Into the Wayback Machine

My buddy Connell runs an election/campaign advisory firm. He has a database that he uses to track voter profiles, create outreach lists, and the like. To minimize annoying voters — never a good idea when you’re running a campaign — he needs to stay on top of whoever has already voted, so he can take them off the outreach lists (who has voted is a matter of public record; how you vote is not).

Unfortunately, his database/computer guy isn’t available, and Connell wasn’t sure how to import the voting data. Worse yet, he couldn’t find the manual for the software. Between the two of us we came up with a number of different ways to try and work around these problems…but none of them succeeded. So, as always, when subtlety doesn’t work, it was time to turn to brute force :).

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It Can See! Or maybe “hear”…

I’ve updated my Arduino-based aquarium microcontroller project to incorporate an ultrasonic sonar sensor. The aquarium lights now stay dim during the day, except when someone is observing the tank. At which point they fade on, and stay on until the person watching the tank leaves the observation area.

As always, the project details are over in my project wiki. There’s also a Windows-based configuration utility described there as well.

The wiki entries have links to my subversion repository where the source code for the sketch and the configuration utility are available. The latest version (0.6) are sonar-enabled.


Aquarium Controller Windows Interface

Configuring my Arduino aquarium script gets a little tedious when all you have is a serial port monitor in which you read and write bytes. So I wrote a “companion” Windows application which presents a hopefully-easier-to-use interface. You can find it in my subversion repository at The Redmine wiki entry for the project (which will have more explanatory information, and also gives you access to the subversion repository) is at

I built it using version 4 of the .NET Framework, under Visual Studio 2010 on Windows 7. But I’m pretty sure it should run on anything after Windows XP Service Pack 2, provided you install version 4 of the .NET Framework, which you can find at Installing it can involve a pretty big download (the standalone version is 48 megabytes), but you only have to do it once. Plus, it may already be installed on your machine.

For those who don’t want to download the source code, you can grab the executable (currently just the debug version) at I don’t think you’ll need the PDB file unless you want debugging support.