I enjoy technical challenges...if and when I succeed eventually. This posting may be a technical challenge for you, but watch me not care. Some of you may appreciate the information and that's good enough for me. So, if you're interested in homegrown MP3 music boxes, Linux on Netvistas, PIC microprocessors, RS-232, infrared remote controls, and what an obtuse idiot I occasionally am, read on!

(As always I also hand out the involved source code, which might come handy if you want to build something similar.)
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Mon 17.12.2007 13:30 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

From cryptome:

A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that prosecutors can't force a criminal defendant accused of having illegal images on his hard drive to divulge his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) passphrase. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier ruled that a man charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the Canadian border has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over the passphrase to prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to avoid self-incrimination.
[ published on Mon 17.12.2007 10:51 | filed in interests/crypto | ]

I have a new car (new for me, that is; June 2000 was its birthday).

 2007_12_16-subaru-side.jpg  2007_12_16-subaru-rear.jpg

As you can see the rego is "554 JTH", which I've decided stands for "Just Tell HAL": the car has a few very stupid gimmicks.

The first and foremost is HAL, the climate control system. It's a completely stupid FPOS and works only properly when lobotomized (aka non-auto mode). Asking gargle about HAL is enlightening.

Here's a pic of HAL de-brained, which is actually part of the major disassembly job that is required to install a car radio. HAL lives in that innocuously looking top box with the LED blinkenlight panel.


The radio install was...painful. First I couldn't get a matching wiring harness and had to solder up my own (cursing the idiots at VDO for mislabelling the ISO connector pins in their excuse for a manual), then I needed to make an antenna extension (the previous radio, a clarion with cd but no mp3 capability used an odd diversity antenna setup: there's two coax cables in the car, no idea if both are active - anyway, the antenna is in-glass, performs ok and one of the coaxes worked). Then of course the dismantling and reassembly job times two (because I ripped it apart yesterday but couldn't finish and put it back together then), plus trying to figure out where to put the UHF radio later on. Anyway, we have sound. And I'm in control of it.

The next gimmick I could do easily without, thank you very much, is the hill-holder. No, stupid car, I want you not to keep applying the brakes after I lift my foot and until I let the clutch go, I want you to roll. Roll, goddammit! ROLL! Do I have to push? ROLL! I can hill-start on my own (and without handbrake), and if I wanted such gadgetry I would have bought a bloody automatic! I don't and so I didn't.

Most of the other features are quite ok. What wasn't ok was that some idiot mechanic, wannabe or detailer had disconnected the fuel pressure regulator vacuum hose from the inlet manifold and left it to dangle in the wind: idle a tad high and slow to return on stopping, lousy starting behaviour. I found and fixed the dangling hose when hunting for the fuel filter (which this oz model apparently didn't get? Silly, as if this place wasn't dusty and dirty... And I had bought a replacement filter already, well maybe I'll retrofit it) in order to figure out the odd starting behaviour.

The 2652 pages of factory service manual that I sucked earlier came already very handy for figuring out where the hose should go. The result was immediately improved starting and lower/better idling. Very good.

As to HAL, well, at least there is the "Lobotomy, Now!" button. BTW, this is how the system is supposed to work; a fairly rotten setup if you ask me. Consequentially, this is how it actually works out for most Outback/Legacy/Liberty/Forester owners:

The Outer Limits Control Voice... "There is nothing wrong with your ACC. Do not attempt to adjust the settings. We are controlling operation. If we wish to make it warmer, we will bring up the heat. If we wish to make it colder, we will set it to 65. We can reduce the fan to a soft breeze, or sharpen it to full blast. We will control the vents. We will control the AC. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you feel and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind of the Legacy Automatic Climate Control to... your rarely comfortable body."
[ published on Sun 16.12.2007 23:25 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Having two credit cards is fine. Paying them off in total every month is even better. Using them for big payments every now and then is convenient. But having done just that and transferring the (large) amount you owe on one to the other account hurts.

The hassle to get your money back out of the overpaid account is...priceless.

[ published on Sun 16.12.2007 09:43 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Toasting bread conducts more than 30mA.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 16.12.2007 09:01 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Robert Scheck suggested that I get rid of a (justified) compiler warning in pam_recent by logging only sensible things. Here's the updated version.

[ published on Tue 11.12.2007 21:37 | filed in mystuff | ]

...bank, that is. I just bought this mobile contraption. Should get it around Wednesday. Test-driving it was fine except for the noncooling aircon which will be fixed before I get the car.

[ published on Mon 10.12.2007 18:00 | filed in still-not-king | ]

The QLD Transport Authority was (or still is?) running one of those safety awareness campaigns, with the slogan "Rest or R.I.P.", complete with huge billboard ads showing a white pillow and said slogan.

(see pg. 5 of this flyer for an idea of how that looks).

Driving up to Ikea and rob's place yesterday, I went past the driver training centre at Mt. Cotton, which sports such a huge billboard ad.

It also has a neighbour/vis-a-vis, which is announced on the road signs around the place in the same size as the training centre: the neighbour is a crematorium. Driver training turn left, Crematorium turn right. Easy, but don't you forget it!

I wonder which institution was there first, and who decided to show that particular ad facing the road and the crematorium.

Apropos billboards and coppers:

[ published on Thu 06.12.2007 14:44 | filed in interests/humour | ]

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