Monday, March 30, 2009

Electronics: Pulsing/Breathing LED

A few months ago I was looking to create a “pulsing LED” effect. What I was using this for was for a Halloween effect where I was placing a series of different colored ultra-bright LED’s under some beakers filled with water and dry ice, creating the Mad Scientists lab. One of my stated goals was to do this without using a microcontroller since I hadn’t gotten into microcontrollers yets.

I ended up using this project:

This essentially makes a scewed triangle wave, where the rise time is quicker than the fall time, creating a “breathing” effect.

There are a couple of other circuits that do similar things:

Of course, making a variable duty cycle PWM program with a microcontroller might end up better next time since I can control more LED’s with less.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gripe: Nike+ does not work in Firefox with AdBlock

A little aside before we get to the problem and solution.

Since the beginning of the year, I have hit the exercise full throttle again. I seem to do this in year intervals, where I will go nuts, lose a sick amount of weight over the course of 6 - 8 months, then lose steam. Not sure why that is, but the upside is that I haven't gained back any of the weight I've lost since I started this cycle (so far I have lost 70 -75 pounds over the course of 3 years) due to the diet I layed out previously.

One of the exercises I have been doing a lot of is running. While it has played hell on my knees, I have seen tremendous results from this. When I started really running last year, I could barely make a 1/4 of a mile. Now I regularly run anywhere from 3 - 6 miles a day at least 4 times a week. So since I have been so impressed by the results, I just keep at it.

This past weekend I ran in a 5K charity run for Multiple Sclerosis. Its one of the diseases, along with Parkinson's disease, that scares the hell out of me. Since one of my friends was diagnosed with it, I felt obligated to run. Sad how something has to hit home before we actually take action on something.

So to the point. A lot of the people at the run were using those Nike+ Ipod adapters. I had looked into these last year when I started running. But now I figured since we are in a media manufactured recession (its NOT real people, stop listening to the news, and go out, invest and spend) and the economy needs a little cash pumped into it, and I was challenged to join a team to compete on miles, I broke down and bought one.

Now to the problem. So if your reading this, you probably already have a Nike+, use Firefox, and ran into the same exact issue I did. You use Firefox as your default browser, and when Itunes attempts to sync your miles, or even connect to Nike+ site, all you get is a blank page. Chances are pretty good your using Adblock Plus. And thats the problem. Adblock is filtering the Nike+ site in Firefox.

There are two ways around this. You can temporarily disable Adblock. That is a short term fix, and very annoying. Thanks to an offhand comment I found in this thread, I found the long term solution is to add an exception to allow the Nike+ site in.

To do so, do the following:

Under the Tools menu, click on the AdBlock Plus Preferences menu item. If you don't see it, you can go under Tools > Add-Ons > and click on the Options button for Adblock Plus.

Click on the Add Filter button.

Add the following Filter.

Thats it. Click Apply, and now you can use Nike+ inside of Firefox, assuming you have Flash installed.