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:
   Arduino GPS success
Thursday, March 4 2021
That Samsung Chromebook I'd ordered a couple weeks ago never did turn up, and I'm not sure what happened to it. As I mentioned on the day it was supposedly delivered, it wasn't delivered here, and the Hurley post office claims it was delivered to a different part of Hurley and that the package had only weighed five ounces. Despite the parcel's having been delivered, I lodged a complaint with eBay, asking for a refund. They initially ruled against me, though on appeal they decided to give me a refund, the news of which came in this awkwardly-worded message:

Hello Karl,

Thank you for contacting eBay about the Laptop that you purchased from alero-6958. I understand how it feels if the item purchased was not received and you are wanting to get your money back. My name is Rowena. Allow me to review the case and assist you further.

Upon further review of the case, I can see that the tracking number shows delivered. We understand that there may be a possibility of the item being stolen. I also understand that you do not have a parcel locker. No worries, we will be the one looking on the account of the seller.And since you have me, I will make sure that you take advantage of your eBay Money Back Guarantee.

We do not want you to wait any longer. I would like to inform you that I have granted your refund. You will receive a $60.70 full refund. Rest assured it will be available on your PayPal account within 24 to 48 hours.

I guarantee you that this action taken is to make sure that we are able to take full advantage of the eBay Money Back Guarantee Program, thus we are issuing a full refund instead of delivering the item to you. You will receive an automated email about this. Still, I sent this email to appreciate all the time and effort you've invested in this case.

Thank you for choosing eBay as your online shopping partner. Have a great day ahead.

Kind Regards,

Rowena C.

eBay Customer Support

That caused me to immediately order another Samsung Chromebook for about the same amount of money. It arrived today, actually appearing on the bench outside the front door. It was in much better shape than expected, and my only complaint initially was that the trackpad was almost unusable because of the jerky, imprecise effect it had on the cursor. I confirmed that the problem was entirely in the trackpad, because the cursor moved perfectly when controlled by a mouse. The trackpad was so terrible that I thought I might have to replace it. But further research suggested the problem could be a mismatch of charge between me and the device. I'd brought the Chromebook in from unseasonably-cold outdoor air, and I never plugged it into an outlet. So all of its conductors were isolated from my charge level (as well as all the other charge levels in the laboratory). The voltage difference could easily have been thousands of volts, enough to affect the trackpad, which works by measuring capacitance. So I reached around and pressed my finger against the exposed metal of one of the USB ports in the back. There was no spark or feeling o shock, but the trackpad immediately started working perfectly, and continued to do so from then on. This is a very good technique to have learned.

Throughout the day, I kept trying different sketches on my TTGO T-beam, hoping to get its GPS functionality working. I'd never actually tried to do anything with GPS technology in the Arduino environment before, so I didn't know what the problems could be. I'd already learned that there are different T-beams that have to be configured different ways because they use different pins to communicate with the GPS unit. But what I didn't know until I did a Google search for "t-beam gps doesn't work" was that some T-beams have power management circuitry (something called AXP20X) attached to the GPS unit that must be powered up in order for it to work. (How did anyone get anything to work before the web?) When I added that AXP code to the car tracker code I'd been using, I finally had a correct-looking set of GPS coordinates (something like 41.93104, -74.107256). When I put the T-beam outside, it saw as many as 11 satellites at a time, but even inside, three feet from the window, it could see as many as eight.
Next I turned my attention to the T-beam's LoRa functionality. But that part really didn't seem to want to work (and yes, I knew that I had to connect up some pins on the T-beam itself to get the T-beam's ESP32 processor to talk to the LoRa chip). I was having so little luck that I busted out some Arudino-based LoRaWan experiments I'd done over a year ago. Unfortunately, though, only one of the experiments had worked, and I couldn't tell which one it was. The working one had used 915 MHz LoRa equipment, while the non-working one had been tuned to 433 MHz. Eventually I found markings on the undersides of the LoRa shields giving indications of their respective frequencies, and I was sure to write this in large Sharpie letters on their top-sides as well. This allowed me to eventually to get the old 915 MHz LoRaWan experiment working again, though for some reason I was only able to pick up the data on my Dragino access point's Gsteway Traffic page, not on the intended Application Data page.

This evening after I'd taken a nice relaxing bath and watched Jeopardy! with Gretchen, she wanted to try watching another true crime mini-series with me, this one from Netflix and entitled Murder Among the Mormons, about a series of bombings seemingly targeting people peddling documents from the early years of the Mormon church. This may have had something to do with the fact that some of these documents (such as "the Salamander Letter") were at odds with important Mormon doctrines. After watching an episode, though, we decided it wasn't interesting enough to continue, even though the mini-series only consisted of three episodes. I told Gretchen I'd read the Wikipedia article and report back to her what ended up happening. Given that I was such a junkie in the 1980s when the Salt Lake City bombings were happening, it's surprising that I have no memory of them.

Tonight soon after I joined Gretchen in bed, she brought up the fact that she had just turned 50 and how unsettling this was. But then again, as she put it, "If you live long enough, eventually you reach 50." What was left unsaid was that if one lives long enough, one reaches a series of ever-more horrifying ages until it becomes impossible to deny that one has become old. And being old is no picnic. Grethcen mentioned something said by an elderly co-worker at the bookstore, "Getting old is so hard!" Neither the quote nor Gretchen said how getting old is hard, but somehow I just knew. Getting old is hard because it's an escalating series of humiliations. It starts with the loss of being regarded as a sexual being, progresses to greater and greater societal marginalization, and then your body starts to give out. In the end you're forced to rely on the grudging assistance of those who secretly hope that you die. I'd eaten a fairly large nugget of canabis an hour and a half before, and having these thoughts while under its effects was not pleasant.

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