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:
   like driving in a hurricane
Saturday, February 25 2017
Today was even warmer than yesterday, though still the snow persisted in a few places around our house (which is in something of a local frost pocket). Gretchen was still feeling ill from whatever had plagued her on the flight back from Mexico, so I took the dogs for their walk this morning in the forest. I brought my camera in case there was something interesting to photograph, and there was: huge V-shaped flocks of geese many thousands of feet overhead heading northward. But of course I'd forgotten to put an SD card in my camera. It has built-in memory, but fumbling through the menus to erase whatever is filling that tokk just enough time for the geese to disappear from view.
Jacked up on Saturday morning coffee, I installed the interior trim around the new french doors in Gretchen's basement library. This required me to notch out spaces for all six of the hinges (a task best done with an oscillating tool), and everything ended up fitting together fairly well except for one of the mitered corners. But that's what caulk is for.
I then turned my attention to the door secondary door from the library to the hallway. It's the one that gets almost no use and that had been occupied by a crappy folding door. But as I was preparing to work on it, I realized I didn't have any suitable door hinges (at least not in the places where I knew to look). I'd done some research and discovered that the Linksys WRT-54GS router is actually more hackable than the WRT-54G, and I was eager to snap up the one at the Tibetan Center thrift store before someone else did, and the pretext of needing to get hinges was exactly what I needed for a return visit. While I was there, I found a number of other things worth buying, including a switch plate featuring a reasonable depiction of a family of squirrels (I would quickly and silently install it in Gretchen's first floor office).
As I was checking out at the Home Depot contractor cashier, the young African American check-out guy (I mention his race because, like Stewart's, Home Depot doesn't employ many non-whites) looked out at the gathering clouds and predicted a downpour. That downpour held off long enough for me to run the dogs in the parking lot and then to drive to Hannaford. When I returned to the Subaru, I was weighed down with a heavy bag filled mostly with canned beans and two different kinds of pasta sauce (a special request from Gretchen). A cloudburst must've already happened while I was shopping, though now it seemed to have passed. On the drive home, though, particularly as I climbed that hill on US 209 that separates Sawkill Road from Route 28, a fierce storm lashed the landscape, sending horizontal (and nearly opaque) sheets of rain and occasional debris across the road. It was like driving in a hurricane, something I have never actually attempted. The Subaru handled itself fairly well in the strong gusts of wind; it was mostly the bad visibility that had me spooked. Now and then the night would flash into a hellish momentary daylight, illuminated by horizontal multi-mile lightning bolts above the road ahead. The storm continued as I tailed some other car on Hurley Mountain Road. That car kept having to swerve around fallen trees and branches. They weren't big, but they wouldn't've been good to run over. By the time I got to Dug Hill Road, the storm was mostly past, but there was a great deal of debris in the road. Fortunately, nothing had fallen that was big enough to block my way.
Back at the house, the power died a few times but always managed to come back on within a minute or so. Had these power failures been the result of a tree falling nearby, the power probably would've stayed out. This suggested we were experiencing issues resulting from things happening at some regional power hub. After things had settled down a bit and I'd applied yet another bead of caulk in the one bad miter junction in Gretchen's interior door trim, I went to power up my main computer (Woodchuck) and found it wouldn't boot because of some problem with its boot partition. It suggested I run Startup Repair, but when I did it said my Windows 7 x64 installation DVD was incompatible with my Windows 7 x64 system. Some research suggested this was a problem stemming from the presence of another drive. So I unplugged the computer's hard drive, leaving only the solid state drive (SSD) connected. This time the computer booted up fine. And having booted once, it was now able to boot even with the hard drive attached. I don't really know what had been broken and what had happened to fix it, but I was glad I didn't have to reinstall everything from scratch.
I soon discovered that the house's network attached storage (where I keep all my music, movies, and podcasts, among other things) was unreachable. After some sleuthing around, I soon determined that the problem was the NAS hard drive's power supply, a simple black brick I'd gotten cheap from China. Those things are made with the most marginal of components, and in the past I'd had to replace a blown electrolytic capacitor in this very same unit. Taking it apart was easy; it was now held together with zip ties. When I opened it up, I saw the empty aluminum shell of an electrolytic capacitor that had literally exploded off its base like an overpressured hot water tank. There was a fair amount of fibrous debris thrown up against one of the transformers, and I assumed this had somehow come out of that little capacitor. I was so sure I could fix the damn thing that I actually ordered replacement capacitors on eBay. But then I took another look at the circuit board and realized it was a lost cause. A transistor had also exploded and a bunch of brown gunk had come out of a three-pin semiconductor mounted to a heat sink. Mind you, this power supply had been protected by a surge supressor and still it had been killed by whatever today's thunderstorm had injected into the power grid. As far as I know, that cheapo Chinese power supply was the only thing destroyed by today's electrical storm, though it's also possible (if not likely) that my computer's temporary booting confusion was caused by the storm as well.

Tonight it occurred to me that one possible way to steal a neighbor's WiFi password is to create a WiFi hotspot with the same name as your neighbor's WiFi hotspot and then just log whatever passwords are used when attempting to log into it. This probably requires a customized version of hotspot firmware to do, though the rewards (for someone so inclined) would seem to justify it.

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