So, the six week build period for robotics finally culminated four weeks ago at competition. Oh boy, interesting times. I ended up being selected as a driver for the robot, so I got the wrong end of stress. I suppose I shouldn’t really be complaining - Our spotter showed up at every single match, while we had five different drivers to spread the driving load on.
And that is why I haven’t posted in well over a month. So much to tell! Where to start?
I haven’t written much about my frustrations with Ubuntu. Being the person that I am, I upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10 the day it came out. I didn’t plan ahead for when Ubuntu irreversibly installed Unity, which I despise, on my machine.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Long story short, I installed KDE on Ubuntu and fell in love with KDE. But, turns out that it has some sort of major memory leak in it - after a mere seven days, the kernel had eaten 20 gigabytes of RAM. So much that I was starting to hit swap! I opted against living with this nightmare and switch to OpenSUSE. No memory leak so far, but it sort of wiped all of my developer tools. I cry for you, Qt. ;(
On of the things I’ve been doing on my new OpenSUSE machine is developing the BEST Robotics Simulator:
Graphically, it’s not much. But what you can’t see is that it models things like:
- A fully extended arm is much harder to lift than a retracted arm.
- The wheels spin.
It was quite a hit, mostly with the small children. As for the actual competition, that was much fun… I’ll cover that in my next post. Until then, here’s a picture of our robot:
Now, on to the story. We’ll see if I can avoid making any overly major continuity mistakes.
_Ribbet. _A frog jumped out of a puddle. Like any other day, it was raining in Naples on the college student’s walk home. He stopped short when a black stretch suburban drove up onto the sidewalk in front of him to drop off a middle-aged man on the sidewalk in front of him.
The student wouldn’t have taken notice, except that the car happened to have a United States Secret Service logo on the side. And the man was in a suit, in the rain, without an umbrella, all the while trying not to look conspicuous. Clearly a foreigner. The man casually glanced nervously around and ducked into a nearby alleyway. The student pulled out his phone and sent a quick text: “Omg! Black SUV nearly hit me,” along with a picture of the man. Pulling a cigarette out of his satchel, the student stood at the opening of the alley and, partaking in Italian tradition, smoked a cigarette with a high-magnification pair of binoculars.
Thirty seconds later, a reply text from the Italian Intelligence confirmed Antonio’s suspicion: “Not an important person. Do not deviate from current assignment.” He scratched his head, and considered for a very short time that his current assignment, fetching groceries for the station, was more important than HQ telling him to ignore a CIA agent handing a handcuffed briefcase to the Mafia.
“Stefano Bontade: Suspected head of Mafia c.1981. Suspected of drug trafficking between the United States and Italy. Whereabouts unknown, last seen in Washington on March 17th (one week ago).”
Antonio was interrupted by an impatient pounding on the door. “Antonio! Open up! This is the Agenzia Informazioni.”
He grabbed his satchel and ran for the window.
“Open or we will break down the door!”
_Dang,_ Antonio thought as he wrenched open the window they really take unauthorized data access seriously.
The door rattled. They had given up on yelling. Antonio looked down to the inconspicuously placed agents waiting for him four stories below.
_Well, this is why I learned parkour._ Antonio took one breath and, grabbing his satchel, leapt out of the window to the building across the street. When he pulled himself onto the balcony across the way he just managed to see an agent run to his window before he ducked into the hotel, which he had rented tonight for such an emergency.