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.

Organization? Intensification? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.


Line drive to center field!

The question is now not how strong, but…. How wet? The color here indicates total precipitable water. Looks pretty wet over the storm itself, and that’s before any localized effects like cold air inside the system smacking into hot wet air over land. Anyone else remember t.s. Irene some years back?

Erika’s travel plans…

The final points in the computer models now show potential landfall areas for the storm.


Wind shear is still very present and limiting strengthening of the system, though.


This is a good time to make sure your supplies are in order, trim some trees perhaps, but don’t panic. We get normal summer thunderstorms with wind speeds only a few ticks below this. The stronger portions of the storm are fairly small and organization isn’t great.

Oh, if you signed up for the Cone On Your Phone, consider yourself officially laughed at. Ha-ha! Ain’t media fear mongering great?

11 pm advisory on T.S. Erika


The computer models are all in strong agreement that this storm is coming near Florida on Sunday. It’s forecast to be a tropical storm until just before nearing Florida, at which point intensification to category 1 hurricane is expected. I’ve enabled the sea surface temperature color overlay on this map to illustrate why.

Yeeeowch that’s hot.

Sorry, my One State Under Rick Scott has banned me from saying “CLIMATE CHANGE”.

The sea creatures are out there drinking frozen martinis to cope with these sea surface temps. Boaters are advised to watch out for tipsy porpoises.

As always, if you want to play with this cool data visualization tool, QSY to the University of Wisconsin CIMSS tropical page and click on the system of interest.

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