Carolinas Code Camp 2014

Lorem Ipsum sin dolor amet.

Z28 Project – Step 1: Find a donor car

Z28 Project - Step 1: Find a donor car

1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with *extra special* T-Top package

I have been looking for a donor car for my Z28 project and finally found this beauty last weekend. After a ton of wrench time, I’ll be shoe-horning the LT1 engine from this into my formerly V6 1994 Camaro. http://ballance.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/camarodowntowngso.jpg?w=400&h=600

There’s an interesting history with the blue car. The previous owner summarized it well in this email he sent me before Tim & I went to pick it up in Lancaster, SC.

“It was sold by a Methhead to a crusher but when they went to load it over onto the crush pile the crane operator told the yard manager that it sounded like it ran great when they drove it in. The manger got in it cranked it up and did some burnouts in the lot with it but just pulled it back in and told the crane guy to load it over as it was so nasty and ratted out on the inside. I happened by the yard (friends with the manager) and saw the car being craned over. Asked about it and was told it ran great. After they set it down I went over and turned the key and it fired right up. Idled a little high but not rough. Ran a minute or two then throwed a check engine light, o2 sensors most likely. Put it in gear and it went right in and locked up ready to go. No smoke out the pipes, no leaking fluids. Figured the driveline was going to be all good and would work in my sons 1964 Impala so I bought the driveline with an option to keep the whole car if I wanted. While I was gone somebody came and cut the battery cables on it and stole the battery out of it. Shows 133,000 on the odometer but no idea if that’s original. Planned to pull the wiring harness and strip it of the Vats and other stuff I did not need, keep the ECM and the rest of the harness and pull the rear end, trans and motor and give the car back. Meanwhile my son bought a 2001 Mustang GT and though that he would just keep the 400 small block in his 64. Put it up for sale and a guy said he wanted the whole car cause he was doing a v6 swap and needed the K member and other stuff like brackets. Sent me some earnest money so I bought the body on his say so. Backed out on the deal so I still have the car. The car is truly trashed on the inside. The body is not worth anything in parts except the hood, front valance, fenders, and possibly the door skins. Of course it has a huge bow in the top where the crane grabbed it. There is a video up on youtube of it being cranked and running, if you still want to look at it I can get you the youtube link. I will send you some pictures tonight if I can. For the price you can’t go wrong. There are going to be a bunch of little things you are going to need if you do a swap from a v6. Things you don’t think of but when you start putting it back you find that there is a difference here and there from the v6 to the v8. Brackets and supports and hoses and lines and clips and you name it. With this deal you get the whole shebang to pull what you need, when you need. When finished you can take whats left and get a 150.00 or so back for the crush weight. It will need four tires and wheels to load but it will drive on the trailer. The wheels on it are sold and two of the tires are non usable anyway. As far as parts missing the hood catch and the support hardware is gone but it is still hinged and in place and none of the hood damaged. Other than that it’s complete. It’s taking up space that I need so if you want it come and get it this week and you can have it for what I have in it which is x. If you get y back after crushing whats left you got x-y in a 4l60e, an LT1 and a disc brake rear end and the 150 mile an hour dash for the v8 instead of the v6 speedo. And it is a true Z28 to boot!”

…and after a new battery, here it is running before the swap begins

Sometimes the right tool for the job is the largest hammer you have available.

Right tool for the job is sometimes the biggest hammer you can find

For the most part, I try not to force it when working on a problem. However, after trying everything I could think of, including kicking it the tire as hard a possible and subsequently a hammer and pry bar, I was making no headway on getting the rear tires removed from my car.

I decided it was time to take a break, pop open a cold beer, and consult my favorite tome of knowledge, the inter webs. After hearing recommendations to try all of the things I had already done, I tried the advice of Eric the car guy and “beat the crap out of the tire with the biggest hammer I could find.”


I had been using a sledgehammer against the tire to no avail, but the leverage and weight of the blunt end of my fiancée’s axe seemed capable of providing the necessary force. After an unfortunate mishap in which I fell backwards into a halfway-full oil pan and made a gigantic mess, the wheels finally came off with relative ease.


It is important to not use the biggest, heaviest, bluntest tool in the tool box as a first resort, but sometimes it is the only way to accomplish the task. After all, there is a minimum force necessary to break a connection that has fused in some way and the equation F = M * A is always true.

Removing the tires on my green car was a preliminary step taken before picking up an almost identical blue version of the same car for my Z28 conversion project. Stay tuned as I do a heart transplant on my 1994 Camaro.

Where I’m going, I don’t need roads

Hi Folks,

In the IT industry, four years is an eternity and as I hit the four year mark with Microsoft a couple of months ago – the time for me to move on to my next adventure has arrived.
While it was a tough decision to make, I have decided to leave Microsoft and today is my last day with the company.

Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to work with some interesting folks on various cool projects.

I’ve also enjoyed some various activities outside of the office with MSFT folks.

Where is Chris going next?
I’m off to to try on a new hat and break into an industry I’ve had in my sights for some time. In the months to come I’ll share more details on my blog.

I’ll still be around Charlotte for the bulk of my time, so don’t be a stranger.

Cheers,

//Chris

ballance@gmail.com

The story of a stolen cell phone, or “How my fiance and I spent our 2 year anniversary at the ER”

ballance:

Kate’s account of the evening is a pretty good one.

Originally posted on Slightly Off Ballance:

So last night was a bundle of fun. You know how you set your phone down, ladies, when you go to pee. Right there above the toilet paper, so it won’t fall in? Yeah- don’t do that, or at least remember to grab it when you are done. People are not as honest or good as your might think, and it results in you all winding up at the ER- but we will get to that later. After realizing, to my horror, that my phone was not where it was supposed to be, I went to the bartenders and the other staff to see if they had come across the phone or if someone with morals had turned the phone in. Not so much. I announced to my fiancé, Chris that my phone was not where it needed to be (my pocket) and I needed him to help find it…

View original 795 more words

How to get your stolen iPhone back

Kate iPhoneFound

Ever have that sinking feeling that your phone is not in your pocket like it should be? It’s not a fun feeling at all. They are expensive little buggers and we all depend on them a little too much in our day-to-day lives. Besides, it’s a real pain to get one replaced, even if the cost was not a factor.

Tonight my fiancee’s iPhone was stolen. She inadvertently left in on a shelf in the bathroom and 30 seconds later when she realized where she had left it, it was gone. I’ve done this before a couple of times, so I could understand why this might have happened.

We were out at VBGB in Charlotte with our friends Lane and Louanne, when Kate runs up to me with a concerned look on her face and says “Chris, my phone is gone.” At first, I assumed it was just misplaced. The bar was crowded, noisy, and we had been enjoying some beers, so I asked her to double check all the places it might be. She had already checked the obvious places: her purse, around on the table, all her pockets, and where she had set it down in the bathroom. When she mentioned bathroom, something told me it had been stolen. It was just a hunch, but it proved to be correct later on. Once I verified that the obvious places had been checked, I set down the beer I had just poured, and headed for the front door to be able to see everyone leaving the bar. We share a free application called Find My Friends on our phones that lets us find each other using GPS at any time. I highly recommend installing it and connecting with a trustworthy friend, for the situation I’m describing here.

Before I walked off, I told Kate, “I will track down your phone tonight. It just may take bit.” By the time I got to the front door, I had pulled up her phone’s location using mine and knew that it was still in the general area, but could not get a close enough gps fix to see whether it was still at VBGB or if it was in the next building to the south, The Fillmore Music Hall. When the GPS resolution improved, it became more likely that the phone had moved out of VBGB and to the south of us somewhere in the NC Music Factory complex. I had not acted quickly enough to identify the thief as they left the bar, but I was going to narrow down where they might have gone. I locked her phone remotely and put it into “Lost Mode” so that it could not be used for any purpose other than me being able to track its whereabouts on planet Earth. The battery on her phone was less than 50%, so I worried that it might run out of juice before I was able to track it down. As luck would have it, the battery remained charged long enough for me to determine which building it had been taken into. I spent around 15 minutes walking around the NC Music Factory complex, ruling out places that the phone was not likely at, and in my search, honed in on the Fillmore Music Hall. Over the past four years living in Charlotte, I’ve been to Fillmore probably a dozen times for various shows, so I knew the layout inside fairly well.

Once I was 95% certain that the phone was inside, I started formulating a plan to get inside and identify the person with the phone. The problem was that there were tickets required to get into the show, and I did not have one. Sometimes just explaining your situation to the right person, and letting them how much of a help they could be to you is all that is necessary to get folks to bend the rules to help you out. I quickly explained the girl taking tickets that my Fiancee’s phone had been stolen, and that the person had taken it inside Fillmore. She explained that she couldn’t let me in without a ticket, but one of the other ticketing people had an extra, which she gave me. With gratis ticket in hand, I walked through the door, determined that I wasn’t leaving without Kate’s distinctive black & white & black iPhone 4. She previously had an all white Otter Box cover on her phone, and when the rubber portion of the cover started to fail, I gave her a black one I was no longer using. Instead of replacing the white plastic portion of the case, she kept it with the two mismatched tones since she thought the contrast looked good. Looked good? It looked great, since it made the phone distinctive and recognizable at a glance.

The band was an Eagles cover band playing “Take it Easy” when I stepped inside to the fairly large crowd. They weren’t half bad, but I was here on business, so I started profiling the crowd for folks who might have stolen the phone close to a half hour ago. The GPS fix I had on her phone wasn’t great, but would tell me what side of the building the phone was on and occasionally get a strong fix when the phone went outside on smoke break. The couple of times it popped up outside, I headed over to see if I could pick out anyone with that phone in their hand. I knew they might have it concealed, so when I got close to it, I would send a loud chime noise to the phone and try to hear it or see someone react to the noise of the stolen phone in their pocket or bag. There was one guy who didn’t seem to be there for the music at all. He had a small bag on his shoulder that looked peculiar and for someone who did not smoke, he went out to the smoker’s area a couple of times. He was also there by himself, which seemed slightly odd. Surely, I’ve gone to tons of concerts myself and thought nothing of it, but I think it’s more common to go out to see live music with friends. He also seemed to stay just ahead of me as soon as he realized that I might be following him and he was moving progressively towards the door. I lost sight of him, but again stood at the door, the only exit from Fillmore. Five or ten minutes later, I see him exit the building and I follow him out. Before I confront him, I need to know that he’s the guy, but I’m waiting on the GPS location to update to its current position. If it moves out of the building, I will have a high degree of certainty that the phone is on his person. Kate notices who I’m following and runs some clever interference. Her acting skills as “drunk girl that just won’t get out of the way” kept him still long enough for me to confirm that I was wrong, and as weird as he was acting, he wasn’t the person who had stolen the phone.

I wasn’t having much luck when I was inside Fillmore, but knew that as soon as the phone left the building, I would see the “stolen phone dot” on my screen move, and could try to identify the thief. Though the location of the phone bounced around Fillmore for the next 15-20 minutes or so, it never left the building so I just stayed there watching the door. Then another kink in my plan came up. All my efforts to find the stolen phone had run the battery in my phone down to a critically low level. I decided the trade-off of going to the car and charging my phone made the most sense at the time. While it was charging, I had Kate call Verizon and report the phone stolen, then the police to open a report and request an officer to come out. I left a couple of friends watching the door while we went to the car for battery juice and once we got the reports filed with Verizon and the police, we went back to relieve Lane from “watching the door for folks leaving with stolen phones” duty. About the same time an ambulance arrives along with a fire truck. At some point Kate looks over at me and says, “wouldn’t it be ironic if the person who stole my phone had a panic attack and had to leave in an ambulance.” We both had a good chuckle about how ironic that would be and didn’t’ think of it again. I send Kate inside Fillmore to double-check with the barkeeps that her phone had not been turned in. While she’s doing this, the phone starts to move. It’s moving in a vehicle and faster than I can follow on foot and I don’t have car keys. I’m stuck waiting for Kate (who clearly does not have a phone at this point) to return from inside Fillmore. As soon as I see her I grab the keys and run to the car.

Pulling out of the music factory on two wheels isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do with a cop right across the street, but what can I say? I was on a mission. Luckily he either didn’t notice me, or didn’t think I was being reckless enough to stop me. I knew the phone had gotten on I–277 and then jumped on I-77 south, so I followed that route initially. As we drove along in pursuit of the stolen phone, I continued to verify the location as it changed and moved away from us. Eventually it settled on a spot and remained stationary for a couple of minutes. I wasn’t sure exactly what was in this location, but I knew I was going to get there as fast as safely possible to find out.

As we get closer, what has happened hits us both at about the same time. The location is Charlotte’s main hospital… The phone had left with the ambulance Kate had jokingly remarked about earlier because it was sitting in the Emergency Room at that very second. CMC-Mercy is a large hospital that I only know from a charity event I helped with last year so it took us a handful of minutes to find parking. It took a few more minutes to navigate to the emergency room area, but eventually we tracked it down. I noticed a security guard at the desk just inside the door, so I walk up to him and begin to explain the situation. While I’m doing this, Kate recognizes someone from VBGB further down the hall. I asked Kate if she saw her phone, and she thought she did. I pause my conversation with the security guard and start walking towards this individual. Like I mentioned earlier, Kate’s phone & case is fairly distinctive and I see what I think is the phone in this person’s hand. As I get near her I say “Nice phone, where’d you get it?” Before she can respond, I snatch it out of her hand and confirm it is indeed, Kate’s phone. Her friend starts with this song and dance “Hey, how do we know that’s your phone?” which Kate immediately squashes with “Hmm, well I just unlocked it.” Her friend then proceeded to babble forth nonsense about how they were on their way to turn the phone into lost & found at the hospital.

SRSLY???!?111? The lady “found” the phone at VBGB, but didn’t think it was important to turn it in to one of the barkeeps in case someone is looking for it. She takes the stolen property from this location to another location, and again, does not report it, attempt to look for its owner, or turn it in to the lost & found at Fillmore. She leaves the location and as soon as I take the phone our of her hand she has a sob story about how she was trying to do the right thing. Her friend yelling obscenities and having to be restrained by the Hospital security guard did not help her case that she was “just trying to do the right thing” Since I removed myself and Kate from the situation, it was not possible to get identification of the thief that night. We had the phone, it wasn’t worth letting the lady’s crazy friend escalate the situation to violence if it could be helped. We filed a police report and I’m going to go see the magistrate next week to get warrants issued, surveillance tape subpoenaed, security guards subpoenaed, and correlate hospital records of the person admitted with the license plate of the car the their left in to get a positive ID.

I’m glad my Dad – a detective for the Greensboro Police Department – taught me a few problem solving skills that allowed me to successfully return the phone to its rightful owner.

  1. Persistence pays. If you let yourself become laser-focused on solving a problem, your chances of solving said problem increase significantly.
  2. Keep a clear head, and use all resources available to you. Anger and fear will not help you in the heat of the moment, turn these off temporarily.
  3. Be Confident. Act like you’re supposed to be there and no one will question what you’re doing.

So I can honestly say that I successfully tracked down the people who stole Kate’s iPhone, snatched it out of their thieving hands, and sent them to the hospital. [Though I never touched the thief).

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes in court. :-)

Kate’s side of the story
is a fun read.

Be Smart with HDR Pledge

Unnecessary High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing is bad for photography, bad for America, and makes kittens everywhere very sad. Don’t let you or your friends become the Thomas Kinkade of the photography craft.

BadHDR
photo by densaer

We are uncovering better ways of processing
photos by doing it realistically and helping others do it without “adding too much cowbell.”

While HDR can be a useful tool in some cases, it is not appropriate in every case.

I pledge to:

BE SMART WHENEVER I PROCESS PHOTOGRAPHS

  • To use caution and common sense when considering HDR processing
  • To understand that any bracketed set of photos I or my friends take could become an HDR.
  • To understand and practice proper guidelines whenever I or my friends process photos.
  • To never, ever leave any set of bracketed photos unattended.
  • To make sure any HDR that I or my friends create “just for fun” is properly and completely extinguished before moving on.
  • To properly extinguish and discard of HDR images I have created in the past.
  • To be aware of my surroundings and be careful when operating equipment that could create HDR.
  • To speak up and step in when I see someone in danger of HDR’ing an image.

Ballance SignatureWhite

Chris Ballance – BallancePhoto.com

*Leave a comment if you would like to sign the pledge.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.