Neil's News


12 February 2007

I've got some nice open source software ready to release, but it has the potential for a perceived intellectual property conflict with work I'm doing for Google. So give me a week to either nail that down or alter the implementation. In the mean time, here's a random collection of fun related to settling in.

My apartment features a long unbroken wall down the hall. The moment I saw it I knew exactly what I wanted to do: create an accurate scale image of the solar system. I've seen one such scale model before, on a cyclepath from Selby to York in England. Obviously mine would be significantly smaller. I did the calculations: Jupiter, the biggest planet, would have a diameter of 0.1mm. Hmm, that's not going to work. So I lowered my expectations and recalculated for just the inner solar system. With the gas giants cropped off, Earth, the biggest planet, would have a diameter of 0.2mm. I need a bigger apartment. Space is big.[?]

Since I can't seem to fit the solar system into my apartment (who knew?) I'm printing some more traditional pictures to hang on my walls.

Meanwhile, my Macintosh finally caught up with me. Unfortunately it didn't survive the trip from Canada; it was dead on arrival. When plugged in, the power supply would make a soft ticking noise about once a second. The power button had no effect. After some debugging, the culprit was either a dying power supply or a short on the motherboard. Since the power supply is always the first thing to blow, I built an ugly but functional replacement for $50 (used Mac MDD power supplies sell for $160+ on eBay). Unfortunately all this new power supply did was prove that the fault was actually on the motherboard, somewhere in the standby power circuitry. Apple quoted $600 to fix it. I think not. I should be able to fix it myself.

The Macintosh's troubles brings back memories of our family's first computer -- a 1978 Ohio Scientific Challenger III.[?] It was a fearsome machine which frequently saw my father debugging it with a logic probe and soldering iron. I thought those days were long gone; modern computers are reliable and replacement parts are plentiful. But Apple has managed to turn back time by a quarter century. Apple's machines are fabulous when they work. But when they don't one either has to pay through the nose for service or else one has to start mapping the solder traces.

With the prospect of my Macintosh returning from the dead soon, I ordered broadband Internet from Comcast. The woman taking my details asked to see some random photo ID then entered all the information into her terminal. She then handed me a sheet to check and sign. My name was listed as "Mr Health Sante".[?] The Canadian in me was amused.

It just dawned on me -- I'm in the USA. You know what that means? Yup, that's right: I can place orders from United Nuclear! [Drool...]

Update: While walking home I was thinking about furniture, or rather my current lack thereof. As I turned the corner, there almost blocking my front door, was a gorgeous pine computer desk. A note affixed to it read "FREE" in large, friendly letters. It was a moment straight out of "Dogma"[?] when Rufus makes his entrance. Life is good.

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