First time paying people to do Stuff to the new house today.
The boiler is serviced, the thermostat has been replaced with a programmable timer one, the leaning fencepost in the garden has been reinforced with a concrete post, and the rotten board on the decking replaced. I feel pleasantly accomplished despite not having done any of the work myself.
(I was mildly surprised that they both said they'd invoice me and I should pay by bank transfer then, rather than wanting a cheque on the spot.)
A first installment of holiday photos, mostly from a day-long hike I went on in one of Japan's more pointy regions. Not pictured: the horrible sunburn I got because I am an idiot.
I think Yudonosan shrine is one of the best I've been to -- I'm not going to tell you what's there because you're not supposed to spoil the secret for other people, but I will say that it's best appreciated if approached via the five hour hike from the other side of the mountain...
Picked up A History of the Japanese Language and Ancient Jomon of Japan cheap in Cambridge University Press's sale (they're flogging damaged books out of a little shop on Peas Hill at 3 quid per paperback and 7 quid per hardback).
Fitzbillies' chelsea buns are quite good.
I have replaced the exploded capacitor in my PERQ, fixed a memory diagnostic failure by unplugging and reseating the CPU and memory cards, and it now boots to the operating system. Not bad for a thirty year old machine..
(Next question, is anybody at work fool enough to help me lug it in for the 'Curious Computing Celebration' the week after next? :-))
I own a PERQ1; a computer now 30 years old and which I haven't tried powering on in about a decade and two house moves. I thought I'd see whether it worked this evening. The answer appears to be that the PSU is OK, the CPU/logic boards broadly functional, but a resistor/capacitor unit on the hard disk blew up when I applied power to that part. I think Maplin sell a reasonably close equivalent part, though, so it shouldn't be too hard to fix as long as it isn't either a symptom or cause of further damage...
I put this together this weekend:
It's an arcade stick without the stick -- up/down/left/right are buttons. (The idea isn't original; these guys make a professional quality retail version, for instance.)
The buttons are Sanwa (ie decent quality microswitch based ones as found in actual arcade machines) from Gremlin Solutions. The box you probably can identify yourself -- I was worried it would be too flimsy, but Apple's boxes are pretty solid corrugated cardboard and even the areas with lots of buttons close to each other are not too floppy.
The two empty holes in the bottom are the result of experimenting with button placement. The HitBox layout has the Up button at the bottom under the left thumb. This apparently works well for Street Fighter II style games where up is jump and you can just think of it as the "jump button". However the game I play (Touhou Hisoutensoku) has aerial melee as a fairly significant gameplay component, and I found that layout just too confusing for guiding your character around in free flight. So I switched to an inverted-T which is rather better. (The left-thumb button now is 'graze'.)
If you open the lid it looks like this:
The thing in the middle is a plastic bag containing the PCB from an old USB gamepad. I removed the original gamepad buttons and soldered on the wires out to the new buttons instead. (The gamepad was dreadful quality because its original button/pad hardware was cheap and nasty, so it was no loss. In fact it had been lurking in my junk pile for some years...)
It works quite nicely, although it is still going to take me some time to be able to move anywhere near as fluidly as with a gamepad. Interesting experiment and fun to put together, though, which was really the point.
I've been taking part in a neuroscience research study about how the brain develops and changes over the course of adult life. As part of this I spent an hour in an MRI scanner listening to beeps and watching Alfred Hitchcock. At the end they gave me a souvenir photo, conclusively proving that I do in fact have a brain:
Kind of odd to think that all those folded up bits of grey stuff somehow make me me...
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