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Submission + - UK's National Computer Museum Seeks Repairmen for BBC Micros (

tresho writes: 1981-era 8-bit BBC Micro computers and peripherals are displayed in a special interactive exhibit designed to give modern students a taste of programming a vintage machine."We want to find out whether people have got skills out there that can keep the cluster alive as long as we can," said Chris Monk, learning co-ordinator at the organisation.

Owen Grover, a volunteer at the museum who currently helps maintain the cluster of BBC Micro machines, said they held up well despite being more than 30 years old. The BBC Micro was "pretty robust", he said, because it was designed to be used in classrooms. This meant that refurbishing machines for use in the hands-on exhibit was usually fairly straightforward. "The main problem we need to sort out is the power supply," he said. "There are two capacitors that dry out and if we do not replace them they tend to explode and stink the place out. So we change them as a matter of course." General maintenance on the machines includes replacing keys that stick and the occasional component that fails. Thankfully, he said, there were few custom-built components in the machine so getting spares is easy. Harder-to-obtain parts are cannibalised from broken or faulty machines the museum has in its stores.

Comment Correcting a "check engine light" (Score 1) 258

I once had a "check engine light" go on in my 2001 F150 pickup a short time before it was due for an emissions test. I didn't have time to fully correct the problem in the time available, I did some online research and found that simply reversing the exhaust gas hose connections on the engine's Differential Feedback Pressure Sensor (no tools necessary) fooled the car's computer and temporarily corrected the error condition. Later I corrected the underlying problem.

Comment Liability insurance for self-drivers (Score 1) 615

No one has mentioned this. Surely a hefty amount of insurance will be mandatory for all such vehicles, under existing rules that apply to existing freight trucks. I suspect the risk premium ( being unknown at the start of this innovation) will prove to be extremely expensive, maybe as high was $40,000 per year per 125,000 miles of truck travel. Of course the corporations owning the trucks can probably pressure / bribe our esteemed legislators to exempt them from all liability, similar to what the ownership of for-profit nuclear reactors did many years ago. The first mass casualty incident in which a robotic semitruck kills a few dozen people will upset everyone.

Comment Re:my solution (Score 1) 79

My solution is also me. I answer all robocalls (even the pre-recorded ones) with "Hello. This call is being recorded". I've quickly gone from around 3 or 4 a day to almost zero. Guess they're scared of the fines, and it looks like they share information on who's after them.

I wonder how this works when robo fax calls ring you up.

Comment Re:No time zones, no DST, centons (Score 1) 277

Clock times are not merely a social convention, they are a societal requirement. I don't think my boss would accept my excuse of "I changed all my clocks" when I roll into work 4 hours late.

Societal requirements are another type of social conventions, utterly arbitrary. Showing up on time to please your boss is another convention, although probably necessary if you wish to stay employed.

Comment Re:No time zones, no DST, centons (Score 2) 277

Does that really make it easier? Seems like it just exchanges one problem for another. You might know what "time" it is everywhere, but you don't know when they're working, sleeping, etc."

You don't know that now.

You just assume that everyone is on your schedule.

People I have known, who worked the night shift, would sometimes be tormented by acquaintances who habitually called them (and woke them up from a sound sleep) at 1100, and who would then make the feeble excuse "I forgot you were a day sleeper." One ingenious 3rd shift worker I knew dealt with the worst offenders by calling their house at 0300 and then saying "Oh, I forgot you were a night sleeper." When I worked the 3rd shift I shut off the ringer on my phone, let my answering machine handle calls, and did not answer knocks on the door.

Comment Re:No time zones, no DST, centons (Score 1) 277

"Without DST where I live, it would get light at like 3:30 or 4 AM. I have no desire to have sunlight streaming into my bedroom at that hour." Clock times are only a social convention. If you don't want sunlight streaming into your bedroom at 0400, simply adjust all your clocks so that it streams in 0800, or you can become a very late riser and make the adjustment so that your room lights up at 1030.

Comment Re:However... (Score 2) 83

Combustion engine driven compressors are similar to electric motor driven ones, but are more complicated and certainly have plenty of moving parts. Adsorption/absorption refrigeration systems have fewer moving parts, as they use heat as the main driving force and so don't have compressors. But they still have moving parts like pumps and fans, and they are completely dissimilar in design to mechanical compressor driven refrigeration.

My old 1975-era RV fridge had no moving parts at all, no pump, no fan. Just a propane driven pilot light which switched off & on as it heated the ammonia in a sealed system. The ammonia circulated passively. The fridge had to be kept in a more or less vertical orientation for the circulation to work properly. Too much off level, it wouldn't work. When the RV was rolling down the road, the orientation of the fridge was less important, the constant shifting back & forth of the fridge would allow the refrigerant to circulate quite well. Its main point of breakdown was the pilot light / thermocouple mechanism, kept either getting dirty or corroded, otherwise it was extremely reliable. The propane supply could be switched off and the fridge could run on "shore power" - 110VAC when the RV was plugged in. The 110VAC was simply used as a heat source, again, no pumps, no fan, electricity was solely used as a heat source.

Comment Choosing languages to study (Score 1) 150

I took 2 semesters of 1st year college Mandarin last year. Got a virtual B+, but I was just auditing the course. Putting the same effort I expended on learning Mandarin into learning Spanish, I would have been much further along as a Spanish speaker. However, I really enjoy what little I know about Mandarin & that will continue the rest of my life. I now have a window into the cultures of the Middle Kingdom I could have not otherwise gotten.

Comment Re:I have webcast several funerals (Score 1) 70

The first one was for my brother-in-law, who died of ALS. He was very close to one of his nieces, but she was in the Army in Germany, and they didn't consider the relationship close enough for leave. So she watched my webcast via Ustream. The interesting thing is that Ustream stores the webcast, and it has been watched more than 200 times. I suspect most of those views were my sister - and why not? Here is a recording of their family and friends talking about how much they loved the man she lost. In another case, a friend's husband died of a massive stroke. His wife and kids were in the Midwest, but his mom and the rest of his family was back east, and his mother was too old and ill to travel, so she watched the webcast.

What would keep friends & family of the deceased from doing the same, using their own skills & equipment? A broadband internet connection at the site of the funeral, decent lighting. decent miking, & a few 110VAC outlets would be enough, IIRC.

Comment Re:Not surprising really (Score 1) 70

Funerals aren't for the dead - they're for the living. Try giving the eulogy at your parents' funeral, with your sisters and your uncles and aunts there. You'll "get it.".

I agree about the purpose of funerals. I wrote my mother's obituary, stored her ashes at my home for a couple of days, transported them 500 miles to her town of origin, gave her eulogy at her funeral and actually buried her ashes in the same plot with 2 of her sisters, with my own two hands. A great many people reading this thread will just not "get it", and will never "get it" even after they die. Denial is not only a river in Egypt.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous