Welcome everyone to Downy Downs…

It’s going to be the race of the century tonight here folks! In lanes 16 and 17 we have twin Huebsch contenders, both weighing in at 7.5 amps of 208 volt wye connect 3 phase power…


Aaand they’re off! Oh what’s this?


Number 16 has a slow start! Those two seconds before it fired the door lock coil and started turning could cost it dearly here… Wait what’s this? 17 has made it to its first drain and spin first! Oh it’s anyone’s race here tonight thanks to the magic of water flow rates…

Aaaaand this is why it was a bad idea to put a coffee machine in the laundromat, guys.

Merry kurisamasu!

Read in the voice of Osaka from Azumanga Daioh.

Finally someone posted this amazing documentary in full to YouTube. Enjoy the majestic silliness!

This documentary was produced by PBS affiliate WGBH Boston a year before I was born. Trust me, the videotape artifacts are part of the experience.

If you’re lucky, your local library may have it or be able to inter-library loan it on VHS, U-Matic, or even film! Check Worldcat here.

I posted The Colonel Comes to Japan here since it kind of touches on the surprising way that KFC Christmas dinner became a wildly popular ritual in Japan. The whole documentary, however, is completely ridiculous and is worth watching no matter what.

Americans in casual clothing. I always lose it at this.



It feels like everyone’s Harris Z transmitters are rotting out all at once lately… We’ve been calling it “Z-Bola”.

These are pretty solid boxes with lots of redundancy and failsafes, but they’re getting a bit old and weird failures are cropping up in the units in the field.


Tonight’s adventure was brought to you by the letters ” P O W E R S U P P L Y C O N T R O L L E R” and the number 2. No clue why — it just up and quit talking to the CPU, disabling one of the two IPAs* and half of the final output modules. Removing power from the controller and reseating the card and its worrisome nest of ribbon cables cleared the fault. However, I was now faced with a new horror: CB1, the circuit breaker in the back which serves as the disconnect for the controller and fan power, would not stay closed, and we were thus more seriously off air! I finally managed to get it to stay latched on by opening the big three phase breaker across the room from the transmitter, closing CB1, then closing the big evil breaker again.

Pheeewwww. It’s always a new adventure with this rig.

* Intermediate Power Amplifier: An amplifier stage used between the signal source and the final amplification stage. Can also stand for a kind of beer. If I liked beer more, this box would have made me want a nice cold one on many many occasions.

Oh, if you’re wondering what holds the controller cage like that, it is NOT hanging by the delicate ribbon cables. It jams against two screws as seen here 😉

Radio Shack is weird

One of their latest death thrashes: the cell phone displays have now become a station for a cellular mvno dedicated to armed forces members and veterans?


Not entirely understanding how that’s worth the floor space here…

An oblique reminder.

Hey everyone, this is a forward slash: /
This is a backslash: \
Trust me, when you’re reading a website URL in ad copy, you do not mean backslash. The backslash is not commonly used in anything other than local file paths on CP/M, DOS, and Windows computers. NOT www.somebusiness.com/specialradiooffer. Trust me on this. It’s just “slash”. And this is Slash. Clear? Good. Stop saying backslash.

Not particularly oblique. See what I did here?

Photo by William Hames / Atlas Icons.

The Westinghouse Prog Stom Ass’y, or Lost Arts in Electronics

IMAG2765…You read that right, the module has an ancient TYPO on it.

Today I was at the Miami-Dade County Store, and somewhere in the shelves of weird old broken network hardware and PCs that had been picked clean by creepy Jamaican exporters, this one bronze colored anodized aluminum mystery box peeked out at me. The thing just had a strange energy about it, I couldn’t really explain it.

This box has silently served hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work, to play, in good times and bad. But what is it? And what’s with the typo?

Continue reading »

Mac OS X is beating your hard drives to death. Here’s the fix.

You read that right.

Quick link to the fix before I get to my usual rambling: hdapm. Install it and it will automatically set itself to auto-start on each boot and disable the auto park feature for all your drives.

Under Linux you can also use the hdparm command. Please note that you still need to fix your Mac OS X system with hdapm though as it will by default reset the power management on each boot!!
hdparm -B 255 [device]
or, if that throws an error
hdparm -B 254 [device]

device is usually /dev/sda.

My usual rambling as to the background on this problem follows…. 🙂
Continue reading »

Bye now Florida.

Scottdemort won. After mostly destroying the state and its economy in his first term, he now has four more years to finish the job.


Funny how accurate this is for being over half a century old — South America does pretty much own at least most of South Florida.

See also


Why it all sucks

Microsoft Windows: it’s fragile and its innards are buried in obscurity and Mandelbugs. The networking stack likes to die for no reason.
Mac OS X: oh dear eris, Apple, what the ever living fuck?! You broke EVERYTHING on Mavericks. SMB defaults to a  protocol that’s known to run at dialup speeds for no good reason. System will not even touch a disk with a guid partition table with data corruption. (Linux is all like “hey, I see a checksum error. I’m reading your disk anyway, because this isn’t harmful. Here’s how to fix it. Would you like some coffee while you do this?”)
Linux: there’s no simple *click*, this folder is now shared. Configuration files have to be hand edited. Why?!
Marketron, Citrix MetaFrame: well no duh we’re having severe compatibility problems, marketron is running a citrix virtualization service (MetaFrame XP) which went end of life/support IN 2007!!! Well no shit new versions of the client won’t work right. OSaaS: obsolete software as a service.

Sorry, it’s been a long, tough week. Doesn’t help that I turn on the DMR radio and hear everyone but me up at the excellent Melbourne Hamfest and I’m just surrounded by broken computers and annoyance.


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