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sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets

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(no subject) [Nov. 15th, 2018|09:28 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Work problems, which aren't real problems:
1. Looking at a huge stream of data and an eagle-eyed coworker pointed out a lot of repeated numbers. The instrument producing these is supposed to provide six significant digits: 1.23456. It's doing that. But between, say, 1.23456 and 1.35000 it's only providing (multiple instances of) 1.23456, 1.24567, 1.26789, and 1.31234. If you have twenty megabytes of data and plot through this and do a linear regression it looks completely uniform: nice, well-behaved data. If you go look at the individual data points after sorting them, you see this stair-step behavior that is for sure not what's actually happening.
The instrument that's producing this is introducing digitization artifacts, even though I've set it up to not do so, and I ended up having to rewrite the driver that interfaces with the instrument to get it to improve (but not entirely solve) the issue.
2. So with that hammered out, now I can look more carefully at the actual data, and I see all these weird dropouts, where a very small value that should be increasing monotonically is instead increasing monotonically with a second monotonic line somewhat below it. That took a huge effort to track down and I still don't understand it: when I agitate an output controlled by a relay, the relay control line stops working. They're not connected that way. This doesn't make any sense. It's like if you unscrew the lightbulb suddenly the wall switch physically snaps down into the off position. That's not supposed to happen.

So all this is going on while my manager's wife is just about to have a baby, and another project that I'm not on is turning into a huge flaming dumpster fire that I can't talk about but is absolutely catastrophic both for how badly it's going, and for how badly it's going to affect our group, and my manager can't do anything to make his wife's situation better (she was due today) and can't do anything about the dumpster fire so instead he was running over to try to see why my setup was acting up, because it's both interesting and potentially easy to fix. Except he doesn't software and when he looks at my code he clutches his head.
(I have no idea how to run my oscilloscope. I know exactly how to set it up to produce the measurements I need by programming it. So he sits down and says "how do you put cursors on the screen?" and that's not something I would ever try to use, so I have no idea, but I can quite literally get the oscilloscope to play a recognizable song by beeping a series of data points I send to it.)
So he's channeling all his frustration with all this other stuff into handling what are really fairly simple problems I'm having, because then he doesn't have to think about what he's not able to do.
Which isn't the worst thing in the world.

My coworker who sometimes drives me bonkers interrupts me about every ten minutes to tell me something he's done, mostly because he wants recognition that he's doing things and our manager no longer gives him that recognition because he's too busy and knows he'll just snap something unkind. So, repeated talking, while I'm trying to teach myself how to use excel to compare linear regressions to see if I can say with confidence that they're statistically similar.
Then he puts on a pair of hearing protectors "so I can concentrate".

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(no subject) [Nov. 12th, 2018|07:04 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
It's been a whole lot of day for a long time now, so I haven't been posting.

Today I came home to find a mouse on the kitchen countertop. I have no idea how it got there. That's a meter above the floor and all the walls are either finished wood or drywall.
I've been meticulous about keeping the floor clean and the space under the counters vacuumed and filled with mouse traps of various sorts.

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(no subject) [Nov. 2nd, 2018|06:50 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The last two days, I've gone for quick road rides at lunch, as we're in fall gloaming and every day seems like the last chance we'll have to ride.
Both times I've run into enormous flocks of enormous wild turkeys.
I mentally model turkeys as "a bit bigger than a canada goose".
These were "a bit smaller than an emu".
Tomorrow is Veloswap, my version of Christmas, where I go to the world's largest bike swap meet and schmooze and fondle bike parts.
My acquisition list is lamentably soft: gloves, more gloves, a helmet, because my bikes have been rock solid.
However, I am carrying some extra money because my coworker wants a bike and she's flying to a wedding in Arizona, so I'm distance-shopping.

Work is less awful. My manager's wife is due in a week, and he's so worried about that he doesn't have time to get stressed by all the problems at work.
My poor coworker is stuck with a project that involves repeatedly, like dozens of times a day, cut-and-pasting a section of a text file into a window where he can use perl to strip out all the alpha characters in the first column, only print the numbers in the second column, then he takes the output of that, pastes it into another program that collates those into a column of bytes, and then he pastes that into a GUI where it fills an array and gets sent off to the target.
This is what happens when hardware people try to manage software.
There are approximately 30876098345 ways of doing that better than he's doing it.
I chose to write a string replacement function that just operates on the final column of bytes and then feeds it directly into the software underlying the GUI.
My estimate based on observation is this should save him 90 minutes a day for the next three months solid.
awk wept, man, wept.

In other news I am so tired.

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(no subject) [Oct. 20th, 2018|11:28 am]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
While I was off at Japanese class, my crazy dog pulled an oven mitt off the countertop and chewed on it for a while, ate some hot peppers (I don't even know where she found those,) and pulled my work bag off the bureau and tore open every plastic bag in it. There were something like 2,000 LED's, most the size of a dime or smaller, in that bag. There are a lot less now. She also ate part of two circuit boards (like, actually chewed a significant portion off) and spent some time gnawing on a huge hunk of polypropylene rod.
Maybe we need to feed her a bit more.

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(no subject) [Oct. 18th, 2018|10:17 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
We went to a place that, I suspect, caters to a much younger clientele: the walls were covered in selfies, as they have a service that allows you to take a pic and send it to their printer and then tape the result up on the wall.
What they serve is a half a cup of cream and some sweet material minced up on top of a cryogenic surface, then scraped with a spackle knife to form a curled-up chunk of demi-ice-cream, and stuck in a bucket.
The spoon changes color as it gets cold.
The result is delicious but ridiculously expensive for what you get.

I found this little diorama of railroad hardware when walking along the tracks today.

Monty has entirely too many feet. No wonder she sleeps all the time: her feet smell like sleepiness.

The collection of railroad spikes people leave on my desk continues to grow.

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(no subject) [Oct. 10th, 2018|08:02 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
[personal profile] elynne wrote this post about ways of dealing with insomnia and retraining your body to sleep. It's worth reading.

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(no subject) [Oct. 7th, 2018|12:38 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Morning emergency plumbing project. Gah. The bathroom sink has never drained well, and this time it was particularly unwilling to drain, so I had to pull everything apart and run a snake through it all.

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(no subject) [Oct. 3rd, 2018|10:03 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
This whole week has been a process of me spending the whole day trying to fix broken things on my test system, staying late until I get everything running, doing one quick test run to make sure everything is working 100% correctly, going home, coming in the next morning, rerunning the same test, and having multiple subsystems of the test system fail, glow, catch fire, or just smoke a lot, and I then spend the whole day trying to get back to where I was the night before.
Three days in a row of that gets really, really old.
I could say "hey there's nothing left to fail" but I've already had things fail, that I replaced with brand new ones, that have themselves failed, under conditions where they should not fail.

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(no subject) [Sep. 29th, 2018|06:20 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The Spitfire runs out of gas the moment the gas gauge needle touches the empty line. Nothing else on that car is even slightly accurate, but boy the gas gauge is RIGHT ON. I learned this in the driveway, thankfully.

I walked the legs off Monty, along the Sand Creek Trail, which is nestled between an oil refinery and a truck junkyard. She walked in the door and fell over sound asleep.

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(no subject) [Sep. 26th, 2018|09:02 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Today was another long difficult day full of obscure problems that are hard to diagnose. My chip has two power sections, that are mirror images of each other in the silicon itself, so they should behave identically. Today I discovered that if I turn the digital part of the chip on, then enable the power section, then turn on the power to the power section, one half of the chip will turn on perfectly, while the other half will start to turn on, die, and report a completely false failure as to why it died.
That's really useful to know, but it took like two hours to figure out exactly what was going on.

I ended up working about an hour past when I usually leave. As it turns out, my manager and my coworker were in another lab, battling a software problem (that I could have solved in a few minutes, but my problem is higher priority so they didn't ask me.) Anyway, they came in and saw me and we talked for a moment, and then my coworker mentioned the time, and my manager panicked because he was supposed to be home within about 30 minutes to take his wife in for an ultrasound, and he had been planning on biking home, so he asked if he could get a ride.

Did I mention I've been driving the Spitfire for the last week because my Subaru has its engine all taken apart?
So we walked out and he saw the Spitfire and started laughing, and said "can I drive it? please? just around the block?" It took him about six tries just to get it in reverse and started moving, but once he did that, it went a bit more easily. He was laughing in a terrified manner the whole time.
So I got him home, then got home at a not entirely ridiculous time, made dinner, and finally am sitting down.

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