When nature calls..


This is hopefully the closest I will ever come to being in a prison cell. This is the restroom at Earlington Heights station. I got a laugh from the fact that, first, it’s probably the cleanest thing I’ve ever seen within the Miami-Dade Transit system. Second, they modernized it to prison fixtures at some point to prevent vandalism.

The sink is exceptionally weird. A big stainless steel hemisphere with one hole in it sits on the backsplash. Press the button and water comes out of it like it were a drinking fountain. I’m guessing if this were in a prison cell it would double as the drinking fountain. Clever.

The toilet probably wouldn’t have a seat either.

But yeah, kudos to Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works or whatever the department wound up being named for actually having a clean restroom. I wouldn’t have expected that.

Things your confused radio engineer will never understand: Gender norms in fashion.

I was walking into work this morning when one of the charter school classes was out on the playground outside, and this one group of girls from the class started loudly commenting on the fact that I had a “girl’s backpack” with a ponytail draped over it and was wearing [the remains of…] nail polish.

Okay, so one of the girls from this class always told me something like “you’re a boy, you don’t need nail polish!” It’s kinda nothing new, but this conversation really pointed out to me just how absurd this all is.

Last I checked, stars and other celestial bodies were not under the system of human gender.

My backpack is actually a galaxy print. I guess they think anything with pink to it is “girly”? Tell that to the distant light of the cosmos.

I have to wonder, who’s convincing these kids to cling so strongly to “traditionally” gendered norms? They’re like, seven years old, for crying out loud.

I’d like to think the community in this school is generally more on the progressive side, so I don’t think it’s really something the parents are pushing or anything.

I dunno. Maybe in this case it can be chalked up to “kids are rude demon spawn”.

I’ve wanted to explain to them that there are no hard rules to this, but that’s just beyond my pay grade. I’ve got four very high mileage remote control boats and a plastic orange tree to take care of, darn it!

… Yes. That’s why the nail polish doesn’t last. It just gets scraped right through in a day. 😛


So my apartment is getting new cabinets and the crew working on it messed up in so very many ways…. but the worst of all is they moved a large bottle of dishwashing liquid onto the carpet, where it leaked.

I don’t know what my amazing luck is with having to get spilt liquid soaps out of carpets, but it’s always the same horrible procedure: try to suck out as much as possible with a wet vacuum then repeatedly spray down with water and extract mountains of foam.

I bought a wet vac from Home Despot for the occasion. The instructions said you can leave the filter in for picking up small amounts of liquid….

Let me just say this. When you want foaming wax in a car wash, what happens is that the solution is injected into a chamber along with compressed air. The chamber is filled with a fiber media that basically gets soap bubbles formed in it that are then entrained and blown out of the line by compressed air.

Inside my vacuum, soapy water saturated the filter as air travelled through it. Soon it began splooging out the exhaust port.

I must have emptied over 100 gallons of foam into the toilet before the cleanup was mostly done. The sink drain wouldn’t work with the foam but it would slowly, comically sink down the terlet. The filter’s prognosis is unknown.

Grood. It’s like great. And uh good.

No surprises…

Digital Ocean, where the virtual server for this site lives, is doing a migration/upgrade.

They’ve warned me of this half a dozen times and given me the option to manually start the migration at a more convenient time in case I need to schedule the downtime.

That’s just cool, guys. No rude surprises here.

I think I’ve only ever seen one unscheduled downtime incident on DigitalOcean and that lasted only a couple of hours – they’d gotten in a pickle where Juniper Networks bungled a core router upgrade. Otherwise they’ve been perfectly solid.

I’ll miss that 276 day uptime, but uh, you have to crack some eggs to make an omelette.

Cree Crunch

Three years ago I looked up at this room full of LED track light fixtures and wondered why they kept failing? Each has three LEDs in series, they appear to be a Cree XLamp series white lighting LED.

Eventually one, two, or all three would fail shorted, leaving the lamp to just get hot but emit only useless dark.

Snap! D1 failed on this board.

DEDs. Dark emitting diodes. Upon inspection it was revealed on most that the LEDs had visible burnt spots and sometimes cracked encapsulations. Removing the metal core pcb from the heatsink revealed very poorly applied heatsink goo.

And just now I found this app note on Cree’s site: Avoiding cracking in ceramic substrate LED products. I immediately went over and looked at one of the questionable units with one LED failed. One of the most common causes they illustrate is cracking between two or more mounting screws.

Cracked… More or less parallel to a line tangent to the intersection between two mounting screws.

Well then. I used to think the faults were due to electrical malfunction but it’s pretty clearly mechanical.

Ultimately, fixtures from a different manufacturer were purchased and used to replace the ones that were snapping their diodes. Still, I would love to have been able to yell at the manufacturer about this three years back. Oh well…. With modern consumer electronics, the consumer is the quality control. 😉

Made In China. Landfilled in USA.

One fix for dry hands

It’s no surprise that working with your hands a lot can lead to dryness and irritation.

I quite accidentally stumbled across a good fix for this, though!

Just take some extra virgin olive oil and rub it thoroughly into your hands. Remove excess with a paper towel but try to go as long as possible before washing your hands again so it can soak in.

Results are just about immediate.

I’ve tried this with coconut oil as well; while it works great in my hair, it just doesn’t fix my hands. One thing it does seem to do though is to prevent the awful drying from solvents (acetone, nail polish remover, mineral spirits, paint thinners, flux removers, adhesive cleaners…)

As for the hair, I found that mixing about equal parts coconut oil and a leave in conditioner works well to allow it to be applied without getting too oily.

See, I don’t just hack electronics all day, I can solve other problems too!

If you’re allergic to the oil, of course, don’t do it. If you’re not sure, spot test a small area on the inside of your elbow. Apply and leave for a day, watching for irritation.

Aaaarrrggghhh!!! Bad!

There are few things that genuinely make me horribly disgusted, but one of them is this, and there are no pictures for your reading pleasure.

It’s when someone has their ears pierced with a gun and stud earrings with a “butterfly” back, and the butterfly backing gets embedded in their ear.

Arrrgh. No no no no no no!! Weird plated mystery metal doesn’t belong against a new piercing at all but when it gets stuck there that’s just asking for horrors.

My guess is in the first place it gets embedded following irritation or it’s happening because the back was put on too tight initially and not removed until the problem had already gotten too bad for easy removal.

Please do yourself a favor, don’t use this barbaric method. See also: Why Piercing Guns Suck – in which hilarity occurred to some professionals who would ordinarily have never used such an engineering mistake.

A synthesizer for Nopecore.

Or, some crappy escalator that takes a poo every time it rains. I think it’s an Otis. What’s the small cable all about? It runs across there and is supported by two tiny sheaves so it can pull on something. Is that supposed to stop the escalator in case of a step derailed from the track? For it to detect a foreign object sucked under the “comb plate” (the part where you step off that combs in between the ridges on the step), the object would have to be very big and very deeply stuck in there.

Most of the escalators I’ve seen elsewhere on Metrorail have the motor under the steps near the end, coupled to the gear box by three parallel drive belts. This one appears to use some kind of right angle reduction drive and buries the brake under the motor, possibly building it onto a shaft coupling. I have seen some traction elevators using a similar arrangement. On the elevators, the brake was only used for emergency stopping and holding the car in place after the variable frequency motor drive had already brought the motor to zero speed. It looked like a giant crab claw cracker.

Now I’m kind of craving snow crab. Damn.



The Great Glass Elevator


I never did like the way Schindler Elevator designed their door clutch and restrictor. I mean, come on, that nylon screw?? Needless to say this one’s broken, but at least its breakage offered the opportunity for a really neat picture of a tech replacing what ails it.


It still beats a Thyssenkrapp any day of the week. Just saying. Then again so does a bucket, a rope, and a pulley connected to an eye bolt at the top of the building.

1 13 14 15 16 17 30