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!)

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Sunday, March 14 2010
Rain continued today, turning extreme for a few minutes after Ray headed back down to Brooklyn. I saw little pepperseed-sized pebbles of ice bouncing off the laboratory deck and thought at first that it might be sleet (since it's technically still winter). But it was 50 degrees outside and then I heard a clap of thunder. It was the first hailstorm of the year.

Inspired by the recent success replacing electrolytic capacitors in one of my LCD monitors, I spent some time this afternoon researching electrolytic capacitor failure. In so doing, I discovered an interesting story about the failed propagation of electrolytic capacitor technology. It seems that back in 2001, a departing employee of a Japanese capacitor company took a copy of the secret electrolyte formula and went on to found his own capacitor company in China. But the formula turned out to be incomplete, and capacitors made with the faulty formula were fated to fail not far in the future. Unfortunately for the purchasers of the gadgets containing these capacitors, that future was generally far enough out from manufacture for the gadgets to fail outside their warranty periods. Those of us accustomed to electronics lasting indefinitely do not like such stories. For one thing, they make us paranoid about all the hidden timebombs ticking away in our gadgets.
But then we start wondering about the dead gadgets we have that we haven't yet thrown out or somehow recycled (over time I tend to harvest connectors, switches, wires, and non-surface-mount discrete components from dead gadgets, though I almost never completely throw them away). Perhaps the only thing wrong with these gadgets is dead electrolytic capacitors. So I looked at a few devices, including a hard-to-replace miniature power supply I'd removed from a client's computer two years ago. I'd had to replace it with a full-sized power supply, bolting the replacement awkwardly to the outside of the tiny case that had housed a computer. Since removing this power supply, I'd already cannibalized it for a switch. But looking at its circuit board, I could see two obviously-bulging electrolytic capacitors. Perhaps that (and the a seized-up fan) were all that was wrong with it. I didn't take the time to find out, but that particular size of power supply has a lot of applications, so I definitely won't be cannibalizing any more parts from that power supply. Perhaps it can be fixed. And in the future when I come across dead components, I will look carefully at the capacitors. It's surprising that I've been working with electronics as long as I have without having become aware of this easily-detected form of failure.

For a variety of reasons, the only food I ate today was vegan BLTs. I ended up having four of them. As usual for the BLTs I've eaten of late, these included sauteed mushrooms and Sriracha ("rooster sauce"). Not only is eating them a delightful oral experience, but, somewhat unexpectedly, they also make my body feel good (I use the word "nutrished") after I eat them. Can your BLT do that?

This evening Gretchen returned from her adventures at the poetry conference in Washington, DC. She brought back a whole load of groceries from Trader Joe's as well as three bags of injera, that Ethiopian flatbread. She'd concentrated on getting products that are more-or-less impossible to obtain in the Hudson Valley.

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