Thursday, November 10, 2005


Gah, just caught the tail end of another popular science program which referred to the cosmic background radiation as the "echo of the big bang"...

Why echo? Do they think the bloody photons bounced off something? Edge of the universe, perhaps?

(Kindly resist the urge to mention decoupling)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Atmel AVR woes

Here we go again. During testing today Herve spotted an AVR (ATMega128) failing our LPM test code. He then gets the heat gun out and starts checking them at elevated temperature, and only one of the first three meets Atmel's specifications. The others fail at +60C and +70C, which isn't good for a device supposed to work at +85C...

These are from batch code 0510.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ancient grumpings

But all that Rob could find was a trail of foot-prints, and following them he was led through the forest, along strange overgrown paths, to a clearing, where a freshly turned mound of earth lay stark in the moonlight.

Sensing movement, he was drawn towards the mound - where, to his horror, he saw that the dirt was being pushed up from beneath. Unable to move, transfixed by horror, Rob watched as a shape rose silently out of the ground, an object held vertically by a hand who's arm remained rooted in the soil - a familiar object, yet somehow hideously deformed into a grotesque parody of its natural state - as recognition dawned, mercifully his mind snapped and he ran shrieking from the clearing "Gaaahh ! The shift-keys ! The shift-keys ! Why put them there ?"

Behind him, the PC keyboard (102 keys) stood mutely in the moonlight. . .

(From cix:laurence 26 Jun 1995)

Discussing fundamentals


You can never tell - last night I was seen wandering naked around the house by one of my sisters-in-law, and today she made me a nice packed lunch with quiche and even a slice of cake**, which could be taken as a rather unexpected form of approval for my previously unevaluated posterior.

[thinks: mind you, she hasn't had even a sniff of a man for over a year]

** That's better treatment than I get from t'wife, who can usually be relied upon to produce a bitter and twisted sandwich where the two slices of bread are not even aligned properly, and of such minuscule proportions that there's hardly anything left after the food-taster's had a bite. Gah, it's a hard life...

(From cix: 25 Oct 2004)

Computer clubs of the early 80's


Ah, nostalgia. Those days are gone forever, as are the days of cheap little trade-fairs where a software-house could go and set up a stand, sell hundreds of tapes for a few quid that the tax man never found out about and get seriously pissed/stoned in front of an adoring public.

At least, that's how it should have been - in practice, however, usually the company car'd break down on the way, we'd cut our fingers to ribbons inserting cassette inlays and the guys with the drugs (don't ever do a trade-fair sober) wouldn't turn up, the adoring public would turn out to be masses of snotty little kids who'd spend all day playing the games for nothing while nicking everything that wasn't nailed down and we'd get into a fight 'cause Neil leant on and knocked over the neighbouring stand. . .

(From cix 16 Oct 2000)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The tongue

While idly eating a chocolate covered donut today it occurred to me to wonder why the tongue is on the bottom of the mouth, surely sensible design would have it on the top where it'd work with gravity, not against it... And why, given this fact, did the donut have the tasty chocolate on the top? It'd taste better if they'd put the topping on the bottom. If you ask me, just about every piece of confectionary in the world is upside-down.

As an experiment I tried eating the donut upside-down, but nearly choked. Next time I'll just turn the damned thing over...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bloody plants

Gah, by the prickling of my nose I can tell those damned plants are having a good time again... I don't mind them having sex, but do they have to try having it with me? Why can't they direct their rotten pollen where it'll do some good? Bloody trees...

I've been told it's rape, but I think that's putting it a bit strongly. It's more like sexual assault...



When electronics technicians go bad:

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bloody users

Few user interfaces are more intuitive than a touch screen. But even so, there's always someone who'll find the flaw in your otherwise perfect design...


(One of our kiosks being misused at the new J.Lewis store in Trafford Park)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Curious day at work...

We were discussing Janet Jackson's 'accident' at work today, and as part of wondering what all the fuss was about someone happened to remark "If you've seen one tit, you've seen them all".

This produced a lull in the conversation as we all pondered the merits of this viewpoint, I hope with an eye to its refutation, into which someone floated a contemplative "If you've seen one tit, you've probably seen two"...

Later on, somehow we got onto the topic of "dubious" websites. Someone mentioned so, of course, I pull it up to see what it was all about. It was slow (no broadband hereabouts) so the machine sat there doing nothing for a while and then, at exactly the moment when a very straight-laced VIP visitor from the States walked in to the room, it displayed a graphic image of the most disgusting toilet-bowl and contents you could possibly imagine... Which I might have managed to talk my way out of had not one of the other bastards remarked, quick as a flash, "Oh, Crem, haven't you tired of that screensaver yet ?"

(From cix:zeitgeist/mp3vsassembler 12 Feb 2004)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

M4 speed cameras

Apparently there was a go-slow protest organised because speed cameras were installed on the M4.

Am I missing something? - the cameras are (ostensibly) put there to make people drive slower, and the protesters protest by, um, driving slower? Well, that's really going to encourage the authorities to take action... I can see more cameras appearing already ;)

I dunno. I can't help thinking that all 'slow drive' protests are idiotic - by going so slowly they erode public support and by causing more fuel to be burned they both damage the environment and (through fuel tax) put more money in the government's pockets. It'd probably be more effective to drive at ~40MPH. They'd get just as much publicity, do less damage and not fund the very people they're protesting against. Gah...


Apparently there's a general election going on this week - let it not be said I'm unobservant - which means we get the chance to choose which set of lying, conniving, thieving, incompetent bastards gets to ruin the country for the next few years.

Oh, what joy. Let's see, do I want to vote for someone who'll tax me to death with a smile, with a grin or with a will. Gah... Is there a "None of the above" box?

Actually, with politicians it's not the lying, conniving or even thieving that gets to me, it's their incompetence. Useless tossers...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

He's dead Jim!

So, they put back the royal wedding because it clashed with the pope's funeral. Why? He's still not going to be able to make it... He's dead, Jim.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ze Spirit of Ze Ecstasy

Alien had a frightening moment when something nasty burst out of someone's chest. Here's an even more frightening possibility - Herve bursting out of a kiosk...


And no, that's not done with photoshoppe. He really does fit inside the damned thing...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Spotty AVR

Every now and then Atmel (don't ask) get it into their heads to do something silly, and this month's free bonus fiasco from them is their new improved marking on the AtMega128 chips. Have a look at this picture, and then tell me which way round the chip's supposed to go...

Is that bloody great white spot the index marker, or is it the much less visible dark indentation at the top-left?

Yes, you guessed it, it's the one at the top-left.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Ye Olde Days

These people are seriously unwell...


Over designed.

Apropos of nothing, I was reminded recently that upon realising that conventional pens wouldn't work in a microgravity environment NASA spent millions of dollars developing one that would.

The russians gave their cosmonauts pencils...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Patenting the bleedin' obvious

Oh, that's just peachy. In a moment of idle helpfulness I e-mailed those LED alliance people (they're trying to prevent someone from patenting the bleedin' obvious) to point out that several of my olde designs used PWM to control the colour of LED's, and dug out some details of one such product for the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) that dates back to 1989.

So now the buggers want me to fly over, at their expense, to America as a witness in their legal battle. Gah, I hate flying. I hate flying more than I hate greedy American companies, more even than I hate the whole patent system, so I suspect this will not be happening. Grump. Snarl... Anyone want to impersonate me for a few weeks? Free holiday with only a small chance of being immolated by terrorists? Pah...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Urgh, lurgy strikes design skills.

Running up against a deadline, so I had to work today despite still suffering from this rotten virus. It's interesting how it affected my design skills - after five hours of tracking a simple PCB I wound up with the following mess, thank god it's just a first generation prototype. Urgh :(


Which is the ugliest PCB layout I've produced for a long time, though it may not look it to a casual glance. Components with mixed orientations, connectors in silly positions, non-optimal tracking, non-optimal layout especially from an EMI POV, no room for idents, no test points, no pads for possible mods, general overall ugliness and WHAT is going on round those PSU's?, urgh.

I thought having to pull over and throw up on the way home was the lurgy at work, but maybe not... Still, bound to be changes required. No prototype ever survives contact with the customer...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Dance Shoe Mystery

I've been fairly ropey of late, plagued with some sort of lurgy that has left me feeling vague and disoriented. Incapable of doing anything constructive I spent most of Saturday stretched out on a couch, feeling sorry for myself.

At some point I realised I hadn't taken some medication, so I got up and wandered unsteadily out into the hall to get the pills from my jacket. I found it lying across a chair with Gurgle's dance shoes on top of it. Since my head was pounding enough already I didn't bend over to pick it up but reached down rather awkwardly with a straight back, not watching what I was doing, and grabbed the first bit I could reach. Of course the pills were not in the first pocket I tried, so I had to fart about lifting the jacket up and rummaging in several pockets to find them before finally throwing the jacket back down grumpily. As I turned away it struck me - where were the shoes? I'd assumed they'd have fallen onto the chair, but no, they weren't visible. They weren't even under the jacket, and after a head-pounding search under the chair they were still nowhere to be seen... Perhaps caught in the jacket? Shake, shake, nope... After a moment or two of muzzy contemplation I realised I must have hallucinated the damned things, they were the same colour as the inside lining of the jacket pockets so it wasn't entirely out of the question.

I returned to the couch, vaguely disquieted - this was the first time I'd had an hallucination, or at least the first time I'd noticed having one. Urgh.

Several hours later I worked up enough energy to go out, and as I tried to put my jacket on guess what I found lodged in one of the sleeves - two dancing shoes...

Bastard universe. Hasn't it got better things to do than pick on the unwell? Sniff.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Shit happens...

First there was the Disco Dance Floor Mystery ( .

Then there was a off-site visit to a potential customer. We were there to look over a bit of electronic design they want us to copy, ah, "improve upon" and while we were looking at this fearsome unit (Big ozone generator, ~5KV ~1KW) this dirty great big dog they had loose running about their factory unit decided to do a dump, and a dump of quite impressive dimensions it was, I might add. The dog was quite noticeably thinner afterwards...

Anyway, being true to canine ethics the beast didn't do this in some quiet secluded corner, no, it did it right in front of the exit doorway, and the first we knew of it was when one of the guys stood in it and tramped it about...

Bloody Herve was running true to form too - "Oh yes, I saw ze shit, but I didn't say anyzing because I thought they must be used to eet"