Twitter thoughts for businesses

When I squatted one of the twitter accounts, I went to the effort of setting up the twitter page to match their website palette, added their logo to the user avatar, set up the links and tagline, and so forth to see how much I could make it a part of their brand.

When they took it over, they didn't change a lot (better version of the logo, etc), so I suppose I did ok. It's cutting a fine line, though, since I am not really a representative of them. I took care not to "follow" anyone on their account, and only made tweets that linked to their website and were obviously directly related.

When they took control of the account, they asked for suggestions, and here's what I told them.

Confessions of a twitter squatter

I've started to squat twitter accounts.

There. I said it. I'm a twitter squatter. Sqwitter? Twuatter? Either way, according to myself, I'm the scum of the earth!

Many years ago I ran a business, and considered getting the domain name. A few months after that thought, it was purchased by someone else, and I missed out. I used a different name, but it's far from ideal - I had already built up some amount of brand recognition, and it was annoying to need to compromise.

Domains are so cheap now that if I have an idea I get the domain before thinking about it for too long - if I don't pursue it, I let the domain lapse in a year. I don't consider this squatting, as I'm not registering something that obviously points to another business/person, etc. I simply don't want to end up deciding to pursue an idea and finding that in the intervening time someone else took the name.

Jinx's static LCD drive solution

In a recent piclist message Jinx mentioned two methods he uses to drive static LCDs, and sent me the following to share. Click on the images for larger versions.

The 16F628 circuit is an up/down timer/clock, with optional dome bell or piezo bomb as the alarm

The two weak pull-ups on the ICM7211 data lines can be put in circuit by the user with jumpers, and those lines are read as '0' or '1' by the PIC, which then enables s/w routines if necessary.

Setting the display is simple - sequentially select digits with the 4017 and the 4-bit data on the data lines appears.

My experiments with backlighting.

Antenova Radionova RF Antenna Module

I recently saw a cute little, inexpensive GPS module offered at Digikey that includes dual PCB antennas (I assume, maybe it's one large antenna?). The company offering it, Antenova, focuses on antennas, in particular PCB antennas, and I expect this module mainly showcases their technology.




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I heard about The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk from a Hack-A-Day article, and put my name on the wiki as desiring to receive one. TGIMBOEJ is best explained as follows (from ):
The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk is a progressive lending library of electronic components. An internet meme in physical form halfway between P2P zip-archive sharing and a flea market. It arrives full of wonderful (and possibly useless) components, but you will surely find some treasures to keep. You will be inspired look through your own piles, such as they are, and find more mysterious components that clearly need to be donated to the box before it is passed on again.

Field - a novel

I participated in NaNoWriMo 2006 - the National Novel Writing Month, and successfully wrote a 50,000+ word novel - Field.

The first dozen or so pages start with a couple sent into orbit dealing with isolation, then flashes back to the middle of the problem that sent them up there in the first place.

I enjoyed writing it, and you'll find it quite enjoyable if you enjoy a bit of science fiction, set in our time.

You can get all 220 pages as a download or book for a very reasonable price.

Click here to buy the book or PDF

Click here to read the beginning sample

Electronics kits for kids

I had a Radio Shack 300-in-one electronics kit with the little spring contacts and wires. I’ve been interested in seeing how snap circuits (which have been around for quite some time now) worked in real life, but figured they’d disappear sooner or later along with all the other electronics that’s disappearing.

Back when you didn’t have a computer in every house, and tapes were still cool it was neat for kids to design a “big ear” amplifier, or a buzzer that turned on when the lights went out.


Bed of Nails PCB Assembly Tester

A Bed of Nails tester is an array of spring loaded pins (pogo pins) that accept a circuit board. The circuit board is pressed down onto the pins, and each pin makes contact with a given pad or contact on the PCB. The other side of the pin connects to circuitry used to test the PCB.

Bed of nails testers are used in PCB fabrication to make sure all the traces and vias are complete, as well as PCB assembly to test proper operation of the circuit, and may also be used to program FLASH, EEPROMs, microcontrollers, and other parts after assembly.

Phil Eisermann responded to a recent inquiry on the PICList on constructing a bed of nails tester:

Where do I end up if I dig straight down?

Alex Harford posted a message on the piclist (electronics enthusiasts, mainly PICmicro microcontrollers) debunking the common belief that if a person in the USA digs straight through the center of the earth, they'll end up in China.

I determined to resolve the question and explore where the end of the tunnel occurs given any spot on earth. I spent an hour making an antipodal geography tool using Google Maps to answer the question:
Two Google maps with markers in the center of each.  They show the opposite sides of the world.  The center of the top map is in Michigan, USA; the center of the bottom map is in the Indian Ocean.

Yummy seasoned oyster crackers

Of the various delicious foods my Grandmother (maternal) made, a few stand out to me. This is how she would season oyster crackers:


  • 24oz of oyster crackers
  • 1 Cup Oil
  • 1 package Hiden Valley Ranch Homestyle Onion Dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dillweed

Mix everything EXCEPT the crackers.
Add the crackers and mix really well.
Spread out on a cookie sheet.
Bake at ~300F-325F until crispy.

Perhaps I will locate and add the recipes for spiced peach jam, Alcapulco Delight, and her coffee cake...