Weekly Report July 20 2014

My project involving the PlayStation 4 and DualShock 4 has caught the attention of Sony, and after interviewing me, Sony Computer Entertainment America hired me as hardware engineer for PlayStation peripherals. Today is the day I take a one way flight from Toronto to San Francisco, and tomorrow will be my first day! Follow your passion, don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t be afraid to show off your skills.

And since I’m leaving my family… as a parting gift, I gave my parents a robot mop, the iRobot Braava 380t.

iRobot Braava 380t short review

We have mostly wood flooring in our house, very little carpeting, so the iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum didn’t make sense. I considered a iRobot Scooba robotic floor washer but during my research I discovered many negative reviews about it leaving streaks on the floor. I considered the RIDYS robotic mop and vacuum but some people complained about its pathfinding. So in the end, I choose the iRobot Braava 380t.

The first concern I had was how convenient is it to recharge. The Braava does not automatically drive to a charging station like the Roomba, but it does have a vertical charging stand. The advantage of this is that the Braava is small and doesn’t take up much space, so it is forgiven. The main appeal of the Braava is its small size and light weight.

It is very quiet, which is a huge advantage. I am very concerned about it annoying my parents, but it doesn’t.

The pathfinding seems to be good but you end up leaving it to do its job, then not really sure whether or not it has covered the area you want it to clean. But in the end, this is a problem with all unsupervised robots. The NorthStar Navigation Cube is simple to understand and use, and the robot performs satisfactorily with or even without the cube. So far, the robot has also avoided stairs and raised areas properly like it is supposed to.

The user interface is simple, three buttons: power (which is also sort of like pause), mop, and sweep. Very simple to use, put it on the floor and press mop. If it finishes the job, it goes to sleep with some slow blinking LEDs. If it needs some time to think, the LEDs blink really fast. If the battery is dead, it drives back to the starting point and the power LED becomes red. It also makes musical sounds to notify you of stuff.

The water is simple to refill, and the cloths are easy to clean. The attachments are done using magnets, which makes it easy. The robot is lightweight so it’s not a problem picking it up to do this stuff.

It’s also cheaper than the other robots you can get. So in the end I really recommend the iRobot Braava 380t, even if you have a small living space.

Leatherman Charge TTi short review

Since I am leaving my home, and thus leaving all of my dad’s carpentry tools, and the moving company has all my other tools at a storage warehouse somewhere, I feel a bit naked. I own a Leatherman Squirt E3 (I’ve used it for 8 years, my E4 model was discontinued, the ES4 is the new one) but it is more of a electrical oriented keychain tool. I need something bigger so I’ve finally purchased the Leatherman Charge TTi. I was debating about the Leatherman Super Tool and the Leatherman Surge, but I ended up selecting the Leatherman Charge TTi because it doesn’t have detachable stuff (so I can’t lose/forget anything) and it has scissors (Super Tool doesn’t have scissors).

It’s much larger than the Squirt E4, I had to get used to that, it’s no longer a keychain tool. It is heavier but not enough to feel bad. Leatherman does give you a sheath and a pocket clip for it, plus a lanyard ring. The sheath is also huge and I might not want to use it.

I really wish the pocket clip and lanyard ring was one piece, but they are two pieces. I sort of wish they made a combination pocket clip that also had the lanyard ring. However, there is a “hidden” lanyard ring inside the tool itself (somebody on a forum pointed this out to me). You are able to disassemble the tool handle, remove the hidden ring, and then it will become a slot for the removable ring. Apparently a lot of people do this hack as soon as they buy a Leatherman tool, and a lot of the other tool bits are interchangable, so I might do a lot more hacking later.

The build quality is absolutely solid, everything is strong and precise, nothing is loose. The engineering on the locking mechanisms are amazing, but with one flaw, I’ll explain: you can’t open the knife when the pliers are open (this is good), you can’t open the pliers when the knife is open (this is good), but you can open the knife half way and also open the pliers (this is bad, but in real use this never happens).

The ruler is better used as a depth gauge, the 0 point is the end of the tool (without the belt clip attached). It’s awkward to actually use like a ruler.

The wire cutter cuts 22 gauge wire like butter. The scissors is the most flimsy part on the entire tool and a bit inconvenient to use, but it’s still decent.

The pliers needs a bit of strength to open but usage is smooth once it’s open, I think I should add some oil to it. I sort of wish it was spring loaded, but I know it would be impractical on heavy duty full sized pliers.

Both sides of the tool is symmetrical, so Leatherman added visual cues to the blades so you know which one is which. The serrated blade has 3 notches near the hinge. The blade can be opened with one hand as well. So even a blind amputee can use it (or… you know… a normal person at night).

If anything breaks on this tool, I’ll write another review about it and update this one.

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