pyesetz: (fire-hunter)
Finally got that spare part!  So now I can install it, with assistance from Kid #2.  Photos below:

Photos inside )

And the result of the repair was No change.  Monitor still goes black after one second.  Tried plugging it into my laptop: displays properly for one second after plugging in, then goes black.  Oh well.
pyesetz: (rabbit)
Today I received the first email from my new batch job.  Each day it throws away the hourly stock quotes I got from Schwab and replaces them with more accurate quotes from, to prevent "drift" in my technical indicators.  Because Barchart delays their data by 15 minutes, and sometimes there are "price corrections" a few minutes after 4pm, I have the batch job running at 4:20 pm.  *snerk*

And why do I have to do this?  Because Schwab gives "real-time" quotes, while I want "top-of-hour" quotes from several seconds earlier.  Schwab offers those, but not to robots (their website is carefully coded to make it difficult to extract this data). offers top-of-hour data, but not to robots (terms of service say "no bots").  Barchart offers this data, with a delay.  It's a conspiracy to ensure that I can't get the numbers I need when I need them!

And... *still* no capacitor!  USPS says it left their country ten days ago.
pyesetz: (Default)
Ganked from [ profile] loganberrybunny.
  1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?  My house is 142 years old!  What is this "closet" of which you speak?
  3. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotel?  No.  I try not to "collect" things, even toiletries.
  5. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?  Sometimes this changes during the course of a night.
  7. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?  Before what?  I don’t think so.
  9. Do you like to use post-it notes?  No.  I prefer email.
  11. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?  Yes.  Sometimes I go to the Customer Service desk and get the coupon deducted from my receipt after the fact.
  13. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of a bees?  Bears have much bigger brains and it seems much more likely that I could convince him/her to call off the attack.
  15. Do you have freckles?  A few.  My chinfur has a reddish tint.
  17. Do you always smile for pictures?  No.  For some US government purposes, any photo with a smile in it gets rejected.  Happiness is not allowed!
  19. What is your biggest pet peeve?  Why does my pet dog choose to throw up *next* to his puppy pad???
even more drivel )
Really, this isn't the post I had planned to make today, which was more along the lines of: "Approximately two of you will care that I have given up on finding a local source for a 100µF/450V capacitor and have purchased one from an Ebay seller in Florida."
pyesetz: (Default)
"Even if a network administrator does not wish to ban, say, role-playing games outright, there is value in saying that such uses of the network should not interfere with real work like reading XKCD."

--- link (talking about the Linksys WRT54GL wireless access point with custom Linux firmware).


Jan. 3rd, 2010 04:34 pm
pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Over at SP I wrote a post called God, as perceived by scientists.  It's not very good, but seems reasonably well-received.

Several people wrote comments beginning with "As a scientist..." but only one was frankly negative.  That fellow apparently subscribes to the Popperian school where only the successes count as "doing science".  Popper's philosophy of science is fine as far as it goes (and his political philosophy is also good), but it describes only a small fraction of an actual scientist's daily activity.

A New Age-y person thanked me for writing "good nonsense", while a conservative fundamentalist Christian opined that "the diary was good and maybe the poll choices were nonsense".  It seems that the "scented melon-breasted woman" item in particular was over the top.  I'm giving my "most insightful comment" award to Ms. Shakti, who says
All of us are dealing with our own perceptions, gathered through our uniquely tuned sensory apparatus, processed through individual brains with their own idiosynchrocies, and filtered through our individual life experience and understanding.  It doesn't matter what I think god is, or what my experience of god is, it will only make sense to me and most likely be nonsense to everyone else. Some people perceive God, some perceive no god, the difference is not in absolute reality, the difference is all in our perception.

Overall, 42 comments and 13 poll respondents isn't bad for a stupid little post!  But zero people voted for "God is the reason why so many experiments fail", which was arguably the thesis of my post.  So I guess my thesis is bad and should be discarded.

Maybe next I should do a post on "Is God Hyperdimensional?"  Short answer: we don't know and we can't know, but it's fun to speculate.

* * * * *

After Christmas, Kid #1 told me that there was a Dr. Who marathon coming up on January 2nd and none of the video-recording equipment in our household was up to the task of recording it while we go out for our monthly "lunaversary" celebration.  So I bought a USB TV tuner to convert Kid #1's laptop into a TiVo.  As expected, the included Windows software is crap—just the excuse needed to switch Kid #1's computer over to Linux!  But MythTV is horribly difficult to install (I eventually got it to show a single station with no sound).  I tried a few other PVR packages but they were even worse, e.g. Freevo couldn't seem to figure out what the channel frequencies were.  After spending two days fighting with the thing (instead of working my paying job), I began to wonder what my SP post had to do with this TV tuner thingy.  What was God trying to tell me that I didn't want to hear?

Meanwhile, Wifey is complaining that I'm playing favourites among our children.  Kid #1 gets this new $100 toy while I refuse to kick in $50 for a Wii for Kid #2 (because he didn't want it until after Hanukkah gift-giving season was over).  Wifey is really annoying when she's right.

So I decided that what God was trying to tell me was that homemade PVR technology is not yet ready for prime time and I shouldn't be working on it.  The tuner has been set aside, to be returned to my local brick-and-mortar BestBuy store (on the other side of Kitchener, only 25km away).  We had take-out Chinese food on January 2nd so Kid #1 could watch the Dr. Who marathon without having to record it.  Meanwhile, Kid #2 and his Wii are still up in the air.

Of course, I could be wrong about this.  The only person to write a "customer review" at the BestBuy website says he likes the thing because he can use it to connect a Wii to his computer.  What a remarkable coincidence!  I may regret returning it.  But you know, sometimes you've just gotta pick a path and walk it.  As a professional software engineer, I can keep pushing the rock up the hill with the best of them.  But some hills end up being much much higher than originally predicted and a good engineer will recognize when a project has become a "runaway freight train to Nowhere".  Yadda yadda, insert your own lame excuses here.
pyesetz: (Default)

T₀ = Friday, May 29th: We came home from a long homeschool outing.  As usual, I put my laptop (mentioned previously) at the top of the basement stairs and went to bed for a nap.  When I woke up, the computer had this big dent on the top and the LCD screen no longer worked.  Apparently Wifey had asked Kid #2 to get something from a shelf over the basement stairs and he had... stepped on my computer!  Of course, this sort of thing only ever happens on a Friday night.

I dug out a 10 year old CRT (that hadn't been used since the move from NJ) and plugged it into the VGA port.  Works!  But there's a reason why the old monitor hasn't been used: it's extremely heavy and it makes yucky "static discharge" noises whenever the screen resolution changes—which is appallingly often.  It's so heavy, I can only use this laptop+monitor combination at the dining-room table, which has hard wooden chairs that don't lean back.  But I managed to spend several hours setting ‘D’ file attributes to prepare for the full backup that this computer has never had (I've had problems in the past that got solved by using file attributes and the dump/restore pair of programs).

T+1 Saturday: Went to Walmart and bought a $150 LCD monitor.  Well, Wifey needs a new one anyway: her old monitor must be at least 15 years old and it's now too dark to play Runescape.  The new monitor weighs much less than the CRT, but it's still heavier than the laptop.  I am able to set it up in the basement so I can have the keyboard in my lap and then crane my neck leftward to see the screen.  Well, at least I have a means of income again.  Also got that full-backup done, which took 3 hours over wireless, and that's *after* marking several gigabytes of Ubuntu files with the "do not back up" attribute.

T+3 Monday: Called Plan‣IT‣ROI, from whom the laptop had been purchased along with a 3-year extended warranty (not my idea).  They won't fix it.  Before purchase, their warranty covers everything except the battery and "cosmetic damage".  After purchase, they stuffed a document into the "packing list" envelope on the box which excludes the motherboard, the LCD, and everything else that might actually break.  This is fraudulent—you can't change the warranty terms after purchase—perhaps I'll get around to calling NJ police on them.  They want $1500 to repair a computer that they know was bought from them for only $1000.  It seems they pulled this price of the air just to get me to go away.

Later: Called Panasonic Canada.  They'll fix it for $600 parts + $150 labour.  Ouch!  But obviously Plan‣IT‣ROI's price is farcical.  I once replaced the LCD on a ThinkPad 600, so I went looking around the web for parts.  Most places that sell LCD's don't have the one I need, but one place has it for $179.  Unfortunately the person answering the phone has a heavy Chinese accent, so I can only communicate with them via email.

T+9 Sunday 6/7: Bought the service manual from for $6.00.  This is the "consumer service manual", rather than the one Panasonic employees actually use.  The main purpose of the manual seems to be to convince people not to try this at home.  It is written in idiomatic Japanese translated literally into meaningless English.  Example text:
The both sides tape pasted to the keyboard bottom with the spatula is inserted in order of the arrow and then peel off. It is start-up from the LCD side and turns inside out on the top case. The KBD FPC WP sheet is peeld off... Do not damage the spatula ahead and move a top case in the direction of the arrow in order. Note: KBD-FPC sheet cannot be recycled. Please use new parts.
There are many warnings to "please use new parts" because so much glue is used in the design.  I suppose I *might* be able to do this installation, but if Panasonic's goal with this manual is to convince me to use their repair service, the instructions in the manual are probably not reliable, even if I could figure out what they mean.  When I Google for "intuition combination" I find other computer manuals poorly translated from Japanese, but I still don't know what that phrase refers to.

T+10 Monday: Called Laptop Centre of Toronto.  They offer same-day service for $185 parts + $65 labour.  I'll be in Toronto this Friday anyway for a homeschool outing—maybe the disaster will end soon!  Also, Laptop Centre will buy my various broken old laptops for about $30 each, which is better than *paying* $10 each to have the Province of Ontario recycle them.

Hopefully this won't turn out like the last disaster that I used "T+n" notation for.  My Move to Canada project finally ended at T+5½ years.
pyesetz: (Default)
(Oh noes!  It's been 26 days since my last post.  Pharyngula promises to delete blogs that don't post in a month.)

What's the deal with Technorati?  My blog is now ranked 1,446,383 with authority 3 (about the same as [ profile] rabitguy), while [ profile] giza is ranked 142,439 with authority 33.  Pharyngula's actual blog is ranked 131 with authority 301, but Technorati instead says I'm linked from Pharyngula's old blog, whose authority has fallen to 315.  Why doesn't somebody fix these things?

So my ThinkPad 600E has been getting worse and worse.  Now one of the RAM slots doesn't work.  I can't access more than 96 MB of RAM, which really isn't enough for the operating systems of today.  So I got a ThinkPad T23 from Ebay.  Nice!  But it took me over two weeks to get Debian "Etch" Linux working properly on it.  I'm less than impressed with the polish on that distro.  I wrote 14 pages of technobabble (decorated with nekkid pictures of computer parts) about what I had to do to make it work, but it's posted to the web under my RL name so I won't link to it from here but merely crosspost some of the photos.

Nekkid computer parts )
pyesetz: (Default)
Here are my vacuum tubes.  I've been collecting them for over 30 years.
As you can see, I haven't treated them very well.  They've been moved from one home to the next several times.  Some of them may no longer be functioning.  Standing up in the background is a Tung-Sol bridge rectifier, for which I don't have a part number (but the 10D1 looks similar).  Next to it is one of my five examples of the 6336A dual triode.  [ profile] shockwave77598: As can be seen from the linked close-ups, these "vacuum" tubes are full of metal, so it cannot be said that I am collecting tubules of "nothing".  The base of the 6336A has a magic-marker annotation "10/12", indicating that I once tested it (back when corner drugstores had tube-testing machines) and it was in good shape at that time.

In 1998 I found a website that sold tubes.  I checked their prices and determined that my 98 tubes had a replacement value of about $358.  The 6336A is one of the more expensive items, with a "used" price-tag of $25 back then.  I contacted the website operator to ask if he wanted mine, but got no reply.  I am pleased to be able to recall these tidbits for you, but in order to find this price list I had to search through a CD I made, named "Our Family 1999", that contained all home-made files from the family computer at that time.

Today I checked eBay.  Here is a used 6336A, perfect 115/115 test score, $28․00.  This one is never-used for $15․00.  This sad sack is the sort of auction my son will have to run if I don't get rid of these tubes before I die: set of six 6336A's plus a single 6336, unknown quality, current bid $10․50.  Well, at least he's getting bids!

Unlike tubes, it seems tube testers are now collectable items, costing hundreds of dollars and often out of stock.


pyesetz: (Default)

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