Instead of beads and baubles in exchange for their land, the natives are 
now accepting server space and widgets in exchange for their souls.
 -- Sarah

today i did a little time travel (a 15 min drive across the border to NSW, where the timing sucks but the alcohol licensing apparently doesn't), and bought austrian beer at aldi:

 egger märzen

it's quite obvious that australian beer prices are mostly driven by very high taxation, when aldi can make a profit selling the far travelled egger märzen not that much dearer than local(-ish) beer: the egger goes for $5 per litre, whereas aldi's nice kiwi low-carb goes for $4.42 per litre (that's aldi prices, the other booze 'discounters' are nowhere near except for headache generators like xxxx gold...).

[ published on Wed 12.12.2018 19:25 | filed in interests/au | tagged beer, taxes, egger, austrian_beer | ]

...but i find that 15w40 and nail polish remover goes really well with my salad.

 spices, recycling, making fun thereof

i'm going camping tomorrow, and i like reusing containers (well-cleaned containers...). obviously i also like making silly labels with my label maker.

[ published on Thu 29.11.2018 18:30 | filed in interests/humour | ]

after reading my recent post about my new car one of my austrian friends asked for more details; not exactly surprising as utes like that are not exactly common in austria.

so here are some more photos and phacts.

 fiddly colorado garage fit comfy outback garage fit

for comparison here is a photo of my old subaru outback, an average length station wagon ('kombi'). the colorado just fits into the garage, ie. iff i drive up to and carefully bump into the wall. stock length is 4.9m, add about 25cm for the bull bar on mine.

 colorado plus canopy colorado plus canopy

stock weight is about 1920 kg (cf. 1460 kg for my previous car, a forester), but this one lugs around a bull bar, winch, canopy and dual battery; installing a lift kit is very much in planning.

it's got about 120 kW and lots of torque thanks to the turbocharged diesel; agility is...well, this is not a race car. it doesn't feel underpowered but there's the inertia of 2 tons of car.

[ published on Mon 26.11.2018 14:18 | filed in interests/au | tagged toy_car, 4wd, chick_magnet | ]

(as in sewing, not faecal matter)

believe it or not, but i do actually own a sewing machine - and i can even operate it (if not exactly well).

it's a relatively old elnita 150, and the only electric bits in it are the motor and the light bulb. i do admire the mechanical design of mechanical sewing machines: two cam drums, a comb full of cam followers, a few levers, a bunch of springs. in this machine that's enough for 15 different stitch patterns.

however, mine doesn't get used often. today i wanted to prep it for some upcoming fiddly fabric work, only to find out that it would only zig spastically, not zig and zag.

after applying occam's razor to isolate the involved ziggy bits it turned out that the issue was just stiffened old grease and/or insufficient lubrication: one follower lever had gotten too sticky to return properly when released. for zig that one gets pushed but for zag it needs to return under spring tension, which it didn't do reliably.

the solution was trivial; a bit of fresh light oil, some soaking time and vigorous exercise of the mechanism and it's all working again. me happy :-)

[ published on Mon 26.11.2018 13:36 | filed in interests | ]

following up on an earlier post, here are a few more reasons why 3d printers are both cool toys and useful tools.

i live in a pretty humid climate, and using vacuum storage bags (for things like spare blankets and pillows) is quite important; but the dyson vacuum that i inherited from my daughter has this nice-but-unhelpful clicky connector that sucks because it doesn't suck -- there's no flat interface that you can press against the bag valve.

so i spent a little time on designing and printing a sucker adapter (in PETG because i wanted to do more testing with the material).

 staubi-adapter in petg

or this one, from earlier this week: the built-in cupboard in my hallway has a broken door catch (cylindrical post in the frame, claspy catch on the door) and i couldn't find any even remotely similar replacement at the (sole remaining :-( ) hardware chain.

however, calipers and persistence and one failed test-print later i've now got a parametric model and an actual replacement part that works.

 broken door catch 3dp fixery uppery to the rescue 3dp fixery uppery done new heatbed

on the last photo you can see my newest mod to my printer, a mk52 (clone) magnetic heatbed. the print surface is PEI on a removable sheet of spring steel, which is held to the actual bed and heater by many strong magnets. when your print is done you take off the steel sheet and flex that, rather than prodding and prying with spatula/chisel/knife.

so far it works pretty well, but the bed is made from PCB/fibreglass and prone to warping. i haven't fully bolted the bed down (like official prusa does it) because i like the ability to level things manually, but i may want to change that later; for now i've setup 7x7 grid level compensation with my smoothieboard clone and that takes care of the imperfect flatness.

[ published on Fri 09.11.2018 17:18 | filed in interests/tinkering | tagged 3dprinter, openscad, tinkering, smoothieboard | ]

i'm now driving what might conceivably be called a chick magnet car -- with the understanding that the magnetic attraction is confined to within the cabin, and the repelling forces work all over the outside. net result: it'll take a woman of superhuman persistence to actually come close...
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 09.11.2018 16:43 | filed in interests/au | tagged chick_magnet, toy_car, 4wd | ]

(beagle as in 'beaglebone black', which is not a dog by any means)

almost exactly three years ago i built a minimal-budget online weatherstation for fido, john sinclair's fraser island defenders org. that station was installed at happy valley and it's been working pretty well ever since - well enough that we followed it up a few months later with another station which ended up at eurong.

both of these were build on a shoestring budget, and for the second i used the same fairly yucky 'authentication' chip setup on perfboard and hacksawed 2mm 2x10 pin connector, and everything was housed in a really ugly fashion inside a weatherproof box.

 second weatherstation for fraser second weatherstation for fraser second weatherstation for fraser second weatherstation at eurong

recently fido got a budget together for four more stations. about two months ago we started acquiring the bits and pieces for these stations, and this time i decided to make everything a bit nicer and easier to assemble.

this new litter of beagles will be housed decently: i designed and 3d-printed a custom enclosure that attaches to the back of the weather station console. thanks to the odd geometry it was a bit annoying to print but the resulting four dog houses look good and work really well.

 bbb mount in progress bbb mount davis second test bbb mount davis second test bbb mount davis second test bbb mount davis second test bbb mount davis second test

this time i've also decided to 'design for manufacturability' (bwuahaha - translate: i wanted less messy manual soldering and no connector butchery). this meant switching to a different pic microprocessor, an 8-pin PIC16F18313, and making a printed circuit board with keyed connectors to make everything a bit more fool-resistant.

the 16F18313 is a little powerhouse, and i found it amazing how much functionality microchip crammed into this chip (datasheet for the 16F18313: 471 pages. 16F88: 228). at au$1.31 it's also much cheaper than the older PIC16F88 i used for the first two stations, and thanks to freely reassignable pin functions it's much easier to route a single-layer pcb for that processor.

but getting it to actually work was immensely painful: none of my infrastructure would deal with this fairly recent chip. my version of xc8 wouldn't compile for it, pk2cmd would not program it (nor would mplabx talk to my pickit2). lots of swearing and fiddling later i've got a working PK2DeviceFile.dat for that chip, and proceeded with the pcb making.

after a little time with eagle (and a brief detour to build a small drill press for drilling the circuit boards) i made these four boards in the most pedestrian fashion possible (read: using the toner transfer method). soldering on the smt connectors was easy, using solder paste. and everything did work the first time round :-)

 beagle notdavis pcb before etching bbb notdavis boards bbb notdavis board testfit

in about a month the four stations will get installed on fraser island and i'll post an update when they're live.

you can find the updated code for the new pic and the board design (in eagle format as well as printable image) at

[ published on Sun 04.11.2018 12:21 | filed in mystuff | tagged fraser_island, weather, fido, beagleboneblack, pic16f18313 | ]

...except that one is not a homeomorphism but rather an example of subtractive manufacturing.

[ published on Sat 06.10.2018 16:05 | filed in interests/humour | tagged kugelrund, kugelhund | ]

i must say they look very unimpressed with whatever human caretaker that had this attack of the math hahas.

[ published on Thu 04.10.2018 19:22 | filed in interests/humour | tagged cats, boxes, math | ]

i have lots of reasons!
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sat 08.09.2018 21:54 | filed in interests/tinkering | tagged 3dprinter, openscad | ]
 all politicians suck. all hardware sucks. all software sucks, too.

source: the always awesome pearls before swine

[ published on Mon 03.09.2018 09:19 | filed in interests/anti | ]

last week my colleagues plastered my desk area with all kinds of motivational thingies. lots of grins when i came in next morning; they simply know me too well.

i spread the enshrined good vibes back out across the office and kept only this one, because it reminds me of a hiliarious movie that i enjoy a lot (zombieland)

 gift from my colleagues

a few years back my exwife brought me this gift on one of her periodic visits, also grinning quite a bit. she definitely knows me too well.

the clunky thing is now parked in my living room in a place of honou^Whigh visibility (directly in your line of sight when the entrance door is open). does it repel god botherers and scamsters? dunno; they rarely get to the point of an open door with me.

 geschenk von barbara

a further few years back my daughter gave me this gift. she clearly also knows me very well.

it's what i use for collecting spare change, but unconditionally: i do swear at misbehaving machines, dud technology, lousy situations and general stupidity, in order to stay somewhat sane. i refuse to pay for that :-)

 geschenk von conny

now, what - if anything - might those gifts tell you about me?

[ published on Wed 22.08.2018 19:58 | filed in interests/humour | tagged lostintranslation, giftthatkeepsongiving | ]

i've finally decided to change some things a bit, in the hope that i will (learn|get) to enjoy life a bit more again.

after five years of hard work at opmantek i'm very tired and quite burnt out. so i (have|will) quit my job: i submitted my resignation at the beginning of july, but effective end of december. that's because i like my colleagues and do want to give the company a decent amount of time to find somebody to fill the hole. (and it'll be a hole, not just a gap. cue silly quip about 'No More Gaps' being called 'instant carpenter' by those in the trade. 'instant software engineer', anyone?)

and me, myself and i? i will take an extended break, relax and recharge my will-to-live battery, travel a little across oz and generally take it easy for a while.

well, at least that's the plan. no idea how long it'll last or how much or little i'll enjoy the change, but i think you'll see a few more updates on this here site.

one of the reasons why i've been very quiet lately is that i'm mostly tired and need my non-copious amounts of free time to recharge and for chores, and hence am rarely in the mood to share anything online. well, (we|you)'ll see.

[ published on Sun 19.08.2018 10:28 | filed in still-not-king | tagged worklifebalance | ]

you might find this useful if you've got a 3d printer or cnc setup with an mks sbase board (a cheap smoothieboard clone), and if you want to add one of the typical cheap "LJ" inductive probes (for levelling, homing, whatever).
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 19.06.2018 18:52 | filed in interests/tinkering | tagged 3dprinting, smoothieboard, mks-sbase, electronics, lj18a3, lj12a3 | ] have a trashy little toaster and two slices of bread that don't quite fit, and you're considering the orientation and the general topology of the bread so as to get the maximum even browning of the slices.

[ published on Sat 26.05.2018 16:05 | filed in interests/humour | ]

a little sign of life:


that's me enjoying the beach in the evening. the quieter beach areas in the evening are pretty much the only thing that i do like about the gold coast.

[ published on Mon 02.04.2018 21:20 | filed in still-not-king | ]

i don't watch much tv. never have, likely never will. ("not much" is no more than half an hour a month.)

i definitely watch no live tv at all as that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment; instead i use my fairly old twin-tuner topfield disk recorder which does time-shift pretty well.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sat 10.03.2018 13:16 | filed in interests/au | ]

i've had a local SSL CA for my own porpoises for years, and this site did in fact provide https access with those non-globally-trusted certificates for a while now.

i haven't advertised this at all because subjecting every one of my few visitors to a 'warning - untrusted ca, dangerous connection, it's for the security!!!!' kind of crap experience is not my aim.

in the meantime let's encrypt has appeared on the scene, and it works sortakinda well - about as well as can be expected with the utterly untrustworthy 'trust' design that is X.509.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 04.03.2018 13:52 | filed in interests/crypto | ]

buying a big chunk of pork shoulder (because it was much cheaper per kilo than the smaller rolled roasts), only to realise at home that you don't have a single oven-ready vessel that the chunk of meat will fit into.

ah well, at least i have sharp knives and so will enjoy two separate roasts...

[ published on Mon 26.02.2018 19:28 | filed in still-not-king | ]

i had to laugh when i saw the caption for the top photo on this current news story about politicians having sex: harold holt, curiously misplaced prime minister, and his fishy "mistress (not pictured)".

 maybe he was abducted by mermaids.
[ published on Fri 16.02.2018 16:23 | filed in interests/au | ]

a few days ago i realised that our daughter conny will be half our age this year ("our age" as in individual, not summed).

an interesting thought with slightly scary implications.

[ published on Mon 12.02.2018 13:26 | filed in still-not-king | ]

i've got a new toy. it's a cube. no, it's a cross. no, it's a re-cycle - it's new-to-me. it's also a bi-cycle.

 neues rad neues rad neues rad

my boss had an older cube cx cyclocross bicycle with pretty nice components for sale, and i decided (with a little help) that i should get myself something nice every now and then even though i technically don't need it (because my old mtb is still running fine; i've had that since 2010 and it was about 4-8 years old even then).

and because that bike is a bit too nice to leave outside it needs a stand. a bit of scrap wood, some screws and some time with speed square and circular saw later and we have an upcycled stand. tadaa. ugly but works.

 upcycled cycle stand upcycled cycle stand upcycled cycle stand
[ published on Thu 25.01.2018 18:19 | filed in interests | ]
[ published on Sun 14.01.2018 19:03 | filed in interests/anti | ]

a little update might be in order: quite a few years ago i first mentioned that i do like mdev and that hasn't changed. actually i like it much more nowadays, because i utterly detest systemd & co, its perpetrators and the mindset behind that pile of crap.

so here's what i have to share in the way of mdev-related, hopefully useful, stuff:

[ published on Mon 18.12.2017 14:30 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Recently I've experimented a little with twitter, but so far I'm not a big fan.

I really don't grok people claiming the 140 char limit to be 'liberating'; to me it's just one big annoyance: if I don't have to say anything then I tend to shut up - and if there is something noteworthy that I would indeed like to share, then it's quite unlikely to fit into that dinky straightjacket format. (It's pretty obvious that I'm not a big SMS user either.)

Most of what I've seen of twitter feels like looking at JPEGs with quality level 1; sure, you can recognize that there's something on that picture but its nowhere near intelligible and and it hurts my eyes.

On the other hand, I do see uses for this kind of sparrowy chirping; for example, as a platform for quick updates about local speed cameras and the like I think it's very good.

Ambivalence, thy name is az...

Update (Fri 20.10.2017 23:43):

nope, not for me. my twitter account is gone and i'm going back to literate communication.

[ published on Thu 20.06.2013 16:48 | filed in interests/comp | ]

i've been asked to extend kuvert a little, so that it optionally completely rejects emails unless it can encrypt it for all recipients.

that's done now; version 2.1.0 includes that new option, and a variety of minor fixes and code cleanup.

kuvert's source is downloadable here or on github. the updated manpage is available here.

Update (Mon 02.10.2017 13:09):

...but wait, there's more.

recently i've been getting more feedback/patches via kuvert's github presence and kuvert has gained a few minor features and improvements: optional custom config file, you can configure your gpg path (welcome back, gpg1...) better starttls support (and debugging) if you're using a recentish perl and thus a modern net::smtp, better compat with weird clients if you use kuvert as msp and so on.

we're at version 2.2.1 now and as always kuvert is downloadable here or from github; naturally it's in debian unstable and will hit testing in a few days.

[ published on Mon 03.04.2017 19:01 | filed in mystuff/kuvert | ]

the EFF is much too nice in wording their farewell letter; the register has an overview.

[ published on Wed 20.09.2017 19:50 | filed in interests/anti | ]
 conny at graduation certified conny

conny had her uni graduation ceremony yesterday.

very well done, dear daughter, "with distinction" despite working a fulltime job! you should be proud - but don't take this as an excuse to slack off totally now ;-)

[ published on Tue 16.05.2017 21:40 | filed in interests | ]

both my place's front and back doors have extra insect screen doors, a vital feature in this part of the world.

but almost every time i open it, the screen door flies open and bangs against the bricks. noise, scratches, ugly torquing of the flimsy hinges, clearly undesirable, and i was getting very sick of this.

(aside: when i bought the place it had automatic door closers on the screen doors, but these were far worse than the problem they attempted to solve so i took them off.)

so, what would az do? as usual i found a simple, quick, workable and cheap solution that makes creative use of stuff i had around.

 debumped screen door debumped screen door debumped screen door

cut 3cm of leftover pipe insulation foam (which i had bought for a purpose entirely unlike the official one...), slice longitudinally, contact-glue to the bricks, done.

now the door has an unobtrusiveand spongy 'soft' limiter and if and when it gets too gungy i'll just scrape off the glue and glue on a fresh bit of foam.

/me likes.

[ published on Thu 04.05.2017 20:25 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

the area: quite beautiful (the town: hopelessly overcrowded with tourists)

 queenstown pano queenstown hill panorama queenstown hill panorama

the occasion: conny and andrew getting married

 leaving the chapel outside the chapel heliflight to the ledge at the reception at the reception at the reception

the funniest thing: what the kiwis call their shopping carts

 trundlers in queenstown
[ published on Wed 22.02.2017 08:27 | filed in interests | ]

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