May 27th - My First Build

Setting up roof guards.
First, we installed roof "guardrails". Each of the J-shaped things support three 2x4's, forming a railing.

Today we participated in our first build day. The whole group laid an asphalt roof in a morning. 

It was very Mike Mulligan-flavored. 

(I'll try to post daily entries, but internet access may vary. In that case, I'll try to catch up when Internet returns.)

May 26th - Orientation

Trailer packed full
In the morning, we practiced what will become our routine by packing all our things into the trailer.

As with yesterday's post, hover over the images for a caption. I may see about more verbosity when I have more than a phone to work with. 

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!

May 25th - The First Day

The plane we took from white plains to Philly
We walked across the Tarmac in White Plains to a tiny little plane.

Hover over the images to see a description. This site isn't really made for slide shows. 

I'll see if I can come up with anything more clever. Let me know how this works. 


When I was setting this website up, I ran across a Wikipedia article on domain hacks. That's the official-sounding version of when a top-level domain (TLD) is part of a website's name. Things like or It struck me that I could use India's TLD, .in, to shorten my own website's URL. I ran a whois search and it was availiable. Then it wasn't anymore. Someone had noticed my search and bought it to try and ransom the site.

That's how it works, I think. Some predatory whois sites automatically purchase domains searched, then offer to sell them back for some increased cost.

I checked again today, two years later, and it was available again! I'm not sure if I like more than, but for now I have them both.

And, really, is a pretty darn cool email.


Front of the flashlight
One flat flashlight.

Last year, Helen, Haley & I (we call ourselves the Technology LLC when we're trying to sound official) volunteered at the local elementary school with SWE. They worked with the entire 4th grade class. After dividing children into groups of 4-6, each one recieved some flavor of an Agilent educational kit. For simplicity, we only used three kinds: a solar-powered car, an electronic matching game, and ... something else. It's not important.

Day 2: Planking

The completed box, in its pretty polyurethane polish.
Figure 1.

The creature is taking shape!The first day of construction left me with a set of planks. Two sides, a back, and a queer-looking front. The front has a few pivoting drawers: pressing on the bottom of the drawer will swing the top forward and out. Since the drawers push to open, no handles are needed, so the front can be perfectly flat. It looks slick (see illustration 1).

Drawer view, from what will be the inside of the boxWith the panels made up, I went back to gluing things together. The drawers were first. I cut sides for the drawers out of short lengths of scrap. I drilled holes near the bottom front of the sides to ensure that the drawer center of gravity would fall behind the holes (that way they close automatically). Then the bandsaw rounded over the top of the sides (they'll look really slick when they open and close). Then I glued the sides of the drawers onto the front faces and let it set. 

Day 1: Boards

Rough sketch of the organizer
A top view (top) and a side view (bottom) of the organizer

I've been home from school for about three weeks now. The first few weeks were pretty active: there were plenty of things to go to, and most of my days were booked. The past few days, though, have been on the dull side and I was looking for something to do. When I asked, Helen said that her grandmother had been eyeing desktop organizers, and that perhaps one of those would be a satisfying project. After brainstorming for a while, she thought of a list of things that this organizer could ... organize ... for her grandmother: 

Remote Twitter

Seniors at Lafayette College take a course entitled Senior Design. It's a shockingly creative name. Snark aside, the class is wonderful. The course is very lab-heavy (the lecture ties up loose ends, but isn't as rigorous as a typical class).

Over the course of a semester, groups of two implement a stripped-down version of WiFi based on the professor's specifications. We're given a radio transmitter / receiver, and are left to design the rest of the link.

Blacksmithing 101

Hammer and Anvil
Hammer and anvil

Pounding mounting holes into the door handle.The story starts a few months ago. Over the summer, Helen and I went to Heritage Day, a festival in Easton celebrating the anniversary of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. To celebrate the historic event, Easton invited local historic artisans - weavers, gunsmiths, leatherworkers, and a blacksmith. We watched the blacksmith for a while and eventually struck up a conversation. It turned out that he offered lessons.

Hammer and AnvilLast weekend, Haley, Helen and I went blacksmithing!

Lessons were offered through the Bethlehem Historic Society, and were provided in a recently rebuilt smithy. The rebuilt facility was based upon blueprints for a smithy on the site, dating back to 1750.

PHP Strangeness

A few days ago, IMeanWebHosting ran a system update. (I rent hosting space from them.) For some reason or another, the update reset PHP settings, including extensions, upload limits, and their ilk.

My website was replaced by a one-line message:

Fatal error: Class 'PDO' not found in /home/nitkinne/public_html/includes/database/ on line 184As exciting as single-line errors are, they don't quite meet mettle for my website.