Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   failed improvisation for a truck battery
Thursday, February 10 2005
Doug, the guy who was our housesitter while we were in Ecuador, also had use of our Toyota pickup truck during our absence. When we returned he told us he'd had problems starting it on a couple of occasions. I figured he'd just been unfamiliar with the truck's quirky ignition system (the key can be removed while the truck is any state), but today when I went to use the truck I found it was completely dead. I'd charged up its battery yesterday, but it had proved incapable of retaining a charge over night. Mind you, overnight temperatures had been relatively high (a half dozen Fahrenheit degrees above freezing) and remained so into the early afternoon today. I'm more familiar with the pattern wherein a battery fails spectacularly in the winter's coldest weather. I thought maybe I could revive the battery in a timely manner by recharging it using the 12 volt lines from a desktop computer power supply, but for some reason this didn't work. So at some point I drove to the the local Advanced Auto Parts (the place near Uptown Kingston) and bought a new battery. I three choices: economy, silver, and titanium. No, I don't know why the economy model doesn't have an associated metal (zinc, say) or why silver and titanium are chosen to represent the better batteries (all of which use the metal lead). Since I'd chosen the mid-grade battery two years ago and it had already crapped out, I decided to go with the titanium model. They should stock an even higher-grade model for the fools (such as I was in this particular case) who will always buy the top of the line when given a choice.

This evening I took delivery of the NEX IA+ MP3 player, the one that uses ordinary Compact Flash cards as media. Devices such as these are almost always a little disappointing compared to the way that I imagine they will be in my mind, and the NEX IA+ is no exception. The little doors that conceal the Compact Flash card and battery feel cheap and are difficult to open (they seem to require longer fingernails than I possess). Once inside the battery compartment, it's impossible to remove either of the AA batteries unless you resort to some sort of tool (like a large finishing nail). And the proprietary USB cable is so close to the headphone cable that the former can be tricky to disconnect while the latter is inserted. One final complaint concerns a flaky connection in the headphone jack, never a pleasant flaw to discover so early in a product's life. Everything else about the NEX IA+ is as I would want it, and there are more features than expected. It's easy to navigate a folder-based directory structure to find songs, and when you're sick of what you've loaded into it you can listen to an integrated digitally-tuned FM radio. And when you're feeling creative you can record from a built-in microphone. Supposedly the USB cable can communicate at "super fast" USB 2.0 speeds (400 Mb/s) though (suspiciously) the only place this is stated is on the outside of the box that it comes in.

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