6 percent bracket) and replacing it with one that starts at 25 percent.

It also would eliminate the estate tax, which the administration says it would allow a wealthy person’s heirs to pass on at a reduced rate.

“We are really looking

And a third attempt:

Trump said “I don’t want to get in between a gentleman and his First Amendment rights. But I will say that it is absolutely disgraceful, if you want to know the truth. When I read this, I said, “How can the media do this?” It’s just so ridiculous, the level of dishonesty.”

And on a more personal note, he said he feels “personally” responsible.

“I’m very much into my second term, so, you know, I feel personally responsible,” Trump said.

Trump was also asked about his relationship with Republican leaders, specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Well, I like him, I respect him,” he said. “I don’t think he’s very political. I think he’s a fine man, but I don’t think he’s been involved. I don’t think he cares about the country. And I think I know him much better than that.”

Is it possible that Trump is just an AI like GPT-2?

2019 November 14

Fun with AI

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:03
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I was playing a bit with the site https://talktotransformer.com/ today, which uses a highly trained neural net (GPT-2) to generate text from a starting phrase.  The results are sometimes surprisingly like the sort of articles low-quality news sites create (are they all done by AI?), but are sometimes amusing.

I particularly liked the result of starting from the first few words of my book (prompt in bold):

This course is intended to be a first course in the subject of Computational Science, with the focus on solving real-world problems using programming. This course is a continuation of the course offered in Fall 2014.

This course is intended to be a first course in the subject of Computational Science, with the focus on solving real-world problems using programming. This course is a continuation of the course offered in Fall 2014.

This course is intended to be a first course in the subject of Computational Science, with the focus on solving real-world problems using programming. This course is a continuation of the course offered in Fall 2013.

This course is intended to be a first course in the subject of Computational Science, with the focus on solving real-world problems using programming. This course is a continuation of the course offered in Fall 2012.

This course is intended to be a first course in the subject of Computational Science, with the focus on solving real-world problems using

I also got a good response to “AI is going to destroy”:

AI is going to destroy the internet. I believe we should be very careful before we let AI go to such extreme levels.”

He believes that the internet, with its ability to reach and reach quickly, is an important tool.

“The internet is the only medium that can reach the majority of humanity,” he said.

“But you can’t trust it to be completely free. You have to have the human element back there. And that’s what AI will be.”

A more benign future?

While Dr. Musk believes we are entering the “age of artificial intelligence,” he says the benefits could be far more benign than the

The responses are different every time, so it is sort of fun to play with.

2019 October 15

Extruded clamp

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:51
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A few years ago, I found a little (6.5cm long) aluminum clamp on the street, probably fallen out of someone’s truck. I liked the design of the clamp(though the original rubber band has died):

Although the “Taylor” brand name is clearly stamped on the extrusion, I have been unable to find clamps by Taylor for sale online.

Extrusions are particularly easy to copy with a 3D printer, and so I decided to make my own clamps. I took off the rubber band, put the extruded aluminum pieces on my flatbed scanner and scanned them at 600dpi. I then used Inkscape to manually draw a Bézier-curve outline of each piece. I used the circle tool in Inkscape behind the curve to tweak the hinge contacts to be very close to circular.

I imported the SVG files into OpenSCAD and extruded the pieces to 12.5mm (the thickness of the original clamp). The first printing was not entirely successful:

The first few layers warped on the end of the handle—apparently the thin end of the handle did not adhere well to glass plate and warped up.

I fixed the problem in two ways: I made the handle a little beefier (it seemed a little thin on the original anyway) and I printed with a brim. While I was at it, I increased the extrusion from 12.5mm to 15mm to make a slightly fatter clamp. The resulting clamp was successful:

Here are the two pieces of the clamp separately.

The clamp assembled. By using three wraps of the rubber band, twists in the rubber band can be avoided.

The difference in the handles between the first print (on the left) and the second print (on the right) is clear in this image.

Removing the brim was a bit of a hassle—I need to think about applying a brim only to the handle part. I don’t think that the Cura slicer makes that easy, so I’d probably have to design it into the model (union with a 0.14mm thick plate around each handle).

Now that I have the basic model working, I can play around with different jaw shapes and different sizes of clamps.  With the jaw all the way open the clamping force seems to be about 15N, though that obviously depends on the rubber band used.

Update 2019 Oct 21:  I have released the design as https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3929410.  I was reluctant to release the design, as it was reverse-engineered and not my original work.  I contacted the company whose logo was on the clamp for permission, and they responded:

I have looked through our old brochures and have not seen a clamp like that.
We have not built anything like that in my 41 years here.
Good luck with your project.

I took that as permission to release the model on Thingiverse.

Update 2019 Oct 28: After some image searches for the logo, it looked to me like the logo might be Taylor Guitars, so I wrote to them and asked them about the clamp.  They said

Thanks for writing!
That is a clamp we made, it’s called a kerfing clamp. We use them in our factory and there was a time, many years ago, that we sold these clamps to guitar builders. We no longer sell them but we did give this guitar supply store, Stewart MacDonald, permission to copy the design.
https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Types_of_Tools/Clamps/Kerfed_Lining_Clamps_10_Pack.html

I wrote back asking for permission to put the design on Thingiverse, and if it is denied, I’ll take down the Thingiverse post.

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