Lottery Luser Interface Design

lotto confuse-a-tron card
Aren’t these things supposed to be FUN to play?


Sheesh. What a mess… I put money in one of those Florida Lottery vending machines to buy a ticket for this week’s Powerball drawing, but I failed to note that the four-slice-pizza shaped pushbuttons at the top of the machine were not lit before putting money in and… it couldn’t issue lottery tickets! I’m guessing it lost connection to the mysterious and cool 900 megacycle mesh network that the lotto machines speak on.

I’ve found no details on how this works on the Internet but a few technically minded retail people have informed me that it’s a combination of satellite uplinks at certain retail locations (the dishes you see on the canopy at some gas stations, especially in remote areas) and 900 peer to peer terrestrial links using omnidirectional antennas near the back of the lotto machine, forming a highly secure mesh network that registers each lottery ticket’s serial number, and its respective picked numbers, in the Florida Lottery database along with the time and location at which it’s purchased. That’s how they can immediately announce “Hey, we have a Powerball winner in Fnord Point Estates!”. No dialup or public IP networks appear to be used here. It’s actually kind of an inspiration for a wireless mesh darknet project I’d love to get off the ground someday with the assistance of someone who codes better than I do— anyway…

Since the machine already had my money and no mechanism for refunding it I bought this scratch ticket, and it’s the most confusing thing I’ve ever seen as a lottery game. You are given an assorted cloud of black numbers and a similar cloud of red numbers. All are in completely random order, divided in blocks of 1 – 1-10 are red, 11-20 are black, and so on until 80. If any row or column is completed, you win. Easy enough, right? Errrrr… No.

This thing is so bloody confusing, I resorted to going down the number clouds and scratching the blue screen tone around each number that appeared before checking for matches. At first I thought it was odd that this blue screen tone is also scratchable, but I’m imagining now it’s the only way people were able to figure out these damn tickets!! Note that the software that generates the tickets is careful to create a lot of “Oh I almost had it!” misses to encourage repeat play.

This ticket didn’t win anything, and it took me like ten minutes to find this out. Hell, I still don’t entirely trust my judgement in that – I’m going to have them scan it at the gas station before tossing it out. (Note the weird four line barcode.)

Can I win my sanity back, please?

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Dell… What a turdbrick…

Can’t use it as a computer, can’t even set it on fire. This is why I’ll never willingly buy a Dell.

Do not try this at home. I am a Certified Broadcast Technologist and juuuuuust irresponsible enough to do this without setting myself on fire as well. 😉

That thing in the header…

Someone asked me what that terrifying mascot face is that occasionally comes up in the header image. I currently have like ten different pictures in random rotation there, and one of them does look very much like a horrible rejected character from Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Well… it is none other than Miami-Dade County’s own Emergemanasaurus! 


Absolutely nothing is known about this Emergemanasaurus character, why or when it existed, but it appeared in a PDF of an old newsletter from Miami-Dade County Emergency Management and I took a capture of it to preserve as proof as to why I can never take the agency particularly seriously. (Well, that and our repeatedly nonexistent CERT program.)

And then I put it there to stare at people with its cold, lifeless, conjoined eyes, because I’m an evil troll.

Whatever the hell it was, I doubt it smelled particularly good.



Dear unknown scrap rat: you manage somehow to have the least scary truck in the whole city right now. None of the cargo is secured in any way, but it’s not overflowing, and the containment structure is actually attached to the truck!

Whoever you are, you set a far better example….

A Fluke….

This is evidence of why malware vs. social media can get really embarrassing.


This is the Facebook feed of Fluke corporation….. invaded by a basket of Urechis unicinctus. It’s a weird looking variant of spoon worm that does not look like a digital multimeter.

This is evidence of why Facebook’s methods of editing a business page suck. You don’t log in as your page… You have to manage it from a personal account, and you’re always clicking one link away from an xss attack or other hijinks compromising everything  embarrassingly.

I dunno… Just a big case of “I would have done this differently”.

Frequency hoarder

Frequency hoarder (n). One who desires to add so many frequencies to the internal memory of their scanner or other radio device that they can easily fill the 1000 channels on a GRE scanner or any of the recent Yaesu radios* and find themselves dejectedly trying to figure out what won’t make the cut.


I am guilty of being a frequency hoarder. When will the scanners just read a CSV file off a microsd? I’m waiting…

* except for the 817/857/897 which only have 200!! Why, yaesu? Why did you make three rigs that beautifully span DC to 512 megacycles with no gaps in am/FM/ssb/cw/wide FM and then only give us 200 pigeon holes for our frequencies?!

Seriously…. Or, The Z16HD+ Kick in action.

If you told me years ago this would be a significant part of my job, I’d have had a lot of trouble believing you.

This, incidentally, is what you get when there’s no maintenance budget. This transmitter is the only one in house and can’t be taken off air to replace some bad relays. A potential great deal on a backup transmitter that would have allowed me to do so was allowed to go by the wayside so here I am kicking this box to make it stop dumping half its output power in the system isolator load due to an IPA select relay fault.


The relays responsible for making me have to kick the transmitter.

<fnord> Yes, Miguel, rest assured those are leather pants. Would you expect any less? </fnord>

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.

WOIR-AM… There are no words


Greetings! I am FAILTUNER! Enjoy my field of nightmares!

I saw two AM towers I’d never noticed before while driving away from the site WDNA-FM is on after fixing a major case of explosive Z-Bola (more on that in another post). I’d never seen them lit before despite them having beacons at the tops? I drove in for a closer look and whooooa brother is there ever a mess to be found here. This is a good example of bad broadcast engineering and maintenance practices. FOUL!!!
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Y’alls on crack.


I bought some Lite-On led displays with integrated shift register driver a few years back. They’re kinda cool, reducing the microcontroller pin count needed to drive two digits of alphanumeric displays to a mere three — chip select/enable, clock, data in. Not bad at all, even if they don’t have serial out like a proper shift register; the last cell of the shift register is connected to output latch to remove the need to externally fire the latch.

But good luck reading that datasheet.


So far so good, right?




AAAUGH. WHY?! WHHHHYYYYY??!!! All this is missing is a liberal use of Comic Sans.

Please, do not do this.