Monthly Archives: November 2009

Hello from Mexico City (and funny customs form)

Just arrived in Mexico City, plane boarding for Bogata in… -10 minutes. Here is a funny Mexican customs form

PS. I already wish I spoke some Spanish, I pretend to know it by uttering one or two words I know, then when they respond in a burst of incoherene I shrug and say in English ‘sorry, English?’

First leg of Colombia trip. Los Angeles to Mexico city

I’m waiting at the Los Angeles airport for my flight to Mexico City. It feels like I have been traveling for a while already *sigh*. I just noticed a curious thing: on my boarding pass (see photo) the boarding time is 3 hours before the departure time, let’s hope this is just a silly computer bug. Seriously, how can such mistakes be made on electronic tickets in this day and age?

I had a little trouble checking in as well, the check in clerk was convinced I needed a visa for Colombia, he took nearly 1/2 an hour convincing himself that I was in the clear.

I’ll see if I can blag from Mexico or Colombia. Until we meet again

Bike to work – a little better than that other bike video I posted

Things are improving – I’ve found a better encoder (not as lossy) and also mounted my camera on my helmet (thanks for the suggestion Chris!). This video is of me biking to work, sped up 5 times and playing with my camera’s special effect features (shot in black and white, except for the color red). I had trouble keeping the damn camera level, you will see in this video I stop a few times and try to readjust the camera.

Camera mounted to helmet

Camera mounted to helmet

You can view the video in HD here

Bike to work (sped up 5 times) from Stephan Esterhuizen on Vimeo.

Keep track of where your money went easily online

I recently discovered mint.com, it is absolutely marvelous! It can do (among others) a few things that I love

  • Connect to all your banks and automatically import transactions
  • Get loan information via your banks
  • Easily categorize your spending, allowing you to:
    • Create graphs of monthly spending by category (and others)
    • Keep track of your allowable budget, this means you would allocate, say, $200 for groceries per month, when it sees you have purchased more than that amount, it will sms/email you.
  • Connect to my etrade.com account and keep track of my stocks (also tells me how well I’m doing compared to,say, the DOW – I’m doing worse! crap)

Anywho, this is totally great, because I almost started writing my own application to do these things this weekend. Thanks to my smart googling, I saved myself hours of programming!

Clock drift of 2 wall clocks in my office

Over the last six months I have very carefully synchronized two wall clocks together in my office. I then proceeded to make observations every couple of days and record how many seconds these clocks have drifted from UTC(NIST). Since these measurements are made with my eyeball, they are accurate to about 1 second RMS. As a result of this inaccuracy, I can’t tell you the wall clock stability over short periods of time, but this 1s RMS error becomes insignificant when computing the clock RATES over long periods of time.

 Over 6 months, they seems to have drifted 45 and 30 seconds away from truth. With only this one point, it is possible to establish the clock rates to be about 2e-6 seconds/second and 3e-6 seconds/second. That basically means both clocks gain 2 and 3 microseconds for every second. Another way to put it, is that the clocks have a frequency error of about 2 or 3 parts per million over many days – which is about what we expect for simple Quartz oscillators. Another important factor that I can’t measure with my 1s RMS error is the stability of the clocks. Sure, there is what appears to be a linear rate offset of the two clocks from UTC(NIST), but what is the jitter/stability of this 2 and 3ppm measurements? This jitter would give us a clue of the alan deviation of the clock, but alas, I can’t measure this easily with my eyeball.


drift

A casual bike through streets of Pasadena, California, USA

I decided to take my shiny new toy (Canon SD940 digital camera) for a spin on my road bike. I taped the thing to my handle bars and took 20 minutes of 1280×760 video. It filled up about 4GB of disk space at 30fps. It’s truly beautiful watching the uncompressed video – unfortunately something horrid happened when I go from 4GB to 50MB with MPEG4 compression, I guess the laws of physics are very unforgiving.

photo.jpg

Bike with camera 'installed'

Here is the movie (below) (and a link as well), sorry for the poor quality. I already burnt a large part of my saturday trying to get all the software to play with each other, time to go do other fun things – so long, suckers!

Pasadena: Rose Bowl and Neighbouring Areas (on bike) from Stephan Esterhuizen on Vimeo.

Tamale Friday greets you (and fun in Cape Town)

While sitting at my favourite coffee shop in Pasadena, CA, drinking a ‘red-eye’ (it really wakes you up) and eating Tamale’s, I decided to look through old photos and found this: Long-lost photos of my trip to Cape Town,  South Africa for Dudley’s wedding back in 2007. Here are a few photos summing up the trip.

 

 

Biking to work is cool

I’ve biked to work nearly every day for the last two weeks and will try and continue doing this until, well, something else interesting happens. These pictures below were taken outside my building, apparently I’m not the only one with the clever idea of biking in to work. It takes about 20 minutes to bike in to work (~10km) with an elevation change of 100m and 15 minutes to get back home.

Lazy Sunday

Ah yes, I’m spending my Sunday finally organizing my photo collection. I have photos from 1999-2009, with a HUGE gap from 2006-2009. You see, my digital camera broke. Various trips are still documented via my (shitty) iPhone camera and other friends’ cameras. I’ll slowly get my picasaweb up to date again:
http://picasaweb.google.com/esterhui