A computer to ressurect

Acquired few things over the weekend that the Daughters of St Paul downtown didn’t need anymore and would otherwise have gone to recycling or trash. Among them were a couple of old IBM ThinkCentre computers over the weekend. One is missing a hard drive and the other needs RAM. I think I’ve got enough other bits lying around to make one computer out of them that might be usable for simple tasks.

IBM ThinkCentre A51
IBM ThinkCentre A51
IBM ThinkCentre A51 innards
IBM ThinkCentre A51 innards

They’re both IBM ThinkCentre A51 computers with Pentium 4 CPUs running at 2.93 GHz.

Intel P4 CPU
Intel P4 CPU

They both have 1 GB RAM (one has 4×256 MB DDR2 sticks, the other has 1x1GB DDR2 stick). I think I might have some 512 GB DDR2 sticks in the junk box, so might be able to get one of them up to 2.5 GB. That might be enough for a very lightweight Linux distro. Just need to scavenge a hard drive from somewhere.

Update: It lives!

two
two

Charleston Eats: Nimbo Pizza

A new pizza place near MUSC opened up yesterday, owned by the same people that own Halo. It adds some much needed variety to the eating scene near the hospital that’s also within a reasonable walking distance.

Just down the block from Halo is Nimbo Pizza (not much of a website yet, but they only just opened). It’s got a fun space theme going on inside the place, with framed NASA Space Tourism posters and other sci-fi movie posters hung on the walls.

Nimbo Pizza space wall
Nimbo Pizza space wall
Nimbo Pizza posters
Nimbo Pizza posters
Nimbo Pizza posters
Nimbo Pizza posters
Nimbo Pizza sticker pole
Nimbo Pizza sticker pole

There’s a pretty extensive menu of pizzas, sandwiches and salads with creative space names like the Interstellar Italian, Total Eclipse of the Parm, Meaty Meteor, Mars Margherita and the like. You can see them all on a couple of very colourful chalkboards above the ordering counter.

Nimbo Pizza menu board
Nimbo Pizza menu board
Nimbo Pizza menu board
Nimbo Pizza menu board

I went for the 10″ Meaty Meteor pizza today. Pretty good pizza. Thin, crispy crust that’s not too floppy and not too chewy.

Nimbo Pizza Meaty Meteor
Nimbo Pizza Meaty Meteor

Half of it made for a decent sized lunch portion, although I could have easily finished off the whole thing. Didn’t want to have to fight off a food coma while sitting at my desk for the rest of the afternoon though.

Good pizza and a nice short walk from work. If you’re on a tight schedule, you can call in an order so that it will be ready when  you get there. There’s also an option on the website to put in an order online too.

Will definitely be going back on those days when I don’t feel like cafeteria food.

Bone mineral densitometer beam widths

If you’ve ever wondered how wide the x-ray beam for a Hologic bone mineral density (BMD) scanner is, I can now tell you it’s not very wide. They’re considerably thinner than I expected in fact.

I placed a strip of Gafchromic XRCT film on top of the housing surrounding the x-ray tube and ran the scanner through its various scan modes, moving the strip between each scan.

BMD beam width
BMD beam width

Each of the vertical stripes represents the width of the beam at about 40 cm from the focal spot and about 10 cm below where the x-ray beam would enter the patient. From left to right are the beam widths for the fastest to the slowest scan modes. The scale on Gafchromic strip is marked off in millimeters.

The beam width for the fastest scan mode is 2 mm. The next two modes have a beam width of 1 mm, and the slowest scan mode uses a beam width that looks like about 0.2 mm. With a source to detector distance of a little over 100 cm, the beam width at the detector ranges from about 5 mm to 0.5 mm.

 

Fry’s Electronics in Houston

There are three Fry’s Electronics stores in the Houston area. I’m so jealous. I have to go all the way to Atlanta for the one closest to me.

We visited two of them last weekend. A lot of Fry’s Electronics stores are themed, and the two we went to were suitably Houston-themed.

On the north side of Houston, we saw an oil themed Fry’s driving in from the airport and made an impromptu stop to check it out. Oil derrick structures flank the main entrance, and inside are oil pumps and more oil derricks.

On the southeast-ish side of Houston in Webster, not far from Space Center Houston, is another Fry’s. This one naturally is space themed and has a replica of the ISS inside.

 

 

Visiting Space Center Houston

Last weekend we were in Houston and paid a visit to Space Center Houston, the visitors center for NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).

NASA Johnson Space Center
NASA Johnson Space Center

Like Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Space Center Houston (SCH) is a pretty fun place to visit. It’s not quite as large as KSC, but it’s got some pretty sweet exhibits including Independence Plaza that features the Boeing 747 that ferried the space shuttles across the country.

Independence Plaza
Independence Plaza at Space Center Houston

I highly recommend the 90 minute tram tour that will take you into NASA JSC. If you go early and catch the first or second tour (SCH opens at 9 or 10 AM. See the calendar for hours), you’ll avoid the long line. The tram tour takes you into JSC where you’ll get to go into the Christopher C Craft Mission Control building, the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, and Rocket Park.

At Rocket Park, you’ll see some of the rocket engines that powered the Saturn V, rockets used for the Mercury and early Apollo programs, and the king of rockets, the Saturn V.

The Saturn V at SCH is one of three remaining Saturn V rockets and was restored fairly recently.

From the SCH website:

There are only three Saturn V rockets on display in the world. The rocket at NASA Johnson Space Center is the only one comprised of all flight-certified hardware. The other two rockets are made of flight hardware, mock-ups and test components. The three segments, called stages, contain the powerful engines needed to lift off, entering orbit to reach the moon. In total, 13 Saturn V rockets launched into space.

When you’re back from the tour, head over to Independence Plaza where you can wander through the NASA 905 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and the Shuttle Independence, a replica space shuttle. This is another one you probably want to get to early in the day so that it’s not too crowded. We went first thing in the morning on our second day visiting SCH, and had the shuttle and 747 pretty much all to ourselves.

Make sure to stop in the food court where you can have lunch sitting next to the Galileo shuttlecraft (NCC-1701/7) used in the Star Trek episode Galileo Seven. This is the actual set prop that was used in the episode and fully restored. You can read about the Galileo’s history and the restoration at startrek.com.

Before leaving SCH (or before the doors open if you got there too early), make sure to walk the scale model of Solar System. It starts over on the left side of the parking lot near the SCH building and goes around the perimeter of the parking lot toward the main entrance.

Of course, the rest of the exhibits at SCH are pretty cool too. Lots of great shows, interactive displays and an impressive collection of space and space program artifacts. It’s a great place to spend a couple of days exploring while you’re in Houston.