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Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Time Event
Monday's report
Not a whole lot of success today. I bought inductors, capacitors, and more parts bins (for glass in the workshop) from Halted, and spent much of the rest of the day poking at a circuit meant to produce a sine wave from a square wave. With the exception of learning I had the transistors in backwards all along(!) I didn't make a lot more success, just more square waves with a little bit of the corners rounded off. I did get some change to the circuit near the end: noticeable inductive ringing on the edge transitions, but by then (5:30p) I was tired of not making progress and called it a day. I instead watched Batman Begins then headed to the city for at-home dinner with Melinda.

Today: brunch w/ Melinda's labmates; stop at sfDisplay to buy a case for Melinda's apartment and another for mine, for coins; more circuit fiddling; glass this evening when Melinda gets home.
That's not my name
I now understand where the Ting Tings are coming from: twice now today the Internet has mistaken me for someone else. First, the Tropicana sent me the reservation confirmation for Carl Corsi, and second, ING Direct welcomed me as Paula as a result of me mistyping my account number.
Early update for a change
Slept in then met up with Melinda and Sunil and Torkel from her lab for post-lab-meeting brunch. Zazie is very tasty: ham and gruyere cheese, fried, covered with more cheese, and a fried egg. I stopped at sfDisplay on my way home to buy a display case for my coins and one for Melinda's apartment. These cases have ordinary picture hangers, rather than the permamounting anchors the others I bought had, but that'll be more fitting: coins are light and I'm a bit reluctant to poke 1/4" holes in the wall in SF. Back home, I've spent the last 5 hours pretending to be an electrical engineer. I did finally manage to make a sine wave, and pretty nice one at that (pictures forthcoming) and, passing it through two transformers, got 100v p-p from my 5vdc source. The purpose of this work has been to make a driver for EL wire, but I read today that EL wire wears out more quickly at higher frequencies, so I'm going to try to cut the frequency back (the sine wave is at 48kHz). My first attempt at a 1kHz circuit hasn't been so great: I get just edge spikes instead of pretty sine waves out of the transformer primary load. I expect part of the issue is that I'd sort of like a 10uF non-polarized capacitor for this task but such a thing is rare (caps that big are electrolytic and polarized). So, tomorrow I'll go back to the 48kHz circuit, be a good scientist and reproduce my results, and then instead reduce the frequency gradually, finding suitable parts as I do. I'll also just see what happens when I feed a 48kHz signal into the EL wire. Maybe it'll be okay with 48kHz if it's at a lower voltage level. Or it'll melt through my table. It'll be exciting to try.

Rest of the right: dinner, reading about glass over dinner, then glass w/ Melinda in an hour.
Tomorrow: photograph glass (from tonight, two nights ago, and last week), more electronics, enough glass work to finish off the oxygen tank, and exchange the oxygen tank at Madco.
bing is my search engine
I've been using bing as my default search engine on my home computer. It's been a few days now so the transient currents are out of the system. Here's a bit of signal so far:

Their spelling model isn't as useful or complete as Google's. [zasie san francisco] ought to suggest [zazie san francisco]; at Google it does, at bing it does not.

The recent searches tool is distracting because it's in the same part of the screen as suggested searches that other people have done. I searched for the (misspelled) [gureye cheese] and a similar search in the left bar caught my eye: it was my own, and it was spelled incorrectly. I'm not exactly sure what information from my search history would be more useful there, and I know that smart people from both Microsoft and Google are trying to answer than question. Keep working on it, folks.

bing's typography is harder to read than Google's. The text on bing feels thinner (may be an illusion); certainly, bing chooses to highlight fewer words in the search results (eg, it does not seem to highlight the terms in result titles or URLs). Highlighted words let searches skim the results more quickly, which generally is what I want to do because I expect half the results (from bing or Google) to not be relevant to my search (because I, knowingly, provided less information in my search than what I need for my task).

I've never used result previews to any benefit; if the snippet looks promising I go to the page (in a separate tab); the longer text-only snippets don't feel like they provide any more detail. And, in fact, they're distracting to me, because I seem to frequently trigger them by hovering my mouse over some hot spot on the page. As a result I now to longer know where I can safely leave my mouse on a search results page.

I miss SearchWiki (of course, I ought to). In part, I miss being able to mark a result as "not what I want" or "bad in general". In part I miss being able to bookmark a page I encounter in a context to be recalled when I search. Eg, I have a SearchWiki for [lampworking tutorials] to which I add individual tutorials and libraries of pages as I encounter them. Anytime I search for [lampworking tutorials] I want to see my results (or a digest of them). I'm waiting for the day that U Rank appears on bing.

I plan to leave bing as my search engine of choice for a few more weeks. I hope these observations will be useful at some point in the future. Please feel free to comment with your own bing vs. google usage reports.

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