Week 126: A blinking nuisance
Thursday was warm, Friday was cold, but the weekend was absolutely lovely.
The Tate Modern Granville-Grossman Members Room will never reopen
’Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and covid provided a convenient opportunity for organisations to stop doing things they didn’t like doing, and they see no reason to go back again.
Week 125: Considering Dunwich
I published the 3D printable hex sockets I designed and which I’ve been successfully using for a while.
Electro Harmonix Small Stone EH4800 Phase Shifter repair
I bought a Small Stone phaser that had been disassembled, had its wires cut, and was missing connectors and a switch. Despite all that, it’s not a complicated circuit, and I was (correctly, as it turns out) confident that I could bring it back to life.
3D printable hex sockets for guitar, pedal, and synth DIY
Week 124: Mayke
There’s a portmanteau hashtag
#maykethat people use for things that they make in May, and that seems like an appropriate theme for this week.
Project Mustang: Turning Squier’s cheapest guitar into something great
As I wrote previously, I picked up a second-hand Squier Bullet Mustang guitar for £65 via Gumtree. It had a lot of promise, but it wasn’t achieving its potential. The fretwork was terrible (not level, sharp ends), the nut was too high, and the bright white single ply pickguard looked cheap and nasty. The bridge was too far back and not straight. The pickups were fine, but not stellar. So I improved it.
Week 123: Operator One
I found a defective Teenage Engineering OP-1 on eBay on Monday, and, after haggling down the price a bit, bought it. It was described as working well, but not holding a charge. That turned out to be true, as it would only last a few minutes on battery even after charging.
Week 122: God Save the King … or else
A man who was already king had an elaborate ceremony at great expense in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Everyone loves the monarchy, and you know it’s a harmless and benevolent institution with univeral support because if you think about saying otherwise you get arrested by the Met police, when they’re not arresting volunteers who already work with them for giving out rape alarms. Not a good look for an organisation that had two officers arrested for rape and kidnap only a week before.
Week 121: Unplugged
For the first time in my life, I have an acoustic guitar. There have been times when I’ve had the use of one, and a flatmate at university was very complimentary about my playing, even saying that he preferred my playing style on acoustic to electric.
Week 120: Up north
I spent the weekend in Yorkshire for a friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. L— and I travelled up with another friend, which made the travel more fun. We booked hotel rooms in Ripon, the nearest town. Technically, it’s a city, because it has a cathedral, but then, technically, most of the capital city isn’t a city, according to the absurd English technical definition of a city. Ripon is really more of a market town. Certainly less of a city than technically-not-a-city inner London. Ripon doesn’t even have a railway station: the train only took us as far as Harrogate, from where we got a lift.
Week 119: Quantum locking
I had a couple of vivid but weird dreams. In one, I was walking along a road near our house, when I met a group of anarchists in a flying bus. I went back to their squat/workshop, where they explained to me how the levitation worked. I said, like when you put a superconductor in a magnetic field? They said yes, it’s quantum locked.
Week 118: Polyvalent celebrations
There was something for everyone to celebrate this weekend: Easter, Passover, Ramadan, and the anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s death (the tenth anniversary, no less!). I’m not sure that will happen again in my lifetime.
Week 117: Free bee
I liberated a confused and angry bee that we found buzzing loudly in the relative warmth above the landing light. (It’s only an LED bulb, but still probably the warmest place it could find.) After trying various contraptions, I eventually succeeded in capturing it in a tall plastic food container attached onto a wooden beam with rubber bands. I was then able to safely relocate it outside the house, and we were able to sleep in peace.
Week 116: The novelty of the quotidian
I’ve had a quiet week, enjoying the relative novelty of being at home after three weeks away, and of cooking instead of dining out for every meal.
Upgrading a Fender Frontman 15G guitar amplifier
When I bought one of my electric guitars, many years ago, the shop threw in a Fender Frontman 15G combo practice amp for free. It was never an expensive amplifier, it doesn’t have a good reputation, and it didn’t sound particularly wonderful.
Week 115: … and home again
We spent the last three days of our holiday in Brisbane. We got a lift to Nambour (from where most of the trains terminate) and took the train to the city. It’s not a particularly regular service, but it was comfortable, inexpensive, and, most importantly of all, air conditioned.
Week 114: Melbourne, Sunshine Coast, K’gari
We spent our last day in Melbourne exploring the area to the east of the CBD: Fitzroy, Collingwood, and Abbotsford Convent, which isn’t a convent any more, but a community of artists. Most of it was closed, but we saw a couple of video installations.
Week 113: London, Sydney, Melbourne
It’s not even six days since we left London, but it already feels like a very long time ago. I’m mostly over the jetlag.
Week 112: Getting organised
I spent quite a bit of time last week debugging a problem that was stopping me publishing anything. Although I eventually solved it, it was a problem which Netlify had accidentally introduced and which they fixed the next day. I could just have gone to bed instead.
Fixing “Invalid date” Jekyll build failure on Netlify
Update: This was unintentionally broken by a bad rollout at Netlify which has since been fixed. There is no longer any need to add the cache directory to the exclude list.
Week 111: Journey to the West
I went down to see my parents in Weymouth for a few days. It’s a convenient enough journey by train, as long as there aren’t any strikes, which there weren’t. The train was briefly delayed at Dorchester while they fixed the track in a tunnel. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I was hoping that it would be at least fifteen minutes, enough to trigger Delay Repay, but it took less than five.
Week 110: Inventory management
I got around to sorting out my electronic components. I had a system, with a spreadsheet listing what I have, and some boxes in which I store components in a few categories. But I’d been a bit lax in recent months, and had a lot of secondary boxes full of unsorted components, taking up much more room than they should have.
Week 109: Normal service is resumed
I’m feeling much better. I don’t have a cough any more. My nose only runs every time I go out into the cold, as usual. The ezcema that broke out all over my face simultaneously with my cold seems to be on the mend. On the downside, where I thought I’d pulled a muscle coughing, it now seems more likely that I’ve cracked a rib. But it’s on the side and it doesn’t hurt unless I lie on my side. Or roll onto my side in the night and wake up in pain. Or fall on my side ….
Week 108: Looking forward
My cold has lasted a solid fortnight. I can’t remember the last time I had anything as tenacious as this.
Week 107: Feeling poorly
I’ve had a cold since Tuesday and I feel very sorry for myself. I thought it would be better by now, but if anything I actually feel worse. My nose is running, I can’t stop coughing, and my throat hurts. This is much worse than covid was for me.
Replacing the rubber grommet on a Boss pedal, metric edition
Executive summary: 9 mm open rubber grommets are readily available in the UK and work well. 10 mm might be even better if you can find them.
Week 106: None more loud
Monday’s LRUG meeting was excellent. Daniel Magliola’s talk about queues was extremely comprehensive and answered every question that came up in my mind during the course of the talk. I was glad that Matt was able to make it this time (weather and strikes having prevented it in December) to remind me why I’m very grateful that other people are doing the hard work of incrementally improving the C Ruby implementation. It’s really fascinating stuff.
Lawyers broke my build
As if CircleCI hasn’t caused enough stress and inconvenience over the past few weeks, today I pushed a small change to some code only for the build to fail entirely, for a novel reason:
Week 105: Eight bits
I soldered together a computer. It uses a Z180 CPU, which is a compatible successor to the Zilog Z80 that requires slightly less external plumbing. It follows the RC2014 modular architecture and I used kits from Small Computer Central and Z80kits to make it, specifically, the SC203 system, Compact Flash module, and Real Time Clock module.
Analysing a MySQL database with JupyterLab and pandas
For work, I needed to run some analysis on a fairly large MySQL database of document metadata, to find information about the distribution of data, to visualise it, and to sample it for deeper manual investigation.
Week 104: Never too old
We ate the eleven-year-old Christmas pudding that I found in the cupboard. I opened it to check first – it looked fine – and soaked it all day in a glug of supermarket own-brand brandy to ensure that it was adequately hydrated. After an hour of steaming, it was delicious. Can a supermarket Christmas pudding ever be too old? We have not yet discovered the upper bound.
You might have heard of the lemon pig, the World’s newest New Year tradition.