Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

welcome to the collapse
Clusterfuck Nation
Peak Oil

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   tinkering failure
Saturday, December 1 2012
Gretchen had plans to spend another day out doing things in Rosendale and on the Rondout. But she also needed to return some things to the Hurley Library, a place that has become very much out-of-the-way ever since the bridge on Wynkoop was closed. Given all this, she wanted me to do her a little favor and return her things (a stack that included the first season of Six Feet Under and an only somewhat-ironically-read Fifty Shades of Grey — someone hire a copyeditor!). While she was out walking the dogs, I drove down the mountain and parked on Wynkoop to have a look at the reason it has been closed all this time. Perhaps I could cross whatever the obstacle was and just walk the quarter mile to the library, saving me nine miles of driving. But Wynkoop beyond the road-closed barrier and another, more substantial barrier made of concrete, Wynkoop had been rendered undriveable by a deep trench through which now ran a small creek ultimately destined for Esopus Creek (not far away). In that trench, a culvert had been placed. But for some reason no dirt had yet been filled in over that culvert, and there was absolutely no way across. In an emergency on a warm day, I might have been able to find my way down the steep embankment to the creek, wade across it (though it looked potentially deep) and then scramble up the far side. But it was a cold-ass morning and I was carrying two or three books and a collection of DVDs. I was not going to be fording that creek today. A couple additional things to get while I was out was yet more caulk for the greenhouse upstairs, mushrooms, and some bread. With the bridge out, Uptown Kingston is on the way to Old Hurley.

As you know, I like to tinker with stuff, and though there is often the risk that I will completely fuck up and destroy something in the process, it rarely happens in practice. One of my worst disasters was the breaking of a new pane of glass I was trying to install on the homebrew hot water panel, though there have been lesser ones. Perhaps the most tragic was the inexplicable death (I forget why, but it had at least a little to do with tinkering) of an EC-4000 programmable calculator I'd gotten for cheap at the Radio Shack in Staunton, Virginia. (I still have the manual to this day, now with me here in Hurley, NY.) The demise of that calculator has haunted me for years and could explain the doggedness with which I stick to computer projects to this day. Today I experienced another such failure while attempting to install a fuller Linux-based operating system onto a Pogoplug, a $20 device designed to supply network-attached storage to a household intranet. The great thing about a Pogoplug is that it has phenomenal performance in terms of Megaflops per watt (an important metric that is still rare in advertising). Ideally, a Pogoplug could do many of the functions of a full-power computer while using much less power. One potential application I can think of is to use it as a webcam server while I am off traveling and would like to remotely monitor the household. Unfortunately, though, I somehow bricked my Pogoplug while installing the new Linux OS onto it. Supposedly my particular model of Pogoplug cannot be bricked, and there is a complex procedure that can be followed to resurrect it. But I followed that procedure and it didn't work for me, and least not in any of the many permutations of it I tried. I even built a Max232-based adapter and serial cable to mornior its booting process, but it wasn't broadcasting any data on that cable. (At least that adapter, which took considerable effort to build, tested out okay and will be useful on any other device with a 3.3 or 5 volt version of an RS-232 cable.)

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