Monthly updates

Looks like a pretty large update this month:

The following packages are going to be upgraded:
  apache2-mod_php53 bind-libs bind-utils crash crash-eppic curl gd gtk2
  gtk2-32bit gtk2-lang kernel-default kernel-default-base ksh libcurl4
  libjasper libnetpbm10 libtiff3 libtiff3-32bit libxml2 libxml2-32bit
  libxml2-python mysql mysql-client netpbm parted php53 php53-ctype php53-curl
  php53-dom php53-gd php53-iconv php53-json php53-mysql php53-pdo php53-sqlite
  php53-tokenizer php53-xmlreader php53-xmlwriter php53-zlib python-setuptools
  timezone wget yast2-core

Flybrix – Lego based mini drone

I saw a super idea for the boy’s birthday that combined two of his passions. Aeronautics and Lego.

Flybrix promised a relatively low cost entry to mini-drone design and flight – with some interesting possibilities around the Arduino platform. Automation!

I placed the order pretty early – and eventually the kit arrived.

Unboxing was fun. An anti-static bag with a mini control board, a bag of lego bits, a bag of motors and a bag of props.

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We built the first Lego drone using the online instructions. Meh. No fun. Having the battery above the plane of the props meant this turned into an inverted pendulum – with inherent instability for the drone. We had many crashes and a particularly disappointed boy.

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Lots of video showing a five second flight and then a massive crash.

Also we found that the Lego design was not particularly strong. Every flight, every crash – and rebuilt.

Back to the drawing board – with two goals.

  • stronger Lego model – less rebuilding
  • place the battery under the plane of the props to give more stability.

After several tries – here’s what we ended up with. It flies, it hovers, it’s actually fun.

The boy is now learning to hover an inch off the ground like a hovercraft and maneuver in three dimensions.

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Excel and fiscal dates

I keep having to remember the fiscal year formulae for Excel – fiscal year starts July 1, ends June 30.

Here’s my note so I can remember:

Fiscal year:  =IF(MONTH([cell])>6,YEAR([cell])+1,YEAR([cell]))

Fiscal month: ==IF(MONTH([cell])>6,MONTH([cell])-6,MONTH([cell])+6)

SLES 11 SP4 – mysql, php and sockets

Something changed in SLES 11 SP4 (or one of the very recent updates).

The default mysql.sock moved to /var/run/mysql/mysql.sock rather than the previous location in /var/lib

For some reason this meant that the defaults for PHP5 were looking for the wrong location for the socket.

A quick cleanup of /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini to include mysql.default_socket = /var/run/mysql/mysql.sock and everything is back functioning.