an engineer is me (almost)

I passed the PPE. Now all I need to do is prove that I have engineering experience, and I’ll be able to have a licence to practice engineering. The Engineering Council thought I had enough experience to be a CEng back in 2001, but engineering fundamentals are so different here in Ontario.

You know you’ve been studying engineering law too much when …

… you think that you’d want to start a band called The Tortfeasors, with stage names derived from precedents: Hedley Byrne, Rivtow Marine, Junior Books, Donoghue Stevenson, Lambert V. Lastoplex

Then you realise that would be a bad idea. On every level. Not least that I wouldn’t know what to do in (or with) a band.

I’m resitting the legal part of my PPE for the PEO next Saturday. Was somewhat taken aback when I heard I’d failed it first time, but now studying again, and seeing my notes and sample answers from last time — what, if anything, was I thinking?

forget, forget, forget

Well, the exam’s done. With luck, I can get on with life now.

The gym at UofT where the exam was held was stiflingly hot. It also didn’t help that the invigilator dude made announcements through a cruddy bullhorn, so he ended up sounding like an imperative Miss Othmar.

Ask me how I did in  mid-October.

cram, cram, cram

I have my PPE exam today for my Professional Engineers Ontario licence. This is my first exam in 15 years (not counting citizenship, which was more of a test). I think it’s my first essay-question exam, possibly ever, certainly since school.

I never was very good at studying; last minute and aim for one point above the pass mark was more my style. I’m sure Catherine can confirm it hasn’t changed.

I’m learning a lot about Jessica

Someone on the GO train is talking very loudly at their phone. It sounds like there’s a disciplinary hearing perhaps involving the caller, and/or a Jessica and an Elaine. There are a Steve and a Val involved somehow, and the loud talker is discouraged. There are appeals and continuances, and Acts (non-biblical) are being cited. It’s all very interesting, in the way that spectacularly dull things are. I can’t wait to get off the train to MAKE IT ALL STOP – gahh!

fauxlomo

Portpatrick, with the Gimp faux lomo effect
Portpatrick, taken with a Fujifilm MX-1200 pretending to be a lomo

For probably no better reason beyond babbittry, I’ve always half-wanted a lomo. Half-wanted, that is, because of my previous experience with “Russian” photo gear (I’ve had a Lomo TLR, a Fed rangefinder, and a Pentacon six) and its legendary quality control. I’m also so done with film.
A while back, Donncha wrote about a  GIMP Lomo Plugin. While it looked handy, the link to the code is now dead. You can find what I think is the same one here: http://flelay.free.fr/pool/lomo2.scm (or a local copy here if that link dies: lomo2.scm). Just pop it in your .gimp-2.2/scripts/ directory, and it’ll appear as a filter. The original author‘s comment on Donncha’s blog contains good settings: Vignetting softness=1, Contrast=30, Saturation=30, Double Vignetting=TRUE.

I knew there was a reason I retrieved my old 1.3 megapixel Fujifilm MX-1200 from my parents’ house. And that reason is fauxlomo!

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.

very, very old school

Mac OS 7.5.5 Notepad

As I appear to have broken Catherine‘s ability to play Crystal Quest by upgrading her eMac to 10.3.9, I need to find an alternative way to run it. I remember running Basilisk II years ago on a very old Linux box — indeed, my ancient instructions are still here: archive.org :: Installing Mac OS 7.5.3 under Basilisk II on Linux, and quite amazingly, are still useful.

I found the following helpful to get it going under OS X:

ill-advised name, great store

BM-Electronics swapped my ill-fated nVidia card for a shiny fast MSI ATI PCIe card with no restock fee; yay BM!

They’re rapidly becoming my favourite computer store; they always have what I need, and it always does what they say it does. It may look a bit grubby, but it’s great

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …

Lansing Square hates bikes

I meant to add to the last posting that I got stopped in the lobby of Lansing Square and told that I couldn’t bring a bike in since it was a fire risk. Now, I’ve never had a bike catch fire, so you think the concierge was being a jobsworth?

bike work

There is something very pleasing about working on one’s bike of an evening, racing against the fading light. I stripped the ancient bar tape of the tourer, and started on refurbishing the brakes. I think that 1987 was the year that cantilevers got good, and since I have a 1986 Super Galaxy, the old Shimano BR-AT50s were pretty poor. New Alivios don’t quite have the finish of the old units, but they’ll work, meaning I’ll be able to stop without a full city block’s notice.

FUNtain.ca

Steve Mann‘s done it again: the FUNtain.

Though totally different in scope, it reminds me of a device I saw at a street fair in Glasgow. This was a bank of drainpipes, arranged in a circle. One end of each pipe had a pressure washer head with a flat nozzle played across it, and the other end was stopped at just the right length to play a note. The pressure washer triggers were arranged as a keyboard, and there was a (laminated against water damage) music book on the console. You could play simple (if very loud) tunes.

I’ve never seen such a device since then.

drinking with the wind

I didn’t go to the AWEA banquet last night, but did sneak into the GE Wind event (to which I was semi-invited) at the Andy Warhol Museum, and then on to the Clipper event (to which I definitely wasn’t) at the insanely ornate Heinz Hall. I guess you could say that place amounted to a hill of beans.
Caught up with Norman & David Surplus of B9, whom I last saw more than a decade ago. As there was free drink, I am slightly fragile this morning.

And so to pack …

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006

Clipper wind turbine nacelle, at AWEA06

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006 – pictures from the floor of the American Wind Energy Association trade show and conference, Pittsburgh, PA – June 4-7, 2006

AWEA06: by the river (or in it, nearly)

by a river at AWEA06

We’re not getting the best weather for the conference, but I hear that the coincidentally-running Three Rivers Arts Festival has had rain 18 out of the 20 years it has run, so noone’s surprised.

Conference hasn’t quite started yet, but the preliminary swag is quite promising; yoyos and balsa aircraft.

I spent the day in workshop run by KidWind, who have a school science kit for teaching the basics of wind turbine effectiveness. We got to build wind turbines, and test them. Here’s mine, big wean that I am:
stewart's kidwind turbine

I guess I got some losses near the hub there, but at least it worked. I was the only developer type there (there was a DoE person, and lots and lots of Pennsylvania teachers). I came away impressed, and hope I can work with Michael Arquin of KidWind to bring the project to Ontario.

(This post has the worst GPS location ever; could only get a fix to within 100m, so that’s why the map location appears to be in the river.)

blackberry lost and found

GPS is good. I was walking this huge field, and somewhere in the middle dropped my BlackBerry. I can’t follow tracks for toffee, but with the GPS track map set to high resolution, I found it.

i see…

Blue skies, crops growing, grasshoppers hopping, wind turbines turbing, blue-winged swallows over my head.

In short, it’s a beautiful day in Kingsbridge.

ants! Ants!! ANTS!!!

We were somewhat troubled by ants last night, but they lapped up that borax, and we don’t see them any more. It’s kind of a sick little monkey way of killing them; feed them something sweet that, when fed to their leader, kills their society.