A fancy Home Assistant automation that checks the weather and figures out when to turn on your heater

So in the continuing saga with my mom’s home-automated furnace, it got extra cold recently and I noticed it wasn’t getting up to temperature in time for her to wake up. I figured I could come up with a formula to compute the time needed to come to temperature and turn on the furnace at a dynamic time in the morning so it’d be just right.

Graph of temperatures inside and outside
Temperatures at my mom’s house over a few days

Continue reading A fancy Home Assistant automation that checks the weather and figures out when to turn on your heater

How about a nice game of chess?

Here’s a random one. I’ve had this talking electronic chess board since 1994. It’s called the Sharper Image Design Talking Chess Companion. Model SM 470. It’s awesome and wonderful and I can’t find any commentary on it on the internet. Therefore, this. I’ve taken the attached video showing Chester in all his glory, and with all of his loving phrases. Such as:

Hi! I’m Chester. How about a nice game of chess?

Sure you’re playing better but your taking more time than me.

Now I’ve got you!

How about a draw?

Many good times hanging out with old Chester. They did a great job putting in tonality into his commentary. It’s really like playing with another person. I only wish the random number generator had him do other openings more often. I’ve never really used the tournament openings mode, but I’m kind of curious. I wish I still had the manual. Anyway, the best part is that I know that my 4th-grade self is better at chess than my current self because I used to be able to easily beat Chester on a higher level than I can now.

finally, a way to get organized

I’ve had an ongoing battle with staying organized. It never went anywhere — I tried a lot of different notes-taking programs and stuff, and even started a blog to try to do it. Well the other day, I came up with an idea that I think will work really well. I told it to a couple people and they said

that’s a really good idea, I think I’ll try it too.

It’s really simple too. Just take a thin 3-ring binder (1.5″ or whatever) and put a bunch of printer paper in it (you have to punch the holes). Now, when you get a task to do, write it on top of a piece of paper, and write the date and a 1 with a circle around it. Write down the task and your basic plan of attack. As you do the task, write down what you did, what problems you had, what solutions you had, and where you left off. If you need more pages, just add another page and put a 2 with a circle around it. Once you get a bunch of tasks going on, this method is really useful because you can see exactly what you did and why you did it. Once the task is finished, staple  all the pages and file it in its category in a file cabinet or something.

Not only has this kept me more organized, it helps when I want to stop one task and do something else for a while. I just flip through until I see one that isn’t finished.


jacobi-free newton-krylov methods, macarthur foundation, rebus

I just went to a talk this morning by D.A. Knoll about the Jacobi-free Newton-Krylov methods he’s been working on at INL. He’s eliminated the need for operator splitting with his formulation, and thus gained Newton-like convergence on problems that usually don’t have anywhere near that speed. The trade-off is that in preconditioning, you still have to use the low-order operator if you want any real efficiency. So, for instance, you’d use the power iteration to precondition the Newton-Krylov version of solving a k-eigenvalue problem. This solves many problems with discretization and provides what he called “scale bridging.” I’m wondering if this could help with my thesis idea of depletion perturbation theory. I need the harmonic eigenfunctions of a time dependent diffusion system. Hmmm.

Knoll is talking about this stuff at this year’s M&C. He has a 2004 survey of the topic in Journal of Computational Physics.

On a more fun note, I asked Fleming about the whole 4n+0 ($$4n+0$$) radioactive decay chain terminology for the Thorium decay chain. A more self-descriptive name of this would be $$A%4=0$$, as this is what it’s actually trying to say. The A value of Th-232 is perfectly divisible by 4. Since alpha-decay is the primary mode of changing A in radioactive decay of these heavy elements, and all alpha decays change A by exactly 4,  all nuclides in the decay chain will have the same modulo with 4. Thus, the Thorium-232 decay chain nuclides all have zero modulus with 4. And since A=238 of U-238 has a remainder of 2 when divided by 4, the U-238 chain is called 4n+2. U-235 has a remainder of 3 when 235 is divided by 4, so the U-235 chain is 4n+3. And so on. Apparently, this his how high schoolers used to be taught about radioactive decay. Now that I look harder, this is well documented on wikipedia.

Whoa. REBUS is totally messing up again. I have an external feed, EFB set to size 0 that only contains Hafnium, but there’s a bunch of hafnium showing up in my simulations. This is not OK. I could have sworn this model was working properly. Oh, I bet I know what was happening. I think REBUS doesn’t let you use 0.0 for an external feed size. This perfectly explains the large jump in behavior I was observing once I started the BP line searches! So for the initial run, I’ll need to put in 1e-10 as the external feed size. Testing this now. On the bad side, we’ll surely see less impressive optimization results now, since there were thousands of kilograms of Hafnium in each initial run. Damn. Yup, sure enough. Set EFB size to 1.0E-10 and it behaves correctly. Now to rerun all again.

JCL got back to me on the manuscript. We need more words, so I’ll go through and try to beef it up.

web page, REBUS

OK I got the forum up and running. It’s at http://www.whatisnuclear.com/forum/. We actually have 2 interesting posts. Well, OK I did send it out to ne-gradstudents. There was a request months ago for something like it and I just decided it was a good idea. I expect it won’t get much traffic.

Two lame things I struggled with:

1) Changing the color scheme in the phpBB3 application for the prosilver theme almost drove me crazy. It stores CSS data in the database, so when you change the CSS files, the theme is not updated. I tried switching the CSS data to be stored in the file system, but then I couldn’t change any images! It was horrible, until I realized what was going on. The prosilver theme requires the CSS be in the database because all the template files point to database variable locations. So the trick is, keep it all in the database, but edit the load settings in General -> server settings and turn Recompile stale style components to yes. Then, edit the CSS file and your changes will actually propagate. That took me forever to figure out.

2) My favicon.ico got reverted to the basic favicon.ico from hostmonster. I tried putting my version in my main folder but it wouldn’t change back. I even got a firefox plug-in that’s supposed to refresh the icons. Then I found that it has to be a windows icon, so if you create it with the GIMP, you have to follow these instructions. And it worked when I went to my site in my VMs, but my main firefox icon has not refreshed yet! I expect it to soon. I guess the plug-in isn’t working.

As for research, the equilibrium line-search I was running had 0.0 EOL peaking factors! I guess I forgot to propagate the changes. Will rerun soon. Hmm, just changing the peak fast fluences flag didn’t help. Trying A.BURN card. Yup that did it. The last two lines in card 02 of A.BURN should be 1 in this case. The peak fluence flag doesn’t matter. That makes more sense.

And in other news, my Dad read a book called The Black Swan. He made my ask Karl what he thinks about it out there in Berkeley. It’s arguing that the bell curve doesn’t work for things it’s been used for, like economies and whatnot. Here’s a blurb from the book [pdf].

It’s a nice day today so I went out on the roof with Adrienne and Alex. I got the idea to take a panoramic photo from the top and it got me working on photostitching in Linux. So I did some searching and found that Hugin sounds like the way to go. I got it out of the Ubuntu repository, put some control points in (fairly easily), and then tried to make the image but it complained that enfuse wasn’t found. So I downloaded it and ./configure and sudo make; make install ‘d it. While doing so, I had to get lots of libraries out of the repos, including boost development libraries and one called libxmi that I got from here (manually). I learned that you need more than 1 control point, or else it spins your images around and makes a big mess. But soon, I made a beautiful panoramic that is stitched together very nicely. Cool.

Uploading large files to gallery2 required that I go into my php.ini in the main folder and change

upload_max_filesize = 2M to 20 M. Then it uploaded no problem.