Macintosh SE Health Check

I had my dear old Macintosh SE out for a health check as I slowly extract my vintage computer collection from the (unconditioned) place I’ve been keeping it at my parents house to the basement of the place I’m renting. It had a couple interesting findings that seem worth putting online, including another floppy drive rebuild and a slightly elaborate fan replacement.

Continue reading
Posted in Computers, DIY, Electronics, General, Objects | Leave a comment

Why did a Banggood package I ordered on March 26 just appear in Bahrain on July 5, the same day it finally showed “Shipment picked up?” Did it just get packed into a container and loaded on whatever outgoing vessel they could throw it on to get it out of their warehouse, and it was finally reprocessed there? Is it taking a tour of human-rights-violating trade partners for sport?

I’ve had China-export stuff with possible customs issues get routed through the Netherlands before, but the other package from the same order had lock picks and came faster and more direct.

ED: Since it arrived, full path for maximum hilarity:

Jul 07, 2020 10:33 Delivered
Jul 07, 2020 08:37 With delivery courier
Jul 07, 2020 07:34 Arrived at Delivery Facility in ERLANGER - USA
Jul 07, 2020 06:59 Departed Facility in CINCINNATI HUB - USA
Jul 07, 2020 00:48 Clearance processing complete at CINCINNATI HUB - USA
Jul 07, 2020 00:46 Processed at CINCINNATI HUB - USA
Jul 07, 2020 00:38 Arrived at Sort Facility CINCINNATI HUB - USA
Jul 06, 2020 21:02 Departed Facility in EAST MIDLANDS - UK
Jul 06, 2020 20:59 Transferred through EAST MIDLANDS - UK
Jul 06, 2020 18:59 Departed Facility in LEIPZIG - GERMANY
Jul 06, 2020 18:57 Transferred through LEIPZIG - GERMANY
Jul 06, 2020 18:08 Customs status updated
Jul 06, 2020 07:14 Departed Facility in BAHRAIN - BAHRAIN
Jul 06, 2020 05:05 Processed at BAHRAIN - BAHRAIN
Jul 05, 2020 17:18 Arrived at Sort Facility BAHRAIN - BAHRAIN
Jul 05, 2020 16:07 Departed Facility in BAHRAIN - BAHRAIN
Jul 05, 2020 14:05 Processed at BAHRAIN - BAHRAIN
Jul 05, 2020 13:37 Shipment picked up
Jun 20, 2020 09:15 Package has been sterilized and shipped out.
Jun 19, 2020 08:45 Our warehouse has started packing your items.
Mar 26, 2020 00:14 Order submit.
Posted on by pappp | Leave a comment

College Advice from a University Instructor

I’ve seen a spate of articles pop up recently discouraging people from going to college in fall 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. They’re mostly from self-mythologizing startup douches and/or carpetbaggers trying to sell alternative education products, so there isn’t much of value in them and I won’t be linking.

However, talking about them has me refining and recording the advice I give to prospective college students.
So in that interest, a list of my usual advice. Which is very, very explicitly prefaced with the usual “Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer” disclaimer.

Continue reading
Posted in General, School | Leave a comment

Improvised Remote Instruction Tools

During the first week and change of our vast national COVID-19 induced remote teaching experiment I made some notes on practices and improvised some equipment that has proved useful, and seems worth sharing with others.

This two week period I’ve primarily been running lab sessions to help my herd of mostly-Sophomores do and get sign off for a digital design lab exercise using Verilog to implement state machines, adapted slightly from our usual lab at this time in the semester.

Continue reading
Posted in General | Leave a comment

SC’19

Even though I haven’t done any work in that area in years, I got pulled into the Supercomputing conference again this year.  Can’t complain, it’s always fun.  UK’s combined booth looked good this year

Far corner is a little updated TinyTitan style Raspberry Pi cluster with a interactive CFD demo running on it that the CCS folks have been playing with, that thing in the leading corner is a cute flip-dot “quantum computer” model we built as a front-end for a 16-bit instance of Hank’s parallel bit-pattern computing system that can do quantum algorithms efficiently on a conventional platform – set in the corner of the booth like

You don't need quantum physics to perform quantum compution. Change my mind.

He did surprisingly well with this approach.

The exhibit floor was even more dominated by cooling tech this year. Exciting finds are the coming of very open (Open Compute Project, Coreboot + Open Network Linux) white-box 100GBE switches at reasonable prices, Fujitsu’s A64fx ARM with SVE and obscene memory bandwidth parts actually landing in systems, and (just because it tickled me) pre-wired fully populated Clos topology 100G cable harnesses.  The other dominant species was AI woo; my body is ready for AI Winter 3.0.

Google photos album of my annotated show floor photos is here.

Posted in Computers, General, School | Leave a comment

Anycubic Linear Kossel: Unofficial Owner’s Guide

Anycubic Kossel on its stand

I’ve been working with a number of Anycubic Linear Kossel / Kossel Plus (whatever branding they’re using when you look) 3D printers for the last couple months, including one I bought personally. While I’m overall extremely pleased with them, there are a whole bunch of notes, fixes, and improvements I feel like should be collected somewhere.

Continue reading
Posted in DIY, Electronics, General, Objects | Leave a comment

Selectric Cozy

Bias-tape bound seams out looks better, even if the sewing job is obviously uneven.

Some months ago I decided I wanted to play with an IBM Selectric typewriter, and after some fuckery, obtained and started working on an example of the dual-pitch, correcting Selectric II I find most appealing. At some point there will be an extended post about that, but 1. I’m not entirely sure I know what I’m talking about yet, and 2. Too much writing at the time I was working on it. This post is not about the machine, just the cover I made for it.

Continue reading
Posted in DIY, General, Objects | 2 Comments

An Experiment in Water Cooled 3D Printing Extrusion

Scrapheap Challenge: The world’s worst syringe pump.

Or, three hours enjoyably lost to a visit from the bad idea fairy.

My PhD advisor and I were chatting in the lab today and had an idea that it would be interesting to try to drip/jet a bit of water onto just-extruded filament, ideally in small enough quantity that it phase changed and flashed off with all the excess energy, in order to allow printing unreasonable unsupported structures.

It unfortunately doesn’t look like it will be practical, but we got a PoC-grade implementation in a few hours and it seemed worth a quick write-up to document our experiment for the interwebz.

Continue reading
Posted in DIY, Electronics, General, Objects | Leave a comment

Bladekey Refresh

I’ve been carrying a series of slightly-customized 3D printed bolt-type bladekeys since 2014. Despite being printed PLA, I’ve only had to print a new one once every several years – I wasn’t keeping good records but I think this is my third plastic body, second #8-32 “Chicago Binding Post,” and I upgraded the type of pocket clip at some point. I’m yet to have a catastrophic failure. The setup essentially eliminates key jingle, poking, or wear on pocket facings, while still being easy to tap check and use. The only slight downside to this setup is that when I attach a car key and put it in the vehicle, the blade-key dangles at knee height and occasionally grabs a leg hair – if I drove more I’d probably tweak how I attach the car key to fix that.

Pictures from the first one I carried in 2014, and the most recent swap out, induced by it “getting loose” and letting the stack of keys flip forward in my pocket – which turned out to be the result of several cracks in the plastic body. Plus, flexing that the bitting and labels are both obscured when closed, which I suppose is a minor security feature, especially when posting pictures on the Internet.

At this point I’d buy one of the fancy ones just to support the designer, but my desired size falls in between the models they do commercially (I use 15mm W x 58 L, closest sizes are 12mm W and 19mm W). Maybe sometime I’ll get ambitious and cut one in a different material on the router.

Posted in DIY, General, Objects | Leave a comment

Server Updated

The server that hosts this page was updated from Debian Jessie (8) through Stretch (9) and onto Buster (10) over the course of a few hours today. It involved surprisingly little suffering and should not affect functionality, please let me know if you find anything left in a broken state.

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I did any manual maintenance here, apt unattended upgrades, certbot, and a few scripts for user-installed package upgrades and backup had done such a good job maintaining things just visibly enough to know it was being taken care of that I’d let it get past-due. Most of my other individually-installed boxes are Arch rolling-release machines that require a few minutes of attention every month or two, so they don’t have the periodic major breaking maintenance issue to the same degree.

Now I can let it take care of itself again until 2022 or thereabouts.
A few notes that may be useful to others under the fold.
Continue reading

Posted in Computers, DIY, General, Meta | Leave a comment