Thursday, August 29, 2013

Growing the M-stuff

Note to conservatives - M stands for Marigolds

Everybody is admitting it - the young guy and the mayor of Toronto.  You should not just relax penalties for possession, since that encourages violent bootleggers, but it should be grown by booze makers, and sold through the LCBO.  The Americans will just have to lump it!

All the extra money should go to education and treatment, since this stuff is deadly when combined with too much booze, nicotine, and other stuff.  Just look at Hollywood starlets, and a certain mayor!

Now for my experience.

A long time ago, I was having my first depressions.  A family member had just tried to commit suicide, and I saw that I was going down the same path (it's hereditary).  With my first drugs, I was told no more booze, and I thought that was so unfair at the cottage.  So I tried something else.

I looked up everything on the Internet, and went to a sleazy Toronto herb-seed store.  I bought the best seeds that were reasonably priced.  You have to get a short-growing variety with extra strength.  The lights provided the most fun for a crazy engineer.  I modified a standard 2-foot fluorescent fixture with 4 T8 bulbs and an electronic ballast.  I mixed high and low temp bulbs.

Now, you have to elevate the plants to be always 2 inches from the bulbs.  The seeds grow, and eventually you can thin out the male plants, which are useless.  Soon you get nice little plants with gobs of sticky flowers.

Now, I had a problem.  I had no reference on whether any of this was real or not, since I had never used it.  The whole house stunk of it, but to me it was a delightful smell.  I never smoked anything in my life, so I dried the flowers, and 'cracked' it in olive oil, using an Internet recipe.  I put them in gelatin capsules.

Did it work?  I'll never know.  The stuff just put me to sleep.  Eventually, I developed big migraines every time I swallowed one.  I think I had one 'Beatles experience' before I fell asleep, once.  My new psychiatrist went nuts when I told him, since he was seeing numerous psychosis cases from this stuff.  I destroyed it all and used my lights for the fishies.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canadian Productivity


This is one of my rants, which may or may not make me feel better.  :)  Avid readers may have noticed that I have become calmer over the years, and I rarely take off in a huff any more.  That may be a result of age and good drugs.  Now, we can't talk about drug productivity for depression, since that is improving like gangbusters.

I have observed many Canadian companies and organizations, and you must ask yourselves "In what year are these people living?".

Era of living

Hospitals - 1940

Post Office - 1890

Provincial utility - 1950

Private companies - 1980

Banks - 1990

Most of this stems from the fact that nearly all of the economy is controlled by monopolies of market.  Many other companies fall under the monopoly of labour by the big unions.  Lawyers and engineers charge by the hour.  Non of these places want to improve productivity.

Can you imagine the fate of any bright young thing in a Canadian company who comes up with an idea that fires half the workers?  They are dead!

Once in a blue moon we come up with a big company such as Nortel or Rim.  What happens to them?  Yeah.

Perhaps I am sad because my bright young thing has gone off to California, along with practically everyone else he knows.  Their remaining friends work in the banks.  Can you imagine a deader hand on productivity investment than a Canadian bank?

End of rant.  Let in the new guys for cell phones.

Linux - making an old ipod touch work

Ok, this was one of my toughest Linux projects yet.  I inherited 2 original ipod touch devices from the kids.  They still work like new.  As you know, you can't buy a music amplifier without an ipod dock, and it sucks trying to just use an audio cable.  The dock provides power, and allows a remote control.

So, if you want to use these things, it is best to dig up an old ipod that still works.  Let the kids have the new fancy ipods!

So, after much horrible hand-wringing and cursing, I have found that you first have to make sure the ipod works by hooking it up to an old windose machine and itunes.  You don't have to do this if everything is working, and do not do it especially if you like the music on the one you dug out of the trash.  The itunes always wants to wipe it out.  However, I wanted to load the new firmware on one of them, but this meant wiping everything out.  The other one I left alone, since it had good music.

So, get gtkpod and ifuse.  Hook the ipod up, and it mounts automatically in a rather useless manner (camera only).  But, make a directory, and use the ifuse mount command.  (look it up!).

Then, amazingly enough, everything shows up, including all the music.  Go down the directories, and find all the mp3's listed (the directory names are too long to type!).  The titles have all been shortened to 4 letters, but these are good mp3's, and they are scattered in a bunch of directories.  The internal database makes sense of it, and therein lies the tale.

Copy up all the music.  You can never do this with itunes.

Now comes the nasty part, if you want to use gtkpod, and load more music on it.  As we know, our dear friends at our favourite stagnant company don't like people screwing around with things, so they lock us out.  If you love them, you should never have read this (or anything for that matter).  They lock you out with the database key.  So I tried countless times to sync the ipod, and it always failed.  The touch is especially locked.

So, find the serial number of the device by looking at dmesg when you plugged it in.  It is very long.  Then run  --
ipod-read-sysinfo-extended 49ddcab17d746a516f5f1a25c9f86c64adab09aa /media/iphone

where that long number is your actual serial number.  This puts a sysinfo file in your ipod, and can be seen under itunes-control/device, or something like that.

Not enough!  Then take that serial number over to get a Hashinfo file, and put it in the same place.  gtkpod should now work.

Don't forget to close with fusermount -u /media/iphone or you will be rebooting a lot.

Friday, August 23, 2013

M4.7 earthquake Alaska

In the larger scheme of things, this is a very small earthquake for the region, but it is in my favourite spot right now, so I'll make a big deal of it.  That big SE trending plate boundary is a strike-slip (transform) fault that has had 2 M7+ earthquakes spaced 2 years apart, marching towards the armpit.  So I have stated that I expect an M7+ earthquake right there, by the end of the year, give or take a factor of 10.  In doing so, I am extrapolating a straight line from 2 points, in an area of extreme variability, just like those nice climate folks.

Now, we can do this, as long as we have no money involved!  The nice thing is that it doesn't really affect the seismic hazard and risk much.  The whole place is under the shadow of an M9, and basically you are doomed if you are on swamp, and totally laughing if you are on rock.  (In the next 10 years).  It doesn't matter where you are exactly.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Runaway Float Trailer

In a scene somewhat reminiscent of a recent train disaster, Curly forgot to set the brakes when he disconnected the trailer.

Giant trailer at bottom of street.  

This started to roll down our hill, with Curly trying to hold it back and smoke coming from his running shoes.  Larry got the Bobcat running and chased after it.  It rolled onto a busy street at the bottom, and no big smash!  Were they lucky or what?  I am way too slow to whip the phone out for a video.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cottage Report - Hot again

Yeah, we can add another hot day to the handful we have already.  Not really super-hot, and the water is freezing, but good enough.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cottage Report - Frickin' Freezin'

Canada has returned to its classic 2 seasons - Winter and one week in July.  That week is over folks, and I'm sitting up here on the deck looking at whitecaps.  All the fish have gone, too -- blah.   Could you all just breathe a little harder?

I came up to do more work on the deck.  It has some rotten sections that need to be dug out and replaced.  Since I have my sore back, and I'm basically as lazy as the dog, it takes time.  :)

While I'm up here I'm thinking of all those ads by the monopolies to extend their monopoly in wireless.  You know where they are getting that money - from the milking of the landlines.  They had to reach down in their organizations and terrify somebody into reciting the lines the PR guys wrote.  They sure as hell could never have found a normal person!  We have to assume that Justin supports the monopolies since he doesn't say anything -- too bad, I really want to vote for him.

The price of wireless data didn't come down until the piddly upstarts came in.  They were destroyed by deep monopoly war chests.  Is a US company any worse than our own Conrads?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rigid tools come through on warranty

I was given a Rigid tool kit for Father's Day.  It had a drill, impact driver, and bizzare saw.  I'm amazed how well these tools worked a the cottage.  That plunge saw was perfect for separating deck planks for replacement.  And that little driver just melts the deck screws in.

But both batteries quickly went tits up.  When I got back from the cottage, I was directed to this Harry Potter-like rental shop that is an official service centre.  Two days and they checked and replaced both batteries.  I was reading that these new Lithium batteries are somewhat troublesome.

Update:  turns out they are getting very picky on the returns of these batteries - must have a lot of failures.

New Madrid M3.3 earthquake

This is exciting.  All NM ever produces is tiny earthquakes along the track of the old earthquakes.  I'm always looking for any sign that it will expand and come back to life.  As I have mentioned, the big ones sucked all the life out of the zone, in the form of stress relief.  In order for it to revive, it has to expand out of its stress hole, or the hole has to start picking up stress, much like a collapsing tunnel.  This earthquake is consistent with either possibility.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ooma IP phone conference call bug

Continuing on the theme that weird things happen to me, I got a new Ooma ip phone from Costco which works wonderfully.  Except on the bizzare conference call system that my wife constantly uses.  They had this bug before and it has re-emerged.  Must be a Linux system!

It took them a long time to fix it before, and I suspect another long time, and then it will pop up again (Standard Linux Thing).  So if you need a conference call system, check it right away if you get an Ooma, and return it if it doesn't work.  I'll let you know if they ever tell me they got it working.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oklahoma earthquake M3.3

It's against all my known physics of earthquakes that they stay at exactly M3 all the time.  This is edging up there, so perhaps I'll get my M4 after all.

Cottage Report - Hot

Yeah!  Summer is back!  Global Cooling is so yesterday.  Bring on Global Warming!

Expect false alarms for earthquake warning


Nothing much to say here.  The whole concept of earthquake early warning is really stupid.  Then you have to add all the false alarms.  Like I've said before, they are projecting 2 significant digits when they don't even have 1.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rain, rain, rain

My back still hurts and it has been pouring all day.  I feel being in a small boat in the middle of a rainy ocean.  Cottages are no fun when the weather turns foul.  Blah.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cottage report - still cool

September weather has come early.  The lake has gone back to being ice cold, and I doubt it will come back up again.  However, the cold water is good for fishing.  I went last evening and didn't catch anything bigger than my Rapala.  Very ambitious little fishies.

Vancouver had a nothing earthquake.  I'm still waiting for the big quake up in Alaska, along that fault.  Now, I have to honest about significant digits in calculations.  You see all those fancy global warming maps, which imply 2 or 3 significant digits.  That's ridiculous!  They always did that in the old company, and the regulator swallowed it up like cotton candy.  The same in Japan with their 10% error of tsunami runup.  People!  These calculations aren't even 1 significant digit (+-10%)!!!

Most of these calculations are in the 'Factor' range, which means up or down a factor of two, or ten.  That's log single digit precision.  But those that do not know 'Basic Physics' like to run with this shit.  :(    My estimates of earthquakes are a factor of 10.

The cold weather has got me doing so much work around the cottage that I had a back spasm.  These are horrible things, but you have to slowly stretch yourself back to normal or you are dead.  I used the sauna and the ice lake for the heat and cold, and took some pills.  Almost back to normal.  The extreme of what can happen if you don't keep your back disks in line, is what happened to a relative.  His neck disks  blew, and nobody in Canada could help him.  He finally went to Germany where they had to open his neck from the front, push away all those tubes, and insert 3 artificial disks.  Wow!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Global cooling crashes cottage market

Not yet, but soon.  After one warm spell, things have turned cold.  It's like an English beach vacation on the North Sea!  If this cooling keeps up, the ice won't even thaw for the summer.  :)  We're certainly getting a lot of work done, which makes up for all the hot years when we couldn't do a speck of work all summer.  Back to fixing that wobbly step!