I got round to fixing my desk lamp. It’s a very useful lamp: an anglepoise arm attached to a ring of LEDs around a central magnifier lens, so I can use it as a general desk lamp, or for well-lit close-up work, like soldering.

Unfortunately, the electrical side wasn’t nearly so good. As I bought it, it took its power from a USB A connector. Halfway along the cable was a little inline device with a few touch switches to turn the lamp on and off, to adjust the brightness, and to set the colour temperature by turning on only the cool white LEDs, only the warm white ones, or both.

One day, the USB connector burned itself out, so I replaced it with an inline barrel socket, and bought a 5V wall wart to give it the required current more reliably.

That worked for a while, until one day the lamp wouldn’t turn on. The wall wart was dead, so I replaced it, but the lamp still didn’t work. I didn’t know whether it was the inline switch or the LEDs that had failed, and there I left it for a while.

I was inspired to take another stab at it over the weekend. I chopped off the inline switch, revealing three wires going to the LEDs. With the aid of some crocodile clips, I worked out that there was a common positive connection, with one negative for the cool white LEDs, and another negative for the warm white ones.

From my boxes of electronic components I dug out a panel-mount barrel socket, a four-pin GX12 aviation connector, a couple of switches, and a small aluminium box to put it all in. I drilled some holes, soldered some wires, and it works again. I’ve lost the ability to dim the lights, but I rarely used that.

A small aluminium box, about 5 cm across, with two metal toggle switches
on the front and two cables connected at the rear.

My new switch box. It has a certain industrial chic about it, I think.

I like the way it’s come out.

I went for an eye test and to get an old pair of glasses reglazed. I’ve ordered some prescription sunglasses, too. Being able to see is an expensive hobby.

The optician asked me if I ever see double when I’m tired. I realised that yes, I can’t really see properly first thing in the morning. It seems that the muscles that draw my eyes together are weak, so I go a bit wall-eyed when I’m tired. I’ve been given some exercises to strengthen them.

L— has used this optician before, but this was my first time there. Compared to the desultory service of the high street opticians, I really felt that I was in the hands of an expert with enthusiasm for his field. I’d recommend this place to any glasses-wearing friends in London: Cult Vision on Goswell Road near the Barbican.

I wrote up a transcript of my Brighton Ruby talk with SVG slides. I even figured out a way to put in text versions of the slides using aria-describedby via a custom Liquid tag in Jekyll. I don’t know whether it achieves the desired goal, but I welcome any feedback.

We received a copy of The Phone Book. A couple of decades ago, this was a massive doorstop of a directory. These days, it’s barely over a hundred pages in an odd, cut-down, ⅔-wide A4 paper size. It’s full of ads for things like stairlifts and paper books explaining how to use an iPad.

At the back, there are 63 pages of names and landline numbers. That list must be a goldmine of preselected easy marks for scammers.

I have not joined Threads. I have learned my lesson, and I won’t be signing up to sharecrop for amoral megacorps or weird billionaires again.

I bought some new gaskets for our pressure cooker. We use it at least once a week, so they need replacing a couple of times a year. In the process of placing the order, I was presented with three checkboxes, the third of which used the misdirection dark pattern to try to con me into signing up for spam:

☐ subscribe to our newsletter? we will never share your email address with third parties, or use your data for any other purpose.

☐ by ticking this box, you agree you’re happy to receive mail from us.

☐ leave this box blank if you’d like to receive the occasional brochure from our trusted 3rd parties - selected, excited brands we think you might love! if you’d rather miss out, tick this box to opt out

It’s just sleazy. Ironic for a brand named Prestige.

I popped into Iklectika 2023 on Saturday afternoon to peruse the stalls and see some performances.

I had enjoyable chats with a couple of stallholders, especially Lisa and Time from Isn’tses and Wojciech from The Pipe Shoppe who, in the course of our discussion of ancient wind instruments like the Dibje Babe flute, recommended the recent bone-themed episode of Radio 3’s Late Junction. (If you’re following this link in the future and it’s no longer available, get in touch. I have a personal archive.)

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the weather for an outside event, so I didn’t stay around for many performances and when it started to rain I headed home.

I thought that numbers in French and Danish were a bit convoluted, but then I learned about Welsh. French famously has constructions like quatre-vingt-treize (“four-twenty-thirteen” = 93) and Danish has halvtreds (“half three” = (half less than three) twenties = 2.5 × 20 = 50). Both of those are vestiges of vigesimal counting, found in many languages around the world.

I’ve been studying Welsh recently, and just came to cardinal numbers and dates.

Welsh of course has vigesimal numbers, so for example, the 31st is yr unfed ar ddeg ar hugain (“the first on ten on twenty”). That doesn’t raise too much of an eyebrow. But why stop at ten and twenty? In Welsh, fifteen is also significant, so the 16th is yr unfed ar bymtheg (“the first on fifteen”) and the 17th is yr ail ar bymtheg (“the second on fifteen”).

You might naturally think that the 18th is thus “the third on fifteen”. You would be wrong, although the 19th does follow this pattern. No, the 18th is y deunawfed (“the two-ninth”). Well. Two nines do indeed make eighteen, and yet that doesn’t seem the most obvious way to express it, does it?

Don’t think I’m complaining, though. I think this is brilliant. I love these little peculiarities of language. Welsh is a language whose numbers seem like puzzles but are technically correct, which is, as we all know, the best kind of correct.