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sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets

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(no subject) [May. 28th, 2016|11:19 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The Lady, over in a big clot of high-level green Ingress portals near our house. I rarely see this during daylight, as I'm usually over there for a surreptitious midnight raid.

Trio of odd motorcycle-associated objects found on South Broadway while going for ice cream.

No front brakes! No muffler! No suspension!

No Adults Allowed!

Pure awesomeness. Reminds me of alrs.

Found on the wall of the men's restroom in a BBQ joint in the basement of a building in the financial district of downtown.
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(no subject) [May. 25th, 2016|11:09 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We're throwing out tons of stuff at work, which worries me. A year ago we had three business groups in our building. Then one got disbanded and everyone was laid off. Today, the other business group was disbanded, and people are conspicuously looking for new jobs. Headhunters are calling. Our group is now making a profit, a slim profit, after something like seven years operating at a loss. We're gaining market share very quickly, but, still, ugh. So, lots of stuff being thrown away. Originally we were under the impression that everything was going back to the main office and being resold as salvage or on ebay. We revised that impression when the recycling bins they sent up are clearly marked GOODWILL and have shipping addresses that aren't the home office.
The people they hired to come up and go through all the other groups' equipment are not technical. They have no idea what they're looking at. If it looks like a screwdriver they'll let us know "hey we found some stuff you can use!" but if it looks like some special-purpose piece of equipment they just toss it in the recycling/goodwill container. This includes $4000 current probes that work perfectly well on our equipment. They have no idea. So when the recycling dumpsters are looking fairly full we go through them. Today we saved a hundred or so silicon wafers, the raw materials of chip manufacture -- like, what is goodwill going to do with silicon wafers? and more to the point, some of them are for chips we're still selling, and we definitely do not want competitors to be getting their hands on the raw silicon.
I found three 24" monitors, all of which worked just fine, in the dump bucket. Gah.
I also found a probe card, that is in fact for an obsolete product so I can put pictures on the internet.
There are 60-ish needles that run up into two rectangles, roughly 2.5mm x 2mm. Those allow us to contact two dies on the silicon wafer and test them before chopping up the wafer into individual dies and packaging them. We also do an initial bit of tuning on the dies, calibrating them for later use by contacting pads that aren't available in the pins of the final product.
I think these are beautiful, not least because someone builds the pin spiders by hand. They have software that determines the length of the needles, but someone has to hand-form the needles themselves and build them into the overall mechanism, and ends up grinding bits off the needle bodies so they all bend at (almost) exactly the same rate when submitted to a bit of pressure. Otherwise they'd scootch off the pads where they contact the chips. The tips are all accurately located in all three dimensions to a 0.03mm accuracy or thereabouts. I'd like to talk to someone making these and find out how they do it, but I'm glad making these isn't my day job.
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(no subject) [May. 22nd, 2016|11:07 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Mowed and rototilled. That alone was about enough.
I also had to get my homework in for the power electronics class I'm taking through a local University via Coursera, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't get a single question right. It involved simulating a power converter and analyzing the results.
Well, after talking to a coworker on the phone, it turns out I'd gotten cocky and thought I was supposed to do all my work with the mass of files they had us download to learn how to use the simulator software. It turns out that in the instructions for the quiz, they'd included a link to a second set of files that I was supposed to use for the quiz itself.
So, that's finished, about two hours before the deadline.
I'm exhausted, sore, and braindead.
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(no subject) [May. 20th, 2016|07:14 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Lunchtime ride today, significantly more mellow than yesterday. No fainting.
I get frustrated with my body. I felt like I was at about 20% effort today, but my heart rate was like 160-165bpm. Full-on one-hour max effort, heart rate is maybe 175. It's like I got a turbine engine installed rather than the diesel engine most people have.

But, I totally got to impress my new boss. He walked into the lab to see how things were going and I was all "well, this is what I'm doing" and pulled a nice impressive demo out of my hat three seconds after he walked in.
We build analog chips, which means we use specific silicon fabrication processes optimized for stuff like conducting very high power. But we're starting to add digital brains into our chips, which we have to fabricate using analog fabrication techniques and processes, rather than digital ones. As such we're not always sure how well our designs will work. We validate them with software simulations. Then we get the real chips back and have to verify them with actual hardware. We talk to this particular chip using a multiple-wire communication protocol where one wire has a clock signal ticking away on it, that tells the receiving chip when to read the data line. A question arises: well, how far off can the timing be before everything breaks?
I wrote a routine on my test system that skews one signal with respect to another.
SPI signal timing skew, in 500 femtosecond increments
The cool thing about this is that one signal is moving with respect to the other, in five hundred femtosecond increments.
That was the part that caught my manager's attention. He had no idea we could do stuff like this. Here it is running smoothly on the tester, with an oscilloscope roughly correlating the measurements, because they're too fast for our oscilloscope that cost as much as a cheap house to measure accurately.
That was satisfying.
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(no subject) [May. 19th, 2016|10:36 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We went riding at lunch today, in an attempt to knock off a record on a fairly specific route about 30km long. In part, I was motivated by reading that some of the Tour of California guys managed to do a 200km ride with 3000 meters of climbing, averaging over 40 km/h. So I wanted to see how long we could manage that speed.
14 km. That's how far.
We did take ten minutes off the previous person's record on the 30km ride. It was pretty grueling, though. My heart rate averaged 170bpm over the 45 minute ride, with a max of 180bpm: that pretty much defines my all-out one-hour effort.
I fainted several times this afternoon at work. Full on walking down the hallway hit the wall and slump down to the floor faints, not just standing up and feeling dizzy faints. This has not yet become what thewronghands calls Type II Fun.

manintheboat drove the Spitfire to work today. That part worked fine. I had to recharge the battery and inflate the tires after three months of disuse, but it started right up and handled the drive in.
On the way back it got a bit smoky and she noticed it had no water in it, so she put some in. It got home okay, pretty much totally out of water, with the water temp gauge completely off scale. Well, that's actually okay: the water temp gauge is hooked to the thermostat housing, which also houses the air injection system for the exhaust, so it gets pretty much exhaust temp. The engine wasn't actually all that hot. So it looks like everything is pretty much fine, but I have to replace the gasket on the thermostat housing.
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(no subject) [May. 15th, 2016|11:12 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We are going to have house guests over the weekends for much of the next month and change. As a result, I desperately need to get some stuff done on the house.
I mowed the lawn, which produces about two cubic meters of mulch. It also largely wipes me out. A riding lawnmower is an increasingly attractive idea. Then I cut down a ton of brush that has been escaping, and scraped a bunch more on paint, and repainted a lot of the south side of the house and the area around the garage door. This was only semi-successful because light rain kept showing up. I kept hoping the aspirin/aleve would kick in. It never did.
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(no subject) [May. 15th, 2016|12:18 am]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Out working in the shop. Something tiny is moving behind the lathe. I thought it was a spider but it totally didn't move like a spider. I didn't quite need a loupe to figure out what it was. Then I found another, and another yet. Apparently there was an egg case/hatch near the door, and I spent a bit of the evening escorting them out one by one using a fine tip paintbrush and paper.
mantis hatch in the shop
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(no subject) [May. 14th, 2016|12:04 am]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We just watched "Song Of The Sea", a very beautiful, sad, animated movie about two kids caught in the middle of Irish myths.
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(no subject) [May. 12th, 2016|09:45 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Tuesday was super windy, gusty, enough so that one big gust just about blew a vulture into the side of my head while I was out riding my bike.
Have any of you ever seen a vulture close-up? More specifically, have any of you ever seen a vulture cleaning a deer skull using nothing but its beak, and stripping all the skin off a deer skull? In, like, two minutes flat?
Totes glad I had a helmet.
I mean, there was still space between me and Stinky McRazorface, but it is easy for me to imagine how poorly that could have gone.
Wednesday, out riding, watching a ton of toddlers playing down in prairie dog holes. I don't know what their parents were thinking. People catch the plague out here. People die of the plague, two last year, in this immediate area.
Today, out riding with the Xilinx group, who are wickedly fast. For once they didn't totally maul me, despite, perhaps because, two of them are off to North Carolina later in the week for the US National Championships, where one will take first in time trials and the other will take second, and probably the reverse for the road race.
I am so tired.
Apparently I'm beginning to look 'chiseled', which is code for man I've lost a ton of weight.

What else. About two weeks ago, someone found a rabid skunk about three blocks from here, which is the first time in recorded history that a land animal has tested positive for rabies in the Denver area. A couple of days ago someone found another rabid skunk. I'm now less enthusiastic about my back yard playing host to SkunkFest2016.

petrona has been posting abandoned places pictures.
I was reminded of these from down the street from my workplace. Given their age and how deeply one is covered, I suspect they were deposited downstream from their original location in the truly enormous flood of 1965.

(detritus in foreground the result of the fairly enormous flood of 2013.)

Closeup of the second, as the detritus prevents me getting near it.

Tonight the tomato plants are staying outdoors. They're not planted in the ground, still in pots, but they're on the final countdown.
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(no subject) [May. 8th, 2016|08:43 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The soffits and fascia along the back porch were looking terrible, so I took a paint scraper out and gave them a good scraping, and threw some killz on as a first layer. I ran out of killz about 90% of the way through, so that's on the list of things to acquire tomorrow. Then I went out and addressed the wood surrounding the garage door, that at one point gets about 60% of the runoff from the above-the-garage patio/deck running across it. It looked terrible. The wood is straight up rotten, so at some point I need to replace that whole works. The problem is that the garage is poured from concrete, including the ceiling/roof. For about two meters along the edge of the concrete above the garage door, the concrete has cracked horizontally and is now hanging loosely, held probably by a piece of mostly rusted out rebar and a lot of silicone caulk from the previous owner. I had not ever actually poked at it before but whilst up there scraping discovered it as I was trying to figure out how to attach a drip edge. Can't put a drip edge on right now as the water is actually flowing through the crack and out the bottom of the crack and thence across the wood that spans across the garage door.

I went up to my mom's at lunch. We'd finished eating and saw a guy on a bike ride by, then slow down. Both my brother and I recognized him. These days he's bicycle-world-famous because he's won at least one, often several, categories for his age range every year for the last 15 years at the US Nationals cycling championships. He's wickedly fast, even at 80. But we know him because throughout my very late high school and college, he'd call up and ask my brother and I if we wanted to go on multi-day biking/camping trips, because his buddies didn't have vacation time and we could always skip a day of whatever was going on. That's how we got to ride around in Moab, Utah, in the mid 1980's, when it was still a sleepy little mining town and there might only be a half dozen other cyclists there, rather than hundreds per day.

The tulips are kickin' it.

They survived yesterday, which looked like this:

While up at Mom's I ran across the Gay Batmobile, in the middle right of this shot.
It is looking much grayer and more tired now than when I first ran across it, when it was brand new and only a few blocks from where I live.
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