heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Labeller mods

Last night when I got home I decided to repurpose the power jack on my labeller. It was supplied with a puny 100mA PSU intended to charge a battery pack. The battery pack, long since dead, would be a pain to replace. Therefore, why not just run it from another PSU? My iomega zip pack throws out a good lot of current, but the thing is only 5V so isn't enough to get the labeller to even start up. The next one I have with good current output runs a DeskJet, at something like 40V. A little excessive. This leaves me with the Bush box supply. 6V, at around an amp. It's a little low power, but the labeller will run with it.
So I opened the labeller, cut the circuit tracks around the socket, and soldered a wire between the socket and the original power input. I also reversed the polarity to the socket to match the power pack.
Labeller power supply now useful!

 

Harvesting the wheat

As I write this, up the lane a dinky yellow harvester is bringing in the wheat. This'll be a mite over two weeks ahead of time. What is strange to us is that the wheat is coming in before the barley. Usually it's the other way around...

 

Passport

I was going to write yesterday (but didn't) that our passport applications moved on to the next degree of nonsense. Having been put in a "to do" pile, the reapplication for the card payment wasn't done. The bank upped my card payment limit to €500 for a week, and that week passed...
So we made up a "mandat cash", sort of like a postal order, and sent that off. I don't know what bunnies got pulled out of what hats, but our passports arrived before the post receipt acknowledgement from the mandat cash.

I'm glad that they have arrived - I was worried it might progress to "please come to Paris for an interview". While I don't mind being interviewed for a passport (I'm a British citizen, dammit, gimme!), there is a whole lot of cost-related issues related to going on a trip to Paris. And besides, I'd want to paint the Eiffel tower red and white and tell myself I was really in Tokyo...

Anyway, they have arrived. Mine with a "guess who works nights" mugshot attached. Actually, I have a suspicion they might have touched up the photo so I look a little less dead. There's a really cool holographic thing that shows different stuff depending on what angle the light hits it.
And on the other side? This:

Passport biometric chip.
Apparently a cryptographically signed memory device with a 32KiB capacity. The coil is big as it is both an antenna and an induction loop for powering the chip. I wonder what data is actually held on it? I'm rather surprised the spec didn't look to running half a megabyte or so to include a JPEG of the passport photo and other pertinant (allergies, medical alert, etc) information.
There is no fingerprinting, the UK is not signatory to the Shengen Agreement.

There are precautions - don't carry the passport in a nuclear war, don't microwave... The jury is out on whether or not a photocopier can damage it; for a simple fact of life is that the British passport is our only form of ID and French authorities (especially the CPAM (health)) copy it frequently.

 

Asswipe!

The entry prior has this as a comment, from a person called "ScrewU":
Asswipe!

This saddens me. No, not that somebody would write a garbage comment (it has to happen sometime, it's like a built-in auto-temptation of Rule 14). No. What saddens me is that I like to think of my readers as being more literate than to think that "Asswipe." is a complete self-contained sentence.

This, incidentally, is what asswipe looks like. My passport photo might suck (don't they all?), but come on, I'm not bog roll...

 

Life and happiness

I was emailed and asked if I really meant to tell the world that my bank account was in disarray.
Not really.
But on the other hand, I'm not that worried about it. You see, I define myself by my level of "happiness" which is not linearly associated to the digits in my bank account. Sure, money does buy happiness, but only up to a point.

I play the EuroLoto on the hopes of winning... what is it now? Something in the order of €150,000,000? But would I really want that sort of sum? A million or so would be a better amount. Enough to give you the opportunity to lead a comfortable life. I mean, what the hell would I do with 150M? Buy Greece?
You know I'd go to Japan... Sweden... Italy... Canada... all the places I've thought about going to, I could. And buy a little house in each. And spend so much time going around that life will be a right muddle. And, I suspect, ultimately, a bit boring. Having some disposable cash and enough to not worry about things like working means you can wake up and think "what would I like to do today?". Having insane amounts means you could think of pretty much anything (yes, cheerleaders and a swimming pool full of melted chocolate...) but how long will it take before you wake up, think "oh sod it" and want to go back to sleep? Part of life is the anticipation. I am enjoying the anticipation of tackling the JTAG issue, probably more than I'd enjoy actually doing it, especially the debuggy part. I am enjoying the anticipation of the summer break (and I know I'll enjoy not working until five in the morning!).

Look at it like this. I could buy a JTAG dongle, download OpenOCD, and see if I could get the dead OSD running. It'll be simple. But in the process I would have discovered zip. If I had oodles of money, I could find somebody and say "here, you do it", but that would be even worse. Part of the joy of hacking is in the discovery. Sure, I will - to a degree - be reinventing a wheel. But what's so bad about that? It isn't the futility of doing a done job, it is the joy of seeing all the pieces come together. This is why children do experiments in science class. Nobody is going to be stimulated by dry boring descriptions in textbooks. No, we want to add acid to sugar and watch a big black erection (ooh, another quote begging to be taken out of context!). We want to burn different metals and note the colour of the flame changes. I am pleased to say that I am old enough to have felt the bizarreness of sticking my hand into a jar full of mercury. It is a very odd feeling.

Lots of deviation, hestitation, and repetition to say that what is going on with my bank account concerns me more or less only in as much as making sure the number doesn't have a big fat '-' prefix. Other than that, it's just numbers.

Speaking to a friend recently, he said the most lovely quote I've heard in a long time. This says it all:

Reminds me of an old quote: "At school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said: "Happy." They said I didn't understand the question. I said they didn't understand life."

 

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