Heat has long been one of my favorite movies, for several reasons; I think it may have been the third or fourth DVD I ever bought, back when DVDs were a $40 extravagance. News has hit the wire that Michael Mann is releasing a prequel novel to Heat which will explore the lives of the characters before the movie’s timeline and after (at least, for those who are still alive). I haven’t read much this past year—I still have to get a copy of Project Hail Mary—but this one I will purchase.

Date posted: January 20, 2022 | Filed under books, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve long been a fan of the Onion A/V Club, a website dedicated to pop culture and home to a ton of excellent writers from the early days of the web. Some time ago they got merged into Gawker and when that family of sites imploded they were able to hang on, most likely because of the quality of their work. G/O Media, the new corporate owners of the old Gawker sites, are now basically pushing the longest tenured writers at the A/V Club out in a pretty blatant move to bust up their union and hire cheaper workers in a race to become yet another middling entertainment site. I can only hope they follow the lead of the writers at Defector and build their own thing together.

Date posted: January 19, 2022 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

620 South Lakewood Avenue, 2002

I spent all of my available time from Friday morning to after midnight on Monday working on a video project for WRI. Much of this was in direct communication with a remote video editing team, but there were sections of time where they were working and I needed to be on call near a computer. So I busied myself with some digital archaeology.

The path to the rabbit hole began with a simple question I had about my old 68K Macs, and I spent a fair bit of downtime on Sunday shuttling machines up and down the stairs to boot up and check out. At some point I’d wiped and formatted two of my legacy machines for looking through legacy files; it’s been so long since then that I forgot what I’d done. So a lot of this was a pleasant surprise. I made a list of all of the legacy machines, their specs, their OS condition, and any notes needed to make repairs or updates to each one.

Then I got to thinking about files. I’ve got CD’s burned with working files that date back to 1997 containing work I did all the way back to 1995. When I organized the drives on the basement server I copied a lot of it to a new disk. But there are things I know I had that I couldn’t find, so I dug deeper. Buried within some of these disks I found more of what I was looking for:

  • Old backups of my original website, the first and second versions, which I’d thought were lost to time
  • Old pictures of the Scout, which I also thought were lost to time. I remember taking a lot of pictures back then; the number of good ones I have of that truck are strangely few
  • Work backups from Back In The Day—my first two pro jobs, to be exact
  • An archive of the Mad Puppy work I did with Robby, back in the day, which I thought was lost forever on a scratched CD drive
  • Email backups from 2002-2006 (gotta figure out how to save these in a viable format)
  • Pictures of my first house, many of which I only had small thumbnail versions of. Gonna find something good to do with those
  • Various writing projects, some of which make me cringe rereading them 20 years later; some of which make me feel good. I found something I wrote about driving up to Grandma’s funeral that I thought was lost forever
  • Backups of the old IHCDigest from 1998
  • Tons of my site archives from System Source, from the Wild West days of web development (I miss that time)

There’s more to sift through but for now I think I’m done.

Date posted: January 18, 2022 | Filed under geek, history | Leave a Comment »

Brian sent me this picture with the caption “13 years ago today”.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: January 18, 2022 | Filed under Chewbacca, history, Scout | Comments Off on 13 Years

Today’s forecast called for snow starting in the early afternoon, going until early Monday morning. It’s currently 29˚ with the wind howling outside our windows. I worked on an editing project for WRI for most of the day through Zoom, where two editors shared their screens with me and we made real-time edits to 3+ hours of a 4-camera shoot virtually. I have to thank whoever is responsible for the technological advances that made it possible for me to avoid driving to DC in this weather to sit in an editing bay until the weather got truly miserable for the drive home.

* * *

Working on the bus this summer with Brian, I realized pretty quickly that my welding “skills” are terrible. If I’m going to get any better at welding, either for the Scout or for working on projects with him, I need to learn how to do it properly. There’s a Fundamentals of Welding class taught at a welding supply and distributor here in Baltimore. This isn’t a 2-hour teaser; it’s twelve 3-hour sessions in April and May that goes through the basic principles, teaches gas-tungsten, gas-metal and shielded metal arc welding, plasma cutting, weld inspection, and basic metallurgy. It’s exactly what I need to learn what I don’t know, practice what I should, and be prepared for whatever trouble we get ourselves into with Brian’s next project. I don’t think we’re going back to full-time office work anytime soon, so I don’t think a Tuesday/Thursday evening class should be a problem.

Date posted: January 16, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

This seems like good news, so I’ll post it here: DirecTV has announced it will cease broadcasting OAN News, the batshit right-wing network promoting vaccine conspiracies. From an earlier Reuters report [emphasis mine]:

The announcement by DirecTV, which is 70% owned by AT&T, comes three months after a Reuters investigation revealed that OAN’s founder testified that AT&T inspired him to create the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives nearly all of its revenue from DirecTV.

Date posted: January 16, 2022 | Filed under politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

The Democrats are now the party of only trying to stop things from getting worse; they currently control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency and yet they have accomplished very little, either because they are so corrupt or so self-defeating or so uninterested as to have accepted the idea that Accomplishing Very Little is what they are there to do.

Kelsey McKinney writes for Defector about what going back to normal means; she’s put something into words that I’ve been feeling but haven’t been able to properly synthesize: the pandemic illustrates just how broken the American society we’ve built  actually is, how our elected officials can’t help us or fix it, and how a whole group of powerful interests don’t want things to get better. We are all experiencing trauma and most of us don’t have time or energy to realize or process it.

Defector is nominally a sports website but the writing reaches far above and beyond that. Every author is outstanding. I recommend subscribing—the site is owned by the authors and it’s worth every penny (and I don’t typically subscribe to many websites).

Date posted: January 15, 2022 | Filed under politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Waaaay back in 2007 I traded an inoperable Powerbook 100 for a working Powerbook 160, which was a welcome upgrade allowing me to open and view legacy files from my early days of design. The 160 worked for a couple of years and then died around 2013. I did some reading at that point and replaced the PRAM battery, hoping that would fix things, but it had no effect so the unit went back in the box. At some point recently I learned that there are inexpensive power supplies available for early Powerbooks, so I got one on Amazon for $10 and tried it out. Amazingly, I was greeted by the comforting early Macintosh startup chime, and the screen lit up for a brief moment before going dark, and then all of the pixels on the display smushed over to the right side of the screen.

Clearly there’s something amiss with the display, and from what the Interwebs say it’s a pretty common thing for the capacitors on passive-matrix grayscale monitors to fail, leading to these issues. I contacted a guy who streamed a repair live to see what he’d charge to fix it; we’ll see if he gets back to me.

Update: there are several videos on how to disassemble and recap the display online; given that I don’t have a lot of winter projects lined up, this is something I’ll tackle myself. I’d need a sharper soldering iron and the proper solder, but this isn’t anything I’m particularly scared of. The problem is that several of the capacitors aren’t in stock at Mouser or Digikey, so I’ll have to revisit this project in the summertime.

I also think I’ve got an old Powerbook Display Adapter in my antique computer bin somewhere; I’ll have to dig it out today and see if I can hook the unit to a monitor for testing.

Date posted: January 14, 2022 | Filed under apple, geek | Leave a Comment »

The first day I noticed symptoms of COVID was Thursday the 30th, right before New Year’s. I took the first OTC test on Sunday the 2nd, and I had my PCR on Wednesday the 5th, making it official. The CDC’s redundant, confusing, and overcomplicated quarantine guidelines specify keeping separate for 10 days after the first symptoms appear. I’ve been stuck in this fucking room for nine days now, and it’s been fourteen days since the first symptoms. I’m coming out tomorrow.

One thing to be thankful for is my Mom’s old TV, which I dragged home after we replaced it with a better one at Thanksgiving. It works, but the backlight died at some point so there’s a blue cast across most of the picture. Right before I sealed myself in this room I brought it up and stuck it on the dresser, figuring I’d need some kind of entertainment. I only get local channels, so I was able to watch football on the weekends, and crappy reruns for the rest of the week. So I’ve had my fill of CSI:Miami, CSI:NY, CHiPS, and most comfortingly, Emergency! (We used to watch Emergency! as kids with Mom and Dad before bedtime).

Jen has been taking excellent care of the invalid in the bedroom this whole time, and I’ve tried to be as easy on her as possible. She’s been doing double duty dealing with Finn home from school and Being A Teenager and our dopey dog, who can’t understand why I haven’t come out of this room. I don’t know who will be more excited for me to leave this room, Jen or Hazel.

Date posted: January 12, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been using Evaporust to clean up small parts for a couple of months now, but it gets pretty expensive in large quantities; a gallon is about $20 via Amazon. I just soaked a window scissor mechanism in a tub for two days and got it pretty clean, but a gallon was barely enough to cover the metal. Electrolysis is a great way to remove rust at scale, and all it requires is a tank of water, some salt, and a hunk of sacrificial steel. This video compares the two methods in detail, and finds that they both work about as well as each other. All things considered, I think I’d rather spend $20 on a rubbermaid tub and some salt.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: January 12, 2022 | Filed under Future Plans, Scout | Comments Off on Evaporust vs. Electrolysis