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sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets

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(no subject) [Mar. 24th, 2019|07:46 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The window that got blown out of the workshop in the storm, is a wooden frame hinged at the top. The wood is old enough and has taken enough weather-based strife that when it's cleaned up with new glass in it it no longer fits in the window hole. So I need to redo the window panel and make it a little smaller, while still fitting the new sheet of glass.

The workshop's front door has a knob and a deadbolt. There has never been a key for the knob lock, and even if there was, it wouldn't work: someone tried to force it years ago and the key entry is too distorted for use. The problem with this is if someone turns the lock thumbturn, the door locks and I can't open it. (Which is why I added the deadbolt, for which I do have a key.)
This is only partly true. If the knob is locked, until yesterday I could push the door open enough to get the live bolt and latch to separate, because it's a double door and the other door is very poorly held in place.
This morning I added a fairly secure drawbolt and matching aluminum plates on the top and bottom of the secondary door, so now when they're latched, the door is secure against light attempts.
Which means I have to get the knob replaced with one that has a key, preferably a key that matches those in the house.
There are a ton of locksmiths willing to show up at my house and rekey locks, for $40 just to show up, and parts and labor on top of that.
But I did find an old-fashioned locksmith with a storefront who will take an old Schlage live bolt knob (or three: I might as well also get the ones in the garage-to-house door for which we've never had a key either) and redo the tumblers on all of them to match the house key.

This afternoon I spent a bunch of time showing [personal profile] threemeninaboat's protege MiniMe (now rapidly becoming DeciMe as she grows) how to make chainmail. She was pretty good at it, although my giant old armor-quality rings were hard for her to close. I'll find a source for slightly more compliant rings next time around.

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department of late night plumbing problems [Mar. 22nd, 2019|07:41 am]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
At midnight I turned on the bathroom sink to brush my teeth. This is the same sink that started leaking two weeks ago and I replaced the valves on both sides; ever since, its flow rate has been terrible, which I attributed to new, lower-flow valves. Well, it was particularly terrible. I think I've seen large dogs slobber at a higher flow rate than it was flowing. I'd turned on only the hot tap, and thought maybe if I turned on the cold tap it'd flow a bit more.
It didn't increase the flow volume at all.
A light bulb went on over my head: if 1+1 !> 1, it's not the valves that are the problem.
I pulled out my trusty leatherman do-everything multitool that [personal profile] threemeninaboat gave me years ago, deployed the pliers configuration, and wrenched the aerator loose, unscrewed it, and took it all apart. It was completely jammed with slightly tacky black material, so I spent a while with a dental pick, poking it out of the screen and the diffuser. I'm pretty sure that's the remains of the insides of the o-rings that sealed the old valves.
Now the sink runs at a higher flow volume than the drain can handle, which is progress of some sort.

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(no subject) [Mar. 18th, 2019|07:23 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
When I get home and sit on the couch, if I'm not petting Monty enough she jumps around until she has her front paws on the couch arm and her rear ones on the couch on the other side of me, so she can smash her barn door body sideways into my face while hitting me with her tail.
This is a great location for seeing that she has another big lump forming under one of her nipples, so it might be back to the vet for breast cancer round two.

I have this charming coworker, my closest friend at work, and happily we often get handed two halves of the same project so we work together a lot. He wants a particular area investigated, so I go design a bunch of tests and run them, and write up the results, and send them to him.
When I do this, I send him an excel spreadsheet, that is titled with what we've decided to call the test, and the tabs of the spreadsheet are labeled with what part of the test they contain, including one labelled "results and plots" that has only relevant information on it, graphically presented. In the email I mention the name of the test, what I tested, and where in the spreadsheet it's located.
I send him one of these pretty much every other day for a month and a half.
About once a week he's all "oh hey do you have any data on that one test we did last week?"
So I send him the same spreadsheet, with a paragraph in the email specifically pointing out where it is.
About twenty minutes later he'll stop by my office with his laptop and say "can we go over this, and you can show me where the data is and how to interpret it?"
So I think I am doing something drastically wrong in how I present data, but I'm not yet sure what it is. When I ask him he always says "oh, what you send is great: all the stuff I need is in there." But I'm pretty sure that's not right.

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(no subject) [Mar. 17th, 2019|12:08 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
I found a glass place open on sunday. This alone is tricky, because when you search for 'glass shop' you get about 60% automotive glass/windshields, 30% hookahs and glass pipes, and the remainder are actual places that sell house windows. Anyway. This place was open on Sunday and had a bunch of positive reviews on Google. So I drove halfway out to the middle of nowhere to get some glass for my broken window... and the street address is a laundry. That's been there for years, obviously. So I called the phone number in the ad, and it rang, and rang, and rang, with no answer.
I've been hornswoggled, and the nice warm sunny day when I have time to repair windows is going to pass with no window repair.
Arrrrgh.

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(no subject) [Mar. 16th, 2019|06:07 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We had this blizzard on Wednesday, and I stayed home from work because it really was lousy weather. Somewhere in the middle, the wind was strong enough that it broke out a window in my workshop. (It was gusting to over 100mph, and because of snow and ice accumulation there were a lot of tree branches coming loose.) I managed to patch the window in the snowstorm, and today I went out trying to find new glass for it. The window is 40 inches wide, a single pane of glass, and all the glazier's putty and points were missing on one end (which is probably why it broke.) As I found today, it is surprisingly hard to find a place that is both open on the weekend and carries glass that wide. Everyone has 36" or meter wide. I found a place out in Commerce City that is open tomorrow, but my attempts today were futile, so the shop gets plywood fake window for another day.

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Testing out 'reason for age restriction' [Mar. 14th, 2019|07:04 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )
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(no subject) [Mar. 12th, 2019|07:29 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
It's 65F and I'm wearing a t-shirt.
School is cancelled, the airport is shut down, and federal and state government is closed, in anticipation of tomorrow's blizzard.
I'm working from home tomorrow, I guess.

Lunchtime ride: we ride through a tunnel under the four-lane road that goes to Boulder, and on the far side we take a hard left and our path merges onto the median of the four-lane road. As we're heading into the tunnel we see a guy on a breathtakingly expensive time trial bike just riding out of the tunnel so we crank up our speed to catch him, and start following him.
It was like a keirin, the Japanese race where people draft a motorcycle that is slowly increasing in speed until there is only one person left behind it, who wins. He kept going faster and faster, and I kept struggling harder and harder, as did my coworker.
We were approaching the speed the cars were going, and I knew I was about done, but! wait! what to my wandering eye should appear? but a red light right in front of us! Saved!
And even better: there's a dubious fly-under, a bike path that goes beneath a bridge and evades the traffic control signal.
So I tipped my right hand to the right just enough for my coworker, behind me, to see, and we skived off to the right, blowing through the bushes that mask the entrance onto the fly-under, which is why nobody else uses it, and because nobody else uses it the nadir is always full of branches and debris from where Lefthand Creek has overflowed onto it so that means a whole bunch of jumping over junk, but we managed that and sprinted up the climb out of the river drainage and swooped back onto the road, covered in glory and victory!

The other rider had made a right turn at the stoplight, and was nowhere to be seen.

Sic transit gloria mundi, man.

I just noticed there's a 'reason for age restriction' field in the posting details below the entry form. I'm filling it in "eels, lots and lots of eels". Let's see what happens.

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(no subject) [Mar. 7th, 2019|09:26 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The bathroom sink was dripping slowly the other day so I figured I'd come home today and tighten down the gland nut and fix it. I figured out how to remove the cold handle, and tried tightening the only big hex nut available, which did nothing. So then I figured I'd have to take it apart and see if the seal and land were damaged and needed to be replaced, which meant turning off the cutoff valve under the sink.
Which promptly started leaking.
I bravely converted a leak going into a drain, into a leak going into the inside wall of the house. Go me.
Thankfully the local home depot had replacement cartridges for the sink valves, once I managed to wrestle one out, and while I was there I bought newer quarter-turn cutoff valves to replace the vile old gate valves.
The replacement cartridges went right in (I replaced both sides, because I know how MTBF seems to work) and then, full of hope and optimism, pulled the handle off the gate valve and tightened the gland nut.
It stopped leaking.
So I'm leaving everything alone. Another day I'll replace everything: the cutoffs, the terrible old hose going up to the faucet, and the faucet. But today, I'm going to stop while nothing is leaking.

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(no subject) [Mar. 5th, 2019|08:35 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The main language I use for my test system at work is a test management package that provides a way to call lower-level language functions. It is oddly selective in what it allows you to do. Things like
if (variable OR 64)
always return '1', because it analyzes clauses as booleans, even though you think you're bitmasking, for instance. (And if this is covered in the documentation, I haven't found it.)
One of the things it provides is datalogging: you call a low-level routine, pass it a number by reference, and it chucks the number into an ASCII file. The number is associated as a value, with a key, and the key is the name of the datalogging routine.
So a chunk of datalog code would look like:
measure input_voltage_1
input_voltage_1 datalog()
and so forth.
Which is fine, but that means for every measurement I have to correctly type in what the measurement is, and that gets old fast because I'm measuring like 800 things. (Seriously. Actually more.)
I was poking around in the program's documentation today and found that because it's sort of vaguely object-oriented, I can mess around with the inherited attributes and with overloading them, and realized that I can dynamically generate names, that I can use to overwrite the names of the datalogging routine.
As a result, I converted 1023 lines of code into 7 lines of code, and the really cool part is that 256 of those lines were names I had to type in by hand, and now there aren't any names I have to type in by hand. It generates the whole works for me, because it knows what it just measured and uses that to produce the key.
I'm ridiculously pleased with this, mostly because of the massive scope of error reduction.
And I'm pretty sure this is the sort of thing that is completely meaningless to my manager, because I'm the only person who would ever use complicated stuff like this.

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(no subject) [Feb. 28th, 2019|06:46 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Today:
I wrote a test program that turns on various parts of my chip alternately, to see if they interact: if one part is affected when another part switches on or off. Then I added to it to start running at very high frequencies, and then I added a bit more that drives a thermal forcer so I can run the chip between -40 and 130C. It turns out that at high power, at high temperature, at high switching frequencies, it blows up. Flames shoot out. It doesn't seem to be associated with the switching-on-and-off, though, but with being hot.

At the same time, my sweary twin (he looks very much like me but curses a lot) was trying to set up a test system that somewhat emulates mine, so I spent a big chunk of time doing code review with him and walking him through hardware and software choices I'd made when designing this thing.
(Side plot involving explaining the SPI protocol, which is really weird to someone new at it: you write a word to the chip, and then have to wait until the next transaction to get a response. The offset-by-one is surprisingly hard for people to work with.)

At the same time, I was helping my prickly PhD coworker get a board working, which involved iteratively swapping out parts to get a slope compensation value working right, and simultaneously documenting all the changes so we can recreate this later.

At the same time I was also helping my other coworker get his system working. He's using the previous revision of hardware and software that I built last year, and it keeps having communication issues, and no matter how many times I explain troubleshooting the system to him, he never seems to understand the overall concept, so he does the first step over and over and then when it doesn't fix the problem comes to ask me for help. (I got him set up on a software repository system last week, because it's been a requirement for us to use for a year, and I am pretty sure he still doesn't understand that the repository is on a separate, remote, managed system, and is not just another directory on his hard drive.)

And all of these are fine, but the only one my manager will notice is the fix-the-board-for-prickly-PhD, and then most likely all he'll notice is if there were any problems with it. All the other projects are things that he doesn't think are important, so he doesn't find my handling of them relevant.

I know I shouldn't complain about my job, but should instead just find another one.

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