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Amazon and bits

While making the video for the printing calculator, I broke the tip of my soldering iron. It was loose, and, well, it suddenly became a lot looser. Thankfully after I'd done all the necessary soldering as I don't recall where my little yellow Antex is.

So I spent some time looking on Amazon. A billion bits, none of them useful. I need a special bit that has an end sort of like those little screw in 3V lightbulbs you used to mess with in physics (all that lovely Unilab stuff).

Eventually I found something that might work, and very usefully one of the product comments said that it is just right for a "FERM" soldering iron purchased at Action. Um.... which is exactly mine.

It was a little pricey at €11-something which is like almost the price of the entire iron, but on the other hand there are two bits (so €5-something each) plus I don't need to drive to Châteaubriant to get a replacement iron.
So I tapped on "Gimme now!" and Amazon promised it would be here for Tuesday.

Well, since this is Monday's blog entry... ☺

My soldering iron and the two bits
My soldering iron and the two bits.

One bit is a pointy tip like the one that was supplied with the iron originally, and the other is a thin chisel tip. They ("Lucky Transport Euro KFT in Budapest!) also threw in a little piece of flat spongy stuff.

I have screwed both tips into the iron and powered up long enough to feel them getting a little too hot to touch (that's about four seconds). The microcontroller inside (based upon an 8501 core!) is happy with them, it doesn't blink the red LED.

Here's a close-up of the bits.

A close-up of the two bits
A close-up of the two bits.

As an aside, I've discovered that this sort of soldering iron tip is called "E10" and it is used in, for example, Parkside (Lidl) soldering irons, ones that charge from USB (like mine) and, well, I guess it's just a fairly generic lowish current 3.7v bit that can be powered from a 18650 cell.

It gets up to working temperature in around thirty seconds.

Those lovely toxic fumes...
Those lovely toxic fumes...

Now, why did I mention Amazon in the section title? It's because that is where I got them from. A simple ordering process (almost deceptively simple), rapid free delivery.
Yeah, yeah, I know, Bezos is the antichrist and Amazon is pillaging the hearts of shopkeepers across the planet.
But the thing is, it (usually) works. I suppose if I lived in a city or near a large commercial zone I'd not be so concerned with Amazon. When I lived in the UK I didn't use it much because I could walk to Aldershot. Reading, Guildford, and Woking were all accessible by train. Or by MomTaxi. The MomTaxi also included Fleet, Farnham, and sometimes places like Port Solent (she liked the rock shop, I liked the place where you cooked your own meat on a fire in the middle of the table).

But living here, in the back of beyond, with a toy car, damn near non-existant public transport or trains, no concept of what a shopping mall even is, and it's over twenty euros to get to either city (Rennes or Nantes, even though Nantes is much further away) once you've made it to a train station... places like this, Amazon absolutely shines.

Sure, there are alternatives. Plenty. But this means potentially shopping at numerous different places with numerous different accounts. Dealing with random delays (one place claimed to fulfil orders within three working days and delivery could take up to five - worst case scenario would be about two calendar weeks), post charges, god help you if you need to return something, not to mention those places that use their own preferred carrier.
You know, I don't order Playmobil stuff from Playmobil. I get it from Amazon or, in the case of the advent thing, from the supermarket. Why? Is it cheaper? Nope. But what Playmobil does that ranks as a massive score against them is they use UPS as their transporter. UPS notably doesn't use drop-off points other than their own special network. They don't leave things at the supermarket like everybody else, they don't use that Mondial Relay smart-locker in the Lidl car park (like several other companies). Instead, if I wanted to order directly from Playmobil, I have to choose a drop-off point (they refuse to leave the parcel here) that is "the guy's office at an MOT testing place in Janzé" or "some random bar halfway to Châteaubriant".
Sod all of that.

Amazon? Choose, click, swipey-pay and a couple of days later. In the case of my bits, I ordered at 7.53pm on Saturday which, being the 11th of November was a public holiday. The order was dispatched at 4.45am on Sunday, and it arrived today.
Granted, it's not always as easy as that. When they send things via Chronopost, the guy doesn't even bother coming here. He just bullshits about "nobody present at home" and leaves the parcel at the bar in the next town over.
However, pretty much, Amazon works. Now, I'm not a fan or beholden, I'm simply reporting that there are some things that they are doing right from a customer point of view. Things that other companies could, but for whatever reasons just don't.

So, if I talk about Amazon here on my blog, it's not because I'm being paid or given special perks. It's simply because they are a place that sells a huge amount of stuff, and generally gets my choices to me quickly. Which is, let's face it, about all we ask from an online shop, right?

PS: Yeah, yeah, I know about their tax evasion and horrific treatment of employees (especially leftpondian where they're extremely union-hostile). Firstly, the tax issue is them using the same creative loopholes as others. Amazon aren't the ones at fault here, the government make the rules so if the rules are inadequate or poorly enforced, it's the government's fault. Nobody on earth wants to pay more tax if there's an option to pay less. And there are plenty of options that the rich and the multinationals use frequently. This might be a little immoral on the part of these large companies, but it's certainly not illegal no matter how much the likes of the Daily Fail might want you to believe otherwise. If it were illegal, the rozzers would have raided their head office and taken documents and maybe the odd executive. But it's all quite legal. They're just lightly abusing the same rules that the wealthy political donors use to make their own tax burdens evaporate (which is why it is never 'fixed').
And as for their treatment of American employees... my god, the more I find out about employement conditions in the US, the more I'm glad I'm in Europe. I mean, the pink slip thing and "at will" is bad enough, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.


Proud to be Scottish

A quick detour, as Epic Rock Radio just played a song by "Alestorm". Something to do with an anchor. I'll let you look this one up for yourself (it's on YouTube), just don't do so at work.

It crosses the line so many times that the only sensible reaction is to laugh. It's also extremely catchy in an annoyingly ear-wormy kind of way.

And, while being written back in 2017, it probably wasn't a reaction to Brexit...though it would certainly suffice as the answer to, well, Brexit and Westminster and...

You'll understand if you listen to it.

Oh, and there's a video with "English lyrics" for people who seem completely unable to comprehend a guy who rolls his Rs. I mean, I left Scotland when I was like six months old so have very little experience with any of the Scottish accents but, come on, he wasn't that hard to understand, FFS! It's not as if he was singing Rugadh na h-uile duine saor agus co-ionnan nan urram 's nan càirichean. He was singing in English, you just need to pay a little more attention. I'll bet y'all understood the chorus the first time, right?



So Spineless Sunak finally found it in himself to give Cruella the boot. Not because she was taunting the police and protestors alike. Not because the sick deranged bitch seems to think sleeping rough (in a tent) is a "lifestyle choice". Not because she wants to blame nasty things on Pakistanis (there's blatant racism from the heart of government)... ...but apparently because she wrote a newspaper piece that - per protocol - was bounced off Number Ten. But off protocol she appeared to disregard the requested changes.

The thing is, I rather doubt we've seen the last of this evil piece of 💩. She seems to be the darling of the far right faction of the Tories. Which, given her immigrant heritage you'd have thought they'd want no part of, but I guess the swivel-eyed loons can be forgiving when they encounter somebody who is even more swivel-eyed than them.

But the thing that surprises isn't Braverman, it's the return of Cameron. I showed an article (auto-translated into French) to a cow-orker. She didn't get any further than looking at the headline and the picture before remarking "wait, isn't he the guy that broke the country?".

Couldn't have put it better myself.


This is why we can't have nice things

I got myself a KitKat advent calendar. Also the habitual Celebrations one, and I found an 'acceptable' Playmobil one too. You'll need to wait two and a half weeks to see what.

Anyway, I saw this in the supermarket:

Thieving bastards
Thieving bastards.


Applied Idiocy

That's what I believe "AI" stands for.

At work they have rolled out a sort of Facebook Lite. It isn't Facebook, but it's a kind of employee social networking system.

There was an obligatory meeting for staff members a few weeks back, to introduce everybody to the system and all of it's many wondrous benefits.
I wouldn't know. When my boss came to find me (as I was working in plonge) I told her that I had actual work to do. She started to tell me some of the things that the superlative new thing can do. I rolled my eyes in a dramatic way, said I had actual work to do, and walked away to go do it.
I guess declining a half hour sitting on my arse listening to somebody blather enthusiastically about their wonderful new way of communicating (like Facebook hasn't been a thing for at least a decade and a half; and Twitter used to be a thing...) was a pretty strong message. Yes, I'd rather work than have anything to do with the mindless drivel that is social media.

However, I do from time to time swipe around the various messages showing on the carousel display in the staff break room. Because, as a geek, there are some things that amuse me.

For example, the company put out a little article talking about their special new Christmas Creation. There was one comment below it that said "Bravo!".
Yeah, I told you this stuff was mindless drivel.
Anyway, the system identified that "Bravo!" was a foreign word and it helpfully offered to translate it. So I tapped the little doodah to perform the translation.

This beautifully sums up everything I think about AI.
This beautifully sums up everything I think about AI.


Life's little pleasures

I was unpacking my restocking order (taken from the big stock stuff and delivered to me on a plastic palette).
What you see are boxes of paper towels. There are six rolls inside each box. As we work with food, there's a lot of hand washing which implicates a lot of paper towels.

And, if you look carefully... 17:45, 17:46, 17:47, 17:48 (yes, I checked), and 17:49.

Pleasing paper towel sequence.
Pleasing paper towel sequence.

Little things like that please me.

The stock girls refer to that company as "para-dess". I, at least, have noticed that it's one 'a' and two 'e's. So I call it "pa-ray-deez". Just to mess with them.



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C Ferris, 13th November 2023, 22:01
What solder do you use?
Anon, 13th November 2023, 22:13
Rick - have you considered taking a driving test? You know, so you can, like, go places? I'm sure your "toy car" (as you put it) is fine for a quick shopping trip, or going to and from work, but, you know, something a bit bigger? That's maybe capable of getting you a speeding ticket (not that I'd recommend doing that of course)? 
Speaking of which, the "beast" (ie the Audi Quattro) has to go in for a service next week. It's a major service, and not before time - the fuel filter is blocked, meaning it's way down on power. Probably down to about 100-110bhp (it should produce 225bhp). 
Not sure if you've ever experienced a diesel-engined car suffering from under-fuelling. It goes all right up to about 2,500rpm, then starts to misfire - badly. And because the compression on a diesel engine is so high, it causes an alarming judder that can be felt right through the drivetrain, steering wheel, etc etc. 
Soonest I can get it in is next Tuesday. Fortunately I don't have to go far before then. 
If you want earworms, try this: 
(Ignore the cheesy video! Make it a link if possible too?) 
Do a mashup between that and The Lion Sleeps Tonight and you'll be breeding earworms. 
As for "para-deez" (no, not "deez nuts"!) - I'm reminded of Vanessa? Joe Le Taxi anyone?
Rob, 13th November 2023, 22:15
Amazon... I feel the same way. Even living in an inner-city estate, it's sometimes easier to just order from them, and often cheaper if you factor in fuel costs of going to get things. Never mind next-day delivery, if it's early enough in the day, I can order some things for delivery within as little as 30 minutes!! If it's groceries I want, they do them too, as do several of the supermarkets and a number of third parties. (Prices vary wildly, but the convenience is undeniable.)  
Related... How come I can buy things on Ali Express with free delivery, for a total price that's less than it'd cost me in postage alone if I were sending it ? 
Facebook... why do people think everybody wants to use it ? I needed to call the local hospital diabetes team this morning. Number was out of order. I tried finding an alternate number, in case it had changed. The hospital website said nothing different, but google eventually offered me the department's facebook page which had a post, thankfully visible to non-logged-in users, admitting there was a problem with the phones. Sigh. 
I've not listened to that song, but google offered me the lyrics at the top of the search results... Not something I would dare play out loud!
Rob, 13th November 2023, 22:21
Forgot to say.. I don't usually buy groceries via delivery. They cost more than going to Sainsburys, which is within walking distance (but not when carrying bags of shopping..) but I did try a few out, early in the Pandemic, when the Covid App pinged me as being in contact with a plague carrier, and told me to self-isolate. (Thankfully I tested negative, and continued to do so. Probably due to religiously masking up everywhere, unlike many people.) They worked, and helped, but I was glad for the new-customer-discounts offered by each one in turn :)
jgh, 14th November 2023, 00:19
I've had a cold for a couple of days, and when I work up today and put the news on I thought it must have gone to a fever and I'd was delirious. David "safe pair of hands" Cameron? 
There's a meme going around. David Cameron's big idea to solve the middle east: A Referendum!
Anon, 14th November 2023, 00:36
You mean David Hameron?
C Ferris, 14th November 2023, 10:49
Tony Blair to replace Starmer?? 
Or is that Lord Blair?
Rick, 14th November 2023, 11:13
Yeah, even Priti Patel has a title. It seems to be the minister's way of patting each other on the back at the taxpayer's expense. 
As for Blair, isn't he the guy that broke Labour, got into a kerfuffle over Iraq, and has like no concept of what "principles" are?
C Ferris, 14th November 2023, 11:44
'Honest Politicians' a oxemoron - I wonder how that translates:-)

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