Exciting News: We are now "The Brown Tribe"

20 Apr 2014

Goodbye pdb.homelinux.net ---- Hello thebrowntribe.net

I am proud to introduce the latest news in the web presence of me and my family: We now have our internet home at thebrowntribe.net! The old homelinux.net addresses will continue to work for a limited time, but you should update any links or addressbook entries you may have for us to point to the new domain.

The reason for the change is twofold: One, pdb.homelinux.net is not a very pretty domain. When I first started using the DynDNS service a decade ago, it was for my own private use and had no public face. Now Holly is blogging regularly from that address and we are using it for email, but it is not especially pretty or memorable, and trying to point people to pdb.homelinux.net verbally has not been easy. ("Dot Home--what???") Two, DynDNS announced earlier this month that their free dynamic DNS service would no longer be free. That means that we would be PAYING for the privilege of using a domain that we weren't that fond of. We already had the new thebrowntribe.net domain in the works before the DynDNS announcement, but once we learned of the change to a paid service, we decided to go ahead and flip the switch for the change.

To help with the transition, I put together the table below:


Location Old Address New Address
Holly's Blog http://pdb.homelinux.net/~holly/ http://thebrowntribe.net
Paul's Blog http://pdb.homelinux.net http://paul.thebrowntribe.net
Photo Gallery http://pdb.homelinux.net/gallery/ http://gallery.thebrowntribe.net


Old Address New Address
pdbrown[at] ieee.org
pdb[at] pdb.homelinux.net
paul[at] thebrowntribe.net
holly[at] pdb.homelinux.net holly[at] thebrowntribe.net
paulandholly[at] pdb.homelinux.net paulandholly[at] thebrowntribe.net

As we start using the new addresses and as I get redirects set up to forward the old addresses to the new ones, if you get errors from our webserver, suspect that email is not getting through, or otherwise notice anything that isn't working right, please let me or Holly know so I can get it straightened out.


Picnic Table

31 May 2011

Our house has a large deck out back, and ever since we moved in, Holly and I had been looking at what kind of deck furniture we could get for the deck so that we could eat outside and have others over and eat outside. We looked at patio furniture, but it was more expensive than what we wanted to pay. As I was starting to think that maybe we could make a picnic table, my brother-in-law and sister built a picnic table for their house. Their picnic table turned out nice and was not expensive, so I determined that I would try to make a picnic table myself.

We were busy enough last summer with house stuff and getting ready for Claire that I didn't want to undertake the project last year, but this spring, I definitely wanted to get something done so we could enjoy eating outside throughout the summer. I worked on putting together some plans based on the design that Sarah and Kevin had used and another site that I found on the internet. I made some changes to the designs based on comments from Sarah and Kevin and adjusted the height of the table top and the bench to get them to match our dining table since that is comfortable for us.

The final design that I came up with is for a 7 ft. long table with a table-top width of approximately 41 in. The table-top height was designed to be 30 1/2 in., and the seat height was designed to be 18 in. I included two diagonal cross-braces to stiffen the table against wobbling length-wise. My original design was sketched out on quad-ruled paper, but for this post, I drew it up in AutoCAD to make it more clear and legible. You can download a PDF of the picnic table design. The drawing includes a couple of views of the table, a list of pieces, and a parts list for a trip to the hardware store. (If you want the CAD file to modify for yourself, feel free to contact me.)

Here is the result (still unstained):

You can see the other web pages referenced above for some ideas for how to assemble the table. What I did is first attach the table top supports to the center board of the table top, taking care to get everything square. Then I attached the other table top boards to the table top supports. The carriage bolts ended up being the perfect width to put temporarily between the boards to space out the table top boards.

With the top assembled, I flipped the top over and attached the table legs. I used clamps to hold the legs in place while I drilled the bolt-holes and installed the carriage bolts. I had some difficulty getting the ends of the legs to stay flush with the bottom of the table top, and this led to the table sitting about an inch lower than designed. It was also difficult to install the nuts on the carriage bolts because the locknuts that I used took more torque to turn on than what the bolt would resist when pounded in, so I ended up having to hold the bolt with vicegrips to keep it from turning. It might have worked better to use a non-locking nut with a lock washer instead so the bolt would be tightened down pretty well before the nut started taking more torque to turn.

After installing the legs, I measured and marked the distance from the bottom of the table top to where the seat supports needed to attach to the legs. I needed help to hold the seat supports centered and level to get them clamped down for drilling the bolt holes and installing the bolts.

With the seat supports in place, the last pieces to install with the table still upside-down were the diagonal braces. These are probably the most precision-fit pieces in the whole table, and surprisingly, they actually fit right in. I guess trigonometry is good for something after all.

Then the table was flipped over to right-side up. It is actually pretty heavy and was not easy for Holly and I to flip it; we probably could have used a third person to help lift and rotate the table. The final items to install were the bench seats. I started with the outside 2x4s and then spaced the other boards inward from there. For spacing between the boards, I used decking screws rather than carriage bolts to get a smaller spacing between the boards.

When the table was all assembled, Kevin took his belt sander to the table to smooth out the corners and reduce the splinters on the wood. We didn't get all of the screws on the table top down quite far enough, so the sander took the coating off the top of some of the screws. With exposure to the weather, these screws may end up needing to be replaced if they show signs of significant corrosion.

Claire's Growth

25 May 2011

When Claire was born, I thought it would be neat to be able to track her growth against the standard growth charts published by organizations like the CDC and the WHO. I tried to find some template spreadsheets on the web, but the few that I found did not really meet what I was looking for. Not to be deterred, I developed my own. It is a little complicated under the hood, probably not that elegant in its implementation, but it works and produces pretty decent results. Below are her growth charts and links to a PDF of the table of measurements as well as the spreadsheet.

Table of Claire's Growth Measurements

Growth Chart Spreadsheet (Gnumeric)

The growth chart spreadsheet was developed originally in OpenOffice.org, but I converted it to Gnumeric to get better export options for the charts. It also turned out that Gnumeric was much faster and was able to handle some data conversion within the charts that simplified the chart configuration considerably. The SVG output of charts from Gnumeric is very nice. I used Inkscape to open the SVG output from Gnumeric, add the drop shadow to the charts, and export to an image file for the web.

I still have the OpenOffice.org version of the spreadsheet as well as an MS Excel version that lacks the BMI data. If you would like either of those versions, let me know and I can share them as well.