Chapter 10: The Neek is a Wizard

Our one month anniversary came and went, and before we knew it, it was Halloween!

Actual Halloween was on Thursday, and I worked, but both Christy and I surprisingly had Friday night free from work!

So, what to do, what to do…. Christy convinced me to go dancing!

Following our now standard tradition, we incorporated 2 “firsts” into my “List of Firsts” that night!

1. Sweet by Miss Holly

That’s right, following our tasty Panda Express dinner (one of my favorites), Christy and I headed across the street to Sweet, a delicious little cupcake store infamous for it’s sweet cupcakes. Let me tel you… yum. It’s all about the coconut for me, though Christy can’t get enough of the “Black and Gold” or “Chocolate Mousse.”

2. Swing Dancing

One of UCF’s clubs, the Swing Knights, hosts a weekly swing dance at a nearby location for $5, or $6 if you want to attend a 30 minute lesson beforehand. We definitely did the lesson. Christy has been here loads of times, but seeing as it was a first for me, I need some instruction! Being Halloween weekend, the dance was, of course, Halloween themed, with a costume contest! I donned my robe and wand for a while and my dear sweet Christy spent the night as a zombie.

In case you are wondering, I did NOT participate in the costume contest! No thank you! There were some great ones though, and several Doctors + companions made appearances much to Christy’s great delight.

Two new firsts! Woohoo!!!

To celebrate, we of course topped off our now hungrier stomachs at Lazy Moon where one pizza slice is larger than your head!… and tasty!

I now gift you with this lovely photo of Wizard Thomas, perhaps slightly blurred, enjoying delicious Sweet cupcakes before my first Swing Dance. Enjoy.

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Techie Talk #4: Robot 1 saves a TV!

That’s right, two Techie Talks in a row!  Things were pretty crazy here over the past 3 months as Christy and I both moved to new places. I moved in April and she moved in May.  The awesome thing about that is besides to being much, much closer to her, she found a TV on the side of the road that someone was throwing away!  So we went and grabbed it not knowing if the TV worked or not.  Also this thing is huge!  In my head when she was telling me about it, I was imagining at max a 40″ LCD TV.  NOPE! She had just found a 50″ Plasma TV complete with remote and power cord!  So we successfully shoved it in her car and transported it to my apartment for easier possible troubleshooting and later moving to her place (She was due to move in a couple of days).  After barely getting it up the flight of stairs (We tried to weigh it but scales are stupid.  My guess is it is probably 150lbs) we plugged it in to see what was wrong with it and…

That was found on the side of the road!

IT WORKED!  Also, she is so cute. 🙂  Also also, what up Harry?  You keep being awesome.

Well, sort of worked.  The TV had full picture and sound, but the picture would start to sparkle and then disappear after about 20-30 minutes so apart it came!!  At least some older TV’s were made with the thought that they could be easily taken apart just in case it needed repair!  I think there were at least 30 screws for the back panel! Upon probing the voltage test points, one of the voltages would drop from 280ish volts down to 80v when the TV was on for thirty minutes and then the picture would disappear.  When I was looking at the power supply in the TV, one of the capacitors looked like it was starting to bulge.  So I thought it might need new caps as I have replaced those on one of my own monitors and an LCD TV that one of my friends also found waiting to be thrown out.

So i set off removing the power board to measure and write down the capacitor voltages and farad values to eventually order (I didn’t have internet for the whole first month that I moved… I don’t know how I didn’t go crazy! What’s that oven? The cookies are done? Huzzah!  You make such delicious treats! Oh hey, microwave! Remind me to buy a couple of light globes on the way home from working at the place of many flashing pictures! It’s too much not see in here!)   Ahem.  Sorry ’bout that!  Once I had gotten internet, I then ordered replacements for all 40+ caps that are on that board.  So I waited, they arrived, I removed and then replaced.  I then slapped that sucker back in the TV, grabbed a fire extinguisher just in case (Capacitors can explode if installed backwards so I was taking many precautions), plugged in the TV to a power strip using an extension cord so I would not be directly behind the TV when plugging it in, and flipped on the power to the strip.

No fire.  So far so good.  Red light came on, all is normal.  Pressed power button.  Still no fire, green light came on.  Also good.  I had picture and sound on the TV!  YAY!  I didn’t make it worse!  Now to wait and see if the picture stays!

Nope. The picture still disappeared after 30 minutes.  So after some more thought, I decided to point a USB fan that I got for mining at each heat sink in turn to see if something was overheating.  First two heat sinks, same problem.  Third heat sink, the TV stayed on past 30 minutes!  In fact, it stayed on for 5 hours until I had to turn it off due to going to work! Upon returning from work, I tested it for an hour and then turned off the fan and it lost picture again after 30 minutes! I then turned the fan back on and after letting it cool down, powered it back up and left it running overnight constantly playing videos to try to stress it. It was still going after 12 hours! 

So I went to Best Buy to pick up a pair of computer case fans to install in the TV and then started designing things to hold the fan to the heat sink as the fins were way to big to screw into.

Many revisions were printed by Robot 1 (see above) but I had finally gotten them to work!

I also added another connector just in case I needed to put in another fan at a future point for the other heat sinks. (It’s the white connector near the bottom of the first picture of the gallery) The added benefit of using the TV’s fan power rail?  It turns on and off with the TV!  Huzzah!  One TV that was saved from the trash heap by my wonderful Robot 1!

Techie Talk #3: Robot 1 Arrives!!

Greetings!

So I have begun my robot arsenal!  Through the magic of the internet, free power, and my powerful computer, I was able to purchase a Printrbot Simple Maker Edition 3D printer from Adafruit.com using Bitcoins which were converted from Dogecoin!

Tada!! 3D Printer!

Tada!! 3D Printer!

It did not however come in the assembled form that is in the picture above, I had to assemble it.  In fact, it did not even have some of the parts that are in the picture above.

  • Both of those round things? Added on.
  • The wall with the handle? Added on.
  • The white things protruding from the top that the black round thing sits on and fitted with rollers that used to be used for 35mm movies? Added on!
  • That thing on the print bed?  Ignore it!

You may ask yourself: “Wait, why are you showing that picture then?”  Simple. I just took the picture.  I was so excited when I first got my printer and finished building it and set it up, that I did not stop and take a picture of it.  Silly me!  Also, I assembled it in late March so unless someone has a time machine, there is no going back to take a picture of it. So there. (PS, please ignore the thing on the print bed.  That is for a different post  -_-  Note to self, take more pictures when you do things!!)

I did however have the foresight to record the process of me putting it together! Which is presented below for your viewing pleasure at a very compressed speed. (Due to the actual time of assembly being 4 hours!!)  Also, I was recording the video with my webcam and it did not like to stay still.  So there are shots of my desk and monitors.

I will say, my fingers haven’t hurt that much since I built a battleship kit from Mega bloks. Seriously! It felt like the tips of my fingers were on fire whenever I grabbed anything.  So hopefully from my acquiring of a 3D printer I shall be able to make more robots!!  Not to mention be able to fix things (More later!) and make useful things around the house! 


Critic Corner – Mardi Gras at Universal

Hi everyone, Critic Christy here!

Recently Thomas and our friend, Rohan, and I attended Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration! Guess what? It was great! Transformers

We got there around 6pm and rode transformers before the parade started. Everyone say hiiiiiii Rohan! And yes, I am wearing an awesome sparkly, light-up hat just for the celebration!

The parade started at 7:45, and I have to say, the floats were pretty impressive! There were tons of stilt-walkers and TONS of beads!

Despite the heavy competition, the three of us managed to collect over 80 necklaces! Here is a pic of me and Thomas waiting for the parade to circle back around to the finish. You will notice I am hiding my beads under my shirt like a pro in order to make them think they should give us more. Obvi.

MaridGrasI don’t have any other photos of the parade because I didn’t take my phone with me, so sorry about that! If I go again I’ll get a few shots in, I promise! Once I wrestle them off of Rohan, I might also have a few more pics of the beads!

There are also concerts on Mardi Gras nights, and our performer was Cody Simpson….yeah, I have no idea who that is. We didn’t watch.

As for the food… okay, that was a little disappointing to me. They had a “french quarter” type of setup, but the food stands all had different things, but you couldn’t see what all your options were…not that you would want any of it anyway once you knew how much it was. We decided to be thrifty and eat after we left the park.

Overall:

Christy: I loved the parade and the beads! Worth a visit IF you are already planning on spending the day at Universal, or if you have a pass! NOT worth buying the “Event Only” ticket unless you freaking love the performer that night.

Thomas: Holy moley I have never had to be so scared of things flying out of the night and hit me in the face!  I will say if you do go (I agree with Christy, no Event Only) make sure that you have friends that can help shield your face!

Improvements: More parade nights! I have a really hard time getting off weekend nights in time for the fun! Better “French Quarter” section!

 

And just for fun…

sharksSHARK!!!

Chapter 9: The Neek Can Skype!

So, fresh out of my first date, and first kiss EVER, I entered the world of dating…sort of. Yes, I was now in a relationship but 2 things were hindering my “officially dating” status…

1. Our Jobs
2. Christy’s 2 week vacation.

I’ll start with our jobs, which as I believe I have mentioned our situation before, I’ll keep it brief. The short version: We work at the same movie theatre, I was her

Manager, we were not allowed to date. Simple enough? We didn’t actually have to worry about this right away, however, because of my reason 2…

SG

Christy in Singapore

Christy went to Singapore.
No, you meanies, she did not run off for two weeks immediately after starting our relationship just for laughs, but because her parents, in fact, live in Singapore. Having just begun our relationship, however, I admit her being away was disheartening, and I missed her like crazy! We managed to skype a number of times, though, and by the time she had returned home, we had (mostly) worked up a plan regarding our work.

Essentially, we agreed Christy would go to our GM, and ask for a transfer on the grounds that we wanted to start dating. Pretty simple. That was the plan, anyway. Of course, on the night she was going to actually show up and tell him, I panicked and blurted it our before she even got there WHICH  it turns out was a good thing, because some other employee had made several complaints to HR, one of which was that we had been dating.

All in all, it was a pretty routine and easy-fix situation, though that particular annoying employee in question certainly caused me some worry for nothing! Within 2 weeks, Christy transferred to another theatre, we told our friends we were dating, and made the whole thing “Facebook Official!”

The Modern Age Geek

Oh hi! Just a shared video from a friend of mine about the “Modern Age Geek.” Being a self-proclaimed “Neek” and all, I thought this commentary on the differences, similarities and overall analysis of the terms “Geek” and “Nerd” in the context of modern day culture was fascinating and enlightening. Enjoy, and check out their YouTube Channel and Facebook for future videos!


http://www.youtube.com/user/cleverdisguises
https://www.facebook.com/CleverDisguises

 

Chapter 8: The Neek Breaks the Rules

To recap, mine and Christy’s first date had so far gone something like this:

Dress code uncertainty, Mini Golf attempt, missed kissing opportunity, and rain, rain, rain! So, with that lovely start, and now properly soaked, I whisked my date off to one of her favorite places: TGI Fridays.

In case you were wondering, Christy really likes TGI Fridays for their 1. Parmesan Crusted Chicken, and 2. Strawberry Lemonade which, as on this particular night, she frequently orders as a cocktail with vodka. Personally, I favor their Ribs and Rum and Coke.

So one delicious meal later, Christy and I are making our way to the movie theatre where the 75th Anniversary Wizard of Oz in Imax 3-d was playing! Now I had never seen the Wizard of Oz, but Christy was really excited about re-watching one of her childhood favorites. She had even painted some old flats she had with red glitter to celebrate the occasion! FYI – I liked the movie!  wiz3dWiz

Afterwords, we hopped back in my car and headed back to my place…. end of date, right? If I were a “normal” non-neek first time date-planner, I might say yes, but as you probably have figured out… there was more! What better way to end the night with a glorious round of Futurama episodes?!

Now by this time, I had discovered that Christy actually had rules for first dates!

Rule #1: No alcohol.
Rule#2: No movies.
Rule #3: No going to boy’s place after date.

For those of you that have been paying attention, that makes rules 1, 2 and 3 now snapped in half!…granted, Christy DID explain that those rules were in place on the premise of her going out with someone she hadn’t been spending huge amounts of time with/sort-of-but-not-really dating for a couple months, but instead meant for guys she didn’t know very well. In addition, you have to also consider the fact that she waited to tell me mid-date about them!

It doesn’t really matter, though, because if I have it my way, I intend for her to never have to use those rules again!

For those of you that just won’t let it go… you will be happy to know that night marked my first kiss.

And so my epic first date drew to a close. It was September 24, 2013.

Critic Corner: SAK Comedy Lab

Critic Christy here, and ready to give you the goods on local Improv Group: SAK Comedy Lab!

https://www.sakcomedylab.com/index.php

To start with, I just want to say that THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE ACTIVITIES in Orlando! No, seriously! If truth be told, I have been visiting SAK since my freshman year at UCF wayyyy way back in 2008. After my first visit, I was hooked! They always have a hilarious cast that keeps me laughing every time I visit!

So who are they? What do they do? The SAK casts are made up of a variety of performers (different nights are for different “skill levels” and corresponding prices) who are great at making stuff up…funny stuff!

Their main show is called “Duel of Fools” and is fairly similar to such shows as “Who’s Line is it Anyway…” you might even recognize some SAK graduates **cough cough Wayne Brady** who got their start at SAK wayyyy back when! Dual of Fools is by far my favorite performance, so if you can choose only one…CHOOSE THIS ONE!!

Gorilla Theatre, a sort of improv competition, is one of their newest, yet amusing, shows put on by their “professionals,” while the Lab Rats and Gen S are shows in Tuesdays and Wednesdays by SAK students, or those who are newer to performing. Don’t worry, though, they can be equally funny as the weekend ensemble!

Finally, there is also an Early Show over the weekends, but I have not had the opportunity to go at this time ever.

What else can I say about my favorite downtown activity besides GO! You WILL love it, and you WILL go back for more!! This is way to short of a post to adequately sum up all of what SAK is or how amazing they are, but that’s all you get for now!! 10.9/10!! Christy out!

Thomas In!

I am not going to write as much, but I will say that I didn’t know what to expect when I went to SAK, but I do like Who’s Line, and I really like the shows that I have gone to! 9/10!

Chapter 7: The Neek vs. The Rain

For those of you that live/have lived in Florida, and quite possibly for many others who have visited, you will know what I mean when I say Florida should not be called the “Sunshine State.” It should be called “The State-that-cannot-make-up-it’s-mind-on-many-things-such-as-weather State.”

For many days leading up to our date, it was raining- and not the typical Florida “Oh hey, I thought you could use a quick torrential downpour of water from the sky and then straight back to sun!” rain. No, that would be too easy.  It would rain for hours, then stop, then maybe a hint of sun, then rain, then just cloudy, then MORE RAIN.

For this reason, I had my preferred plan of starting off at the mini golf locations, and the backup plan of going bowling instead. Go me, right? Wellllll…..

About 2 hours before our date, the skies had cleared and the sun was shinning down like all the Florida postcards promise it does, so I chose mini golf.  I am now convinced, ladies and gentlemen that THIS is the sole purpose of Radar Maps: to foresee unfavorable date weather in advance before dragging your beautiful date halfway through a mini golf course. Oops.

Having successfully arrived at Congo River Golf with Christy, we began our game. We made it all the way to the 12th hole when the raining began. Quickly, we dashed up the next set up wooden stairs which, luckily enough, is at the highest point of the course, and is a covered pavilion with a nearby waterfall flowing just underneath us.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Rain falling, nice sheltered gazebo-type of structure overlooking a lush African-themed wilderness, I’m pretty sure we were hugging from the coldness despite it being summer… perfect opportunity to get my smooch on, right?

Not to Thomas. Instead, I believe my reaction was something along the lines of: “Oh hey! It’s almost stopped again! We should try to finish the course and stick to our schedule.”

Christy followed me down and we continued until around hole 14, which is when the real downpour commenced. Needless to say, we bolted along with all the other soaked mini golfers to the front desk, picked up a rain-check and headed off, wet clothes and all, to the next part of our date – foods!

Techie Talk #2: The robots!

So back when I started dabbling in electronics as a hobby, I did a project where I set up a webcam and made a robot that people through the internet could drive around my room and watch it respond to their commands.  Later on those components morphed into automating parts of my room like turning on and off the lights and opening and closing the blinds by any internet connected device only if you were on my home network for security. Room Operating System. (Thank you DynamicDNS for shutting down your free service.  I will have to find another to get the site working again) The website can be accessed outside of the network, but it will give you an error further in. (It does work, but I have problems with electrical noise from the rest of the electronics and am trying to make a different version)

I quite miss randomly seeing the little robot move by itself of others will around my floor and occasionally having to re-right it as it tended to flip itself over.  It was rather top heavy and I had to confine it to the view of the camera so I blocked it in with drawers from my dressers.  Sometimes I would put my Roomba in the ring with it so people could try to fight against the overlord vacuum. It did run through battery pretty quickly too averaging only about 29 minutes of total movement time.

I would like to try to resurrect the project again, only this time have it run much longer and not flip over on its side.  I would like to make a dedicated circuit board for it so it would reduce the number of wires that I had to use to make it, so I guess I need to get to work! OH AND TAKE PICTURES AND VIDEO THIS TIME.