the customer is always

Can I just say that the audio department of Long & McQuade at Ossington & Bloor is easily the worst sales experience possible? Not merely did the assistant (in the loosest possible sense) doubt the availability of an item that I’d previously confirmed with the distributor as being sold by L&M, but when I queried the go-away-and-leave-me-alone price he quoted, he aggressively queried where I’d seen a better price.

Sorry, but you’ve lost a sale. You may have lost me as a customer.

Update:  I just got a Canadian price from RVA which is at least $20 less than the US web price that the loser in L&M said wasn’t possible. A-ha ha, you suck, Long & McQuade!

a good day

Lots of walking today. Went to the Vancouver Aquarium – which is beyond nifty; they even had some Corys, even though I’m supposed to mention the sea otters and belugas. Then I took a long walk through town, ostensibly heading to MEC. The Van MEC is huge!

I walked about half the way back to the hotel. This was probably far. My feet hurt.

“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.

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.

penticentenary (if that’s the right word)

I’ve been driving for 20 years. Seems a long time since I took that Mini Metro (which stank of Insignia aftershave – the instructor used it to clean the glass) from the BSM depot in
Pollokshields and puttered around the south side.

No speeding tickets, no parking tickets, and only one insurance claim. The insurers must be making a fortune from me.

Dexit® INSTEAD? No, Dexit is dead

dexit tag

I see that the number of Dexit terminals has reduced to almost nothing, and now they’re offering refunds of outstanding balance. Looks like it’s dead.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Dexit. It was almost a great idea, but offered no significant advantage over cash from the bank machine. I wonder how long it will be before you can buy the old terminals in Active Surplus?

computer joy

Uhoh, there’s a huge Canada Computers opening just up the road; next to this sign, in fact. I’m glad I no longer commute past it; the temptation would be too strong.

house concert!

We went to a house concert last night to hear Chris Coole & Erynn Marshall play some Kentucky duets. Erynn’s back from BC to record with Chris; today’s a long day in the studio.

Great music, nice venue, excellent evening. Maybe we’ll eventually get enough money to buy Chris a new banjo head; his current one looks stricken with some dread skin disease …

boo {gerund} hoo

[Rick Ciarnello, president of the Vancouver Hells Angels chapter] claims he has been treated rudely by his local supermarket staff, and he says many people are no longer friendly toward him, and instead fear him or avoid him altogether.

Hells Angel says he feels shunned.

east coast, but further west

Strange to think that I’m on the east coast, but actually further west than home in Toronto. That whole curving away to the Gulf of Mexico thing will get you if you’re not careful.

The strange thing is, if you take my current longitude, and the latitude of our house, you get a point near Rte 16 near Brussels, ON that I’ve been through on the way back from the wind farm. That’s like, y’know, stuff, and some like other stuff too, whoah!

people are stupid

There’s going to be some ranting here, so I advise folks to look at this nice picture of a monarch butterfly I took at Bluffer’s Park today, and move along:

monarch butterfly - spotty!

In the park there was a gull that wasn’t moving like the others. I got close to it, and discovered there was a large fishing lure lodged through its beak. I had no way of helping it, and a nearby parks crew couldn’t do anything either. It could fly, just, but the big lure slowed it down, and the trailing fishing line mad it stumble.
I know gulls are often seen as nuisance birds, but no animal deserved
this fate. There’s no fishing and no kite flying in this park because there are so many birds. I’m angry that someone could be so thoughtless.

There’s a picture below the fold. You probably don’t want to see it.

Continue reading “people are stupid”

convert an angle to a bearing in excel

I can’t believe I had difficulty with this one for so long:

 =MOD(450-angle,360)
This assumes you’re measuring the angle in the usual Cartesian way; anticlockwise from the x-axis.

I’ll be your terrorist for the evening…

I’m at YYZ, and despite the Canadian passport, I’m still Mr Designated Searched Guy. Thought that the passport might’ve changed things, but no. Sigh…

It does mean I no longer have to do those dumb visa waiver things, yay!

And it didn’t help that part of one of the lighting panels started to fall off inside the cabin before takeoff, so we had to taxi back, get it fixed, and head back out an hour later. Gotta love Air Canada.

big big blades

Visiting Siemens’ factory in Aalborg, we saw the blade fabrication process. I was pleasantly surprised to discovered that a major component of their blades is balsa wood, which, when combined with clear glass fibre and epoxy, makes a lovely organic-looking surface. It’s a shame that they have to be painted, but environmental degradation will always get ya in the end.

These blades are big:

Siemens B45 blade being loaded on a truck

The above is a 45m blade being loaded onto a truck.

big blades in the yard

Here is a bunch of 45m blades waiting to be finished and painted. You’ll note that there’s still some mould flash on the edge of the blade; that gets ground off. The submarine-like thing on the right is the truly colossal Siemens B52 blade (as a lifelong fan of Kate, Cindy, Ricky, Keith and Fred, the name alone made me happy, even if I knew it denoted a 52m blade). It was so large our entire party managed to stand inside the blade root, with no stooping required.