solarbird: (pindar-most-unpleasant)

You may and may not recall that I built a little optical theremin.

Basically, I’ve been trying to develop an electronic instrument project that could be built, in a workshop environment, at nwcMUSIC at Norwescon. It had to be really simple, but functional. And I can – what you can see in this picture totally works! It could be simplified further just by swapping those three resistors with one of similar value.

But the output is really, really quiet. Sure, I could – and did – add a matching impedance stage and hook it up to my amp, and that worked, but we can’t do that in a workshop.

So I wanted to add a pure amplification stage, using an amplifying transistor. I hooked all that up and: silence. After a few minutes, I realised that I was attempting to amplify a signal with a lower-power source than what I had to begin with. That won’t work.

And I could fix it, either by adding an impedence-matching voltage transformer (complexity rating no) or a second power stage, but it would take it well above my complexity limit for a one-hour workshop.

That won’t work either

So then I thought, “all these components are rated 40v, let’s just double the input power to 18v and see what happens.” And what happens is fire.

Or, at least, a surprisingly enthusiastic outbreak of magic blue smoke. And now nothing works, and now the little battery-powered air filter I built is running.

And that’s why there’s no DIY project today.

See you next week. XD

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (assassin)
Livejournal has decided not to email me comment replies, so if I don't reply to something and you were expecting a reply, that's why. Sorry, it's not my fault!
solarbird: (pindar-most-unpleasant)
I have this Sony minidisc recorder I bought back in... 2002? When those mattered, anyway. I've tried a couple of times to use it to do quick recordings of live shows and it's failed me each time - it's fine for a minute and a half or so, then I get garbage, then it's fine again, then garbage. I thought it was bad media, but now I'm re-testing the same media in the studio and it records fine.

When I set it up outdoors it's always in a shaded, reasonably-level position, and everything has lots of power. All the parts work fine tested in the studio, but at shows so far I have a 100% failure rate with the same symptoms across different discs each time.

Suggestions, anybody?

Also, suggestions on a pure-digital recorder? This has officially become stupid.
solarbird: (pindar-most-unpleasant)
So the washing machine at murksouth died for the third time two and a half weeks ago, which means it's time to order a new one. And that's fair enough, the broken one is a bit old at this point, and well past the "repair this/replace this" border as described by Consumer Reports, and all that.

I shopped around a bit and ended up ordering from Best Buy, for delivery last Wednesday, which was the soonest their online form would give me. Wednesday came and it didn't happen; I found email in my junk folder saying "we've cancelled your delivery, call to reschedule." An hour-fifteen or so later, I was finally off the phone with some idea of why delivery had been revoked - their computer system had somehow managed not to include sales tax, which put a stop on the order - and got delivery rescheduled for this Wednesday.

This morning I got mail saying they'd cancelled delivery AGAIN, and to call their support number to reschedule AGAIN, and when I did, after 15 minutes on hold, the person I got didn't know anything, couldn't tell me anything, couldn't transfer me to someone who would, and wouldn't take my case number from last time to see whether there was any relationship. The closest she could give me to an answer is that somehow the delivery date was "too close to" the order date, which is pretty laughable even if you consider it to have been ordered last week, because week-later delivery is not exactly a rush job.

And all she'd do was re-dispatch it for delivery to some delivery agent who would eventually send me email. Supposedly. Not being interested in playing this game a third time in order to still have no washing machine, I told them to cancel the order and refund my money.

So, 35 minutes on the phone later, it's no washer last week, no washer today, no washer tomorrow, and no idea why not. I'll be talking to Sears and Home Depot in a few minutes - they're not great, but they've managed to deliver appliances on time in the past with pleasant regularity. The moral of the story: don't order appliances for delivery from Best Buy. So noted.

eta: Oh, I think I get it.

I think I ordered last year's model and they don't actually have it anymore. And instead of saying that they were jerking me around because the replacement model costs more. Because finding the model I ordered isn't happening, but finding the new model ($50 more) is easy.

solarbird: (mandolin-and-flutes)
So, um, yeah! I was updating my shows page because Bothell Country Village decided to upgrade me from "busker" to "billed performer at the stage tent" and asked for a photo and such, and threw me a bunch of dates, and as I was putting all that into iCal I noticed that even listing mostly only stage gigs (with one exception that I'm listing Woodinville this coming weekend because I announced it at Lake Forest Park), I've got... kind of a busy summer. And my current approach to a website really doesn't do it anymore, even if it ever really did.

So I'm gonna need a better website. I guess that's one more thing to do once I get back from Boston, innit?
solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)
So the Mac Store called, and as expected, the HD is toasted, unrecoverable. That set it close to the $350 flat rate anyway. So since that hit the flat rate they said it's much better to ship it off to Apple and let them fix everything including the case at that same flat rate.

But then I got nervous because as I made a big point of telling them when I dropped the machine off, it has 1G RAM and 160G hard drive, not the stock 512M/160G. So remembering [ profile] cow experiences, I called them back to see whether they remembered that. And no, of course they didn't. And yes, it'd bump it up a teir in the flat rate, a big jump. And The Mac Store's solution involves putting back in my old 60G drive (that I still have; it was kinda-sorta working but dying hard), letting Apple "repair" that, then charging me to upgrade it to replace the 60G with a 160G drive, or rather, a 250G drive, since they don't stock 160G, for an extra $240.

To wit: fuck you guys. Seriously.

The one remotely good thing that came out of it was that the 160G I have is under warranty, as it turns out. This unfortunately makes some things cheaper but many things worse, as it means a two-extra-week-or-so wait while the old drive goes to California for replacement.

To wit: Well, fuck me.

So I'll go pick up the machine and dead drive tomorrow morning and ship it off to California and generally be without useful computer and non-crappy shell-account email and hello no calendar and hello h8. Then I'll presumably install the fucker myself and reinstall OSX myself and hope the Time Machine restore works, because pay to replace the drive twice = fuck that. I'll deal without a CD burner. And with case cracks.


Oh, I found out why WinXP install disc wouldn't boot repair on kimo. kimo's optical drive decided it didn't like DVDs. No reason; just decided to say fuck 'em.

I hate computers.


Feb. 23rd, 2009 06:06 pm
solarbird: (Default)
No MacBook means no calendar. Clearly I should start posting my calendar somewhere. Anyway, if I'm supposed to do something involving you in any way in the next week, you need to tell me, 'cause until I can get this fixed, it's gone.

Except anime night. That's Thursday. I remember that. And I have an open-mic on Saturday, because that calendar, I do keep online, and it's always right.
solarbird: (Default)
So the filter and the thing that holds the filter in place on Paul's 7.2V rechargeable wet/dry dustbuster vacuum went on walkabout, and Paul bought a entire replacement unit, but of course I hate throwing perfectly good things out that just need parts, so I poked around on Black and Decker's website until I gave up trying to find parts ordering and contacted email costumer service, which kindly sent me back a phone number and a link to a parts-ordering website, the latter of which had been domain-squatted.

Well done.

So I call the phone number, and the first thing the phone answering system does is direct me to a different parts-ordering website, only this one actually works! And it knows the device and lists the parts.
90508160   WET DEFLECTOR   $0.73  In Stock. Limited Quantities
90508842   FOAM FILTER     $2.30  In Stock. Limited Quantities
So I go "yay!" and add them to my shopping cart where I get:
Subtotal       $ 3.03
Shipping       $10.50
Total          $13.53
These vacuums, new, on Amazon, are $20... and I don't even need one. Paul bought a replacement.

I hate you, Black and Decker.

eta: Anybody local want this? Free? U-haul. Or I can drop it by if I'm already going somewhere. Motor, charger, battery all work fine.
solarbird: (poor kitty!)
OKAY so if you upgrade your iTunes purchases from the old DRM versions to the new, shiny, higher-bit-rate non-DRM version, be aware that you may not get the same edit in the upgrade. e.g., my Music: entry for this post. The DRM version is a shorter cut (4:13) vs. the non-DRMed version (4:44) and I prefer the shorter edit, and it's a good thing I told the upgrade software to keep my old versions.
solarbird: (Default)
Hellboy 2 (which I ended up going to against my better judgement) would have been a lot better if 1) the wrong people hadn't won (as so far as I know only [ profile] nihilistic_kid has pointed out in review form) and 2) it wasn't a sanctimonious, depressing, hypocritical, desperately derivative pile.

Looked pretty good, though. I liked the bits with the gears. But even with that I spent about 2/3rds of the movie thinking, "I hate this movie and I want to go home now," over and over and over again.
solarbird: (Default)
Doesn't anybody have ultraviolet LEDs in stock in this town? I've tried the usual suspects (Vetco, Fry's, Radio Shack) and have no joy. Am I gonna have to mail order these stupid things? From Radio Shack? Jeez.
solarbird: (not_in_the_mood)
*#&$*(@$ archaic LPX-format power supplies *#@&$*(!$&(^!*@ old equipment *#$&(*@#$&(#$%(!! no money for virtualising server box with RAID array *@#&$*(@$&*(!!!!

lodestone gets a brain transplant tomorrow. (the only thing that gets saved are the drives and the net card.) i thought that since i could still get a boot out of it that we wouldn't have to do this right away, but that was apparently a fluke as now that i've replaced the power supply's fan, i can only get about 1 boot out of 10, and most of the time it hangs in post - if it posts, which, generally, it does not.

nang nang nang nang
solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)
Seattle's fireworks hung after the initial run up the needle.

This is not how to start a year.

ETA FAIL: lulz
solarbird: (poor kitty!)
Done with finals, finally - spent the whole week cooped up cramming and taking tests - and the bus home today is just freakish with detours and dodges around wrecks and what the hell? Seriously, what the hell? And then I get to my stop - finally! - and like three houses in our neighbourhood burned down during the day.

Did I miss something?

Oh, and if anyone knows where I can get pickled pigs brains to make for dinner, lemmie know. [ profile] spazzkat's on some kind of new kick apparantly. Weirdo.
solarbird: (Default)
I hate Zoology very, very much. The best part is when your first lab practical (which counts as much as a midterm) is worse than your first midterm, which was previously the lowest grade you could remember getting on a science exam. No, wait; the best part is when your professor tells you on Friday that she was really surprised at how well you did and that you only lost 5-10 points (out of 50), so you're thinking you got a B until you get the paper back with a score of HA HA FUXX0R J00, by which I mean me, by which I mean my chances for graduate school.

And there's nothing else in this stupid class so far. It really is just "what's this?" We're starting to see some processes and some systems. She's all "now I know this is complex" and "A lot of people have problems with this figure" and I'm going CHRIST I'M BORED and answering all of her in-class challenge questions (which count for zero) and going THERE IS NOTHING TO LEARN IN THIS CLASS WHY AM I HERE?!

Oh right, it's a requirement. Crap.

And to cap it off, my left ear is really acting up today. Loud and screechy and full of hate. Joy.

Monday's miles: 8.3
Miles out of Hobbiton: 1686.3
Miles out of Rivendell: 1229.3
Miles out of Lothlórien: 774.3
Miles past Rauros Falls: 357.4
Miles to Isengard: 110.3

In other news, biking back from Shoreline turns out to be pretty easy, and only mildly terrifying, and that mostly at 15th Avenue NE. Biking to Shoreline would be not happening, at least via this route. Here's the way; on the left side of the screen find "Elevation: off small large" and click on "large" and you'll see why I won't be reversing that. It's particularly worth noting that the huge elevation change over time is on a road (NE Perkins Way, mostly) with somewhere between tiny, tiny shoulders, and no shoulders at all. At least there isn't much traffic - at least, not at this time of day.

A pleasant surprise was finding a deeply, deeply early-1950s sign-and-planter into a pocket development at 10th Ave NE and NE 195th. My guess - and it is a complete ex recto guess - is that this was developed around that time, and was kind of upscale, and that then 10 years later the freeway came through, wrecking the place - possibly cutting some of it off, I don't know - which is why there's a pedestrian bridge over I-5 there. The original owners might have been the sort to say, "You're screwing us with this freeway, the least you can do is not cut us off from town!" and get that bridge. Given that there just aren't any other pedestrian-friendly crossings that I can think of until you get to, oh, Ravenna Boulevard, it's the best theory I've got.

(Well, okay, 185th is doable. But it still sucks. Four lane + turn lanes + on/off ramps? Not so much fun for pedestrians. Christ, I-5 is a scar on this town.)

Oh, speaking briefly of pedestrian overpasses, I biked down to and over the new one Shoreline has built over Aurora at 160th, as part of the Interurban Trail project. It's very nice. The noise control works really well. +5 to Shoreline's trail development team.

Scattergories meme )
solarbird: (molly-kill-everyone-with-sticks)
I just lost another match to whit-it-ti-whit-whit-whit in Wii Sports Tennis.

It's really frustrating. I'm at the level where every swing counts, and at the point where I lose half - easily half - the points I lose to controller misreads. Mostly it reads setups for swings as swings, and then spazzes at my actual swing - tho' occasionally I've had it swing for me with the controller held still. So I set up for a backhand, say, but the game takes that setup as a forehand swing that's too early. My avatar swings (early) at the air, swings again for no clear reason (unaimed), then tries to catch up to my actual swing, but is late. Sometimes it'll really spaz and swing five times, a little flurry of wtf.

And, of course, I lose the point, because the ball goes into space, or is missed completely.

The problem is, you can't set up more slowly (which avoids the misreads) because the play is too fast at that level. I only play 1900 and 2000 (maximum) level computer opponents, and the play is very fast at that rate, and you're looking at all kinds of crazy shots, and it's really neat when it works, but then it explodes and you're fucked by the whit.

Another problem that I don't mind as much is that you can only play doubles. Both avatars often (always?) swing in unison. So if I take a swing with the front avatar, the second avatar also swings, which is harmless enough, except that the avatar itself needs setup time to take its swing at the same shot, and often fails, so I take a second swing and nothing happens, or it happens very late. This doesn't cause me to lose matches, tho'; it'll happen only a couple of times a set, and since it's just visible fallout from game design, is merely mildly annoying instead of crazy-making.

Anyway, the first game in the one set I tried to play today, I lost the game entirely to whit-it-ti-whit-whit-whit. Seriously, the entire game. The second game I only half lost to that, the third I won 40-15 (with a complete lack of whit-it-ti-whit-whit-whit), then the fourth I lost two points, including set point, to the effect.

At which point I let it dock my rating again (below 1800, which means I'll get a lower level of opponent, where I can set up more slowly and not have that problem) and turned the game off. So I need a smarter Wii Tennis game, one that can handle people playing at its top levels with full swings, and not just couch-bound controller twitches.
solarbird: (molly-feeling-alone-andor-pouting)
There isn't all that much going on right now; I'm going to be clearing the leaves off the raised beds and prepping the soil soon, I'm looking forward to gardening again; I want to see about attending the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, probably on Thursday the 15th (anyone else interested?); Norwescon is coming up and I need daily 'zine ideas badly; I've joined the Japan Culture Club at school, but they keep scheduling meetings while I'm in class so haven't been able to go to any events yet; and I need to start talking to faculty at UW again starting right about, oh, now. But mostly, I've been doing daily life and classes.

The biggest thing bothering me this week is that I'm almost certainly going to drop to audit status in Japanese 112. Everything will be the same except that I won't get a grade or credit. The reason for that is that the expected vocabulary acquisition rate has jumped quite a bit; we're now getting about, hum, 8-10 words a day at this point - not counting things like counters which are kind of like new individual words but kind of aren't because they're in series, with regular roots and such. That rate isn't going to go down - in fact, it's expected to go up. It's a real problem, given that I was barely keeping up last quarter, when it was more like 2-4 new words a day - and that was only true because I already knew half the words from previous study. And I've forgotten half the words that were new to me then.

I kind of figured I'd hit this wall eventually, tho' I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't, or that if I did, it wouldn't be until spring quarter. But I did, and it was pretty abrupt; I was okay, okay, okay, hey wait, zomg oh crap I don't understand any of the words anybody is using in class, and then oh look I only know about 40% of the words on this test <p0wned> - all in about a week and a half.

I hate that wall.

So unless a miracle occurs, I'll be officially changing to audit late next week. It makes me sad, but it's better than adding a D or something to my GPA. I talked with the professor about it (for over an hour) on Thursday, and she thinks it's the right thing to do, given everything. I don't really like it, but I don't have any better ideas.

So here, have a picture:

Leaf on Smooth Rocks

And here, have a couple of URLs:

Bicycle Boulevards, as implemented in Berkeley, California. It's a multipronged approach, but key elements are: 1) Making openings for bikes in closed-end streets, most of which were closed for vehicle control, and 2) designating some secondary streets to be bicycle-centric, tho' not bicycle-only, and paint/mark them appropriately as such. (Cars and such are still allowed.) It seems to be a rather low-cost approach to improving bike transit.

Meanwhile, the FHA tells Oregon to stop focusing on anything but cars, and get to building more freeways, presumably like the South and midwest, where it's endless acres of parking lots and zillion-lane freeways and a walkable environment is seen as some sort of commie plot. (Courtesy Cascadia Drumbeat.)

Now, back to trying to learn these stupid words.
solarbird: (Default)
Two finals down, one to go - the big one being chem on Friday, which is my make-up final from this summer. That's my biggest worry, since I haven't done any actual chem homework and such all quarter. O BOI!

Also, this powerbook-chained-to-a-desk-and-monitor thing suxx0rs. But [ profile] annathepiper has a deal through work where she can get an employee discount on a refurbished MacBook (refurb by Apple, full warranty, all that) so we're spending money we shouldn't and getting one. I wasn't sure about that with all the hospital bills coming in (and with making real progress on the Visa card paydown) but then this one locked up twice in a day, which it's never done before, and that's scary and sounds like it might be a logic board problem instead of just the backlight, which is one of the ways these screens fail. So, um, yeah. Poor powerbook, you have been to hell and back a couple of times but it's finally taken its toll, apparently.

I know, I know, no CWUs for a week and a half. I feel bad too. I have a bit I want to talk about regarding the Sea-Tac kerfuffle. However, finals week puts the Worst Webcomic Evar on hiatus, I guess. Good news, though: no finals week next week! Yay!

I still have flowerpics queued up. This one was from Shoreline campus:

Little Purple Surprises

Someone asked about this last year; Here's a nice graph that shows how much seasonal demand change there is in gasoline. This is one of the reasons why the price of gas changes so much within a year. Check out the units on the left side of that graph; it's in billions of miles driven per day. To wit: damn.

Anybody know much about thorium reactors? I'd like this article to be more or less accurate. Wikipedia is less sanguine about it than this article, but it still sounds like a technology to explore vigourously.

Monday's miles: 1.9
Tuesday's token: .4
Wednesday's miles: 1.4
Miles out of Hobbiton: 1445.3
Miles out of Rivendell: 987.3
Miles out of Lothlórien: 533.3
Miles past Rauros Falls: 115.4
Miles to Isengard: 346.3

Memes are stu00pid )
solarbird: (Default)
Yesterday was wretched. Harbourview called me about three hours before my much, much belated ENT trauma doctor appointment and cancelled it. The best they can do is next week with a physician's assistant, and I have to skip class for that. Then I went in for an allergy shot (which I rescheduled just so that I could have one day of doctor and car instead of two) and SURPRISE! office closure!

So I stopped by Uwajimaya and bought hot cake mix (this kind, but in a box: ) and konpeito (not this brand). The first place I saw konpeito was in Spirited Away and the first time I saw it being fed to soot sprites I knew that was real and wanted some, so I finally found some and bought it.

Candy is pretty much always good and konpeito makes me feel about nine years old. I made the hot cakes this morning - they're a lot more like cake than American pancakes, and are sweeter and taste of vanilla. I liked them very much.

I feel better now.

Thursday's miles: 2.3
Friday's miles: 0.6
Miles out of Hobbiton: 1386.6
Miles out of Rivendell: 921.6
Miles out of Lothlórien: 467.6
Miles past Rauros Falls: 59.7
Miles to Isengard: 412.3

CWU along the way.
solarbird: (molly-tired)
Still clearly too slow. Doing homework that you're supposed to write out onto forms slows me down a lot; I've started typing out answers and saying "see attached sheet," which we're actually told to do on some questions. Hopefully that'll help. Doing bar graphs with pens is stupid and I'm glad this is the only time we're supposedly going to have to do that. Dammit, I've written these tools, let me use them!

Sunday's token: 0.4
Miles out of Hobbiton: 1358.8
Miles out of Rivendell: 893.8
Miles out of Lothlórien: 438.8
Miles past Rauros Falls: 30.9
Miles to Isengard: 440.0

I'm clearly more tired on weekends than on weekdays, with the possible exception of Friday. And I'm wiped out every Sunday night, and I still haven't done as much work as I should, but I have to go to bed now. This really needs to get better, but I'm not entirely sure how it's going to.

At least I did some housecleaning and some urgent shopping and got the bus stop trash changed out and the air filter swapped and such as that. But I'm so far behind in everything. I hate it.

This'll teach me not to check the value of N before going into Linens N Things... )

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