Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

If it were their kids…

February 16, 2018

That had just been murdered by a kid with an assault rifle, you can bet your last nickle that congress would bloody well do something about the gun issues facing the country.

Instead we hear the usual ‘cautious’, i.e. non committal, answers from those we choose to ‘lead’ us. Sadly I am not sure where exactly they are leading us but a picture of lemmings comes to mind…..


The Trump Giveth…

February 2, 2018

In the form of a tax cut, and the health insurance industry taketh away (in the form of increased premiums).

Overall, bubkiss is about what I got although I am sure that come tax time next year, it’ll be even worse.



The (cable) cord is cut…

January 16, 2018

Terminated my cable TV today, was TWC, now Spectrum. We moved house last year, just as TWC became Spectrum. They said we could have the cheap rate then changed their minds and said we had to stay on the old rate (almost $200 a month for TV and Internet).

Recently I finally got a decent Wifi setup at home (eero) and as we now have good wifi speed all over the house I looked into various non cable options. Got a cheap Roku to play around with and signed up for free trials from DirectvNow, Sling and CBS all access. In the end I liked the DirectvNow package better so went with that. We were already paying for Netflix and Amazon Prime so I’m not really counting the cost of those as we had them anyway. Kid has hulu so we use that as well. Added Britbox so we could watch UK TV and we are good to go.

Got a second Roku for the bedroom TV the other day and took all the cable TV hardware back today and cancelled the TV service. Overall we’ll be saving about $55 a month. Not a fortune but better in my pocket than theirs and we can always try other services if we want and as packages evolve, which I am sure they will.

So far, not missing cable TV at all!


The Effect of Fake News…

October 10, 2017

So called ‘fake news’ is all the rage these days. In fact it seems like it does not matter if it is fake or not, just calling it ‘fake’ is enough and therein lies the problem. We tend to trust certain sources of information. As a Brit I have always tended to trust the BBC as a source of news, even though it was revealed that the UK government fed the BBC and other news sources ‘false’ information about troop and ship movements during the Falklands war for both strategic and political reasons. You might call that propaganda but it’s really still just ‘fake news’.

The propagation of fake news is not helped by the fact that news outlets are often quick to jump on a story and ‘report’ it without doing any sort of due diligence because they are afraid of missing out on it and thus losing viewers/readers/eyes and of course fewer eyes on a channel means less advertising revenue (yes, even the news is about earning $$$’s these days).

The effect of all this is that as consumers of news we become less and less trusting of our news sources to the point that in the end we don’t trust any of them and that becomes a problem because in many countries (but not all sadly), the press could be considered the conscience of the people at large or at the very least a watchdog against underhand dealing by corporations and governments.

At this point, those same corporations and governments have won the war of words. They are free to spin their own version of events, safe in the knowledge that it has become easy to discredit any source that attempts to contradict their version of things because people no longer trust those alternate sources of information.

And once you control the press, even if that ‘control’ is in the form of making it untrusted, then you control the people.





August 16, 2017

Trump is like watching a slow motion train wreck. You know how it’s going to end, just not when.


This is how social media works…

February 17, 2017

A while ago someone that I do not have a direct connection with on Facebook (basically a friend of a friend), posted something of a political nature (’nuff said) to which I replied, perhaps not in complete agreement. Their response was that “they did not want to start a conversation on the topic” or words to that effect.

Now it strikes me that this person completely misunderstands how things like Facebook work.

If you want to post something and not start a conversation then you have to lock people out of responding, share it only with direct ‘friends’ or make it private in some other way. If you make it public then it’s fair game and you have to accept that some people may not agree with your point of view.

THAT’S how it works.


Gun Follies 4…

January 18, 2017

No mail Monday because it was MLK day but the spring arrived on Tuesday. Here’s a picture of it next to a stamp for a size comparison:


I took the gun in today and got it fixed so I’m good to go. Funny thing is, another spring turned up the following day but at least I now have a spare!



Gun Follies 3…

January 12, 2017

Bad weather delayed the mail a couple of days but parts arrived yesterday. One screw (that I need), one rear sight elevation plate (that I don’t need) and NO spring. Called them up, seems it was fulfilled (Not sure if that’s the same as shipped!) that day so I ‘should’ have it in a few days (I am hoping so anyway).

I also call again today to see if I could get a screen shot from the gun schematic of how the spring fits under the elevation plate. Seems there’s a notch under there so it goes into that and not (as I would have thought) with the screw through it since putting the screw through it would have locked it into place but I guess it cannot come out unless the screw comes out so I guess it’s good as it is. Anyway, was told they did not have schematic (!!!) but above was explained. Guess we shall see once spring comes and I can get to the gunsmith!

Tell you one thing. I’m putting some lacquer or something on that puppy once it’s back in to keep it in place and stop it backing out!


Gun Follies 2…

January 3, 2017

So just to be sure, picked up the phone today and spoke with someone about my concerns about the spring. Turns out there is one but it’s on back order (that’s what he told me anyway). Anyway he ordered the part then I asked him to check my other order from the chat session yesterday. Seems that order includes the screw, spring (the one they said did not exist) and even the elevation plate.

I also contacted them via Facebook and the response on there was that the orders I have include everything I need and that I ‘should’ be good to go. I remain skeptical but hopeful that all the parts I need will show up soon and that I’ll be able to get the sights fixed and get back on the range.

I will admit that they have been very responsive, even on the first day back at work after the new year so we shall see how well this all works out.


Gun Follies…

January 2, 2017

After many (MANY) years of being, if not anti gun, at least not totally for them, I finally exercised my 2nd amendment rights and bought a small pistol. After much time spent online reading reviews and watching videos, I settled on a Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact, just for fun at the range.

For my needs, it’s great and I don’t regret buying it at all. However (you knew there would be an ‘however’) didn’t you!) second time out at the range the rear sight elevation screw dropped out and disappeared off somewhere, probably in front of the firing line but I never found it. I only noticed it was missing when I suddenly found my self shooting six inches low and while I am no marksman by any stretch, I am not THAT bad either!

Of course this was New Years day so no possibility of doing anything and that was the end of my session for the day which sorta sucked!

Now from what I can recall (you never look at these things in detail until it goes wrong) the rear sight sort of sprung up against the adjustment screw so I assumed I had lost the screw AND a small spring from under the sight that pushed it up against the adjustment screw. Went to the gun store today and of course they don’t have parts so they can either order them from S&W or send the gun in (with I am told, a five to six week turn around time currently) or I can get the parts from somewhere like Brownells and the gun shop will install them, maybe take 10 minutes.

Latter option seems best so I toddle back home and go online. Cannot find the parts at all online and of course, being Jan 2nd and still really New Years day, cannot chat with anyone so I tried S&W web site. I was in the middle of composing an e-mail when I thought to try chat ‘just for the heck of it’ and was pleasantly surprised to get a response. So I explained the situation and could I get the screw and spring. Was then told that there is no spring, just the screw and a rivet and that if I need just the screw they would send me one, no charge but the rivet was a factory install option only.

Now I cannot see at all how not having some sort of spring under there to force the rear site upwards works but I went with the flow and asked them to send me the screw and I’d see if that was enough to fix the issue.

If it does not, then the gun will have to go off to S&W with that five to six week turn around time!

So it’s picture time….

This is what it should look like:


And this is mine (sans screw):


The rear site is now just floppy and lose and just sits anywhere between up:


And down:


This is how the inside of the slide should look with the screw just poking through (no sign of any rivet):


And this is mine now:










Why does anyone think…

January 1, 2017

That staying up till midnight to watch the calendar flip over will make the next 365 day period any better than the one that just ended? And if it does, why not do it every day. After all a year is 365 days (plus one every once in a while!) so what difference does it make which actual day the event occurs on!

So even though it’s a stupid tradition, I’d just like to wish my reader (you know who you are), a….



The Next Four Years…

December 10, 2016

This is for all those folks that voted for Trump in the belief that he’ll fix the economy.

For many folks, their economic situation has gotten worse of the years as the rich got richer and the rest of us didn’t! Along comes Trump saying he’ll fix all that so here’s what’s going to happen (and is already happening to some extent).

Trump will build (is building) a cabinet that consists of people that:

  • Are all part of that rich set and whose vested interests are in keeping themselves that way.
  • Are all buddy buddy with the leaders and CEOs of the major corporations in this country
  • Oppose unions and worker rights
  • Oppose raising the minimum wage
  • Oppose pretty much anything (I.E. laws) that will regulate their business.
  • Oppose anything (laws again) that protect the environment (and thus all of our children’s future) from being exploited and/or ruined.

What this all means is that you, dear Trump voter, has effectively given the government of this country to the very people you thought Trump was going to protect you from.

Enjoy the next four years because I bet that by the end of it you’ll all be wishing for the good old ‘Obama’ days!





The Popular Vote…

November 10, 2016



So how’s this going to work…

November 10, 2016

During the election run up, Trump promised to make companies that move work offshore pay a penalty for doing so.

Aren’t these the same large companies that back the Republican party?

It may be a Republican president and a Republican congress but somehow I just cannot see the people in congress, the same people that are backed by those large companies, wanting to bite the hand that feeds them.


Were Screwed….

November 9, 2016



Use a Stamp Day…

October 21, 2016

Back in 2009 I nominated October 21st as “Use a Stamp Day”. You can read about it here. Like all my great ideas it’s been mostly ignored which means that as an idea, it’s totally naff or I am way, WAAAY, ahead of my time! Either way I still like it and since today is the 21st, I thought I just mention it again in the hope that someone takes it to heart.

US Stamp


Fall 2016 TV Show Reviews

September 26, 2016

Fruit has a season, most grown foods have a season, the weather has seasons but TV! Who knew. no matter, there’s another round of new and not so new shows on TV so I thought I’d review some of those that I have watched, will continue to watch and those that I won’t be watching any more…

Halt and Catch Fire

Love this show but it’s been so long since the last season it’s taken me a while to catch up with all the plot lines. I grew up in this era. When Wozniak was building the first Apple Ones, I was messing around with electronics and similar stuff. The only difference is, is that he had some guy named Jobs to sell it while I didn’t which is why he’s rich and famous and I’m not. I’m pretty sure that had he not had Jobs around he’d be the same as me, just another nerd!

No matter, the show builds on all of that, plus IBM’s dominance in the field around that time and the struggle of the PC based world to break free. Gotta love the Boz character, an old dinosaur struggling to make sense of a world that suddenly changed under his feet. Reminds me of my old dad.


Blue Bloods

I love this show but I think it’s because of the cast more than the story lines. The plots all tend to end up just right in the end. Even when the ending is less than perfect they still seem to make it sound like it came out OK. That aside, the cast can make even the worst story line seem plausible although I doi think Tom Selleck should stop coloring his mustache and either let it go grey or just shave the bloody thing off, been there done that.

While I love the show I do have to think that a family this ‘nice’, especially a family in law enforcement wold have been eaten by the sharks and discarded a long time ago.


Designated Survivor

I thought I’d give this new show a try and so far it looks like it has the potential to be interesting although we’ve already had an early look at the treacherous general looking to undermine his new CIC. That’s a plot line that could be interesting or could become just another highly predicable TV sub plot that should have been drowned at birth. We shall see but I suspect it will be the latter, the ‘bad’ guys are never THAT easy to spot in real life.

As for Kiefer Sutherland as the lead, so far so good. He plays his mild mannered, almost reticent part well. The only ‘glitch’ I’ve seen in that persona is when he had to deal with the Iranian Ambassador and he suddenly becomes this really strong, don’t mess with me, presidential leader, albeit followed by a sigh of relief after the Ambassador had left. That sudden switch in personality was a bit too unrealistic for me but other that, well, we shall see. So far, so good.


The Good Place

Another new one I thought I’d try since I do like a good comedy. Sadly¬† have to say that this is not a good comedy. In fact I’m not sure it’s a good anything, it’s certainly not in a good place!

Ted Danson was great in Cheers. Since then he seems to have become what I would like to call ‘a parachute’. He seems to have become the actor that the networks bring in when a show is struggling and needs some new blood to save its fortunes. E.G.CSI. It’s bad though when the show starts out like that, you just know it’s doomed.

I’m also not sure who the ‘lead’ actor is in this show, Danson, Kristen Bell who plays the fly in the ointment or Jameela Jamil who plays the obligatory Brit bird (for those of you that don’t speak British slang, a bird is a woman) with an over active larynx.

Basically the show seems to be relying upon every typical (and well worn) humor situation to draw it’s laughs, including the fact that apparently only the top zero point zero one percent of the top zero point zero one percent of all the goody goody people in the world get into ‘the good place’ with the rest of us all going to hell. All seems a bit unfair if you ask me but as far as religion goes, it’s probably as good a theory as any other I’ve ever heard!

For me, the best character in the whole show is the Buddhist Monk that has been paired as the life partner of ‘the talkative one’ (Jameela Jamil). He has this look of “F**k it, if she doesn’t shut up soon I’m gonna kick living crap out of her and screw the fact I might go to hell”. he manages that even though he does not say a word throughout the whole show but every time you see him, he has this ‘deer in headlights’ look on his face.

Off hand I’d give the show (let’s be generous) six episodes before it gets killed off. I’ll never know though because I won’t be watching any more episodes, life is too short and The Good Place is just not good enough for me to spend any more time on it.



Latest Tech News…

September 22, 2016

This just in. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un shows off NK’s latest advance in storage technology:



Arrrrr… It be…..

September 19, 2016

Talk like a Pirate day!


Fun with Electronics…

September 16, 2016

Earlier testing and use had proven that the midi out signal from my little Arduino Uno based projects was far too weak to drive the signal over a long MIDI line so I’ve been researching how to boost the signal. I found a circuit on the internet that uses a BC212 PNP transistor as a driver however it seems the BC212 is now obsolete but can be replaced by a 2N3906.

This is the circuit I found:


I’m not using the input side although I am now starting to add something similar to my MIDI hardware circuits just to protect the Arduino and to make them conform to the spec although I an using 6N138 isolators.

Anyway, back the output side of things. I knocked up the output circuit on a breadboard although I omitted the 220 ohm resistor from pin 5 to ground and used a different pin on my Arduino for the output so that I did not need the ‘programming switch’ in there for my little test.

Threw together a little test program to continuously send out a MIDI CC command with changing data so I know it’s working because I can see the differing data. The command was actually a BeatBuddy MIDI volume command. Hooked it up to my iPad via the iRig and gave it a try. Once I knew it worked with a short MIDI cable I tried it with a long cable,¬† around 20 feet long. Success:


With it all working a connected it up with the long cable to the BeatBuddy and was able to see the volume setting change on the BeatBuddy.

With all this working, the next step is to integrate these changes, plus the functionality of the BeatBuddy MIDI Volume Control (BBMVC) into the Hackman, my magic box that makes the Jamman Solo XT and the BeatBuddy work together. For that though I am going to try to design a ‘real’ circuit board in Eagle and then have the board made up as by that time,it’s going to be getting far too hard to squeeze everything onto a small prototyping board and solder all the connections by hand. Plus it just takes far too long!