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2018/06/30 Super8 and Tab, Halcyon SF
π 2018-06-30 01:01 in Clubbing
Halcyon was a new venue for Trance Family, and my friend Chris Le/Triode was opening, so I couldn't miss that. He also won a track contest from Super8 and Tab, so it was great to have him open for them.

Jennifer was able to join me this time, provided I put some lights on her, which I was happy to do :)


Triode:







Triode then handed over to Super8 and Tab who took the evening:






See more images for Super8 and Tab, Halcyon SF
2018/06/30 DC charging with DC to DC conversions when off the grid
π 2018-06-30 01:01 in Bm, Electronics
When you're off the grid (for many, still true at burning man, or Ephemerisle, you can:
  • bring big batteries (Li-Ion USB packs and/or big Lead Acid Batteries (AGM is better than car battery)
  • use solar panels to help recharge the batteries, but most people don't quite realize that panels need to be sufficiently big (and heavy) to charge sufficiently. You also need a charge controller.
  • use a generator. Generators are quite efficient and cheap for occasional use and make way more power than solar panels per unit of weight. Sadly, they are noisy and not environmentally friendly.
  • The ideal solution is batteries only if your event isn't too long and you've done the math that the batteries have enough Wh for your needs
    Next, is usually batteries + generator that you start as needed. Solar is really the best solution, but it requires more complicated hardware and setup (charge controller, MPPT charger, etc...), but more importantly for any non trivial power need you actually need pretty bulky and heavy panels to handle the load (of course this also relies on you being able to count on enough sun during your event at that location, not an issue for burning man, but potentially an issue for a spring festival in some place that could be overcast or maybe even rainy).

    12V Charging

    Anyway, back to charging, your best bet is to use 12V lead acid (marine, or AGM are even better), and use DC to DC converters to power all your stuff. For 12V, well, you're done, just plug into that using the appropriate cabling with fuses. You will likely be happy with those two:
  • DC 1 Female to 8 Male Power Splitter Cable for CCTV: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01JAM6KDY

  • SoulBay 34pcs Universal Laptop Notebook Input DC Plug Set Jack Tips for Lenovo Toshiba Dell HP Asus and most Laptops: https://www.amazon.com/SoulBay-Universal-Notebook-Toshiba-Laptops/dp/B01HORSXZ0 (sadly even some simlar looking barrel connector are not actually the same)

  • Plenty of chargers work off 12V, you may just need to use some barrel adapters:

  • Socket Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter DC Outlet Splitter + 2-Port USB Car Charger: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003RQBKLC
  • small 12V lipo charger for 1S to 4S lipo: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FGWY54 (cheap but slow)
  • AccuPower IQ338 Fast Charger and Analyzer Tester: Li-Ion + C/AA/AAA battery charger https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013HP4N70 (fast)
  • XTAR Xtar-VC4-Charger-T VC4 Li-ion/Ni-MH Battery Charger Premium USB: Li-Ion + AA/AAA battery charger https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U26ONVE (slow)
  • Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer for 4 AA or AAA NiMH Batteries: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NLUSLM
  • 20V and other higher voltage high amp charging

    Now, some laptops may charge from 5V USB if you're lucky (but that will be slow). Some will charge from USB-C which may allow 12V charging or even 20V charging, but finding such a charger that works from 12V may not be trivial. In the case of my thinkpad, it just plain requires 20V, and not only that, it requires 20V at 5.5A or it will power itself, but it not charge (yes, it is stupid).
    I wrote this page on how to hack a 20V power connection to look like it's at least 135W so that a thinkpad will charge, however I need to upconvert 12V up to 20V with more than 10A from the 12V source. I used a discontinued version of this boost converter, and I also have a 100Wh Li-Ion battery pack that can output enough power to sustain my laptop, but not to charge it. That one also requires 20V to charge (sadly it won't charge from 12V):
  • 16A DC Boost Voltage Converter 12-60V to 12-80V Step-up Power Supply Transformer Module Regulator: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8D7XYG
  • RAVPower 100Wh USB battery pack, 20V charging, 9 to 20V output for laptops (plus USB): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HFMUBYG
  • this battery pack can output 9, 12, 16, 19, or 20V
    this battery pack can output 9, 12, 16, 19, or 20V

    You can see the 12V being split and going into the little white box with the step up boost converter. It shows that it's taking 3.5A at 12V and the red display next to the laptop shows it's turned into 1.7A at 20V which goes both into the already charged laptop and the almost charged ravpower battery pack:


    it might not look like much, but this is my new 160W laptop power supply :)
    it might not look like much, but this is my new 160W laptop power supply :)

    5V USB charging

    Now, let's look into 5V charging, i.e. USB devices. There are plenty of ways of turning 12V into 5V, that's what all car phone chargers do, but most don't deliver many amps, and don't allow full speed charging for more than 2 or 3 devices on a good day. As a result, I'l recommend this 14 port anker USB hub where you'll ignore the USB part and simply use the fact that it has 80W of charging capacity from 12V input:
  • USB Power Hub that will provide 14 outlets at 1A each (works off 12V power): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GSLMTQ8
  • you can see the anker 14 port USB hub next to the powerex battery charger for scale
    you can see the anker 14 port USB hub next to the powerex battery charger for scale

    Then, I personally use this for my trips when I want a lot of USB (5V) power:

  • RAVPower Battery Packs 26800mAh Total 5.5A: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012NIQG5E (can charge and discharge at the same time)
  • USB C RAVPower 26800mAh: with USB-C support at higher voltage for fast charging: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LRQDAEI/
  • And here is the end result, lots of different chargers all from that same 12V source (including all the adapter tips in the upper left)

    2018/06/21 2 days at Thunderhill with BR Racing
    π 2018-06-21 01:01 in Cars
    We joined a private track rental for an LMP car that was testing, and came up with 8 cars or so. Thunderhill was starting to get a bit too hot, but it was nice to have 2 days of clean laps.



    getting a fresh set of tires
    getting a fresh set of tires

    The first day, I only got down to 1:50 (with the bypass), due to a combination of worn brakes, hot track, and lack of more skill.
    The 2nd day, thanks to my coach, Matt Belle, I improved my driving, but the track got even hotter, so I also only got down to 1:50:xx too before the track got even more greasy and my times started to go back up. Still, it was good fun.

    A nice 488 challenge that joined us:



    There was a professional photographer onsite who took a few shots:




    2018/06/16 Ruben de Ronde and Armin Van Buuren at Bill Graham
    π 2018-06-16 01:01 in Clubbing
    It had been a bit of time since I last saw Armin play, so it was geat to fix that :)

    As usual, found some friends:


    I arrived a bit late, but just in time for Ruben de Ronde to take the decks:



    Next, was of course Armin, and he played a very nice set:




    being in the pits is nice, but doesn't work well for all pictures :)
    being in the pits is nice, but doesn't work well for all pictures :)


    Higher up is nice for laser shots:


















    Video summary:

    2018/06/15 Acid Rain, Summer Drop at DNA Lounge
    π 2018-06-15 01:01 in Clubbing
    I can't believe last time I was at DNA Lounge was in June 2002, some 16 years ago, for the Mozilla (now firefox) browser source code release party (some old bad pictures here.
    I even have an old (now embarassing) picture with JWZ, the owner of DNA Lounge from 2001.
    In my defense, DNA Lounge doesn't play the kind of music I normally enjoy (although I'm sure I missed some days I'd have liked), but this time was different: psytrance is fun to listen to from time to time, and if you add regular trance with my friends Blurr and Sonic Fuzion, that seals the deal :)

    DNA Lounge sure changed a lot since last time I went. I was much amused by the ATM machine JWZ likely hacked:



    4 different rooms, including happy hardcore, which I had never heard in a club so far (but used to listen to eons ago), was fun:

    Blurr and Sonic Fuzion at the decks
    Blurr and Sonic Fuzion at the decks


    Triode playing his Castles in the Sky remix
    Triode playing his Castles in the Sky remix


    A few other pictures:






    Short video:

    2018/06/13 Seoul Airport and Nice 1st Class Seats on Korean Airlines
    π 2018-06-13 01:01 in Flying
    To fly back from Cebu, Philippines, we flew home with Korean Airlines. Sadly the first flight was a shit red eye that only lasted 4H, so no matter how comfortable, it sure didn't last long enough.
    On the plus side, we ended up in the Seoul international terminal with access to the first class lounge to spend the day. It did not suck:




    The Terminal was also quite nice:






    They even had a room doing cool VR demos:





    We then boarded our plane, we had the first front seats ina 747, they were second only to Singapore Airlines:

    nice wooden table
    nice wooden table

    only 6 seats
    only 6 seats


    seats were big enough to allow 2 people to share the table
    seats were big enough to allow 2 people to share the table

    Food was not united food, it was good:


    sure, I'll have the caviar, thank you
    sure, I'll have the caviar, thank you


    The flight was almost over too soon :)

    2018/06/13 Visit of Google Cebu
    π 2018-06-13 01:01 in Google
    At the end of our philippines trip, we stopped by Google Cebu before going to the airport. Nice to see another building:






    See more images for Visit of Google Cebu
    2018/06/13 Philippines Trip Wrapup
    π 2018-06-13 00:00 in Philippines, Trips

    While we spent about 3 weeks in the Philippines, most of it was spent on a dive boat, so I can't say I gained a great insight on the country, but we still learned some things:

  • weather was hot and humid, unsurprisingly. At the same time, the water was quite warm too, at times at the exact temperature than the air (no kidding, I have 31C for both on some dives).
  • the filipinos were all very nice to us. I even got the impression that we got treated better for being foreigners who bring in tourist money, but even generally I'd say the people were just all very chill and nice.
  • the country was occupied multiple times throughout its history, including a pretty ruthless Japanese occupation and exit where many civilians got killed when the Japanese left.
  • it tried to rebuild the best it could, but you can tell the toll those wars had on the country. It got a fair amount of US help
  • sadly there aren't many historical monuments left due to the amount of destruction during the wars.
  • after learning spanish, and Japanese for a short time, the population learned english under US (reasonably friendly) occupation, which is now a plus since most of the population speaks English well or very well. Not a bad thing as they otherwise had 100+ dialects which made it hard to communicate internally
  • a byproduct of the low cost of living and english speaking skills, many companies have call centers in the Philippines. The accent is much less obvious than the Indian one.
  • a remnant of that help are all those long transport jeeps that were left behind by the US and are now used as makeshift busses. Sadly this also stopped the country from developing a better public transportation system. Pretty much every time I saw one of them, they were packed to the brim and not meant to transport so many people (mostly in Manila).
  • traffic was all around terrible, although in some places it was abysmal instead
  • in Puerto Princessa, they mostly used trike bikes which while being motorbikes with a wheeled basket attached, could actually transport up to 5 people (not comfortably though). They were dirt cheap, 20 cents per kilometer, although the price for tourists was several times that but still too cheap to worry about.
  • regular cabs in Manilla will fairly often ask you where you are going and decline the ride if they think the traffic is going to suck, or give you a set price off the meter, likely because the meter does pay them enough for sitting in non moving traffic.
  • with all this traffic, congestion, and likely poor to no emission regulations, air pollution seemed bad, even if not China bad.
  • traffic is also so bad that people don't bother with seat belts, some cabs didn't have them in the rear. A few rare times I saw a driver put a seat belt on while entering an area (maybe of enforcement)
  • and you can watch TV while driving, because well, traffic doesn't move anyway so you might as well catch up on your TV shows
  • Airports/Security:

  • Security-wise, they had muslim extremist bombings too, like Indonesia, so virtually all buildings have security guards and makeshift searches, quite annoying.
  • That said, I found that in many places, as a tourist of not the wrong color (I assume), the searches were limited and they tried not to be airport-like,
  • but the airports do suck, they forbid any kind of lighter on your person, check in, or carry-on, not true of most of the rest of the world. Ok, a lighter could be dangerous even if you can light fires many other ways
  • more annoyingly, extension cords, you know, what you plug into a far away plug so that you can work with your laptop in the airport, and maybe plug 3 devices into one plug, Well, they are not allowed in carry on luggage. Hello? What?

  • And that was it for the Philippines, good time was had.
    See more images for Philippines Trip Wrapup
    2018/06/12 Cebul and Bohol
    π 2018-06-12 01:01 in Philippines, Trips

    For our last day in Philippines after diving on the Siren, we went to a day tour of Bohol.

    This started with a 2H ferry at 07:00 (getting up on the boat at 05:00 and leaving at 05:30 to get to the ferry way too early because traffic sucks and can't be relied on):


    After arriving in Bohol we wnt to a local church with nice decors:







    and then went to a butterfly sanctuary:





    A coconut a day makes a happy Jennifer :)


    We then did a lunch river cruise:



    they did a nice local dance for us
    they did a nice local dance for us


    Next were the hanging bridges:


    This is where I learned that I've been opening coconuts all wrong:


    And finally we got to see the super cute bohol tarsiers, which are actually quite small (size of your hand), and nocturnal, so very sleepy when we saw them:




    Next was chocolate hill, with a view of what to used to be coral reef mounds when all this land was below water:





    Last, and definitely least, we made the mistake of burning extra time with chocolate hill ATV, which gave Jennifer and me a broken ass two person ATV with a failing motor that was mistfiring and couldn't make power, and a known flat tire that they didn't fix and went flat again within minutes of me using it. They then made BS excuses to not re-imburse us, and it's only due to lack of time that I didn't stay there to burn all their new customers and ruin their lives until they paid me back.
    Still, a few pictures:






    And that was it for Bohol, it was then time to drive back to the port to catch our 2H ferry back to Cebu and Arturo to go to the airport (we went to the local google building instead).

    See more images for Cebul and Bohol
    2018/06/11 Diving with Whale Sharks at Oslob, Philippines
    π 2018-06-11 06:00 in Diving
    While we were Diving with the Philippines Siren, we had a special dive where we got to see a lot of whale sharks (around 10 or so).

    So, the story goes that the local fishermen started feeding the whalesharks to keep them away from where they were fishing, because they were getting in the way. Eventually they grew to like them, and figured it was better to feed them and show them to tourists than to fish.

    Snorklers get to wait a long time and spend only 10-15m in the water. Divers however get to spend whatever time they'd like (1h+ for us) and see them underwater for real. I've always been told that whalesharks don't like bubbles (which is true of sharks), but those not only didn't mind, but at least some actually liked our bubbles. One of them followed us away from the food to swim around us and dance in our bubbles.

    As for the question of whether this prevents the whales from otherwise eating naturally, they only get fed in the morning, and they do migrate away to live and eat elsewhere, so it doesn't seem to be a real problem. I'm hopeful that it's a net positive, especially if it gets all those people to use the money to live instead of (over-)fishing.
    Still, as I found out later, the place remains controversial, at best, more details here: http://dive-bohol.com/conservation/5-reasons-not-go-oslob
    I went with a gopro for filming in the left hand, and took pictures with my camera in the right hand. I then took a few screen grabs from the 4K video to supplement the pictures taken by the camera.

    So, speaking of pictures:



    Here's a 4K video of the encounters:

    And more pictures below:




    sadly, our friend whale shark had a lot of parasites on it
    sadly, our friend whale shark had a lot of parasites on it





    Half way through the dive, we had to reposition and noticed 2 cuttlefish at the bottom, one was doing a very good weed impression:


    don't look at me, I'm a weed
    don't look at me, I'm a weed

    Back to whalesharks:








    this one loved bubbles
    this one loved bubbles

    yeah, bubbles
    yeah, bubbles

    not just one, but 2, then 3, and up to 7 whalesharks
    not just one, but 2, then 3, and up to 7 whalesharks

    chasing bubbles again
    chasing bubbles again


    So that was it, it was a lot of fun and the shalesharks seemed happy enough, at least with us, divers.


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