stats stats lay down flat

blog stats for yesterday: over 4000 hitsOh my. This blog is usually a quiet little backwater, ticking along on a few hundred hits a day. And I’m okay with that. But yesterday, my astonishingly impractical QR code clock hit the front page of RaspberryPi.org, and blammo! More visitors than I thought possible. Are there really over 4000 people who read that? Cor, to use a good British comic-ism.

I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years, filed under what could only charitably be called “miscellaneous”. Yesterday, I got 2% of all the hits I’ve ever had. See the tiny little bar just to the left of the big one? Yeah, that was my previous best ever, with nearly 600 hits.

an expensive hobby

Looks like this amateur radio thing is going to get expensive.

The rig I was looking at — the Yaesu FT-8900R — appeared to be considerably cheaper than all the other multi-band units. It appears that it’s FM only, which is rarely used on the HF bands. The considerably more expensive FT-857D is the cheapest unit that will do 10m/6m/2m/70cm, which I reckon is pretty much where my interest lies.

Then there’s power supplies. Yeah, these beasts need external power supplies. Great big honkin’ 13.8V DC power supplies; about $200 for a rig of this size. Yet more desk space taken up; more cables, more clutter.

If that weren’t enough, there’s the antenna issue. I appear to live in a Faraday cage surrounded by overhead TX lines. Something’s going to have to go on the roof. Well, actually two somethings, as the chance of getting an antenna to work even roughly well on HF and VHF (unless I splash on the expensive and fiddly looking Maldol HVU-8) is close to nil.

So basically, I’m looking to drop a couple of grand on this. Eep.

In better ham news, last night I received my first radiogram, welcoming me to the hobby. Thanks, Paul (VA3PB)!

a narrow escape

I nearly fainted at the guitar store; they had a Vega Folklore long neck banjo on consignment — eep! After playing it a bit, I asked how much they wanted for it. Seems that the seller thinks it’s the Pete Seeger model, and is asking about what I can get a new Vega Woodsongs for. No thank you!

(anyway, two new banjos in a week would not be fiscally sound.)

cos even i remember when Orkut was cool

What I really need is social metanetworking software. I can’t keep up with what’s the right network to be on …

“It will feel strange …”

Leo Marks, on hearing of an old couple who died within days of one another, and were buried together:

It will feel strange
Not to nudge you
Or to talk to you
Or keep you warm
When you’re lying there
Only a few feet away
Or perhaps even less
But we shall get used to it in time
Of which we’ll have plenty

We always treasured silences
In which we said everything
We shall continue to treasure them
And to say everything
Throughout the longest silence of all.

 — from Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s Story 1941-1945.

spring (!) cleaning

I’m upgrading Gallery right now, so many of my pictures will be unavailable for a bit. I suspect (but I hope not) that my old deep links into Gallery from the blog will be broken by the upgrade.

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

eBay.ca: music tapes 2nd imaginary symphony /neutral milk hotel (item 200017937813 end time 22-Aug-06 21:04:40 EDT)

eBay.ca: music tapes 2nd imaginary symphony: one of Julian’s original CD-Rs is up for sale. Looks like it’ll go for over $100; eep!

civil twilight and the inexorable creep

Noticed that this morning was the first time that the street lights were on when I got up. Yes, those nights are drawing in.

deep fried jam sandwich à la mode

I just had a deep fried strawberry jam sandwich (with ice cream) at St Andrews Fish & Chip restaurant at Ellesmere & McCowan — and survived!

(it was good, incidentally)

Our server also had Bishopbriggs connections, so it’s a wee world.

the late b.p. helium, live at The Boat, Toronto — 28 June 2006

  1. (intro)
  2. crying*
  3. reminder to self
  4. they broke the speed of light
  5. fela*
  6. i tried to make it with you
  7. (banter)
  8. bluebeard
  9. rabbit’s ear
  10. the curse of the trial
  11. raisa raisa
  12. the weeping soul

*: These short titles are taken from the setlist. I don’t have their full names.

Info page: the late b.p. helium, The Boat — 28 June 2006, which also includes a link to FLACs.

The Edwards & The Feldmans

We now have fish; some scissortail rasboras and a few threestripe corydoras. Not the most challenging of fish to keep, but entertaining and hardy enough (I hope) to survive this impractical fishkeeper.

I’m emphatically not naming them individually, but as groups: the corys are the Feldmans (though may yet become the Doctorows, since the spelling is closer), while the scissortails have to make do with being the Edwards.

we’re talking fish

Called in at Finatics Aquarium (599 Kennedy Rd, Scarborough, ON, M1K 2B2 – 416-265-2026) yesterday. The owner, Mike Bandura, was very helpful for the complete novice fishkeeper. I think we’ll be stocking our new aquarium from there.

new connection

Switched ISPs from Sympatico to Teksavvy today. Couldn’t keep paying Bell $46 a month for something I could get for less elsewhere. I’m not (yet?) getting faster service, but the Speedtouch modem has all the admin stuff I’d need.
Must remember to copy over my old Sympatico web pages

… like the card game

There was one thing I hated about Rumo, and that was finishing it. Walter Moers creates such a complex — yet never serious — fantasy world that leaving it is always hard.

I like the way he’s not afraid to revisit characters from The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. Most fantasy authors are slavish in keeping their characters’ lives consistent across the volumes. Since Bluebear was the most celebrated liar in Atlantis, what do you expect?

a wee corner of Scotland at Ellesmere & McCowan

Serendipity: took a wrong turn coming out of the
federal building, and found ourselves in Scottish culinary heaven (which is not an oxymoron, I assure you). At the corner of Ellesmere & McCowan is The But ‘n’ Ben Butchers; they sell all sort of quality Scottish foods. So far, we’ve sampled and can approve their butcher’s pies, plain bread and empire biscuits. They’ve also got a supply of UK Heinz Beans, which knock the gummy North American beans into a cocked hat.
Next door but one is St Andrews Fish & Chips. They’re amazing. I think the chips (hand cut, of course) are deep fried in some unhealthy, but tasty, animal byproduct. And they have Irn Bru, too …

In Edmonton, but no thanks to WorstJet

Edmonton: view from my hotel

Jet lag, lack of sleep, and a whole day of company orientation isn’t doing much for my clarity of thought right now. What I need is steak and beer.

Last night’s flight was supposed to get in at 10:30, but what with WestJet‘s faffing around, we got in well after midnight. It was about 1am (or 03:00, Toronto time) before I got settled in the hotel room.

I’ve never been in a city with trolley buses before. Guess I can’t say that any more. It’s also the furthest west I’ve ever been.
I wonder if the snow drawing below (as seen from my hotel window) is supposed to be a hometown homage to Bob The Angry Flower?

hometown homage to Bob?

everything old is new again: clean coal

Clean coal seems to be in vogue, but when I read about it, I thought — hang on, isn’t this just the old town gas technology?

I’m guessing the new clean coal guys don’t want us to know about the old town gasworks in the UK, most of which still have toxic wastes lurking deep down.