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Eric Wilner
An eclectical engineer, attempting to find Slack in Silicon Valley.
Interests: Electronics, computers, Linux, science fiction, gadgeteering, costuming, creative absurdity, hiking
Recent Activity
Lately, Insty has been pushing a dingus called a WaterBOB, which lets you store water in your bathtub in case of a supply disruption. What the world needs now is... ElectroBOB! Lets you fill your bathtub with electricity in anticipation of an outage! Needs a shiny promotion. Hmmm, this seems to tie in with a fake-news-story idea I had many years ago, back when offshore wind-power generation was going to be a big thing as long as it wasn't offshore of where any Important People lived. The premise was that one of the tankers carrying electricity from the power field had run aground, and there was an electricity spill, and... well, I guess nowadays it'd be easy enough for a home filmmaker to do the visuals for a grounded tanker and some ungrounded electricity. Continue reading
Posted 2 minutes ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
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Seen at Amazon, following a link from Insty (no, I'm not really in the market for one of these): Er. How do we get from "Defibrillator" to "Kids' Store"? (Yeah, I've seen the same thing when looking for a 2-kilowatt brushless 3-phase motor. That category of motors is associated with radio-controlled models, triggering the association with the toy department and thence stuff-for-kids.) Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
This here workstation is far overdue for a reboot, what with various software updates calling for one, and assorted things not quite working right as a result of mismatched libraries, out-of-sync drivers, and so forth. But... as usual, I've got a bunch of stuff open, some of it for ongoing work. Guess sometime this weekend I should wrap things up to a point where I can do a reboot without disrupting work'n'stuff too badly. Yeesh. It's only been 63 days since the last reboot! ... Ugh. And I have some wonky manual network configuration that'll need to be re-entered after a reboot. (It's to deal with the current situation, so it's not really meant to be part of the permanent configuration.) Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
I thought refunds of the "Windows tax" for Linux users who'd never clicked on the Windows EULA were a mid-1990s thing. Or maybe I'm misremembering, and it was a few years later? Like, when the "User Friendly" webcomic was a thing? So how come I'm getting all these Dalek-voiced calls from the "Windows Refund Department" now? What's their scam, and why are they trying to pull it now? (A quick session with Duckies-A-Go-Go turns up two variants, neither of which mentions the Dalek. One is the old Windows Technical Department scam, whereby you give them remote access to your computer, they mess it up, and then you pay them to fix it; the other apparently involves getting your bank-account details for a direct deposit of your "refund" and then making direct withdrawals instead. Or maybe they try to get the number of the credit card you last used to pay for software, and instead of refunding you for whatever-it-is, they... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
For those not paying attention to the current legal SNAFU regarding the nature and status of AR-15 lower receivers, there's useful info here. Of note: Congress’s law on this matter simply refers to a “receiver”; it doesn’t define the word. The definition is found instead in the Code of Federal Regulations: That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel. It's been noted in various fora that this also creates ambiguity where most locked-breech auto pistols are concerned: it's not a "modern firearm design with split receiver" issue when it's problematic to apply the definition to a model 1911 pistol! And... it's kinda fuzzy with regard to some rather broad categories, some of which go way back. Taking the definition as given, with the commas where they are, the receiver must (in order to be the receiver) provide housing... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Goofy piano guy on YouTube soups up his piano and goes for a drive! Obviously, he should have taken it to Daytona Beach and raced it against The Mighty Wurlitzer! (Alas, the search space is filled with Mighty Wurlitzer references that have nothing to do with The Goon Show. Also, there doesn't appear to be free audio of that episode out there. It's so much better as audio than as text!) Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Grumble #1: screw caps for toothpaste-style tubes. This is yet another case of can't anyone do this any more? For the last few years, I've been having a problem with the caps for my tubes of mustache wax cracking and allowing the contents to dry out. Today, I discovered that the cap for a tube of gasket goo had likewise cracked. It's like the cap manufacturers are saving $0.001 per unit on material, and I guess the product manufacturers don't mind customers having to discard spoiled, partially-used product and buy a fresh tube. Grumble #2: PDF documents, and software pertaining thereto. I've been having this nuisance, too, for years: Adobe stopped supporting Acrobat Reader for Linux, so I've been stuck with an ancient version that increasingly doesn't play nice with newer documents; for example, it won't let me save a filled-in version of a California Form 540, so if I want to do that, I need to fire up the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
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Today's PBS: Leftovers. Start a revolution in your fridge! Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
The English language, among its many charms, contains a selection of irregular verbs - that is, verbs whose conjugation does not follow the usual pattern. These are typically holdovers from a bygone age, and in some cases follow the conjugation patterns of some foreign language. The ones that remain, typically, are the ones that just don't sound right if conjugated according the the usual rules for modern English (consider: I be, you* be, he bees, we be, y'all** be, they be; past tense, beed). But just lately I've been seeing regular past tenses of what used to be well-known irregular verbs. "Weaved", for example, when wove is clearly appropriate (this was in reference to actual weaving, not to erratic driving). And, just now at National Freakin' Review, I see "slayed". As in, "... he slayed three men on a subway." Hello? Whatever became of slew? He slays, he slew, he hath slain! Were all the stylebooks burned this past summer,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Oxygen-dependent California man dies 12 minutes after PG&E cuts power to his home Oxygen: not even once! Looking at the bigger issue from a serious perspective: the problems with PG&E illustrate the slow-moving train wreck to be expected from Fascist economics. Under Fascism, or Corporatism, the means of production remain nominally in private hands (as compared to Socialism, in which the means of production are owned by the State, or Communism, in which nobody owns everything), but all economic activity is controlled by a powerful central government. This, of course, is popular with politicians: they get to take credit for the successes of businesses that operate using private capital, and when things go wrong they can blame the greedy business owners. At first, though, it's also popular with the owners of big established businesses. Not only is this scheme much more appealing than the Socialist / Communist alternatives on offer, but they're promised a guaranteed market share, fixed profit, no... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
It's a demographic, innit? A significant-sized ethnic group, with various religious, cultural, and political subgroups. Not a bunch of all-the-same people at all. Yes, mainstream Kurdish culture is not wildly incompatible with our own, and a hypothetical Kurdish state would likely be on good terms with the U.S. and with Israel... and on very bad terms indeed with most of the neighbors, if only for historical reasons (plus the additional issue of this hypothetical state being composed of territory currently controlled by those same neighbors). But not all groups of Kurds are interchangeable. As I understand it, the specific group of Kurds we're no longer supporting is the YPG. Which is part of, or has been aligned with, the PKK, which is on our own government's list of terrorist organizations (terrorism against Turks is still terrorism). So, the YPG. Friend, foe, enemy-of-our-enemy, or...? There's more info here, and what purports to be their own site here. Sounds like they're not... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
I don't have time nor inspiration to take this even as far as a story fragment, but this tale of dietary "science" is inspiring. Studying human nutrition is difficult. The obvious solution? Grow a bunch of reference-human clones, a few types representing selected demographics. The should be fully human in all biological respects, but lacking higher brain function so they can be treated as lab animals. With a generous supply of biologically-human test subjects in genetically-identical groups, raised under laboratory conditions and fed strictly controlled diets, most questions of nutrition can be resolved in a lifetime or two. Or has this been done already (as a work of fiction, IRL, or both)? Afterthoughts: I guess these clones would be Omegas on the Brave New World scale: the least intelligent it's possible for a biological human to be and still be capable of eating food that's put in front of it. This still wouldn't account for diet in the context of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Early to bed, early to rise... did Franklin have cats? He must not have had the likes of Huckleberry and Southmoon. Four freakin' times last night I heard the dreaded knock at the bedroom door and the demand for entry. The first three times, it was Huckleberry. Just after I went to bed, then an hour or so later, then a bit after midnight. At three o'clock in the ayem, it was Southmoon; normally the polite one, on this occasion she was just as loud as Huckleberry. Always the same formula: knock and announce, peer under the bed for mice, or Communists, or whatever it is they're expecting to find under the bed, then jump up on the bed and purr at me for as long as I'll tolerate a cat on the bed when I'm trying to sleep. I am not very awake this morning. Well, the plan for the day was to skip morning walkies and spend the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
You may find that he's not your enemy at all. There's some foofaraw lately about Supreme Court matters... and, in among the sky-is-falling rhetoric regarding the threat that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh might vote to restrain the power of government, there's astonishment (of the favorable sort) that they might stand up for due process and against institutional racism... i.e., they might wish to restrain the power of government. Er, guys? Every tried talking to any conservatives, or maybe reading National Review or something? Today's mainstream "conservatives" are in fact classical liberals. They support due process, and oppose racism in any form. (Note, though, that culture and nationality are more or less orthogonal to race.) If you support due process and oppose racism, you might want to pay a little closer attention to what your Progressive "friends" are proposing, and what lurks behind the pretty bumper-sticker slogans. Related addendum: Ellen DeGeneres is having to justify having sat next to Dubya at a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Yesterday's XKCD lists all the things a smartphone does (not necessarily well), and the point at which each function replaces a dedicated device. Know what's missing from that list? Hammer, that's what. Why isn't there a hammer app? Yesterday morning, as I crossed the little bridge at the beginning of morning walkies, I noticed the head of a large nail protruding maybe 3/8" out of the wood, right in the path of passing feet. This needed fixing. I wasn't carrying anything that would serve as a hammer (my minimalist shoes aren't even suitable for pounding on a table, and my dinky Swiss Army Knife doesn't have a hammer that folds out). So I had to look for a suitable rock. Og fix! Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
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Note: I'm composing this update to the Rancho incident as information filters in, but not hitting Publish until the weekend. Wednesday, 2 October: morning I got a lot more detail, unofficially, from a well-connected source. Some apparently-prosperous white woman with a small white dog in her lap drove in the St. Joseph entrance, acting crazy, drove in as far as the schoolbus-dropoff lot, turned around, deliberately ran down one man (now deceased), drove around some more, hit and injured one of the uniformed employees, and was eventually apprehended at the main gate. Even when boxed in and surrounded by armed cops, she was crazy and uncooperative. Sounds like intentional murder and attempted suicide-by-cop; whether the craziness was chemically assisted remains to be seen. Have the zwilniks come up with some powerful new hallucinogen? And, with one party dead and the other crazy, determining motive may be a challenge. Oh, and there was a mountain lion sighting yesterday, too, but that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
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Spotted at the grocery store yesterday: Er. They don't look so smitten to me. If you smite apples, don't you end up with applesauce or something? ... These look hardly smote at all. Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Meanwhile, over on YouTube, the Demolition Ranch guy has gone and bought himself a mansion. Which has a serious case of "that'll buff right out." Makes the New Digs look practically move-in ready! (Kipling reference in title.) Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Intending to back up Everything, I bought a humongous portable hard drive. When I examine the drive info, I see the model number of the 2.5" SATA drive that's under the hood. So I look that up. The bare drive sells for about $45 more than I paid for the drive in a case with a USB interface. Curious. Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Flying salt shakers of death What, the newer-model Daleks that you can't escape just by running up or down some stairs? Awwww, nope. It's zombie cicadas, spreading a weird fungus to other cicadas. Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Those who have been following the Bloom County reboot will have noticed that Binkley's dad's new Subaru has been surreptitiously transformed into a turtle tank, ostensibly by Ukrainians. Or maybe it hasn't; the only person who sees the turtles is Binkley's dad himself, with possible corroboration by a talking penguin that wears a bow tie. It could all be a dream. Anyway, here's a vid of some Russian rednecks demonstrating the transformation, albeit on a Lada rather than a Subaru, and without the turtles. Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Terrible incident yesterday-lunchtime at Rancho San Antonio, with details notably lacking. One version of the story here. Quick summary: someone drove a car around the park and/or preserve, hitting two pedestrians in different locations and killing one; a suspect is in custody, accused of murder. Few other details have been released at this point, including any hint as to the identities of the suspect and victims (though one report mentions, not necessarily correctly, "his car"). It seems the press is cooperating with the authorities to keep all further details quiet - lunchtime at Rancho, there must have been hundreds of people present, and several dozen actual witnesses, but the only possibly-witness interview I saw had the announcer talking over the maybe-witness most of the time, and all that was audible in the published clip was a non-specific comment about how this was a terrible thing to happen in a popular, family-friendly place. We shall see what develops... or shall we?... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Quoted here: "I believe that any weapon that can be used to hunt individuals should be banned," announced Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall M. Brackney in the hearing. So... bows, knives, pointèd sticks? Bits of string? Machetes, obviously. And any combination of socks and coins. Also lumber and plumbing, and the big brown table down at the police station. Next thing, the coppers will be boasting of confiscating a rusty spoon. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
It's International Blasphemy Day! And, being as how I'm still in California, here's some blasphemy against the dominant religion. Politicians are of the same substance as other mortals. Obama is no god, and Trump is no devil, nor (for those of the minority cult) vice-versa. Zero-sum economics is inevitably a negative-sum game. Wealth and money are not the same thing. The State can print money; it can't print wealth. Any power that can be abused, will be abused, especially if those who wield it are above the law. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Not that I frequent such establishments myself, but I've been hearing that many mainstream churches have morphed into Sunday-morning social clubs, with a uniform message that all lifestyles and beliefs are equally fine. No surprise, then, that so many people are turning to other options for their dose of 24/7 religious fervor, hellfire-and-damnation sermons, prescriptions for penitence, and all the rest. Thing is: the old churches generally had stable doctrines. Something to do with having written scripture, and teaching kids to read so they could study it. The new ones? The doctrines are seldom even explicitly stated, and always subject to change. Priests and oracles proclaim new Truths several times a day, and these Truths must be accepted uncritically: there must be no examination of them to determine how they square with established doctrine, or how and why doctrine must be revised. That way lies madness. And not just ordinary madness, but civilizational madness. Heinlein's Crazy Years, as Insty says.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2019 at Silicon Valley Redneck