Thursday, June 26, 2014


Goddammit.  My video card just died.


Freeze-and-reboot followed by loads of red artefacts during POST followed by a PCB running at fingerprint removing temperature makes me a sad panda.  :(

Monday, June 23, 2014

Actual conversations I had with religious doorknockers on the weekend. [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Idiot brainwashed moron #1
Me:  Can you see this?  (Points at "No knock" sticker on door.)
Them:  Yes.
Me:  So why are you intruding on my privacy against my clearly expressed wishes?
Them:  Our faith tells us we must.
Me:  My faith tells me I must punch doorknockers in the face repeatedly if they ignore my sign.  If you want to introduce me to your faith, I presume you'll have no objections to my doing the same?
Idiot brainwashed moron #2
Them:  May we take a few minutes to speak to you about [our personal imaginary best friend]?
Me:  I’ll tell you what, I'm currently picking up dog shit in the yard.  I'll allow you to talk to me about whatever you like as long as you help pick up shit.  Offer lasts while dog shit does, deal?
Idiot brainwashed moron #3
Them:  May we take a few minutes to speak to you about [deluded rambling]?
Me:  From that, may I presume you have a strongly held religious faith?
Them:  Oh yes, very much so!
Me:  So if our positions were reversed and I was knocking on your door, would I have any hope of convincing you to change your faith to that of mine?
Them:  Oh no, of course not!
Me:  So why the fuck would you assume you're going to be able to change mine by doing exactly the same?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Welcome home

On August 12, 1978 NASA launched a small spacecraft called ISEE-3 to study the interaction between the earth's magnetic field and the "solar wind" emanating from the sun.

In 1997, NASA abandoned ISEE-3 due to a data link rate which had deteriorated to the point of unusability.  There has been no regular contact since, although the spacecraft remains in an orbit around the sun which occasionally brings it back near earth.  A brief carrier signal was established in 1999.

In 2008, a deep space comms network reestablished a data link with ISEE-3.  To the surprise of all, the spacecraft is still almost fully functional, and even has some propellant remaining.  The problem: the equipment involved in communicating with the spacecraft is now ancient history, and no longer exists.  NASA announced that rebuilding it was not worth the cost and that the spacecraft would be abandoned.

Enter the internet.

The original specs on the spacecraft were long since in the public domain, so a group of scientists, engineers and programmers decided to explore the option of open-sourcing control of the craft.  The ISEE-3 Reboot Project was born.

The team managed to obtain and construct the necessary communications gear (think Space Cowboys here) and somehow talked The Man into letting them install it on the Arecibo antenna.  It's basically a remodulator and power amplifier with the rest of the hardware done totally in software as wire-wrap hadn't been invented at the stage that ISEE-3 flew.

On May 29, 2014, the team successfully established a datalink with ISEE-3 and have managed to command the spacecraft into engineering mode to begin transmitting telemetry and allow debugging.  The next step is to fire an orbital adjustment burn which will place the spacecraft in an extended earth halo orbit.  if this doesn't happen by mid-June 2014, the next time we see ISEE-3 will be sometime in 2040.

Hopefully, welcome home, little fella.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Modern deadly sins

I see the Vatican has had nothing better to do with their time than update their current list of deadly sins.

Personally I think they're as off base and irrelevant to the modern world as ever. Here's a real list of modern sins:

Still using a Yahoo or Hotmail e-mail address.
Having Bing set as your home page.
Use of the reply all function with thinking.
Having used Geocities. Ever.
Having used Incredimail. Ever.
Production of a motherboard BIOS that is not automatically enabled for USB keyboard support.
Not seeding.
Wearing of Crocs, for any reason.
Not picking up dog shit when you walk the pets.
Thinking Facebook is important.
Making duck faces when having your photo taken.
Selfies. Ever.