February 23rd, 2016

#5090: The pins on this chip will MELT

Remember math coprocessors? I do.

'Way back in the Mesozoic Era, real estate on ICs was a lot more expensive than it is now. Microprocessors had limited floating point instructions; they could do it but took a long time, compared to integer operations. There simply wasn't room for an elaborate instruction set, and the typical microprocessor had to be optimized for integer operations.

The solution was to include, in each computer, a coprocessor socket. In the old 8086 machines you'd get an 8087 and plug it into that socket. 80286 got an 80287; 80386 got an 80387, and the 80486sx got an 80487. (The 80486 was the first mainstream Intel processor that had an integrated floating point processor in it, but the 80486sx was a low-cost alternative, and if you got the 80487 it disabled the 486sx and ran everything itself, as it was a full-blown 486DX processor.) They were optional because they were of limited utility for anyone who wasn't crunching serious numbers.

In 1991, then, I had occasion to install an 8087--but it was a CMOS implementation, a low-power version meant for a laptop, and it was incompatible with desktop voltages. So much so that the packaging had a bright red label on it:
The pins on this chip will MELT if it is plugged into a desktop computer!
That would have been interesting to see, but at $200-odd for the chip it would also have been fairly expensive. And not good for the motherboard it got plugged into, either.

That's a bygone era. Real estate is cheap now; we can fit a thousand features into the space occupied by one in 1991, and I'm not even slightly exaggerating that number. We're not only putting math coprocessors on the microprocessor die, but in many cases we're including a graphics coprocessor as well.

* * *

Twitter is cutting its own throat. It wasn't possible for me to care less about Twitter than I do, but whatever residual potential interest I had in starting a twitter account has been eradicated by the establishment of their "Trust and Safety Council", which might as well be called "Ministry of Truth" and get it over with.

This decision is the death knell for Twitter.

* * *

If Workforce had cut hours yesterday or today I would have gone to Fry's for some electronic components, but we've been f-ing busy all weekend. I'm completely wiped out now, of course.

That's how it goes, though.

#5091: I suppose that's to be expected

This is one of those times I just shake my head in resignation. If you look at the picture, the most amazing thing about it is that the two thugs (the one on the right was shot to death while attempting armed robbery) are posing without their booger hooks on the bang switches.

* * *

Today Arse Technica has another risible headline up: "How gravitational wave detectors survived the Contract With America," it says, and the lede goes on, "Could a basic research project get funded now? Probably not, science advisor says."

The implication is that because Congress is nominally run by Republicans--who are, of course, science-hating nazis--there's no way in hell the LIGO detector could ever get funding if it were proposed today. There is only one tiny little problem with it.

It's fucking wrong.

In the mid-1990s, it was the Clinton administration, working with a Democrat-run Congress, which gutted all kinds of scientific research, up to and including the Superconducting Supercollider which would have beat CERN to the punch in discovering the Higgs boson if it hadn't been canceled by the political party which has a proven history of actually hating science. (William Proxmire, for example, was a Democrat. He did everything he could to gut space exploration.)

The main reason our government is not (or should not be) paying for pie-in-the-sky experiments is not because icky, superstitious, australopithecean, Rethuglican nazis are in power, but because our government is spending three million dollars a minute it doesn't have on supporting a welfare state we cannot afford. If we were running budget surpluses it might be a different story.

Nevertheless, somehow, science continues to get funding from the federal government. Even with the GOP in charge.

* * *

Francis Porretto has a post up about a muslim suing a gun range because the owners of said range wouldn't let him go shooting, after he acted in such a way that they were fearing for their safety. Subsequently they learned the muslim in question was a board member of CAIR which--as far as I'm concerned--ought to be grounds for deportation and exile.

* * *

If you divorce someone because he didn't put his dirty dishes in the sink, you are a selfish asshole.
The author’s ex-wife did not divorce him because he failed to put his glasses in the sink (although he should have put them away.) She divorced him because she’s so selfish that she would rather cluster-bomb her family than let go of her overgrown sense of entitlement. The perpetrator of a divorce is never practicing charitable love. The victim of a divorce might not be either, but for the perpetrator, it is a certainty.
Here's the thing about marriage: it does not magically make two people super-ultra-compatible, and as Sammy Hagar once said,
If you want love, you've got to give a little
If you want faith, you just believe a little
If you want peace, turn the cheek a little
You've got to give, you've got to give, you've got to give
To live
So yeah, your husband is going to forget to put dishes in the sink, and your wife is going to put the toilet paper on upside down and incompletely so that when you go to grab some the roll pops out and unwinds halfway across the bathroom where the cat decides NEW TOY! and starts clawing at it-- Your spouse is guaranteed to do something--to have some habit--that drives you absolutely buggy. What it all comes down to is your commitment to that other person; and if you're so entitled and selfish that you let these little incompatibilities (because they are always little) get between you and your spouse, you shouldn't have made those vows and gotten married in the first place.

This story reminds me of the woman who realized that she excoriated her husband over all kinds of imagined defects--such as buying the wrong kind of hamburger when all she said was "get some hamburger"--and realized that she was actually being abusive. It's the same kind of thing.

* * *

Cable guy came today. We got one of the first X1 boxes (X1 came out when my wife still worked at Comcast) and it was showing its age; we had some flickering and occasionally there was a line of static crawling up the right side of the screen that looked exactly like a crease in videotape--but there's no tape in this machine.

Guy came and checked everything and concluded the box needed replacing. The original X1 boxes have been superseded twice now, and as is typical of any first release the original boxes had some bugs. The new box tunes channels in a lot faster, and the guy told me that we may not have even lost our recordings and settings--he says they're all cloud-based now. That would be nice.

Could have gotten a voice-activated remote, too, but no.

* * *

Last night I was up late. Mrs. Fungus volunteered for some overtime, so she had to get up at 5:30; I inadvertently stayed up until 4 AM, reading my favorite author.

The old stuff, vintage 1999, which I wrote using Professional Write--you know, some of that stuff is pretty intriguing now. I'm starting to think I might hack it into something usable and post bits and pieces here. Some of the stories have been outstripped by reality (such as my Tech Cop series where the characters all carry "PDAs" that are, essentially, modern smartphones) and some of them are simply not salable (such as the story where a guy somehow bales out of a 747 even though the door does not open inward) and some are destined never to be finished.

Some of them cry out for further work. There is, for example, the story I began about some monks somewhere in the western United States who enlist the aid of a UFOologist to deal with this mysterious object they found in their abbey. The abbey in question was supposed to be a high-end supercomputing research center (because information management has been a staple of monastic life since it existed) and I recall that I had some other tricks up my sleeve, but the story wasn't interesting to me...then. Now that the tricks are lost, of course, I keep thinking I could do something interesting with this story, but I'm really not sure what just yet.

There's a lot of stuff there that bears looking into. We'll see.

* * *

The cable guy is an anime fan, and he told me that my My Neighbor Totoro wall scroll is cool. His girlfriend's birthday is coming up and she's a Sailor Moon fan, so while he was outside doing his thing I tried to find the SM folders I came across while cleaning the basement, thinking that I'd say, "Here, give these to her," and get rid of something I will never use but cannot bear to throw away. I could not find them, of course, because the basement is cleaner but it's not organized yet. *sigh*

* * *

Now I must attend to some things, so I may as well get my butt in gear.

#5092: Well, that's nice to know.

So today I changed the oil in the Jeep. It's been nearly 7,000 miles since I last did it, but they were nearly all highway miles--I drive 90 miles a day!--and so I figure I can let it go a little while before doing it.

While waiting for the oil to drain, I decided to take care of some other stuff, and I got the driver's side door lubricated, mostly--it still squeaks but it's better; I think I'll have to pull the detent mechanism and clean and lube it--and lubed up the hood latches so I no longer need a tow truck and hand grenades to get the hood open. A two-finger pull pops it now. (Only Jeep would put two latches on the hood rather than one on the radiator hold-down. *sigh*)

Anyway, my next little task was to get a look at the muffler and see what needs doing there:

It's a difference between "a little louder than stock" and "HOLY CRAP", though my cell phone camera is not all that good about demonstrating the difference. As I say in the video, I just need a couple of nuts. That's it. I need to measure the diameter and get some idea about the thread pitch, but if they're not metric (and who knows?) they'd be coarse thread and perhaps 3/8".

* * *

...so I went to the hardware store since YouTube was taking its own sweet time processing that video, and it's metric, all right. I bought metric and standard nuts, and washers; and the washers are too small (3/8") and the metric nuts fit.

Anyway, I have new nuts on there and they'll at least keep the pipe from separating. Later I can get some washers so the nuts can actually clamp things together, as right now there's perhaps a 1/8" gap between the nuts and the flange. But that's okay.

#5093: Well, perfect.

This is in the forecast for tomorrow:
... Winter Storm Warning in effect from 9 am Wednesday to 4 am CST

The National Weather Service in Chicago has issued a Winter Storm
Warning for heavy snow... which is in effect from 9 am Wednesday
to 4 am CST Thursday.

* Timing... snow will begin late Tuesday night or early Wednesday
morning... possibly briefly starting as a mix of rain or snow.

* Main impact... heavy wet snow accumulations of 1 to 7 inches
likely... highest south of Interstate 80 in Cook County and in
eastern Will County. Snowfall totals could vary substantially
over short distances with some areas within the warning likely
seeing much less snowfall... especially in the northwestern
portion of the counties.

* Other impacts... strong northerly winds will gust to 45 mph at
times. Where heavy snow occurs... this will create a wind whipped
snow that will reduce visibilities to near zero making travel
dangerous if not nearly impossible at the height of the storm.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather
conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of
snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Only travel in
an emergency. If you must travel... keep an extra flashlight...
food... and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
I sure am glad I got the Jeep's oil changed today.

They predicted 3-5 inches a few days ago; now it says "12+".

On the plus side, neither I nor Mrs. Fungus have any place to go and I have plenty of fuel for the snowblower. Let it snow!

* * *

...about that oil change.

So I naturally drained the oil pan, then changed the filter, and ran in six quarts of fresh 10-w30. And when I checked the oil I had no trouble seeing where it fell on the dipstick, because rather than being a clean, golden color, the oil looked black. Right in the middle, between the "full" and "add 1 qt" marks; and I wiped the dipstick and checked it again, and got the same result.

See, here's the thing: the Jeep's gone some 136k miles in its existence, and before it was mine it belonged to the State of Indiana where it was probably not very well cared for. And since starting my current job, I've driven the old crate a lot, about 500 miles a week.

That is going to knock loose a lot of engine gunk. A lot. And a regular oil change, even with a filter change, won't get all that gunk out. The engine's got six quarts of fresh oil in it, and I'm not using any other fluids--even the radiator overflow was still at a decent level--so I know the oil is okay to use.

So what I'll do is run it a few weeks on this batch of oil, then give it the Rislone treatment. That's where you take a quart of Rislone and dump it into the crankcase, then start the engine and run it at idle until it's good and hot. Then you shut it off and drain the oil. (And I'll put the front end up on jack stands to make sure it drains completely.) Once that's done, fresh oil and a new filter.

Back in 1987 when Dad first got the MGB, it had iffy compression; after performing this procedure on the car its compression had improved markedly because the Rislone cleaned a lot of gunk out of the engine. Whenever an engine needs internal cleaning that's the first thing I try; and usually I don't need to try anything else because it works.

That's my plan. Ha, ha.

* * *

Someone should tell Arse Technica that Mann's hockey stick was proven fraudulent. "Another hockey stick", this one in ocean levels--which are not rising at anywhere near the predicted rates, of course.

* * *

I suppose I ought to rest up. Tomorrow I'm going to have a lot of physical labor to do.