Sunday, May 25, 2008

Technically a Gold-Titanium Alloy

Today, I saw Iron Man. Perhaps this is just the engineer talking, but it was incredible. It also helps that his suit is the colors of 41. Iron Man is now my favorite superhero. Period. (Yes, Paco, it was even better than Batman). And if you have yet to see it, you need to watch to the end of the credits. Just so you know.

I want my own suit now. I probably can't get it that well fitting or with nearly as many features, but just a mechanized exoskeleton would be cool. To quote the movie: "I really like this suit!"

I'll have to get started on my exoskeleton as soon as I finish my Dr. Octopus arms. (Due to the segmental nature of the Doc Ock arms and the complexity of ergonomics, the exoskeleton would take quite a bit longer to design.)

Speaking of Doc Ock arms...

I am currently working at Gospel For Asia (or GFA for short) in Dallas. It is a really cool organization focused almost entirely on reaching people groups that have never heard the gospel before. Due to the sensitive political nature of some of the countries that we're working in, I cannot publish on the internet everything that we are doing. You should check out their website, which has the "clean" version, or talk to me in person if you want to know more.


This last Friday, there was a company picnic during the afternoon. The theme of this picnic was "GFA Superheroes," and we were all supposed to come dressed up as our favorite superhero. Well, I don't really have a favorite superhero that would be fun to dress up as (at least, I didn't before I saw Iron Man), so I decided to bend the rules a little bit and dress up as the person who has my favorite super power. That's right, I went as the maniacal scientist himself: Dr. Octopus.

Major thanks to my roommate, Ian, for helping me build the costume. The bottom two claws are attached to the poles in my hands by fishing wire, and by moving the poles I could "throw" the arms ahead of me as I walked, producing a very cool walking motion. I had planned to be able to open and close the top two claws through fishing wire strung down through the poles and attached to my fingers, but the wires got tangled and mixed up with hot glue at 2:00 in the morning the night before, and the poles had already been glued to the claws, making it nearly impossible to re-string, so Ian and I just decided to make the claws static. It still looked pretty cool, though.

Then things got interesting when another intern decided to dress up as Spiderman (he had a mask, just not in this picture):

Though she didn't seem to be too bothered by it, one of the older ladies at GFA made the comment that my costume was "terrorizing the little children." However, as you can see from the kids trying to attack my with my own claws, this was definitely not the case.

There was actually a contest, and my getup won "Best Overall Costume." The only bad part was that it was a Texas summer afternoon, and I was wearing long black pants with a long black coat. It got EXTREMELY hot. Even for me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mad With Power!

I am currently working at Gospel For Asia as part of a 4-week internship. However, they don't really have any positions related to engineering, so I have been placed in the IT department. This is a bit odd since I don't really know that much about computers, but I've been able to find enough on programming forums to be somewhat productive thus far.

One perk, though: the applications I working concern remotely adjusting printer drivers, which means I am learning script that works at the base level of Windows. The scripts that I write operate regardless of the programs that are open and without showing any sign of their existence.


The ability to open, close, and alter programs, enter keystrokes, and locate system information while being nearly untraceable is giving me... ideas.

I wonder if I could write a program that would write and activate copies of itself...