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The Sun Never Used To Set On ‘Em

19 Jun

I quote:

We still send imperial based tools all over the world,there are still old DeHavilland bi planes flying in New Zealand and Australia,we’ve sent whitworth and BA sockets or spanners to aviation museums from the UK to USA and railway engine enthusiasts from Darlington to Darjeeling.There are countless examples of British engineering over fifty years old still working or being lovingly restored in the most unlikely places.There once was a ‘Great’ Britain.

Need a Whitworth spanner? They’ve got ’em.

(Bumped into this site on a Wiki-wander on the topic of the standard threads for microphone stands. Here in the ‘States [and mostly up Canada way], you’ll find 5/8″-27 UNS; RCA was fond of 1/2″ [or was it 3/4″?] water-pipe or conduit thread. The rest of the world, claims the mob-edited encyclopedia, is like as not to be using 1/4 or 3/8 BSW. Since those Whitworth threads are, except for thread profile and angle, twins to the selfsame size of SAE hardware [1/4-20 and 3/8-16], they seemed a little light to me. And what do the Russians use?)

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>Overheard Instigated In The Home Office

15 Jun

>RX (Reading aloud): “Says here the new ‘Duke Nukem’ game is a ‘a festering irrelevance…that could only endear itself to the sociopathic and mentally maladjusted.'”

Tam: “I’m there!

Me, I am not so much a gamer, having been Baskin-Robbinsed right out of it back when I was a wee tiny critter and spent most of a weekend playing “Star Trek” on some horrible primitive mainframe machine. (That was the version with the torus-shaped universe, thanks to some programmer’s glitch, not that any of us knew at the time, this being before there were graphics or even color). But even I know reviews as negative as the ones linked above constitute a kind of seal of approval for many gamers.

Classic Book Review

11 Jun

I do not read “classics” as a rule; I don’t even read popular books. My literary tastes are more or less lowbrow, mostly Science Fiction and old pulps.

But Heinlein gives it a mildly left-handed recommendation* and, finding myself a bit stale on what I’d been reading, I looked for, found and have now read Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog).

It’s a remarkable little book; a bit uneven but charmingly so, a comically mishap-laden vacation trip up the Thames leavened with the author’s musings on history of the passing towns and islands. (It was supposed to be the other way ’round, but that’s how things often go). Published in 1889, the style and tone are remarkably modern and if you admire P. J. O’Rourke’s smooth snark, you’ll find Jerome’s a familiar voice. The setting is just about the peak of civilization in Britain (IMO), which may be food for thought.

As Wikipedia points out, all the pubs and inns are still around, and I believe most of the weirs and locks as well (to say nothing of the islands). With only a little ingenuity, one can recreate the entire river voyage on the ‘net.

I should not have the least doubt the book can be had from Amazon, via the link at Tam’s.
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* In Have Space Suit — Will Travel. No, the young hero’s first name is not “Wire.”

>Camera-B-Gone!

4 Jun

>Unk posted about Apple’s remote camera disable patent, to general complaint about jackboot-enablers.

It reminded me of an especially cute hardware hack, the keychan dongle that shuts off all nearby TV sets at the touch of a button. How long do you suppose it would be after the introduction of the camera-censoring tech that a nosy-cam version of TV-B-GONE showed up?

>Busy, Busy

4 Jun

>No gun show for me yesterday; I spent the morning at North Campus of the Skunk Works, installing a loaner (some “loan:” $1k/month!) replacement for Critical Equipment, along with the mandatory calibration, glitches and flourishes such efforts demand, then went to the Main Campus and worked until midnight. But hey, welcome to vacation season. It was only a 12.5-hour day!

In the course of the morning’s work, a conversation with the factory:

Me: “All the hardware is okay but there are still two alarms from the software that I cannot clear.”

Factory Tech: “Sometimes that happens. You just reboot the control computer.”

Me: “Um, won’t that shut the whole thing down? For a pretty long time?”

FT, jauntily: “Only sometimes! No fun when it does, though.”

Me: “Then we’ll live with the alarms.”

I swear, sometimes it seems like they believe we just have this junk in the corporation president’s garage for him to watch the pretty, blinking lights instead of it being one of the major money-earning parts of the business!

>Our Power Company: Exploding With Pride

1 Jun

>Once more, Indianapolis Power & Light had a wee little explosion in a Downtown transformer vault, this time chasing staffers out of the Statehouse.

This has happened again and again. Y’know, if it was my electric company an’ I had, oh, clients like Eli Lilly, the State.gov and bank headquarters as customers there in the Mile Square, I’d be thinkin’ about transformer replacement on some basis other than as-they-explode. As it is, it makes me worry about where to park downtown. They’ve never hurt anyone yet but it’s still no fun.

Gee, I wonder where the closest transformer vault to the Skunk Works main campus can be found? We don’t so much care; lose power and a big ol’ Caterpillar Megawatt genset lurches to life, carrying the entire building. The transfer switches occupy structures the size of storage sheds! Our lights blink and we dance the Reset Tango for those few things not on one UPS or another. The neighbors, though, they’re liable to have sweat in the dark as they fish people out of elevators and go home early.

Y’know, if it was you and/or me plus some M-80s or flashbangs creating sound and fury (let alone power outages) downtown, we’d face all manner of inquiry. The power company? Not so much.

Infrastructure: gotta have it.

>Seen

25 May

>At the Broad Ripple Art Fair On the Hidden Frontier.
How’d you like to have to peel one of these off the hull? Vacuum Mites!“Mites.” Yeah. Three feet long. Not common but usually found in (where else?) Linden/Lyndon’s planetary system. Supposedly an inert, “preserved” specimen. I don’t trust it.

Back on Earth, the propbike!Does it work? Is it dangerous? Two questions with but one answer: “Gee, I sure hope so!”