1
Apr
'15

From http://www.speedygrl.com/funnies/texts/computer.folklore.from.net.rumors.html

Another story, which took place on April 1st 1984:

I was requested to present Unix software tools to the Software
Workbench undergraduate course. After talking about grep, SCCS,
lex and what not, I described an experimental expert system that
creates applications by combining UNIX tools. Given an English
description of an application, the system produces user manuals.
Given an “O.K.”, it would go on and produce the actual
software.

The system was a success: it kept some of the students busy for
a long time. Here it is, reconstructed from memory:

#!/bin/csh -f
echo “What should your application do?”
echo “Type a short description followed by a control-D”
cat > /dev/null
echo “Working… here is the user’s manual:”.
/usr/games/festoon | some sed | nroff -man | more
echo “Is that O.K? If not, please describe what’s wrong.”
exec /usr/games/doctor

I’m I strange for finding this hilarious?

(Yes, I know the answer, never mind)

Geek line, do not cross.

More »





Some people collect tiny transistor radios. I don’t have enough of them to call it a collection but I guess I’m working on it.

The Ross Electronics Corporation imported transistor radios from Japan from 1955 to about 1970. They were located at 589 East Illinois Street and later (I think) 2834 South Lock Street, Chicago. As far as I can tell, there’s no relation to the Ross Radio Company of Youngstown, Ohio.

Here’s a better image of the schematic on the inside of the back cover (yes, there was a time when radios came with schematics).

It would be a mistake to expect good performance from a 1965-ish design running on one 1.5V cell, but the performance of my one is beyond mediocre. But then again, I didn’t really buy it to use it.

Mike has a nicer one, in a box nogal.





We have at least one copy of everything Sir Pterry ever wrote. At least one, because both Tanya and I were fans long before we met, and the libraries merged.

I discovered Discworld when The Colour of Magic hit paperback, back in ’85 or so. Been hooked since. Re-read the whole thing recently, it’s so obvious that while the author really wants to write parody, the Discworld keeps forcing him back into Being Serious.  And that’s the thing. While Discworld is light-hearted, the issues are serious. You can read right over all of that without skipping a beat, or you can take your time and realise that real issues are being addressed.

*Sigh* I guess we sort of expected him to be Cohen the Barbarian, so adept at surviving that nothing can kill him.

Alas.





12
Mar
'15

In 1982, Spider Robinson wrote a short story about copyright law in the future.

Copyright ceases to exist fifty years after the death of the copyright holder.   But the size of the human race has increased drastically since the l900s–and so has the average human lifespan.   Most people in developed nations now expect to live to be a hundred and twenty; you yourself are considerably older.   And so, naturally, S. ‘896 now seeks to extend copyright into perpetuity.”

But

“There are eighty-eight notes.   One hundred and seventy-six, if your ear is good enough to pick out quarter tones.   Add in rests and so forth, different time signatures.   Pick a figure for maximum number of notes a melody can contain.

And one has to conclude that

“Artists have been deluding themselves for centuries with the notion that they create.   In fact they do nothing of the sort.   They discover.   Inherent in the nature of reality are a number of combinations of musical tones that will be perceived as pleasing by a human central nervous system.   For millennia we have been discovering them, implicit in the universe–and telling ourselves that we ‘created’ them.   To create implies infinite possibility, to discover implies finite possibility.

Have you ever seen a cheerful elephant?

 

 





11
Mar
'15

Trust the military to call a Morse key a “Key and Plug Assembly No. 19”.

It goes with the Wireless Set No. 62, which was vehicle mounted. You strap the key to your leg so that you have one hand free to hold on for dear life while presumably frantically tapping out code with your other hand.

 

 





 

 

 





Is there an echo here?

The one in front was my brother’s car, when he decided to sell it I persuaded my boss to buy it for me. Nice car. Leather interior, just over 300 000 km on the odo. Goes not unlike the proverbial raped ape.

The one at the back belonged to a friend of my brother’s, when she decided to sell it I pounced. Cloth interior (which Tanya prefers), about 380 000 km on the odo, and for some reason doesn’t haul ass as nicely as my one does.

Both are 1.9 TDI, chassis numbers differ by about a thousand or so. They get around eighteen kilos on the litre, or a thousand kilos on a tank, whichever way you slice it that’s pretty damn good.

When I bought #2 I took it down to Barons in Claremont, got them to do the 5 gazillion point check. Mostly because I wanted to make sure the timing belt is OK but you know, it’s a good thing to get an expert under the hood, make sure there are no latent problems.

Yea right.

Fast forward a couple of months and Tanya complains that some dinky little car carrying four farmers and a pig passed her going up Constantia hill, and could I please Do Something.

So I googled it. And then I had a look.

Hmmm. That doesn’t look kosher. Lemme zoom in  a bit.

That’s what almost 400 000 km’s worth of wear and tear looks like. All the vacuum is escaping, leaving nothing for the N75 boost control solenoid, which means you’re now driving a non-turbo diesel.

So new pipe was acquired (from Nesco) and installed and things are back they way they were. Not great, but adequate.

I sure hope they paid more attention to the state of the timing belt.





21
Jan
'15
[root@mort ~]# uname -a
Linux mort 2.6.6 #1 Mon May 31 12:28:13 SAST 2004 i686 unknown
[root@mort ~]# uptime
 08:21:51 up 900 days,  2:10,  2 users,  load average: 0.21, 0.08, 0.03
[root@mort ~]#

Try that with Windows.

But they’re moving the datacentre today so that’s as high as it’s going to get for the next couple of years.





Ah yes, New Years’ resolutions. Gotta love ’em.

However, I have too much stuff. There. I said it. I mean, I firmly believe in the William Morris quote,  however, times have changed.

This collection of Elektor magazines I grew up with — obsolete.
A collection of GE Ham News that someone spent money on to have nicely bound — obsolete.

Byte magazines? Obsolete.

Creative Computing? Not quite yet obsolete.

And even if I can’t find it online, scanning and dumping* is better than storing the originals until my container is auctioned off one day.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m still keeping mountains of stuff. Just not… this stuff.

 

* Yes, Jason doesn’t like dumping. I’m not dumping anything that’s even slightly rare, so chill.





I suppose the URL of this blog gives it away, so nobody will be shocked to hear that I’m often slow to adopt technology.

So I only recently moved to Windows 7 from Windows 2000. You see, there’s nothing really wrong with Windows 2000.

What is wrong is that the latest ChromeFoxEra doesn’t run on Windows 2000 any more, and the latest Flash plugins don’t plug into the earlier versions of ChromeFoxEra, and the older Flash plugins won’t play Youtube movies any more because of a completely misguided opinion that one can make it impossible to download movies off the ‘net if you use the latest greatest features of Flash.

Or something like that.

And with both my home PC and my work PC now running Windows 7 (Classic desktop theme, animations and special effects very much “off”) it was time to upgrade the Mini 9 from XP to 7.

Google gives many hits on how to do this. But those websites / blogs don’t exist any more.

Fortunately we have the Wayback Machine, which saved a copy of multimolti‘s blog which is OK and a copy of Rick White’s blog which is excellent.

So I followed that, except that I used the very excellent Rufus to make a bootable USB stick.

Peeve: vlite is a nifty tool, but it needs the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK). Download vlite, 1.4 megabytes. Download WAIK, 1.4 gigabytes. Microsoft needs to take some lessons from Steve Gibson.

 

Vendor 197B, Device 2382 / 2383 : Card Reader from JMicron, download drivers here.

ACPI\CPL0002: Battery meter, install R192569.EXE.

Touchpad driver: From Synaptics. Yes, you have to download the 118 megabyte file for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, 32 and 64 bit. I guess it’s more convenient for them that way. And you then have to go to Device Settings / Settings to turn off tapping (which is the only reason I needed this driver anyway).

(http://www.mydellmini.com/forum/dell-mini-9-guides/2707-drivers-dell-inspiron-mini-9-910-a.html)





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