Greylags in May

(Anser Anser.)

The Visitors have returned.  Ten so far (as against twelve last year), but one was staying well uphill from the others, not talking.  Several of the flock seem to be looking at the photographer, but I think they were wary of something on our roof; perhaps crows.

Word has it there was a lapwing in the field a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in several years.  Maybe it’ll be a good year for something.  Not for human visitors, but.

Also, new lens, which is why I managed to take the shot at all.  But it rather exposes the limitations of the old camera...

O The Fro!

PDF can be a very strange format sometimes. :-D

O the Fro – screenshot in Firefox

as viewed in Firefox

O the Fro – screenshot in Adobe Reader

as viewed in Adobe Reader

Screenshots of a Mullard advert in a PDF copy (produced by American Radio History) of Wireless World December 1964 (p74).

and we're back

a major server
disruption occurred :-(
almost fixed :-)

i'm really not sure if you can write senryus with emoticons but it was worth a shot

Photoshop modal dialogue bug

Ridiculous bug in Photoshop (CS4).  If you try to load a batch script, the default location appears to be Desktop, and if you happen to have an alias to a server volume there which youʼre not currently connected to (e.g. networkingʼs off or youʼre not at the office etc.) it has a completely modal dialogue box with no cancel button or option to change location, which halts everything and just comes up every thirty seconds or so saying this server canʼt be connected to.  The only solution seems to be to force-quit and move your server volume aliases.  This is the kind of thing that makes me want to go back to pre-CS Photoshop and never return.  Lower processor temperatures too...  I have no idea whether it persists in later Photoshops and I donʼt plan to submit to a licensing scheme to find out.  So Iʼm using the GIMP for the purpose.

too much bang for buck


blown fuse

Some time ago I needed a new soldering iron.  And a heat gun would be handy, but I had little cash spare.  Soldering stations with temperature readouts seem to be the thing now, and I can see the attraction.  My interim solution was a WEP 852D+ 2-in-1 iron / heat gun.  (Which may be a rebranded something else, not sure.)  I prefer a more modular approach to tools, but, well.  Worst case, I thought, it would do as a heat gun with a fallback iron, and Iʼd pick up a primary soldering station at some point.  Initially, all was well, and Iʼve been doing a few essential jobs with it while life beyond electronics gets sorted.

A few weeks ago during my last bout of repairs, the soldering iron handle began to loosen every time it warmed up, eventually falling apart in the hand in the middle of a job.  Lacking time to do anything about this, the only immediate solution was to tighten it manually.

some data recovery

an experience of recovery from Postgresql database files

Ooh weirdness.

I had a significant drive failure a few weeks ago during backup, which managed to take out both the source and destination drives.  OK I should be rotating backups to avoid this problem, check that for the future.  Amongst the files was the most-recent-state postgres, and this is tricky.  I could have restored from the last dump, but thanks to a months-long bout of illness this was a bit behind.

insanity level: clockwork orange and up

Itʼs getting past the point.  Really.  For quite a while itʼs been cheaper, often, to buy things from Germany or the Netherlands, even France, and sometimes Spain, than from most businesses in the South of Scotland or England; and why?  Because of the increasingly insane deregulated UK postage and courier ‘industry’.  (Donʼt you loathe it when services get called ‘industries’ to make them sound like theyʼre real jobs?)

Itʼs also been increasingly an issue that eBay in particular now allows sellers to easily exclude areas without thinking about why – which almost always means everywhere North of Perth, West of ooooh Alexandria maybe, sometimes Galloway or Dundee but not Aberdeen, sometimes Paisley but not Greenock; and always means anywhere you need to get on a ferry, a plane, or cross a saltwater bridge to get to.

You kind of expect this from English sellers; and yes I know it includes English Islands too – Isle of Wight notably.  But thatʼs what I mean – England gives the impression of being so hugely divided you expect them to behave in an exclusionary manner towards each other.

But this time, I looked for one specific product on eBay, and itʼs a seller, in fact multiple sellers apparently (but I have reservations) in GLASGOW who a) wonʼt post to the Highlands and Islands, or any ‘offshore’ (whose shore?) part of the UK or associated territories – but, b) will post to the rest of the world, including specifically, Iceland.

Default to Home

OhhhhhFFs.  Oafs.  What happened to Firefox?  Not surprising its market share has crumbled away, thereʼs so much wrong with it since about version 18 (or 5?) ... seems now there is no longer any option to really set the default encoding recognition to UTF-8, which means FF canʼt be made to work as a convenient tool to view plain page fragments any more – unless youʼre a Windows-using American, addressing only that part of the domestic Anglo audience which has never had any exposure to either traditional typography or emoji, to take two examples.  How many of that remainder can even read ASCII I couldnʼt say, but thatʼs the market segment Mozilla are catering to here.

Apparently this default is now set in Gecko, and so canʼt be changed in FF about:config.  You could recompile it, presumably, if you really wanted to.  Oh, and adding a BOM doesnʼt trigger recognition, and the menu option retains the UTF-8 setting on reload even though the display is mojibake – not interpreted as requested.  And changing locale doesnʼt make any difference.

Seriously, Mozilla, if you donʼt want people to be able to view fragments and text files, donʼt allow FF to open anything without an HTML header.  Then your project can just die off quietly and you can all go home and find something useful to do.  <angry dinosaur emoticon placeholder>

foolish child

Thereʼs always one; every year.  Sometimes down the chimney, sitting in the stove wondering where the world went.  Sometimes bashing themselves silly against the windows.  (Found a dead one outside a window just last week.)  This one found the one remnant bit of netting from an old chicken run someone hadnʼt cleared up, wrapped round a fencepost, and wondered what the world would look like if it put its head through.  How long it was hanging there I donʼt know, but I happened along.  It seemed to have lost its voice, but that might have been exhaustion rather than near-strangulation.

Iʼd like to think it learned a lesson, but Iʼm not convinced.  Theyʼre supposed to be intelligent birds, but what lesson?

Donʼt try to squeeze your head into gaps you canʼt fly through?

Is that not instinct already?  Probably not.  Thatʼs how you find nesting holes.

If these big clumsy ground things grab you and scare you near to death, they might not eat you?  Even if they start chewing the thing you canʼt get away from, right beside you.  (One hand holding bird, one holding net.  No scissors to hand, only teeth ... to, er, mouth.)

I doubt it.  You have to be able to understand the lesson to learn it, and I think all it understood was ‘eeeeeeee...(etc.)...eeeeeeeee’, repeated every time it caught a mental breath.  If.  Then shutdown.  Until Iʼd got it back to the house, got someone with scissors, juggled bird and camera for a bit and thrown it skyward, since when it might have some opportunity for reflection.  Until a cat or a hawk gets it.  I donʼt hold out any more hope for its good sense in future than I do for comprehending gratitude.  Still, photo.  Thatʼll do.

I canʼt help but think thereʼs probably something in existence that could put me in such a situation, only it might not involve something big wandering past that doesnʼt eat humans, and I might not feel quite so able to fly nimbly away on restart, if let go.  Or it might be something that traps us collectively, and there might be no-one who can make sense of it whoʼs in a position to help, or willing.

Vermona Synth Fault Requests

Message Received

Flavio, 2016-06-06

Hi there!

Thanks for your articles on the Vermona Synthesizer - I read entirely through the first part, went a bit too techy in the second article but still very interesting.

I got my Vermona Synthesizer a couple of days ago and Iʼm now facing two issue, which I hope you can help/suggest how to solve them.

First of all: for VCO 2 the register buttons donʼt remain pressed (none of them). I opened up the synth and I found out that the mechanism is somehow “stuck” in the “open” position (the position in which nothing gets blocked).

It can be seen in the difference to the VCO 1 register selectors: there, the right end of this longitudinal metal plate is in its “rest” or “inner” position, whereas for VCO 2 it can be seen that it is “out” and didnʼt get back (I donʼt know how to correctly describe, maybe I can show you pictures?!).

So of course, my question is: how do I repair this mechanical issue? I know itʼs only mechanical, because if I keep a register button pressed, VCO 2 is playing.

Second issue is the keyboard: as some keys were having “double triggers” or didnʼt trigger immediately, I took an eraser and tried to clean up what was accessible without removing any keys at all. I also moved the plated bars slightly a bit more left and then back right... now I got the lower 4-5 keys which play the same note (???) and all the others play ok but some of them are still not “clean” enough. What is your suggestion for this issue?

Thanks in advance and kind regards,



Well, sometimes I am a bit too techy.  Until itʼs the too techy bit you want.  Ignore the rest and let the search engines read it. :-)

(Iʼm writing these articles because I find it useful to record all the information I discover – less or more techy; and the interesting or entertaining thoughts that happen while looking; Iʼm publishing them specifically because I usually canʼt find the exact techy bit I want online, or anywhere else...)


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