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:
   chickens of industrial society
Wednesday, April 9 2008
Being yet another beautiful spring day, I spent most of it going up and down the ladder to the solar deck. I had a copper pipe interconnect to fix, but once it was in, I funnelled a couple gallons of antifreeze into the top of the solar loop and switched on the pump. Having not drained the solar loop completely, I'd avoided a problem common to revisions of my solar array — bubbles trapped in high spots where the pipes traverse the laboratory. As air purged from high in the system, I watched the progress of the hot water from the basement (which has several digital thermometers probing places in the plumbing. Everything seemed to be working splendidly, although my Arduino-based solar sufficiency controller, which is now connected to a different make of thermistor in the panel, seemed to be reading a somewhat inaccurate temperature from the panel. It was something that would be easiest to correct in the controller's software.

I went to Woodstock this afternoon to install Windows XP and Microsoft Word on an Eee PC, the new subnotebook manufactured by Asus. I'd read reviews of the Eee PC and it seemed to have what I consider a near-perfect form factor for a portable computer. For years, such tiny notebooks have been possible (and even available, but only in Japan and Europe). When I first heard about the Eee PC, my first thought was "great" and my second was, "why did you wait so long?" When this client had solicited me for suggestions for a small portable notebook, I'd mentioned the Eee PC. So here I was in Woodstock, giving it an operating system he wouldn't have to learn. The Eee PC comes with some flavor of Linux (I think it's the first mainstream general-purpose consumer operating systems based on Linux), and this accounts for its low price. Happily, though, a stock Eee PC will accept a WindowsXP install with room left over for Microsoft Word. It only has two gigabytes of flash memory "hard drive," so you can't add much more than that. Because I wasn't installing any antiviral software, I thought it prudent to replace Internet Explorer 6.0 with Firefox 3.0beta.
Perhaps the only major downside of the Eee PC is the smallish size of its keyboard, which might be a tad small for a touch typist. For the likes of me and this particular client, though, the keyboard was fine. Though both of us write a lot (he's a journalist for a British newspaper), neither of us touch type. I normally use two fingers on my left hand, the index finger of my right hand, and my right thumb for the space bar. I don't have to look at my fingers to type. Both of us have independently arrived at the theory that typing this way is a good way to avoid the carpal tunnel syndrome that affects those who more systematically.
As I worked on the Eee PC, the client, his teenage son, and some of his son's teenage friends were loading up a moving van with furniture and other household items to be crated and shipped to an island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. The client had recently bought himself a house there, which he thinks will be a good place to retire as the various chickens of industrial society come home to roost. He has repeatedly expressed interest in installing some sort of solar hot water heating system in his carribean house, which shouldn't be difficult in that climate.

Possibly coincident with the coming of warm weather (today was the day I finally turned off the boiler for the season), Wilma the cat has been expanding her territory into regions she had abandoned back in October. For the first time in months, she joined Gretchen in the first floor office, jumping up on the table and sitting beside the keyboard. She also came up the stairs and walked around in the teevee room briefly until she saw Stripey (aka Julius) and fled down the stairs in terror.

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