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Odd Lots

  • From the Words-I-Didn’t-Know-Until-Yesterday Department: mobula, a genus of fish in the general category of ray or skate. They can weigh as much as a ton, and get as high as two meters out of the water when they breach. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for pointing it out.)
  • From the same department: bodge, a UK-ism for a clumsy or ineffective repair. I’m guessing it’s a portmanteau of “botched kludge.” (In the US, see There I Fixed It.)
  • And for the deep history of the silly, probably racist, and still-undefined phrase “bunga bunga” you can’t do better than the Beeb. (Another one from Pete.)
  • Almost everyone else has aggregated this, but it’s important: A brilliant chart showing relative radiation risks, from (not all that remarkably) xkcd. Everything is radioactive, from bananas to the family dog to…you.
  • I got a smile out of seeing that the latest ABEBooks email newsletter featured (mostly) Victorian-era etiquette guides, and it arrived during Anomaly Con. Do we even know what “etiquette” means anymore? It sure looks like they did.
  • Heat capacitors for your coffee! I put too much cream in mine for these to be useful, but for a novel application of real physics Joulies are hard to beat.
  • For a couple of days now, any attempt to access has hung waiting for This used to happen, and then it stopped happening, and then it started happening again, and then it stopped (and not just on that site) and nothing has changed here on my part in the meantime. It hangs in all browsers I have installed here. Do I have to call the programmers morons to get their attention? Do I have to call their software dogshit? YUI doesn’t work. It doesn’t. Stop using it.
  • Don Lancaster has just put his two-volume Apple Assembly Cookbook (1984) up on his site as free ebooks. (PDF format.) I guess I should remind the young’uns that these are books focusing on the 6502 assembly language that was used on the Apple II/IIe machines in the 1970s and 80s. Don has been significant in my life for a number of reasons (I learned IC technology from his books back in the mid-70s) but most of all because I learned how to do technical writing by studying his technique. He’s one of the best tech writers ever. Period.
  • You could probably have figgered what this was even before I told you: a steampunk wrist radio.
  • And at the other end of the spectrum (as it were) we have a very nice DIY tutorial on building a standalone Wi-Fi radio. My first thought was to put it into the cabinet of an old “All-American Five” tube radio, but somebody beat me to it.
  • Even more radio: I bought a nice Standard Communications SR-C146 on eBay, for $30 inluding shipping. The unit is dusty but works fine, and looks like it had not been used much. I have a couple of repeater pair crystals for it (though I haven’t tested them yet) but what I really need is a pair for the National Simplex Frequency of 146.52 MHz. Trying to figure out who might still make/sell crystals for the unit.


  1. Jack, K8ZOA says:

    International Crystal still makes custom crystals. You will pay more for a set of 146.52 rocks than you did for the transceiver, however. is the web site.

    Jack K8ZOA

  2. Tom Dison says:

    YUI isn’t too bad – I have used it on some company sites. The problem is Yahoo tries to convince people to link to their site instead of hosting the YUI files locally. I ignored that, because I didn’t want my site dependent on their servers. I had no problems with slow-loading pages.

  3. Erbo says:

    “Bodge” is familiar to anyone who’s watched Junkyard Wars on TLC (Scrapheap Challenge in the UK). The term “bodge-tastic” has also been noted, for a particularly noteworthy bit of bodging.

  4. Rich Rostrom says:

    Modern Mechanix is just a blog. I don’t think they have “programmers” or “software”.

    The blog package uses to supply a stylesheet.

    I tried an experiment – I downloaded the page, edited the HTML and loaded the local copy.

    It loads! But the left sidebar is missing: its content appears below the end of the main blog section.

    This is all with Safari 1.3.2 from 2005. (I can’t run newer browsers, due to OS limitations, due to hardware limitations, due to a box being broken.)

    Also, is currently up, responding to ping, etc.
    BTW, is really,
    which is really, according to
    Network Utility’s lookup tool.

    1. I was referring to Yahoo, where YUI comes from, and not the blog, which simply uses YUI. This has happened to me with other Web pages that use YUI. The site will be inaccessible for as much as a week, and then it will just come back. I don’t know precisely what’s wrong with YUI, but something is definitely wrong, and it’s due to programmer incompetence, whatever it is. This should not happen, and there are no excuses.

      1. Erbo says:

        Yahoo is widely believed to be circling the drain. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the programmers who maintained YUI are now gone–either laid off or deserting the sinking ship.

        1. Rich Rostrom says:

          “Yahoo is widely believed to be circling the drain.”

          Their financials appear sound: $1.2B in profits in 2010, up from $600M in 2009. Quarterly results are only out through 4Q/2010, but don’t show anything horrible happening. They had about $3B in cash as of 12/31/10.

          Gross revenue is down about 13% from 2008, but so are expenses, and the revenue drop was mainly in 2009.

          Where are these rumors of imminent demise? What’s the bruited reason?

  5. Andrew from Vancouver says:

    The whole site is currently down. If you have a contact there, you might tell them to check out or the like to improve their uptime.

    Disclaimer disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the above link.

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