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WD-40 to the rescue! [Posted on Thursday, the 28th of May 2015 at 10:52 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

And today's moment of randomness in the life of boggyb is discovering that the bedroom window won't fully close, which is not the sort of thing one wants to find at this hour of the night. I've no idea who'd I'd phone if it was completely stuck - is there such a thing as a 24-hour glazier?

Or rather, it was stuck. Carefully directed force, some thought as to how to apply the force without throwing myself out the window (which is generally considered a Bad Idea), and vast amounts of WD-40 freed up the mechanism and it now closes fully. My guess is that the weight of the window while open had shifted it slightly on the hinges - the fixed portion of the PVC hinge mechanism is merely clipped in to the runner rather than actually being screwed down, and so can move slightly.

Come to think of it, why isn't it screwed down?

*googles*

Hmm... the internets suggest that there is such a thing as a "fire escape" hinge (which opens 90° to let you use it as an emergency exit), and also that there is such a thing as a "fire escape easy clean" hinge. And in the latter, the fixed portion can be unclipped to let you slide the opened window along the rail so that you can clean it. That looks like what I've got.

Well, you learn something every day.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Nostalgia overload [Posted on Monday, the 25th of May 2015 at 11:47 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |sillysilly]
[Who |Blue Peter theme]

Here, have some nostalgia overload:



And for even more nostalgia overload, a kind soul has scanned the technical drawings from the old Thunderbirds comic books. I wonder if I've still got my copy?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Dynamic mode! [Posted on Monday, the 25th of May 2015 at 9:14 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |surprisedsurprised]

The UK seems to be full of Alfa Romeos these days. On the way back from today's random walk (around the Chilling Coast/Hill Head area) I spotted a pair of black Alfas parked on a corner in Titchfield, and then ended up in a spontaneous convoy with another MiTo in a nice metallic red. I remember when the only time my sister and I might spot another Alfa was on the long journey to Cornwall.

Anyway, while driving back I thought that since the roads were rather quiet I'd give Dynamic mode a try (the MiTo has a switch with Normal, All-weather and Dynamic options - the latter being Alfa-speak for "sport mode"). The first thing I noticed is it makes the steering feel heavier - no, it hasn't switched off the power steering (I know what that feels like from experience), but there's definitely more effort required.

The second change I found is it swaps in a very aggressive accelerator map. I did know that Dynamic mode would change the throttle map, but I didn't expect quite this much of a change and consequently fluffed a lot of my gear changes on the way back (through having more power than I expected when feeding the clutch in). Interestingly though it did make my 1st-2nd changes better.

Finally, it actually made the car feel more stable through the southern exit from the Station Roundabout. Normally it has a tendency to understeer and drift out of the left-hand lane as I accelerate round, but this time it hugged the corner better and didn't seem to need as much steering correction (it also felt like the amount of steering effort needed was more constant). Now, I know that the MiTo has an electronic Q2 differential that's only active in Dynamic mode, so I wonder if this is the effect it has?

I stuck it back in Normal mode for getting into the flat's car park, because a twitchy throttle did not seem like a good idea when trying to do slow-speed manoeuvring (and light steering is much nicer when parking - I have tried parking without power steering before, and it's no fun). But I can see Dynamic mode being worth another try. Perhaps next time I take the twisty turny road over Bury Hill?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Saturday, the 23rd of May 2015 at 10:07 pm]

boggyb
[What |confusedconfused]
[Who |Eurovision Song Contest 2015]

I've just realised what's been bugging me about the sound in the Eurovision Song Contest: where's all the bass gone?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Overdue photos [Posted on Saturday, the 23rd of May 2015 at 9:15 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |artisticartistic]
[Who |Graham Norton snarking at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015]

Crikey, I know Eurovision contains vast amounts of tacky pop, but genuinely terrible performances are new. You know it's bad when the resident snarkmeister (Graham Norton this year) apologises for it. Bring back the trolls!


Anyway, I owe you all some photos, don't I? I have been taking them (off and on), but generally got distracted by other things before posting them.


Sunday 17th MayCollapse )


Monday 18th MayCollapse )


Tuesday 19th MayCollapse )


Thursday 21st MayCollapse )


Okay, Sweden have partially redeemed Eurovision with a neat bit of video FX for their song. Shame about the sound mixing at the start of it though.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Isn't it wonderful the way modern websites make it impossible to search for what you want? [Posted on Saturday, the 23rd of May 2015 at 5:19 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Isn't it wonderful the way modern websites make it impossible to search for what you want? Either the search engine is overly precise and fails to find documents containing the words you've entered, or it's overly fuzzy with no way to say "search for this phrase only and nothing else"...



I was originally searching for "quicktime" - see, I've got this crazy idea that the Quicktime plugin might actually be a reasonable way to play MPEG4 videos in Firefox on an old laptop, and this even crazier idea that a Firefox extension could replace <video> tags with a suitable <embed> tag to achieve this. This was how video playback actually worked in the HTML 4 days, after all.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

As proof that people never read emails... [Posted on Friday, the 22nd of May 2015 at 6:01 pm]

boggyb
Bits of email 1, from someone trying to organise an event:
Old thread was getting very long and cluttered

General info from last email

"I have decided to go for 3 activities and an overnight stay... [event details removed]

Some people are having a hard time digging my account details out of the old pile of messages [this was bolded/underlined in the original email!]

Sort code: [numbers!]
Acc no: [more numbers!]
Also please e-mail my address to confirm your payment...



Email 2, sent by someone else (not me!) in reply to email 1:
I will be going, could you send me the payment details again?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Friday, the 15th of May 2015 at 8:28 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Today's discovery is that Remote Desktop can do printer redirection. Setting it up is slightly complicated since just enabling printer sharing on the client isn't quite enough - you also have to have previously installed the printer driver on the computer you're connecting to (unlike normal printer sharing, remote desktop doesn't seem to be able to download the driver automatically from the computer with the printer), but once installed it just works. Neat!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Rain, rain, go away [Posted on Thursday, the 14th of May 2015 at 8:07 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Rain, rain, go away,
come again another day


Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Bonus extra photos! [Posted on Wednesday, the 13th of May 2015 at 8:50 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |happyhappy]

I happened to glance across the road as I popped out just now to top up the screenwash in the car (it fairly guzzles the stuff - my instructor wasn't joking when she said to top it up every week or two!), and saw an absolutely stunning sky. Unfortunately by the time I'd finished and dug out the camera it was a bit less stunning:



Over to the left, what little wind there was had dropped leaving a reflection of the trees in the millpond-like surface of the creek...



While to the right, the wisps of cloud glowed in the setting sun, promising new weather for tomorrow...

Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Random balcony photo [Posted on Wednesday, the 13th of May 2015 at 7:10 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |Robert Miles - Princess of Light]

Once again food is in the oven, the NAD is playing suitably powerful music (Robert Miles' Princess of Light, this time), and I've got a few moments to twiddle my thumbs and put together another photo post.



Nothing special today, just a random photo taken from my balcony looking towards the creek. It's almost warm enough to sit outside to eat my supper.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

But... what I do have is a Bus Pirate! [Posted on Tuesday, the 12th of May 2015 at 7:13 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

Today I wanted to get at some data on an old Ericsson T39m cellphone I used to use. Unfortunately, sometime over the past year or two the battery has completely failed (and has swollen quite alarmingly), and this particular phone won't power up unless the battery is present. The variable PSU only has a fixed choice of voltages, none of which are near the ~3.5V that a Li-Ion battery puts out (and in any case I only seem to have one crocodile clip lead so I can't connect it up).

But... what I do have is a Bus Pirate!



Here, I've connected the 3.3V rail of the Bus Pirate to the battery terminals on the T39m. The Bus Pirate probably won't be able to sustain the current draw for an actual phone call, but it can certainly supply enough for the phone to boot:



Success! And a full strength signal too (that's old-school GSM frontend design for you - none of this "you're holding it wrong" rubbish). Aside from the zeroed clock and the dead SIM, the rest of the phone works fine and I was able to extract the data I wanted.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Let me take you on a stroll along the shore... [Posted on Monday, the 11th of May 2015 at 7:51 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |artisticartistic]
[Who |Fluke - YKK]

Heh, that didn't last long at all this year. While I did take a couple of photos on Saturday they didn't work out and I got distracted by fanfiction before I could come up with something else. Sunday fared better on the photo-taking front, but again time just disappeared and I didn't get round to putting together a post for LJ.

But now it's Monday, food is in the oven, and so I've got some time to post photos while listening to the NAD pump out some Fluke (the Puppy album, if you're curious).

So let me take you on a stroll along the shore...Collapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Triforce meme! [Posted on Saturday, the 9th of May 2015 at 5:50 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |sillysilly]

It's been far too long since the last time I posted the results of a random quiz...


Your result for The TRIFORCE Test...

Wisdom/Courage

Hmmm... It seems you are a mix of two things. You're a little bit of both. A delightful cocktail of two pieces of the triforce. Here are both descriptions for your enjoyment.

You're that kind of person who is always handing in their homework on time and tend to like to observe and learn new things. In the world of Hyrule however, you are the wise sage who helps the hero along on their journey. You might be Zelda, Nyru, or one of those creepy fairy fountain women. You have all the spells and know all the legends, and tend to be captured a lot. Have fun hanging out in those old Hyrulian libraries and make sure to watch your back. The hero might not always be there to protect you from any evil that might want to use your knowledge for bad.

There's probably a statue of you in the center of town in memory of some daring rescue of yours. You are either the hero or one of the brave who help the hero fight against whatever happens to be attacking Hyrule at the moment. You won't take any sort of injustice or evil sitting down. Actually, you're right up their in the problems face with your legendary sword taking it down! Hurray for you! You're courageous! Just try to be careful so you won't end up dying an early death

Take The TRIFORCE Test at HelloQuizzy



For the curious, I ended up scoring 53% Courage, 60% Wisdom and 7% Power. Courage and Wisdom for the win!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Spirali with buffalo mozzarella and basil [Posted on Friday, the 8th of May 2015 at 10:52 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |DI.fm Epic Trance]



I promised elemnar some time ago that I'd post a pasta/mozzarella/tomato recipe I found a while back. Here's the original destructions, taken from the back of a packet of Tesco's pasta:


Spirali with buffalo mozzarella and basil

Serves 4. Cooking time 25-30 minutes.

300g spirali pasta
250g buffalo mozzarella, cut into chunks
300ml passata
4tbsps extra virgin olive oil
30g basil leaves, torn
70g Parmesan cheese, grated


Pre-heat the oven to 200°C
Boil the pasta for 5 minutes, drain and return the pasta back to the pan and combines with the mozzarella, passata, extra virgin olive oil and basil. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Transfer the pasta to a lightly greased ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the top with a layer of grated Parmesan and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
Serve immediately with a green salad


As always, I made a few changes when cooking it. To begin with I did my usual halving of the ingredients to make it fit the ceramic dish I've got, giving me one portion for today and a second that I'll fridge for tomorrow (give it a few minutes in the microwave to reheat). I also used ordinary mozzarella (buffalo mozzarella is unobtainium around here) and dried basil. And finally, since I didn't have any passata I used half a carton of chopped tomatoes. That actually worked out quite well, which is handy as I usually have a few cartons/tins of chopped tomatoes in the cupboard - they keep for ages and come in handy for several recipes.
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Crikey [Posted on Friday, the 8th of May 2015 at 8:26 am]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |surprisedsurprised]

Crikey. Nothing I saw in the run-up to the election predicted an outright victory for anyone.

I was hoping for another coalition myself. All three major parties (or should I say the two major parties and a now-minor party) had downright stupid policies in their manifestos, so with luck combining two of them would have diluted the stupidity somewhat.

Still, at least UKIP haven't got any more seats.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

I've voted, and not for you! [Posted on Thursday, the 7th of May 2015 at 6:18 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

WHAT... is your name?
boggyb!

WHAT... is your quest?
To vote in the general election!

WHAT... is the mean air-speed velocity of an unladen politician?
What do you mean? Labour politician or Conservative politician?
Huh? I don't know that! Aieeeeeee!

Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Wednesday, the 6th of May 2015 at 11:11 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |sleepysleepy]

It's been a tad windy the past day or two round here...



If you look carefully, you'll spot that this is the second time that this tree has suffered from the weather. Poor tree!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Mysterious flower [Posted on Tuesday, the 5th of May 2015 at 9:34 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |artisticartistic]



A piece of stained glass and the streetlight outside just happened to line up when I was drawing the curtains, giving today's photo.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Credit or debit? [Posted on Monday, the 4th of May 2015 at 11:19 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |amusedamused]

And really finally, before I forget today's hilarity was attempting to pay for lunch. Normally when paying by debit card in the UK, the chip'n'pin machine will prompt you to enter your PIN. Actually signing when paying is almost unheard of these days, though occasionally happens if the chip has died in someone's card (which will also mean that you have to swipe your card rather than just slot it into the machine).

Today it didn't prompt at all - instead it quickly flashed up "Authorised" on the screen before saying "Please remove card"... and then printing out a space for me to sign. We all thought that was rather odd, but I signed it anyway (with a pencil, as the staff didn't have a pen!) and left it at that. Then a little while later I checked the receipt out of curiosity and spotted that it said "Refund". And that instead of "Please debit my card", it said "Please credit my card". It appears that the waitress had somehow put through my bill as a refund by mistake!

Well, myself and the GNU went back to try and work out what had happened and if necessary actually pay for lunch. The waitress was as surprised as we were by the whole thing, but in the end decided to undo the refund with an equal charge, then repeat that for the actual payment. Except on the second payment, she accidentally put it through as a refund again! This time she caught it and managed to cancel it, and then finally correctly entered the payment for lunch. I now have a collection of receipts for various states of credit and debit transactions, and probably have a rather confusing bank statement to look forwards to at the end of the month.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Arundel sheep [Posted on Monday, the 4th of May 2015 at 11:08 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |artisticartistic]

And finally, daily photo!

Today the family ended up doing a spontaneous outing to Arundel, wherein after pottering round the town we continued up the hill and into Arundel park. There we passed the curious Hiorne Tower before following a chalk track down the hill and doubling back towards Swanbourne Lake. The path heads through an odd landscape - it's as if there's far too much land there, with the rolling hills and curving tracks. One almost expects the Riders of Rohan to crest one of the hills and thunder down the valley.

I've a whole collection of photos that may appear one day, but the one that caught my eye for today's post is of the small white blobs of sheep, up on the far side of the valley.

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May car check [Posted on Monday, the 4th of May 2015 at 10:52 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Car check time! I did this yesterday in a bit of spare time while waiting for my lunch to cook.

Nothing to report, really - the main tyres were all bang on for pressure, the spare was down .05 bar which I decided wasn't worth the hassle of digging out the compressor. The new pressure gauge makes this check a lot quicker! I also checked the tread depth while I was at it, which worked out at around 6mm left (give or take a bit). That's still plenty of tread, as the UK legal requirement is 1.6mm (not that I intend to let the tyres get that low before replacing them, especially given the sort of weather I end up driving in).

It also doesn't seem to have used up any oil over the past month, though that may be down to the low mileage - since the last post, I've only done 239.3 miles. That said today's driving will have blown all the cobwebs out of the engine and probably evaporated away any petrol contamination in the oil, so it may well need topping up again at the end of the month. I've noticed that it seems to alternate month-by-month between drinking a bit oil and hardly sipping it.
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The Alfa is STRONG against bad weather [Posted on Monday, the 4th of May 2015 at 10:42 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

Crazy moments when driving back from Billingshurst just now (which ended up taking exactly an hour start-to-stop, so I was right with my estimate):

Discovering that the A29 south of Pulborough has been resurfaced, and has no markings or cats eyes at all. Did I mention that this was at night, in the pouring rain? It wasn't quite on the scale of pleaseremove's epic "where's the road gone" moment as I could still see where the nearside was... just not where the rest of the road went. Oh, and to add to the fun there were several deep puddles on the nearside trying to grab the steering and throw you into the ditch. Fortunately the Alfa is STRONG against such puddles and just kept following the road.

Cresting Bury Hill to find proper fog. Not the half-hearted fog that elemnar and I discovered on the A264 towards Horsham, but proper main-beam-will-blind-you fog where you can only see a short distance ahead - and that's with the front fog lights on.

And finally, discovering deep puddles along the central reservation of the A27 just past Chichester. While overtaking a slow box van. While accelerating hard to clear the traffic behind me that also wanted to overtake the van. Again, the Alfa is STRONG against such and did not fling itself against the crash barrier or van, but pretty much went the in the direction I held the steering wheel.

Aside from that it was actually quite a nice drive. The approach to Pulborough was alright, as was heading through the villages between there and Bury (aside from the driver behind who wasn't entirely happy with me keeping to the speed limit), and once I escaped the Chichester roundabouts the Alfa just cruised along the dual carriageway despite the rain and wind.
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Forgotten fortress [Posted on Sunday, the 3rd of May 2015 at 11:22 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]



Fort Fareham. One of Palmerston's Follies, it was built to defend Portsmouth from a land attack that never happened. Now it's become overgrown and hidden by the wild, but here and there looms through the trees.
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The makings of a sunflower [Posted on Saturday, the 2nd of May 2015 at 7:24 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Last year, I tried growing sunflowers, but none of the seeds sprouted. This year, however...

Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

A month of photos [Posted on Friday, the 1st of May 2015 at 11:49 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |sleepysleepy]
[Who |DI.fm Epic Trance]

Oh yes, it's May, and that means it's time for another month of photos!

As before, there's only one rule:

  • Every day, take a photo (or draw a doodle or create something else) and post it!

So who's with me? I know pleaseremove's been trying to take and post more photos (and has been since the start of the year!), but is anyone else planning on joining in?

And before I forget, today's photo is what happens when I spend a few minutes playing around with out-of-focus lights...

Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Friday, the 1st of May 2015 at 8:00 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |annoyedannoyed]

Bah, the graphics card in Nyx has just failed again, judging by the bluescreen followed by epic video corruption. This is not entirely unexpected - the internets did suggest that baking the card may only be a temporary fix - but still, 4 months or so is pretty decent for a bodge fix.

Since it's still a pretty decent card I'll have one more go at fixing it. This time I'll see if I can get hold of some replacement thermal pads for the memory and voltage regulators (I was never entirely happy about reusing the existing ones), and additionally see if I can manage a better mounting for the heatsink. I'm not convinced it's making good contact with the GPU - rather than the copper block being held against the chip, it's embedded in a large metal frame with little standoffs for the screw mounts. I wonder if filing those down a little would let me actually tighten the heatsink against the GPU and get a better thermal connection. It may also be worth sanding down the copper block a little, to try and get it to sit evenly on the GPU.

Tightening down the heatsink down may also help with the problem, as the layout in the case means the GPU is on the bottom of the PCB and so gravity will be pulling the GPU away, placing stress on the solder balls (which are the only thing actually holding the GPU to the PCB). Given that the consensus on the internets is the solder balls cracking under thermal stress, forcing the GPU and PCB together should make this less likely.

At least Aether is working for now...
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(no subject) [Posted on Friday, the 1st of May 2015 at 12:30 am]

boggyb
[What |sillysilly]

From a call with pleaseremove just now, talking about overcomplicated email filters:

boggyb: I might have a copy of the email filter script I used at university...
* boggyb searches
boggyb: Hmm, I didn't find it, but I did find a chat log where I sent it to you in November 2005. It says I sent it from "C:\Temp\Mail filter.txt", I wonder if it's still there...
* boggyb searches some more
boggyb: Nope, can't find it. Probably got lost in one of the OS reinstalls/upgrades.
boggyb: Have you still got your MSN Messenger received files folder?
pleaseremove: Yes
boggyb: Ok, look in there for "Mail filter.txt"
pleaseremove: Found it!
boggyb: Cool!
boggyb: Would you mind sending it to me?
* pleaseremove collapses with laughter
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Today's random car discovery [Posted on Thursday, the 30th of April 2015 at 6:58 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |surprisedsurprised]

Today's car discovery is that if a passenger unbuckles his seatbelt before I've come to a complete stop, my Alfa beeps at me. Continuously. And it keeps on sounding the beeper until he does the seatbelt back up, even if I've now stopped.

It's also exactly the same pitch of beeper that it uses when it displays an important warning message (such as "Power steering corrector failure" or "Low oil pressure") which confused me no end as I was trying to work out what had failed.

A semi-related discovery is that the indicator noise on my car is entirely artificial, as when I put the indicators on the sound changed from "beeeeeeeeeeeeee" to "beeeeee*tick* beeeeee*tock* beeeeee*tick* beeeeee*tock*". In older cars you would actually hear the relay clicking - now, if there's a relay it's much quieter.
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The department of discontinued lines [Posted on Wednesday, the 29th of April 2015 at 8:58 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |iiO - Rapture (Soulside remix) [Chilled 1991-2008 - Disc 3]]

It's eerie how current old shows can appear. Take this quote from an episode of The Avengers (the British spy series, not the Marvel superheroes) I saw the other day...

"The department of discontinued lines! That's what they call this place. Discontinued lines... relics of a bygone age, the glorious age! A machine was a thing of joy then, built to last a man's lifetime. Now it's out of date before it's left the assembly line."

Fits perfectly with how modern gadgets aren't built to last anymore, right? Except this is from a show first broadcast in the sixties.

It's like watching Yes, Minister - despite it dating from the Thatcher era, it looks just like modern government. I recall watching through it at university, and one of the first few episodes from 1980 was about introducing a new National Integrated Database... which is exactly what the then-Labour government of 2005 had just announced with great fanfare.
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CRASH! [Posted on Saturday, the 25th of April 2015 at 2:11 pm]

boggyb
[Who |Nightwish - Dark Chest of Wonders [Once]]

So I thought I'd clean all the dust out of the uplighter, at which point this happened...



It was quite impressive, and the cacophony of crashing and smashing went on for quite some time as the exploding lampshade filled my flat with tiny slivers of glass. But on the plus side, the dust has gone!
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Election propaganda, coalition style [Posted on Thursday, the 23rd of April 2015 at 11:20 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |amusedamused]

Since there's an election coming up I ought to work out which party to vote for. So, let's see what some of the different propaganda pieces look like.

For non-Brits: here in the UK, political parties aren't allowed to buy TV or radio adverts. Instead in the run-up to an election they each get assigned a small number of timeslots (the amount depending on how major the party is) on the basic terrestrial channels for a short, well, one-off advert. They tend to make up for their lack of airtime by bombarding everyone with leaflets.


Anyway, Labour say "The NHS is doomed and it's all the Tories' fault". Only you can save the NHS!... by voting for us. They also can't decide whether they want a party political broadcast, or behind-the-scenes footage of a party political broadcast.

The Conservatives say "Work hard, put a bit aside for a rainy day, and everything will be fine" (isn't that the American Dream?). In slow motion. Oh, and don't forget that Labour will doom us all.

The Lib Dems are on the radio explaining how "No-one's going to win, so you need us to make sure no-one wins". And remember to look both ways when crossing the road.

UKIP say "I'm an ordinary bloke"... and waffle about how if you vote for them it'll cause a political earthquake. They're staying very quiet about the fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists.

The Greens say "We're not a wasted vote, honest". Followed by... the Tories at the piano serenading the other parties in an glitzy boy band pop music video. Apparently it's been the number 1 hit for the past 200 years.

The SNP use a road trip to tell us that, deep down, they really do care. About Scotland. Oh, and didn't you know there's an election coming up?

Plaid Cymru explain that it's time to come out of the closet and vote for them, so you can finally be happy and stop having to hide who you really support.


Well, the Greens have easily won the video competition. None of the others are even close to the madness that is the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, and UKIP singing "It's sweeter, when we all agree, a party political harmony~".
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Euphemism of the week [Posted on Tuesday, the 21st of April 2015 at 8:59 pm]

boggyb
[What |amusedamused]
[Who |Robert Miles - Fable (Dream version)]

Euphemism of the week, seen on the SABRE forums as a reason why someone was stopped on the hard shoulder (and no, it wasn't me - the MiTo cruises very nicely at the speed limit):

Police stop to give experience points for making good progress
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5... 4... 3... 2... 1! Thunderbirds are go! [Posted on Sunday, the 19th of April 2015 at 12:19 am]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |excitedexcited]
[Who |Thunderbirds are go ~ Royal Marines Band]

Flicking semi-randomly through Youtube videos, I stumbled across this:



Yes, that's a trailer for a new Thunderbirds series. How did I manage to miss this?

Even better, it's just started broadcasting (ITV, at the ridiculously early time of 8am Saturdays) and because it's only just started the first few episodes are still on ITV player. From what I've seen of it so far it's made of win and awesome, and of course is full of nostalgia and ridiculously complicated launching sequences.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Wordpress.com fail [Posted on Tuesday, the 14th of April 2015 at 10:58 pm]

boggyb
[Who |Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx - I'll Take Care of U [RTIST Various Artists]]

Okay, so Wordpress.com claims that to comment on someone's blog with my normal email address I need to provide a password because it's associated with an account I'm not logged in as... then after playing "which password did I use" and eventually going for a password reset decides that actually that email address isn't in their system.

Then when I try a different email address of mine it does let me reset the password... and then on the new password page shows the letters I type for the new password. Good job I'm at home, and not, say, in a cafe or at work or somewhere where anyone else can see my computer screen, because the entire point of a password is you don't display it.

Idiots.

Oh, and once I'm logged in with my other address, it now lets me comment with the first one. Or possibly not - the comment seems to have disappeared into Wordpress.com with no indication as to whether or not it's stuck in a moderation queue or just been eaten by the Internet.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Car post! [Posted on Friday, the 3rd of April 2015 at 11:02 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |sleepysleepy]
[Who |Ludovico Einaudi - Monday [Divenire]]

Okay, so I'm actually writing this on the 13th and not on the date it claims it is, but that's because I'm vaguely trying to catch up on posts. Maybe. Possibly.

Car post! Over March I clocked up another 372.8 miles - about the same as last month. I also fed it another 250ml or thereabouts of oil. Oil consumption seems to have stabilised at roughly 200ml/1000km, which is better than what the book says it'll drink (600g/1000km). Everything else is all as it should be, and I picked up a nice little digital tyre pressure gauge that actually works (unlike the spring-loaded stick-type ones, which are horribly inaccurate) and doesn't result in 0.1 bar of pressure escaping just through wrestling with the hose on the compressor.

Battery replacementCollapse )

Hopefully this will solve the power steering issue. Certainly the lights don't dim anywhere near as much when starting now!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Monday, the 30th of March 2015 at 10:33 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |curiouscurious]

Driving to work this morning was weird - I came across not one, but two accidents. The first was in the middle of a set of traffic lights, and something about how everyone was driving to avoid the emergency services in the middle of the road confused the lights into only letting two or three cars through at a time.

The second was opposite a T-junction and had been mostly cleared by the time I got there, but a colleague who turned up earlier reported that the police had earlier closed both roads (which he discovered by trying the first and detouring to the second).

I wonder if it's related to daylight savings? Here the clocks have just gone forward an hour (which is most unfair when it happens the same day as the F1 starts at 7am), and I vaguely remember seeing something about how there's a spike in accidents on the days after daylight savings changes.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Monday, the 23rd of March 2015 at 10:18 pm]

boggyb
[What |surprisedsurprised]

There are some advantages of living next to a major road junction. Every so often, you see some rather odd things trundle by.

Today's surprise was a collection of military-looking low loaders. Earlier I'd spotted them heading along almost completely empty despite being covered in flashing amber lights and thought nothing much of it. A moment ago they came back from whichever base they visited... now carrying a collection of IFVs and tanks.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Self-driving cars? [Posted on Saturday, the 21st of March 2015 at 6:50 pm]

boggyb
[What |contemplativecontemplative]

At work the other day we were discussing self-driving cars (in the context of the latest Tesla Roadster announcement), and it occurred to me that modern cars already have a lot of the required hardware. Even my Alfa MiTo theoretically could get a firmware update to give it limited self-driving (though not obstacle detection - so it'd merely happily drive itself into the nearest wall).

Let's see... my MiTo has a modern fuel-injected engine, so the ECU can basically rev the engine at whatever RPM it wants to (the accelerator in modern cars is merely a sensor input on the ECU, and isn't physically linked to the engine). That takes care of power and acceleration. Then there's traction control, so there's hardware in the car capable of electronically applying the brakes and so the car can theoretically stop on its own. Finally the power steering is electronic, not hydraulic, so the necessary motors for that are already present.

My MiTo only uses this in a limited fashion. The ECU will decrease the revs if it detects both front wheels are slipping. Interestingly it will also increase revs to avoid wheel slip - if I downshift aggressively it will demand more torque to stop the wheels sliding from turning too slowly. As for braking, switching the car to D mode (there's a switch that can be in All-weather, Normal or Dynamic mode) enables an electronic differential which simulates a mechanical limited slip diff by braking one of the front wheels - this is on top of the standard electronic stability control (Alfa calls it VDC) which can brake individual wheels to correct over/understeer and skidding. The power steering however doesn't do anything fancy, though switching to D mode apparently makes it feel sportier.

To be honest I've not tried D mode yet - it also comes with a more aggressive throttle response so I think I want to be in very light traffic the first time I try it lest I launch myself into the car in front. Besides, in the non-turbocharged engine I've got there's no difference in horsepower between the three modes (in turbocharged MiTos, D mode increases the boost pressure).

Anyway, back to self-driving. There's still the issue of the gearbox - here it's a manual gearbox so someone would have to start the car and handle gear changing. If we start playing with optional extras though then it changes as one option is a semi-automatic transmission, which is essentially a robotic gearbox and clutch (on the MiTo it's a dual-clutch system with separate gearboxes for odd and even gears to get faster gear changes). At that point the car can and does change gear all on its own. Add in start/stop (standard on the Multiair variants) and now it could start itself. The handbrake is still manual, but you could work around it by leaving it in gear when parked.

It still doesn't know where it is or what's around it, unless you add even more options. There's Blue&Me which is an integrated satnav, although that's not as useful as it might appear as a realistic accuracy for civilian GPS is about 10 metres... on a good day (Galileo will eventually help this by increasing accuracy to 1m). Next there's parking sonar which is available in both rear- and front-facing options, and with that the car could sense something like a wall in front of it. And that's it for the MiTo - putting everything together so far would get something that could follow a path of GPS waypoints and probably wouldn't hit anything big in front of it. Certainly it's not something that could be let loose on the roads! To get to true self-driving would need more hardware, though at this point it's just sensors and (lots of) processing power that's missing.
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Amusing driving moment [Posted on Monday, the 16th of March 2015 at 12:15 am]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |sleepysleepy]

Amusing moment on the drive back to Fareham this night:

I took the Bury Hill route again (which this time was fortunately lacking in car-eating puddles) and acquired a small convoy somewhere south of Pulborough. As soon as I reached the (national speed limit) dual carriageway at the bottom of Bury Hill, the car behind decides he's had enough of following me and zips past. He disappears round the first corner... and then without me accelerating I catch up a couple of corners later, as he discovers that it's actually quite a steep twisty turny road up the hill. I think he was doing maybe 35mph by the summit (I know I had to drop down to 3rd to keep enough power)!
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Bug snowball! [Posted on Tuesday, the 10th of March 2015 at 10:33 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |AeternoBlade - Timeless]

Today's bugfixing started off with looking at one bug and thinking "well, I can add a bunch of debug to make it easier to work out what's going on with this". That uncovered a second unrelated bug when checking that my debug was actually working. Then I thought about things and realised that this chunk of code could be much better, and raised a third bug (actually, a master bug and four subtasks). Finally I took one of the subtasks, started work on improving things, and decided that the best way of checking my changes hadn't broken anything was to unit test them. So I started writing unit tests only to discover that the code I was modifying was already broken, and raised a fourth bug.

Then I wondered if our iOS implementation was correct, checked that, and raised a fifth bug.

Sigh. Ah well, it just means that tomorrow I get to fix them all (and hopefully not uncover any more bugs...)
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Power steering fail [Posted on Monday, the 9th of March 2015 at 6:31 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |surprisedsurprised]

Today's random surprise was the (electric) power steering deciding to switch itself off half-way round a roundabout. The sensation is weird - it felt like I'd suddenly hit full lock, which would be silly as it's not a mini-roundabout. Then I spotted the message on the display, realised that it was the power steering, and heaved on the wheel to make the turn (it actually wasn't as hard as I'd expected though that was probably because I was moving).

Then I got to confuse everyone in the queue of traffic by stopping, switching the ignition off, restarting the engine and then heading merrily onwards with now-working power steering.

I suspect battery - this was just after starting, on a tight turn (on this particular roundabout I do a U-turn and exit the same junction I enter on), and additionally at the weekend I'd been running the tyre compressor off the battery. Also the only thing that failed was the power steering and not all the electronic stability gizmos. Given that the Alfa still has the original rather wimpy 6-year-old battery it's not too surprising that it'd be time to replace it.

Besides, the other common failure is the torque sensor in the steering column packing up and that's expensive to fix. Batteries are cheaper.

This is all getting a bit silly so I'm going to borrow a EOBD lead off a friend at work and see if I can get any diagnostic codes out of the power steering controller. This assumes I can find the EOBD socket - while the regs state that it must be near the steering column, the regs don't say anything about it having to be easily accessible and on the MiTo I think it's hidden behind part of the trim.
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My car runs on Bowser Oil! [Posted on Sunday, the 8th of March 2015 at 6:16 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

This had to be done.



Silliness and too much Mario Kart playing aside, time for the monthly car check. I forgot to post about it, but having finally picked up suitable oil at the start of February I topped up the car with about 250ml which took it most of the way to max on the dipstick. Yes, I know in January I said it was down to half-way - the level had gone up a bit since then and was at around two-thirds full or so in February.

This time the oil had only dropped to about four-fifths full so I left it for now. In any case it's sipping oil at a lower rate than what the book states so it's not an issue. Everything else was still fine - brake fluid is full, screen wash was topped up a bit, coolant's fine, tyres were the usual air-loss-while-wrestling-with-the-hose 0.05 bar down. Possibly I should get a separate pressure meter instead of using the one in the compressor, though that requires finding one that's actually accurate (the spring-loaded mechanical stick ones look good, but are too inaccurate to be any use).

Distance covered is quite a bit up on January. Between 4th January and 1st February I did 283 miles, and between 4th February and today I've done 375 miles. Still massively down compared to the first month and a half wherein I clocked up around a thousand miles - but then I was driving up to Horsham more frequently for board games, Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who nights, not to mention the Fareham → Newick drive I did having only had the car for two weeks!
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(no subject) [Posted on Saturday, the 7th of March 2015 at 8:12 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , , ]

Today's discovery is that if the "mv" command can't simply rename a directory due to permissions, then it'll copy the directory structure. Then attempt to delete the old directory structure, fail because of the aforementioned permissions, and spew umpteen bajillion lines of error messages on the console.

Now, a sensible program would have just said that the file permissions didn't permit renaming and stopped there.

Sigh. Now to unpick the mess and check if it did actually copy everything or not.
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Moonlight creek [Posted on Wednesday, the 4th of March 2015 at 9:04 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Where |Gosport Rd, Fareham PO16 0PH, UK]
[What |artisticartistic]
[Who |Yehudi Menuhin/Philharmonia Orchestra (Efrem Kurtz) - Violin Concerto in E minor Op 64: I Allegro molto appassionat [Fingal's Cave]]

Oh yes, I got a bit distracted on the way to Screwfix...

Moonlight creekCollapse )
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Today's accomplishment: replacing a light fitting [Posted on Wednesday, the 4th of March 2015 at 8:51 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Who |Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) Overture op 26 [Fingal's Cave]]

This made a pleasant change from staring at code trying to work out why PJSIP is spectacularly corrupting a SIP INVITE, but only some of the time. The one thing worse than memory corruption bugs are random memory corruption bugs. Especially ones which go away when you try to debug them. Especially when you're trying to debug it on Android (tomorrow's task will involve trying to get a native code debugger working).

Anyway, enough of coding. The light fitting in question is the bedroom light, and it's one of these government-mandated energy-saving fittings which take the electronics from a CFL bulb and put them in the holder. This leaves you with a relatively cheap fluorescent tube (well... I say cheap, but that assumes you can find someone who actually stocks them) and an expensive bulb holder. In practice the expensive bulb holder will heroically sacrifice itself to protect the cheap fluorescent tube, as this one did a while back. I happened to have a high-power uplighter that worked well enough as a temporary replacement but you can't exactly put one of those in the middle of a room.

I did consider just fitting a standard pendant fitting but I've got a stack of spare tubes and I thought that since I'm renting I probably should do a like-for-like replacement. And yes, I could make it the landlord's problem, but it seems to have fallen through the cracks (this is unusual - the landlord is normally very good at getting stuff fixed). So today I finally decided to Just Fix It and wandered down to Screwfix after work to pick up the replacement.

Actually replacing it is quite straightforwardCollapse )
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CPU transplant time! [Posted on Monday, the 2nd of March 2015 at 9:25 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Who |London Symphony Orchestra - Fantasia on Greensleeves [The Lark Ascending]]

Well, I've just done the CPU transplant on the frankenlaptop and the results are in!

First off, overall system performance. For this I used PassMark PerformanceTest 8 as it's the benchmark behind the numbers site that pleaseremove keeps on referring to. With the original Pentium M Banias 1.6GHz processor, Aether scored a PassMark of 245.5. After switching to the Pentium M Dothan 1.5GHz - remember, although this has a slower clock speed it's a more recent model - the new PassMark was 248.5.

Which means more-or-less that the two processors are equal in performance. Taking clock speed into account the Dothan core is about 8% faster, which fits with what the Internets suggest. Interestingly digging into the numbers by far the biggest impact was with memory performance where the Dothan is on average 15% faster, and in some cases twice as fast - memory latency has halved.

I don't know what the impact on battery life will be, but hopefully it'll improve. The replacement processor both runs at a slightly lower clock speed, and is made on a smaller process (usually shrinking the process size reduces power consumption). Anyway, a replacement battery is the next item on the to-do list...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Bonkers laptop upgrades [Posted on Saturday, the 28th of February 2015 at 9:41 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |Bellowhead - Gosport Nancy [Revival]]

Writing about bonkers desktop upgrades the other day got me thinking about possible bonkers laptop upgrades. I did some digging and managed to confirm that Aether v2 has a Pentium M 1.6GHz Banias processor. Unusually for a laptop it's the socketed variant and so upgrading the processor is possible. The question then becomes, what with?

Option 1 is to fit the processor from the now-deceased Aether v1. That's I believe a Pentium M 715 1.5GHz Dothan processor, which is the successor to the Banias core. It's clocked slightly slower than the Banias, but Dothan-based processors are supposed to give a 5-10% performance increase which works out about equal for those clock speeds. The net effect of that upgrade will probably be no change in performance and a slight improvement in battery life.

Option 2 is to go all-out and buy the fastest processor that'll fit (or rather, the fastest processor that can be got for a reasonable price). That would probably be the Pentium M 755 2.0GHz - I could go for the 765 2.1GHz, but that costs twice as much on eBay. Upgrading this far means I have to start thinking about power and cooling as it's not like a desktop where I can just stick a bigger heatsink/fan on the processor, but rather I'm stuck with the cooling system of the laptop which will be designed around a specific thermal output. I think I can get away with this, as by moving from the Banias to the Dothan core the rated TDP of the processor actually decreases by a few watts. Not sure it'd help the battery life though.

Verdict: option 1 for now.

Another bonkers upgrade is adding more memory. It always used to be the case that the most cost-effective computer upgrade was to double the amount of RAM - these days, I think replacing the boot disk with a SSD is possibly more effective, but I've already done that. As it stands Aether already has had one memory upgrade (The Gnu ordered it with the laptop) and contains 1.5GB of RAM. I think DDR SO-DIMMs top out at 1GB so the best I could manage is a total of 2GB. That's probably not worth doing unless I happen to have a spare one somewhere - and I don't think I've got any spares large enough to be useful.

Verdict: nope!

Finally, a replacement battery wouldn't go amiss. New batteries for a ThinkPad R50p are unobtainium these days but there's a handful of outfits that do refurbished batteries and various eBay sellers hawking second-hand ones of varying capacity. There's also the option of replacing the CD/DVD drive with a second battery, assuming such can be found - even when the R50 series was new those were rather rare.

Verdict: get a replacement main battery, assuming I can find an official one with a decent remaining capacity or a non-shady refurbished battery outfit.

Time to break out the screwdrivers again...
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Haircut fail [Posted on Saturday, the 28th of February 2015 at 6:21 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |Bellowhead - Rosemary Lane [Revival]]

Well, I headed into town today with the aim of getting my hair cut to discover that the barber I've been using since moving here has just closed down. Literally only just - his last day of business was yesterday.

Of course since I had a lazy morning and went into town late, by the time I made my way to the other end of the high street I discovered that the other barber I occasionally use has finished for the day. Ah well, I'll just have to try again next weekend (or possibly head in early morning midweek).
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More computer upgrades! [Posted on Friday, the 27th of February 2015 at 10:07 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Who |Robert Miles - Red Zone [Dreamland]]

This batch of upgrades happened quite some time ago (as in December last year), but I copied the photos onto the laptop which promptly stopped working. Such is the way of computers here.

More computer upgrades!Collapse )

As with all computer upgrades, you're not doing it right unless there's some spare parts left over (no, not the mouse or keyboard)...

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