Pat's Log
Mon, 28 Dec 2009

Six Digits
20091228 Shortly before Christmas, the car rolled over the 100,000 mark. Not bad for a nearly eight year old machine. Many hundreds of thousands still remain in its life. Still, the first six digit number for cars is almost analogous to a human turning forty. There will be no gray hair here!

Also, Christmas was good. The fact that there is a week off from work is even better.

[] | posted @ 18:03 | link
Wed, 23 Dec 2009

20091222 My 1:12 scale Dumas Trojan F-31 build is finally complete. It took over a year to get the job done, and considering the poor condition it started in, I think it turned out really great.

The boat has been named Quovis. This is in line with the naming scheme I'm using on my model boats, where the Latin translation to English is a used as a pun. In this case, Quovis means "to whatever place you will." The intention of "place" is not necessarily physical, but I'm interpreting it that way. It beats the silly names boats normally get, in my opinion.

Aside from some rear-deck warpage that I may or may not address in the spring, this boat should be in the water as soon as it becomes liquid again.

The next boat on the list is another complete overhaul/reconstruction; this time it will be the Billings Boats Thor coast guard vessel.

[] | posted @ 04:43 | link
Wed, 09 Dec 2009

Counterflow Wort Chiller
20091208 I made a fresh batch of beer tonight. For the occasion, I've spent the last couple of days planning and building a counterflow wort chiller.

For the uninitiated, the counterflow chiller is a device consisting of a copper tube within another tube (or hose). While the inner tube has a hot liquid (beer wort) flowing one way, the outer tube has cold water flowing the other way. In this case, the outer tube is 5/8" garden hose, and the inner tube is 3/8" copper tube. The only real construction was at the end parts, which needed soldering.

But it works, perfectly. It took boiling wort right off the stove and cooled it down to 15°C at the other end.

This brew of beer also marks the first batch that I'm making without starting with a kit. Just grain, malt extract, and hops. Here's to hoping it works out.

[] | posted @ 04:58 | link
Mon, 07 Dec 2009

AMD64 Flash Instability
Wow. I can't believe the problem's finally been solved.

Ever since the x86_64 version of the Adobe Flash Player came out, I've been using it. However, at some point this year it became rather unstable. I assumed it was related to the Ubuntu 9.04 release. With the 9.10 release of Ubuntu, the Flash was completely unusable; even YouTube would crash it. The strange thing was that my AMD64 Debian Unstable system at work didn't have this issue.

All sorts of possibilities existed. In the end, I finally found the solution in a forum thread. Apparently, early AMD64 chips (including my fx-51), do not implement the "lahf" instruction. Also, Adobe apparently calls it in their plugin.

The solution is quite ingenious. A man named Maks Verver came up with a thirty line C program that gets compiled as a library and loaded by Firefox on startup along with the other plugins. It simply implements a signal handler for SIGILL (illegal instruction), checks for the instruction in question, implements its functionality in software, and resumes. Brilliant.

I can now laugh at lahf.

[] | posted @ 05:38 | link
Thu, 03 Dec 2009

Hobby Day
20091202 So it seems I missed November altogether. This is the first month where I didn't take a few minutes to write something here. I guess nothing important happened. The weather was spectacular. Geocities went away. The lousy economy is starting to frustrate me a little.

To alleviate the economic blues, I took a day off from work, right in the middle of the week. Most people would call this a "personal day." I call it a "hobby day." I spent every waking minute of the day trying to complete my Trojan F-31 boat model. In the end, it didn't get finished; it only takes one little thing to go wrong, and a few managed to go wrong. The end is very near.

Still, amazing progress. I made all of the railings, masked the whole boat and painted the window frames, cut the windows, tinted the windows, installed all of the lighting, painted and installed all of the fittings, and applied decals I made last weekend. I'm sure something is missing from that list, too!

This build has turned into one hell of a project.

[] | posted @ 04:55 | link

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