A nice video introduction to queuing theory. I recall seeing Erlang's recommended approach -- a single queue feeding multiple cashiers -- used at Marshall's, Panera Bread, and Barnes & Noble. Can you think of any others?
I recently bought a utility trailer. (I'll explain momentarily what that is and why you might consider buying one.) Going through the process (research, preparation, purchase, registration, setup and maintenance) has taught me that it's not a simple endeavor and very little good documentation exists in the public domain (e.g. on the Internet). Hence, this post.
In dictionary terms, of course, "to trail" means "to follow" (or to trace the path of a primary vehicle). Alternately, Wikipedia defines a trailer as an unpowered vehicle pulled by a powered vehicle.
So, let's get acquainted with what a utility trailer is and why you might consider buying one. If you're a hardworking, blue collar American you probably already have one -- it's the back half of your pickup truck. Well not quite, but that's the reason Australians refer to a pickup as a utility vehicle. A pickup is characterized by the presence of a flat bed in the ba…
I generally prefer to do things the hard way. For example, you can either microwave a frozen dinner or cook from scratch. The microwave option is a good backup plan, but cooking from scratch has far too many advantages, as I outlined in a recent blog post on the do-it-yourself way of life.
In the electronics and robotics world, the analogy of cooking from scratch is to build circuits using a bare bones micro-controller chip (e.g. the PICAXE) rather than a fancy board (e.g. the Arduino). Therefore, once I get a circuit working with the packaged Arduino approach (e.g. this robot I built recently), I usually try to replicate the circuit using more basic components like the PICAXE.
My decision to consider the PICAXE was influenced by Charles Platt's coverage of it in his awesome book Make: Electronics. But essentially, I am a minimalist and I want to see how much I can get done with a bare bones chip rather than a bulky board-based micro-controller like the Arduino. My current favori…
The kitchen in my house has a closeted area for laundry, where the washer and dryer take up the floor space. But there's 50 square feet (5' wide x 4' high x 2.5' deep) of space above the washer and dryer that was going unused. So, I started researching shelving systems. I began online at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. But this isn't something you can do online unless you've worked with that exact system previously and know exactly what to order. After speaking with someone at the local Home Depot, I ended up going with a ClosetMaid ShelfTrack system that has several parts that all need to be coordinated carefully to get a working system. That is the system I will describe in detail in this post. But I'll also allude to other options.
First, note that this is a system especially suited for situations like mine where you're working exclusively within the top half of the space between the ceiling and the floor. Here is the component list for the ClosetMaid S…