I have emerged…

So its been just over two years since the last post and to be honest its not been a case of nothing to write about, rather a case of little time to spend writing up blog posts.

Whats been happening? 

  1. Moved house
  2. Had to build and move into shed at new house
  3. Landscaped back garden
  4. Finished ML7 repaint and assembly
  5. Assembled new 3 Phase drive systems for both ML7 and ML8
  6. Started on drill press restoration (still in parts)
  7. Started on Home Automation project using openHAB (excellent software)
  8. Put finishing touches on Arcade Machine
  9. Decommissioned Shopping Trolley 😦
  10. Started recondition of planer and table saw attachments for ML8

Why have I emerged now?

Well its time to catch up on some of these things. Expect a few posts hopefully in quickish succession. These will probably be image heavy in place of large swaths of text.

What projects are on the horizon?

A Teardrop Trailer build. This is currently in the investigative and sourcing phase. Being located in NZ makes a few of the parts hard to find (read doors and rear galley hinge). There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of information on the internet re where to get these parts when based in NZ so successful or otherwise ill make sure to post the results in the hope it may help other NZ builders.

Consider this the first update

Built a bookshelf over the weekend with Vicks. A couple of years ago we purchased some old Rimu skirting board off TradeMe, this had been pulled out of a school somewhere.

Initially this was covered on one side with white paint and had a curved radius on the top edge and so the first steps were dispatching the radius with a table saw and removing the face / cleaning up the front face with an electric plane.

After that it was a case of cutting out the wood too damaged to use and then after confirming that we had enough, cutting the wood to size.

Four shelves were then clamped together and had braces glued and screwed to the bottom of them (these braces are at each end and then behind the legs in the middle in the below picture)

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The end sections had their ends glued to form a plank section and clamped (no braces on these) before assembling the outer frame and then mounting the two internal shelves.

The 8 legs were the final pieces put on, for some reason these were the only parts of the build where the wood wanted to split when sinking the screw heads in so these all had to be countersunk first.

Final step will be applying a couple of coats of light stain before moving into position which should happen this weekend.

On the whole it was a relatively painless process, there was additional work in preparing the boards which wouldn’t be required if the wood was purchased new but then again I don’t think there’s any way we would have got the wood new for the price we paid.

There’s still some sections left over so it looks like a matching coffee table may also be in the future.

Until next time.

 

 

 

The Google saga concludes

Three phone calls yesterday, one this morning and a multitude of emails in between.

On the way home from work Google graced me with the following

Hello,

Thanks for your email. We understand your concern, however please note that Google wallet randomly checks the customer details in order to provide secure shopping environment. whenever customers make use of certain Google Wallet features, Google Payment Corp. is required by financial regulations to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who uses this service.

Please know that you are in no way obligated to provide us with this information. However, should you decide not to do so, your eligibility to use our product may be affected.

Kindly provide us with the requested information within 3 business days by filling out this form:

 

Basically the same rubbish that I’d been getting from them the last couple of days and still absolutely no valid explanation as to not only why the review was triggered and why they required such personal information (esp considering they still had nothing to cross check it against).

I still hadn’t been contacted by either Justin or Mel (the call center managers) despite being promised on three occasions that one or the other would call me.

Last night as a final email reply I responded to the above with the following

Hello,
Firstly, If you understood my concerns then we wouldn’t be in this position so please do not try and placate me with feigned sympathy.
Secondly please indicate which particular Google Wallet feature that I have made use of that required Google Payment Corp to request unnecessary and unjustifiable amounts of personal information from it customers for. I have used Google Wallet to purchase applications over the last two years and have yet to experience this issue. I should also note that the original terms and conditions that I agreed to are not the current terms listed on your website. Were the terms and conditions phrased such I would have never agreed to them .
Thirdly please outline the ways in which my eligibility to use your product may be affected. It is important that I be able to make an informed decision regarding this matter
Fourthly it is still apparent that you have not read fully the concerns that I outlaid in my initial email. If you had done so then I would have expected any reply to even briefly touch on the matters raised. I am afraid that I must request you to do so before we proceed further.
I have escalated this issue with the Google Wallet Helpdesk and now must request to do so within the verification department. The fact that you (I would address you by name yet you have not afforded me the common courtesy of letting me know who I am conversing with) find it unnecessary to follow common grammar guidelines by capitalizing the first letter of the first word of a sentence, combined with the fact that you seem to be unable to read my replies leads me to believe that I am dealing with an idiot. As such I do not feel it appropriate to send you such confidential personal information.
Please arrange for your superior to contact me within 3 business days via the details held with the Google Wallet Helpdesk

Regards

This morning the final call was made to the “Helpdesk”. I then went and got an iPhone

 

Why Google wants a photocopy of my Passport!!

To whom it may concern.

Yesterday I attempted to purchase an application using the Play Store on my cellphone. The transaction however was not successful for reasons that I am still not aware of. I then added an additional payment method (in doing so providing all the required and correct credit card information) and attempted to complete the purchase again. This however was also unsuccessful. I therefore assumed that there were issues with the mobile Play Store application and so attempted to purchase the app using the web browser on my computer. This also didn’t work.

My conclusion was that Google was experiencing wider issues with processing payments as neither the card which I had recently been using with my Google wallet account or the new one worked.

Last night I received an email advising me that my account has been limited and that to reactivate the account I would be required to submit to Google copies of not only a recent bill but also of a government issued identity document.

I find this response completely unacceptable considering the situation. An failed attempt to purchase of an application of negligible cost then resulted in me providing all the required information for the transaction to be processed by an alternative payment method. This then escalated and resulted in my account being limited until I provide Google with an amount of personal information that I am not comfortable in sharing. There is a reason that I make a point of not sending credit card details or other personal information that could be used to commit fraud by email or by SMS message.

Considering recent lapses in security at Microsoft, Sony, Target Corporation, Adobe Systems and the uncovering of major security flaws in Open SSL I am not comfortable in any company having that amount of personal information, coincidentally most of the required information to commit identity fraud or make undesirable purchased on my credit card. Whilst I am sure that none of these companies intended to allow extreme amounts of user information to be stolen none the less against their best efforts it happened.

I also find it surprising that Google is requesting this information under the guise of verifying my identity. I can understand that a bank would want to sight a drivers license when you visit a branch as not only are they able to check the details on the license against the copies they have on file from when the account opened but they are also able to check the photo on the card against the person presenting it. I fail to see however in this instance how providing this information to Google will help prove my identity. Not only does Google not have a copy of the information on file to cross check against but I fail to see how they could confirm the authenticity of the information and that I was actually my identity in the first place. Assuming of course that Google isn’t as insidious as some people believe.

Whilst I accept that this is most likely a standard response on the part of Google I find it completely out of proportion considering the circumstances. If my account for example had shown overly excessive usage or out of the ordinary usage then I would expect it to be limited, however I consider the attempted purchase of a $2.92 stocktaking application to be a far cry from this. Furthermore I wouldn’t expect that I would be required to provide a photocopy of a passport / drivers license and a copy of a recent bill to regain access to my account

Since receiving the email I have called the Google Wallet help desk three times, each time they have promised to escalate the case and have a supervisor call me back however thus far this has not happened. When asking to talk to the “Verification Team” I have been advised that it is not possible to contact them by phone and that my only option is to attempt to make contact by replying to the initial email received.

Awaiting your response and resolution

Regards
James Taylor

Tabletops, Vases, Voltmeters and Guitar Pedals

Prepare for another multifaceted update

1) Tabletops

Much searching around Auckland for the required 25mm sheet of plywood took a week of unanswered emails, unhelpful sales staff and staff who claim to have stock until you turn up to find that they’re completely out. When calling one store to ask if they had the product in stock one really “helpful” sales guy even replied “If my staff spent all their time running around the store seeing if we have stuff in stock they wouldn’t have time to do their proper jobs”. Considering that the store solely sold plywood and if they had it in stock I would have brought it I’m not exactly sure what the staff was doing that was more important than making a sale. Thanks non named plywood merchant located in Penrose…

All that aside eventually a sheet of plywood was located and then cut into three sections with a blunt handsaw to fit in the back of the car. This then had the outline of the table top drawn and cut out of it. Next step will be cutting out the hole for the LCD and mounting it to the cabinet. Aside from that the control panel braces and a couple of air / speaker vents are all that will be left on the wood working front. After that a final bog and sand before painting.

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2) Vases

I’ve also started to experiment recently with thin wall 3D printed objects to see how well the printer did printing large single extrusion objects. The main concerns that I had were related to the piece glooping down because it didn’t have time to cool or the layers not lining up, which when printing with a .35mm nozzle is quite important. Aside from a few artifacts on one corner the parts printed quite well however, I’m happy enough with the result at the moment although ill probably fiddle with the density of the walls at some point to make them more solid.

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One interesting discovery I did make however was a strange translucent goopy liquid that started leaking out of the hot end after a while of printing. It’s possible to wipe this off before a print and even after 2.5 hours of solid printing it’s not really an issue but I’d still like to work out what is happening. Seeing as it looks similar to the stuff that ends up inside the V2 nozzle between hot end services I’m inclined to believe that it’s either a result of the temperature settings not being quite right and so the filament is doing something weird when melted and separating somehow or the filament has absorbed too much moisture and that is what is separating out when it is heated. As near as I can figure this is leaking out of the hot end where the nozzle threads on and is then oozing out between the nozzle and the heater block.

3) Voltmeters

Over these next two weeks ill need to spend some time preparing the shopping trolley for Eastercamp. Thus far I’ve replaced a button mount that has snapped off with a beefier version and finished off the Lo-Jack code on the GSM and Comms Nanos. Now sending the correct string to a cellphone number will cause the trolley to TXT you back a Google maps link to its position as determined by GPS. At the moment the number to reply to is hard-coded to one cellphone number but the long-term intention is to have it reply to the number that queries it.

Additionally I’ve added a couple of voltmeters in a printed enclosure to the front of the trolley. These are completely separate from all of the rest of the trolley electronics, connected directly to the batteries via a toggle switch to power them on and off. Testing with a multimeter confirms that their reading are accurate.

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(Mount in the middle without screens)

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(and Screens)

Still remaining on the to do list is an investigation in to the throttle code (sometimes the trolley takes off on its own) which I suspect will require the addition / modification of a greater dead spot for All Stop. Sometime next week one final yet to be unveiled cosmetic change specifically for Easter Camp will also be completed.

4) Guitar Pedals

Recently a friend asked me to look into making a cheap copy of a midi controller / guitar pedal to control a Strymon Timeline “some-sort-of-multi-effect-/-looper-pedal?”. The original controller pedal can be brought online for approx $150 US but that is before shipping from the States and any import taxes etc. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of this project as it was completed in two days but the concept is as follows.

On the top of the pedal there are three foot switches evenly spaced across its width with an LED above each. The left and right LEDs light up with the switch below is pressed whilst the center LED is an RGB one that changes color to indicate the mode that the pedal is in. Pressing the center foot switch cycles through the modes changing the function of the left and right buttons. In each different mode a press and/or hold and/or release of the button sends a MIDI message out the 5 pin DIN port on the back. Pressing and holding the center switch sends a particular message independent of the mode. An Arduino Nano inside is the brains of the lot

The most “fun” part of the project was fiddling around with the differentiation between a press and hold especially considering the foot switches had a lot of bounce that needed to be programmatically taken care of. The basic functions presented by the controller pedal include scrolling through the Strymon presets, controlling the looper record and playback functions, bypassing (something) and controlling the “Tap” input and “Infinite Repeats”. In the end the project was a success however coming in at around half the price (before shipping) of the pedal available online.

Yes I have a Blog

Unfortunately this is true.

After posting pictures of misadventures and projects on Facebook I decided that perhaps it was time to find some other way of sharing what I was up to with people interested and I guess more specifically related to projects, share thoughts and ideas.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to waste time commenting on trivial aspects of my day or crying into my computer keyboard, this is going to be different…