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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
Just called in to a conference call. Ibex, Ubex, WeAllBex. Dial number, wait for prompt, punch in 8-digit code. The robot tells me I entered an invalid code. Wait, did it say the first digit twice? I don't think I hit the first digit twice. My phone shows the right code, with nothing doubled. Try again. Again, invalid... but this time the robot reads it back with the fifth digit doubled. My phone doesn't show anything doubled. Once more unto the breach... third time's the charm. Is my phone sending too-long DTMF digits? Was the robot listening for too-short digits? Were there line glitches that caused the robot to hear breaks in the DTMF bursts? (Really, a DTMF receiver/parser should apply reasonable timing constraints that would prevent double-hearing incoming digits.) Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
... the other Tuesday-ugh thing. I'd missed a bunch of voicemails earlier this month. Seems my phone had somehow spontaneously changed my voicemail alert from the mail siren from The Addams Family* back to the default soft pling! that's used every day or so for stupid notifications, such as Google Photos having found a thing that in some way resembles another thing. When I check to see what the pling! was about, there's invariably a stupid notification, so I clear it and don't dig deeper. ... Funny, though, I hadn't been seeing the voicemail icon in the status bar. Maybe the default voicemail app now has notifications b0rked? (Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Technical competence at Weimar Google seems to have deteriorated greatly the past few years, and it hadn't exactly been great in the years before that.) * With John Astin; accept no substitutes! Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
Most of yesterday's crud has dissipated, and if I sit up straight and think about breathing I can get my SpO2 out of the "almost worry" range and almost back to really-normal. Still having focus issues, but I did manage to get some long-overdue mowing in. It's amazing how out-of-control a patch of grass can get in a fortnight in August around here. Maybe I can do some thinky work this afternoon. I owe ToasterCo some serious progress. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
They did better at coming out of the coop Wednesday morning; I guess they're adjusting to life outdoors. As I returned from some midday mowing, I saw them congregated under the coop and the small folding table we'd set next to it, so now they've learned to hang out in the shade where the food and water are. I need to throw together a couple of simple sun/rain shelters: a 2-foot-by-something roof(ish) on steel-pipe legs should do. Then we can reclaim the folding table.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Ugh. at Silicon Valley Redneck
Mostly in zombie mode today. Got some sort of crud. Not useful for much. The chickens have decided that the coop is their safe place when it starts getting dark and the cicadas are baying at the Moon. Getting them back out in the morning is another question, but this time we didn't put any food in there with them, so perhaps by morning they'll be hungry enough to come out once the door is open. I may need to modify the coop so one of the walls swings out for access to the interior. When I designed it with the swing-up roof, I didn't really figure the overall height, nor the height of the pen's roof. So, getting to the interior by way of the roof requires both a stepladder and a bit of extra height for the anti-eagle netting. There was something else I meant to write, but that I somehow managed to forget already. Must be time... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
It's widely reported that the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago caught Trump red handed, personally flushing incriminating documents down the toilet, while at the same time being in New Jersey. Apparently he has the power of bilocation. And has never heard of a shredder, nor learned that some things aren't flushable. (One would think that someone with such a long and storied history of shady dealings would have long since mastered the art of destroying the evidence.) And one of the items seized during the search was allegedly his current passport, either because it was evidence of something or to keep him from fleeing to exile at his 12-hectare secret dacha outside Anapa*. Anonymous sources deny that any passports were seized, but apparently he has proof. I can't keep track of all the weirdness. It's pretty clear that the raid was a combination fishing expedition and propaganda op, creating vast new opportunities for rumor-mongering if not for the eternally-promised prosecution for... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
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The li'l dinosaurs didn't have a proper crew of full-time giants building it for them, so it fell way behind schedule, but 'tis done. Yeah, still many details. The wire that holds up the bird-netting roof needs to be better tensioned and/or better supported. I need to install the cover for the litter-tray slot. They need some extra little shelters (leaving the table and chair in there for them isn't really part of the plan). And I should add a few more zip-ties, and go around nipping the tails off all the ties. We got them a shade tree, but it needs a few more months in its pot before I plant it where voracious little critters have access to it (or maybe I can stick it in the ground, and put wire around it.) We finally put them out around midday on Saturday. They're taking time to adjust to life in the big blue room, but they are gradually... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Busy, busy, busy. Part of the urgent mowing done. Chickens moved to their new quarters. Chickens are very unsure about their new quarters. They have to learn about new concepts like big hot yellow thing in the ceiling, and hide in the shade to keep cool. Also, new adult-sized feeder and waterer, which are unfamiliar. They did attack the poor little grass sprouts for a while. Joy put them in the coop - they seemed unclear on the concept of climbing the stairs, as well as the concept of that thing up there is the new sleeping quarters. Having been put in the coop, they seem afraid to leave it, which is a bit of a problem being as how the food dispenser and the main water supply are under the coop, not in it. I had to make an emergency hardware-store run for a big long hangy-hook so as to be able to suspend a smallish hanging waterer (purchased... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Scratches. Sore muscles. Dozens of wasp stings (no systemic reaction, whew). More'n a suggestion of sunburn. After far too many weeks of building the pieces of a modular chicken coop in the factory... well, garage... Joy and I transported the pieces to their destination, bolted the base to what passes for a foundation, and set about bolting on all the other bits. There were a few glitches, but in general terms it went together pretty well and decently quickly. Then, 'twas time to put the wire on the fence. (I'd held off on that in case we had to resort to using the tractor during coop installation/assembly.) Two feet of ½" hardware cloth at the bottom (partially buried in the ground), topped by four feet of 1" chicken wire. Over the top of all this, bird netting supported in the middle by a thin piece of stainless wire rope held up in turn by an 8' pole at each end.... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
I know I used to have a file card, but it doesn't seem to have gotten unpacked. No, not an SD card. Nor a 3x5 card. A file card is a tool for cleaning files. No, not like BleachBit. A physical tool for cleaning debris out of the teeth of the sort of files that are used for removing small amounts of metal, wood, etc. Anyway, I was using a rotary burr, which I think was intended for use on metal, to form cavities in a painted piece of wood. It needed its teeth cleaned frequently. I ended up using a dental-type pick thingy. New file card is on order, which you know will cause at least one to turn up in a drawer or moving box almost immediately. Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Surprising what goes out of fashion, isn't it? Like the once-common flat-head Philips wood screw. They're included as bundled fasteners with all manner of hinges, latches, and so on... but should you need a different length, or find that one of the made-in-China provided screws is defective, good luck finding what you need at the corner hardware store, or the big home-improvement center. Heck, good luck even finding the category. The new hotness for fastening bits of wood together is the deck screw and variations thereof. Which, indeed, is technically superior to the old-fashioned wood screw, but they're not made in small sizes, nor short lengths, besides which the head geometry is wrong for those hinges and such. Ah, well. Back to work. Addendum: What, you may ask, can be wrong with those made-in-China, included-with-product screws? Well... sometimes the drive socket is clogged with stray metal. Sometimes it seems to be designed for a metric Philips driver, somewhere between a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Spotted here: Would the FBI and DOJ do such a thing? Aren’t they “above” politics? Above politics? The FBI? Really? The FBI has been political since before it was the FBI. Palmer Raids, anyone? But it developed a mighty public-relations department, in partnership with Hollywood, and so its public image these many years has been well polished - despite any actual goings-on. Start digging, and you'll most assuredly find a long trail of corruption. (LBJ, trust, pecker, pocket: think maybe the Praetorian Guard had a role?) Addendum: Mark Meuser expands on this crumb thusly: For 48 years, J. Edgar Hoover used the offices of the FBI to create political intelligence reports that were given to the president. It did not matter if you were a Republican or a Democrat; Hoover misused his power to benefit the president so that the president would ensure that the FBI expanded its scope, budget, and authority. Which sounds right. As long as the voters... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Israeli researchers have reportedly developed a method of creating mouse embryos from stem cells. (Also, they seem to have developed a rudimentary uterine replicator, making this a Bujold double-header in the works!) House Bharaputra is ready to run with this, and to take it to humans, proposing to create, in effect, clone embryos to act as perfectly compatible organ donors. Coming soon: full-body clone transplants, for the brains of the very wealthy and very well connected. Book your trips to Jackson's Whole now! Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Spotted here: Summers said: “Yes, wages did go up half a percent last month. But that’s about a 6% annual rate, and inflation has run at about 9% over the last year. I think our core problem, which is that we have an unsustainably overheated economy that’s leading to high inflation, which is cutting people’s paychecks, that, unfortunately, has not been addressed by the news in this report … So, I’m glad to see it, and it brings good news to a large number of families. But I’m afraid we’re still in the kind of unbalanced situation that you and I have been talking on — talking about on this show for quite a long time.” Er... hello? If the economy is overheated, shouldn't it be busily producing a lot of goods and services? As opposed to there being increasing shortages of just about everything? Apparently this is some new meaning of the term "overheated" which had previously escaped me.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Of oh so many to choose from.... Linkedin sent me an e-mail. Looked like something to pay attention to. I clicked on the link. Oops! Not logged in, on account of the browser screwup having tossed my cookies. Look up the ancient password for that low-security site, and log in. Oops! That old password isn't long enough. Can't log in with an existing password that doesn't meet the current standards! I suppose I'll try to sort it out eventually. Hey, guys? The time for enforcing password standards is when the user is entering a new password. Not when he's trying to log in with an old password. Yeesh. This is like the old "unable to open, rename, or delete that existing file because there's an invalid character in the file name" gotcha. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
The old saw doesn't just look beat up; it's somewhat bent out of shape, so not great for precise work. The new cordless one turns out to be, somehow, much quieter, as well as having modern niceties like a brake and a headlight. I expect I'll continue using the old one where power is handy and a slightly warped foot isn't a problem. Maybe I'll even disassemble it and have a go at straightening out the foot.
Oy. Thursday through Saturday were largely non-productive days, as Joy had a nasty migraine, so I had to take over some of her routine stuff and couldn't really lock myself in my office nor spend much time outside the main living area of the house. She's better today, so this is a catch-up day. I've been doing more work on the dinosaur hut (now approaching completion); this involved a trip to Hazard Fraught for a few more C-clamps and, on impulse, several cute little mini bar clamps (all of which are in use at the moment). This afternoon, Joy made a rather overdue grocery run. She reports that food prices are wildly high, and that the shelves are looking sparse, especially with regard to products for people on variously restricted diets. And, I'm extra sluggish just now because I'm overdue for a haircut; maybe we can squeeze that into the schedule for this evening or tomorrow. Joy has set about... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
That's a fair match for my list; just got the cordless circular saw, which I figure will be useful on the fishing-pier project next month - the corded one is 30-ish years old, and kinda beat up but still works. Also: jigsaw (used moderately often), scroll saw (not yet used, but it seemed like a good idea), cordless reciprocating saw (often useful), and of course a chainsaw. And a pole saw.... Sometime soonish, I mean to acquire a table saw. Got several things on my want-to-do list that kinda call for a table saw, scary as they may be.
Seen here: Unsure whether to get a miter or circular saw? Both. You need both. They don't serve the same purpose. Oh, sure, you can cut 2X4s to length with a circular saw, but getting the ends properly square is going to be a major pain. Actually, just cutting them is going to be a pain. A miter saw makes life easy... and can cut moderately thicker lumber, too, if you get a decent-sized one. Doing specific angles? Definitely want that miter saw. On the other hand, there's no way you're gonna carve up a full sheet of plywood with a home-gamer miter saw. A handheld circular saw is the weapon of choice. Or a bloody huge CNC router, but the circular saw is both much cheaper and much easier to store when not in use. As Insty says: embrace the healing power of both. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Inspired by a Reno May short over on YouTube, wherein he observes that a lot of people use 3D printers for making things other than guns, and that those other things are basically cheezy bits of fantasy kitsch.... I had a sort of half-baked thought of "Actualize your NFTs!", but didn't include that in my comment regarding what I use my 3D printers for. Then... hm. Back when home FDM printers were a new thing, I had a notion that the purveyors of plastic model kits would eventually distribute print-your-own files, and that some form of DRM would be demanded. I don't think this has happened yet. And of course I think of Magic: The Addiction Gathering, and people who pay big bucks for NFTs, and how a few years back people were wandering around staring at their phones trying to collect all the digital hallucinations in Poke Mongo or whatever. Idea! Take the basic concept of Poke Mongo, maybe... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Most of the garden not being very productive this year - any crops not large and aggressive got crowded out by weeds while I was tied up with sundry higher-priority responsibilities - it doesn't look like we'll be having a crop of, e.g., lentils. Which ought to be stupid easy to grow, but if you don't keep the weeds under control, even the easy stuff doesn't happen. So, maybe buy a couple bags of lentils. Er. Lentils have gotten scarce and expensive? Is everybody else stocking up? And it looks like a lot of other dry legumes are in short supply. Wunnerful. Well, the garden is spewing forth vast quantities of highly-perishable crops such as tomatoes and cantaloupes, and it looks like we'll get at least some meal corn and most likely some soybeans. Maybe some other kinds of beans, too. And maybe I'll manage to dehydrate some tomatoes and such. Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Chrome has been complaining for a while that it's in need of an update. It doesn't update through the normal process. So, I download the latest, and attempt to install it. It won't install, because libdrm2 is out of date. But! In the process of failing to install, it corrupted the previous version, which now won't launch at all. (Hey, guys? Why didn't the dependency check happen before making changes to the system?) Argh. Google won't let me download a down-rev version. But! I have a version downloaded in January of this year. I can install that, and maybe try updating to the last version that was supported on this system? Can install, yes. Can update, no. It points, apparently, to a repository with an invalid signature. Oh, well. So I run a half-year-out-of-date browser for a while; maybe next month I'll finally switch over to the new workstation. The January version does indeed run, and comes up with the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Current example: Obama alumnus Andy Slavitt tweeted that sexual activity being the cause of monkeypox was a “myth.” Er. Surely exactly nobody is claiming sexual activity is the cause of monkeypox. Current evidence points firmly to it being the dominant mode of human-to-human transmission, though. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
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So, with the USPS packages that were supposed to have come yesterday, plus the ones originally scheduled for today, there were a half-dozen items, most too big for the mailbox. I was worried we'd get a note in the mailbox, and I'd have to go fetch stuff. Well, five out of six packages turned up on the doorstep late this afternoon. The sixth still shows as out for delivery. In fact, it shows: So, according to this, it's been out for delivery since Monday morning, just a few hours after it was picked up in New Jersey. I have just a sneaking suspicion there may be a software problem somewhere. Update: The package did in fact arrive, well past bedtime but in good order (modulo a missing fiddly plastic bit; not gonna mess with a return when I can get the part for a buck and a half plus postage - and I haven't carried out a detailed search of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2022 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Thought of that when I was tractor-shopping, and decided against it - they seem inconvenient to get on & off the tractor, and to store when not in use (which would be most of the time). Considering the amount of use I'd expect to get out of it, and the limitations of the size that works on a small compact tractor, that idea fell by the wayside.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2022 on Decisions, decisions... at Silicon Valley Redneck