And that’s a full house!

Congratulations on another great school year to the Miami Children’s Museum charter school! This is the finale of the end of year talent show…


I cheated and turned on house lights so you can see the kids. This is their show 🙂

Windows printing phun.

The manager of a local tattoo shop called me the other day because, while his artists could still do some amazing things with ink on their clients’ skin, they just couldn’t get ink onto paper right with their Windows based computer. That’s right, the dumbass thing was refusing to print. Rather, it would print, under incorrect settings, but the printer properties dialog had vanished without a trace.

Totally bogus, bruh.

Usually, Windows systems just work fine when it comes to printing, but when the spooler service or drivers get screwed up, you’ll want to go Office Space on your printer and that won’t even help. Install a new printer after smashing the old one and it too won’t work. Argh!

At least once you do this you can recover some cool stuff like gears, stepper or dc servo motors, optical sensors, and other interesting bits out of the beast. But I digress…

Step 1 to troubleshooting the print issue: Try another application and see if printing works from there. Notepad is a safe bet as it’s about as simple as it gets. Just type in “Hello World” or something and try to print it.

Step 2: Reboot. The print spooler sometimes just needs that. Because. Windows.

Now, if the problems persist…

If your problem is that there is a zombie print job that will not go away no matter what, try the fix it tool, then #3.

So there are a few reasons this junk happens.
#1: Spooler is not running or has crashed. Reboot or manually restart the spooler service. If the problem persists…?
Microsoft has an automatic Fix It tool that’ll check for common problems on versions prior to 8. Try giving that a whirl.

#2: Drivers or other system files hosed up.  Possible solution: Run the System File Checker. This will take a while but is worth it — it may fix other problems like DLL Hell you didn’t even know you were trapped in (hey, why is all the broken stuff working again?). This also fixed malware damage to the print spooler on one machine I saw — FOUL!!!

Please note the procedure for running command prompt as administrator in the article on Windows 8. Yes, it IS that rococo. Ugh. Microsoft decided at some point when designing Win 8 that they needed to reinvent the wheel, and they made it TRIANGULAR instead of round. Come on man, if we wanted a touchscreen mobile OS we would have bought your Surface tablets, not desktop PCs. Get a life.

#3: The P-Bomb. Drop a nuke on the printing system and reinitialize it. You will lose any unprinted jobs stuck in the spooler and all printer settings, but sometimes, this is just what it takes. If you don’t want to mess with the settings to do it manually as in the prior link, Microsoft has an automated tool to do it. Full mode will remove all the printer settings and let you start fresh by reinstalling your hopefully now working printer.

(Actually, I’ve had to do the same exact thing on a Mac before when the cupsd files got all scrunged. Same crap, different toilet.)

#4: Manual registry editing in Safe Mode. Yeah, because that should totally be part of the M$ user experience.

After that…. generally I tend to say it’s time for a Windows repair/reinstall if these don’t work. I wish you the best of luck.

Hot Avionic P0RN!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves for the most part. This is a cabin pressurization controller for a Boeing ??? (Believed to be early 737).


Click to drop its knickers to the floor.

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Recorded using TapeMachine for Android….


Not bad… I just bought the full version, it’s $5 and actually allows basic editing and high quality recording on Android including real-time flac encoding!

And then I used it to record washer noises.

Shut up.


The TCFWcard!


I wonder if my Fivestars rewards card will still like this?

When I first scanned it, the user data areas were all just blank. Fivestars likely just uses the card id number as a user id token and that’s all.

I still like to imagine somewhere a server is getting mad and leaking a rainbow of colorful pastel suds, of course.

At least I was nice and didn’t turn it into an SQL injection card. Yes it’s been done.

Sorry about that horrible French Curve accident, bro

Okay I get it, the juxtaposition of sweeping curves and sharp acute angles has an edgy sort of aesthetic appeal…

But please. Stop. With. The. “Tribal”. Tattoos.

In my opinion a tattoo should have some meaning to you and not just be a meaningless pile of broken drafting tools.

For your amazing originality you win a severely incomplete set of bus schedules.


The tri-sign adventure

So I started working at the Miami Children’s Museum again on the exhibits team and boy, did they have some puzzles waiting for me to solve when I got there!

One broken rotating billboard sign (I have no clue who made it, and this is a good thing, because I’d otherwise yell at them)
One SparkFun Redboard
One Pololu motor driver

One 24vdc power supply from Marlin P. Jones

One ginormous Leeson 1/4 horsepower right angle gearhead motor


(and that’s just where I lost count)

This is the guts of one of those three panel rotating signs, like you see on billboards. Note the dead variable freq drive controller at top.

This sign was designed with absolutely no consideration for maintenance once installed. It’s totally ridiculous. The triangular aluminum rods that the sign panels are snapped into lift out (I discovered this after fighting with setscrews on their bottoms for most of a day thinking that’s how they came out!) revealing… a ginormous nigh impossible to access Bodine AC 3 phase 208v motor being driven off a Delta VFD… Uggghhh!!! The VFD was toast, its programming was unknown, it all had to go!



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