Antique Fan

posted Mar 1, 2014, 3:29 PM by Austin Dixon

The wife and I hit an estate sale this morning, and I found this nifty antique fan for $10. It was just too cool looking not to bring home with me. 

As you can see, the cord was frayed to the point of certain catastrophe, so I cut it off and ran wires directly to the motor to test it. Fan came straight on, ran quiet and put out a much higher volume of air than I've ever experienced from a fan of this size. They just don't build stuff like they used too. It's going to make a good restoration project. Then I'll probably use it to keep my workshop cool in the summer. 

Squirrels on Crack and Hairdryers

posted Feb 26, 2014, 9:26 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Feb 26, 2014, 11:24 AM ]

I'm going to relate a story that happened to me two years ago when I was a network admin for Spiller. You may not believe what I am about to say, but every word is the truth.

One day the internet at the central office stopped working. This was particularly bad since every store in the company had to connect to our servers to look up inventory or enter a contract, so when our internet was down 12 stores were unable to function. It was up to me to fix this problem. I went through the normal troubleshooting process, and determined the problem was not with our equipment. So I called our service provider, at&t, and went through the standard over-the-phone troubleshooting. Still nothing. So at&t sent out a technician.

I guess I was expecting someone wearing slacks and a polo shirt. The technician that same was a man in his thirties, in blue jean cut-off shorts (cut-off scandalously high), combat boots, and a girl's head-band (pink). I walked with him as he checked our wiring and equipment. Finally, he said "I know what your problem is. Squirrels." 

"Squirrels?", I asked.

"Yep. Squirrels. You see, there's a liquid insulator in the lines, and to Squirrels it's like crack. They can't get enough of it. So they chew through your lines to get to it. Then it rains and fills up the cables with water and they short out. That's what's happening here."

"So all of our internet problems are caused by squirrels?", I asked, somewhat skeptical. 

"Well, not just squirrels. You also have a hairdryer issue. There's a trailer park across the street, and I'd be willing to bet someone there has a hairdryer set to the same frequency as your internet, which cancels it out every time they turn it on. I see it happen all the time."

Ok, I could be talked into the squirrel theory, but the hairdryer theory was too much. But after a lot of questioning, the technician would not budge. He was convinced that all our problems could be traced back to squirrels on crack and hairdryers. Well, I knew I would have to report this to my superiors, and I wasn't sure they would believe me. So I called the secretary into the room and had him repeat everything he told me to her. Now I had a witness at least. Then he promptly left, without offering any solutions to the squirrel or hairdryer problems. 

At this point, I called at&t again and they sent out another technician. This technician was wearing slacks and a polo shirt (no pink headband). As this technician looked over our wiring, I asked him if he thought the problem could be squirrel related. He looked at me like I was a moron and said "No, you're problem is definitely not the result of any squirrels." So I asked "could it be caused by hairdryers?" "No", he said, this time looking at me as if I had escaped an insane asylum,"who has been telling you this?" I told him that was our last technician, Rick's, assessment. "Ah. That explains it", he said. 

To this day I don't know what he meant by that. My two working theories are, either technician Rick was a bit high that day, or that was his last day and he had already received his last paycheck and wanted to go out in style. Guess I will never know. But anytime Spiller had an IT problem after that, the joke was always that is must be squirrels or hairdryers.

Tea Brewing Station

posted Jan 28, 2014, 4:30 PM by Austin Dixon

Tea has become something of a passion of mine. It started drinking tea when I was looking for a healthy substitute for soda, and it has become one of my favorite parts of the day. I've tried many teas from all over the world, and even started collecting handmade teaware. But I was getting tired of having my tea, teaware, and kettle strewn out in different areas of the kitchen. So I decided to make myself a tea brewing station where I would have everything I need right in one place.

It took some looking, but I found this antique handmade hutch at an antique store for a very reasonable price. Then I cleaned it up, changed out the hardware to give it a new look, drilled a hole in the back to run cords, and finally installed a key hook I found so I'd have a place to hang my measuring spoons. Then all I had to do was move my stuff in. I placed it right next to our water cooler, so I can get fresh filtered water easily without having to go to the kitchen.

I couldn't be happier with it so far. Not only is it super functional space to store and brew tea, it's also a great display for my (limited) teaware collection.




posted Jan 28, 2014, 4:28 PM by Austin Dixon

Never had one of my papers published before. Pretty cool.

Zombie Town

posted Jan 28, 2014, 4:26 PM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Jan 28, 2014, 4:27 PM ]

I just added a text RPG that I wrote as a final in my C++ class to my "Downloads" section. Click HERE to download.

The years is 2023. Its the year of the zombie. A chemical additive in watermelon flavored bubblegum sparked a genetic chain of events, transforming most of the population into brain-hungry zombies.

ACSII Art Script

posted Oct 16, 2013, 9:50 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Jan 28, 2014, 4:35 PM ]

Text art isn’t as popular as it once was, but it’s still neat. I wrote a python script (with a perl GUI) that turns any image into ACSII Art. It’s fun to play with. Here are some of the results:


original image:

Acsii version:

And a penguin:


posted Oct 16, 2013, 9:48 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Jan 28, 2014, 4:36 PM ]

LED Display

posted Oct 16, 2013, 9:46 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Jan 28, 2014, 4:36 PM ]

Here’s a recent project of mine. I bought this usb message board on Amazon because I thought it would be fun to hack. I started by writing a simple script so it would display the local time. That got boring though, so I wrote a script that scans our server at work and returns a list of current projects our team is working on. When that got old, I wrote a script that scrapes Fox’s website and displays current news headlines. I might eventually get it to display emails or something, but for now I like reading the headlines in a glance.

Recent Projects

posted Oct 16, 2013, 9:45 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Jan 28, 2014, 4:32 PM ]

Here are a few of my recent projects, all built for my new home office. (Which after a lot of work is finally done. Now I have the perfect place to come home and study!)

I found a vintage brass Telegraph Key at an antique store. I wired that to a micro-controller and wrote a couple of scripts for it. At the moment it opens a new internet window when pressed. I turned an old kerosene carriage lamp one of my led clocks. And the antique phone hanging on the wall is serving as my computer speakers now (there is a transducer in it, so the sound is produced by the wood of the phone vibrating).


Pythonic Jabberwocky

posted Oct 16, 2013, 9:43 AM by Austin Dixon   [ updated Feb 21, 2014, 12:19 PM ]

I’ve been studying a lot of programming lately; to point that I’m starting to turn random things in my head into programs. At some point I found myself turning Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky into a python program. 

EDIT: this was later published in the Knights Letter.


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.



def jabberWocky (brillig, toves, slithy, gyre, gimble, borogroves, mimsy, in_grabe, out_grabe, mome):

while (brillig == True) AND (toves == slithy):

wabe = toves * (gyre + gimble)

return wabe

if (borogroves != mimsy):

mome.raths = in_grabe

momeStatus = mome.raths

print (“Status for Mome Raths is”, momeStatus)


mome.raths = out_grabe

momeStatus = mome.raths

print (“Status for Mome Raths is”, momeStatus)

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