Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall time photography

I noticed the leaves today - they spread the gamut this time of year.
After work, I went for a walk and took some pictures. I think I'm probably better suited to sticking to the night skies, photography-wise.

Cropped, and aligned.

This guy was a passenger on one of the above.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


I wasn't up for setting up lots of gear, so just took the camera out. In the center of the image is Andromeda. The galactic core is pretty easily visible, but not much else - it gets washed out in light pollution. The aperture on the lens is pretty tiny, so I'm sure that's part of the issue - maybe I'll try for it with a proper setup next time.

For what it's worth, I shot around 40 lights and 10 darks @ 3.2 seconds, ISO 3200.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Testing the positive-pressure workstation.

On Friday of last week, I decided to run a test over the weekend to get an idea of how effective my positive-pressure workstation would be at its obvious task. I put a first-gen iPad one screen on top of the workstation, and one inside the workstation. I turned the fans on, wiped them both down until I was satisfied at their relatively clean appearances, and then took a look at them this morning.

I made two discoveries. First, the workstation seems to be up for the challenge. And second, apparently it's very difficult for my phone to auto-focus on an extremely reflective surface. That said this update and the images probably aren't worth going through the trouble of taking the DSLR into the shop. I used a sheet of 11" x 17" paper to allow for a semi-consistent reflected image in the screens. Despite the image quality issues, the differences are obvious:

The control display.

The display inside the workstation.
While I definitely noticed one or two small pieces of dust on the unit inside the workstation, I'm not sure that it warrants the upgrades I mused over in the previous post. But again, this was only a test.

Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY positive-pressure workstation for minimizing dust and other particulate

The design and construction of a positive-pressure workstation. 

This is the completed project, less nylon filters over
the intake fans. The dimensions are roughly 16" x 16" x 30"

As those experienced with repairing or modifying tech hardware know, different platforms often mean requiring different tools to do a job effectively and effectively. Having replaced my share of tablet and smartphone displays, I'm no stranger to the frustration that dust can cause when the display and digitizer or front glass are separate pieces. Under normal circumstances (e.g., only having to occasionally take on such a repair), the process of simply keeping the dust-sensitive parts covered until as close to final assembly as possibly, then using some combination of microfiber cloth and compressed air will suffice. Though even then, I've been faced with having to remove a newly replaced digitizer to access and remove dust that somehow slipped by. 

Knowing that my tablet (iPad) repair workload is about to explode, I asked myself, “how can I avoid this problem?” The answer I came up with is to utilize some sort of positive-pressure workstation (PPWS), where filtered air would be pushed into an enclosed work area thereby pushing any dust or other particulate in the air out through the an opening, thereby creating a dust-free, or at least a near-dust free area to work. A bit of research yielded disappointing results (that is, after “calling for a quote” I learned the units I was interested in were running from $1600 - $2300. Granted, these are professionally constructed commercial-quality units for culturing in labs, or hard drive platter data recovery, etc – simply beyond my requirement to eliminate visible dust/particulate in my work area. I figured I could design and build a serviceable unit for a fraction of the price. 

I'd like to share the rough design process with you here, in hopes of it helping someone that doesn't want to spend thousands of dollars for something that (or at least a rough equivalent of) can be put together for well under $100US.

The concept was simple: build a frame for the enclosure; seal off enclosure, less for controlled air flow; be able to see what's inside the enclosure. With this in mind, I made a few sketches looking at various PVC fittings and clear acrylic on Home Depot's website. 

These were some of the original sketches I did (that I just
 pulled out of the recycling bin to take a picture of). Note
that the two on the lower piece of paper assumed I could
find a PVC adapter that allowed for three pieces of pipe
to meet at one corner. The 'design' above worked with
what I had access to, the "tee" and "elbow" fittings.

The shopping list I took to the hardware store looked something like this:
  • ~30 feet of half-inch PVC
  • PVC "tee fittings," and "elbow fittings"
  • PVC cement
  • Machine screws, 1.5 inch, washers, and nuts
  • Duct tape
  • Weather stripping
  • Acrylic sheet (30" x 36", if I recall)
  • "Twinwall" plastic sheeting - I used two 24" x 36"
I already had all the tools necessary for the project. These included a drill with various sized bits, a rotatory tool with cutting wheels, a heat gun, a manual miter saw (probably not necessary), a utility knife, sandpaper, pliers and screwdriver, zip ties, thread locker, and the necessary soldering supplies and electronics (which I will discuss later).

Should you want to build your own PPWS, I say ignore my shopping list for the time being, as after I feel as though I would make significant changes that only came to mind after the build. I will describe the my process, then describe what I would have done differently were I to start from scratch knowing what I do now. 

Working from my sloppy design above, I started to do a (dry) assembly of the pieces necessary. Measuring off and marking the length desired (accounting for the fitting on either end) I used a miter saw for relatively straight cuts, but again, I'm sure there's better ways to cut PVC. 

Note the 'plan' on the sheet of paper to the left. 

I hadn't ever worked with PVC as a structural element before, so when everything came together, more or less as planned, I felt like I was on to something. 

There was a bit of slop in some of spans. I attribute this to the fact that I "measured once, cut once," as opposed to what my father, as I assume many others have shared, "measure twice, cut once." After trimming or replacing the offending lengths, the frame was broken down into smaller parts and PVC cement was applied to make the bond permanent. This was the first time I'd used PVC cement, and you must work quickly to line things up before it sets - I'm not sure if there's a "slow setting" alternative, but for a little more breathing room, I would have opted for such. 

I can't remember what size of bit this was, but needless
to say, it was the right size for the machine screws.

At this point, I was ready to eyeball where the plastic sides and backing would be anchored to the frame. I drilled several holes on the frame for the sides and back. Then applied weather stripping to ensure that I had as close to an airtight seal as possible.

I quickly found out that it was also necessary to pre-drill
plastic sheeting and pop a hole through the weather stripping 
as well in order for everything to go together smoothly.

Using a washer (in my case, it was a finishing washer, as the hardware store only had one package of standard washers, a screw and a bolt, the first pieces of plastic sheeting was secured in place. In order to avoid a crease in the corner, a heat gun was used to to allow for a more graceful bend around to the back of the frame, and additional hardware was used to keep the sheeting secured. The same process was repeated on the other side of the frame. The top of the sheeting was trimmed just above flush to the PVC frame.

Looking down into the frame, seeing the left side and back. Note 
that you can see the two pieces of plastic sheeting overlapping.

Next was the last major structural part of the build - the acrylic sheet. I hadn't ever attempted to use acrylic in anyway that required bends to be put into it, though I knew that it could be done.

I knew that I wanted the clear acrylic to come down 
rouly 8" in front, which would leave an 8" gap under
the bottom of the window for my arms, tools, and hardware
to enter, and as importantly, for air to come out of.

Actually creating the bend was a bit more work than I had anticipated, or at least took more physical force than I would have guessed. I setup the acrylic between two boards as shown in the image below, with the mark just beyond the edge of the bottom board, and the back board recessed slightly - in place of a sawhorse and clamps I used a table and free weighs to hold the setup in place.

After several slow passes with the heatgun on low I was becoming frustrated that the plastic did not want to bend very much at all. I took a break and looked around online to see if I was missing something. It nothing jumped out at me in terms of why this shouldn't be working. After a few more, tries using a similar method, I decided it was time to become more persuasive. With the heatgun on high, making several close passes, then focusing back and forth on one end, I used a third board to apply a firm force across bottom end of the acrylic sheet. Sure enough, if started to give. I repeated the process on the other side and across the length until I had what looked to be an even 90(ish) degree curve, not releasing the lower board until I was confident the sheet had cooled long enough to hold its shape. I was somewhat concerned that I may have discolored the sheet due to the amount (and proximity) of heat, however, it was only the protective plastic that was to blame.

Peeling back the plastic - things are really taking shape.

As on the sides, I applied a layer of weather stripping along the top left, back, and right edges of the frame and put the acrylic in place. It was only at this point that I came to realize how fragile. The bit I used to drill holes for the screws was apparently far too large to use on this piece of acrylic without cracking it. Lucky, I was able to make a score mark on the other side of the most affected area and snap it off without issue. Experimenting with scrap I became confident in using a very small bit to drill a pilot hole, then using a cone grinding stone on a Dremel/rotary tool to open them up to the appropriate size - I'm sure there's a better way of doing this, I just don't know what it is - the method was effective and I was anxious. A layer of (white) duct tape was made for an airtight seal between acrylic and the sides/back.

The grinding stone used to widen the pilot holes in the acrylic.
My assumption is that the friction melted the plastic and the
centrifugal force threw threw it outward as it cooled off.

The fans were placed at equal intervals across the rear/top of the workstation. With the protective plastic still in place, they were traced using sharpie and their four mounting holes marked. Removing the fan, the the corners were marked off to create right triangles as shown in my super-awesome diagram below.
The octagonal shape was cut using a dremal/rotary tool
with a cutting disk, and the dots indicate where screw 
holes were made using the method indicated above.

Next came mounting the fans. To ensure a good seal, I again used weather stripping along the opening around the acrylic in hopes of obtaining a good seal and prevent possible vibrations from the fans resonating through the rest of the workstation. 

A view looking up from inside the workstation.
Fans are mounted and wires zip-tied into place.

As far as wiring the the fans go, I took a couple things into consideration. The first of which being that they're standard 12 volt, 90mm PC fans; next, I wanted to be able to drive them easily from an external power supply. Due to resources readily available in the shop I settled on using an laptop power adapter with an output of 19.5 volts and more than enough current to push ten times the number of fans I'm using. I also had access to compatible DC jacks to fit the power supply. The fans are wired in series drawing ~6.5v/each, they're certainly audible, but not any more noisy than my solder fume extractor or the like.

The DC jack fit into place, prior to securing with epoxy.

A power switch was also added, as seen just on the inside of the window
on the left side of the unit. The cables were temporarily secured with
masking tape while the epoxy bonded it to the PVC.

For filters, I'm currently using a single layer of nylon (cut from tights), which are secured over the fan's intake. Preliminary tests are promising, but I won't be putting the unit to its full potential use for a couple more months, where I expect to see (too) many iPads with broken glass coming into the shop. 

Generally, I'm happy with the outcome, however there are a few tweaks I may make depending upon need. The first of which is to find a more suitable filter material - I don't need anything HEPA grade, but am open to experimenting with anything that will both allow for good airflow and trap dust. The next most obvious thing I could try is upping the drive voltage on the fans, while they're designed to be run through a range, at 6.5, I'm just using half of their rated potential. Third, there's no reason I couldn't tear out the 90mm fans, do some additional cutting and install 120mm, or even 200mm fans. Though these are just notes for the future - it may be that the current setup does more than I need it to do.

If I were to do it again:

The first thing I'd have to admit, is that my design is probably over constructed and unnecessarily complex. While the PVC support frame is necessary, I'm not sure that the cross beams on the top/back were. With the addition of the plastic sheeting, and even the acrylic, additional rigidity is added, and I believe that such a design, while not as robust, would serve its purpose without much bowing or bending. 

Next, I'd lose the weather stripping in favor of a silicone adhesive/sealant - not only would this fill in any tiny gaps the weather stripping failed to, it would also reduce the need for as much hardware securing the the external walls and acrylic to the frame. I could see the use of such an adhesive easily cutting down the number of nuts/bolts/washers I used by a half.

Third, I would change the shape of the workstation. Naturally, where the acrylic bends, the image is distorted - this isn't really an issue for me as the height of my chair at the workbench I use this on is adjustable and I'm able to lower myself into a comfortable position where I'm able to see my work clearly. But I like the design I quickly mocked up below would make this a non-issue (that is, having the acrylic perpendicular to line-of-site, regardless of how tall the user is.

Just for clarity's sake, the red boxes represent the fans,
the area with the blue lines the acrylic, and the black
outline the structural PCV/plastic walls. 

That's about it for this time - the post turned out to be a lot longer than I had initially thought it would be... and I apologize from for my inconsistency between first and third person narrative. I realized I was doing that partway through the post but didn't feel like going back and correcting it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I've successfully constructed a solar filter for my SCT and decided to have a go with it. Shooting the sun, obviously, will require experimenting with new techniques, but I got the concept down, at least.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jupiter, reprocessed.

With some motivation coming from being slightly more comfortable with Registax, I decided to reprocess some imagery I had from earlier this year. Considering I'm working from the same data as the images in this post, I'm satisfied with the result, even if it does look a bit over processed. Progress is progress, nevertheless.

The moon in a pinch

Yesterday evening around 5:30 I noticed the moon was fairly high in the sky and clouds were rolling in. It was still hours before sunset and there was a misty. I thought it might be fun to capture some images in hopes of working with them in Registax. 

Unfortunately, because (I'm assuming) the lack of foreground/background contrast, the software threw down  align-points all over the place, and I wasn't having much luck setting them manually. So rather than continue to play around in Registax, I fired up Photoshop to see what I could do with my hazy images. Between using setting a duplicate layer to multiply, opacity settings, and brightness/contrast adjustments, I was satisfied enough to share. 

Below is the image the above is processed from. For what it's worth, it's 1/30th @ ISO100.

Monday, June 3, 2013


This is my first go with Saturn. Captured a video using prime focus, then stacked the top five percent of 3300+ frames in RegiStax 6. Only have a slight idea of how to go about using that software, but for a few minutes of tweaking, and considering the input, I'm happy with the result. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Common daemons and their description

I'm not sure that this will be useful to anyone, spending somet ime looking at /etc/init.d/ made me realize there were a number of daemons and scripts in there that I wasn't comfortably familiar with. I wasn't able to find a simple list of the descriptions online, so decided to throw one togeher myself. Unless otherwise noted, these are just copy/pasted from Debian's packages pages.
tool to generate fake key events 
This package contains a small tool that can be used to generate key events as if the corresponding key was pressed. It is used by scripts processing ACPI events to translate these events to key presses but can also be used separately.
scripts for handling many ACPI events 
This package contains scripts to react to various ACPI events. It only includes scripts for events that can be supported with some level of safety cross platform.
It is able to:
 * Detect loss and gain of AC power, lid closure, and the press of a
   number of specific buttons (on Asus, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony
   and Toshiba laptops).
 * Suspend, hibernate and resume the computer, with workarounds for
   hardware that needs it.
 * On some laptops, set screen brightness.

Advanced Configuration and Power Interface event daemon 
Modern computers support the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) to allow intelligent power management on your system and to query battery and configuration status.
ACPID is a completely flexible, totally extensible daemon for delivering ACPI events. It listens on netlink interface (or on the deprecated file /proc/acpi/event), and when an event occurs, executes programs to handle the event. The programs it executes are configured through a set of configuration files, which can be dropped into place by packages or by the admin.
cron-like program that doesn't go by time
Anacron (like `anac(h)ronistic') is a periodic command scheduler. It executes commands at intervals specified in days. Unlike cron, it does not assume that the system is running continuously. It can therefore be used to control the execution of daily, weekly and monthly jobs (or anything with a period of n days), on systems that don't run 24 hours a day. When installed and configured properly, Anacron will make sure that the commands are run at the specified intervals as closely as machine-uptime permits.
This package is pre-configured to execute the daily jobs of the Debian system. You should install this program if your system isn't powered on 24 hours a day to make sure the maintenance jobs of other Debian packages are executed each day.

Utilities for Advanced Power Management (APM) 
On laptop computers, the Advanced Power Management (APM) support provides access to battery status information and may help you to conserve battery power, depending on your laptop and the APM implementation. The apmd program also lets you run arbitrary programs when APM events happen (for example, you can eject PCMCIA devices when you suspend, or change hard drive timeouts when you connect the battery).
This package contains apmd(8), a daemon for logging and acting on APM events; and apm(1), a client that prints the information in /proc/apm in a readable format.
apmd is notified of APM events by the APM driver in the kernel.
Since lenny Debian kernels are not built with APM support anymore. You need to compile a kernel with apm support enabled to use this package. You need to boot the kernel with the "apm=on" option if you want to enable the driver.
In most cases, users may want to know that there are newer power management schemes, like ACPI.

In some Unix-like computer operating systems it uses a daemon, atd, which waits in the background periodically checking the list of jobs to do and executing those at their scheduled time on behalf of at. (source)

Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD daemon 
Avahi is a fully LGPL framework for Multicast DNS Service Discovery. It allows programs to publish and discover services and hosts running on a local network with no specific configuration. For example you can plug into a network and instantly find printers to print to, files to look at and people to talk to.
This package contains the Avahi Daemon which represents your machine on the network and allows other applications to publish and resolve mDNS/DNS-SD records.

console font and keymap setup program 
This package provides the Linux console with the same keyboard configuration scheme as the X Window System. As a result, there is no need to duplicate or change the keyboard files just to make simple customizations such as the use of dead keys, the key functioning as AltGr or Compose key, the key(s) to switch between Latin and non-Latin mode, etc.
The package also contains console fonts supporting many of the world's languages. It provides an unified set of font faces - the classic VGA, the simplistic Fixed, and the cleaned Terminus, TerminusBold and TerminusBoldVGA.

utilities to deal with the cpufreq Linux kernel feature 
This package contains two utilities for inspecting and setting the CPU frequency through both the sysfs and procfs CPUFreq kernel interfaces.
By default, it also enables CPUFreq at boot time if the correct CPU driver is found.

process scheduling daemon 
The cron daemon is a background process that runs particular programs at particular times (for example, every minute, day, week, or month), as specified in a crontab. By default, users may also create crontabs of their own so that processes are run on their behalf.
Output from the commands is usually mailed to the system administrator (or to the user in question); you should probably install a mail system as well so that you can receive these messages.
This cron package does not provide any system maintenance tasks. Basic periodic maintenance tasks are provided by other packages, such as checksecurity.

Common UNIX Printing System(tm) - server 
The Common UNIX Printing System (or CUPS(tm)) is a printing system and general replacement for lpd and the like. It supports the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), and has its own filtering driver model for handling various document types.
This package provides the CUPS scheduler/daemon and related file

simple interprocess messaging system (daemon and utilities) 
D-Bus is a message bus, used for sending messages between applications. Conceptually, it fits somewhere in between raw sockets and CORBA in terms of complexity.
D-Bus supports broadcast messages, asynchronous messages (thus decreasing latency), authentication, and more. It is designed to be low-overhead; messages are sent using a binary protocol, not using XML. D-Bus also supports a method call mapping for its messages, but it is not required; this makes using the system quite simple.
It comes with several bindings, including GLib, Python, Qt and Java.
This package contains the D-Bus daemon and related utilities.
The client-side library can be found in the libdbus-1-3 package, as it is no longer contained in this package

metapackage to ease Exim MTA (v4) installation 
Exim (v4) is a mail transport agent. exim4 is the metapackage depending on the essential components for a basic exim4 installation.

utilities to read temperature/voltage/fan sensors 
Lm-sensors is a hardware health monitoring package for Linux. It allows you to access information from temperature, voltage, and fan speed sensors. It works with most newer systems.
This package contains a daemon that calculates fan speeds from temperatures and sets the corresponding PWM outputs to the computed values.
Filesystem in Userspace
Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) is a simple interface for userspace programs to export a virtual filesystem to the Linux kernel. It also aims to provide a secure method for non privileged users to create and mount their own filesystem implementations.

GNOME Display Manager 
gdm provides the equivalent of a "login:" prompt for X displays- it pops up a login window and starts an X session.
It provides all the functionality of xdm, including XDMCP support for managing remote displays.
The greeting window is written using the GNOME libraries and hence looks like a GNOME application- even to the extent of supporting themes! By default, the greeter is run as an unprivileged user for security.

tune hard disk parameters for high performance 
Get/set device parameters for Linux SATA/IDE drives. Primary use is for enabling irq-unmasking and IDE multiplemode.

Linux console font and keytable utilities
This package allows you to set up the Linux console, change the font, resize text mode virtual consoles and remap the keyboard.

tools for managing Linux kernel modules 
This package contains a set of programs for loading, inserting, and removing kernel modules for Linux. It replaces module-init-tools.

lm-sensorsutilities to read temperature/voltage/fan sensors 
Lm-sensors is a hardware health monitoring package for Linux. It allows you to access information from temperature, voltage, and fan speed sensors. It works with most newer systems.
This package contains programs to help you set up and read data from lm-sensors.

a message of the day browser for X 
Xmotd is a message-of-the-day browser for X11 (with additional sysvnews-like support for dumb terminals). It displays a customizable message box which displays each message-of-the-day until the user has read them all, and then creates a stamp-file.

network management framework daemon 
NetworkManager attempts to keep an active network connection available at all times. It is intended only for the desktop use-case, and is not intended for usage on servers. The point of NetworkManager is to make networking configuration and setup as painless and automatic as possible. If using DHCP, NetworkManager is _intended_ to replace default routes, obtain IP addresses from a DHCP server, and change nameservers whenever it sees fit.
This package provides the userspace daemons.

NFS support files common to client and serve 
Use this package on any machine that uses NFS, either as client or server. Programs included: lockd, statd, showmount, nfsstat, gssd, idmapd and mount.nfs.

RPC port mapper 
Portmap is a server that converts RPC (Remote Procedure Call) program numbers into DARPA protocol port numbers. It must be running in order to make RPC calls.
Services that use RPC include NFS and NIS.

PPP is the protocol used for establishing internet links over dial-up modems, DSL connections, and many other types of point-to-point links. The pppd daemon works together with the kernel PPP driver to establish and maintain a PPP link with another system (called the peer) and to negotiate Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for each end of the link. Pppd can also authenticate the peer and/or supply authentication information to the peer. PPP can be used with other network protocols besides IP, but such use is becoming increasingly rare. (source)
/proc file system utilities 
This package provides command line and full screen utilities for browsing procfs, a "pseudo" file system dynamically generated by the kernel to provide information about the status of entries in its process table (such as whether the process is running, stopped, or a "zombie").
It contains free, kill, pkill, pgrep, pmap, ps, pwdx, skill, slabtop, snice, sysctl, tload, top, uptime, vmstat, w, and watch.

converts RPC program numbers into universal addresses 
The rpcbind utility is a server that converts RPC program numbers into universal addresses.

fast remote file copy program (like rcp) 
rsync is a program that allows files to be copied to and from remote machines in much the same way as rcp. It has many more options than rcp, and uses the rsync remote-update protocol to greatly speed up file transfers when the destination file already exists.
The rsync remote-update protocol allows rsync to transfer just the differences between two sets of files across the network link.
This package also includes rsyncd daemon functionality.

enhanced multi-threaded syslogd 
Rsyslog is an enhanced syslogd supporting, amongst others:
 * reliable syslog over TCP and SSL/TLS
 * on-demand disk buffering
 * email alerting
 * writing to MySQL or PostgreSQL databases (via separate output plugins)
 * permitted sender lists
 * filtering on any part of the syslog message
 * on-the-wire message compression
 * fine grained output format control
 * backup log destinations
It is quite compatible to stock sysklogd and can be used as a drop-in replacement. Its advanced features make it suitable for enterprise-class, encryption protected syslog relay chains while at the same time being very easy to setup for the novice user

SMB/CIFS file, print, and login server for Unix 
Samba is an implementation of the SMB/CIFS protocol for Unix systems, providing support for cross-platform file and printer sharing with Microsoft Windows, OS X, and other Unix systems. Samba can also function as an NT4-style domain controller, and can integrate with both NT4 domains and Active Directory realms as a member server.
This package provides the components necessary to use Samba as a stand-alone file and print server. For use in an NT4 domain or Active Directory realm, you will also need the winbind package.
This package is not required for connecting to existing SMB/CIFS servers (see smbclient) or for mounting remote filesystems (see cifs-utils).

secure shell client and server (metapackage) 
This metapackage is a convenient way to install both the OpenSSH client and the OpenSSH server. It provides nothing in and of itself, so you may remove it if nothing depends on it.

Provide limited super user privileges to specific users 
Sudo is a program designed to allow a sysadmin to give limited root privileges to users and log root activity. The basic philosophy is to give as few privileges as possible but still allow people to get their work done.

/dev/ and hotplug management daemon 
udev is a daemon which dynamically creates and removes device nodes from /dev/, handles hotplug events and loads drivers at boot time. 
X Window System (X.Org) infrastructure 
x11-common contains the filesystem infrastructure required for further installation of the X Window System in any configuration; it does not provide a full installation of clients, servers, libraries, and utilities required to run the X Window System.
A number of terms are used to refer to the X Window System, including "X", "X Version 11", "X11", "X11R6", and "X11R7". The version of X used in Debian is derived from the version released by the X.Org Foundation, and is thus often also referred to as "X.Org". All of the preceding quoted terms are functionally interchangeable in an Debian system.

Monday, April 29, 2013

IPDA topics from an April 2013 tournament.

I was asked to write topics for a tournament that occurred over the last weekend. I don't have the full list, but I'm glad to share what I was able to dig up. As always, feel free to use, modify, and share.

China should take significant steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The USFG should take significant steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Thatcher did more harm than good.
GMO's don't deserve their bad reputation.
"In politics the middle way is none at all." 
The US should significantly decrease its use of weaponzied drones.
The USFG should significantly increase its domestic anti-terrorism efforts.
The USFG should cease use of weaponized drones in North Waziristan.
Obama is a lame duck President.
"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."

The US Supreme Court should find Prop 8 unconstituional.
The Keystone XL Pipeline project should be approved.
The USFG should reinstate the assault rifles ban.
George W. Bush will be looked upon favorably by history. 
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
The USFG should significantly increase regulations for private universities.
The USFG should significantly increase funding for Community Colleges.
The USFG should remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jupiter, take one.

I've made a couple of attempts at imaging Jupiter, but I've had some difficulty obtaining a sharp focus. I don't know if this is due to poor seeing conditions, or if I'm just too clumsy with the knob.  Of course, these were among my first attempts after getting a T-ring and adapter for my camera. I may give it another go using eyepiece projection.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Modifying a digital photo frame for ease of access

Over the last holiday season I spent some time looking for a digital photo frame to give to someone I'm very close to that's suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. While such a device might not be the easiest to operate by someone in such a condition, I assumed I'd be able to find a product simplified controls and large buttons, geared toward seniors or the like. It didn't take long before I realized that I would need to build or modify a device myself in order to come up with something to suit my needs. 

Months have passed since then, and while I've considered patenting the design, I feel as though it can do more good being released under a Creative Commons license. My build, after loaded with pictures was not only completely operational as intended, but brought "overwhelming" tears of joy to a person's eyes. It was more than I could have hoped for - and if you are able to use or expand on this idea to bring joy into someone else's life, all the better. 

Anyway, on to the build. 

The goals were straight forward. A digital picture frame with large obvious buttons for controlling at least play/pause, forward, and back. Essentially, the device needed to center around an ease-of-access design.

A quick mock-up of the design.

The process started by selecting a digital picture frame to modify - I just so happened to have a Best Buy gift card with a few bucks left on it, so settled for an inexpensive 7" Dynex frame, though any frame with a significant bezel surrounding the screen itself would work fine. 

Most digital photo frames have their controls located on the back or sides. Beneath the buttons, there will be some sort of circuit board - it should be obvious once the frame is disassembled. On the Dynex frame, there was a separate board connected to the main board via ribbon cable.

The back of the board that connects to the plastic buttons.

Because no schematic of the device was available to me, I had to figure out what trace led to what button - unfortunately this wasn't as simple as referencing the button-facing side of the board to the other side. However, by probing/shorting first the six wires connecting to the board, then the different wires to the sides of the surface-mount resistors located on the board I was able to locate what needed to be shorted for the appropriate buttons - just take notes through the process. This was obviously done with the unit turned on, and connecting one conductive point to another (I used probes from my multimeter) and then observing the effect, if any on the display. It should go without saying that, even though the power supply knocks down the voltage and current considerably, it's always advisable to exercise caution when dealing with anything, even indirectly, hooked up to mains. 

A less than pretty solder job got the job done.

Using some ribbon cable stripped pulled from an old IDE cable, I made sure I had enough length to get the wires to where I intended to put them on the bezel of the frame. It's also worth noting that I put a switch in series with the the DC-in on the main board. The switch can be seen with the momentary push buttons below. I also used an appropriate adhesive to assure the solider joints would not be strained. Hot glue is dandy, but it would be a mistake to rely on tape alone for such. 

Wired and secured, everything was testing okay.

The last thing I did, which probably should have been among the first was use a dremel to create openings for the buttons and switch:

I'm  not sure that it would have been much better if I had laid out and cut holes first, but it was necessary for me to modify the base of the buttons in order to fit them into inner the bezel around the display. You can actually see such in the image above - I had to flatten out one side of the button to accommodate the metal housing of the LCD. Learn from my mistakes, I suppose.

The final step was to cut the appropriate openings for the outer bezel/facade and clean it all up. 

One additional step I could have taken was to do a similar modification to the remote. Many digital photo frames come with IR remotes, and the exact same process could used to put large, tactile buttons inside a small project box. Should I make a similar build, I may go this route instead - even the small coin-cell battery could be swapped out for an AA or similar, meaning a battery wouldn't have to be replaced for a very long time. Or even build a remote that is tethered to the frame - the options are endless, I suppose. 

Wired or IR remote mock-up.

Anyway, it's obvious (at least in retrospect) that there's a number of changes that I'd make, but the concept is sound - and allowing someone whose memory (and mind) is fading away to revisit past decades thanks to scanned pictures and a digital frame made the effort more than worth while. If anyone has any questions, or would like assistance with such a setup, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Creative Commons License
Modifying a digital photo frame for ease of access by Nik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Video of the moon in overcast skies

The skies were looking relatively clear at dusk last night so I decided to setup in hopes of capturing the Horsehead Nebula, though as luck would have it, the clouds started rolling in just a few minutes after it got dark enough to see stars in that area of the sky.

Because the cloud cover was relatively light, some features of the moon were still visible through the haze to the naked eye, so I thought it might be fun to swing the 'scope around and take a look. Obviously, the view wasn't super sharp, but seeing the way the clouds passed overhead made for an interesting sight. 

The resolution on the video is up to 1080p - enjoy :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

The moon

This was a capture from mid-January of this year. As I recall, I stitched a couple of images together to come up with the final product.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A small tDCS update

I've only had a handful of sessions so far - and while I've not been able to come up with a truly objective method of tracking results, early findings are encouraging. Cambridge Brain Sciences has some great resources for testing/tracking. Admittedly, I can't establish causation, but it's hard not to be a bit excited and a lot intrigued.

The first score I can attribute to simply not being comfortable with the mechanics of the test. Whether the following increase in score is due to a practice effect, or the tDCS, I can't say. The test itself is called "Double Trouble," and is one of the few tests I've taken on the site, with the last data point being immediately after stimulation, whereas the others were either hours or days after such.

I need to do more work on establishing a baseline. At this point, it's been over a week since I've had a tDCS session, and may give it a few more days in hopes of having any residual effect wear off. At that point, I intend to spend some more time taking the tests offered, and call that my "baseline," then resume tDCS sessions.

For what it's worth, I've done perhaps 4 sessions total, starting at 1.0ma up to 1.9ma for 20 minutes - all with the standard M1/motor cortex stimulation.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

IPDA topics from a February 2012 tournament

It seems like my IPDA posts (for better or worse) draw the most attention, so I've decided to post things I've written as I think about / come across them. Below are a handful of topics I wrote for a tournament just over a year ago; obviously some are no longer relevant. Because they were just emailed to the tournament director in order to supplement other topics, they're unorganized - so take what you will :)

The GOP should elect Romney as their candidate.
The US should take military action in Syria.
The USFG should reform the patent system.
The US should make significant investments in nuclear power.
In politics opinions are more important than facts.
Anonymous is a force for good.
The new unemployment numbers are an accurate indicator of the economy’s long-term health.
The US should significantly reduce its nuclear stockpile.
Unions have outlived their usefulness.
An amendment should be passed to overturn Citizens United.
The 99% are irrelevant.
Censoring scientific data is never justified.
The Department of Education should require year-round primary school.
Israel should preemptively strike Iran.
The US should do more to fight online piracy.
The Super Bowl is a waste of time.
The US should intervene in Juarez.
Revitalizing the manufacturing sector is key to long term economic stability.
Coke is better than Pepsi.

Monday, March 11, 2013

IPDA Primer (a crash course)

I wrote the below about a year ago in order to give brand new competitors on the team a basic idea of how to handle IPDA. Because it's incomplete, I called it a draft (and still do so), but rather than keep the "not for redistribution" bit and let the document sit on my hard drive, I thought I'd let it out into the wild. I may put some additional time into this, making it a more complete primer, if there's any interest.

For what it's worth, despite my criticisms of IPDA, I would encourage any program to play with the format, if only for its accessibility... because any form of debate is better than no debate :)

Rereading the below for the first time since writing it, I've made a couple of notes marked in red. Questions, comments, or criticisms are welcome.

AC:5:00, CX:2:00, NC:6:00, CX:2:00, 1AR:3:00, NR:5:00, 2AR: 3:00.

Debaters will be given five topics to select from. Topics are eliminated one at a time through the back and forth process of striking starting with the negative.
  • Consider your position, what you know about your judge, as well as the specific language used.
  • Start thinking of potential arguments from the moment you've read the resolutions.
  • Use poorly written resolutions to your advantage! Look for superlatives or other cases where the debate is practically won prior to the round even beginning.
  • Typically, metaphors should be avoided if you're negative, as they tend explode the affirmatives ground. The inverse is also true, but depends on the metaphor itself.
IPDA prep is 30 minutes long. You will typically have access to the internet, coaches, other competitors, etc during prep. Despite the likelihood of assistance during prep, do not waste time by waiting for someone to help you – dig in and start jotting down ideas for arguments, responses or questions to ask during CX, looking up evidence and statistics, etc.

Case Construction
Structure and organization are key.
No single structure is set mandatory, and the below is provided as a common example.

1) Resolutional Analysis / Framework
This is done by the affirmative, but can be argued against, or provided by the negative if the affirmative fails to do so.
  • Define terms in the resolution
    • Often definitions are contextual, however there will be instances when terms (or even the whole topic in case of metaphors) require definitions
  • Identify case type
    • IPDA cases are usually treated as either fact or value debates (rarely policy*). Key words to look for are “is” in the case of a fact, and “would” in the case of a value - while the word “should,” would usually imply a policy, it's typically treated as a value.
      *Which is unfortunate, see my post on why policy topics are superior here.
  • Provide a criterion
    • This is the way the round ought to be evaluated. There are any number of criterion that can be used; with a fact round “preponderance of evidence," or "qualitative on balance" is usually safe, a value debate can be determined using a “best upholds," criterion, with a value specified (e.g. economic stability, security, human rights, etc). A criterion of "qualitative on balance" is also very common. Policy cases = better debate, again see this post. Policy rounds also allow for use of "net benefits" as a criterion, which allows any other weighing mechanism to operate within it.
  • Establish burdens
    • This is laying down the conditions under which either competitor can win the debate utilizing the criterion or criterion/value.
2) Positions / Arguments / Points / Contentions
Aim for having between two and four points well developed during prep time.
Apply some sort of internal structure to the positions, e.g. “Point A,” “first point under this argument,” etc. 
Argument structure will vary but should always provide evidence, warrants, and impacts, even if you don't refer to them as such. There are a number of ways to structure the arguments, one possibility is as follows:
    • Background
      • X is going on right now and it's really messed up – provide supporting evidence
    • Support resolution (i.e. supporting the resolution allows for BG issues to be addressed)
    • Outcome/benefit/impact/etc
      • This is where you talk about “why it matters,” or “this is important because...” - a significant portion of time should be spent here, as it gives the judge something to evaluate.
      • Suggestions for ways to evaluate the import or outcomes of your positions can be (and borrowing from an NPDA a few years ago):
        • magnitude
          • large-scale events, or events that affect more people are more important than those that do not
        • probability
          • events that are more likely to occur are more important than events that are less likely to occur.
        • time frame
          • things that happen sooner are more important than things that happen later.

3) Rebuttals
These speeches summarize the debate and tell the judge why you've won. While you should be weighing your arguments against your opponent from the first opportunity, these are the last speeches in the round, and thus, your last chance to win a ballot. Because the affirmative has twice the number of rebuttals, it makes sense for the affirmative to first address off-case, then address on-case with the second rebuttal.

  • Offensive argumentation is always going to be preferable to defensive argumentation. Turn positions (i.e. have them work against your opponent), rather than mitigate when possible.
  • Utilizing CX time effectively can be a way of granting yourself what is equivalent to two additional minutes of argumentation. Offense before defense.
  • An argument dropped is an argument conceded.
  • While filling up your time will usually work to your advantage, there's no need to repeat yourself. If you've gone over everything and have nothing left to say during a speech or CX, “I concede the remainder of my time,” or “thank you, no further questions,” is completely appropriate.
  • Don't be a jerk.
  • If all else fails, smile and bat your eyelashes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Astrophotography with Android

Even though I'm just scratching the surface of what's possible with astrophotography, it didn't take me long to learn that it can become somewhat arduous to setup all the hardware commonly associated with the process (not to mention dealing with power requirements and packing it all up after wrapping up a session).

The "full setup" for me would look something like this:
  • Telescope
  • Power
  • Camera + USB cable + T-ring / T-Adapter
  • Laptop (with BackyardEOS, Stellarium, Canon's EOS utility, etc). 
  • USB to Serial adapter
  • Serial to Nexstar/autoguide port adapter
  • A table or similar to setup on
Right now, I find it far more satisfying to be able to just go out and shoot with minimal setup. The auto-guiding built into the Nexstar mount is sufficient for me for the time being, so the only thing I'd need the laptop for focusing and image acquisition. Being a long-time Android fan, I was curious about what kind of software was out there that may act as surrogates for what I was running on my laptop.

It turns out there are a number of really great options - I've not yet played with all of them, and it may not be the best out there, but have been very happy with Helicon Remote. It between it's live view, exposure options, and burst mode, I've been able to leave my computer behind and use a simple USB OTG /host adapter to plug my camera into my phone. Interacting via the touchscreen is also far more intuitive and straight forward (for me, anyway) than the mouse and keyboard when it comes to adjusting camera settings. I believe there's a version for iOS, as well.

It's meant that I've gone from setup above to:
  • Telescope 
  • Power
  • Camera + USB cable + T-ring / T-Adapter
  • USB OTG adapter
  • My phone (which I don't really count as an additional item, as it's in my pocket anyway).
The three images of M42 I've posted in the past were all captured with this smaller setup. I love the ability to frame, focus, set exposure and tap "Burst," then set the phone on the telescope's base while images are collected. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Orion Nebula, take three!

Despite the iffy framing, I think this is the best I've done yet - if only because I'm getting more comfortable with the post-processing procedures. The image was compiled from 208 2-second exposures, and around 40 dark frames. I've not yet started to play with bias or flat frames, but am curious as to how they might impact the outcome of the image.

Wikipedia says, "M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

M42 again

Shot M42 again - longer exposures this time, with some more patience in post. Looking at the same object last week, I feel like I've made progress.

There's still a lot to learn (and a lot to apply that I've already learned) - but so far, so good.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Creating better IPDA - The advantages of policy topics

Over the past several years, community college after community college (and even some universities) in the region have abandon more rigorous debate formats and adopted IPDA. While IPDA is arguably more accessible than NPDA (or carded/evidence debate), the format has some severe limitations, at least in the dozens of tournaments I've observed. While some of these drawbacks are inherent to the format, many are not, and there are several things that tournament directors, coaches, and competitors can be doing to make for better debate (at least in terms of fostering education, critical thinking, and better argumentation in general). In this post, I'll focus on what the folks running IPDA a at tournament out to consider in the type of topics their writing.

The baby was thrown out with the bath water.

IPDA has become increasingly popular here not so much for its own defining qualities, but for what it's not - namely, NPDA. As NPDA has evolved to become more complex, faster, and overall just require more work to be competitive, the majority of community colleges in the region have (sadly) abandon it in favor of IPDA (it's worth mentioning that many of the four-year schools in the region are among the very best in the country for NPDA, but that's a different story). 

Many of the justifications for such has been less than straight forward and sincerer, but that can be covered at a later date. The bottom line is this: in the DoFs' adoption of IPDA (and even BP, for that matter), the move away from an NPDA format largely meant throwing away what is objectively good for debate with what is subjectively bad. The result of which has been an activity that is, at best not living up to its potential, and at worst doing a disservice to the competitors. That said, IPDA is likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future - at least until history repeats itself. But that doesn't mean educators can't take additional responsibility and make the event better until that point. 

Starting at the top.

Generally, the defining factor for any IPDA round is the topic selection. The best rounds occur when both competitors are starting from the same page - that is, have a clear understanding of exactly what they're going to be debating going into prep. It's from this premise that policy-oriented topics are far preferable to value or metaphor. In my experience, value and metaphor-based topics are kept as an option for competitors to strike to because persons writing the topics do not understand the inherent disadvantages of such (or in the case of the last tournament I wrote topics for, told by the tournament director to include include non-policy topics), or as an homage to the days trichotomy-based debate. Policy topics avoid such drawbacks avoid these drawbacks.

Metaphor rounds are problematic.

If further explanation is required, we can start by looking at a couple of the specific issues with non-policy topics. The biggest problems arise from metaphor debates, here the affirmative has the obvious advantage of being able to shape the round around their interpretation of the metaphor, because procedural debate is so strongly frowned upon in IPDA, tournaments have started to adopt rules of disclosure - that is, the affirmative is tell the negative how they'r interpreting the metaphor during prep-time. In practice, this removes the metaphorical element from the round, undermining the whole idea of the metaphor in the first place. Secondarily, metaphor debates allow for the competitors to engage in debate that is just down right silly - I have seen a number of rounds (usually novice/junior, though not exclusively) interpret the metaphor literally, debating whether or not the "grass is always greener..." or, "money makes the world go 'round." at this point, there's zero hope for any education in the round, and becomes a rhetorical exercise at best, if not a train wreck.
It's true that should metaphors be abandon, there is the potential loss for creative debate that would be less likely to appear in other formats, but if this was the case, the benefits of removing metaphors as an option on the strike list far outweigh any negative repercussions.

Value rounds also have issues.

Onto the problems with value debates. Admittedly, I'd judge a value round over a metaphor round any day of the week, but value-based rounds too, have problems when compared to policy. The primary issue with value rounds is that the typical framework artificially limits the round. By establishing a value/criterion the round must be weighed through such. Because values are going to be something like, "education," or, "security," or, "the economy," unless their's debate on the value*, the round is restricted to such, thereby making positions based in alternative values useless. This is a bad thing - as it's completely divorced from how decisions would be made in the real world - that is to say, if something like security was the value, any impact to the economy, civil liberties, human rights, are neglected. When decisions are made "in the real world," outcomes and impacts on all levels ought to be evaluated.

The one solution to such is always have a criterion of "net benefits," such that all other values/criterion open for debate, but at that point, you're basically dealing with a policy round in its basic form - we'll examine this below.

*debating what value ought to be preferred in a round can (and at times, does) make for good debate, but the time constraints of IPDA rarely allow that debate to develop, and is thereby impractical. That said, I fully admit that confining a round to a single value could encourage depth of argumentation, but the fact of the matter is that this rarely occurs, and wouldn't be limited to value rounds, anyway.

Fact rounds are weak rounds

There's not too much explaining that needs to be done here, but I'll cover it rather than leave it out. Fact debates generally become a evidence/warrants debate. This can have the benefit of exposure to information during prep time, but the debate itself generally becomes a list of "for" and "against" the topic with little interaction or actual argumentation between them. 

Policy topics to the rescue!

Before explaining why policy topics are superior even for IPDA, I'd like to be explicit on an issue that both metaphor and value debates can suffer from, but only glossed over above. Both of these genres don't take advantage of the potential education that can be generated and provided from debate - that is often these debates become less about ideas or things that are going on in the world, and more about the rhetorical interactions of the debaters - while there's obvious value in honing such skills, they're not mutually exclusive from engaging ideas and events that matter. Once in a while an interesting philosophical debate may occur, but those are few and far between.

So what is a policy topic and why is it so much better than the alternatives?  A policy is more or less what it sounds like; a definition of such may be something like, "X should Y," where "X" is an agent and "Y" is a mandate. For example, "The United States should make significant investments in its transportation infrastructure," or, "Greece should leave the Eurozone," etc. 

These kinds of topics have several benefits. First, they limit confusion, that is, both debaters will know what they're debating, and what they ought to be doing as affirmative and negative respectively - it's far more straightforward metaphor (obviously), and even more forward than value, in that the negative can spend less time worrying about whether or not their arguments will interact with the affirmative's proposed value).

Second, topics can be tailored to "encourage" debaters to engage with certain issues/events. That is, rather that trying to come up with reasons why the "grass is (or is not) always greener on the other side of the fence," competences can research/learn/generate argumentation about the things like Israeli occupation of Palestine, human rights abuses in any number of places, US or other's policy on X, etc. Exploring these kinds of issues not only provide much more education to competitors, but I'd argue that in the process, make them more aware of what's going on in the world and thereby (hopefully) will lead them to becoming better global citizens. 

Finally, with or without a "plan" policy topics function best using net benefits the criterion. Using net benefits, in my opinion, always preferable - for more than one reason too. First, the criterion is inclusive because encompasses its alternatives, including values (e.g., one could have arguments on economy security, and human rights functioning in the same round where a single value wouldn't allow for such). Next, net benefits encourages broader thinking and is more "real world," as policy decisions are made (ideally) by considering multiple factors - in fact, in real policy makers typically use a cost-benefits analysis framework for decision making - a close approximation for net benefits with a valuation component.


Policy topics encourage good debate, and offer the best access to increasing competitors' education and knowledge about the world. I really don't feel as though "they could strike the metaphors/value/facts" is an appropriate approach because of the reasons illustrated above. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This is, by far, the best image I've been able to produce. Granted, I'm still new at the whole astrophotography thing, but I'm proud of this one. M42 - The Orion Nebula.

I need to learn more about image processing... I know there's significantly more data in the image than what shows up here.

Exploring tCDS

I'm excited to explore the possibilities that OpenStim may bring about. Perhaps I'll share my thoughts once I spend some time with it.
For now, the hardware is put together and passing diagnostics. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

IPDA topics from a December 2012 tournament.

Below are the IPDA topics I wrote for a 2012 forensics tournament. The even took place on the first weekend of December, meaning many of the resolutions are now irrelevant/without context. That said, I think they serve as a good example for the potential this format of debate. My original intention was to only include policy-oriented topics, but was encouraged to include a metaphor/value in rounds as well. More on my thought process on such later.
Round One – Flight A
1. The US should significantly reduce foreign aid to Israel.
2. The US should be able to hold talks with Hamas.
3. Facebook should put privacy before profits.
4. Google is king.
5. A guilty conscience needs no accuser. 
Round One - Flight B
1. The UN should recognize Palestine as a full member state.
2. The US should negotiate with terrorists.
3. The right to privacy is more important than the right to free speech.
4. Microsoft is King.
5. A happy heart is better than a full purse  
Round Two - Flight A
1. Citizens United v. the FEC should be overturned.
2. The Bush tax cuts should be extended.
3. China should take significant steps to address climate change.
4. Foreign policy is more important than domestic policy.
5. Beauty and Honesty Seldom Agree.  
Round Two - Flight B
1. Corporations should be stripped of their first amendment rights.
2. The USFG should implement a flat tax system.
3. The US should take significant steps to address climate change.
4. Thought is more important than action.
5. Every ass loves to hear himself bray. 
Round Three - Flight A
1. Israel should abandon its first strike policy.
2. The US should make significant changes to its immigration policy.
3. The US should significantly invest in its technology infrastructure.
4. Democracy is dead.
5. Fools and madmen speak the truth.  
Round Three - Flight B
1. Israel should stop building settlements in the West Bank
2. The US should abandon the “war on drugs.”
3. The US should significantly invest in its transportation infrastructure.
4. Give socialism a chance.
5. He is an ill companion that has a good memory  
Round Four – Flight A
1. The US should significantly decrease its use of weaponized drones.
2. The US should mandate year-round public schooling.
3. Public schools are better for education than charter schools.
4. Cheaters never prosper.
5. He Lives Long Who Lives Well  
Round Four – Flight B
1. The US should significantly decrease its military spending.
2. The Senate should confirm US Ambassador Rice for the next Secretary of State.
3. Public education services are more important than public safety services.
4. Hard work pays off.
5. Virtue is its own reward.  
Round Five – Flight A
1. The USFG should repeal DOMA.
2. The USFG should significantly reform Medicare.
3. A technical argument is better than an easily accessible argument.
4. Mother knows best.
5. Money makes the world go around.  
Round Five – Flight B
1. The US Senate should disallow the silent filibuster.
2. The USFG should significantly reform Social Security.
3. The ability to speak well preferable to the ability to write well.
4. Respect thy father.
5. The nearer to the church, the farther from God.

SF – Flight A
1. The USFG should remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
2. The House should pass the Senate’s tax plan.
3. Technology is making us less human.
4. Organic or bust!
5. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming  
SF  – Flight B
1. The USFG should take steps to prevent legalized marijuana possession from going into effect in Washington and Colorado.
2. The US should go over the fiscal cliff.
3. Technology will provide the answer.
4. Eat local!
5. Pain is temporary, victory is forever. 
F –
1. Mohammed Morsi should reverse his decree.
2. The US should engage militarily in Syria.
3. Progressive policy is better for America than conservative policy.
4. Lowering income inequality is more important than a healthy economy.
5. A little learning is a dangerous thing.