Flipping switches here and there.

22 January 2024

I guess I'm as back on my game as I'm likely to be for the forseeable future. I finished the run of paxlovid a couple of weeks back and things only recently stopped tasting like soap. I still get tired pretty quickly. It's not unusual for me to fall asleep around 2300 hours local time, give or take, but I wake up feeling fairly decent. My lungs are still pretty irritated, which has necessitated adding a hit of advair from an inhaler twice daily. Said advair was prescribed because I was using my rescue inhaler to get asthma attacks under control several times a day (up from, let me see... my last asthma attack prior to that was about four years ago) but nothing showed up on a chest x-ray (thankfully). I've no idea how long it'll take to get back to normal. To that end I've been trying not to push my luck by not exerting myself overmuch 1 and not forcing myself to, say, tinker with stuff after work if I don't absolutely have to. It makes for a somewhat less interesting life but I don't feel like somebody beat me at the end of the day, either.

Speaking of tinkering, you might have noticed a while back that my site was loading a bit more slowly for a while, but searching for stuff was a little better. That was because, as an experiment I switched in Pelican's search plugin to see how well it worked. It seemed to have worked pretty well, I think. Basically, when my site is built 2 the Search plugin runs a utility called Stork (which is officially deprecated, incidentally) which analyzes all of the documents, generates an index in a file, and writes it to disk. A little Javascript loads the index file just like any other website asset, parses the search request, and runs through the index to see if there are any good matches. This is both good and bad. It's a pretty good search engine, but every time a page loads your browser has to pull down (or check to see if it's been updated) a nearly 30 megabyte file on the off chance that you might run a search.

To put it another way, why did I move all of my stuff to a new hosting provider that's faster an easier to work with, only to add stuff to my site that bogs everything down again? I don't know if there's a good solution yet but I don't think this was it. A few folks have told me that there are ways to mitigate the whole "your page takes ages to load" problem with some Javascript tweaking, but the only thing I know about Javascript is that I don't understand any of it 3 and I don't have any idea of how to implement any of those tricks. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Looking at all the stuff I have on my desk-cum-workbench right now, maybe I should carve out some compute cycles for working on a project or two. Right now I have the second iteration of a hand-held general purpose audio amplifier (based upon the LM386 chip) mostly, sorta kinda, if you squint just right ready to test and possibly mount in a project box for later. Once I figured out that having a power LED sucked so much power that you couldn't hear anything from it was part of the problem, I just sort of... well, I got sick, put it down for a while, and haven't picked it back up yet. I keep telling myself that I have to finish it but by the end of the day... nah. I've used enough brainpower for the day and that's it.

I really should finish that amplifier because I also have a replica (I'm pretty sure it's a replica) military field phone on the floor in my office that I was going to restore. It needs cleaned up pretty badly. I don't know what state the circuitry is in because I haven't taken it apart yet, but I do know that some of the toggle switches on the panel will need replacing. I suspect that I'll have to replace the earpiece and mouthpiece as well but I don't know if it's even feasible to go hunting for replacements these days (not without buying another one and stripping it for parts). But that's putting the cart before the horse, I suppose. It'll take time to take it apart and document the internals, time to test the components, time to figure out how to clean it... you know how these things go.

Late last year Hasufin sent me a box of padlocks to practice with as a Yule gift. Some of them are in pretty good shape but others needed some work. They had all seen pretty heavy use outside and have varying amounts of rust and physical damage. One of them is a Master Lock model 21KALJ that looked kind of scary. So I decided to give restoring it a shot. It wasn't terribly difficult to pick but the inside was pretty rusty. I was afraid that I was either going to strip or reduce to powder the machine screw that holds everything together when removing it. I wound up ordering some replacement machine screws and.. well, the engineering manual calls them retainer nuts, which are basically specially designed nuts that sit flush with the lock body and look like a big rivet. 4 As for getting rid of all of the rust I did some asking around and somebody (I forget whom - sorry!) sent me a link to this tutorial on Youtube which describes how to use electrolysis to remove the rust from metal. Long story short I followed her procedure on the back porch and in a little under 24 hours the mason jar I'd used as a reaction vessel was almost empty, the lock just needed a quick scrub with a toothbrush, and the sacrificial anode 5 had all of the rust stuck to it. I gave it a few shots of Houdini (amazing stuff) and 24 hours to rest, and the lock went right back together. 6

I guess I'm about out of things to write about. My concentration's drifting, which lately has been meaning that I've probably done a bit too much today (I forgot to mention changing a flat tire earlier today - when the wheels on your car were last fastened in place with an impact hammer it's quite difficult to un-do the lug nuts by hand). Break time.

  1. Though changing that flat tire this morning has given me a headache that lasted for most of today. 

  2. My site exists as a large collection of Markdown documents in a Git repository. When Pelican runs it turns all of those text files into HTML pages. 

  3. Seriously. I tried taking a beginner's Javascript class a few years ago and dropped it on the second day because none of it made any sense. I had an easier time with calculus which, if you've known me since college says a lot. 

  4. If you want to get technical about it they look like M1.6 machine screws. The business ends are 1.5mm in diameter and the retaining screw is 16mm in length if you don't count the head. I ordered them from Mr. Lock

  5. Remember ACID: Anode - Current Into Device 

  6. Of course, now I have to get it picked open again. But it's part of my practice lock collection so that's kind of the point.