I shut up for a reason; I realised I was spending too much time talking about what I had been doing and not enough time doing things that I could then talk about. I’ve spent the time since then losing weight, (again), getting fit (again), riding the Pedersen (again), and retiring from the daily grind of 130-mile round-trip commutes. That’s a new one, and it’s taken me a bit of adjustment from having plenty of spare cash to spend on things I hardly ever use to living on a rather small pension.
So what does this mean for all you out there? I was first of all going to title this post “I’m back, and this time it’s impersonal”, only it can’t ever be that, not unless I developed a clever robot to sit here doing the typing for me. Although I am developing robots, they aren’t going to be any cleverer than I am, they’ll be limited to what you can get into an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, two of the things I started buying when I still had the cash from contracting I mentioned in the last paragraph.
In fact, although I gripe about having retired accidentally and still skim the emails each morning to see what laughable opportunities the agencies are offering (Contractor for Windows 8, fantastic opportunity for person with 5+ years experience…), I’m actually discovering that making and playing with the things I have is a lot more fun than online shopping during lunchbreaks. Like model trains, for instance. I’ve always loved the thought of making them out of card, and so I’ve bought a laser-cutter to do all the fiddly stuff that I would normally have sliced a finger or two off whilst wielding the scalpel.
Actually, I didn’t buy a laser cutter, not the large gas-laser devices, I bought a self-assembly kit that uses a modern type of meccano, and built it up myself. Far more satisfying than trying to learn Moshidraw, which seems to arouse a lot of contempt amongst those who review the sub-£1000 laser cutters you’ll find on Amazon. (ebay doesn’t seem to offer the same extensive degree of customer reviews that Amazon does, we’ll come to that later).
In order to start using this MakeBlock XYPlotter I had to first get the software to run it as a pen-plotter, and ran into my first problem: the java-program Gremote would not run on a 32-bit WIndows XP or Windows 7 machine. A quick test on my 64-bit laptop showed it had a 64-bit java supplied. A quick Google found several people all complaining that they couldn’t make the software run on 32-bit machines. There was a noticeable lack of replies to their posts, most of which were on the official support forum. So I got to work and found a solution, and posted an answer on the couple of places where the complaints had appeared.
To me, having a problem that ought to be easy to solve and isn’t yet solved is anathema. But looking round the web showed that either those who solve such problems keep very quiet about them, or else such problems just don’t seem to get solved.
On the subject of problems that ought to be solved, I have sacked Firefox. For months now I’ve put up with it regularly freezing because it’s just found a bit of embedded flash, or crashing and apologising for so doing, then submitting a crash report, and yet update after update has come and gone and no fix. So I politely advised the Firefox team that their experiments had tried my patience once too often and switched to Avant.
I will detail in subsequent posts how I got Gremote to run, and how I also got the Processing sketch up to date, and then added the laser-driving capability to it. For now, if you’ve come here by searching for a fix, just bookmark me.