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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Build a Simple Internet Controlled Webcam Robot

This blog post will show you the basics of building your own internet controlled webcam robot. It's essentially a three wheeled piece of plywood board with a RaspBerry Pi computer and a tilt and pan webcamera. This will not be a thorough step-by-step description of the entire build, but it will give you a good understanding of the physical build, and a pretty detailed walkthrough of the software setup.

The prerequisites for this build are basic understanding of Linux, script and HTML programming and some soldering experience.


All the hardware can be is easily acquired through web shops and your local hardware store. The total for my setup is around 200 USD, but if you're into electronics you probably have some of the parts lying around already.
  • Raspberry Pi Model A (~$30) - I got mine from Adafruit. In hindsight I might have chosen model B, to have the possibility of cabled internet connection. It would have saved me some trouble in the beginning.
  • SSD card (Minimum 8GB), cables, breadboard, and USB power supply (with USB micro connector) (~$50) - Use the stuff that you already have lying around and buy only the things you really need. The breadboard will only be used for testing.
  • Edimax EW-7811UN (~$11) - A simple USB wifi adapter. It worth buying this brand, since  Occidentalis (the Debian Linux based OS for Raspberry Pi) comes with the necessary drives installed.
  • Logitech C270 (~$23) - An affordable webcam from Logitech. You can of course use any webcam you already have, but newer ones will support MJPEG, which makes the live feed much faster.
  • 4 RC servos (~$30total) - I used the ones that came with my old RC radio, but you can get any kind. With my Hitec HS-325 servos I was able to easily modify two of them to spin 360 degrees in order to use them to drive to wheels of the robot. I suggest servos that provide 3-4 kg of torque for the wheels, smaller for the pan and tilt camera setup.
  • LiPo battery (~$30) - Any 2-4 cell LiPo battery will do. Choose it based on how much battery time you want your robot to have. I'm currently using a Polyquest 4 cell 4350 mAh battery, because I already had it from a previous project, but I would recommend something cheaper like a Zippy Flightmax 5000 mAh. I haven't checked the battery life while using it on the robot, but it should probably give approximately 12 hours of standby time. You will of course also need a LiPo battery charger.
  • UBEC  (~$5) - The Raspberry Pi and servos run on 5V DC, so we need this to to reduce the LiPo battery's 10+ voltage. Hobbyking has UBECs for less than 5 USD.
  • 2 hobby wheels (~$5) - Hobbyking sells these cheap wheels for use on RC planes. There's a trade off to be made between power and speed of your robot, depending on the diameter you choose for your wheels. You will also need a swivel wheel from some old furniture. 
  • 10-15mm (~$30) plywood, nuts, bolts, wires, micro switch, pipe hanger strap, double sided tape.
  • Fish-eye lens (~25) - Most webcameras have a narrow field of view. This makes navigating the robot like driving while looking through telescope. I've modified my webcam simply by putting a cheap fish-eye lens in front of it.


  • Occidentalis - Debian based Linux distro derived from Raspbian Wheezy, created by Adafruit.
  • Apache 2 - Web server
  • PiBits Servoblaster - This is software for the Raspberry Pi, which provides an interface to drive multiple servos via the GPIO pins. You control the servo postions by sending commands to the driver saying what pulse width a particular servo output should use.
  • MJPG-streamer - MJPG-streamer takes JPGs from Linux-UVC compatible webcams, filesystem or other input plugins and streams them as M-JPEG via HTTP to webbrowsers, VLC and other software. 
  • HTML page - Shows the controls and streaming video (MJPEG), and sends controls to the Python CGI script.
  • Python CGI script - Sends values to Servoblaster, and executes OS commans to start/stop MJPG-streaming and shut down the Raspberry Pi.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi

This process is extremely well described on Adafruit.com and other places, so I will just point you the the relevant tutorials.
  1. Setup the Occidentalis OS on the SSD
  2. Setup WiFi on the Raspberry Pi - If you bought a Model A without cabled internet, like I did, you'll need to connect your Raspberry Pi to a USB keyboard and a screen using HDMI to set this up.
  3. Update/upgrade Linux, setup SSH and install Apache2 - Perform only the steps you see necessary.
  4. Optional: Test out controlling your servos from the Raspberry Pi - This process does not use the Servoblaster, and only supports one servo, but it's the fastest way to see some physical movement.
  5. Install servoblaster - Make sure you have updated/upgraded before trying this, or you will get errors!
  6. Install MJPG-streamer - This not actually an installation since, but we will set MJPG-streamer to be started at boot later.
  7. Give web-server user rights to run sudo commands without password (this is obviously a security risk, but if you're not using the Raspberry Pi for other sensitive stuff, it shouldn't be a problem): 
    1. sudo nano /etc/sudoers
    2. Add line: www-data ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
  8. Secure the web page - If you're going to expose the web page on the Internet I suggest you at least activate username/password authentication on your web server.

Writing the web page and Python CGI script

  1. Python script
  2. HTML page

Assembling the robot

I admit this part could use a more detailed description. I hope this get you an overview of the necessary steps. Use the photos at the top of the post to figure out the details.
  1. Open two of the servos and modify them to run 360 degrees
  2. Mount wheels on the two servos
  3. Cut out a piece of plywood 
  4. Mount swivel wheel to the plywood board
  5. Mount the wheel servos to the plywood board using double sided tape and pipe hanger strap
  6. Create a pan and tilt setup for the camera and mount it on the plywood board
  7. Split the signal calge (yellow) from the power cables of all the servos and plug them into the GPIO pins on the Rasberry Pi as indicated in the instructions from Servoblaster
  8. Create the power setup described in the next section

Video demonstration

Below is a short demonstration of the robot being controlled through the web interface and switching from a power outlet to battery power.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Me, a Native American?

It turns out my father belongs to Haplogroup B. What the heck is that, you say? It means that he has a specific set of DNA markers. Those markers show that his maternal ancestors were part of that crazy group of people that left Africa approximately 50 000 years ago, and arrived in South America some 30 000 years later. It also means that my maternal ancestors on my fathers side were Native Americans. And this, I can't deny, I find very fascinating and quite cool.

If you're wondering how I found out about my ancestry you might not have heard of National Geographic's Genographic Project. The best way to understand what it is, is to see this Youtube video. The short short version is that they have mapped the DNA of thousands of people around the world, and found specific genes that changed during the migration of people from Africa to the rest of the world. Thus being able to tell people like you and me what group they belong to.

So far we have done three DNA tests in my family. My father checked his maternal ancestors. I checked my paternal ancestors. Meaning the direct line of fathers and sons that I'm part of. That test shows that I belong to Haplogroup I2b1, which tells me my paternal ancestors were Europeans. Most probably a Spanish conquistador that traveled to South America at some point in time. This is not all that surprising since my father is Chilean. My sister tested her maternal ancestors. Those showed that our maternal ancestors, i.e. the direct line of mothers and daughters that she is part of, are part of Haplogroup I. The group that traveled furthest north in Europe as ice melted after the last ice age. Most people in the Nordic countries belong to this group. This also makes sense, seeing that my mother is Norwegian. Here you can see a map that shows the results of the three tests together. I've also created an illustration to show which lines of ancestors I and my family have been able to test.

You might think that DNA information is sensitive stuff, and not something to be shared lightly on the Internet. But you have to remember that these results only show things that happened tens of thousands of years ago. It doesn't really say anything about my immediate family history. Below are the three full reports from National Geographic.

My father's maternal Ancestors - Haplogroup B: One of five mitochondrial lineages found in aboriginal Americans, and is found in both North and South America.

My parternal ancestors - Haplogroup I2b1: Tribes of ancient European hunters that pressed northward with the retreating ice, pursuing herds. By "following the food," these descendants went on to populate much of northern Europe.

My maternal ancestors - Haplogroup I: A group of individuals whom live in high frequencies in northern Europe and northern Eurasia. Likely moved north across the Caucasus during the middle Upper Paleolithic.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maiden flight of La Herencia

I've been looking at this huge biplane hanging from the ceiling in my father's study for years. Almost 15 years actually. He designed and built it himself, but never had the engine to make it fly properly. Some years ago I told him the plane would fly with an electric motor one day. And he said "Son, the day you're ready to that conversion, the plane is yours.". It happened this year when I was shocked by the huge motors and minimal prices from Hobbycity in Honk Kong.

The next hindrance was finding a place to work. You can't put down a huge plane like that on your living room table and start working. Not if you're married anyway. My father-in-law came to the rescue, giving me the key to his new workshop.

There were several improvements to be made and I documented most of it with my camera. The whole building process can be viewed picture-by-picture in Flickr. The plane has now been named "La Herencia", meaning "the heritage" in Spanish. Last weekend we took La Herencia out for its first flight as an electric plane. It flew beautifully, giving an excellent finally to this 15 year old RC project. I got some video footage of it as well, allthough filming it in the air prooved almost impossible for my cameraman, whom will remain anonymous.

Technical details


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The London urban jungle

The Empire, that is Accenture, my employer, sent me for a week of training in England. I took the opportunity to spend an extra day in London, and decided to put my camera to good use. Check out the album this day resulted in.

There's nothing like walking around in a big city on a sunny Saturday and taking in the sights. You don't even have to look for interesting subjects to shoot, they just keep popping up by themselves.

I gotta admit I jumped a little bit when I turned a corner and saw four stormtroopers holding down a guy to the ground. All of them with their weapons pointing at his head. It was obviously a commercial gig, ment to get people into this insane sci-fi shop. It worked very smoothly on me.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Toe thumb people of the world, unite!

Did you know there is a phenomenon commonly called "toe thumbs"? Neither did I before I met my wife, Kari. Apparently one in every thousand people out there, mostly girls, have thumbs that resemble the big toe of a foot. Some have two toe thumbs, others have just one. I find all this fascinating. Especially because most people out there with toe thumbs, don't know they're part of a large group of people.

With Kari I didn't really take much notice in the beginning, except thinking her thumbs were a bit short and stubby. She's a pretty confident person, and she openly joked about her funny thumbs, but she also always hid them when I took a picture.

Kari told me she had met three other girls with the same kind of thumbs, and that was surprising and uplifting to know there are other toe thumb people out there. This was obviously something I had to look up on the internet. And not surprisingly I found plenty of other people wondering about this phenomenon. Here is what I've found:

The medical term for toe thumbs, is Brachydactyly, type D (BDD for short). Brachydactyly is greek for "shortness of fingers or toes". It is an inheritable syndrome, and type D relates specifically to excessively shortened tubular bones in the thumbs. It also goes under a number of other names, some less flattering than others:
  • stub thumb
  • club or clubbed thumb
  • potter's thumb
  • hammerhead thumb
  • murderer's thumb

While googling around, I also found a facebook group, a flickr group and long forum thread with people discussing the phenomenon. Don't you just love internet?! Sadly some people are not happy with their thumbs, and only interested in finding out if they can be remedied somehow. But on the bright side, most people seem really happy to find out they're not alone, exclaiming  things like "My brothers and sisters! I've been looking for you all my life!".

I especially love that some people share their stories. Like this one girl whose boyfriend called her "Turtles", because each time someone looked at her thumbs she would hide them inside her hands. Just like a turtle hiding its head inside its shell. Another person commented the same thing Kari and I have experienced for years. That her thumbs are perfect when a conversation gets awkwardly quiet. We just say "Have you seen Kari's toe thumbs?!".

I hope this entry can help some more toe thumb people find each other!

Toe thumb people of the world, Unite!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How to build your own RC airplane

Following in the steps of my father and my grandfather, and with a little inspiration from my friend and colleague Paul René, I decided to build my own radio controlled airplane. RC airplanes have always been a hobby, and I've been flying them since I was twelve, but I never built my own, from scratch. This weekend I went for it, and of course I documented the whole ordeal with photos and this blog article.

Best to start with the simplest possible solution, right? I went for a small, lightweight plane with 2D body and wings. In other words, no difficult wing profiles and bodies full of ribs and rods. That doesn't mean the plane is a trainer, far from it. It can do anything from inverted loops to vertical hovering, and is not easy to fly.

Step 1 - Get the RC know-how
If you're new to the area of RC airplanes you should definitively read a bit about the fundamentals of aerodynamics and RC modeling. The Laredo RC club has a beautiful site, but for some damned reason the page can't be reached from most networks in Norway. That's why I ended up creating a mirror of the Laredo RC site. I'll probably get sued for that, but until then check out all the pages under training. These pages are worth their weight in gold for the RC rookie, and for the expert too.

If you don't have an RC radio already, you can start by buying a simple ready-to-fly model first. Something like the Sapac Wilga will do nicely. When you've crashed it, or gotten bored you can use the electronics from that plane in your self made plane. If you're completely new to RC flying, start by acquiring a simulator and flying on your computer. It'll save you many planes. Trust me. Believe it or not there are free simulators out there. All you need is a dummy transmitter like the eSky USB controller for your PC.

Step 2 - Blueprints
There are plenty of great sites on the internet where people are constantly publishing new RC airplane designs. RCgroups and 3-view drawings are such places. The plans are usually published as PDF documents that you can print out and then tape together. The alternative is to create your own drawings. One way is to get a hold of profile and bird's eye view photographs (called 3 view images) of your favorite plane, and then create the drawings yourself using Google's Sketchup. Import the photo and sketch around the edges of the plane. Then hide the photo, scale your drawing to the size you want your model, and print it in tiled mode. The program is originally designed do 3D drawings, but it works perfectly fine for 2D. Just follow some of the tutorials to get a feel for the interface.

In my case I took pictures of my Multiplex Acromaster. It's a plane I'm very fond of, and that I've even used for filming my neighbourhood from above. I sized it to half it's original size, and called it the MiniMaster. The drawings are available from my site. You can download a one-pager version and a 10 page tiled version in real scale.

Step 3 - RC electronics, tools and materials
Motors, RC electronics and building materials have come a looong way since my father started building his first planes. Fuel engines have been substituted by brushless electric motors. Large and heavy servos have been substituted by tiny coreless servos weighing less than 7 grams, and the batteries are extremely light and effective Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries. The specs for my MiniMaster v2 are as follow:

While my father built most of his planes from balsa wood reinforced with pine, the materials of choice today are foams (such as depron) reinforced with carbon. This new technology means that the planes weigh a fraction of what they used to, and they require much less place to fly. So while my father had to go into the countryside to find an appropriate flying spot, I fly in the park a 100 meters down the road from my apartment in Oslo.

If you have to buy a motor, electronic speed controller or batteries, make sure to get the right specifications. I recommend using MotoCalc, a program that allows you to enter the specifications of your plane and whatever parts you have, and it will tell what you need to get. AXI Motors also have a simple online motor sizing service on their site.

Make sure you have the right tools and materials before the next step. Apart from a set of small screwdrivers and pliers, a cutting knife and scalpel are necessary. Good metal rulers are useful for measuring and guiding while cutting the materials. Depron comes in 3mm and 6mm sheets of approximately 120x80cm. It can be bought in hobby shops, but it seems they are also used under tiles. Paul René pointed me to a tile shop, where we found sheets for half the price. Carbon rods of any dimension can be bought in a hobby shop.

Step 4 - Creating the parts and gluing it all together

Now it's time to use the drawings you've made to help you cut out the parts in depron. Depending on the size and the power of the motor you're planning on using you can build your plane out of 3mm or 6mm depron. 6mm is strongly recommended for most planes. Gluing two 3mm depron sheets together gives you extra strength and the opportunity to hide a carbon rod between the layers. For even more strength you can glue incredibly light sheets of carbon in between the layers of depron.

Depron can be glued with CA (cyano acrylat), popularly known as Superglue, but it eats into the depron material, so use it very carefully. A kicker to get the CA glue hard almost instantaneously simplifies the building process, but the chemical reaction is exothermic, and the heated glue may eat into the material even faster. A lighter glue may be more appropriate for gluing layers of depron. Another possibility is using a glue gun, but if the wattage on your gun is to high (above 20W), the hot glue can melt the depron. Besides, glue from a glue gun puts a lot of weight on your plane.

Be very patient about the gluing process! Have paper towels ready at all times. Don't glue if you don't have a place to put the plane down afterwards and keep it steady. Make guiding marks in the depron before gluing, and make sure to get the angles right before leaving it to dry or applying CA kicker. There's no second chance when using CA on depron.

Step 5 - Installing rudders and electronics
You'll need hinges for all rudders. Instead of buying these small expensive parts, you can make them yourself. I got this tip off the internet, and I'm very satisfied with the results. Get one of those old floppy disks you have lying in your drawer and haven't used for years. Rip it open and cut rectangular pieces from the magnetic material. It's incredible flexible and durable. Install it by creating small slots in the depron with a scalpel. One drop of CA will make the hinge stay there till Armageddon comes.

When it comes to connecting the servos to the rudders there are two options. I recommend using thin carbon rods with a bit of wire glued to each end. A more difficult, but lighter alternative, is using wires like I've done on my MiniMaster.

The motor mount is a tricky part. I used a small aluminum plate and fastened it to a piece of pine using a small screw and plenty of CA. Make sure you fasten your motor angling it little bit downwards (to compensate from the planes lift). It must also be angled to the right to compensate for the motor's rotation, which will try to roll your plane over to its left side.

On a 2D profile body you should fasten the electronic speed controller (ESC) and radio receiver on one side, and the battery on the other to compensate. Making a hole for the battery and embedding it through the body is an alternative, but fastening it with velcro on the side produces far less damage to the plane during a crash. Remember the battery is the single heaviest component on your plane, and it will keep going even if the plane comes to a sudden hold. You should also use the battery to get the center of gravity right. There are complex algorithms to get this exactly right, but a rule of thumb is to have it 1/4 of the wing's width from its leading edge.

The results
MiniMaster version 1 was a parkflyer, minimal motor power and minimal weight. I tried to combine higher motor power with the light weight. But the wings caved in during flight. A sad sight. My MiniMaster version 2 is a so called 3D plane. That means it can do any kind of acrobatic trick. It weighs 186 grams, but has the brushless motor to carry it well. I'm sticking with this design. Until I decide to build a bigger and better version that is.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bottle rocket

I constantly run around with these small projects in my mind. Things like attaching a cell phone to a radio controlled airplane, or controlling a web camera through the internet using servoes. My childhood just never ends, and I don't want it to.

This time I carried out an idea that I've had for many years, launching a water bottle rocket propelled by compressed air, and landing it gently using a parachute. It's really simple to do, and all the "ingredients" are easy to get ahold of. You can also find innumerable recipes by googling for "bottle rocket".

The tricky part is getting a good seal between the valve and the bottle. I recommend using a car tire valve, which can be bought at any gas station that changes tires. Notice that the valve is not attached to the bottle! It's attached to the launch pad, and only pressed against the bottle by the release mechanism. The bottle nossle can be used as is. I won't go into more details here, but you can watch the video below, which will show you most of the details if you pause at the right parts. You can also look at this PDF with pretty good building plans for a launch pad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How to videotape your neighbourhood from above

I suddenly realized that I have everything I need to videotape my neighbourhood from above. All it takes is an RC airplane (my newly acquired Multiplex Acromaster), a mobile phone (my SonyEricsson K600i), some double sided tape and couple of strips. Voila!

I'm not sure what Accenture policy says about attaching company property to an RC plane and flying around with it. Best not to ask. Nils, if you read this, I promise never to do it again.

Should you decide to go down this path, and you happen to crash your plane while recording, make sure to leave message on the phone telling whoever finds it, who to call (not yourself, dumbass, you just lost your phone). That way you have a certain chance of getting your phone back, and maybe even your plane.

Since I enjoy misusing any new technology I get my hands on, I obviously uploaded the recorded video to YouTube. Enjoy the movie!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My new RC airplane

It's been 15 years since I had a serious RC model airplane, one that was capable of doing all kinds of aerobatics. Now I can let that part of the child in me out to play again. Of course it helps having a father in law that imports all the goodies. He got me a Multiplex Acromaster with all the necessary parts, brushless motor, electronic speed controller, servoes and a huge LiPo battery. Like any good geek I obviously documented the building process.

Now I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to attach my cell phone to it, so I can do some filming while flying. Kind of risky flying your phone at 80 km/h our 300m over the ground, you might say. Yes, maybe, filming your neighborhood and yourself from the air, priceless.

On a slightly related note, take a look at this pamphlet. It's a commercial for some German consulting company. So, what's special with it? Well I'm on the picture! A guy actually mailed me saying he had found the picture in Flickr, and that he wanted to use it. He even paid med 50 euros for it! Not bad, eh? Credit to Kari, though, after all she was the one that shot the picture while I was flying.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Excellent summer

Such an excellent summer deserves a blog entry. I swear I can't remember enjoying so many warm and sunny days during one Norwegian summer. We've had boat trips, days at the beach, kayak trips, barbecues in the park with friends, breakfasts on the balcony, cabin trips and everything else that I associate with summer.

And of course, what makes this summer very very special. Kari and I got married! We're so happy everything turned out like it did. Thanks to everybody that helped us out. Right after the wedding we set off to Corsica for a very relaxing honeymoon. Now we can start preparing the party in Chile in January!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Check out this amazingly cute little creature. Her name is Tikknatan, and she just moved in with Kari and me. The first two hours she was little shy, then she was everywhere, wanting to play and cuddle and play and cuddle.

I'm just so happy!

If you're wondering about her name, it comes from Thich Nhat Hahn, a zen buddhist munk. So now you know what Kari is into these days.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Uganda Part 3 - Gorilla tracking in Bwindi

Aaaah! What an experience! At the time of writing I'm back home in Norway, but looking back on that last part of my trip to Uganda makes me smile. I can't believe I stood three meters away from mountain gorillas! Yes, the same mountain gorillas you've seen on Discovery Channel, the ones that are almost extinct, with only 700 of them left on the entire planet. Did you see "Gorillas in the Mist"? Remember Diane Fossey? Well that's what we did, same thing, same place. Joakim, Silje, Tobias, Beate and I were escorted by four armed guards (!) and guided through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest until we met a family of Gorillas called Rushegura. They are so peaceful these creatures, but even the little grunting we heard from the leader, also called the silver back, is enough to make the hairs stand on your arms.

There are lots of rules to follow, like don't cough or sneeze, don't stare into the silver back's eyes, don't stand inside a group of gorillas, and don't make any sudden moves or noises. We definitely broke the one saying don't stand inside a group. We didn't mean to, but suddenly we had gorillas all around. Small baby gorillas rolling around, a mother laying in a naturally made hammock in a tree, the silverback eating some leaves from a bush. I'm most impressed we didn't brake the one about sudden moves or noises, because at one point we were attacked by wasps. I was stung twice in the head. This only made the experience greater. It feels right to have to go through a little pain to deserve spending time with mountain gorillas.

I have a couple of great photos from this fantastic experience (I should, I took over a hundred), and I'm pleased to say that pictures from the entire trip can now be found in My Photo Gallery.

Thank you Joakim and Silje for giving me the opportunity to get to know Uganda!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Uganda Part 2 - The good, the bad, and me

(If you haven't read Part 1 yet, you should scroll down and read it first)

I'll start with the bad, because I don't want anyone to read this and go away thinking Uganda is a place to avoid. It's most definetly not!

Yesterday Joakim got me a rented car and I set off to Jinja. Uganda's second largest city at the shore of the Victoria Lake. It is also where the Nile is born, the source of a river that runs thousands of miles through Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. After driving for a couple of hours in the very demanding Ugandan traffic, I was extremely pleased to finally see the Nile in front of me. The road crosses the Owen Falls Dam which provides electricity for large parts of Uganda. As soon as I had crossed I took the next road to the left in order to get a picture of the dam. That was mistake number one. Right by where I had stopped were two armed military police. I saw them, walked up to them with my camera in my hand, said hello to make sure everything was ok, and then I took a picture thinking they would say something if it was not allowed. That was mistake number two.

The older MP called me over. He had a black berret, mirrored sunglasses and an automatic rife. I don't mean to make fun of this. It certainly as hell wasn't funny while it lasted, but he said: "You make big mistake. You take photo. That is bad for our community. Now you under arrest. You go to prison for life. Give me your camera!". Can you believe that? I couldn't. It was completely surrealistic, like taken out of a cheap american movie. Except no US Marines were coming for my rescue.

I spent 10 minutes answering questions and listening to threats. And all the time I was as diplomatic, courteous, respectful and apologetic as I could. I also said I could erase the picture, but somehow I don't think they were familiar with the concept of digital photography. Finally when I saw the second soldier tightening his boots (to me a soldier tightening his boots means his getting ready to do something), I said "I can pay for my mistake". Two BIG Ugandan bills later I was on my way to Jinja. Strange how 50 US dollars seems cheap when the alternative is life in a Ugandan prison. I also understand it might all have been empty threats, but I didn't feel like discussing the point further. Anyway, now when you see the picture of the Owen Falls Dam here.

The good. Aaah, the good are much more good than the bad are bad. And there are so many more of them too! The night before I left, while we were having some Nile Special beers, Joakim called a norwegian girl, Sigrid, that works in a primary school in the village of Motuku. She said she would be glad to show me around the school if I stopped by. I did, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.

I've never seen so many smiles and happy faces. I was shown all the classes from Preschool One (3 years old!), to Primary Seven, and in all classes they jumped up and said, "Good morning Mister! We are Primary One (or two or three or whatever)!". The teachers all thanked me for coming, and then they thanked Sigrid for having brought me. I obviously felt I should be the one thanking! In recess all the kids came up to us and wanted to hold my hand and play with the strange skin on my arms. I've never felt so pale in my entire life. I have some great pictures from the visit.

My internet time is running out! I'll be back with more later.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Uganda Part 1 - Kampala

What the heck is Kampala?", you might ask, but the question is where the heck is it? Kampala is the capital city of Uganda, and that's where I am right now. I had so little time to prepare for this trip that I'm still suprised I'm here. Yesterday I was told it's one of the worst places in the world for Malaria, and I didn't even bring medicine! Great going Ramon...

Anyway, the reason I'm here is to visit my good friend Joakim, who's and ingeneer working as an antropologist(!) for Norplan. He's doing impact assesments on the local people as a result of the development of new power lines and the likes. I can't believe one of my childhood friends is working as an antropoligst in the middle of Africa. It makes my career as an IT consultant seem like dullest job in world.

Sadly this time Kari couldn't go with me. So while Joakim and his girlfriend Silje are at work I'm out exploring on my own. And to be honest it's a tiny bit scary, after all it's a country completely unknown to me. A country with the highest corruption in all of Africa (a record quite hard to achieve if you considere the competition), and where the police force is the most corrupt institution within the country. Where are I'm supposed to cry for help if something goes wrong?

That said, this country is beautiful. It's green and fertile. Your prototypical image of Africa, with red dirt roads, green forest, flowers in all possible colors, bea
utiful ivory black women carrying huge bundles of sugar cane on their heads, and the most insane looking birds flying over your head.

Tomorrow I'm renting a car and going to the Jinja, the place along the Victoria Lake where the Nile is born. Driving in Uganda is not an appealing thought, and it's no just because they drive on the left side of the road, or that there's no decent hospital to go to if I crash. It's more because of the seemingly complete disregard for life they show on the road. I thought Naples was bad...

I'll try to get another post out at the end of this trip. And there is most definetly going to be a new album on my page Photogallery

In case you're still wondering where the heck I am, check out this map:

Hmm, I think I can hear my stomach complaining about that Matoke stew (green bananas) .


Tuesday, February 22, 2005


A friend just told me she had read my blog (thanks Torunn). And so I was suddenly reminded that, yes, I have a blog. Let's do an update!

The more practical sides of life first. Kari and I have moved into our new apartment! It's pretty new, from 1999, so we didn't really have all that much to fix. But then again it was so new it was a bit boring, so we did a lot anyway. We've painted walls, bought tons of furniture (gold card members at Ikea), and I've installed at least a kilometer of all kinds of cable (ethernet, loudspeakers, coax, phone etc etc), all hidden inside the walls of course. Now we're happy in our new home. It's nice and cozy and just what we wished for. Please come visit, we'll show you around.

On the more sentimental side, this is a very sad time. Yesterday our 12 year old cat, Knøttet (Little One), got up from the couch where it was sleeping, walked a couple of steps, and then fell over and died. Probably a heart attack or something. We did our best to get it breathing again, but it was all over very fast. I cannot express how sad this is for me. I feel I just lost this great little friend that was always there when we were home. A friend that loved to play with us, talk to us (he was very talkative for a cat), or just lie cuddled next to us wherever we were. Now the apartment seems so empty without him. He also meant a whole lot to my parents and my sister. I hope he's up in cat heaven, playing around in the long green grass and hunting for mice.

I'm going on a trip to Uganda next month. I'll try to give and update after that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Finished in Hague

Yes! I've rolled off my project in the Hague, and I'm back in Oslo. Now I'm hoping to get a project here as soon as possible, and start living a normal life with my girlfriend, friends and family. I'm also planning the next and very serious trip abroad. This time the destination is Chile. Kari and I want to live in my parents house in Santiago (without my parents in it), for a year or so. It would be great if we could make that dream come true. I suddenly felt a little bit closer when I realized Accenture just opened an office in Santiago!

Saturday, January 04, 2003

The Hague

Wow, updating allready! Like I said, the point was to get you news on my whereabouts. Well, I got back from my stay with Kari in South Africa in November 2002. Accenture (the firm I work for) didn't even give me time to unpack before they sent me on a project in The Hague. That's where I'm writing from. I fly down here every monday and back to Oslo every friday. I'm not to happy about it, especially because I have really been looking forward to some time with my girlfriend, family and friends in Oslo. Can't complain though, at least I still have a job (Accenture is cutting down hard on personnel). And besides, Kari has moved in with me in Oslo! That gives me something to look forward to when I get home in the weekends.

Photos Flickr RSS feed

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Personal photogallery

My personal photogallery generated using my own tool, Atacama. Pictures of events and travels from the last 10 years or so.

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Flickr photos

All my photos at flickr.com. You can see the same pictures on my personal photogallery above.


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Flash homepage

This used to be my web-site. Flash from bottom to top. Back then I thought it looked hot. Now it just looks silly.

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Flash travels

This is the first page I created using Macromedia Flash. An interactive photogallery with maps and all.

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When I got tired of manually editing HTML every time I wanted to put out a new picture gallery, I finally wrote my own generator, in Java.

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My dream as a kid was to control things in the real world using a computer. Now I use two small servo-motors to tilt and pan my web-cam.

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Sitting in the garden in Chile during springtime inspired me think about how trees grow and sprout new leaves and branches.

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This is the web site for Kari's father's company. It's quite simple, but web statistics show that people are actually using it quite a lot.

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Kari psykolog

Kari was sure she would spend months looking for a job as a psychologist in Norway. She decided she needed to promote herself using a home page.

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NTNU thesis

This is my thesis from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where I took my Masters degree. I hope you can read Norwegian!