Experiment in calculating coin value by weight

p8010083.jpgEvery day when I get home I empty out my pockets of loose change and put them into a large glass waterbottle that sits behind my desk. Eventually this bottle becomes too heavy to move and I empty it out to reclaim some cash for toys.

It occurred to me that there might be a way to estimate how much money was in the bottle by averaging out weights a little bit. Since my current ‘hottest toy’ want is a new Canon digital SLR camera, my ‘go for it’ point is somewhere around $750. The Coinstar machines now support converting your cash directly into a credit at Amazon without the 9% ‘fee’ they normally extract. Yay! But do I have enough?

I started by finding out the weight of an empty glass bottle (the web knows all – 15lbs). Then I weighed the bottle with all the coins in it (67lbs), which gives me about 52lbs of coinage to work with.

Because I don’t really have a distribution chart showing how many coins of each type I have, I assumed an even distribution. There’s probably more pennies than quarters, but I’ve never sorted things out. When I run the Coinstar dump, it’ll tell me how many of each coin I have, and that will make this more accurate the next time I do it.

Given that, some more googling gave me coin weights, so I was able to work it out…

Coin		Value	Weight(g)
Penny		0.01	2.5g
Nickel		0.05	5g
Dime		0.10	2.68g
Quarter		0.25	5.6g
Average weight: 3.945g
Average value: 0.10
Approximately .10 per 3.945grams or 0.025 cents per gram

Cool. My bottle has 52lbs of coins in it, which is around 23kilograms, which works out to around $544.00 worth of coins

Not quite there yet, but if I wait much longer, I may not be able to move the bottle. Maybe Zach and I will make an excursion to the Coinstar machine and shovel coins into it for a half hour, and see how accurate my numbers are.

It’s the little things

There’s something deeply satisfying when the number of messages in my inbox drops below one screenful. The disappearing scrollbar on the right side says to me “Congratulations! You’ve accomplished something!”

True victory happens when I get down to single digits, but that event should be heralded by fanfare and balloons, it happens so rarely.

In case you were curious about how much mail flows through my account daily, here’s my catchall report. Of this, probably 80% is mailing list traffic that’s foisted into various folders by procmail. The rest is In My Box, baybee.

Breakdown by day: (3459 posts, average of 494.1 posts per day.)
Jul 26 | Jul 25 | Jul 24 | Jul 23 | Jul 22 | Jul 21 | Jul 20
672  |   669  |   649  |   547  |   216  |   207  |   499

(This report is from Mailwatch, a tool I wrote about 12 years ago to monitor mailing list traffic and generate reports.)

Vacation or Fandango, you decide!

I’m back home now after a week-long absence from home and hearth, part for business, part for pleasure. So rather than go on for pages about various things seen, eaten, or visited, here’s a Harpers-esque rundown…

GMAPS Miles covered: 				1140 by gmaps
Odometer miles: 				1290
Hours driving:					23
Average fuel mileage:				15.8mpg
Estimated gallons of gas used:			81.6
Highest price paid for gas:			$3.35 (Connecticut)
Lowest price paid for gas:			$2.85 (NJ)
Estimated money spent on fuel:			$252.96
Total nights away from home:			7
Days spent camping:				4
Total time spent sitting in traffic:		200 minutes-ish
Volleyball games played:			6
States visited:					5
Miles biked:					10
Weight gained:					3lb :(
Number of power windmills seen:			6 !
Problems with the van or trailer:		0

All in all, it was about as good as trip as possible given the huge mileage involved. I think my limit for long distance driving by myself is around 500-600 a day. And even that I don’t know if I could keep up for several days in a row without break. The drive out was much easier due to the 3 work days in NJ.

A quick note about NJ. While I was there I googled around and found a pickup volleyball group in Princeton that plays on Tuesday evenings. I got in a good 2+ hour session of indoor playing, which helped offset the slug-like demeanor I was adopting. Indoor volleyball is weird – nothing like a popped-up ball bouncing around in basketball fixtures like a pachinko setup. Sheesh.

As to the camping, southwestern PA is absolutely beautiful – we were almost in West Virginia, and the weather really was perfect for a large (150-people ish) outside event. Temperatures during the day stayed between 70 and 85, and at night it got down to the low sixties. It only rained the first night, and we had the trailer all set up by then.

And before the purists get on my case. Yes I was camping in the sense that I was sleeping in a non-fixed environment without plumbing or heat or electricity, in a place that had only rudimentary facilities. But yes, it was a camper trailer, yes there were hot showers and plenty of water, and yes there was a fixed building nearby. I still say there was a roughing element to it because of no fixed plumbing. Any place that necessitates the use of portapotties is still ‘camping’, so there.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled life.

Footnote – no, I was not at BC. This was a different event. 🙂

Calorie Counting

So while I’m out on the road, I try to keep myself reasonably in shape. At home, I have volleyball and the like to keep me active, but in a hotel room in Princeton, NJ? Not so good.
Fortunately, I can bring my bicycle with me, and I’ve worked out a schedule where I can spend 8-9 hours in the office, hop on the bike, ride for an hour or two, and have a nice satisfying wind-down dinner then a shower at night. Works out pretty durned well, but I was curious -how- well it was working.
At yesterday’s cohousing meeting, some helpful person had brought some ultra-tasty chocolate cake. I’ve cut back my sweets intake enormously in the last year, but the cake arrived while I was hungry. I had a slice. That’s more than I usually have (I try to have a couple bites – just to get the mmmm yummy taste – this time I downed a whole slice). Felt sort of guilty about it. “Hmm, that was probably about 400-450 calories worth of food there. I wonder if I worked that off riding today?”
The net is FULL of calorie counters. Most of them seem to be pretty much garbage, with a lot of commentary making vague comparisons about which is better for you, how much time you’re spending, etc. I finally tracked down a decent calculator that takes into account my own weight, how vigorous I was riding, and how long I was on the road. Tonight I rode about fifteen miles, and according to the calorie calculator on WebMD.com, that means I burned a little over 800 calories in my ride. That feels about right, it was a decent length ride, I could feel my heart rate up, I was sweating, and I feel a little tired, but not wiped out afterwards.
I think I offset the cake, and then some, which is what I wanted to do!
Now I’m back in my room, getting some work done, and soon I’ll snuggle into bed. I’ve found a couple possible pickup volleyball games for tomorrow night nearby, we’ll see if anything comes from it.

Occasionally, things come out all right.

P5190129.JPGWhile out at Canobie Lake Park yesterday with the fam, I chanced to note my Treo had shed another component of itself. I’ve been missing my stylus for quite a while (I go through about one a month), but I also noted my 2gig Sandisk SD card has ejected itself. This occasionally happens when I drop the Treo pretty hard – but it usually just ‘unclicks’ the card, and I just shove it back in. This time apparently the card had escaped completely.
There wasn’t anything particularly important on it – I usually use it to move pictures from the Treo to yawl, but I have a half dozen apps installs on it also (including GeoNiche, an outstanding bluetooth GPS client specifically designed for Geocaching). The cards cost-wise are down on a par with packing material, so I was at best a little annoyed.
This morning while packing up for a week-long business + vacation trip, I glanced down in the driveway and LO! There was the SD card! Lonely from it’s night out in the cold (in July?), but looking none the worse for wear. Clicking it back into the Treo brought up the familiar “Here’s what’s on this card!”
It’s nice when things actually go your way on occasion. Even if it only involves a little $15 memory card.

Is this what addiction is like?

Yesterday I went out and played volleyball.
Once I drove a half hour to play with a lunchtime group out in Westborough. That was good, and got some excellent 3-on-3 on a sand court.
Then, after picking up my son at camp at 6pm, and having dinner with Cat, I wanted to swing by and verify a rumor I had heard about a pickup game that happens Mondays and Wednesdays in Framingham.
Sure enough, I found it, where 13 or so folks were in a casual pickup game. I stopped, Zach hung out in the van while I played a quick game with them, then drove home, arriving a little later than I had wanted to, but feeling nicely worked out.
If I wanted to, I now know of pickup and quasi-league level play 6 days a week, in fact, could even play twice a day, once during lunch and once in the evening.
Maybe I need professional help.

Darwinia Mini-Review

I haven’t been doing much reviewing lately, but I thought I’d point a couple of the folks who keep whining about the lack of Linux games to the fine work at Introversion Software.

I just completed the demo for Darwinia, a sort of ‘Populous meets TRON’ game.

Darwinia is very much a ‘god game’ in that you are ‘above’ the life forms you’re interacting with, but, like Populous, you can’t directly control them. You can influence them in several ways (“All citizens, you feel an urge to move sort of in that direction!”), but can’t give the “you guys, move there and build a building, you guys, there and shoot them” sort of detail that’s common in things like Starcraft.

From Introversion’s page:

The world of Darwinia is a virtual themepark, running entirely inside a computer network and populated by a sentient evolving life form called the Darwinians. Unfortunately Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction.

The plotline does sound somewhat trite, and there’s certainly an 80’s-esque flair to the entire game. It’s modelled very heavily on TRON in imagery and concept (a model that Introversion seems to use a lot), so the rendered playing feels very much like one of those graphics demos you oo’ed and ah’ed at the first time you saw an SGI machine (well I did, anyway). If you make sure you’re not being overly critical and immediately jump up with “Gosh, Doom3 blows this away!”, you might find yourself enjoying yourself.

First of all, it’s a Linux-enabled, full GL, full sound, network enabled, multiplatform game. There’s no ‘hack’ or backsupport or Wine-fiddling here, the game has native Mac, Windows, and Linux builds. Installation was a matter of downloading the demo and running the installation script. On my machine, running Ubuntu, it installed and ran without a hitch, in full screen high resolution, and some phenomenal refresh rate (I noticed -zero- lag in any of either the cut scenes or actual gameplay, when I had several hundred characters moving on the screen).

Introversion has made it ‘de rigeur’ to have full Linux ports of all their games, and they have several that are top notch. I’ll be taking a look at others shortly. But if you’re into god-games, and have a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC, and don’t mind a new twist on the game with a good story line and comfortable game play, this is a game you should definitely check out.

Flickr vs Picasaweb? Sorry Google.

I have a lot of pictures in my photo archive on Flickr. Occasionally some wag comes along and goes “Dude, you should use Picasaweb!, cuz, it’s like, Google!”
Ohhkay. Today I got a link to a friends’ photo album on Picasa, so went to check it out.
Alas, I see more of what Google is getting very good at doing. And that is breaking inherent functionality in environments in favor of the way ‘they’ think things should be done. The rapid AJAX-ification of every function on a webpage is making old tried and trued basics stop working. Sure, it might have some gee-whizzo effect, but Google’s way of doing some link is not like Bob’s way of doing a link and is not like Fred’s way of doing a link. Now we have a world wide web that is fragmenting, rather than sticking with at least a basic access methodology. I shudder to think what this does for accessibility issues.
Case in point. Here is what you cannot do with Picasaweb – this discovered in 15 seconds of browsing the site.
* You cannot middle-click on a photo album picture and open the link in a new tab. In fact, you can’t middle click on anything. If you do, you either get nothing happening, or it just refreshes the page. How unhelpful.
* You cannot right click on an image and view it. If you do, you get “You have chosen to open PBLAH.JPG, which is a GIMP IMAGE. What should Firefox do with this file?” This is wrong. It should view the image as I told it to. Google has deliberately broken their MIME settings to force that dialog.
* Screen refreshes are unintuitive and slow. If you do a search, and click ‘Search Photos’, the screen refreshes, but is blank. Oh, but wait! This is AJAX, it’s still searching! 5 seconds later I have a screenful of pictures. How did I know it was still searching? Apparently I was supposed to mind-read what was going on. The ‘active’ spinner in the browser said things were done.
Dear Google. Stop trying to remake the web in your own image. You’re hurting everyone in the process.