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.


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.


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.


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.