Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lego

I got a neat email today.

Two and a half years ago I was troubleshooting a cryptic error message with SCI-FI Science Camps' ancient Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2.0 kits. Original Lego Mindstorms hit the shelves in 1998 and RIS 2.0 came shortly thereafter, so we were dealing with some very old hardware and software.

The problem was that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (in May 2008) had just been released, and it had broken something on our laptops - the Lego software that kids used to program the 'bots stopped working. That old Lego Mindstorms software was written for Windows 98 (at best) and heavily dependant on old versions of Quicktime.

This was a few days before camp was starting and the problem needed to be fixed. After hours of troubleshooting I discovered a solution, and posted it to a low-traffic Lego mailing list. This was 2008 and the Lego NXT kits were two years old: RIS 2.0 was old news, and I didn't expect the post to get much attention. I just hoped that the knowledge, neatly ordered and posted publicly to the internet, would help someone out one day.

Check out this response that was posted/emailed to me today:
Dear Brahm, 
We know we are not supposed to do this [publicly post thank-you messages -bn] on this forum, but we shall do it anyways because our gratitude towards you is more intense than just a 5 star rating. We have been trying to make our RIS 2.0 software and hardware work for many and many hours. Your tips , combined with other patches and apps, have finally led us to achieving our goal. We will now be able to power our insane robot project and be able to program it. 
Many thanks from Montreal, Canada, and we wish you the best for 2011! 
Felix and Laurent 
Felix and Laurent, I won't post a message back to you, but you're welcome - you brought a smile to my face! I love when random advice posted online helps solve my problems, and I often register an account to post a quick message of thanks. Also, a neat coincidence that I'm in Montreal at the moment.

--

Today was a productive day at work. We are powering through documentation and I believe the whole programming team is assembled.

I tried to take a picture of this delicious loose leaf tea that I have from DavidsTea called Through the Grapevine. Among other things it has these tiny blue flower blossoms that turn bright blue as soon as you add hot water, but they fade quickly. I don't think I captured it:
Tastes like grape juice!!

It is slushy and gross outside. Yesterday it was -22 in the morning, today it was hovering around 0 when I walked home. I took a picture of some of the trees on Avenue McGill College:
There is a half-kilometre stretch of Avenue McGill College with these red trees running down the entire length.  I wanted to take a picture looking "down" the street but the trees are on a meridian and I am still terrified of traffic (and pedestrians) here.

Still no work agreement. I am hoping to get that nailed down tomorrow - I don't want that apartment to slip through my fingers (while I'm still disappointed about the lack of terrace, the hardwood floors are really sharp).