Author Archives: FlowCoef

About FlowCoef

A hopefully entertaining blogger, frequently of technical things, but some artistic commentary too.

Subset of shame full interfaces: we-don’t-care accessibility

Along with software entries in my “Interface Hall of Shame“, I am adding a realia by adding this seriously careless (both senses) bit of Braille “accessibility”.

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The Midget of Sines and Wright

A much less insulting transcription than the teenily notorious “Pranque” of “the Beta“, here is a really small newspaper put out by Sines and Wright, two Dayton, Ohio, schoolboys in 1886. The second of them went on, with his brother, to “emulate the great Santos-Dumont” and eventually eclipse him in this part of the world.

Here, though, he and a friend are fussing around with the latter’s little printing press and having some fun.1

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Crackers in unfortunate places

By education, I am an engineer. In the professional of chemical engineering, specifically petrochemical or petroleum engineering, unit operations called “catalytic crackers” exist. These “crack” larger molecules into smaller ones. As an example, octane (nC8) can be crackt into propane (nC4) if desired.

All occupations have their own language, whether cryptolect or just technolect. In mine, these are termed “crackers” (definition 5), with sometimes unfortunate effects.

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An insolent newspaper of Ohio

Reading about resurrection men and torpedoes to defend against them, I ended up downloading from the Library of Congress, page 8 of the Stark County Democrat (Canton, O.) for Thursday, January 30, 1881.

Two mentions of their crime occur, one near the bottom of column 2 and partway down column 4. The first was partially avenged and defeated by the torpedo, the second evidently not. I am more interested in the editor, or typesetter/compositor, describing some people in a very partial way:

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A name for a newish crime

A very malicious type of crime in the United States, and maybe elsewhere, is to telephone a false report of a crazed gunman at someone’s house to the emergency service dispatchers (9-1-1). The police then respond expecting a hostile attacker, and instead freak out the quiet lives at said house or worse.

A news report on the subject, that I can’t find now, mentioned that there is not a specific charge for this type of domestic terrorizm, so charges are usually “making a false report” or “obstructing government administration”.

In New York State, the Penal Law defines various crimes against the common government, like defrauding the government and corrupting the government. I propose that the manipulation of public employees or functions so they risk harming someone as they do their duty be made the crime of “weaponizing the government”.

Going through backups – Windows is happy again

I recently decommissioned an old Western Digital “MyBook” from before 2010 that had been my parents NAS when I lived with them, in the house they had where I grew up. Because I was not sure if there was something worth saving on the various backups and WD used I think an ext* filesystem, I had to restore it (1.51 TB) to a local drive to go through it.

I have a 1.81 TB drive as D: but it was half full of dashcam videos and also the most recent backups from before my parents and I went different directions. To get around this, I copied the oldest backup of my father (Windows 7 backup, using those opaque *.wbcat files) off the drive, deleting them from the NAS, and then removing obvious and large duplicates v. the most recent backup I had. I did this through 5 backup sets before getting to my mother’s backups, which used File History.

Somewhere in there I took a look at my dashcam footage and found that I had kept recordings of my back seat when the rear camera just sat on the cushions waiting for me to fix the mounting. I forget how many GB that was, but each video segment was maybe 300 MB for a few minutes.

Anyway, I have pared the duplicates (via SearchMyFiles, unpaid recommendation) across the 5 NAS + 1 prior (most recent) backups so that I have more than 10% free drive space on D:. This means Windows no longer colors the bar graph red instead of blue. YaY!

It is a palindrome day

In the ISO calendar display, yyyymmdd, today is 20200202. I remember in 2002 my father showed me something similar on graph paper. I don’t have it anymore and that is a little sad, but I nearly missed the significance of today and would have had to wait about 2 years for the next one.

Readers of the “Moscow Puzzles” may remember 1961 and the odometer on the family car. I need to finish that book.

A day I didn’t think could be: Legitimate cheating

I first lived in a house built in ~1900. Then my parents moved to a place much newer (8os), but I still visited my grand parents’ places, which were a Sears Roebuck house and a DIY from the forties. Both had really iffy old electrical wiring (you can probably guess what the title means now) that more often than not did not have grounding.

Both of them had recourse to “cheater plugs”, that allowed you to plug a 3 prong (grounded) plug into a 2 prong (ungrounded) outlet and had a little tab or wire that you would then screw to the faceplate of the outlet or connect to a ground. Riiiight… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done.

An aside: a school I went to for two years had 3 main buildings, 1 built in the 50s or 60s, and the other two in the 1860s maybe. In a class room that was way too small, like many of them, there was the only power outlet on the wall, about 6 feet up, in the middle of the wall. Why? That’s (most likely) where the gas jet was at first. When it was replaced by wires, they used the existing conduit. I don’t remember where the light switch was, or if that room had cieling lights or not. Anyway the outlet was ungrounded, and I think unpolarized, with a cheater plug supporting (literally!) the power strip hanging down about 4 feet, which an old IBM PS/2 486 was plugged into on the teacher’s desk, or next to it.

This day, though, I used one that I had to provide a path to ground for a UPS that powers my medical equipment and an old Clock of great value. The thing had its “wiring fault detected” LED lit ever since I moved to this apartment, and now it has a ground through the radiator pipe in my bedroom. Improvement!

What I did recently – today and yesterday

This may sound bizzare, but I sorted + cleaned/emptyed my Recycle Bin and Downloads directorys on Windows. For I don’t know how long I had been letting things pile up in both and finally decided that I should inspect them and either save in the right place or completely delete each file left in them. I did so and hope to keep them from piling up in the future.

Similarly, I rented an overly large safe deposit Box at one of the bank branches in town. It was tiresome to sort out what I should put in it, and I got tired because I was sitting in this little windowless purpose built room maybe a meter each way with one corner chamfered off for the door. There was a vent in the cieling but I am not sure what it did. So now my birth papers, insurance policys, prooves of ownership and similar are there instead of here, hopefully less easily lost/stolen/destroyed.

While there, I pickt up a freebie that I will use in the next post, about art and the spirit of the time.