looking at my life so far i'd classify myself as a facultative perfectionist, in contrast to my father who is an obligate perfectionist: i can (occasionally) call something 'good enough' and leave it at that (but i won't be happy), whereas he just cannot stop until the required degree of perfection is reached.

(of course there's also the dark side of any degree of perfectionist affliction: lots of things don't get started, at all, if you know or feel that you won't have the time/energy/whatever to finish it off perfectly and completely.)

where that data point fits into the nurture versus nature discussion i don't know.

[ published on Sun 08.05.2016 16:10 | filed in brainfarts | ]

This week I decided to spend a little money on new Blum cabinet door dampers for my kitchen. (The previous attempt using recessed Airtic dampers wasn't a total success, one died in the meantime and the others weren't quite strong enough for the kitchen cabinets. They're fine in the bathroom, where the cabinet doors are smaller.)

The upgrade also meant replacing the hinges in question: they're all Ikea-branded Blum kit, but the old hinges are of an older design where the damper doesn't clip on right (unless you laboriously file out an oval hole...).

13 doors (one large) = 14 dampers and hinges, and at just AU$5/pack of 2 (same price for damper units and hinges) I decided that for once I don't want to go for the slightly cheaper but hugely more tedious solution.

That's all peachy. The Ikea/Blum hinge setup has come a long way since my first exposure to Ikea kit in the late 70s. The swap was near-zero effort, just the usual bit of readjusting the hinges for perfect closure and line up.

However, my brain is not totally content with the dampers: they're great, doors close slowly and silently - and that throws me off! Not hearing any clunk or bonk at all makes me constantly stop in my tracks to check that I did actually close the door...

So, does inverse Pavlovian behaviour mean Pavlov would be un-proud of me? (At least I don't drool over my cabinet doors.)

[ published on Sat 14.02.2015 11:10 | filed in brainfarts | ]

my dear mother is always late.

except this once when i'd have liked her to combine two things for me (one of which is half a year overdue), and thought 'right, no rush, i'll ring her tomorrow and let her know'.

naturally this time she rings me first, and tells me that <long overdue thing> has been taken care of...

[ published on Sat 31.01.2015 14:22 | filed in brainfarts | ]
 chipotle 1kg bag chipotle 1kg bag

that's one kilogram of chipotle morita, smoked mexican chilies.

today i'm out of chilies. 8-(

taking into account the 100g that i gave to a friend, i have a chili mileage of 2880 seconds/gram. i'm sure that factoid will fascinate you beyond limits.

[ published on Sun 07.12.2014 12:35 | filed in brainfarts | ]

wenn man das schiache enterl nach einem stückl text vom ambros fragt, dann bekommt man als allererstes resultat meine doktorarbeit zurück.

(auch bei der elendigen bagage isses noch nummer zwei.)

das find ich recht lustig - und passend, weil ich den text im vorspann zitiert hab: bei der arbeit gehts um kooperation, paranoia und misstrauen.

[ published on Thu 25.09.2014 22:41 | filed in brainfarts | ]

(alternate title: patience, grasshopper...)

Recently I complained about the underwhelming replacement receiver, which my readers (yes, all ten of you!) might actually remember.

The issue wasn't just that it was doing poorly in stereo mode, but rather that it didn't drive the main/front speakers worth a damn. Next to no sound even with the volume at 11.

Well, there's a reason for that Sony box not doing its job - and I found it and fixed it. Poring over the service manual (yes, there is one and I found in less than an hour) after work today I thought Hmm, mostly digital, zero adjustments, few discrete components. As it's a deader I might as well open it up and look for obvious problems and/or gut it.

(For the youngsters out there: "service manuals" are magic tomes of arcane knowledge, hardly heard of on this side of y2k. In the hands of a wiza^Wstubborn old phart these can provide great enlightenment.)

Alas, no obvious leakers of the magic smoke presented themselves. So, after staring at the circuit schematics in the service manual a lot more (yes, I have no life), I decided that checking the power amp transistors and the driver IC would be Good Things To Try, given that the manual specified test voltages for them.

This meant a total disassembly of the box as you couldn't get to any of the test points from above. A while (and hundreds of screws) later I had it all in pieces. The transistors proved to be ok. The driver IC wasn't testable with everything disconnected.

A bit of online research revealed that these driver ICs (NEC µPC2581V) do run very hot, are not unheard of dying themselves and easily fry components in the vicinity. Sony didn't put any heatsinks on them in this model and a number of electrolytic caps were basically touching the IC cases - and there's your problem.

These caps weren't testable in circuit, so I started desoldering. Three out of the four that I replaced were cooked, one still had some marginal capacitance left.

Lots of screws later, a final function test: the thing works! Evenly firing on all channels. Hooray for being stubborn!

(Never mind that this exercise took me a good five hours this evening, and that in the meantime I had given up on the Sony and replaced it with a NAD T741...)

[ published on Wed 23.07.2014 00:00 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Two weeks ago my old, well-used and -liked Yamaha CR-840 receiver lost its magic smoke - literally: Sparks, loud popping sounds, and a fair amount of smoke - in the room, not in the electronics where it belongs.

Being the cheap bastard^W^Weconomical person that I am, I started looking for a slightly more modern replacement. This may have been a mistake. *sigh*.

In the end I bought a Sony STR-DE695 'AV' receiver for $70. Well, the FM receiver part of it is junk - it receives very little. With the same (admittedly lousy) roof antenna I get a quarter of the stations. Sensitivity, zilch.

And that newfangled 5.1 stuff? I begin to think that it's just a shorthand for "5 speakers and 1 sad sucker" . My much older Sanyo (mid-70s, 2x2 speakers in Glooorious Stereo) sounds heaps better than the new thing. What the Dolby PL this and DTS that and 'NEO' whatever does to stereo inputs sounds pretty underwhelming - at least to me.

I'd seriously consider to disconnect my center speaker (again) and just drive the other 2x2 speakers as two stereo pairs - if only the Sony wasn't so totally anemic when run in stereo mode...

So, am I in danger of becoming a total loonie audiophart? At 42 I certainly qualify for the Old Fart part, but I'm not so keen on the Audiophool side of things. At least I'm nowhere near ordering vegan 99%-fat-free hand-spun oxygen-free enchanted platinum-plated triple-distilled bespoke cables for digital transmission...

[ published on Mon 14.07.2014 21:35 | filed in brainfarts | ]

if so i'd like to recommend bela tarr's satantango - which is really long, very dark, pretty weird but cool. the minimal music matches the epic pace perfectly.

[ published on Thu 03.10.2013 23:58 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Reading the usual heartwarmingly nasty postings on the esteemed samizdata blog, I fondly remembered Cory Doctorow's story When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth (which you can publish, read, sing, yodel or even download here).

[ published on Wed 02.10.2013 23:10 | filed in brainfarts | ]

I really love Shorpy, a historic photo archive, not just for the often awesome large-format scans but even more so for the flippant titles, sarcastic captions and insightful comments (like the post's title, which captioned this image.

Or photos like the earliest pig photobomb, or the feeding time sign, or the subwoofer photo...the list of goodies is endless. There's also a large amount of great but very bleak photos by people like Lewis Hine or Dorothea Lange.

Browsing shorpy is great but wastes time like nothing else (except maybe wookiepedia).

[ published on Mon 05.08.2013 01:57 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Certain Lamas can live at an altitude of 12442m. That is, if it's an Aerospatiale Lama, if the pilot is Jean Boulet, and if it's the 21st of June, 1972.

Two days later I was born.

[ published on Sun 23.06.2013 01:11 | filed in brainfarts | ]

alas, i am quite sure that i couldn't afford the work of these gifted spanish woodworkers...

[ published on Fri 24.05.2013 11:57 | filed in brainfarts | ]

from boingboing today i learned that all of the OMNI magazine runs (1979 to 1995) are freely available at archive.org (in the usual multitude of useful formats).

the covers and layouts still look gorgeous (at least the pre-90 stuff), the ufo/para/nutter stuff is very much not my cup of tea but there are still some interesting gems in there (wanna see a mugshot of william gibson as a youngster or wozniak with really disgusting sunnies? i couldn't resist laughing about some of the reverse time capsules:

  • 1982's idea of fashion in 2001 is just as ridiculous as the real thing.
  • 1984's forecast 2000 predictions are almost all duds, but their naivety is pretty touching sniff.
  • what they thought of the home office in 2020 in 1991 is a bit closer to reality, but only in some regards.

apart from the weirdo stuff there's another really obnoxious aspect of this (and many similar) american magazines: "story continues on page NNN". ripping apart stories in this fashion and forcing the reader to puzzle them together laboriously is a very american sin - cf: ad breaks forced into films every 5 minutes, dvds with their unskippable anti-everything nasties and so on. no surprise that the modern unwashed masses tend to have the attention span of a gnat, and that the yanks overdiagnose and hype ADHD...

[ published on Thu 18.04.2013 14:26 | filed in brainfarts | ]

bei nachrichten wie diesen muss ich immer gleich an "die gottverdammte pleite" und "1928" von ludwig hirsch denken.

[ published on Wed 10.04.2013 23:34 | filed in brainfarts | ]

I don't watch TV much, let alone series, but this one I liked a lot and thus recommend: it's called Engrenages and it's a French cops and rob^Wkillers (cum judges and lawyers) series with a lot of bite. (It's got an English title, too, which is "Spiral".)

The fun thing about that series is that all the portrayed people are crooked, from the cops to the baddies to the judges and the land sharks. The good are often bad and nasty, the evil occasionally are humane, and justice is often neither just nor blind.

It's lovely, not a single straight line in sight.

[ published on Wed 10.04.2013 20:42 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Almost always when I'm happy about something I've finished/completed/done, it's just a small thing that nevertheless provides satisfaction.

Like getting rid of the really really ugly and impractical door knobs in my house and replacing them with levers. (Whoever invented door knobs never had two hands full.)

 old door knobs new handles

Or receiving my new Japanese pull saw in the mail and immediately using it to fix a small blunder I made a few years ago. My sister recommended a pull saw, and I really like it because it cuts much nicer than all the hand saws I've owned so far. (Naturally the local hardware shops didn't have anything but the usual crap, so I bought it from this guy in Sydney.)

 japanese saw

Or retrofitting all the cabinet doors in my place with soft-closing dampers (Airtic). Or diagnosing and fixing an annoying electrical problem with the car's power window. Or lubricating my bicycle until is whirrs. Or...

[ published on Mon 08.04.2013 21:36 | filed in brainfarts | ]

That's the sound of Sriracha sauce vanishing. There seems to be some hole in the space-time continuum near me, at least as far as chili sauce is concerned: the last 740ml bottle lasted me just under a week, and I don't really think the current bottle will go any further.

[ published on Fri 28.12.2012 12:01 | filed in brainfarts | ]

...you just spent more on cooling your computer than you ever spent on cooling yourself/your place.

It's somewhat hot today. The local weather readings peaked around 35°C (and about 75% relative humidity).

I'm pretty sure the desktop box is feeling the heat less than I do because I have just recently invested in a Fractal Design R4 case (very quiet and nice) and a Noctua NH-U12PSE2 cooler (also lovely). Neither were exactly cheap.

The three plain ceiling fans throughout the house and the pedestal fan opposite my desk are much less lovingly overengineered than said computer equipment but they suffice: I don't like air conditioning much (I seem to catch a cold very easily in airconditioned conditions).

[ published on Tue 04.12.2012 15:32 | filed in brainfarts | ]

On Monday I replaced the steering wheel of my Sooby; on the old one most of the leather was cracked and badly worn - the previous owner seems to have been a relation of E. Scissorhands...

Anyway, no big deal; the service manual has all the infos, torque values and so on, and I've got two very nice Norbar torque wrenches. The "new" wheel was cheap (from a local wrecker), the swap took just 5 minutes and the result is very pleasant.

But the really fun part was deciphering the overgenerous warning labels on the bomb^Wairbag unit. Those come in multiple languages, for some weird reason including German - and boy, what a laugh: it talks about the "Anzünder für die Luftsackanlage" and cautions that "Gezündete Anzünder können zum gefährlichen Wurfstück werden". :-)

(Sorry, but I'm not going to retranslate these gems back into English; let's just say that they're pretty good examples of the most stilted German officialese one could think of...)

[ published on Tue 13.11.2012 19:01 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Yesterday I sold my remaining 122 issues (10+ years' worth) of National Geographic Magazine (for one dollar), because I need the space in my bookcases and I can't stand the shallow and jingoist bias of the texts anymore.

Looks weird without the yellow spines on the shelf; I pretty much grew up with NGS magazines as my parents had a subscription starting when I was about three or four years old. I loved the magazines as a kid, and they were my prime reason to learn English early (the other was that my parents occasionally discussed things in English when they didn't want us kids to understand them...).

I still love the quality of the photographic work, but somehow that does no longer offset the nature of what is covered (or not) and how it is covered...

[ published on Sat 13.10.2012 13:51 | filed in brainfarts | ]

At least that's what I deduce from my Austrian sorta-life-insurance policy: that tome of hideous fine print states explicitely that suicide is covered. However, if you accidentally die while doing just about anything fun, then they pay a lot less. ("extended residence in unfavorable climate zones" is also only partially covered...hey, that's why I don't live in Vienna anymore!)

With insurance companies not being known for altruism and benevolence, it must make commercial sense to penalize the clumsy buggers instead of the suicide candidates.

But somehow I can't reconcile that notion with the official statistics...

[ published on Sat 16.06.2012 18:21 | filed in brainfarts | ]

For some reason I simply love to RTFM, if the M(anual) really is F(ine). This collection of locomotive manuals is an especially lovely trove of interesting (but essentially useless, to me) information.

For example, the service manual for 7FDL diesels lists all kinds of things that you need a pry bar for on this engine, like speeding up the engine (beyond the governor's limits).

Even cooler, though, are two-stroke diesels. Have a look at this clip of an EMD 645 starting up. A cold start and with the exhaust manifold disconnected, to me this thing sounds very much like a cat purring once warmed up. According to the manual that would be a 2300+ hp, 13 ton cat... Plus, an engine where you need a hoist to lift a single piston must be good.

Should reincarnation really be an option, then I'd like to deposit that I want to come back as a diesel engineer next time round :-)

[ published on Wed 16.05.2012 11:39 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Conny completed her pre-learners rider training in Kingscliff this weekend and in a few days she'll be old enough to take her theoretical exam (=16 years and 9 months). After that she can ride the Ninja by herself (in NSW) or with somebody with an open licence accompanying her (in QLD).

 conny rider training conny rider training conny rider training conny rider training

That's the bike she is sharing with her mum (for now, I suppose), a 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250.

 conny on the ninja
[ published on Tue 15.05.2012 11:09 | filed in brainfarts | ]
 protected sansa clickplus

Recently I had to get a replacement music player (primarily for walking and cycling), and I settled on a cheap secondhand Sansa Clip+. When I'm on my bicycle I want to have the player out of the way, under my shirt - it's on random anyway, and I never look at it. But I sweat a lot, and the clip+ has some unprotected openings (a mini-usb socket and a micro-sd slot).

My solution: cut a finger from a rubber glove and, well, roll it on :-)

And now for some Totally Unimportant Facts: The French wikipedia page on condoms has substantially more instructional pictures than the german or english ones. the german page at least prominently links to usage instructions on wikibooks.

[ published on Sun 18.03.2012 15:01 | filed in brainfarts | ]

One week ago: I detect a leaking hose under the bathroom wash basin. Fortunately it was only the fitting that needed to be screwed on a little tighter.

Sunday: the water filter (under-sink twin system, in the kitchen) is leaking badly. Repair attempts showed that the plastic filter housings had developed cracks and were about to start spraying water big-time.

Sunday, part 2: So I bunkered some 20l of filtered water in a plastic water bladder, just to tide me over until the filter was back in operation. However, the collapsible water canister has also suffered a puncture and leaked almost as badly as the filter.

Monday: I checked with the original supplier of the kit (7 years later, and the local company is still thriving, a good sign) and it turns out that the cheap filter housings that I ordered in 2004 should be replaced every 5 years or thereabouts. I ordered the (marginally pricier) premium housings on Tuesday, got them on Wednesday and all is well again.

I heartily endorse PSI Filters: they are local(-ish: Tasmanian), their prices are good, and their advice and customer service are great.

[ published on Thu 01.12.2011 21:23 | filed in brainfarts | ]

I mean Conny - who doesn't update her blog very often - but then neither do I. Anyway, here are some more-or-less recent photos of the bestest kid ever (most taken while my sister+partner+nephew Emil were visiting Oz).

 conny grad angekommen conny party-ready conny hiking binnaburra conny camping at moogerah conny roos paul emil conny nina sydney zoo paul emil conny nina sydney zoo paul barbara emil conny coogee paul barbara emil conny coogee paul barbara emil conny coogee

And here you see some happy fools. (Emil is at an age where most things are hilarious, I'm just a fool.)

 az emil treetop walk
[ published on Tue 29.11.2011 16:45 | filed in brainfarts | ]
 style contrasts
[ published on Mon 26.09.2011 18:26 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Saw this ludicrously impractical toy in the IKEA carpark two days ago, and thought 'now that's not your typical IKEA customer...'

 lambo at ikea lambo at ikea
[ published on Wed 21.09.2011 18:22 | filed in brainfarts | ]

aldi had cheap wasabi peas today, mjam!

[ published on Thu 25.08.2011 18:26 | filed in brainfarts | ]

It's 21:30, you've had a bit of the runs and managed to block your toilet with overenthusiastic usage of toilet paper. You have no plunger and an Evil Overflow Event is lurking. What do you do?
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 17.07.2011 16:25 | filed in brainfarts | ]

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