Brain sludge.

Earlier this morning while actually feeling the effects of my brain trying to malfunction its way into full on migraine headache, I started to ponder for a moment if years of living with stress, sleep deprivation, and anxiety had left me with the brain chemistry of an abandoned swimming pool.

Nah. It’s not that bad— migraines just suck. Basically, the brain entirely misfires and screws up, best I can understand of the medical science behind it. It’s like when you’re playing a pinball game and a multiball begins and the balls all immediately loft off of each other and off of the slingshots and other unpleasant parts of the playfield and suddenly drain at the left and right outlanes and SDTM (straight down the middle).

But then I had this one intrusive thought, or more like, memory, that keeps haunting me to this day. WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT MYSTERY PARTY EVERY WEEKEND?

 

It was, oh, 2004 or so. The Quad was a neverending source of excitement in my neighborhood but there was one thing that I could never, ever figure out. It was fairly harmless, except to one’s sense of logic and reason, trying to figure out what it was or why it was happening.

 

Our house was in the middle of the block on the south side. On the northeast corner of the block was a house on a slightly large lot which had a big yard and a large covered patio on the back. There was an extended family living there, which isn’t uncommon at all. Every now and then they had parties which had a lot of people in attendance – seemed like most of them were family for the most part.

 

I suspect the house changed ownership as I saw different vehicles outside and an older lady who used to walk around the block every day wasn’t there anymore. I never really spoke to them much as the language barrier was pretty bad – I’ve never spoken enough Spanish to hold a conversation and they didn’t speak English. Everything thus had a kind of mystery about it— but then came the really… really big mystery.

 

The family there started holding parties every weekend and brought in a DJ (by which I mean some guy who had a mixer, iTunes, and a set of speakers). The first couple of weekends, it was just blasting salsa, reggaeton, and random pop music, with his voice occasionally booming over it all distorted. The music was POWERFULLY loud and was very audible inside our concrete block house, probably a good 300 feet away. They’d start up maybe 1 or 2 pm, and it’d be over by like 6 or so, never running into the night (thank goodness). Cars would be parked on the swale all over the block from the people in attendance. Following these first 2 or 3 unremarkable parties, they developed a unique and bizarre format, and that is what haunts me to this day. What was this and WHY?

In radio, a lot of programming adheres to a format clock which dictates what goes where in each hour. There are certain times for the break, station identification, locally inserted advertising/sponsorship, etc. In television it’s the same way but a little more standardized between shows. These parties—- they… could have had a format clock, because they all ran exactly the same. I don’t know what the hell they were doing but it was like this:

12-1 PM: Setup with random music playing, no voice.

1:00 PM: Music cuts off, followed by talking on the mic

1:05 PM: Beginning of Dragostea Din Tei loop.

…..

6:20 PM: Burst of shouting followed by the party ending.

 

Now, the loop is the super perplexing part.

Each cycle of it started with the guy shouting. His voice was heavily distorted, and I was hearing the reflection off houses and the back side of the speakers so it was muffled beyond recognition. I was never once able to understand what he’d say on each cycle.

He’d start shouting something (unintelligible due to the distortion and echo between the houses) then start playing what’d be 30 seconds of the chorus of Dragostea Din Tei.

(this video is not set to autoplay, if it does for some sick and twisted reason decide to autoplay, please inform me so that I may go drive down to San Francisco where this server is located in a VPS container in a datacenter, pull it offline, and fill it with beans)

The first 15 seconds would play out clean.
The last 15 seconds would have a police whistle blown on the backbeat.
The last 10 seconds had the whistle blown on every beat.
The last 2 or 3 seconds were covered by the whistle blowing constantly.
Then he’d yell something again and seconds later the pattern began over again.

This…. went on for hours. Pretty much the only time this pattern ever changed was the one week that I knew myself and the three neighbors in between were all getting very tired of this, and I just happened to have a single weird damaged PA speaker that came from the university’s surplus warehouse and had a strangely narrow dispersion angle. I put it up on the edge of the roof and blasted tracks from The Conet Project in their general direction. This caused the Dragostea Din Tei loop to end and be replaced with the guy shouting occasionally instead…. until my amplifier overheated and shut down. The brief shouting and Dragostea Din Tei resumed IMMEDIATELY.

 

This continued up through when the neighbors who lived directly behind us moved out and someone else bought the house and turned it into an entirely unauthorized and horrible banquet hall. That was….. a whole new form of fresh hell, but at least it did not leave me with a baffling, bizarre mystery that will haunt me until the end of days.

funny, I usually see Aqua Net recommended for adhesion on a glass bed, but I guess Rave works fine when you’re printing a dickbutt

have the algorithms become sentient yet

buuuuut on a serious note here’s a conspiracy theory I had earlier today while staring at cows in a pasture

 

we WILL have a social credit system in the US like the horrific one in use in China that virtually imprisons those who have a low score —

however, it will come to be without any government approval, oversight, or involvement (at least initially).

It’ll be borne out of the ideas of some douchebag tech bros down in San Francisco who push the limits of our privacy by aggregating and mining a shitload of commercially available analytics databases and linking them back to our identities, facial recognition data, vehicle registrations, etc. They’ll come up with this great hot new product they sell to companies as a “risk analysis” to determine how good an employee or customer a particular person is and allow them to block less desirable persons from employment or from their services.

Eventually some unscrupulous lazy ass government contractor will buy one of these products and sell it to the US government for some goofball purpose like forming no-fly lists or supposed fraud detection…. and there you go, that’s where the government involvement will eventually come into play.

come one, come all, witness the beautiful dumpster fire that is late stage CRAPitalism!

(solution to the above problem: fill the california bay area with beans)

photo by wikimedia commons user MK2010, click for attribution and beans

Maximum muddled miniaturization

From inside an MSI gaming laptop….

Of all the laptops I’ve worked on (and usually had a powerful sense of dread over doing so with) this one’s remarkably not awful at all. It just has a Lot ‘O’ Stuff under the hood. Everything’s modular and easily replaced if needed. The wireless radio is off the board to the left, it has space for two SSDs (they’re either JBOD or striped?) and a big mama subchassis that holds the heat pipes in place for cooling. My only complaints I guess would be that access to the RAM and the screws for the cooling fans requires removing the whole motherboard and flipping it over.

The bottom cover has a TON of screws (like 20 or so), but I’m guessing this was done more for stability— the thing feels like one solid piece of metal when it’s assembled.

 

The battery is in no way glued or even taped in place. Once you remove the bottom cover you can unplug it from the motherboard and lift it right out.

If I were writing a thing for ifixit.com I’d give this a very good repairability score. 🙂
Only tools needed– a spudger (for gently lifting the MHF / U.FL connectors on the wifi antennas), PH0 and PH1 screwdrivers. That’s it— seriously!!

I’m not a gamer but I kinda already want one. I’ve used MSI motherboards in a few computers over the years and have never had any problems with them – they’ve only ever been removed from service due to eventual hopeless obsolescence. The reason we had to dive into this one was that the GPU cooling fan bearing had gone bad and it was starting to sound like some kind of moaning banshee.

Tortie Tush

Cassie at some point figured out that it amuses me when she curls up with her little kitty butt in my face so now….

I get ALL the tortie tush. She’ll just plop down like this purring up a storm and getting pets and scritches till she falls asleep.

The solution

So what do you do when the factory service loaner for your STL receiver (which is working fine other than having a dead display so you can’t get to the settings) arrives deaf and sounding like a dirty skipping CD?

You place the 3d printed Pusheen atop the transmitter and prepare to launch your revolt against a toxic society and eat the damn rich

Regarding my previous shitposting, the cable length from the filter output to the LNA input turned out to be maddeningly critical.

Six feet:

Three feet:

About 18 inches:

I’ll take it! My concern was mainly attenuating crap around 1 GHz that I suspect is some kinda leakage off WiSP radios…

The lever you have pulled, “brakes”, is not in service at this time

Response of filter cavity

Response of preamp: not shown as it was a boring flat line

Response of cavity followed by preamp

Response of my brain after working about 28 hours in the last two days:

Yeah I’m just gonna throw this crap in there and say Good Enough For Radio Work and go collapse for the weekend (where my mugs are safe to drink from thanks)

Bleeuuuggggghhh

I’ve been working a couple of insane days for the end of this week so the company has me staying in a nearby hotel they have trade with. As not to piss anyone off I won’t name it, but it’s in a beautiful place outside the city, on the bank of the river. They make a big deal about being a LEED certified facility.

Last night I got there, checked in, and went to my room. I picked up one of the coffee mugs and it had a waxy feeling mess on the outside and smelled like hibiscus blossoms. There were bits of the same inside the mug.

I figured it hadn’t been washed properly so I looked underneath. The “made in China” paper sticker was still fully intact. I sanitized it by boiling water in it in the microwave, let it cool, and used paper towels and isopropyl alcohol I had in my car to clean it out.

The next evening, the mug I had used was back under a paper dust cover and this time both of them had a thick coating of the waxy junk.

On the bathroom counter are two pump top bottles… One’s a hand soap that smells like lavender. One’s a lotion.. ….

Which smells like hibiscus.

You didn’t– really? Seriously???

Sonicwall, schmonicwall

How to forward ports on a SonicWall:

Okay, it’s easy, just start steeping some hemlock into the blood of a virgin in a quartz flask upon an altar of old single sided floppies and get to work—-

you will not know this horror unless you experience it for yourself and i recommend you not.

sonicwall was clearly developed by someone who had a raging databases-where-databases-are-not-due fetish.

you do not just specify addresses. you do not just specify ports.

No.

You create address objects.
You create service objects to define ports.

Then you define NAT rules.

HOWEVER…. if you manually enter or edit anything about a NAT rule, for arcane and horrible reasons that have apparently never been addressed in over a decade worth of firmware versions, they break. The only reliable way to create these rules is to go into Quick Configuration and use the Public Server Wizard. There, you can create your objects (or select them if they’re existing already) and bake them into a NAT rule.

Then maybe 40% of the time it works and the rest of the time you’re frantically SSH’ing into a remote shell somewhere else and crying into your coffee over the output of nmap.

FUCK SONICWALL.

Blue tape (everything old is new again!)

I was getting so annoyed with my printer repeatedly losing its build plate surface… This Malyan M200 / Monoprice Select Mini V2 originally came with a black sticker on the build plate which I replaced with a piece of PEI sheet held down with 3M 468MP adhesive.

Two spectacular failures later, I decided to try covering the aluminum plate with painter’s tape. This was a common technique dating back to very early experiments with 3D printing, and I figured it’d probably just fallen out of favor because PEI sheets or BuildTak or whatever were just better.

Several completely successful prints later….

I’m convinced this is the way to go.

The only odd part I guess is that the tape doesn’t appear to last for more than one print, but that’s fine. The print sticks to it well but pops off when it’s done. Now I just need to adjust my slicer settings a little (see the gaps where the infill didn’t hit the perimeter?)

Guess I’ll be keeping blue tape around from now on!

My brother, who runs a fabrication lab at FIU, reports that it’s specifically 3M blue painter’s tape – other brands don’t have a top surface that adheres to the melted plastic and the printer will just pull a “drag spaghetti around in circles” dance.

Cassie approves because now, instead of me wasting time scraping little bits of plastic off the PEI sheet, I just pop the print off, replace the bed with three new strips of tape, then go back to petting her.

Yeah about that

Pay no attention the fact that this STL transmitter antenna installation looks like something generated by Shiv Integer ….

Not seen here– there’s a second pole with one more on it…. And no means of preventing the pole from turning….

Then at the other end, months ago, the vertical and horizontal got mixed up… Surprise, after fixing that, some meters now move farther to the right…

You poor STL, show us on this Smith chart where the confused engineers hurt you….