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

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   when we were patient for information
Monday, September 10 2018
Today was cool and rainy, so rainy in fact that when I went out for lunch at around 1:00pm, I actually drove. I parked in front of the place the not-especially vegan lunch place that makes a good vegan burrito in hopes I could get one of those, but alas, they're apparently closed on Mondays. There's a health food store near the main crossroads of the village, so I thought I'd go in there and see if they had something like a cooler full of pre-made Thai noodle bento boxes. It's the kind of thing a health food store would have. It was a big space but alarmingly sparsely-stocked. And much of it looked to be given over to worthless homeopathic tinctures. The only vegan prepared food I could find was an Amy's frozen tamale dish with rice and beans, which of course I had to nuke for something like five minutes to raise it to an edible temperature once I got back at the office. The guy running the cashier was friendly, perhaps a little too friendly. But that might've been because at the time I was his only customer, and he was as bored as Jimmy McGill running the cellphone store.

The workday was a little worse today than it had been, mostly because I wasn't having much luck at solving a difficult problem. My task was simply to take a Sybase .db file and import it into Microsoft SQL Server. There is software to serve that .db file as a database that can be connected to. And Sybase itself should be fairly familiar to me, since it is a basically a fork of Microsoft SQL Server from just before the time when I learned how to make the latter bend to my will (in the late 90s). But the problem was the completely alien nature of the Sybase server applications and the terrible quality of the documentation for them. Microsoft documentation is also terrible, but at least people inclined to contribute to web-based discussions are known to use it and even occasional help out others. This is apparently not true of Sybase, which is essentially a legacy technology.
Normally I can solve any technical challenge by crafting a series of increasingly-refined Google searches and then reading what others have said. But with few threads about Sybase at essential web development discussion sites like, I am forced to rely on Sybase documentation. Back before the web, I remember finding things like Microsoft Word Help actually helpful, but that might've been because I was patient enough to read it and follow its internal hyperlinks to precisely what I needed, never expecting to be zapped to essential nuggets of information instantaneously. But when you use Google to find info, you don't have to be patient. You airlift directly into a random part of the web with precisely the words you're seeking, and then you can even search the page to jump past the bullshit to the immediate textual environment of those words. If that text is irrelevant, you keep moving. But if you've crafted a good search, chances are it won't be irrelevant.
With this Sybase migration, nothing I was trying was working, even though, from the things I was reading, it should've been, though it's hard to say, owing to the complexity of what I was doing. In the world of Linux, everything comes down to text files in a few predictable locations. But here I was dealing with GUIs provided by two different vendors in a paradigm where if you find yourself looking at configuration files, you've already lost. My Google searches took me to some pages that touched vaguely on my questions, but nobody had articulated any solutions for my specific problems, at least not since the pages at Sybase hosting the things I needed had disappeared. Hell, I couldn't even get useful definitions for some of the proprietary terms I was seeing.

Eventually I had to call it quits for the day, but before I did, I placed an internet order to that vegan burger place so I could be the provider of dinner tonight. I ordered vegan "fish" and chips for myself and onion rings and an avocado-free avocado "chicken" BLT for Gretchen. When I arrived to pick it all up, there was a guy working there whom I hadn't seen before.
I drove home in such a downpour that it was occasionally hard to see where I was going. When we unpacked out vegan junk food, I was dismayed to see that no tartar sauce (which I'd specifically ordered) had been included with the fish and chips. That's a deal breaker right there; "fish" without tarter sauce is like french fries without ketchup. And while everyone has ketchup, almost nobody has tarter sauce. Gretchen whipped me up a close enough approximation with vegan mayonnaise and dill pickle relish (normally tarter sauce is made with sweet pickles), to which I added a squirt of habañero sauce (of course). I'd also kindly requested that perhaps Gretchen's avocado could be put on the side for me, but he who denied me tarter sauce also denied me the avocado. The meal was pretty disappointing overall; Gretchen reported that her sandwich was basically flavorless. And while they were fairly tasty (with my own damn tarter sauce!), I only got three small fillets of fake fried fish.
While we ate, we watched an AMC original series entitled Lodge 49, the story of a loveable deadbeat beach bum who seems fated to join a secret society after finding one of their membership rings on the beach. Though it was promising, I might not've been in the best mood for watching it, because I kept being impatient for the episode to end.
Later this evening, as I drank kratom tea and 75 milligrams of diphenhydramine kicked in, I got around to fixing the top left monitor of the five-monitor display array for Woodchuck, my main laboratory computer. That monitor (a 1920 by 1080 Hanns-G model) had been flickering for an ever-increasing period every time it came on, a symptom (I surmised) of a bad electrolytic capacitor. After removing the monitor from the arm it is attached to (which is in turn attached to a nub of wood on the laboratory's 45 degree east wall-ceiling), I popped it apart (it's one of those things that is disassembled mostly by prying with a credit card) and then tracked down the bad capacitor. The only candidate I found was on the power supply board. It was a bulging 25v 689 microfarad capacitor manufactured by a company called HEC. I didn't have an exact replacement on hand, buy I knew from experience that electrolytic capacitors rarely need to be precise replacements. Usually they just need to be the same voltage spec or higher and have a capacitance between a half and twice value of the capacitor being replaced. In one of my cans of capacitors, I found a 25 volt 470 microfarad unit and soldered it in. When I tested the monitor, the flickering was no more. Success!

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