Category Archives: engineering

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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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!

Improvement to an old tablet

I’ve mentioned at least once here that I have an MSI WindPad 110W tablet. Someone made one of those “don’t read the comments” comments I read insulting the company for its name (they called it “FartPad”) and model (110W = 110 watts, an outrageous power draw for a tablet). For their understandable reasoning, but not unjust trollishness, I agree it is odd sounding.

None of that has to do with my improvement to it, which is to remove the cameras.

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The POWRfull slide-rule

This has been sitting in my place, and then scanned to a PDF, but I have to post it here before it gets lost in a fire or I die or something: POWRfull

It is a slide rule for metricating, or going backwards too. Far more than anything else for the purpose, it is a classical “New Jersey style” tool that does one thing, well. Here are immages:

POWRfull

Two sides of the slide rule for converting units between US Customary and metric. The unit pairs are, upper top row: (inches, centimeters); (meters, feet); (meters, yards); (miles, kilometers). Lower top row: (sq. inches, sq. centimeters); (sq. meters, sq. feet × 10); (sq. meters, sq. yards); (sq. miles, sq. kilometers). Upper bottom row: (cu. inches, cu. centimeters × 10); (cu. meters, cu. feet × 10); (cu. meters, cu. yards); (liters, quarts). Lower bottom row: (ounces, grams × 10); (kilograms, pounds); (metric tons, short tons); (gallons, liters).

Other than being made by Sterling in the United States, and of course being in the ISRM about two-thirds of the way down this page, it is perfect. It will live again, especially when I find out how to vectorize it or make Excel use it.

 

Just try and reinstall Windows on this

I have had, for some time, an “Irulu W10” tablet. After “refreshing” Windows 10 on it, then reinstalling Firefox, then generating a new profile for Firefox, then reinstalling Firefox, I now want to do a completely fresh reinstall of Windows 10. This is more of a trip than the MSI WindPad I had been using previously.

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I have worse Internet than my boss

My immediate boss/supervisor lives on some nasty town road that is ill maintained (he says, I’ve never been there) and has even worse utility service. He can’t get anything but dialup or satellite and even the infamously reliable Bell System copper wire doesn’t last long in a power failure because the booster in the box halfway into town doesn’t have a long lasting battery.

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Sound test!

I have been using the best YouTube video I know of for sound testing when I plug in my speaker-monitors: cz3DEStqO-U – entituled, “Dale annoying Squirrely the broody hen“. I do not know the breeds, but the white broody “Squirrely” has the most interesting complaint voice.

I had a broody hen, I don’t remember her breed, who would make this sound that had a glottal stop in it. I think that is what you would call it. Anyway, this hen’s vocalization is very worthy of record.

Bonus: listen closely during the intermission when “Dale” stares at the lens. You can hear someone in the distance: “What are you doing in there?”

I, civil servant II

Although I don’t think I had mentioned it, but can’t remember (which shows what comes of leaving your blog alone for too long), I had been for some time looking for a new posting in the State service. To my enjoyment, last Thursday it came true.

I am now posted to the Health Department as an engineer, environmental. This difference is quite significant for me, as the old one (civil) wasn’t what I went to school for and made me feel out of place.1

In this case, good things did come to those who waited, since I was passed over for one position further north, but made a good enough impression to be recommended by those interviewers for a new position open closer to where I was working already. An interview and some paper shuffling on their part and I was offered the position!

Now I get to go through another year long probational period, but all told I think it will be a nice one. I no longer have a half-office but a full cubicle in the back of the back of a building that houses another State function. Not bad, only there is no way to open the windows and get fresh air, but I can survive I think (:

Your author.


  1. Note that my co workers and supervision did not contribute to this problem, only the my self. 

A new paper game for engineers

Here is a new game for science and engineering, to determine between two people:

Supply:

  • Two pairs of scissors. If someone is left-handed, they should have left-handed scissors.
  • A large sheet of paper with perfect 90° corners
  • Some witnesses
  • A planimeter or something like it

Instructions:

  1. Select by mutual agreement the distance in from the edge to cut. For an A4 or 8½ × 11, maybe 3 cm or 1 in.
  2. At the same time, start each person starts cutting a strip off their side of the paper by using the scissors.
  3. When complete, the witnesses use the planimeter to determine the variation from a true straight line of each of the two cuts. The person with the smallest total area above and below the perfect line wins.
  4. If both are identical, the person who did it using fewer cuts wins.
  5. If both are identical, the person who did it more quickly wins.

This is best done with waste or scrap paper that is blank on one side, to prevent paper waste.

As an advantage over the other paper based game, rock-paper-scissors, it is based on skill and not chance.