If you have been a long time follower, you might remember a flurry of activity in late 2015 and early 2016 when I was diving into tinkering with an Arduino board. At the time, I was building bits and pieces to make a remote weather station. (that was derailed by an unrelated life change, but I have slowly gotten back into it.)
The Arduino is interesting as it is a pretty complete SOC, with memory, microcontroller, CPU, and a pretty robust set of digital and analog IO’s. Plenty of cool things you can do with it, and it is really simple to program. Ordinary C code, solid libraries, and third parties make a pretty complete set of sensors and widgets, with libraries to support them. Continue reading →
I am back in the south bay for my high school reunion, and I visited two places that I have always loved.
The good: Guitar Showcase
Way back when I first started playing guitar, I was introduced to the legendary Guitar Showcase in Campbell. It is an iconic music store, and naturally has a wide selection of guitars (as well as other instruments).
They have greatly expanded the store, and added a lot of floor space. They still have their vintage room (they also put their jazz boxes there, and the PRS guitars, probably to keep us plebe’s from drooling on them) that is fun to browse. I know they will let you play many of them, if you ask, but I have never had the courage to ask.
One thing that has changed is that they have moved the acoustic guitars from the back room to upstairs. And they have a lot more. I played a cherry Taylor nylon string (felt a little strange, a steel string neck, with a radius and all), a genuinely awesome sounding 814ce (I have a 1996 vintage Taylor 814C (no electrics) that is pretty sweet), a dobro resonator, and a few of the spanish made classical guitars (I also played a mid range Yamaha classical guitar that was pretty sweet for $400).
Downstairs, I was looking hard at the Gibsons. They had a few cherry SG’s, the classic, light weight, ultra fast neck, and just gorgeous. They also had a pretty good selection of Les Paul’s. One that caught my eye was a $2200 Gary Moore signature series. I love the simple finish, and the feel of that guitar. They also had a very cherry Les Paul standard custom for $1600 that was ultra nice. Very light wear, and a truly sweet guitar.
I did manage to walk out without dinging my credit card, but I have to admit it was hard.
The bad: Fry’s Electronics
Being a geek, growing up and living in the bay area, my first stop for tech product was always Frys Electronics. From the original Sunnyvale location on Lawrence Expressway (now a few blocks north of Lawrence) to the other Fry’s, they were always clean, well stocked, and helpful (even if their workers weren’t the brightest bulbs). I bought many a stick of Ram, CPU, motherboard, or power supply there.
SInce our hotel is only a couple blocks from the Hamilton Avenue Fry’s, we swung by this afternoon. I was horribly disappointed. Lots of empty shelves. Product that is poorly stocked, and outside the TV area, it just looked ratty.
I guess I can understand that they are no longer the preferred vendor for tech odds and ends. I suspect Amazon and other online resellers are matching and beating their prices, but I was shocked at how ratty Fry’s had become. An icon from my youth/young adulthood is in decline.